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Hot stock tip: Time to sell your shares in J.C. Dithers & Co.

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Looks like end times are nigh for the company that has kept the Bumsteads out of the poorhouse for lo these many decades.

Disturbing visions surface in Monday's episode of "Blondie." Not only are readers subjected to a pointless, offensive reference to the Irish on St. Patrick's Day, of all days, but fatcat entrepreneur Julius C. Dithers reveals that his firm is about to go belly up.

Investors will no doubt be shocked. For years, J.C. Dithers & Co. has been a paragon among comics-based corporations. We expect the Treetops Tattler-Tribune in "Shoe" to go belly up, because, well, it's a newspaper whose avian proprietors appear never to have heard of the Internet. We know the Department of Motor Vehicles that provides a meager wage to Greg Wilikins of "Curtis" is no picnic. And we realize every character in Tom Batiuk's "Funky Winkerbean" is a breath away from unemployment or worse, because, well Tom Batiuk's "Funky Winkerbean" is the most depressing cartoon this side of these apocalyptic visions from "Mutts."

But we always thought J.C. Dithers & Co. was on an "up' trajectory. Like Foofram Industries, the conglomerate that keeps Hi Flagston in money in "Hi & Lois," Dithers was always a family-run operation whose business is completely opaque. No one - not even Dagwood Bumstead, who has worked there for decades - can tell you what the company does, what its core business is, or how revenue gets over the transom. It's the perfect faceless entity for comics readers, who love to laugh at and heap opprobrium on big business, but don't really want to get into the nitty-gritty of what any of these companies they hate so much actually do.

Perhaps that's the reason the Wall Street analysts have been glossing over troubles at Dithers for months. Here at Comics Examiner, we take a no-nonsense approach to covering funny-page corporations, and we have diligently spent months telling our readers about fiscal hiccups and shady dealings at the firm.

Like investors in Enron, you shouldn't buy stock in a company if you don't understand what it does. Nor should you stay employed there for 30 years or more, as Dagwood has done. It's a tough lesson for this veteran comics character to learn so late in life.

Our prediction? Dithers' money troubles crimp Dagwood's severance pay, leaving Blondie's catering business as the main source of revenue for the troubled Bumstead clan. Here's hoping our hero wins some cash from the inevitable class-action suit brought about by one or more of the big law firms routinely monitoring the comics page for just this sort of malfeasance.

To reach the Comics Examiner, email me at bristei@aol.com or follow me on Twitter@bristei

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