Today on the site, Ron Goulart has provided our official obituary for Leonard Starr, the creator of Mary Perkins, On Stage, who is also well-known for his continuation of Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie, his Kelly Green graphic novel series with Stan Drake, and the ’80s television show ThunderCats.
It was the ambition of many comic book artists to move up to a newspaper strip and several of his contemporaries had made the transition, among them Ken Ernst, Stan Drake and Dan Barry. Finally in 1957, after several earlier strip submissions to syndicates, he sold Mary Perkins, On Stage to the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate. The title of the strip alludes to two of the most popular radio soap operas of the time—Mary Noble, Backstage Wife and Ma Perkins. Starr had long been a theater buff and the new strip would deal with “the glamorous New York theater world.”
His style had changed, moving toward what has been called photographic realism. He was influenced by what Alex Raymond had done on Rip Kirby and what Dan Barry had done on the daily Flash Gordon in the early 1950s. Starr has been called “a man with a superlative ink line.” His staging of the events in the life of Mary Perkins as she conquers Broadway, TV, and the movies and finds love is very good and he alternated light continuities with some dark and unsettling ones. The National Cartoonist Society gave him the Best Story Strip Award in 1960 for On Stage and in 1965 a Reuben as Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.
We also have Mark Connery’s short interview with Marc Bell (Shrimpy and Paul) about his new book, Stroppy.
Mark Connery: Hey Marco, so Stroppy is a very beautiful book, a real treat for the eyes, and also your first graphic novel. It’s also one of your easiest-to-read things. How long were you working on it? Was there a challenge in finding a groove to make the story move at the right pace?
Marc Bell: I was very slow to begin actual work on this book. I did want to make things clearer story-wise because I was sick of being talked about as the guy that makes no sense. I even read a few books about writing storyboards for films and TV to get myself going. I think it did end up clearer than my other works but it also seems it is very hard to escape this piling on in the narrative that usually happens with things I make. So, that’s how it goes! I suppose it took three years but only a third of that was making the actual book, drawing it.
—News. If you read the two reviews of the Airboy revival I posted to last week, you know there was a fair amount of controversy regarding the title’s portrayal of transgender women. Writer James Robinson has released a statement.
—Reviews & Commentary. Brian Cremins reviews Keiler Roberts’s Miseryland.
Martin Dupuis has a long piece on Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Killing Joke.
Mike Sterling reflects on Rerun from Peanuts.
Andy Oliver writes about William Cardini’s Vortex.
—Misc. Have we already linked to Dame Darcy’s new Patreon?
Box Brown is having an original art sale.