Newswise — Reporters writing about the seventy-fifth anniversary of the comic strip, "Blondie," can get a valuable historical perspective on the character of this iconic blonde from Kathleen J. Turner, Professor of Communication Studies at Davidson College.
Turner researches images of women in comic strips, and can discuss Blondie from her early years as one of almost two dozen strips featuring young single women, through her courtship and marriage to Dagwood Bumstead, to her status as modern day entrepreneur. "Blondie has continually blended convention and invention," Turner said.
Turner notes that Blondie started as a flapper. When the stock market crash made that carefree image less compelling and numerous newspapers cancelled the strip , cartoonist Chic Young changed the approach by having Blondie pursue Dagwood Bumstead. Despite the strenuous opposition of his millionaire parents, the two fell in love. Their marriage marked his disinheritance, and the flapper strip turned into one of the longest-running, most popular family strips in history.
Among tidbits Turner has observed is the fact that Blondie and Dagwood were about the same height when they were dating in 1930, but Dagwood got "shrunk" by marriage. Turner says this reflects other research that reveals that men in adventure strips are taller than women, but men in married strips tend to be shorter than their wives, embodying the cultural conception that marriage diminishes men while empowering women.