Colonel Potterby and the Dutchess have a little spat. Artist: Chic Young.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1934
Creator: Chic Young
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By the early 1930s, it had become the norm for Sunday comics from King Features Syndicate to sport toppers, such as Dinglehoofer & His Dog (topper to The Katzenjammer Kids) and …

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Bedroom, Parlor & Sink, aka Bunky (that of Barney Google). But when cartoonist Chic Young's Blondie debuted in 1930, it did so without a topper.

That situation was remedied a few years later, with the addition of Colonel Potterby & the Dutchess. Potterby was a short, chubby, mustachioed, obviously well-to-do guy who resembled Rich Uncle Pennybags. The Dutchess was his enamorata, also well-to-do, but not any of the other stuff. In carrying on their sometimes stormy (and always funny) relationship, both resembled The Little King in that neither spoke very much.

The protagonists' age (they were far from the first flower of youth) removed them from the genre of most of Young's comics. Starting with The Affairs of Jane (no relation) and continuing with Beautiful Babs, Dumb Dora and finally Blondie, they'd all concerned pretty girls and their frivolous adventures (tho the latter had settled down to domesticity by the time they came along), along the lines of Larry Whittington's Fritzi Ritz or Abe Martin's Boots & Her Buddies.

But white-haired Potterby and his no-longer girlish girlfriend were too mature for that sort of stuff. They carried on their affair with dignity and humor. Or at least, humor.

The two weren't reprinted in Dell's King and Magic Comics, where, for years, Blondie and Dagwood starred in a regular series just like Prince Valiant, Flash Gordon and the rest. But in 1950, when Harvey Comics (Joe Palooka, Mutt & Jeff) started reprinting the main comic, Colonel Potterby & the Dutchess was in every issue's back pages. This continued when the license was transferred to King Comics in 1966 and finally Charlton in 1969. The Blondie comic books ended in 1976.

Toppers became scarce in Sunday comics during World War II, when paper shortages mandated that comics no longer take up a full page of the Sunday paper. As they continued getting smaller, toppers became scarcer yet. This one ended in 1963.


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Text ©20010 Donald D. Markstein. Art &C169; King Features.