When I was growing up one of the things e hings I could depend upon was the newspaper. It would come every day, either bought at the store or thrown from the street, and it would have everything I needed to know about the world around me. It assailed me on two fronts: first the words within the paper. I remember teaching myself how to read one from cover to cover, and learning how to dissect local papers. I also remember yearning to have a paper route, as it seemed it was the way to make money in the neighborhood.
So I started getting up early to deliver the news—six days a week for the Arlington Heights Herald (now the Daily Herald). I went on to take classes in journalism in high school before deciding that I wanted to learn something different. But I would still read whatever paper I could get my hands on—including the comics.
I cut my teeth on old school serials like Dondi and Dick Tracey. I remember following Hipshot in Rick O'Shay, a western serial. Gasoline Alley was another one I read regularly, as was strips like Lolly and Beetle Bailey. I remember listening to my parents discussing the edgy new strip Broom-Hilda. I became fascinated with Gil Thorp after reading about how it was an excellent training tool for high school coaches. I was glad to see the Phantom get married.
One of those strips was Brenda Starr, Reporter. When I first started reading her she was chasing around Basil who was always one step ahead of her, searching for a cure for a drug made from black orchids. I kept reading as she caught up with him and actually married him, only to find that he would still slip away for his flowers. I remember Brenda quitting the Flash to trade on board of exchange, only to end up taking delivery of a commodity she bought but forgot to sell.
So I read the upcoming end of Brenda's story like the death of an old friend. I found out about her demise only recently and have been reading for the past few weeks as the strip winds down. Of course she's back at the newspaper because that was one staple of Brenda—she always went back to the paper. I remember once when she came back and the internet had taken over and the newsroom was full of slacker hipsters. Didn't realize at the time that I would end up marrying one of those slackers that was sleeping under her desk in the background.
But it looks like Brenda is leaving again. She's already declared that she's had enough of the news. That's okay, Brenda, we know what that's like in my household. There's a lot of things out there besides journalism—you know that. A new career is great idea, Brenda—we're with you.
But the problem isn't that. It's pretty clear to me that Brenda is going to step away from us shortly and disappear into the crowd on Michigan Avenue, leaving us standing and feeling empty as we are no longer allowed to follow her story. She's going to sift away into the ether of humanity and become just like every one of us, struggling to pay rent or a car payment, leading a life that can't be described as anything other then ordinary while searching for adventure in the windows of a comic page.