June 24th, 2017

Timeline – 1965 Part 3

by Mort Walker

Beetle Bailey Sunday page color proof, September 19, 1965.

Zero is one of the most endearing characters in Beetle Bailey. He is just an innocent farm boy who is as honest and unsophisticated as an ear of corn. You couldn’t find a better friend. He makes everyone around him feel superior.

In this classic baseball episode Zero gets a big hit and turns it into a home run. But he doesn’t stop there. His exuberance is clearly visible in the expression on his face and the exaggerated movement of his arms and legs. He puts every ounce of energy he has into his trot around the bases. The final panel leaves the reader wondering where he is headed next. This is an outstanding example of the action scenes that made the strip so popular during the 1960s.

Everyone knows someone like Zero who is not quite with it. His name is a clue to his IQ. Zero may be naive and uneducated, but he is not totally hopeless as a soldier. He always tries his best.

Some readers occasionally complain that we are making fun of mentally challenged people. This, of course, is not our intention. Zero wouldn’t be in the army if he were unqualified. He’s the kind of guy who is so excited when he finally tags one he doesn’t know when to stop running.

Stay tooned for more classic episodes in our Timeline series.

– Brian Walker

Hi and Lois Sunday page color proof, November 21, 1965.

Dawg is the Flagston family’s pet. He is a big, floppy sheepdog. He’s warm and friendly, furry and fun. He’s sort of like Thirsty in a dog suit. He was created to be different than other comic strip dogs, which are primarily frisky tail waggers.

Dawg plays mostly with Trixie. In the Sunday page above they have a stimulating conversation with Trixie imitating all of Dawg’s utterances and expressions.  He’s teaching her to talk.

Trixie and Dawg interact in many other ways. She gives him her unwanted food. They go for walks together and snooze in the sunbeam. They’re best pals.

Readers can be privy to Dawg’s thoughts, which aren’t very deep. Although Dawg is sometimes seen doing things that are very un-doglike, there is a fine line of believability that can never be crossed.

To maintain the realism in Hi and Lois, the fantasy must not compromise the credibility. Dawg can act human at times, but he will never fly on top of a doghouse like Snoopy.

Stay tooned for more classic episodes from the 1960s in our Timeline series.

– Brian Walker




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