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Blondie: 75th Anniversary

Blondie: 75th Anniversary published on No Comments on Blondie: 75th Anniversary

Extra bonus points if you can name every comic style mimicked here.

Erin: Unless you’ve been on a desert island and haven’t seen a Sunday paper for months, you know that Blondie has just hit an impressive landmark: its 75th anniversary. This is a big thing in the comic world, and its influence has not only drawn cameos from other strips into Blondie, but spilled over into the strips themselves. It’s like when Schulz retired all over again. Webcomics are lucky to last five years, but even in the newspapers 75 years is a huge achievement.

The sad part of this is that its age is the only thing that Blondie is actually notable for at this point. It’s a gag strip about a family in suburbia, a dad with a desk job, 2.5 kids, and a dog. Shades of The Middletons, and Hi and Lois, and Luann. Strips like these could run the same golf joke with each of their sets of characters, and no one would be the wiser.

It isn’t exactly hard to get variations on this theme. Look at Foxtrot. Instead of the family dog, it has…an iguana. That kind of quirky creativity is all you need to set a suburban-family strip apart from the rest. No such luck with Blondie. It’s especially ironic because Blondie made a name for itself (way back in the ’30s) for giving an unexpected twist to one of the era’s overused themes.

Blondie was a textbook “pretty girl” strip — a genre that featured a lovely heroine drawn in a realistic style, as opposed to her supporting cast, who were more cartoonish and exaggerated. Blondie herself was a good girl, but a bit of an airhead (not that that turned away any suitors). Then Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead — heir to a fortune of millions (in 1933 dollars, no less!) — fell in love, and decided to get married.

(You’re only seeing half-strips here. The full things are too long and detailed to fit into this image legibly.)

Dagwood’s aristocratic parents opposed it, but after Dagwood went on a hunger strike, they finally relented, and the Cathy-and-Irving wedding of the decade was held.

The plot went on from there, but stayed creative!

In just the few months that I’ve read, this strip did more than, say, Garfield does in a year. (Merchandising excluded.) And besides, it ws funny.

Now, after seven decades and several writers, Blondie putters around in safe waters, doing the same bland suburbanite jokes. The original feeling of the strip, and all elemetns that made up the unique humor that set it apart in the 30s, are gone.

I guess that’s one reason to be glad that Calvin and Hobbes quit after ten years.

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