September 10th, 2017

Timeline – 1968 Part 2

by Mort Walker

Beetle Bailey Sunday page color proof, February 11, 1968.

Sylvan Byck, the former comics editor of King Features Syndicate, once told Mort Walker, “Have your character get hit over the head at least once a week.” Mort has never forgotten these words of wisdom.

The episode above is typical of the abuse Sarge subjects Beetle to on a regular basis. The image of Beetle lying twisted on the ground in the final panel is a recurring motif in the strip. Readers know that he never gets permanently injured and will always bounce back for another day of punishment.

In a 1984 interview, Mort explained, “People are understandably concerned about the violence that children are exposed to. Certain individuals may absorb or imitate things they see. Others may enjoy a catharsis of pent-up emotions. It’s an interesting debate.”

“The last thing I want to do is contribute to our already over-violent world,” Mort concluded. “But I refuse to believe that cartoon violence will lead anyone to similar behavior any more than Bugs Bunny makes people eat carrots.”

So, Sarge continues to beat Beetle up and, hopefully, readers laugh, understanding that funny pictures aren’t going to hurt anyone.

Stay tooned for more colorful Sunday pages from 1968 in our Timeline series.

– Brian Walker

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