Mort Walker has passed away at 94. The creator of the comic strip Beetle Bailey, for 68 years he poked gentle fun at the absurdities of the US Army. Walker served as an Army officer during World War II. Post war he became a cartoonist and drew about what he knew: the Army and the comic possibilities of any massive hierarchical organization. Throughout almost seven decades Walker followed the same formula. His soldiers never went to war, they stayed at camp Swampy in perpetual peace time, the issues of the day were ignored, no politics were to intrude on the strip, the same set of characters, with very few additions and subtractions, served perpetual timeless enlistments, the officers were almost always clueless and the men often lazy and shiftless. Stated that way it might be hard to see how the strip endured, but it did, and proved especially popular with kids and veterans.
Ironically, this non-controversial strip for its first ten years was banned from the pages of Stars and Stripes by the Army, humorless military bureaucrats disguised as officers taking umbrage at the strip’s depiction of officers as fools and the men as shirkers, completely missing the deep love that Walker had for the Army he kidded.
At ease Mr. Walker, your long tour of duty is over.