Blondie (comic strip)

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Blondie
Blondie Logo 2007.png
Blondie logo, featuring Dagwood, Blondie, Daisy, son Alexander, and daughter Cookie.
Author(s) Chic Young
Dean Young and John Marshall
Current status / schedule Current
Launch date September 8, 1930
Syndicate(s) King Features Syndicate
Genre(s) Humor

Blondie is an American comic strip created by cartoonist Chic Young. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, the strip has been published in newspapers since September 8, 1930.[1] The success of the strip, which features the eponymous blonde and her sandwich-loving husband, led to the long-running Blondie film series (1938–1950) and the popular Blondie radio program (1939–1950).

Chic Young drew Blondie until his death in 1973, when creative control passed to his son Dean Young, who continues to write the strip. Young has collaborated with a number of artists on Blondie, including Jim Raymond, Mike Gersher, Stan Drake, Denis Lebrun, and John Marshall. Through these changes, Blondie has remained popular, appearing in more than 2,000 newspapers in 47 countries and has been translated into 35 languages. Since 2006, Blondie has also been available via email through King Features' DailyINK service.[2]

Overview[edit]

Originally designed to follow in the footsteps of Young's earlier "pretty girl" creations Beautiful Bab and Dumb Dora, Blondie focused on the adventures of Blondie Boopadoop—a carefree flapper girl who spent her days in dance halls. The name "Boopadoop" derives from the scat singing lyric that was popularized by Helen Kane's 1928 song "I Wanna Be Loved by You."

Marriage[edit]

On February 17, 1933, after much fanfare and build-up, Blondie Boopadoop marries her boyfriend Dagwood Bumstead, the son of a wealthy industrialist. The marriage was a significant media event, given the comic strip's popularity.[3] Unfortunately, Dagwood's upper-crust parents strongly disapprove of his marrying beneath his class, and disinherit him. The check Dagwood uses to pay for his honeymoon bounces, and the Bumsteads are forced to become a middle-class suburban family. The catalog for the University of Florida's 2005 exhibition, "75 Years of Blondie, 1930–2005", notes:

Blondie's marriage marked the beginning of a change in her personality. From that point forward, she gradually assumed her position as the sensible head of the Bumstead household. And Dagwood, who previously had been cast in the role of straight man to Blondie's comic antics, took over as the comic strip's clown.[4]

Setting[edit]

"Dagwood Bumstead and family, including Daisy and the pups, live in the suburbs of Joplin, Missouri," according to the August 1946 issue of The Joplin Globe, citing Chic Young.[5]

Cast of characters[edit]

  • Blondie Bumstead (née Boopadoop): The eponymous leading lady of the comic strip. Blondie is a smart, sweet, and responsible woman. She can be stressed at times when raising her family and because of Dagwood's antics, and despite being usually laid-back and patient, Blondie does get upset sometimes. She is also extremely beautiful with gold hair, gentle curls, and a shapely figure. A friend once told Dagwood that Blondie looked like a 'million bucks'. In 1991, she began a catering business with her neighbor, Tootsie.
  • Dagwood Bumstead: Blondie's husband. A kind yet naïve man whose cartoonish antics are the basis for the strip. He is a big fan of football and has a large, insatiable appetite for food (but he remains slender). He celebrates even the most insignificant holidays, and approaches Thanksgiving (a holiday known for lavish dinners) with the same reverence most people reserve for Christmas. His continuous antagonistic and comical confrontations with his boss Mr. Dithers, for numerous reasons including Dagwood's laziness and silly mistakes, is a subplot that gets considerable attention in the strip. Another subplot deals with Dagwood and his neighbor Herb. He can also often be seen napping on his couch.
  • Alexander Bumstead: the elder child of Blondie and Dagwood who is in his late teens, formerly referred to by his pet name "Baby Dumpling". As a child, he was very mischievous and precocious.
  • Cookie Bumstead: the younger child of Blondie and Dagwood who is in her early teens. Cookie is portrayed as a typical teenage girl whose interests include dating, hanging out with friends, and clothes.
  • Daisy: The Bumsteads' family dog whose best friend is Dagwood. She, in the later years of the comic, gave birth to puppies.
  • Mr. Beasley the Postman: The Bumsteads' mailman who Dagwood seems to always collide with and knock down as Dagwood hurriedly leaves the house.
  • Mr. Julius Caesar Dithers: Founder of the J.C. Dithers Construction Company and Dagwood's boss. He dictates his employees and believes the best thing in life is money. Although it usually doesn't seem like it at the workplace, Mr. Dithers still is a good-hearted man.
  • Mrs. Cora Dithers: Mr. Dithers' wife. She usually gets into fights with him as she exerts control of her husband. She is great friends with Blondie.
  • Herb Woodley: Dagwood's best friend and next-door neighbor.
  • Tootsie Woodley: Herb's wife and Blondie's best friend. Tootsie and Blondie can empathize with one-another as women, mothers, and particularly as spouses of eccentric husbands. In 1991, she joined Blondie in starting a catering business.
  • Elmo Tuttle: A kid in the neighborhood who has a friendship with Dagwood (whom he calls "Mr. B"), but sometimes annoys him. His last name was originally "Fiffenhauser."
  • Lou the Diner Counterman: The owner and cook of Lou's Diner, where Dagwood goes on lunch hours. Dagwood sometimes suggests new specials for the diner. Lou is covered with tattoos and always has a toothpick in his mouth.
  • Claudia and Dwitzell: The carpoolers with Dagwood and Herb. Claudia is a lawyer; no occupation has been identified for Dwitzell, sometimes called "Dwitz".

