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Beetle Bailey turns 60 this Saturday

The AP has story about Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey turning 60 this Saturday.

Mort Walker, who conjured up Beetle and has been putting him on paper every day for all those decades, says he’ll continue with his creation until he’s no longer able.

“I don’t know how I’d be retired,” said Walker, 86. “I wake up every day with another idea.”

The genial gags by Beetle and the cast of characters ? Sarge and his dog, Otto, Gen. Amos Halftrack, Miss Buxley and others ? are followed seven days a week by readers in 1,800 newspapers, which is “astronomically huge,” said Brendan Burford, comics editor at King Features, the strip’s syndicating service.

Charles Schulz, who created and worked on the enormously popular Peanuts strip for nearly 50 years before his death in 2000, came close to Walker’s longevity. But “no one has worked on the same strip for 60 years with that kind of consistency,” Burford said.

“He’s definitely in a pretty seriously elite class,” he said.

Community Comments

#1 Paul Fell
August/30/2010
@ 9:15 am

I don’t know of any retired cartoonists, only OLD cartoonists. It’s just like they say about taking the farmer off the farm and moving him to town… you’ll be killing him.

Cartooning isn’t just what we do… it’s who we are.

Besides, what other profession is there that allows you to make money doing the same things that got you kicked out of school as a kid?

Attaboy, Mort. Keep going!

#2 John Read
August/30/2010
@ 10:56 am

Paul Fell knows of what he speaks — he’s one of them “old cartoonists” hisself!

Seriously though, I believe it’s BECAUSE they’re “doing the same things that got [them] kicked out of school as a kid” that there ARE so many so-called old cartoonists; drawing funny pictures keeps you young!

#3 Michael Kandalaft
August/30/2010
@ 11:26 am

Since the comparison between Walker and Schulz has been made, it should then also be mentioned that Charles Schulz single handedly created Peanuts for 50 years and NEVER took ideas from anyone else, which is why Peanuts was still so personal and relevant even after all those decades. So while Walker has been drawing the strip technically for a longer period of time, I don’t know that the creative energies can really be compared fairly.

#4 Larry Levine
August/30/2010
@ 12:42 pm

Congratulations, Mort (you put the KING in King Features)

#5 Darryl Heine
August/30/2010
@ 12:50 pm

This week and next the Beetle Bailey comic strip is counting down the Top 14 Beetle Bailey strip moments as voted by fans online.

#6 Jim Kohl
August/30/2010
@ 1:23 pm

I’ve definitely enjoyed Beetle Bailey from time to time. I wish Mort had let loose a little and proved that he could still be pertinent after all those years. A few strips that mentioned the current war would have gone a long way to a stronger legacy. I don’t think ripping on mess halls and lazy troops hold the same humor they once did. Having the strip grow and adapt would be much more impressive over that span of time.

#7 Dave Stephens
August/30/2010
@ 2:11 pm

Yeah. Plus, if cats acted more like dogs, that would make them much more impressive over time… Right?

#8 Jim Kohl
August/30/2010
@ 3:28 pm

Good point… all things should stay as they are. Why would anything need to evolve, stay current, or push the medium and themselves?
We should all do something once… and then repeat it for a designated amount of time until it’s impressive… you know… like caricaturing.

#9 M.D.Simmons
August/30/2010
@ 7:46 pm

Happy birthday… Beetle. “Wow the big 60” I just wanted to say… thank you to mort. He is truly one of my cartooning heroes!!!

#10 Dave Stephens
August/30/2010
@ 11:29 pm

“all things should stay as they are. Why would anything need to evolve, stay current, or push the medium and themselves?”

Nice strawman – it’s almost a non-sequitor as it has no relation to what I said. I’ll try again.

Beetle Bailey certainly did evolve, just not how you wanted it to. Which is probably why it has lasted as long as it has.

Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury is nothing BUT topical – I see no need to mix the two. I love Beetle Bailey just the way it is…

#11 Gar Molloy
August/31/2010
@ 2:47 am

I’m pretty sure that there’s a big box of unpublished ‘edgy’ Beetle Bailey strips in Mr Walker’s attic somewhere. Really sick, dirty, hilarious stuff. You don’t spend 60 years with a group of characters without sending them off on adventures you don’t want to show the publishers.

#12 BOB QUICK
August/31/2010
@ 6:46 am

Mr. Walker wrote me way back in 1958 with advice on cartooning. I have to wonder how many others over the years he has helped along the way. Congratulations to a master.

#13 Larry Levine
August/31/2010
@ 8:51 am

Bob, Mort emailed me back with advice a few years ago, a very nice (and wise) gentleman!!

#14 Robert Gidley
August/31/2010
@ 9:07 am

@Gar:
“I?m pretty sure that there?s a big box of unpublished ?edgy? Beetle Bailey strips in Mr Walker?s attic somewhere”

Or published in the Comics Journal by Shaenon Garrity:

http://www.tcj.com/blog/the-strangest-pictures-i-have-seen-4/

#15 Joe Engesser
August/31/2010
@ 9:20 am

Beetle goes great with ‘a cup of joe’ on a Sunday morning…just like many other classic strips! Thanks for sharing your genius, Mort…keep us laughing and congratulations from another pleased fan.

#16 Pete McDonnell
August/31/2010
@ 9:32 am

In Mort Walker’s book “Backstage at the Strips”, Walker reproduced a B.C. strip that had B.C. looking at Wiley’s dictionary: the word “mortgage” is floating in panel one. Panel two’s definition: “A device used for measuring one’s tolerance of people named Mort”. A tribute to B.B. from B.C.!

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