June 7, 2000 Blondie Exhibition Opens

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: (202) 707-8000
Website: View the exhibition online

The Library of Congress will celebrate the recent acquisition of a large group of important original works by cartoonist Chic Young, creator of Blondie, one of the world's most famous comic strips, with an exhibition in the Swann Gallery. The exhibition, "Blondie Gets Married!: Comic Strip Drawings by Chic Young," curated by Harry Katz and Sara Duke, opens on June 22 and closes on September 16. The gallery, located adjacent to the Visitors' Center in the Jefferson Building, is open to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

"Blondie Gets Married!" presents 27 drawings, classic examples of Chic Young's much-loved creative wit, selected from the gift of 150 works by Jeanne Young O'Neil, the artist's daughter.

"I know my father would be as proud as I am," said Ms. O'Neil, "to have his work housed and preserved in the Library of Congress as part of one of the finest, most extensive and distinguished collections of American cartoon art in the world. I believe my father's comic strip, Blondie, exemplifies middle-class family life in America (and many times, in the world) and I know the greatest opportunity for his work to live on into generations to come is in the Library."

The Library, now in the midst of its 200th year, has identified this major acquisition as a Bicentennial "Gift to the Nation."

Not only will visitors to the Library see early comic strips showing the courtship between the flapper Blondie Boopadoop and the playboy son of a millionaire, Dagwood Bumstead, but many strips depicting Young's universal themes of eating, sleeping, going to work and raising a family. The exhibition shows the Bumsteads in typical scenarios: making the Dagwood sandwich, Blondie enlisting Dagwood's help with the housework, Dagwood dashing for his bus -- sometimes at the expense of the mailman, Mr. Beasley, and the simple joys of married life. Featured in this exhibition will be the original February 17, 1933, comic strip, depicting the wedding scene when Dagwood and Blondie became husband and wife, beginning one of the most renowned fictional marriages of the 20th century.

Chic Young (1901-1973), born Murat Bernard Young in Chicago, grew up in St. Louis with a dream of becoming a cartoonist. He began his career as a cartoonist drawing The Affairs of Jane in 1923, and went on to draw Beautiful Bab and Dumb Dora before beginning his long run with Blondie. While producing Blondie, for which he drew more than 15,000 strips, he also created a Sunday strip called Colonel Potterby and the Duchess with his assistant Jim Raymond.

Young's high school yearbook lists his hobby as "drawing cartoons," and his greatest desire as "to be funny." He certainly achieved that goal, drawing Blondie seven days a week from September 8, 1930, until his death in 1973. His daughter, Jeanne, knows he fulfilled his dream every day, when she remembers him saying, "I've succeeded if I bring a smile to someone somewhere."

Blondie continues to this day, celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2000. The comic strip is syndicated by King Features, appearing around the world in more than 2,300 newspapers and read by an estimated 280 million people every day. Today Blondie is created by Chic's son, Dean, and his collaborator, Denis Lebrun.

The exhibition and accompanying brochure have been prepared with support from the Caroline and Erwin Swann Memorial Fund for Caricature and Cartoon. The Swann Gallery showcases the collections of the Library of Congress in rotating exhibitions and promotes the ongoing Swann Foundation program in the study of cartoon, caricature and illustration, while also offering a provocative and informative selection of works by past masters. New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906-1973) assembled an extraordinarily diverse collection of nearly 2,000 works of cartoon art representing four hundred artists and spanning two centuries. He developed the collection specifically to promote the preservation and connoisseurship of original cartoon and illustration drawings. Among the collection's highlights are sketches by such European masters as Guillaume Chevalier Gavarni and Richard Doyle, works by celebrated American illustrators including John Held Jr. and Ralph Barton, American newspaper cartoon strip works by such pioneering cartoonists as Richard F. Outcault, Winsor McCay, and George Herriman and contemporary cartoons and illustrations by renowned artists, including Edward Sorel, Andre Francois, and Eugene Mihaesco.

More information on this exhibition as well as the Library of Congress's print and drawing collections is available through the Swann Foundation's Web site: www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/swannhome.html, by e-mail at swann@loc.gov, or by calling Sara Duke, Curatorial Project Assistant at (202) 707-9115 or Harry Katz at (202) 707-8696.


PR 00-090
ISSN 0731-3527