Browsing Dagwood

Posted by on September 10th, 2010 at 8:20 AM

I’ve taken note before of the copious drawing that John Marshall commits in Blondie. And here’s another instance of it:

(If the image is too small to read—which, for most of us, it is—the recommended procedure is to click on the image and it enlarges. For some inexplicable and presumably temporary reason, when you do that here, you and the picture are merely transported to another plane, where the picture resides more-or-less alone, same size as before; but if you click on it again, there, it’ll get much larger—large enough, usually, to read. Try it: you’ll like it.)

First, most obviously—Daisy the family pooch isn’t essential to the gag here, but she’s present, as she usually is, because she’s part of the household. But Marshall could have left her out, and most of us wouldn’t have noticed or complained. But even more telling of his attention to graphic detail is the last panel: the building in the distance is scarcely necessary to the setting or the gag. It’s frosting on the cake. And the two guys depicted inside the building? Too tiny to see, you say? Ah, but they complete the picture of the locale. The frosting on the frosting.

In our next Blondie example, we have a charming gag:

But what stopped me was Dagwood’s gapping maw in the last panel. What a hoot. And Daisy is ubiquitous here, too.

In the Blondie immediately below our first visual aid, we move from pictorial jokes to verbal, or conceptual, ones. Excellent as the visuals are in the strip, here’s an example of mental gymnastics worth savoring. Oh, and the waste basket—again, something nonessential but vital (vital meaning “life-like”).

While it’s always gratifying to view professionalism in comic strippery, it’s particularly gratifying to do so with Blondie, which marked its 80th anniversary on September 8.  Happy anniversary, kiddo.

Finally, to conclude our sermon for the day, we have two of Dan Piraro’s Bizarros, each of which is an instance of a self-conscious cartoon:

The cartoonist in the first is a caricature of Piraro, the very author of the day’s insanity. And what makes this funny? At the risk of killing the comedy by analyzing it—it’s funny because the “cartoonist” is here invoking the physician’s clarion declaration when on the scene of an accident. The banana peel is the final fillip: slipping on a banana peel is the stereotypical fare for comic strip hilarity.

The next Bizarro needs no explanation: there’d be no joke if it weren’t a cartoon deploying the verbal-visual conventions of the medium. I don’t think the first Bizarro instance would be funny, either, if it weren’t a cartoon.

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “Browsing Dagwood”

  1. michael says:

    I also dig Blondie’s crossword puzzle in the first strip. Moreover, like any respectable crossword, it appears to possibly be rotationally symmetrical.