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Brenda Starr Reporter
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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The only reason I can think of the goof here is that the complete strips cannot be found or they are in no condition to re-print! About 15 years ago a company by the name of Malibu Graphics, Inc. published an inferior version all in black & white, but it was more complete. I was hoping they would continue the strips, but that was the 0nly one.
In January 2014 another publisher is coming with a Brenda Starr reprint. It will probably start all over since 1940, but that's okay, if they'll continue with the whole thing. And I wish Hermes Press would come out with a statement on why they didn't do better with their 'Brenda' Book.
And I ordered this bookthrough Amazon, because the 'geek' comic book stores said this was too pricy to carry at $60.00. I agree. People have not got the money for these guilty pleasures today. Come on Hermes Press, drop that price about $20.00
Buyers might legitimately expect to find every Sunday and (when available) daily from 30 June, 1940 up to February 24, 1946, the period covered by this book.
Here is a guide to what is NOT reprinted:
1941: Nothing from May-December + the April 27 Sunday. (8 months and a week missing)
1942: Nothing. (All missing)
1943: Nothing. (All missing)
1944: Nothing from January-August + the September 3 Sunday (8 months and a week missing)
Over three years worth of strips are ***not*** reprinted from a period of five years and eight months.
The best part of the book is 'Chapter One: Beginning', the Sundays from June 30, 1940 through April 20, 1941.
Each Sunday is beautifully spread across two pages. The pages have been digitally restored, with none of those wretched color bleeds that plagued 1940s printing.
These, Page 18 through Page 102, are by far the best in the book.
'Chapter Two: The Curious Tale of Mary Elizabeth Beastly' runs from September 10, 1944 through January 14, 1945, Page 105 through Page 123.
This has been reproduced directly from the original artwork, provided by Richard Pietrzyk.
While crisp and clear, it is in black and white, and each Sunday is printed on a single page. The transistion from color and two pages for each Sunday is jarring.
There is no explanation as to the unprinted strips. Was there no material available? Is this really the best story? (Strongly reminiscent of Chester Gould's 'Dick Tracy' in his 'grotesque villains' phase.)
A nine-month break in continuity brings up 'Chapter Three: The Man of Mystery', Page 127 through Page 198, introducing the first dailies, October 22, 1945, as well as Basil St. John (Brenda Starr's future husband).
Here the Sundays are again printed on a single page but in color, and two dailies to a page.
Buyers thus get one book in three different formats, one for each chapter.
The gaps between one strip and the other leaves holes in the storyline. When Chapter Two begins you have no idea who 'Hank' is, nor where she fits into the newsroom of 'The Flash'. Who is Abretha Breez, and where did she come from? And when did the mutt Tornado enter the picture?
Readers may never know because Hermes Press has not included the relevant strips, and no other publisher will take it up as long as Hermes Press holds the license.
What of the extras? There is a brief page by Dale Messick's daugher, and another page from her granddaughter. There is a slightly longer introduction by Richard Pietrzyk. And there is a five-page appreciation -- lots of pictures -- by Trina Robbins, trying to place Dale Messick's achievements in perspective. Extras are always nice but they are not really a reason to buy a book.
This is an expensive book by the standards of comic-strip reprints compared to its competitors from Fantagraphics, IDW, Drawn & Quarterly, or Classic Comics Press. Buyers can currently get both Prince Valiant: 1943-1944 (Vol. 4) (Prince Valiant) and Prince Valiant Vol 5 for *less* than the price of this book, and each of those reprints two full years of strips.
Four full years of strips, or fewer than three years for double the price? 'Value for money' is subjective, so make up your own mind.
"Dale's accomplishments were great," writes her granddaughter, Laura Rohrman, "and should not be forgotten."
Perhaps some day we will see a book that gives Dale Messick her due. This is not that book.
It should be seen as a 'sampler' or an 'anthology' of the strip's early years, not a full-blown 'archival' edition.
Recommendation? That is tough.
If you are a fan of Dale Messick's comic strip, or have an academic interest in women cartoonists, it is definitely worth a look.
If you are a fan of classic comic strips in general, you may be disappointed.
Either way, seek out the actual physical product before choosing.
Personally, I shall not buy Volume 2 of 'Brenda Starr, Reporter' if one appears..
And, following my disappointment at this book and on the heels of Johnny Hazard The Newspaper Dailies Volume One: 1944-1946 (almost 50 pages less than solicited!), I have cancelled all my pre-orders of Hermes Press books.
N.B.: This updated review owes much to two members of the Amazon community, "Purplepear" and, especially, John Robey, both frequent commentators on Hermes Press books. Mr. Robey's remarks on competing products, Prince Valiant in particular, played a large part in pushing me to rewrite this review.
Messick's stories read well in a graphic novel-style format, although they weren't intended to do so. I was only an occasional reader of Brenda Starr until the last few years of its syndication. Having mostly read June Brigman and Mary Schmich's stories, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy these early tales, but just a short ways into the book, I was hooked. IF YOU ARE A FAN OF CLASSIC, ADVENTURE STRIPS, this book is worth the money. Long live, Brenda Starr!
However, when it arrived, I was crest fallen that it was missing almost 3 years. Where and when did her friends and family come into her life? Hermes jumped from mid-1941 to mid-1945.
I do not regret buying this book, but wish it had contained every storyline from 1940-1946.