Beetle Bailey: 1965 Daily & Sunday Strips
written by Mort Walker
Beetle Bailey was an innocent comic that began life as a single-post strip in the Saturday Evening Post in the 1950s. Mort Walker, who had begun professionally illustrating in 1938, when he was just 15, evolved along with the strip. By 1965, the year collected here, Beetle Bailey, like the rest of America, was caught up in an escalating war and a burgeoning counterculture and civil rights movement. At its heart, though, the strip remained rather innocent for the most part, not quite entering the realm of hard-edged political commentary but often sniffing around its edges.
Beetle Bailey is of course a staple of the comics page for millions of readers. Its preternaturally lazy title character joined the army on a whim and now spends most of his time trying to avoid work and provoking the ire of his Sarge. Other familiar faces abound: Zero, Rocky, “Killer” Diller, Plato, Cookie, Chaplain Staneglass, and the hapless General Halftrack. Using all of them, Walker was able to create a strip that at first generated controversy (it was dropped by Stars and Stripes) and then became one of the most popular and enduring strips in history (winning multiple awards and becoming the second comic strip ever to surpass syndication in 1,000 newspapers).
Beetle Bailey: 1965 Daily & Sunday Strips is a treat for those who remember with fondness a simpler, funnier comics page in their newspapers. Today, papers crowd as many strips as possible into their pages, but all that does is serve to remind us all that quantity does not equal quality.