Friday, August 10, 2018

Dagwood Quitting Revisited

One of the very first blog entries I ever did was that brief interval where Dagwood Bumstead quit his job to work for Blondie's Catering Service.  In all that time, no one dug into the history of this segue, so this long-neglected entry gets another well-deserved look.

But before we start with the dailies, here's a few Blondie comics that could've set up the stage for what happened next.

Typical everyday stuff.  Making trademark sandwiches in the kitchen and getting chewed out by the boss.  So when Dagwood got the usual treatment, we didn't think much of it at first.  I sure as hell didn't.

Even when Dagwood voiced his complaints the very next day, no alarms rang.  This type of reaction was so commonplace it was considered normal.

And when Dagwood gets the recommendation of a fantasy scenario of quitting to a nameless employee, it still feels like a fantasy.

It isn't until he brings up the subject matter in his Carpool that it begins to stick in our craw a little longer than usual.

Even when the very same employee who suggested Dagwood quit brings it up, it still isn't taken seriously.  Because where else is he going to work?

Where, indeed.

Which led to this momentous Sunday Comic that would shake things up and change things forever.  It was also remarkable for ending on a somber note compared to the alternative.

With this new change to the status quo, there were understandable outcries for wanting things to go back to the way things were.

There was also this exchange that could've been a contender of things to come.  (Spoiler alert - Dagwood doesn't stay in Blondie's Catering Service for very long)

Even though Mr. Dithers has constantly berated his laziest employee for his irresponsible behavior, and it hasn't even been three days, he misses him already.

Of course, there's still the adherence to the same ol' same ol' routine, suggesting that some things won't change that much.

But these are just minor issues distracting from the larger issue - how does Dagwood cope with his new position as a helper in Blondie's Catering Service?

That's right - upon being a residential employee of Blondie's own business, Dagwood decides to help out by mansplaining his wife how to do her job.

Apart from the two tail Sunday comics reproduced here, there was one other catering comic that I didn't think noticeable to include.  That oversight is taken care of now.

The week after this,
suggested that things were
dying down.

Dagwood's presence here hardly changes anything.  Blondie usually handled the catering orders with clients on her own, so Dagwood is more of a background presence.

The last noticeable daily comic was this one on Saturday before the reveal on Sunday.

With that stunt over and done with, one wonders what the point of this whole miniarc was.  One thing to remember about Newspaper comics is that as much as they're a comfort crutch in times of uncertainty, they're also a reflection of society in general.  So what could have been happening around back then?

That's right - it was when DC Comics announced that they were going to kill off Superman for reals this time.  The difference being that Supes' death was such that people were constantly surprised to hear that he was still alive, while Newspaper readers have largely forgotten that Dagwood was ever part of Blondie's job.

When this story concluded, it made an article in the paper.  I could've sworn that there was a similar article before the changes were made, but couldn't find it.  But what I find interesting is in what this article says.  Basically, the (female!) writer claims that Blondie was in the wrong for firing her husband in the first place.

"I really think the man ought to think through why he's going back to Mr. Dithers," said Barbara Turk, a psychologist.  "Why is he looking to be abused again?  Why doesn't Dagwood start his own business?  He could go in competition with Blondie.  He's made such good sandwiches all these years.  I mean, he could have 'Dagwood's Doozies - mile-high sandwiches for your next office party.'  He could have Mr. Dithers hiring him.  Then if he wanted to eat the profits, he could eat them from his side of the ledger."
Questions were also raised about whether Bumstead had been treated fairly by his wife.
"I cannot believe that she was not aware of his shortcomings when she hired him after all these years of being together, (...) and I cannot believe they did not discuss this in advance.  Suppose he was on drugs.  Would you terminate him or try to find him help?"
Where did drugs come from in in this scenario?  At no point in this narrative was drugs brought up before or since.
"You don't just, hands down, say 'you're outta here,' particularly to a spouse.  (...) If she has an issue with his performance, i.e., eating the profits, then they should talk it through rather than just firing him."
"I think they're going to have some problems over this. (...) People have an enormous amount of sensitivity about their work.  There's pride involved.  There's the feeling of being adequate or being a success or a failure.  Having worked for Mr. Dithers for such a long time, there's the issue of change involved.  And change in itself is enormously stressful."
"And then to go to work for his wife, and being of a generation where that would be almost unheard of.  That really was quite a risk for both Blondie and Dagwood."
More blaming of the wife and casting doubt on Dagwood's faults, claiming he was of another generation.  Well yeah, originating in the 1930's is unavoidable.  That still doesn't change the fact that Dagwood was responsible for the food.  If he couldn't keep his mitts off the food, then Blondie had all the reason to get rid of him.
In other words, they should have seen it coming.  Just ask Donald and Ivana.
Funny how something written over 20 years ago can still be relevant today.

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