CONNIEMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: The Ledger Syndicate
First Appeared: 1927
Creator: Frank Godwin
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Even that paragon of domesticity, Blondie, started out that way. So when The Ledger Syndicate's Connie debuted as a Sunday page on November 13, 1927, drawn in the splendid art nouveau style of Frank Godwin (previously known mostly for magazine and book illustration), it fit right in.
But when Connie's daily strip began, on May 13, 1929, she became "flighty" in a different sense. There, she was played as an adventuring aviator, and the strips her series fit right in with included Tailspin Tommy, Skyroads and the early Brick Bradford — except, of course, for her gender. Connie was the first female adventure hero in American comics, the precursor to Brenda Starr, Deathless Deer, Modesty Blaise and all the rest.
Connie (last name Kurridge — sounds like "courage", get it?) was deceptively pretty, tho as a product of the flapper era, rather flat-chested compared to modern comics women. Neither villains nor readers back then expected to find an agile and resourceful brain beneath her lovely blonde curls. And she was capable of spectacular feats of derring-do, such as flying great distances cross-country in an unfamiliar plane, at night, with neither navigational equipment nor lights; or performing stunt flights in a plane she knew had recently been sabotaged.
Before long, the Sundays had switched over to adventure stories, too. At first, the stories consisted of parodies of the movies and pulp magazines that were popular at the time, but they grew serious soon enough. Over the next few years, they took a turn toward science fiction, with space travel, atomic bombs and other marvels the 1930s newspaper audience had to turn to the comics page for, rather than read about them on front page as we do today — and of course, by then the strips to compare hers to were Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and the later Brick Bradford.
But as the series evolved, it never did get very gripping. Tho a superb draftsman, Godwin wasn't very good at constructing plots, writing dialog and other storytelling crafts. Consequently, the strip never had an audience commensurate with its status as an innovator, or with Godwin's great skill as an artist. The exact date of its demise isn't easy to pin down, but it was gone by the end of World War II (tho it did enjoy an afterlife in the form of reprints in Famous Funnies).
Godwin went on to draw for DC Comics, Dell and other publishers. During the 1950s he did another newspaper strip, Rusty Riley. But there, he had the advantage of a skilled writer, Rod Reed (Captain Marvel, Captain Tootsie), to hold onto the readers his artwork attracted. He died in 1959.
Nowadays, little girls who aren't attracted to homemaking, teaching or secretarial work have no shortage of role models. But decades ago, only an occasional Connie Kurridge was there to show them they had other options.