When Mort Walker’s “Beetle Bailey” comic strip first appeared in this newspaper in 1964, it was a big deal. A promotional cartoon published in The Star showed Bailey, the U.S. Army private who specialized in avoiding work, sprinting toward Anniston’s Fort McClellan. Naturally, his sergeant was reluctant to see Beetle join the rest of the crew at their new home.
“Beetle Bailey” first went into syndication in 1950, and newspaper readers over the past 68 years have come to love the cast of Beetle, Sarge, Gen. Halftrack, Miss Buxley and Otto the dog. At one point, the strip was published in 1,800 newspapers and seen daily by 200 million people.
Walker died at age 94 this weekend. His comic strip will live on, his sons promise. That’s good because we can’t imagine the alternative.