Library of Congress Exhibit Honors Dale Messick

As a contestant on What’s My Line (1955)

Dale Messick created the nationally syndicated “Brenda Starr, Reporter” comic strip in 1940. At the height of its popularity, the strip appeared in over 250 papers.

However, Dale’s name is actually Dalia.

She changed her name to Dale on the advice of “the head of the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate’s secretary” (SmithsonianMag.com). Though she wasn’t the first woman to achieve success in the world of comic strip creators, a bias still existed against women in this male-dominated industry.

A new exhibit at the Library of Congress, “Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists,” honors Ms. Messick and many other women artists dating from the 19th century to today.

Ms. Messick was born in South Bend, Indiana, studied at Chicago’s Ray Commercial Art School, and worked for a Chicago greeting card company. So let’s take a closer look at a few highlights from this native Midwesterner.

  • Dalia Messick was born on April 11, 1906 and died shortly before her 99th birthday on April 5, 2005.
  • Some of Brenda Starr’s fashionable hats were inspired by designs created by Ms. Messick’s mother, a milliner and seamstress.
  • The comic strip ran from June 30, 1940 until January 2, 2011.
  • Ms. Messick named her daughter Starr.
  • Though Brenda Starr’s exploits as a journalist were at times criticized by real journalists, Ms. Messick once said she didn’t want to know anything about the profession as that would hamper her imagination.
  • The Brenda Starr comic strip was one of only twenty strips memorialized on a series of U.S. postage stamps (1995).
  • Ms. Messick received the Story Comic Book Award (1975) and the Milton Canff Lifettime Achievement Award (1997), both awarded by the National Cartoonists Society.

 

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