Thursday, July 17, 2014

Popeye & Blondie Salute the Lorain Journal's 60th Anniversary – July 1939

In July of 1939 (75 years ago this month), the Lorain Journal was celebrating its 60th anniversary and everyone was congratulating the newspaper – even popular King Features Syndicate comic strip characters such as Popeye, as well as Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead.

Above is a cute drawing featuring Popeye and the whole Thimble Theater cast that ran in the Lorain Journal on July 26, 1939. Artist Elzie Crisler Segar had passed away in 1938 but I'm pretty sure the drawing is one of his. (I even ran it by the Official Popeye Fanclub – of which I am a member – for verification.)

(If you've only seen Popeye animated cartoons and never read any of the original Segar Popeye comic strips, be sure to check out one of the six collected volumes that are available. They're absolutely hilarious and a totally different type of humor than the mind-numbingly repetitive cartoons made for the theaters. Popeye in the early years of the comics is pretty gruff – his solution to any problem is usually to beat somebody up – and he has a full head of hair too, unlike the baldy featured in the animated cartoons. I own a few of these books and they are laugh-out-loud funny.)

Anyway, below is the Bumstead family congratulatory cartoon drawn for the Lorain Journal by Chic Young that ran on the same page as the Popeye cartoon.
As you can see, the Bumstead daughter wasn't born yet. Baby Dumpling's looking kinda pudgy!

(In case you're wondering how the Lorain Journal (which started publication in 1921) was celebrating its 60th anniversary in 1939, I'll explain. The Journal had purchased the Times-Herald in 1932 and in 1939 was merely appropriating the 60th anniversary of the Lorain Daily Times (a forerunner of the Times-Herald), which started publishing in 1879.)

Hey, that means that it's the 135th Anniversary of the Morning Journal this month! Let's see if they do anything special (or if the paper even acknowledges it).

Maybe Blondie and Dagwood will send another congratulatory note (since their adventures still run in the Morning Journal). There's still a Popeye comic strip but it only runs in a handful of papers.

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