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Life With Blondie

by Jeanne Young O'Neil

Image of Dagwood hanging onto a busI am excited and honored to give the Library of Congress this selection of original Blondie comic strips, which represents the creative genius of my father, Chic Young. In going through hundreds of strips, I felt an enormous sense of pride and awe in my father's ability to come up with clever, amusing ideas 365 days a year. I remember him saying, "I've succeeded if I bring a smile to someone, somewhere." One of the ways he accomplished this goal was by having a basic premise to which he strongly adhered. His belief was that most people the world over have some things in common: eating, sleeping, going to work and raising a family. In a nutshell, focusing on that was his formula.

And so each day, my very disciplined father went into his office (always in our home) to create his beloved comic strip, Blondie, for his beloved fans all over the world. My father worked at home and for me that meant the unique privilege of having two loving and caring parents twenty-four hours a day. What it meant for Dad, I believe, was twenty-four hours of daily family life with all its unique activities, rituals, and interactions to observe and analyze. He was truly "in the trenches," to get ideas. His genius was in seeing the moment, knowing how and when to embellish or simplify, and how to cap it off with a rib-tickling punch line. Once he got the idea, Dad could whip all four panels out in a matter of minutes, drawing with his hand and arm in constant motion . . . a fascinating feat!

Image of Athel and Chic in his StudioMy father would emerge from his studio each afternoon with the penciled "proof strips" in hand and run them by my mother, Athel Lindorf (shown with Chic Young at left), an accomplished concert harpist and the consummate family speller, to get her expert opinion and, if necessary, spelling corrections. I believe their lifelong teamwork was another reason for Blondie's great success. Dad really understood the man/woman relationship. He did the whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" thing about fourteen years before John Gray was born. (I might add here, I think they would have gotten along famously and enjoyed sharing funny stories together.)

Dad could send in ideas from anywhere, which meant we could travel a great deal, and we did. Every other year, we moved - kids, cars, dogs and all, from California to Florida and back again (except for the years in Europe, Hawaii, and the Dude Ranch in Tucson). Wherever we went, my shy and gentle father people-watched. We walked and watched with him . . . looking at people doing what they do and noticing where they did it. That unquenchable love of seeing, really seeing, made him a top-notch expert on ordinary folks everywhere.

As I'm writing, I have his 1919 McKinley High School Yearbook in hand. I'm looking very lovingly at his class yearbook (for he was the best Dad in the world) and enjoying his early cartoons sprinkled throughout. By his name it says, "Hobby – drawing cartoons, Greatest Desire – to be funny." So simply stated. So clearly expressed. I know he fulfilled his dream every day when I think of him saying, "I've succeeded if I bring a smile to someone somewhere."