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Mort Walker: Requiescat in Pace

 

 

Mort Walker has passed away at 94.  The creator of the comic strip Beetle Bailey, for 68 years he poked gentle fun at the absurdities of the US Army.  Walker served as an Army officer during World War II.  Post war he became a cartoonist and drew about what he knew:  the Army and the comic possibilities of any massive hierarchical organization.  Throughout almost seven decades Walker followed the same formula.  His soldiers never went to war, they stayed at camp Swampy in perpetual peace time, the issues of the day were ignored, no politics were to intrude on the strip, the same set of characters, with very few additions and subtractions, served perpetual timeless enlistments, the officers were almost always clueless and the men often lazy and shiftless.   Stated that way it might be hard to see how the strip endured, but it did, and proved especially popular with kids and veterans.

Ironically, this non-controversial strip for its first ten years was banned from the pages of Stars and Stripes by the Army, humorless military bureaucrats disguised as officers taking umbrage at the strip’s depiction of officers as fools and the men as shirkers, completely missing the deep love that Walker had for the Army he kidded.

 

At ease Mr. Walker, your long tour of duty is over.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

4 Comments

  1. He was also the originator of Hi & Lois. Lois was Beetle’s sister, though cross-over strips were rare.

    The strip was somewhat derivative of Sad Sack, which began during the war, was composed by a soldier in uniform, and did appear in military newspapers. I assume some critic has penned a comparison of the strips with some insight as to why the military reacted to them differently.

    Amazes you the number of people living into their 90s nowadays.

  2. My favorite from BB was one where Beetle loses to Sarge at a game of ping pong. Sarge gloats and reminds Beetle about their agreement that the loser notify the newspapers. In the last strip, Sarge opens up the paper to the headline; ‘Bailey Loses!’ I have understood journalism that way ever since. A wise man indeed. RIP.

  3. My favorite was Beetle and Sarge walking past a row of tanks with copious amounts of netting and tree branches and bushes all over them as camouflage. With the tanks behind them, Beetle asks Sarge, “See those tanks?” Sarge says, “Yeah?” Beetle says, “Didn’t work, did it?”

    I had to think about it. Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Mort Walker.

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