In those days, Dagwood was a rich playboy whose snooty parents greatly disapproved of the union. When he and Blondie married in 1933, the J. Boling Bumsteads disinherited their son, relegating him to a modest suburban life of raising kids, carpooling, battling blowhard boss Mr. Dithers and making really big sandwiches.
Now one of the most famous married couples in the world in one of the most widely read strips in comics history, Blondie and Dagwood are celebrating the milestone anniversary this summer in a running story line featuring cameos by their comics-page cohorts, whose creators also will pay tribute to "Blondie" by inviting the happy couple into their own panels.
Garfield, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, baby Marvin, Dennis the Menace, Dilbert, the kid from "Zits" and others - a virtual who's who of the funnies - will drop in and out as the Bumsteads plan a huge party for an unspecified wedding anniversary to be celebrated in the Sunday comics Sept. 4. President Bush and wife Laura are also set to make an appearance.
Introduced by cartoonist Murat "Chic" Young on Sept. 8, 1930, "Blondie" is now written seven days a week by his son, Dean, who took over when his father died in 1973, and artist Denis Lebrun. Reaching about 250 million readers in more than 2,000 newspapers in 55 countries, "Blondie" ranks among the top five most popular strips in newspaper comics surveys year in and year out.
"It's survival of the funniest - it's like Darwinian evolution on the comics page," says "Hagar the Horrible" cartoonist Chris Browne. "It's such a funny strip. Humor really comes out of honesty, and there's a lot of honesty and lot of stuff we recognize in 'Blondie."'
The Bumsteads have been depicted on a U.S. postage stamp, featured in a Library of Congress exhibit and inspired movies and a TV series. An overstuffed sandwich is known in pop culture lexicon - as well as in Webster's dictionary - as a "Dagwood." "Blondie" is an American institution, translated into more than 30 languages.
"God bless my daddy," the jovial Young says in an interview in his Clearwater Beach studio. "He was the genius who created this wonderful menagerie of characters. A monkey could do my job with the characters I have to work with. He left me this cast of characters and this dominant gene."