Home Comics Pat Dugan: Reflecting On 8 Decades of DC’s STRIPE

Pat Dugan: Reflecting On 8 Decades of DC’s STRIPE

by Conor O'Brien

Portrayed by Luke Wilson, mechanic Pat Dugan plays a major role DC’s Stargirl, which recently finished its 13-episode first season run on DC Universe and The CW. In the series, Pat is the stepfather to protagonist Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), who takes on the superhero identity of Stargirl. Pat is married to Courtney’s mother Barbara (Amy Smart) and has a biological son, Mike (Trae Romano). On the other hand, he is also Starman’s (Joel McHale) former sidekick Stripsey, who operates the 15-foot robot known as STRIPE in present-day Blue Valley, Nebraska.

Despite Luke Wilson playing Pat Dugan in 2020, the character actually dates back to 1941, first appearing in Issue #1 of Star Spangled Comics as the sidekick of Sylvester Pemberton, also known as the Star Spangled Kid. This dynamic also appears in the current Stargirl television series. Sylvester is Starman in this iteration, with Star Spangled Kid being an earlier alias.

Pat Dugan
Pat Dugan/STRIPE (Image: DC Database – Fandom)

The duo’s comic-book adventures were relevant to the time period in which they were set. One of their early escapades involved tracking down and stopping Nazi spies in July 1941, while the Second World War was still ongoing.

Later, Pat fathered his son , Michael Justin Dugan, with Margaret ‘Maggie’ Shaw. Due to their separation, Pat raised Michael as a single father. As well as his loyalty to Sylvester Pemberton as Stripesy, Pat Dugan has also been affiliated with various superhero groups. These include the Justice Society of America (JSA), Seven Soldiers of Victory, Infinity Inc, All Star Squadron and Justice League.

Pat Dugan
Brec Bassinger, Amy Smart and Luke Wilson in DC’s ‘Stargirl’ (Image: DC Universe/The CW)

In 1999, writer Geoff Johns adapted the Pat Dugan character for a modern audience. In Johns’ Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E series, Pat is reimagined as the stepfather to a superhero known as Stargirl, based on his own late sister, Courtney, who had died three years earlier in the 1996 TWA Flight 800 disaster. The Stars and STRIPE series ran for fifteen issues. During that time, Pat relocated his new family to Blue Valley, Nebraska and designed STRIPE to protect Courtney when she is fighting villains as Stargirl.

Besides Luke Wilson, other actors who have potrayed STRIPE include Phil LaMarr, who provided the voice in Justice League Unlimited. Johns, who also developed the Stargirl television series, said he had always envisioned Wilson playing the role of Pat Dugan/STRIPE in his version of the character.

When DC’s Stargirl began in May 2020, Pat was in a similar situation to his Stars and STRIPE counterpart. He had just married Barbara Whitmore and was preparing to move himself, his new wife, stepdaughter Courtney and son Mike to small-town Blue Valley, Nebraska.

Although based on a superhero property, the family aspect is grounded in reality. Pat has conflicting views with Courtney, Barbara and Mike at different points throughout the season. In particular, Pat initially struggled to bond with Courtney, until they began teaming up as Stargirl and STRIPE – to the point where the latter now sees him as her father.

Anjelika Washington, Brec Bassinger, STRIPE, Cameron Gellman and Yvette Monreal – DC’s Stargirl (DC Universe/The CW)

Although the first season of DC’s Stargirl has come to an end, fans will definitely see Pat Dugan and the other residents of Blue Valley again. The series has been renewed for a second season , due to air on The CW in 2021.

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