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COMIC LEGEND: Blondie was launched with a strange stunt involving her lingerie.
Blondie is a familiar comic strip to many readers. It is a cute, domestic comic about Dagwood Bumstead and his wife, Blondie (and their kids and Dagwood’s job and his love of sandwiches).
However, it did not start out that way.
When its creator, Chic Young (his son Dean currently writes the strip), began the strip, he was already a successful comic strip creator, working on the popular strip Dumb Dora…
After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Young tried to renegotiate his deal with his syndicate. He eventually worked out a new deal where he would get a nice cut out of a new strip he would debut. This strip would be called Blondie.
Back in the 1930s, just like today, if you were a hit in syndication you could make a bundle of money. It is a lot harder to get a comic picked up by newspapers nowadays then it was back in the 1930s when there were lots more newspapers and lots more pages of comic strips in each paper. However, while it was easier to get a strip picked up PERIOD, it was very hard to get your strip noticed in the deluge of comic strips at the time. Therefore, comic strip syndicates would come up with stunts to promote their new strips. The one that they used for Blondie is one of the oddest.
The original concept for the strip was that Blondie was a flapper who was dating a rich guy named Dagwood, whose family presumed that she was a gold digger.
Here is the first strip…
So to launch the strip, an engagement notice was sent to newspaper comic strip editors announcing Blondie and Dagwood’s engagement. Then a letter from Dagwood’s father’s lawyer followed, saying that the engagement was a lie. Then a letter from Blondie followed, saying she would come to visit them to straighten things out. She was going to send a suitcase ahead, though, and please don’t look inside!
The cardboard suitcase arrived and it was filled with women’s clothing. Paper doll women’s clothing, of course.
Finally, Blondie arrived herself, mailed in her lingerie with a note “Here I am, just like I told you I’d be. Only, please, Mr. Editor, put some clothes on me quick. I sent them on ahead, you remember my pink bag. I’m so embarrassed! Blondie.”
How awesome is that?
The strip actually didn’t do too well early on, but when Young actually decided to marry Dagwood and Blondie and make it a domestic strip, it REALLY took off.
Amusingly enough, Young continued doing paper dolls with Blondie in her underwear on the Sunday pages. Here are a few courtesy of Suzanne Young…
I love that they even did them for the Bumstead’s neighbor, Herb!
Thanks to R.C. Harvey (who wrote a fascinating article for Comics Journal about Chic Young and the development of Blondie) and Brian Walker (whose book Chic Young’s Blondie: The Complete Daily Comic Strips from 1930-1931 revealed the story) for the information about this early time in Blondie’s history!
On the next page, did the Bat-crossover War Games end with the revelation that Leslie Thompkins let Stephanie Brown die to prove a point to Batman?