Young, 70, of Clearwater, Fla., earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1960. He was presented Friday with the Walter Malcolm Shackelford Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Young said he wound up at LaGrange College at the urging of friends who were enrolled there. He liked the campus and “since my friends were already here, I said, ‘Let the party continue.’”
Young spoke with students and took part in a panel discussion Friday with other honored alumni - Jan Howard Devereaux, Nancy Newman Durand, Lew Humphrey and David Fowler.
“Coming here was the best thing that happened to me,” said Young, who took over the comic strip after his father, Chic Young, died in 1973. “It’s been a cornerstone in my life and profession.”
Young, who said he knows a lot of people who don’t like their jobs, told students to find something they enjoy or have a passion about.
“That’s the road to go down - something you enjoy doing every day,” he said.
Young started as an advertising executive, but wasn’t happy and accepted his dad’s offer to work on the comic strip. On his death bed, Chic Young told his son, “Don’t worry about the comic strip. Just do what you think is funny and it’ll take care of itself.”
Young said 600 newspapers canceled the strip after his father died, but the number has since grown from 1,200 to 2,300.
His wife, Charlotte, a former first-grade teacher, serves as editor-in-chief of the comic strip and notices all the little grammatical errors, such as a comma out of place, Young said.
He also urged students to do find a fulfilling occupation “even if it’s not the most lucrative. If you love it, ultimately that will be more important than making money.”
Young said all the drawing for “Blondie” is done on computer and he can look over the strip with his collaborator without them being in the same town.
“Now, you can be anywhere and do your job really,” he said.
He said he may get two weeks’ worth of strips done in one week and sometimes he doesn’t get any done.
“We stay consistently three months ahead,” he said. “We jut finished with Christmas … Being ahead of the deadline is always a good thing.”
Chic Young created “Blondie” in 1930 after earlier efforts called “The Affairs of Jane,” “Beautiful Bab” and “Dumb Dora,” subtitled “She’s Not So Dumb As She Looks.”
Blondie Boopadoop was a flapper with a lot of boyfriends, including Dagwood Bumstead, the bumbling playboy son of billionaire railroad tycoon J. Bolling Bumstead. When the Great Depression hit, the comic strip “was not so funny anymore,” Young said.
“The Blondie magic began to evaporate as more and more newspapers dropped the comic strip,” he said.
But then Blondie and Dagwood fell in love and made plans to get married, at the time a bold departure in comics.
After a tumultuous engagement, they were married in the strip that appeared on Feb. 17, 1933.
Dagwood was disinherited for marrying “that gold- digger blonde” and the couple “had to go out into the world and hack it like the rest of us,” Young said. He said they became concerned with making ends meet and raising a family, and those same themes continue to this day.
“Blondie” appears in 55 countries and is translated into 35 languages. About 280million people read it every day.
Joel Martin can be reached at jmartin @lagrange news.com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 235.