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Ready for his close-up

Blondie, 2/8/05

It took me a while to figure out why the first two panels of this otherwise bland installment of Blondie looked so odd to me. Then I realized that, most of the time, people in Blondie are about the size of Dagwood and Alexander in panel three; panels one and two offer an unusual closeup view. Which is not to say that we’re given any more details or a better view of things in those panels. In fact — and remember, this is just my entirely uneducated first impression — one might get the impression that panels one and two started life as standard-perspective Blondie drawings that were then just magnified electronically, for unfathomable but presumably aesthetic reasons.

One might also point out, if one were unkind, that panels one and two are nearly identical to one another, with only a few lines tweaked. But to do so would be gauche.

Question for you: has anyone ever worn both an old-school letterman jacket and a jauntily angled backwards baseball cap as Alexander does here? Discuss.

20 responses to “Ready for his close-up”

  1. Mr. Encyclopedia
    February 8th, 2005 at 9:30 pm [Reply]

    The reason the first two panels are enlarged is hardly unfathomable. Dagwood’s Constipated and Worried expression is half the punchline of the strip. Having him be in all three panels would have telegraphed the joke so bad that the strip would be just a teenager ending what was probably a rather awkward conversation to begin with.

    Granted the artist of Blondie could have just as easily drawn two images of the car from another angle where Dagwood wasn’t immediately appearant, but that would surely require more work than any self-respecting cartoonist is willing to put into a daily strip.

    As for the wardrobe of our young hero, it’s surely just the artist’s oddball idea for kid’s fashions. Add a few gold chains, however, and he could probably pass for a “hip” “young” “white rap” “artist”.

  2. Anonymous
    February 8th, 2005 at 10:21 pm [Reply]

    Now, NOW you finally notice that the fashion in Blondie is somewhat behind the times? Dagwood is welded to a half-buttoned sweater that was old-timey when Mr Rogers wore it in 1976, for crying out loud!

  3. Curious George
    February 8th, 2005 at 11:41 pm [Reply]

    Note that Alexander turns his head in the last panel, but the hat is still at the same angle. I think I saw Buster Keaton do that.

    Jeez, I should get a life. This is turning into a r.a.c.s. thread.

  4. Peter C. Hayward
    February 8th, 2005 at 11:48 pm [Reply]

    His finger moves between the first two panels…

    HIS FINGER MOVES.

    I just don’t think you’re getting the significance and/or the difference this makes to the punchline.

  5. Shaenon
    February 9th, 2005 at 3:03 am [Reply]

    I have to admit that I really admire the way the Blondie artists have managed to keep the visual style of the strip consistent for 70 years. Seriously, look up some Blondie strips from the 1930s. They look almost exactly the same as the strips running now. Modern details like televisions, sneakers, and suburban housing are drawn in the same fiddly 1930s style as Blondie’s hairdo and Dagwood’s bow tie.

    Cell phones and late-model sedans, on the other hand, seem to integrate less comfortably into the Blondie universe. It may be that the Bumstead family and the 21st century were not made to coexist.

  6. Phineas Gage
    February 9th, 2005 at 3:09 am [Reply]

    Definitely magnified. I noticed the same thing in my own paper. The big clue: look at the thickness of the ink lines. They should be the same thickness from panel to panel, but alas, they are not.

    And nevermind the fashion… what I’ve never understood is why does Dag have antennae? What possible hairstyle from generations past is this supposed to be comic short-hand for??

  7. Zanzibar
    February 9th, 2005 at 5:58 am [Reply]

    It’s interesting–Dagwood is probably fearing for his life now, isn’t he? So that means that he’s worried about death, and conceivably, during the periods between the other strips, he could be lying on his couch and pondering the meaninglessness of his life. It adds a new element, to see him here behaving this way.

  8. Ken
    February 9th, 2005 at 1:08 pm [Reply]

    I think I’ve seen hip hop mogul Russell Simmons sport the letterman jacket and “jauntily-angled” cap.

  9. Joe
    February 9th, 2005 at 1:20 pm [Reply]

    The first and third panels makes me think ol’ Alexander is as gay as summer night in Paris, the way he has his pinky turned up. I wonder if he drinks his tea that way too? Also..is Dagwood’s expression the result of something he is sitting on?

  10. April P.
    February 9th, 2005 at 1:22 pm [Reply]

    Dagwood’s expression is not from what is happening in the car but just outside. He is seeing a teen “gig it up” on the “roadside”. Alexander is not phased ’cause he is one hip teen.

  11. Manfire
    February 9th, 2005 at 1:26 pm [Reply]

    I went to the sort of old-fashioned working-class high school in the early ’90s in which varsity letter jackets were still popular fashion choices but backwards baseball caps had also been established, so I’m sure it’s not unheard of.

    I’ve always assumed that Dagwood’s hair was supposed to be recognizably funny back in the Depression era. Look closely and you’ll see it’s mostly slicked down with Wildroot Cream-Oil or some such — like that of Herb next door — but he’s such a klutz that all the pomade in town can’t keep those few flyaway strands down.

  12. Pleasant Plains
    February 9th, 2005 at 2:16 pm [Reply]

    Were it not for the close-ups, I would’ve never been so aware of Alexander’s frickin’ HUGE sideburns. Look how big they are! Why, they end only just past his eye socket!

  13. Winston Smith
    February 9th, 2005 at 3:20 pm [Reply]

    Shaenon, Itto-day on the ellphone-say. It IS a little surprising Alexander is “coming in fine,” given that he’s not so much talking into his phone as pointing it at the traffic in front of him.

  14. Brucker
    February 9th, 2005 at 6:58 pm [Reply]

    Ditto Manfire’s comment on the fashion. I went to high school in the late 80′s and that’s pretty much how every athlete dressed.

  15. Noumenon
    February 9th, 2005 at 9:37 pm [Reply]

    You have a good bunch of commenters here. That is all.

  16. Boom
    June 22nd, 2005 at 3:50 pm [Reply]

    Hey, the letterman jacket, backwards hat, sunglasses thing is all Steve’s terriorty, but only when he’s trying to look like a dweeb. Cut the letterman jacket, and replace it with a t-shirt, and you have some attempt at a teenager.

    Oh, and p.s. has anyone noticed that Blondie always looks like some sort of pinup, but all the storeclerk ladies and such look more like Haggar? Strip is definantly stuck in the past, with her figure being so top-heavy she’d fall over. She’s worse than Barbie.

  17. Jaxson
    January 5th, 2006 at 5:52 pm [Reply]

    I agree with Boom. Blondie must have the same deal that Lucille Ball had. Didn’t she require that she weigh less than Vivian Vance during ‘I Love Lucy?’ While the other women in the strip seem to be mostly oinkers – one exception is Herb’s wife.

  18. Swordsmith
    November 20th, 2010 at 7:10 pm [Reply]

    The pinky finger thing originated in the court of Henry VIII, either to mock, or to show camaradarie with, Anne Boleyn, who had a sixth finger. (I’ve heard both)

    Clearly Alexander is simply a fan of pre-renaissance manners.

  19. Paul
    February 21st, 2011 at 10:32 pm [Reply]

    I was more thrown off by the perspective as the seat belt extends through the entire side window as if his seat were three feet from the edge

  20. Roger M. Wilcox
    May 24th, 2013 at 4:38 pm [Reply]

    I know I’m several years late to the party here, but:

    April P. : The word you are looking for is “fazed.” Not “phased.” Unless you’re implying that Alexander is capable of becoming intangible on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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