Blondie logo, featuring Dagwood, Blondie, Daisy, son Alexander, and daughter Cookie.
|Author(s)||Chic Young (1930-73)|
Dean Young (1973-present)
|Launch date||September 8, 1930|
|Syndicate(s)||King Features Syndicate|
Blondie is an American comic strip created by cartoonist Chic Young. The comic strip is distributed by King Features Syndicate, and has been published in newspapers since September 8, 1930. 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 wrote and drew Blondie until his death in 1973, when creative control passed to his son Dean Young. A number of artists have assisted on drawing the strip over the years, including Alex Raymond, Jim Raymond, Paul Fung Jr., Mike Gersher, Stan Drake, Denis Lebrun, Jeff Parker, and (since 2005) John Marshall. Despite these changes, Blondie has remained popular, appearing in more than 2,000 newspapers in 47 countries and translated into 35 languages. From 2006 to 2013, Blondie had also been available via email through King Features' DailyINK service.
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 along with her boyfriend Dagwood Bumstead, heir to an industrial fortune. The name "Boopadoop" derives from the scat singing lyric that was popularized by Helen Kane's 1928 song "I Wanna Be Loved by You."
Blondie and Dagwood debuted on September 8, 1930 in the New York American and several other newspapers across North America. The strip was only moderately popular in its first two and a half years, as interest in humorous "pretty girl" stories dried up as a result of the Great Depression, turning Blondie into a parody of those strips taking a more melodramatic direction. In mid-1932, and considering the scenario to have run its course, Young briefly tried writing Dagwood out of the daily continuities by having his parents sending him on a cruise to Europe and replacing him as Blondie's boyfriend with a garage mechanic, but immediate reader response led to Dagwood returning by late August.
On February 17, 1933, after much fanfare and build-up, Blondie and Dagwood were married. After a month-and-a-half-long hunger strike by Dagwood to get his parents' blessing, as they strongly disapproved of his marrying beneath his class, they disinherited him. Left only with a check to pay for their honeymoon, the Bumsteads were forced to become a middle-class suburban family. The marriage was a significant media event, given the comic strip's popularity. The catalog for the University of Florida's 2005 exhibition, "75 Years of Blondie, 1930-2005," notes:
During the early years of the strip, the Sunday installments were much in the vein of the then-popular genre of "pretty girl" strips, rather than spoofing them like in the daily continuities, including a series of different suitors, most notably Hiho Hennepin, a short character who played a similar role to the one held by Dumb Dora's boyfriend Rod. In fact, Dagwood did actually not appear at all in a Sunday page until late 1931, and was only regularly featured in these beginning on January 29, 1933.
Young drew The Family Foursome as a topper from September 21, 1930, to April 21, 1935, after which it was replaced by the pantomime strip Colonel Potterby and the Duchess, which ran until November 3, 1963 (becoming a stand-alone strip in 1958).
For years, the Sunday installments were noted for their histrionic plots, as well for having 12 panels, switching to the standard half-page format in 1986.
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).
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. The round bedside alarm clock has been replaced by a more compact digital unit. 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-sleeved 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. Occasional references are still made to Cookie and her babysitting. Daisy, which 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 and 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 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.
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.
Blondie has been translated to various languages. In Mexico and South America, it ran as Lorenzo y Pepita, being quite popular between the 1940s and 1980s (while in most countries the family name was "Parachoques", in Chile they had "Jeringuis" as a surname). When it ran in Spain, however, the original names were kept. In French-speaking countries, the strip was known as Blondinette, while Dagwood was known as Dagobert, a name which is still used in France and Belgium to refer to a kind of large-sized sandwich.
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 them back. The studio reactivated the series, which ran another 14 films until discontinued permanently in 1950. Because some demand from movie theaters still existed, Columbia began reissuing the older films, beginning with the 1938 Blondie, and continued to release them in their original sequence well into the 1950s, when these were packaged for television by Columbia's video subsidiary Screen Gems.
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.
Two Blondie TV sitcoms have been produced to date, each lasting only one season.
Blondie and Dagwood were featured prominently in the cartoon movie Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter, which debuted on October 7, 1972. The movie was a part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie series.
Blondie and Dagwood made a brief animated appearance in The Fabulous Funnies, a TV special focusing on newspaper comics that aired on CBS in 1980. They appeared in the beginning, singing a song to host Loni Anderson with other comic strip characters. Later on, after a short interview with Dean Young and Jim Raymond (who was drawing the strip at the time), they featured a short sequence where Blondie urges a reluctant Dagwood to get a haircut. The animation was produced by Bill Melendez Productions.
An animated cartoon TV special featuring the characters was made in 1987 by Marvel Productions, (who had earlier collaborated with King Features for the animated series Defenders of the Earth, starring King Feature's adventure characters) and shown on CBS, 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. Both of these specials were paired with other comic strip-based specials; the first special was paired with a special based on Cathy; the second one was paired with Hägar the Horrible. In Video (VHS) in UK: Leisureview Video in 1989.
In a 1989 episode of the animated series Muppet Babies, entitled "Comic Caper", Blondie and Dagwood make a cameo appearance. Blondie tells Dagwood that he is going to be late for work. As Dagwood rushes to the door, he knocks into the Muppet Babies, who have fell into the world of the Blondie comic strip. Baby Kermit and Baby Piggy also parodied Blondie and Dagwood in one scene. The Muppet Babies series was produced by Marvel Productions, the producers of the 1987 and 1989 Blondie specials, and was also aired on the same network, CBS.
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.
The Dagwood Sandwiches featured in the strip are a recurring licensing opportunity on their own. 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 in a chain of licensed Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes that summer in Clearwater, Florida. In the comic strip around the time of the opening, characters discussed the notion of Dagwood opening his own sandwich shop. During its period of operation there were locations in Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, and Georgia. The chain suffered from financial difficulties and the promised 1,300 locations never materialized. Two lawsuits were filed against the developers and Dean Young alleging fraud about the chain's financial situation and the brand's strength. One was dismissed while the other was settled in arbitration. By 2011 the entire chain had gone bankrupt and every store related to the venture had closed. According to promotional materials at the time of the chain's opening, the official Dagwood sandwich served at Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes had 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.