By: Jack Swift
Johnson County Historian
Newspaper comic strips are very enjoyable to me. I have read the “funnies” for a long time, since I was a young child as a matter of fact. My uncle always subscribed to the Knoxville Journal newspaper through the mail and since I ambled over to his house almost every day, I started reading the comics in the Journal and have remained a fan of them since then.
Some of them apparently just haven’t stood the test of time because there are many that I enjoyed early on that are no longer featured in newspapers — at least the ones that I’m knowledgeable about. Some of the strips that ran in the Journal when I was little were Terry and the Pirates, the Phantom, the Lone Ranger, Mark Trails, Lil Abner, Gasoline Alley and a host of others.
I read nearly almost all of the strips that I have access to but I do have my favorites. One of my all-time favorites is Blondie. I can identify with Dagwood, Blondie’s husband in some ways. That comic strip was originally drawn by cartoonist Chic Young, who had also drawn some other comic strips before he created the Blondie comics. The strip was launched in 1930. Young died in 1953. Following his death, creative control passed to his son Dean Young who continued to write and draw the strip.
The strip has remained popular. According to reports it has appeared in more than 2,000 newspapers in 47countries and translated into 35 languages.
In the strip, Blondie’s husband Dagwood Bumstead likes and makes tremendous sandwiches from food he often finds in the refrigerator in the middle of the night. He works in the office at the J. C. Dithers Construction Company. He is often found at a not-so appetizing diner for lunch. He and the across-the-counter owner always have amusing banter.
The Bumsteads’ next door neighbors and friends are Herb and Tootsie Woodley. Blondie and Tootsie never know what their respective husbands will be up to next. Herb borrows tools and other items and it seems he never gives it back until Dagwood goes after it. Sometimes a fight ensues. The Bumstead’ have two children: Alexander and Cookie. And they are typical teenagers. Other characters in the strip include Mr. Beasley their postman. Elmo is the kid next door. Their dog Daisy is constantly by Dagwood’s side. So, there’s no doubt that the comic strip Blondie is a bright spot for many folks as they read the newspaper and have that first cup of coffee.