The Bumstead family has grown, with the addition of a son named Alexander (originally "Baby Dumpling") on April 15, 1934, a daughter named Cookie on April 11, 1941, a dog, Daisy, and her litter of five unnamed pups. In the 1960s, Cookie and Alexander grew into teenagers (who uncannily resemble their parents), but they stopped growing during the 1960s when Young realized that they had to remain teenagers to maintain the family situation structured into the strip for so many decades.

Dagwood is the office manager[6] at the office of the J. C. Dithers Construction Company under his dictatorial boss—Julius Caesar Dithers. Mr. Dithers is a "sawed-off, tin pot Napoleon" who is always abusing his employees, both verbally and physically. He frequently threatens to fire Dagwood when Dagwood inevitably botches or does not finish his work, sleeps on the job, comes in late, or pesters Dithers for a raise. Dithers characteristically responds by kicking Dagwood theatrically, and ordering him back to work. The tyrannical Dithers is lord and master over all he surveys, with one notable exception—his formidable and domineering wife, Cora.

Blondie and Dagwood's best friends are their next-door neighbors Herb and Tootsie Woodley, although Dagwood and Herb's friendship is frequently volatile. Lou is the burly, tattooed owner of Lou's Diner, the less-than-five-star establishment where Dagwood often eats during his lunch hour. Other regular supporting characters include the long-suffering mailman, Mr. Beasley; Elmo Tuttle, a pesky neighborhood kid who often asks Dagwood to play; and a never-ending parade of overbearing door-to-door salesmen.

Running gags[edit]

Dagwood has created a typical Dagwood sandwich in this April 17, 2007 strip.

There are several running gags in Blondie, reflecting the trend after Chic Young's death for the strip to focus almost entirely on Dagwood as the lead character:

  • Dagwood often collides with Mr. Beasley the mailman while running out the front door—late for work.
  • Other variations of the late-for-work gag: Dagwood keeping his car pool waiting, running after their car or stuck in traffic. In earlier decades, he had been late for the bus or, even earlier in the strip's run, late for the streetcar.
  • The famous, impossibly tall sandwiches Dagwood fixes for himself, which came to be known colloquially as the "Dagwood sandwich".
  • Dagwood in his pajamas, having a midnight snack—with most of the refrigerator contents spread out on the kitchen table, (or balanced precariously on his extended arms, on the way to the table.)
  • Dagwood's propensity to nap on the couch during the day, often interrupted by Elmo, who wants to ask him a question; or Blondie, who has a chore she wants him to do.
  • Dagwood singing in the bathtub, or interrupted (usually by family members or Elmo) while he's trying to relax in the tub.
  • Dagwood contends with brazen or obnoxious salesmen at his door, selling undesirable or impossible-looking items.
  • A variation of the above has the salesmen calling on the telephone.
  • Dagwood and Herb Woodley spending some weekend time together, which usually escalates into a brawl.
  • Dagwood demanding a raise from Dithers and failing to get it every time.
  • Dagwood caught goofing off or sleeping at his desk in the office.
  • Mr. Dithers firing Dagwood for being incompetent or physically booting him out of his office.
  • Dagwood getting a menu suggestion from Lou, the wry, blunt, and/or sarcastic diner counterman.
  • The Christmas shopping gag, where Dagwood is shown carrying Christmas packages that completely cover up his face and upper body.
  • Herb borrowing small items—tools, small appliances, books, and (more recently) videos—from Dagwood, then never returning them. Occasionally, Herb will loan a borrowed item to a third party, which is then usually passed on to a fourth or fifth party, etc.
  • Dagwood's hobby is household carpentry, but unfortunately his projects don't turn out well. Once, he built a small cabinet for Blondie, actually accomplishing all construction steps perfectly; but the result still fails because it doesn't fit in the space Blondie intended for it. Mostly, he is producing sawdust.

