Cartoonist's view: To keep from missing the bus, ‘Blondie’ changes with the timesDean Young has been working on “Blondie” since the early 1960s, then under the tutelage of his father, Chic Young, who created the strip in 1930. At Chic Young’s death in 1973, Dean took over and, after a rocky start, saw it running in more than 2,000 newspapers. Young has had his own assistants, including head artist John Marshall, who joined him in 2002. The following is edited from a phone interview with Young last week.
Dean Young has been working on “Blondie” since the early 1960s, then under the tutelage of his father, Chic Young, who created the strip in 1930. At Chic Young’s death in 1973, Dean took over and, after a rocky start, saw it running in more than 2,000 newspapers. Young has had his own assistants, including head artist John Marshall, who joined him in 2002. The following is edited from a phone interview with Young last week.
News Tribune: How old is Blondie?
Dean Young: She’d be about 84. She keeps looking better and better. She’s never had a facelift. She’s been able to update herself. That goes for the humor as well. The humor is more sophisticated and more complex.
DNT: You still use a lot of the same gags. Dagwood is still running for the bus.
DY: No, no, no, no! Shame on you! That bus went out a long time ago. We’ve got a car pool now, which is a lot more fun. With four people in the car pool, you’ve got a lot more sources of gags.
When we talk about her being 84 years old, you have to fight hard not to be an anachronism. They did a Blondie postage stamp one year. If you look at all of the comic characters they chose, Blondie is the only one that is still a viable comic strip. There’s something to be said for that durability. We’ve just kept up with the times.
DNT: How about yourself growing up? What impact did the strip have on you?
DY: I wanted to be something else. I wanted to own an ad agency. I can’t believe I was thinking that.
DNT: You went into it?
DY: Oh, yeah. So my dad invited me to come back. I couldn’t get my stuff packed soon enough.
He was my mentor, my teacher, and my father. He taught me everything about how to run a comic strip. He taught me some things that I had to part ways with him on, that seemed old fashioned.
DNT: Every good
mentor-protégé relationship has a point where the protégé goes out on his or her own.
DY: When he died, (hundreds) of newspapers dropped the comic strip on the basis of his death. I was having trouble and I remembered him telling me “just do what you think is funny.” I had to do something different and I did. I introduced a few new characters, and, of course, the car pool. One of the big events was Blondie going to work. There’s a place I got some more fallow ground to work with. I think a lot of women can relate to Blondie in that regard.
DNT: Where do you see newspaper comics 10 years from now?
DY: I think newspapers will be around. I just like the tactile feeling of holding that paper. I wish, though, that newspapers could get the idea that comics are a big factor that could be more of a help to them. I think it’s the only place in the paper that you can entertain people.
DNT: What strips do you like other than your own?
DY: Jim Davis (“Garfield”) and Mike Peters (“Mother Goose and Grimm”) do good work.
DNT: What don’t you like?
DY: In Blondie, a hand is drawn like a hand. It’s all anatomically correct. People can relate to the fact that it looks real to some extent.
DNT: So you don’t like the ones who don’t do that. Who? You can name names.
DY: I’m not going to do it! I know those guys!
DNT: In your updating, would you ever change Mr. Dithers’ attitude toward Dagwood?
DY: No, not at all. He’s still trying to get the same raise. He’s never going to get it.