The glamorous but feisty redheaded reporter. That mysterious hunk with the eye-patch. Those rare black orchids. For 70 years, the melodramatic romantic adventures of Brenda Starr, Reporter captivated comic strip readers. Now, like every other character of yesteryear, pop culture icon Brenda Starr is staging a comeback.
This time around, America’s favorite comic strip heroine (at its peak the strip appeared in 250 newspapers and drew 60 million fans) will headline a new mystery novel series created by USA Today bestselling author J.J. Salem. The first title, Black Orchid Murders, is set for publication in Spring 2016.
“Brenda Starr is an iconic character with a rich history and strong following,” J. Scott Cameron, Director of Tribune Content Agency said. “We’re excited to re-engage old fans and introduce Brenda Starr to a new audience.”
Brenda Starr’s creator, Dale Messick (1906-2005), shattered the glass ceiling for female cartoonists and adventure-seeking heroines in the daily and Sunday comic sections. The 21st century version finds the character in her early 40s working as a TV pundit and visiting college professor. She returns to hard news at a digital start-up when a series of murders targeting Chicago’s elite hits too close to home, all while navigating the complexities of modern life with a younger lover, a tycoon ex-husband and a head-strong, college-aged daughter showing signs of becoming Brenda Starr 2.0.
Renowned pop culture historian Trina Robbins (Babes In Arms: Women in the Comics During World War II) views Brenda Starr as an important feminist figure. “Lois Lane was pretty but pesky and always needing Superman to rescue her,” Robbins said. “Brenda Starr was the heroine of her own stories. She got out of dangerous scrapes using her courage and intellect.”
Author J.J. Salem, like many fans of the original strip, lost track of Brenda over the years. “News of its cancellation resonated with me,” Salem said. “I was struck by the media coverage the ending announcement garnered, and I realized Brenda could have impact outside of comic strips. The world of Brenda Starr is a treasure chest for a novelist.”
Announcement of Brenda Starr’s return follows a wave of reboot plans for nostalgic properties, including Nancy Drew, “Hart to Hart,” “Kojak,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” and “Fantasy Island” among others. Salem is excited to march Brenda Starr into the everything-old-is-new-again parade. “The world Dale Messick created is truly sacred ground,” he said. “But Brenda Starr was always larger than life and very real to her creators and fans. I can’t wait to get her new stories out there. Brenda always had a lot to say about the culture around her, and that’s not going to change.”
For more information about Brenda Starr Mysteries, visit BrendaStarrMysteries.com. A free newsletter (The Starr Report) and bonus gift (Go Red: Girl Power Secrets from America’s Favorite Comic Strip Heroine) is available to all email subscribers. Follow the new incarnation of Brenda on Twitter @NewBrendaStarr and check out the trailer for the book here.