Colonel Potterby and the Duchess[edit]

From 1935 to 1963, Young also drew a topper, Colonel Potterby and the Duchess, a pantomime strip displayed beneath Blondie each Sunday.

Modernization[edit]

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 and no more refrigerators shown with the compressor assembly on the top).

Keeping up with the times, Alexander and Dagwood are shown with a flat-panel computer in this strip from September 24, 2007.

Dagwood no longer wears a hat when he goes to work, nor does Blondie wear her previous hat and gloves when leaving the house. Although some bedroom and bathroom scenes still show him in polka-dot boxer shorts, Dagwood no longer wears garters to hold up his socks. When at home, he frequently wears sport shirts, his standard dress shirt with one large button in the middle is slowly disappearing, and he no longer smokes a pipe at all. Blondie now often wears slacks, and she is no longer depicted as a housewife since she teamed with Tootsie Woodley to launch a catering business in 1991. Dagwood still knocks heads with his boss, Mr. Dithers, but now does so in a more modern office at J.C. Dithers Construction Company where desks now sport flat panel computer monitors, and Mr. Dithers, when in a rage, attempts to smash his laptop into Dagwood's head instead of his old manual typewriter. The staff no longer punches in at a mechanical "time clock", nor do they wear green eyeshades and plastic "sleeve protectors". Telephones have changed from candlestick style to more modern dial phones, to Touch-Tone, and on to cellphones. Dagwood now begins each morning racing to meet his carpool rather than chasing after a missed streetcar or city bus. Even Mr. Beasley, the mail carrier, now dresses in short-sleeve shirts and walking shorts, rather than the military-style uniform of days gone by.

During the late 1990s and 2000–2001, Alexander worked part-time after high school at the order counter of a fast food restaurant, the Burger Barn. There are still occasional references to Cookie and her babysitting. 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 cellphones, reference current television shows and social networking sites, while talking about attending rock concerts of popular current Rock, Pop, and Hip Hop music acts.

In this period, when in his basement woodworking shop, Dagwood was now shown wearing safety eyeglasses.

Dagwood sometimes breaks the fourth wall by delivering the punchline to the strip while looking directly at the reader, as in the above panel. Daisy occasionally does the same, though her remarks are limited to "?" and "!" with either a puzzled or a pained expression.

Strips in recent years have included references to recent developments in technology and communication, such as Facebook, Twitter, email, and text messaging.

75th anniversary[edit]

In 2005, the strip celebrated its 75th anniversary with an extended story arc in which characters from other strips, including Curtis, Garfield, Beetle Bailey, and Hägar the Horrible, made appearances in Blondie. The strip Pearls Before Swine made fun of the fact that their cast was not invited, and decided to invite themselves.[7] This cross-over promotion began July 10, 2005 and continued until September 4, 2005.[8][9][10]

Awards[edit]

Blondie in other media[edit]

Comic books[edit]

  • Chic Young's Blondie (1947–1949) David McKay/King Comics, 15 issues
  • Dagwood Splits the Atom (1949) King Features (Public services giveaway)
  • Blondie Comics Monthly (1950–1965) Harvey Publications, 148 issues
  • Chic Young's Dagwood Comics (1950–1965) Harvey, 140 issues
  • Daisy and Her Pups (1951–1954) Harvey, 18 issues
  • Blondie & Dagwood Family (1963–1965) Harvey, four issues
  • Chic Young's Blondie (1965–1966) King Comics, 12 issues
  • Blondie (1969–1976) Charlton Comics, 46 issues

Film[edit]

Blondie was adapted into a long-running series of 28 low-budget theatrical B-features, produced by Columbia Pictures. Beginning with Blondie in 1938, the series lasted 12 years, through Beware of Blondie (1950). The two major roles were Penny Singleton as Blondie and Arthur Lake (whose first starring role was another comic strip character, Harold Teen) as Dagwood. Faithfulness to the comic strip was a major concern of the creators of the series. Little touches were added that were iconic to the strip, like the appearance of Dagwood's famous sandwiches—and the running gag of Dagwood colliding with the mailman amid a flurry of letters, (which preceded the title sequence in almost every film).

