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Brenda writes -30-

Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune, who has written the Brenda Star, Reporter comic strip for the past twenty-five years, has announced that the strip will come to an end after more than seventy years, publishing its last strip on January 2.

I haven’t seen the strip regularly in years, but I have in my office a framed copy of a panel from years past that I offer as a valediction.

In the panel, a man is depositing an exotic, unconscious woman on a sofa, and the think bubble rising from his head has this sentiment:



Posted by John McIntyre at 9:09 AM | | Comments (10)


Heavens, I'd love to have a copy of that strip. The ol' cubicle is looking rather sparse.
Got a scanner handy, John?

Heavens, I'd love to have a copy of that strip. The ol' cubicle is looking rather sparse.
Got a scanner handy, John?

Is "think bubble" the official technical term for that object? I ask in all seriousness. I've been looking on the interwebs for a glossary of cartooning terms and have been unable to find one. Can someone point me in the right direction?

The thing I remember most about Brenda Starr, aside from her reluctance to marry Basil, is her phone number: 000-0000. Probably with a 000 area code. Even as a six-year-old, I knew that couldn't be right.

Wow. I haven't read Brenda Starr in ages, but I do remember it being the first comic I would read when I flipped to those pages. In those days, I thought being a reporter would be rather glamorous. And then I took journalism courses in college. Those killed the dream rather quickly and taught me I'm much better behind a desk and dusty research books than on the street.

I remember a strip where Brenda Starr is scrubbing floors and thinking: "Even copy editing is beginning to sound good to me."

Wikipedia says they're "thought balloons" (as distinguished from "speech balloons").

Yes! I have in my office the one of Brenda scrubbing floors: "Even copy editing is beginning to sound good to me." Then "Oh, my aging knees." Then "Why should a girl have to work for a living when there are so many books to read?" Indeed, why.


2010 has been a decidedly rough year for comic strip redheads, w/ the venerable "Little Orphan Annie" strip ceasing its decades-long print run about six months back, and now the recent revelation that "Brenda Star/ Reporter" has bitten the dust, as well.

Hopefully, some sick-and-twisted cartoonist, as we 'speak', isn't plotting sweet revenge w/ say a new strip titled "Carrot Top Plays His Tuber", or "Willie Nelson Was Once a Ragin' Redhead". (Ugh!)

Being an inveterate comic book/ comic strip/ graphic novel aficionado, of sorts, and a career animation artist, I might be able to bring a modicum of expertise to the subject of cartoon "think bubbles" (sic), and their ilk.

I've always been familiar w/ these ofttimes compositionally awkward, yet most necessary elements of the cartoon strip medium, (or the one-shot editorial cartoon 'spot)', as "talk balloons", when a character is actually saying something out-loud, and conversely, a '"thought cloud" when any given character within the drawn rectangular space is thinking something (silently) to themselves. (Hmmm.......)

The '"thought cloud" is generally a flowing series of at least a minimum of three linear, puffy, cloud-like contained shapes, going from smallest-to-larger-to-largest, w/ the largest 'cloud' containing the 'ponderable' words, and the other 'puffs' remaining empty.

With the declarative words, or statement contained in a '"talk (or speech) balloon", said 'balloon' is usually a singular smooth-edged, containing, typically elliptically-shaped form, it's smoothness only broken by a little pointy 'appendage' emerging fairly close to the speaking character's head, hopefully in the vicinity of their open mouth. (Unless, perchance they are speaking from some other orifice. Oh behave!)

Of course, w/ many editorial, one-panel cartoons, the verbal "caption", often some declarative statement by one, or more involved characters, generally runs directly below the cartooned image, and talk balloons, or thought clouds are sometimes spared completely.

Hope I've been able to shed a tad more light on the esoteric subject of cartoon balloons, clouds,etc. It's definitely not rocket science, folks.

Reminds me of that haunting '60s Joni Mitchell tune, "Clouds"........... "I REALLY don't know clouds, at all."

Say goodnight, Charlie Brown. (Talk about a 'toon' w/ his head in the clouds. Just sayin')


I wanted to grow up to be Brenda Starr. She had great shoes. My HS guidance counselor was emphatic that no one could grow up to be a comic strip (Yeah! He shudda seen some parts of my life!) and that women do not become reporters. He then reiterated that I could become a teacher, a nurse or a secretary.

Eve, you and I come out of the same era. I didn't want to be Brenda Starr, but I did love the black orchid and Basil St. John.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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