Sit back youngsters, and let me tell you about a time when kids used to peruse things called comic strips, slurping up cereal, while their parents read the boring part of the newspaper… Ok, maybe that’s over dramatic, but there will be a day when smashing your Silly Putty® on a newspaper to get an imprint is something people reminisce about like typewriters and video stores.
But Mort Walker, who turns 90 on Tuesday, isn’t going to let that day come quietly (see last Saturday’s comic above). The creator of the 62-year-old Beetle Bailey comic strip, characterizing the misadventures of a lazy Army private, vowed in 2010 to continue the strip until he’s no longer able.
Walker, who resides in Stamford, Connecticut, is receiving well wishes from no less than Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Prince Albert II of Monaco and icon Dolly Parton. Walker has earned an assembly of accolades over the years, including the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, the highest award for a civilian from the Secretary of the Army. A Kansan by birth, Walker was drafted into the Army at age 20 in 1943, in the middle of US involvement in World War II. He started his cartooning career in 1948, after graduating from the University of Missouri.
Beetle and the crew at Camp Swampy may not have the staying power of other comic strips enjoying a Web-based reincarnation, but the Private does have a Facebook page with 5,516 likes. The comic strip, Beetle Bailey, was first syndicated in 1950. Beetle started as a college cutup named “Spider,” but it was his recruitment during the Korean War, in 1951 (seen below), that gained in circulation numbers. Walker has penned other strips, but Beetle, is the most well-known, distributed by King Features to about 1,800 newspapers in over 50 countries.
[Images via www.beetlebailey.com]