By Dean Young & Rick Marschall (Arthur Barker Limited)
Blondie was for decades the most popular – for which read most commercially successful – newspaper strip in the world. She and her hapless husband Dagwood celebrated 75 years of publication in 2005 and are still going strong today both in print and online. In 1981 this fabulously inclusive and authoritative anniversary compilation was released, and I’m starting early in my campaign to commemorate their 80th – in autumn 2010 – by agitating for its revision and re-release.
The strip was created by Murat Bernard “Chic” Young and handled by King Features Syndicate. It launched on September 8, 1930, the result of a startling game of one-upmanship between Young and King’s general manager Joe Connolly.
A success with the flapper strip Beautiful Bab, Young followed up with the hit Dumb Dora in 1924. He was on a fast track to stardom when the stock market crash wiped out his savings in 1929. Broke and with a new bride, he wanted a new contract for a new feature that he owned and controlled.
Understandably the management had other ideas, but when the artist packed up and took ship for Paris Connelly caved and Blondie was born. She was an instant sensation, spawning 28 movies (1938-1950) starring Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake, who also voiced a radio show (1939-1950) as well as three TV series in 1954, 1958 and 1968-69. The comicbook adventures from Harvey, King and Charlton ran for decades…
In the early days tension was high as the wealthy Dagwood family tried to stop their idiot scion from marrying a low, common blonde, but in 1933, disinherited but happy, they finally wed and the real magic of this everyday family comedy began.
Chic Young drew Blondie until his death in 1973, when his son Dean took over. He has worked with many artists on the strip, including Jim Raymond, Mike Gersher, Stan Drake, Denis Lebrun and most recently, John Marshall. Through it all, Blondie has remained uncannily popular, appearing in more than 2,300 newspapers in 55 countries, translated into 35 languages. Chic Young won the Reuben Award in 1948 for the strip and in 1995 the strip was honoured as one of twenty selected as part of the Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative US Postage Stamps.
This book reprints hundreds of the best strips backed up by wonderfully chatty and informative text-pieces from the junior Young and historian Rick Marschall to provide an enchanting treat for all the family. I don’t know how easy this book is to find and of course other collections are available (most notably 2007’s Blondie: the Complete Family History, published by Thomas Nelson- ISBN-13: 978-1-40160-322-9) but I’ve never found one that featured as broad a spread of strips from this comic landmark’s incredibly long history. Good hunting, and don’t forget to bring a sandwich…
The book was originally published in the US under the title Blondie & Dagwood’s America.
© 1981 King Features Syndicate Inc. World Rights Reserved.