Three special strips help mark Blondie's 70th anniversary

Friday, September 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

We should all look so good at 70, though it helps when the lines of age can simply be erased.

Blondie, the comic strip whose title character has evolved from flapper to homemaker to businesswoman, marks its 70th anniversary this weekend with three special strips that commemorate its enduring humor and charm.

Friday's strip incorporates a panel from Blondie's first year, while Saturday's gives Dagwood, Blondie's husband, his comeuppance in yet another collision with the mailman. Sunday's color strip is a battery – in more ways than one – of tributes to the long-suffering Dagwood.

Dean Young, 61, writes the strip that his late father, Chic Young, began on Sept. 8, 1930. Denis Lebrun, 41, draws it. Both men live in Florida.

Mr. Lebrun is the fourth illustrator to draw Blondie. He manages to balance his own artistic efforts on the strip with the task of continuing the work of those who preceded him at the drawing table.

"I've talked to several cartoonists who'd rather do it their own way," he said. "But I'm more than happy to keep it going" and maintain the recognizable characters and situations that have made Blondie a household name.

With Friday's strip, Mr. Lebrun said it was "a little intimidating" to match the charm of the center panel – a scene from 1930 of the love-struck Blondie and Dagwood courting – with the present-day panels that adjoin and mimic it.

Blondie and Dagwood – he of the frequent naps, singing in the bathtub and making sandwiches out of everything he can find in the refrigerator – began their lives on the comics pages when Dagwood, heir to the Bumstead automotive fortune, gave up his inheritance to marry party-girl Blondie on Feb. 17, 1933. Now they're the parents of Cookie and Alexander; Blondie runs a catering business while Dagwood is the constant target of his eternally fuming boss, Mr. Dithers.

Blondie has left its mark on popular culture during its 70-year run: a string of movies in the 1930s and '40s, two short-lived TV series, even a commemorative postage stamp.

The comic strip he inherited from his father is a "treasure," Dean Young said in an interview last year with The Dallas Morning News. Chic Young created such a "great menagerie of characters," his son said, that writing the strip is "easy to do. ... You put these characters together and sparks just fly."

And the next time Dagwood and his letter carrier collide, the mail will, too.