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Blondie

by Dean Young

About the Comic   The Cartoonist   The Characters  
About the Comic

From flapper and playboy to pop culture icons. It was way back in 1930 when Dagwood Bumstead first met Blondie. (Consider yourself a true fan if you know Blondie's maiden name.)

Created by Chic Young during the dark days of the Depression, Blondie was introduced to readers as a flighty gold-digger -- a "screwball" heroine with many beaus, including Dagwood, heir to the lucrative Bumstead Locomotive Works. A natural bungler, Dagwood was wonderfully inept as a suitor. But to make matters worse, the J. Bolling Bumsteads -- Dagwood's wealthy and rather stuffy parents -- opposed the match.

Blondie might have faded into oblivion but for a stroke of creative genius: the couple really fell in love. Dagwood defied his parents, went on a 28-day hunger strike, was disinherited, and married his Blondie anyway!

The wedding, on Feb. 17, 1933, was easily the most notable marriage in America in that year! Vowing to "live on love," the young couple moved to a modest house in the suburbs, where they struggled over bills, bought furniture, met neighbors and fought and made up just like millions of couples everywhere.

As Blondie's popularity expanded, so did the Bumstead family. A son, Baby Dumpling (real name Alexander), was born Apr. 15, 1934, and, in 1941 came the second child, Cookie, who was named in a readers' contest. Nearly half a million readers submitted suggestions, even though the prize money was a mere $100!

Blondie has survived for seven decades through war and peace, boom and bust, sexual revolution and social upheaval. Why? Eating. Sleeping. Making a living. Raising a family. Loving and laughing. With these simple but universal themes, Blondie transcended its origins as a pretty-girl romance to become the most widely read strip in comic art history.

Today an estimated 250 million readers keep up with the Bumsteads' enduring domestic comedy seven days a week, 365 days a year. Fans rate Blondie among their top five "most popular comics" in newspaper reader surveys year in and year out. The list of newspapers carrying the strip has continued to grow steadily since Blondie first appeared Sept. 8, 1930. The comic now appears in more than 2,000 newspapers in 47 countries and is translated into more than 35 languages.

While the setting may seem quintessentially American, fans around the world have often expressed surprise to learn that it's not homespun material. Spanish-speaking readers, for example, know Blondie and Dagwood as Pepita and Lorenzo; in Paris, the Bumsteads are Les Dupont; readers in Sweden follow Dagobert to his job every day. The strip's popularity extends to places as diverse as Kuwait and New Guinea.

Blondie has also received phenomenal worldwide exposure through books, radio, television and film. And "The Dagwood Sandwich" has even become part of the language! It's described by Webster's New World Dictionary as "a thick sandwich with a variety of fillings, often of apparently incompatible foods" -- such as peanut butter, avocado, horseradish and a fish! And Blondie is featured on the first-ever U.S. postage stamps commemorating the first 100 years of the comic strip.

Produced today under the direction of the creator's son, Dean Young, the strip has continued to keep up with the times. And although Dagwood forsook his millionaire's inheritance long ago, he's been happy ever since. So has Blondie. And so have millions and millions of fans.