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Here’s a sampling of an old Golden Age Blondie/Dagwood Bumstead knockoff. You’re welcome. – Dotty Dripple #20

September 18, 2012

If you look at the above cover, at that poor sap in the red sweater going ass first into a tub of suds after rocketing down a bannister, and your brain screams DAGWOOD BUMSTEAD, you wouldn’t be wrong. I mean, you’d be wrong, but you wouldn’t be wrong wrong. Because, though Dotty Dripple wasn’t Blondie, she was Blondie. A Blondie by any other name. And creator Buford Tune was no Chic Young, but he was more than capable of strip-mining (literally) that other newsprint universe bare and generating his own long-running toon. Dotty Dripple was a Blondie clone before people knew what clone’s were.

For the uninitiates out there (like me until I saw this thing), Dotty Dripple was the matriarch of the nuclear Dripple household, with bumbling Dagwoodish husband Horace and clone-looking daughter Taffy rounding out the ensemble. She was your typical housewife at the middle of the century, in that she had a fairly empty head and sufficient balance to be able to do housework in heels. And, lest you think that her strip and her dalliance in comic books (at Harvey and later Dell) were blips on the cartoon radar, her and her family’s newspaper appearances stretched from the 1940s to 1974. It’s a testament to how popular newspaper strips — hell, newspapers — once were that even blatant knockoffs could last for decades. America’s hunger for three-panel amusements was insatiable.

And make no mistake, Dotty Dripple was a knockoff. When something is created over a decade before something else (Blondie started up in 1930), and that something else obviously capitalizes on the previous something’s popularity, then you have the very definition of a knockoff. Or ripoff, depending on what mood you’re in. All due respect to Tune, who “created” a strip that lasted for thirty years and may very well have been a kind gentleman, but his product was embarassingly close to Dagwood Bumstead’s milieu, right down to Horace’s overbearing boss and difficult work environment — all that was missing was Mr. Dithers occasionally lifting him overhead in an ass-kicking rage. But this was close enough:

Could Horace look any more like Dagwood? He doesn’t have the Paulie Walnuts hair that springs out from his temples, but the cowlick is certainly suggestive of it.

EVEN WHEN HORACE DIPPLE SLEEPS HE’S RIPPING OFF HIS DOPPELGANGER:

I realize that there are only a certain number of ways that you can draw a man sleeping on his couch with his back to the viewer, but when you type “Dagwood napping” into Google, the first image that comes up is this. You cannot get any more similar without tracing one over the other.

But hey, the Dotty Dripple comic book wasn’t just about vignettes that aped a more famous property. It was educational, too. Why, children could learn utterly useless arts and crafts, like making a cork face pin!:

I’ll take Vincent Price and dried apple heads any day, thank you very much.

There you are. Dotty Dripple. I’m out of things to say about her and her strip, though I do wonder if there was ever some secret convocation of the International Brotherhood of Cartoonists, one where Tune was called upon to answer for his crimes. Also wonder how much Chic Young’s teeth were ground down from seeing Dotty, Horace and Taffy on a daily basis, or if he had some assistant scissor out that section of the paper.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2012 12:21 pm

    Thanks for this! Years ago I had a MAD magazine devoted to comic strip parodies and one of the gags had Blondie finding a goodbye note from Dagwood wherein he says he’s “run off with Dottie Dripple.” For years I thought Dottie must be a minor character from the strip, but never encountered her. Now the mystery is solved.

    Funny this guy didn’t at least mix things up by replacing Cookie and Daisy with, say, a boy character and a cat.

    • September 22, 2012 3:09 pm

      Glad to be of service. If only all of life’s mysteries were so easily solvable.

  2. Thelonious_Nick permalink
    September 20, 2012 1:34 pm

    Buford Tune should be glad he didn’t rip off DC, because they would’ve sued the hell out of him. This is a lot less ambiguous than Captain Marvel’s similarities to Superman. Tune’s strip would’ve been over before you could say Shazam!

    • September 22, 2012 3:11 pm

      Agreed. Though I might change “a lot less ambiguous” to “completely unambiguous.”

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