Monte Barrett was lured to Iowa by a beautiful young woman — Jane Arden.
Arden, a newspaper reporter, was Barrett’s own creation, and after she came to life in Des Moines, she lived in the comics pages of newspapers across America and the rest of the world. She was immensely popular, and she kept readers intrigued for 40 years.
Barrett conceived the strip about Arden while he was the managing editor of a newspaper in San Antonio, Texas. It was 1927 and Barrett was seeking something to attract female readers.
Arden was the prototype of the spunky girl reporter, and many put her above her peers, Lois Lane and Brenda Starr.
Percy Montgomery Barrett, known as Monte, was born in Mitchell, Ind., on June 19, 1897, the son of Edward and Clara Barrett.
Barrett came to Des Moines in May 1928 to bring Arden to life under the auspices of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Syndicate, and his intrepid creation made her debut on Nov. 26, 1928.
Barrett lived in Iowa’s capital city until August 1929, when he was satisfied the comic strip was all he wanted it to be. At that point he returned home to San Antonio.
Young girls especially loved the reporter, who was known as “the most beautiful girl in comics” and “the most beautiful woman in the newspaper world.” Also popular were Jane’s cohorts, Tubby, another reporter, and Honey Chile, Jane’s assistant .
Barrett spent 20 years writing the strip in collaboration with a series of artists. It was first drawn by Frank Ellis, then by Jack McGuire and Russell Ross .
In 1939, Arden hit the movie screen via “The Adventures of Jane Arden,” a B-movie crime drama directed by Terry Morse, the only offering of what was intended to be a series of films about the fearless journalist.
Cartoonist and author