There’s Dagwood, again. I’ve used the Bumstead family as a point of reference in several attempts at metaphysical humor. In a way, they’re the quintessential comic strip characters. If I say “Dagwood,” you know who I mean, and, considering the age demographic of my readers, you probably know who I mean when I say “Blondie.” Good old Dagwood makes this joke possible, because without him Cathy could be anybody.
I don’t say this to rag on Cathy Guisewite, but it seems an appropriate time to mention that word economy has always been a goal of mine when writing A&J. My rule of thumb is no more than three full lines per speech balloon, as in panels 2 and 3 above. I will abandon this rule if dialog dictates, but I do it rarely and reluctantly. I think it works for me.