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Beetle Bailey

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Beetle Bailey (begun 1950) is a comic strip set in the United States Army, written by Mort Walker. It is among the oldest comic strips still being made by the original creator, and it is also among the most popular comic strips. King Features Syndicate is the publisher.

History and Origins of Beetle Bailey

In 1948 and 1949, Mort Walker submitted his comics to magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post. The editor of the SEP, John Bailey, suggested he draw some comics in a college setting, having seen some of Mort Walker's work during college. Walker did so, and Bailey suggested that he feature one character, who wore a hat down over his eyes. Walker named him Spider, after a fraternity brother.

Walker then decided to do a comic strip about college, putting all of his fraternity brothers in it. Changing the name from Spider to Beetle, King Features Syndicate bought it; it was the last comic strip personally approved by William Randolph Hearst. Bailey was addded as a last name in honor of John Bailey. Beetle Bailey first ran in twelve newspapers on September 4, 1950, the day after Mort Walker's birthday.

On March 13, 1951, during the Korean War, Walker had Beetle Bailey enlist in the army. All characters other than Beetle were dropped, and new ones created. The struggling comic strip (King Features was considering not renewing the one-year contract) soon appeared in more newspapers, beginning Beetle's rise to popularity.

Today the comic strip still takes place during the Korean War, although the characters in Beetle Bailey have never seen combat themselves.

Controversy

The strip became the focus of feminist animosity in the '90s because of Gen. Halftrack's unrestrained (if ineffectual) libidinous approach to women. Reacting to this, Walker put the General through a bit of sensitivity training.


Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.