Blondie (comic strip)

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For other uses of the name, see Blondie (disambiguation).

Blondie is a popular comic strip created by Murat Bernard 'Chic' Young and syndicated by King Features Syndicate. It has been published in newspapers since 8 September 1930. The success of the comic strip led to a long-run Blondie film series (1938-1950) and a popular Blondie radio program (1939-1950).

Chic Young drew Blondie until his death in 1973, when the control of the strip passed to his son Dean Young. Dean Young has collaborated with a number of artists on the strip, including Jim Raymond, Mike Gersher, Stan Drake, Denis Lebrun and most recently, John Marshall. Through these changes, Blondie has remained popular, appearing in more than 2300 newspapers in 55 countries and translated into 35 languages, as of 2005. Blondie celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2005.

Characters

Originally, Blondie focused on the adventures of Blondie Boopadoop, a carefree flapper girl who spent her days in dance halls. On 17 February 1933, after much fanfare and build-up, Miss Boopadoop married her boyfriend Dagwood Bumstead, the son of a wealthy industrialist. Unfortunately for the Bumsteads, Dagwood was disowned by his upper-crust family for marrying beneath his class. Ever since, he has been slaving away at the office of the J. C. Dithers Construction Company under the direction of tyrannical boss Julius Caesar Dithers, who frequently threatens to fire Dagwood from his workplace when (as frequently happens) Dagwood either botches or does not finish his work, sleeps on the job, comes into work late, or pesters Dithers for a raise or promotion.

Blondie and Dagwood live in suburbia, next door to Herb and Tootsie Woodley. The Bumstead family has grown, with the addition of a son named Alexander (originally 'Baby Dumpling') in 1934, a daughter named Cookie in 1941 (both permanently frozen in their late teens as of 2006), and a dog named Daisy. Alexander and Cookie have grown into teenagers who uncannily resemble their parents. Other regular characters include Mr. Beasley the mailman, Elmo Tuttle, a pesky neighbourhood 5-year-old who often asks Dagwood to play, Cora Dithers, the domineering wife of Julius Dithers, and Lou, owner of the diner where Dagwood frequently eats on his lunch break.

Running gags

There are several running gags in this strip.

  • An impossibly tall sandwich Dagwood often fixes for a snack, which came to be known as a Dagwood sandwich.
  • Dagwood's propensity to fall asleep on the couch during the day.
  • He is repeated shown colliding with Mr. Beasley, the mailman, while rushing out the front door each morning, or being interrupted by other characters while he is relaxing in the bathtub.
  • Goofing off or sleeping at his desk in the office.
  • Mr. Dithers firing him for being incompetent, or physically booting him out of his office.
  • Dagwood demanding a raise from Dithers and failing to get it every time.
  • Dagwood meeting salesmen at his house door selling impossible looking items.
  • The car pool gag, with various variations, with Dagwood keeping his car pool waiting, running after their car, or being stuck in traffic.
  • Having a midnight snack.
  • The Christmas shopping gag, where Dagwood is shown holding up a a number of Christmas packages that completely covers up his face and upper body.

75th anniversary

In 2005 the strip celebrated its 75th anniversary. In preparation of the anniversary the artists started the longest running serial ever, starting on 10 July 2005 and running till 4 September 2005. During this period they only ran preparation for the anniversary daily cartoons [1]. Characters from several other strips, including Beetle Bailey and Hagar the Horrible, made appearances [2].

Changing times

While the distinctive look and running gags of Blondie have been carefully preserved through the decades, a number of details have been altered to keep up with changing times. The Bumstead kitchen, which remained essentially unchanged from the 1930s through the 1960s has slowly acquired a more modern look (no more legs on the gas range, for instance).

Clothing has slowly kept pace with times, most notably when Blondie began wearing pants and traded her high-heeled pumps for flat shoes (although in recent years she has reverted to mostly wearing skirts). Today, neither Blondie nor Dagwood wears a hat when leaving the house.

The telephone in the hall now has push buttons instead of a dial, the water cooler and time clock at the office have given way to computers on the desks. Even Mr. Beasley wears walking shorts on his mail route during the warm weather months.

Blondie herself is no longer a housewife. She and Tootsie Woodley started a catering business in 1991. Dagwood still knocks heads with his boss, Mr. Dithers, but now he does it in a more modern office at J. C. Dithers Construction Company. Their desk computers sport flat panel monitors and Mr Dithers has a laptop on his table. Dagwood now begins each morning racing to meet his carpool rather than chasing after a just-missed streetcar or city bus.

Also, for a time in the late 1990s and around 2000/2001, Blondie and Dagwood's teenage son Alexander worked part-time outside of high school at the order counter of a fast food restaurant, the Burger Barn. There are still occasional references to Cookie and her baby-sitting. Daisy, who once had a litter of puppies that lived with the family is now the only dog seen in the Bumstead household. Cookie and Alexander can be seen in modern clothing trends and sometimes use cell phones.

Sandwich shop

On 11 May 2006, Dean Young announced the opening of the first of his Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes over the coming summer in Clearwater, Florida. Recently in the comics, the characters have all been either jokingly or seriously talking about Dagwood opening his own sandwich shop. A counter service restaurant called Blondie's opened at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure in May 1999, and serves a traditional Dagwood-style sandwich. In fact, Blondies bills itself as 'Home of the Dagwood Sandwich.' Lunch meats can be purchased at grocery stores featuring Dagwood and an assortment of meats.

Awards and recognition

Chic Young was awarded a Reuben in 1948 for his work on the strip. Coincidentally, the award shares the name with a well-known type of sandwich that is nearly as thick as those made by Dagwood in the strip.

In 1995, the strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative postage stamps.[3]

Adaptations in other media

Blondie was adapted into a series of 28 theatrical films, beginning with Blondie in 1938 and running through Beware of Blondie in 1950. Penny Singleton played the titular character, with Arthur Lake as Dagwood; the two also starred in a Blondie radio show that was broadcast on several networks from 1939 to 1950. Two Blondie television series were also produced, each lasting only one season. The first ran for fourteen episodes in 1957, and had Lake reprising his film and radio role, but cast Pamela Britton as Blondie. The second, broadcast in the 1968-69 season, had Patricia Harty and Will Hutchins in the lead roles.

Notes

  1. Blondie's 75 Year Anniversary. Blondie.com. Retrieved on 2007-11-22.
  2. 'Blondie' to mark 75th anniversary with comic strip cameos, CBC.ca, 2005-07-15. Retrieved on 2007-11-22.
  3. Toonopedia Blondie