American cartoonist Murat Bernard “Chic” Young, the creator of the comic strip Blondie was born today, 9th January 1901.
Other strips by Chic include his first regular work, the short-lived The Affairs of Jane in the 1920s, about a struggling film actress who dreamed of graduating from low-budget pictures to stardom; Dumb Dora, about brunette Dora who “wasn’t as dumb as she looked”; and The Family Foursome, which complemented Blondie, about a golf-obsessed clan by the name of Jones.
Originally about a jazz-age flapper who marries a playboy from a socially prominent family, Blondie, first published in 1930, soon changed its direction: two children and a dog were added to the cast, Dagwood became a (bored) working man and the strip focused on middle-class family situations and problems.
Blondie introduced America to the “dagwood,” an enormous sandwich made during Dagwood’s late-night forays in the refrigerator.
Murat died in Florida on 14th March 1973. Chic’s son Dean Young currently makes the Blondie strip together with John Marshall.
“‘On the job training’ in my dad’s studio was fun!”, Dean recalls. “My dad and I worked a lot and we laughed a lot; it was great production, and a great father-son relationship. Some of the fun was that our studio was right on the bay. I invented a device that would ring a bell in the studio when a fish struck a line at the end of the dock. It was pretty exciting when the bell went off, and we would race out to see what it was. Usually it was a saltwater catfish or something else that we’d have to throw back, but occasionally we were rewarded with a nice surprise. In between the fun and games, my father taught me every little nuance about running a big-time comic strip.
“I was able to work with my father for ten years before his death in 1973. The Blondie comic strip, at that time, appeared in 1,600 newspapers worldwide. In the weeks after my father’s death, however, more than 600 newspapers dropped the strip on the basis of his death alone. I was devastated in every way imaginable. The magic seemed gone and, as far as I was concerned, the strip was doomed.
“In the following weeks, more and more newspapers dropped the strip. I was near rock bottom when the last words my father had spoken came back to me. Literally on his deathbed, he said, “Listen, don’t worry about the comic strip. If it seems funny to you, do it.” And so I started doing just that. If it seemed funny to me, I did it. My dad must’ve known what was in store for me, because his foresight turned out to be a beautiful piece of wisdom.
“Suddenly the magic was back… and so were the lost newspapers!”
Today, the strip is currently drawn by David Reddick.
• Official Blondie web site: blondie.com