Yesterday, we brought you the news of Sara Ganim, who at 24 is now one of the youngest writers to ever receive a Pulitzer, an award garnered for her exposure of the sex abused scandal at her alma mater Penn State. But what did we see this morning but another Pulitzer award given to someone relevant to our interests: Mary Schmich, a comic writing lady.
Mary Schmich, in case you were wondering, wrote the newspaper strip Brenda Starr for more than a quarter of a century, making her responsible for nearly a third of its entire run, and its finale in 2011.
It might have been the kind of soap opera strip that you skipped over every time you wrestled the Sunday Funnies away from the rest of your parents’ enormous newspaper pile, but Brenda Starr was still about an adventurous female reporter and ran for more that sixty years, much longer than the 1940s fad of feisty girl reporters sticking it to the man that birthed her did. As a part a part of American comics culture, Brenda Starr is almost as old as Batman, and just a year older than Wonder Woman, and while the strip could show its age with Dick Tracy like caricatures and some decidedly silly names, Schmich had Starr jetting off to uncover the murder of environmentalists in South America and conspiracy towards slum clearing in India.
Schmich piloted Brenda Starr to an planned finale in 2011, and focused on her job as a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, who had previously published her now famous Graduation Speech piece, “Wear Sunscreen,” (yes, that sunscreen song) recorded by Baz Luhrmann and often erroneously attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. In her columns of the past year, Schmich has discussed racial and class tension in her home city of Chicago, as well as her response to Chicago’s infamously voyeuristic art installment of a giant model of Marilyn Monroe in a perpetual upskirt.
“It’s really nice to be acknowledged this way after doing this work for so long,” Schmich, 58, said. “The prize is nice, but it really is just gravy.”
You can read all of the columns that contributed to her award here.
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