Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Meta Blondie

For years, Blondie has been the subject of ridicule by younger comic strip artists. Take a look at Meta Barney & Clyde 3, for example. There's a perception that some things never change in Blondie. Dagwood's always being clobbered by his boss, Dagwood always crashes into the mailman, Dagwood always creates gigantic sandwiches, etc.

But that's not really true. While the comic strip has settled into routines from time to time, it hasn't become frozen in its tropes like some other strips have. When Chic Young began the strip in 1930, Blondie was a dizzy blonde flapper who dated Dagwood, the scion of an upper class family. Over time, the focus changed.

Blondie and Dagwood were married, and his family disowned him (a convenient way to reboot the strip). By 1934 the strip had become a middle-class domestic comedy. Baby Dumpling was born in in the late 1930's -- he's now a teenager and is called by his given name, Alexander. Cookie, his younger sister came along in 1941. She's also now a teenager.

After Chic Young died in 1973, the writing chores were taken over by his son, Dean. And then things really began to change. Dagwood's office now uses computers instead of typewriters. He carpools instead of taking the bus. And more importantly, Blondie is no longer a housewife -- she runs a successful catering business.

Other supporting characters have been added, and now the strip has ventured into new territory. What exactly is the J.C. Dithers company where Dagwood works? His mishandling of contracts has been a source of comedy throughout the years, but contracts for what? Chic Young originally represented it as a construction company.

In the long-running movies (28 films between 1938-1950) starring  Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake, the Dithers company is an architectural firm.

Chances are any reader who began reading it after 1950 has only seen it referred to as J.C. Dithers Company. Which is what this recent sequence is all about.(click on image to enlarge)

Kudos for Dean Young and John Marshall for taking a meta look at Blondie.

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