Ask the Archivist: A BEETLE BAILEY SMöRGÅSBORD
Hello, Comic Kingdom readers,
Today is a birthday for our own Mort Walker, his ninety-second, and tomorrow will be the sixty-third anniversary of his beloved creation, Beetle Bailey.
Beetle has been among the most successful strips America has ever seen, and has a large international following as well. In Scandinavia, Beetle is one of the top comic book stars, and has been for many years.
The Egmont Company currently prints them. Like many European publications, these come out every two weeks, hence they have numbers instead of dates. Egmont also has other characters, some King Features stars such as Zits , Hagar and Hi & Lois, and also some old favorites like Redeye. They also take some of our competitor’s titles like Creator’s B.C. and United’s Betty in addition to lots of locally produced material. A full mix of funny comics.
Here’s a recent sample of some covers for the BASSERNE (Denmark), BILLY (Norway) and KNASEN (Sweden) editions:
Specials are printed throughout the year, known as “Albums,” which are slightly larger in size than the regular books. These have thin cardboard covers and the title character strips exclusively. There’s no advertising, but then, the regular editions have only ads for other Egmont comics.
Sometimes they have some elaborate graphics, like the use of photo backgrounds. It looks like an old “Viewmaster” scene.
The annual calendar inevitably features more Miss Buxley than Beetle, even some nudity. I guess in the icy northland, political correctness has its limits. In this year’s entry, a graffiti bomber tags huge pin-ups of Miss Buxley on the walls of various Camp Swampy locations. I show the front and back covers, revealing the risqué property damage is all caused by Mort himself!
Happy Birthday, Mort and Beetle!
Last week's Archivist post garnered one comment. Here is my response below.
To Andrew Joseph Mansell:
It’s no problem for me to pick who the best Katzenjammer artists was — it was Harold Knerr. He had a great steady hand, and was very clever about writing intricate cause-and-effect traps for whoever Hans and Fritz’s wrath was to be visited on. Moreso than Dirks. Even his earlier Philly strips (1903-14) were better than most.
Winner was apparently the pick-up replacement for any KFS funny strip, no matter how inept he was at imitating other artists. He often did Swinnerton’s titles, but his long-time appointment was taking over Elmer when Fera died in the 1920’s. His version lasted into the 1950’s.
No info yet on any big KFS books yet. However, when it does, the news will be heralded throughout Comics Kingdom.
Your humble servant,
The King Features Archivist (Mr.)