This Sunday, September 4th, one of America's most beloved newspaper comic strips, called "Blondie," marks its 75th anniversary by throwing a party in the comic strip itself. Characters from more than twenty other strips are expected to appear. And there are hints that even President Bush, in cartoon form, may drop by.
"Blondie" debuted at the end of the "Roaring Twenties" jazz era and the beginning of the Great Depression. She was a "flapper," a gorgeous, carefree girl named "Blondie Boopadoop" who gave up fringe dresses and dancing the Charleston to marry a good-hearted but dimwitted millionaire named Dagwood Bumstead. Dagwood's parents cut off his money for marrying such an unsuitable girl, so Dagwood got a job, and strong-willed Blondie ran the house in the suburbs.
The strip gave birth to comic books, twenty-eight movies, and a television show -- all featuring Blondie and Dagwood, Dagwood's grouchy boss, the mailman whom ditsy Dagwood keeps crashing into, and the Bumstead kids -- Baby Dumpling and Cookie. Tales of Dagwood's clumsiness, interrupted naps, and fondness for super-jumbo sandwiches known as "Dagwoods," peppered the story lines.
These days, the strip retains its 1930s look, but its themes match our times. Twenty-first century Blondie has her own job as a caterer, Dagwood carpools to work, and the characters use digital phones and computers.
"Blondie" now appears in more than 200 newspapers -- in 30-some languages -- around the world. Dean Young, who took over the strip from his father, believes "Blondie" endures because readers admire the love that the Bumsteads have for each other, despite their perpetual stumbles. At a time when cynical and violent images are crowding into the not-so-"funny" pages of our daily newspapers, "Blondie" proves that warmhearted stories about life's daily complications have timeless appeal.
This is one of VOA's Only in America radio essays on events and trends that are peculiarly American. To visit our Only in America home page click here.