When Charles Brown (yeah, that’s his real name) contacted Mort Walker to see if he would autograph a historical book about Camp Chowder – the Army camp that Mort was stationed at during World War II – Mort did more than just autograph the book – he sent Charlie (yeah, he also goes by “Charlie”) an original pen and ink drawing of members of the Beetle Bailey gang standing in ankle deep water. That imagery of a flood was not so much as a gag, but a depiction of a real event – and what would later become how Camp Swampy got its name.
“He told me (on the fax) that in the spring of 1943 they had a really bad flood that wiped out a lot of the railroad tracks around the camp and in Neosho,” Brown said. “And he said he remembers waking up and the whole camp was literally flooded, it was just like ankle-deep water. So he said he spent the next few days sandbagging a river. I don’t know which river, because there’s not one up there (at Crowder), but they might have sent him out into Neosho, sandbagging Shoal Creek or Hickory Creek or something. But he said it was at that moment he thought ‘this is Camp Swampy’ because it was always wet and muddy. And so when he started drawing Beetle Bailey, it became ‘Camp Swampy.’ “
Now you have another conversation starter the next time you’re at a cartoonist gathering.