Susanna McLeod, Let's Celebrate! Seventy-five Years of Blondie!

September 9, 2005

    Dancing, racing to work with a kiss on the way out the door and smiling at each other through it all, Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead have reached the glorious milestone of 75 years of publication of Blondie. It’s an event few comic strips manage to reach.

    Congratulations to the Young family of cartoonists: the late Chic Young who developed the idea and created Blondie until 1973, to Dean Young, who worked for ten years with his father then took over the strip when Chic died, and whose writing keeps the Bumsteads modern, funny and endearing to our hearts. And to artist Denis Lebrun, whose drawing skill keeps Blondie young and beautiful despite her numerous decades. One of Dean’s three daughters, Diane, joined her dad in writing the strip for the last sixteen years and is being groomed to take control when the time is ripe.

    When planning the 75th Anniversary celebration of Blondie, 65-year-old Dean decided to spread the joy, enlisting a couple dozen cartoonists to participate in the build-up to a big ‘toon Anniversary Party, set for September 4th. The lead-up to the happy event began three months in advance and grew as September neared.

    The Bumsteads, or some of their trademark activities, such as Dagwood running smack into the mailman, made appearances in different comic strips. Jeremy, the main character in Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, ran kersplat into the mailman. “Cleanup in panel three!” he shouted. In the Blondie strip, the King from the Wizard of Id, by Brant Parker, joined Dagwood at his office to meet Mr. Dithers, the two tyrants thrilled to be introduced. Other characters made cameo appearances in the Blondie strip on the premise that they were visiting at the Bumstead home for the anniversary festivities. It was a brilliant idea that made for great story lines and laughs.

Blondie 1

Blondie 2

    Blondie cartoonists sketched the visiting characters into the strip, (and did a very good job of drawing other cartoonists’ characters) and the same artists, when given the opportunity, also drew Blondie and Dagwood as they appeared in other strips. Originating on September 7, 1930, main Blondie character, Blondie Boopadoop, was a gorgeous flapper girl who caught the eye of Dagwood, then the son of a wealthy railroad magnate and heir to a fortune. In defiance of his family, Dagwood married Blondie, giving up his future inheritance for a middle-class life of true love.

    The comic strip has enjoyed ongoing popularity, perhaps because of the familiarity to readers, the ability to identify with the work-a-day frustrations of jobs, raising children and being a family. Blondie creators have kept the strip fresh and appealing to millions of readers by presenting modern life as it happens. Blondie is a successful businesswoman. Dagwood is a computer guy. Cell phones, huge Dagwood sandwiches and the comfy couch are part of the scenery that fans enjoy.

    Blondie is an amazing triumph of comic art and enduring humour. The strip appears through King Features Syndicate in over 2,300 newspapers in 55 countries around the world and in 33 languages.

Blondie 3

    Congratulations to Blondie on 75 years of cartooning success – let’s raise a glass and a cheer to many, many more!

Information for this story was found at: The Blondie website:
http://www.blondie.com

To read more about the inventive Blondie creators Dean Young and Denis Lebrun see:
Dean Young and Denis Lebrun, Creators of Blondie

An online chat with Dean Young:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2005/08/22/DI2005082200690.html

Article about Blondie’s 75th Anniversary and a photo of Dean Young:
http://www.sptimes.com/2005/08/16/Floridian/75_years_of_Bumstead_.shtml

© Susanna McLeod 2005
TheCartoonists.ca  
     
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)