Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Beetle Bailey (begun on September 4, 1950) is a comic strip set in the United States Army, written by Mort Walker. It is among the oldest comic strips still being made by the original creator, and it is also among the most popular comic strips. King Features Syndicate is the publisher.
History and Origins of Beetle Bailey
In 1948 and 1949, Mort Walker submitted his comics to magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post. The editor of the SEP, John Bailey, suggested he draw some comics in a college setting, having seen some of Mort Walker's work during college. Walker did so, and Bailey suggested that he feature one character, who wore a hat down over his eyes. Walker named him Spider, after a fraternity brother.
Walker then decided to do a comic strip about college, putting all of his fraternity brothers from the University of Missouri-Columbia in it. Changing the name from Spider to Beetle, King Features Syndicate bought it; it was the last comic strip personally approved by William Randolph Hearst. Bailey was added as a last name in honor of John Bailey. Beetle Bailey first ran in twelve newspapers on September 4, 1950, the day after Mort Walker's birthday.
On March 13, 1951, during the Korean War, Walker had Beetle Bailey enlist in the army. All characters other than Beetle were dropped, and new ones created. The struggling comic strip (King Features was considering not renewing the one-year contract) soon appeared in more newspapers, beginning Beetle's rise to popularity.
Most of the humor revolves around the mostly inept characters stationed at Camp Swampy. Private Bailey is a lazy sort and usually naps and avoids work, and thus is often the subject of verbal and physical chastizing from his Sergeant.
The comic strip currently takes place in present day. The characters in Beetle Bailey have never seen combat themselves, with the exception of mock battles and combat drills.
- Sgt. Orville Snorkel - Beetle's nemesis
- Otto - Sgt. Snorkel's dog, who walks on two legs and has his own uniform
- Gen. Amos T. Halftrack - the inept commander of Camp Swampy
- Miss Buxley - Halftrack's beautiful secretary
- Pvt. Blips - Halftrack's competent secretary
- Lt. Jack Flap - the strip's first black character, introduced in 1970
- Killer Diller - the ladies man
- Zero - the uneducated country boy
- Lt. Sonny Fuzz - overearnest, by the book, always trying impress uninterested superiors
- Cookie - the cook
- Plato - the intellectual
- Corporal Yo - the strip's first Asian character, introduced in 1990
- Capt. Sam Scabbard
- Maj. Greenbrass
- Chaplain Staneglass
- Julius Plewer - fastidious fussbudget, who eventually became Halftrack's chauffeur
- Cosmo - Camp Swampy's resident "shady entreprenur"
- Rocky - Camp Swampy's resident "rebel-without-a-clue"
- Dr. Bonkus - Camp Swampy's staff psychiatrist, whose sanity is questionable at best
- Specialist Chip Gizmo - Camp Swampy's resident computer geek, named by a write-in contest in 2002
- Sgt. Louise Lugg - Sarge Snorkel's girlfriend, introduced in 1986
- Bella - Sgt. Louise Lugg's pet female cat
The strip became the focus of feminist animosity in the '90s because of Gen. Halftrack's unrestrained (if ineffectual) libidinous approach to women. Reacting to this, Walker put the General through a bit of sensitivity training.
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