When the King Features sales brochure, shown above, was mailed out in 1957, Beetle Bailey had 600 newspaper clients.
In 1984, Mort Walker looked back on these early days. “A cartoonist once told me to work very hard for the first year or so until you get your strip off the ground, then you can relax, hire someone to do it for you, and have a life of ease. That cartoonist soon lost his strip and never got another one.”
“My experience is,” Mort continued, “the more successful you get, the harder you have to work. As I zoomed past the 600-paper mark, I began to feel a tremendous responsibility to my readers, almost a stage fright. If I’ve done this good today, I’ve got to do at least as good tomorrow, or better, if I can. If you’re not moving forward in this business, you are moving backwards.”
Next week we will continue to trace Beetle Bailey’s rise to the top.
– Brian Walker