Columbia was careful to maintain continuity, so each picture progressed from where the last one left off. Thus the Bumstead children grew from toddlers to young adults onscreen. Larry Simms played the Bumsteads' son in all the films; his character was originally called Baby Dumpling, and later became Alexander. Marjorie Kent (born Marjorie Ann Mutchie) joined the series in 1943 as daughter Cookie. Daisy had pups in the 12th feature, Blondie for Victory (1942). Danny Mummert, who had originally been chosen to play Baby Dumpling, took the continuing role of wiseguy neighbor Alvin Fuddle. Rounding out the regular supporting cast, character actor Jonathan Hale played Dagwood's irascible boss, J.C. Dithers. Hale left the series in 1945 and was succeeded by Jerome Cowan as George M. Radcliffe in Blondie's Big Moment. In the last film, Beware of Blondie, the Dithers character returned, played by Edward Earle and shown from the back. The Bumsteads' neighbors, the Woodleys, did not appear in the series until Beware of Blondie. They were played by Emory Parnell and Isabel Withers.

In 1943 Columbia felt the series was slipping, and ended the string with It's a Great Life and Footlight Glamour, deliberately omitting "Blondie" from the titles to attract unwary moviegoers. After 14 Blondies, stars Singleton and Lake moved on to other productions. During their absence from the screen, Columbia heard from many exhibitors and fans who wanted the Blondies back. The studio reactivated the series, which ran another 14 films until discontinued permanently in 1950. Because there was still some demand from movie theaters, Columbia began reissuing the older films, beginning with the 1938 Blondie, and continued to release them in their original sequence well into the 1950s.

Chic Young's Sunday Blondie page for May 7, 1950, when it was at a peak of popularity with the strip, movies, and radio. From 1935 to 1963, Young drew the topper strip, Colonel Potterby and the Duchess, which was displayed below Blondie.

Radio[edit]

Singleton and Lake reprised their film roles for radio; the Blondie radio program had a long run spanning several networks. Initially a 1939 summer replacement program for The Eddie Cantor Show (sponsored by Camel Cigarettes), Blondie was heard on CBS until June 1944, when it moved briefly to NBC. Returning to CBS later that year, Blondie continued there under a new sponsor (Colgate-Palmolive) until June 1949. In its final season, the series was heard on ABC from October 1949 to July 1950.

Television[edit]

Two Blondie TV sitcoms have been produced to date, each lasting only one season.

  • The first ran on NBC for 26 episodes in 1957, with Lake reprising his film and radio role and Pamela Britton as Blondie.
  • The second, broadcast on CBS in the 1968–69 season, had Patricia Harty and Will Hutchins in the lead roles and veteran comic actor Jim Backus portraying Mr. Dithers.

Animation[edit]

An animated cartoon TV special featuring the characters was shown in 1987,[12] with a second special, Second Wedding Workout, telecast in 1989. Blondie was voiced by Loni Anderson, Dagwood by Frank Welker. Both animated specials are available on the fourth DVD of the Advantage Cartoon Mega Pack.

In the episode Comic Caper (season six episode six) of Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, both Blondie and Dagwood make a cameo appearance. Blondie tells Dagwood that he is going to be late for work.As Dagwood rushes to door where knocks into the Muppet Babies who accidentally fall in their comic strip. Frank Welker who voiced Dagwood in the TV special also voiced Baby Kermit and Skeeter on Muppet Babies. Baby Kermit and Baby Piggy even parodied Blondie and Dagwood in one scene.

Garfield Gets Real[edit]

Dagwood appeared in the CGI animated film, Garfield Gets Real. He first appeared in the cafeteria scene in which he is holding a sandwich. He was later seen behind a folding door taking a bath. He appeared in the auditorium scene watching Garfield and Odie. He finally appeared in a crowd cheering Garfield and Odie. He did not appear in the sequels, Garfield's Fun Fest or Garfield's Pet Force.

