Beetle Bailey Featured Image

Beetle Bailey

By Mort Walker


About Beetle Bailey

Beetle Bailey, which started as a college-themed strip in 1950, debuted inauspiciously in 12 newspapers. After six months, it had signed on only 25 clients, and King Features Syndicate considered dropping it. The Korean War was heating up at that time, so Mort Walker decided to have Beetle enlist in the Army. He quickly picked up 100 newspapers. Mort redesigned the cast and a Sunday page was added in 1952. After the Korean War was over, Army brass wanted to tighten up discipline and felt that Beetle Bailey encouraged disrespect for officers. The strip was banned in the Tokyo Stars and Stripes, and the sympathetic publicity rocketed Beetle’s circulation another 100 papers. When Mort won the National Cartoonist Society’s award as the best cartoonist of the year for 1953, Beetle Bailey had become a certified success, with licensed products and a growing list of clients. From 1954 to 1968, the circulation of Beetle Bailey grew from 200 newspapers to 1,100, and many new characters were added to the cast. Today, after more than six decades, Mort Walker’s creation is still one of the most popular comic strips in the world.

Awards and Distinctions:

1953: “Cartoonist of the Year,” National Cartoonists Society (“The Reuben”)

1955: Banshee Award, Silver Lady, “Outstanding Cartoonist”

1966: “Best Humor Strip,” National Cartoonists Society

1969: “Best Humor Strip,” National Cartoonists Society

1972: Il Secolo XIX Award, Italy

1975: Adamson Award, “Best International Cartoonist,” Sweden

1977: Power of Printing Award

Elzie Segar Award, “Lifetime Achievement”

1978: “Fourth Estate Award,” American Legion

1979: The Jester, Newspaper Features Council

Inkpot Award, San Diego Comic Convention

1980: Faculty Alumni Award, University of Missouri. Scholar in residence

1981: Doctor of Letters, William Penn College

1987: “Man of the Year,” Kappa Sigma Fraternity

1988: Adamson Award Platinum, Sweden

1990: U.S. Army Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service

1999: Golden T-Square, National Cartoonists Society – 50 years of service, Only second ever to receive award.

1999: Order of Chevalier, French Minister of Culture and Communication

1999: Elzie Segar Award

2000: The Decoration For Distinguished Civilian Service

2010: The Sparky Award, The Cartoon Art Museum

Meet the Creators

  • Brian Walker Featured Image

    Brian Walker

    Brian Walker, who graduated from Tufts University, has a diverse background in professional cartooning and cartoon scholarship. He was one of the founders of the Museum of Cartoon Art and has served as the curator for more than 70 cartoon exhibitions. He taught cartoon history at the School of Visual Arts and was editor-in-chief of […]

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  • Greg Walker Featured Image

    Greg Walker

    Greg Walker studied liberal arts and journalism at Syracuse University and has worked in film, commercial photography, newspapers and graphic arts. He started his cartooning career writing and drawing comic books, including such well-known titles as Rocky and Bullwinkle, Barney and Betty Rubble, Underdog, Sarge Snorkel and Beetle Bailey. He began providing gags to his […]

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  • Mort Walker Featured Image

    Mort Walker

    Addison Morton Walker was born in El Dorado, Kan., on Sept. 3, 1923, and had cartooning aspirations at a very young age. “If there is such a thing as being born into a profession, it happened to me,” claimed Mort in the introduction to his autobiography. “From my first breath, all I ever wanted to […]

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