Stripper’s Guide Bookshelf: The Bumstead Family History

Blondie – The Bumstead Family History
by Dean Young and Melena Ryzik
Thomas Nelson 2007
ISBN 1-4016-0322-X
$29.99, hardcover, 192 pages

“Blondie” has a 75-year and counting history, so you might expect that a book bearing this title would afford us a great retrospective of all those years. Well, think again o gullible one.

What we actually have here is almost exclusively a selection of Blondie strips from the 1990s and 2000s. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it’s really not what the book cover or the publisher’s description would lead us to expect.

What we do get, in addition to a copious mix of recent strips, are a series of short essays describing the personality of each of the strip’s characters (written as if we don’t know the Bumsteads as well or better than our own family after all these years), and two very short sections of vintage material. The first section, a miscellany of strips and isolated panels from the sequence where Dagwood and Blondie wed, is an almost exact reprinting of the same section in a previous book, Blondie and Dagwood’s America, published in 1981. The only differences I could find is in the pithy captions, which have been reworded, and the loss of a few of the examples from the previous book.

The second historical section, in which we get a short history of the Young family, talks about Chic Young’s earlier strips (The Affairs of Jane, Beautiful Bab and Dumb Dora) and gives us exactly one example of each, all of which, again, are culled from the 1981 book (even duplicating the prior book’s horrifically bad reproduction of same). Even most of the photos of the Young family, except the later ones, are also reused.

Taking the book for what it is, rather than what it claims to be, it is a perfectly decent reprint volume. The selection of recent strips is good, albeit a bit repetitive, as is the strip itself. Reproduction is generally good, although the strips from the 90s sometimes seem to be scanned from tearsheets rather than proofs (why?!) and are therefore not really crisp. Blondie’s catering business, which made news in the early 90s as America’s favorite housewife entered the workforce, is well represented.

If you are looking for vintage Blondie, give the book a pass and seek out a copy of Blondie and Dagwood’s America. If, on the other hand, you want a reprint volume of current strips this is right up your alley.

6 comments on “Stripper’s Guide Bookshelf: The Bumstead Family History

  1. It is often rumoured that Dean young is somehow at odds with his father, even though he’s been dead forty-four years.
    May be that a reluctance to show many Chic Young strips will avoid too many comparisons.

  2. I certainly didn’t detect any rancor here. My impression is more that the book was intended to be a retrospective of the last decade and then someone got the bright idea that they might sell more copies if they marketed it as if it were a much more ambitious project. Dunno whether the publisher or Dean Young is to blame for the deception.


  3. Hi Ger –
    No I haven’t. I object to the sort of religious intolerance espoused by Hart in his strip and prefer not to put money in his family’s coffers.


  4. I recall years ago that there were a whole pack of dogs, not just Daisy. Does anyone know what happened to them, why and when?

  5. Hi Doug –
    Those were Daisy’s pups. They no longer appear because comic strips are so small today there’s no room to draw them all in the current teeny-tiny panels. So sez Young in the book.


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