Blondie (comic strip)
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).
Blondie logo, featuring Dagwood, Blondie, Daisy, son Alexander, and daughter Cookie.
Dean Young and John Marshall
|Launch date||September 8, 1930|
|Syndicate(s)||King Features Syndicate|
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. 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."
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:
- 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.
Cast of characters
- 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 due to her young family and 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 and loving yet clumsy, naïve and lazy man whose cartoonish antics are the basis for the strip. He is a big fan of sports (primarily football and baseball) and has a large, insatiable appetite for food (but he remains slender). Dagwood is especially fond of making and eating the mile-high Dagwood sandwich. 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. His klutziness is also a fundamental part of his encounters with Mr. Beasley the mailman. Another subplot deals with Dagwood and his neighbor Herb. Dagwood can also often be seen napping on his own couch. He's employed at J. C. Dithers Construction Company, as office manager.
- 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. As a teenager, he is athletic, levelheaded and intelligent. Despite resembling his father, he is more down-to-earth like his mother. His full name, revealed in the November 7, 1934 strip, is Alexander Hamilton Bumstead.
- Cookie Bumstead: the younger child of Blondie and Dagwood who is in her early teens. Cookie is portrayed as a sweet, bubbly teenage girl whose interests include dating, hanging out with friends, and clothes. Her appearance has changed the most compared to the other characters. As a child (1940s-late 1950s) she originally had long curly hair with a black bow holding a long curl on the top of her head. As a young teen (late 1950s-1960s) she wore her hair in a ponytail with curly bangs. As an older teen (1970s-1990s) she wore her hair long with a black headband. Later (2000s) she dropped the hair band and wore her hair with bangs, barretes and flipped to the sides. Her current hairstyle is long with bangs and flipped at sides.
- Daisy: The Bumsteads' family dog whose best friend is Dagwood and who frequently changes her expression in response to Dagwood's comments or other activities. She gave birth to puppies in the later years of the comic.
- Mr. Beasley the Postman: The Bumsteads' mailman with whom Dagwood seems to always collide with and knock down as Dagwood hurriedly leaves the house. Beasley's birthday is August 26.
- Mr. Julius Caesar Dithers: Founder of the J.C. Dithers Construction Company and Dagwood's boss. He dictates orders to his employees and believes the best thing in life is money. Although it usually does not seem like it at the workplace, Mr. Dithers is a good-hearted man. Julius birthday is August 13.
- Mrs. Cora Dithers: Mr. Dithers' wife. She usually gets into fights with him as she exerts control over her husband. She is great friends with Blondie.
- Herb Woodley: Dagwood's best friend and next-door neighbor. Herb, though, can be extremely selfish and mean at times when he doesn't return the expensive power tools and favors that he usually borrows from Dagwood. Herb constantly finds means to annoy and infuriate him.
- 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 owner and counterman at 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. Lou is a very bad cook and all his meals are of extremely bad quality, horrible, terrible, tasteless, and way too expensive. Lou does little to improve the quality of his food or to gain the satisfaction of his customers.
- Claudia and Dwitzell: The carpoolers with Dagwood and Herb. Claudia is a lawyer. No occupation has been identified for Dwitzell, sometimes called "Dwitz".
- Mike Morelli the Barber: Dagwood's barber. He likes to make fun of Dagwood's hairstyle and can usually be seen with his nameplate, "M. Morelli" displayed by his barber's chair. Mike loves to lure and drag Dagwood into political debates at points where it usually leaves Dagwood frustrated.
- 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.
- Dagwood's impossible appetite for food:
- 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-usually for messing up an important contract
- 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 lend 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.
- Dagwood watching TV from his armchair while Daisy sleeps behind the chair; Blondie sits in her own chair facing away from Dagwood
During the early years of the strip, the Sunday installments were much in the vein of the then-popular genre of "pretty girl" strips (including a variety of regular suitors), rather than spoofing them like in the daily continuities. Dagwood would actually not appear in a Sunday page until January 1, 1933.
From September 21, 1930 to April 21, 1935, Young drew The Family Foursome as a topper, being 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 by their histrionic humor 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-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 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.
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 other South American countries 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-size sandwich.
- In 1948, Chic Young's work on the strip won him the National Cartoonists Society's Billy DeBeck Award for Cartoonist of the Year. When the award name was renamed the Reuben Award in 1954, all the prior winners were given Reuben statuettes.
- In 1995, the strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics series of United States Postal Service commemorative postage stamps.
Blondie in other media
- 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
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.
- 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)
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 Fantastic 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.
Licensing and merchandise
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
- 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) The Library of American Comics 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)
- 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
- "Markstein, Don. "Blondie"". Toonopedia.com. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
- "Torstar Syndication". Tsscontent.ca. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
- "Comics Kingdom - Blondie". www.comicskingdom.com. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
- "Big Deals: Comics’ Highest-Profile Moments," Hogan's Alley #7, 1999
- "Blondie_pamphlet7.indd" (PDF). Retrieved July 26, 2011.
- 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.
- Inc, ArcaMax Publishing. "Blondie for 8/26/2019". ArcaMax. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- In 2018 Dagwood Bumstead has a dream in which he is mistakenly visted by the ghost of Jacob Marley; Dagwood sends him off to the right house-that of Marley's old partner Julius Caesar Dithers! See Blondie December 23,2018
- Inc, ArcaMax Publishing. "Blondie for 8/13/2019". ArcaMax. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
- Blondie Comic 1 April 2018 On April Fools day 2018 Dithers actually sent a check for a raise to Dagwood-who thought the check was a joke and tore it up!
- Blondie comic 6 April 2018 actually showing Dagwood not messing up a contract in return for a bonus from Mr Dithers-a sports club jacket..but again no raise!
- in the Blondie Comic of December 14, 2014 Herb does return all of Dagwood tools that he has borrowed!
- Holtz, Allan (2012). American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. pp. 110, 146. ISBN 9780472117567.
- In a 2017 comic strip concerning Facebook messages Dagwood admits to Blondie that he broke a High school dating girl's heart-by accidentally eating her restraurant food!
- "Pearls Before Swine Comic Strip, September 20, 2005 on". Gocomics.com. September 20, 2005. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
- "Blondie's 75 Year Anniversary". Blondie.com. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
- "'Blondie' to mark 75th anniversary with comic strip cameos". CBC.ca. July 15, 2005.
- Wallace, Derek (August 13, 2005). "Blondie Celebrates 75 Years". Virtue Magazine. Vol. 1 no. 15.
- "Toonopedia". Toonopedia. Retrieved July 26, 2011.