Licensing/Merchandise[edit]

Over the years, Blondie characters have been merchandised as dolls, coloring books, toys, salt and pepper shakers, paint sets, paper doll cutouts, coffee mugs, cookie jars, neckties, lunchboxes, puzzles, games, Halloween costumes, Christmas ornaments, music boxes, refrigerator magnets, lapel pinbacks, greeting cards, and other products. In 2001, Dark Horse Comics issued two collectible figures of Dagwood and Blondie as part of their line of Classic Comic Characters—statues No. 19 and 20 respectively.

A counter-service restaurant called Blondie's opened at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure in May 1999, serving a traditional Dagwood-style sandwich. In fact, Blondie's bills itself as "Home of the Dagwood Sandwich." Lunch meats featuring Dagwood can be purchased at various grocery stores.

On May 11, 2006, Dean Young announced the opening of the first of his Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes that summer in Clearwater, Florida, and the comic strip characters discussed the notion of Dagwood opening his own sandwich shop. The official Dagwood sandwich served at Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes has the following ingredients: three slices of deli bread, hard salami, pepperoni, cappicola, mortadella, deli ham, cotto salami, cheddar, Provolone, red onion, green leaf lettuce, tomato, fresh and roasted red bell peppers, mayo, mustard, and a secret Italian olive salad oil.

Reprints and further reading[edit]

Youngmarschallblondie.jpg
Comic strip collections
  • Blondie #1 by Chic Young (1968) Signet
  • Blondie #2 by Chic Young (1968) Signet
  • Blondie (No. 1) by Dean Young and Jim Raymond (1976) Tempo
  • Blondie (No. 2) by Dean Young and Jim Raymond (1977) Tempo
  • The Best of Blondie by Dean Young, et al. (1977) Tempo
  • Blondie: Celebration Edition by Dean Young and Jim Raymond (1980) Tempo
  • Blondie (No. 3) by Dean Young and Jim Raymond (1982) Tempo
  • Blondie (No. 4): A Family Album by Dean Young and Mike Gersher (1982) Tempo
  • Blondie: More Surprises! by Dean Young and Mike Gersher (1983) Tempo
  • Blondie Book 1 (1986) by Dean Young and Stan Drake (1986) Blackthorne
  • Blondie: Mr Dithers, I Demand a Raise!! by Dean Young and Jim Raymond (1989) Tor
  • Blondie: But Blondie, I'm Taking a Bath!! by Dean Young and Jim Raymond (1990) Tor
  • Blondie: The Bumstead Family History by Dean Young and Melena Ryzik (2007) Thomas Nelson Pub. ISBN 1-4016-0322-X
  • Blondie: Volume 1 by Chic Young (2010) IDW Publishing ISBN 1-60010-740-0 (First of a projected series)
Related fiction
  • Blondie and Dagwood in Footlight Folly (1947) Dell (An original paperback novel, not illustrated. Unnumbered, but usually considered part of Dell's mapback series)
  • Blondie's Family (1954) Treasure/Wonder Book (a full-color storybook for children)
History
  • Blondie & Dagwood's America (1981) Harper & Row ISBN 0-06-090908-0 (Dean Young and Rick Marschall's collaboration, providing an historical background of the strip)
  • Blondie Goes to Hollywood: The Blondie Comic Strip in Films, Radio & Television by Carol Lynn Scherling (2010) BearManor Media ISBN 978-1-59393-401-9

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Markstein, Don. "Blondie"". Toonopedia.com. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  2. ^ "Torstar Syndication". Tsscontent.ca. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  3. ^ "Big Deals: Comics’ Highest-Profile Moments," Hogan's Alley #7, 1999
  4. ^ "Blondie_pamphlet7.indd" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  5. ^ Redden, Susan; Andy Ostmeyer (October 7, 2009). "Typical Joplin family would pay $5,625 for premium under one proposal w/ health care subsidy calculator". The Joplin Globe. Retrieved December 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ Dean Young and John Marshall. "Blondie comic strip for 2013-09-26". DailyInk. Retrieved 2013-09-27. 
  7. ^ "Pearls Before Swine Comic Strip, September 20, 2005 on". Gocomics.com. 2005-09-20. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  8. ^ "Blondie's 75 Year Anniversary". Blondie.com. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-22. 
  9. ^ "'Blondie' to mark 75th anniversary with comic strip cameos". CBC.ca. July 15, 2005. 
  10. ^ Wallace, Derek (August 13, 2005). "Blondie Celebrates 75 Years". Virtue Magazine 1 (15). 
  11. ^ "Toonopedia". Toonopedia. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  12. ^ IMDb

External links[edit]