July 28, 2005

Blondie and Dagwood to celebrate 75th anniversary

By Robert Green

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - Blondie and Dagwood
Bumstead are about to celebrate their 75th anniversary as one
of the world's most popular couples and many of their cartoon
colleagues are coming to the party.

Garfield, Hagar the Horrible, Dick Tracy and Beetle Bailey
are among the characters who will join the Bumsteads on Sunday,
Sept. 4.

President Bush and his wife Laura will appear a week
earlier, according to Blondie cartoonist Dean Young. He said
the strip appears in over 2,300 newspapers in 55 countries with
a readership of 250 million in 35 languages.

And Blondie and Dagwood will show up in several other comic
strips during the next few weeks as they prepare for the big

"I'm hoping it will be a lot of fun for the readers," Young
said in an interview at his studio in Clearwater Beach,

Blondie was started by Young's father Murat "Chic" Young in
1930. Dean Young, 66, took over the strip in 1973 when his
father died.

"He created these wonderful characters. He was a genius,"
Young said of his father.

Chic Young had worked on other strips including "Beautiful
Bab" and "Dumb Dora" before "Blondie."

When the strip debuted on September 8, 1930, its heroine
was Blondie Boopadoop, who was pretty and single. Dagwood was
the playboy son of a railroad tycoon and one of her several

Blondie was popular at first but interest in a strip about
rich characters declined as the Depression spread.


In 1932, Chic Young had Blondie and Dagwood fall in love.
They were married in 1933, but Dagwood's parents disapproved of
Blondie and disinherited him, forcing him to go to work and
live a middle class life.

Their son Alexander was born in 1934 and daughter Cookie
joined the family in 1941. Both children grew until they became
teenagers while Blondie and Dagwood remain in their early 40s.

Young said he tries to keep the strip contemporary with the
characters using computers and cell phones.

In 1991, Blondie got her first job when she started a
catering business with her friend Tootsie.

But many of the jokes in the strip focus on recurring
themes. Dagwood knocks over his mailman running to work and
gets interrupted when he tries to take a nap or a bath. He
still works for the J.C. Dithers Construction Company even
though his boss yells at him and never gives him a raise.

"The strip is ageless and enduring, continuously
reinventing itself to stay current while remaining true to its
core," King Features Syndicate President T.R. Shepard said.

Young said at the heart of the strip's success was the
couple's relationship. "Blondie and Dagwood love each other.
It's nice to see that," he said.

The strip's popularity led to a series of 28 Blondie movies
between 1938 and 1950 as well as radio and television shows.
Blondie was featured on a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal
Service and in a Library of Congress exhibit. The characters
are even seen on casino slot machines.

Young said he hopes Blondie can continue for many more
years. He said one of his daughters may take over for him some
day, but not anytime soon.

"I love being a cartoonist," he said.