Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Disintegrating 'Blondie'

Three takes on today's Blondie.

I am no longer satisfied with merely discussing or even deconstructing the comic strip Blondie. Now I want to completely disintegrate it. I want to watch it devolve into chaos in front of my eyes. This strip has been running continuously since 1930, and there's a good chance that it was never once funny in all those 86 years. But there's an eerie kind of perfection to Blondie. It seems to take place in this vacuum-sealed Pleasantville reality that stopped evolving sometime during the Eisenhower years. Every once in a while, they make some cosmetic change to the strip to keep it up to date, like giving Dagwood Bumstead a computer at his desk or letting his wife Blondie start her own catering company, but the DNA of the strip does not change. Look at the way Dagwood and his boss, Mr. Dithers, are dressed in the strip up at the top. Where do you even buy clothes like that, except at some vintage resale shop in Brooklyn? And look at their anatomy. Why are Dagwood's shins so short? And why do Dithers and (I think) all the male characters bend their knees like that when they stand? Being a Blondie character would be so uncomfortable. The clothing looks itchy, and the poses are unnatural.

Presented here are the original strip, plus two of my variations on it. In the first, Dagwood has been removed, and it is suggested that he might be Mr. Dithers' own personal Tyler Durden. But then, I wanted to take it a little farther and get rid of both Dagwood and Dithers. Look at that third version of the strip, beautifully depopulated. It's subtle, but the camera angle actually changes from panel one to panel two. And yet, the shine on the floor is in exactly the same spot. The floors in Blondie tend to be very, very shiny indeed. It's one of my favorite visual elements of the strip. I prefer the floors to the human characters.