Timeline – 1970 Part 1

By Jeremy Meltingtallow

Beetle Bailey Sunday page color proof, May 24, 1970.

In the 1984 book The Best of Beetle Bailey, Mort Walker explained one of the major themes in the strip.

Beetle Bailey has been studied by sociologists for the way authority is represented. Americans feel that authority should be questioned, not blindly followed, and people in authority in this country accept this resistance as an inalienable right. In Europe and many Asian countries, the class system and regal sovereignty are so deeply ingrained many citizens never question an order. In Italy there is a soldier comic strip where the private always ends up in jail for things that Beetle does routinely. Beetle and Sarge play the game, Sarge doing his job imposing authority and Beetle doing his resisting it.”

In the Sunday page above, Beetle convinces Zero to fight back against Sarge. Zero bangs out an indignant and badly misspelled letter to Sarge. In the end, the reader is left to imagine how Sarge will react to this act of rebellion. It’s a classic twist on a recurring theme.

Previously, in the Timeline series, we reproduced Sunday pages from slick color proofs that King Features would send to their artists. Beginning in 1970, they started printing these on cheaper newsprint. That is why the colors in Sunday page above are not as bright as in previous posts from the 1960s.

We will continue with more examples from 1970 in future posts, so be sure to check back.

– Brian Walker