Happy Anniversary, Dagwood and Blondie
Or: The More Comics Strips Change....
I've been getting about a billion search requests a day for Dagwood, or some form of Dagwood and . After a bit of research, I figured out why. Dagwood and Blondie are celebrating 75 years of comic stripping together.
I was once a big fan of Dagwood and Blondie and the rest of the Bumstead family, so I wish them a very happy anniversary. It looks like the party is going to be a big one, with all kinds of characters getting invites and The official anniversary date is September 4th. The current strip and all the dailies leading up to the big day are filled with visits from other comic characters; the other invited strips are also making note of it on their own pages. News from Me offers a helpful list of which invited characters appear on which day.
I notice that many of those going to the party are from strips that I used to read as a child, but gave up on at some point. Heck, I gave up on newspaper comics all together many years ago.
Back in the day (yea, I just said back in the day, I'm a geezer like that) I waited at the front door for the newspaper boy in the morning so I could be the first to see what new adventures awaited Dondi. You don't remember Dondi, do you? He was a big-headed orphan kid who got into all kinds of adventures. I was a kid when I read Dondi, so I related to his stories. Of course, being a kid didn't stop me from reading Apartment 3G, most of which I didn't understand but followed like a soap opera anyhow. I half-heartedly followed the Peanuts gang, but my image of that whole crowd was ruined forever by an hysterical parody of the strip in Mad Magazine sometime in the 70's, with the gang as hippies. I used to read Broom Hilda and Gasoline Alley and the Amazing Spider Man and, yes, I followed the trials and tribulations of Brenda Starr right up until the moment Brooke Shields ruined the glamour for me.
Comics were thrilling back then. You really don't have to pick up a paper today to know what's happening on the comics page. In fact, I will boldly predict what today's full-paneled, full-colored strips will bring: Cathy goes on a diet! Garfield eats Lasagna! Jeffy does something precious! Dagwood makes a sandwich and/or takes a nap!
Where's the fresh jokes? Where is the satirical commentary on modern life? Is life in comic strips really that predictable? I long for the days of Spaceman Spiff, talking cows and my favorite penguin. and that weird kid named Dondi.
I imagine a world where all current comic strip characters live. Their daily lives are much like the lives they play out in the newspaper each day. Here comes Billy, running zig-zag through the neighborhood just to fetch his dad the paper, which was right on his front step all along! Ah, but next door neighbor Dagwood has had quite enough of this nonsense and runs after Billy, knocks him down and beats him with a Subway 12 incher. Cathy comes running out of her house to see what's going on and as Dagwood is mercilessly rubbing Billy's face in the dirt, Cathy gives in to her cravings and eats the Subway sandwich that Dagwood dropped. Uh, oh! Here comes the mom from For Better or Worse And they would all be entertained with a fantastic donut eating contest between Garfield and Cathy, and later on Momma will find Cathy puking her guts out and she'll realize what the rest of the world figured out long ago; Cathy has an eating disorder, most likely brought on by stress from dealing with both her overbearing mother and her passive aggressive boyfriend.
Of course, if I drew that comic land one day, it would end badly. I suppose some giant, drooling alien who goes by the name of Calvin and looks somewhat like a dinosaur would eventually stomp through town, crushing every last cliched character to death. Free at last. Ding Dong, Ziggy and his animals are dead.
I long for the days when comics weren't so treacly and warm and fuzzy. I don't want to see Grandpa's spirit hanging over Jeffy's shoulder, making sure he doesn't get hurt. If I wanted something like that, I would just start a Precious Moments collection. I want to see more strips where moms tell their sons to go play chicken with a train. I want to see more surreal silliness. I certainly don't want to see my formerly funny, cute, endearing, charming comic characters dealing with date rape and engaging in homewrecking.
One can only live so long on a steady diet of shopping and lasagna before they give up and close the paper. Sure, there are still a few comics I find funny, but I can just click and read and not have to open the paper funny page to find Dick Tracy staring up at me as if he was still relevant.
In my comic world, Dick Tracy would be retired by now, living in a one bedroom apartment where he spends his day cursing at Matlock on the television while resting another can of Miller Lite on his beer belly. Every once in a while, Brenda Starr would stop over for a visit, but things would always turn ugly when Dick reminds Brenda that she hasn't aged well at all.
Not many of them have aged well, actually. And the ones that did packed up and left the neighborhood a long time ago. Guess you gotta know when to fold 'em.
Still, I must take a moment to thank Blondie and Dagwood for the smiles and laughs they gave me, and the sandwiches Dagwood inspired me to make, back in the glory days of newspaper comics, back when the jokes were fresh and my morning highlight was reading the funnies.
[Well. This went much better than the last time I tried to blog about a comic strip character or that character's day of celebration]