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Blondie
Blondie Logo 2007
Blondie logo, featuring Dagwood, Blondie, Daisy, son Alexander and daughter Cookie.
Author(s) Chic Young
Dean Young & 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 a well-endowed 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 currently, John Marshall. Through these changes, Blondie has remained popular, appearing in more than 2000 newspapers in 47 countries and translated into 35 languages. Since 2006, Blondie has also been available via email through King Features' DailyINK service.[2]

Overview

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 flapper catchphrase popularized by Helen Kane in the 1928 song "I Wanna Be Loved by You" (with its tag line, "boop-boop-a-doop") and which was referenced for the flapper cartoon character named Betty Boop, who first appeared in 1930 and was seen in her own King Features comic strip, drawn by Bud Counihan from 1934 to 1937.

Marriage

On February 17, 1933, after much fanfare and build-up, Blondie Boopadoop marries her boyfriend Dagwood Bumstead, the son of a wealthy industrialist. 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.[3]

Setting

“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.[4]

Cast of characters

  • Blondie Bumstead (nee 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 have a fiery temper when crossed.
  • Dagwood Bumstead: Blondie's husband. A kind yet naive 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. He can also often be seen napping on his couch.
  • Alexander Bumstead: the eldest child of Blondie and Dagwood who is in his late teens, formerly referred to by pet name "Baby Dumpling". As a child, he was very mischievous and precocious.
  • Cookie Bumstead: the younger child of Blondie and Dagwood who is her early teens. Cookie is portrayed as a typical teenage girl whose interests include dating, hanging out with friends and clothes.
  • Daisy and her five pups (though the pups are seldom seen in recent years)
  • Mr. Beasley the postman
  • Mr. (Julius Caesar) Dithers
  • Mrs. (Cora) Dithers
  • Herb Woodley
  • Tootsie Woodley
  • Elmo Tuttle
  • Lou the diner counterman

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 slaves away 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-5-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

Dagwood Sandwich 20070417

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, fifth, etc.
  • Dagwood's hobby is household carpentry, but unfortunately his projects don't turn out well. Once, he builds 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.

Colonel Potterby and the Duchess

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

Modernization

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 motor on the top).

Blondie flat panel 20070924

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 a bowtie, or garters to hold up his socks. Around the house, he frequently wears sport shirts, and his standard dress shirt with one large button in the middle is slowly disappearing. Around the house, Blondie 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 he does it in a more modern office at J.C. Dithers Construction Company. Their desk computers sport flat panel monitors, and Mr. Dithers, when in a rage, now 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 touchtone 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 2000–01, 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 site, while talking about attending rock concerts of popular current Rock, Pop, and Hip Hop music acts.

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.

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

75th anniversary

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. This cross-over promotion began July 10, 2005, and continued until September 4, 2005.[5][6][7]

Awards

Blondie in other media

Comic books

  • 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 (1965–66) King Comics, 12 issues
  • Blondie (1969–76) Charlton Comics, 46 issues

Film

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).

As the series progressed, the Bumstead children grew from toddlers to young adults onscreen. Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling (later known as Alexander) reprised his role in all the films. Daughter Cookie was played by three different child actresses, beginning in 1942 with her first appearance (as an infant) in Blondie's Blessed Event, the eleventh entry in the series. Daisy had pups in the 12th episode, Blondie For Victory (1942). Rounding out the regular supporting cast, character actor Jonathan Hale played Dagwood's irascible boss, J.C. Dithers (succeeded by Jerome Cowan as George M. Radcliffe in Blondie's Big Moment). The Bumsteads' neighbors, the Woodleys, did not appear in the series until the final film, Beware of Blondie. They were played by Emory Parnell and Isabel Withers.

Blondiemay75012

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.

  • Blondie (1938)
  • Blondie Meets the Boss (1939)
  • Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939)
  • Blondie Brings Up Baby (1939)
  • Blondie on a Budget (1940)
  • Blondie Has Servant Trouble (1940)
  • Blondie Plays Cupid (1940)
  • Blondie Goes Latin (1941)
  • Blondie in Society (1941)
  • Blondie Goes to College (1942)
  • Blondie's Blessed Event (1942)
  • Blondie for Victory (1942)
  • It's a Great Life (1943)
  • Footlight Glamour (1943)
  • Leave It to Blondie (1945)
  • Life with Blondie (1946)
  • Blondie's Lucky Day (1946)
  • Blondie Knows Best (1946)
  • Blondie's Big Moment (1947)
  • Blondie's Holiday (1947)
  • Blondie in the Dough (1947)
  • Blondie's Anniversary (1947)
  • Blondie's Reward (1948)
  • Blondie's Secret (1948)
  • Blondie's Big Deal (1949)
  • Blondie Hits the Jackpot (1949)
  • Blondie's Hero (1950)
  • Beware of Blondie (1950)

Radio

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

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

An animated cartoon TV special featuring the characters was shown in 1987,[9] 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.

Garfield Gets Real

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

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 #19 and 20 respectively.

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, Blondie's bills itself as "Home of the Dagwood Sandwich." Lunch meats can be purchased at grocery stores featuring Dagwood and an assortment of meats.

On May 11, 2006, Dean Young announced the opening of the first of his Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes over the coming 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 these 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.[10]

Further reading

Youngmarschallblondie

There are numerous book collections reprinting the strip, including:

  • 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)
  • 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 & Dagwood's America (1981) Harper & Row ISBN 0060909080 (Dean Young and Rick Marschall's collaboration, providing an historical background of the strip)
  • 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 140160322X
  • 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
  • Blondie: Volume 1 by Chic Young (2010) IDW Publishing ISBN 1600107400 (First of a projected series)

See also

References

External links

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