Cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey

Beetle Bailey cartoonist Mort Walker dies at 94

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Jan 28, 2018

Mort Walker who created the comic strip Beetle Bailey based on his experiences as a World War II veteran died of natural causes at his Connecticut home Saturday at the age of 94.

Born Addison Morton Walker on September 3, 1923, in El Dorado, Kansas, Walker began publishing cartoons at an early age and went on to create and work on several comic strips during his career including Sam and Silo, Mrs. Fitz's Flats, Hi and Lois and Boner’s Ark. But his most well-known creation was the world of Beetle Bailey, a lazy private in the army. The character was heavily influenced by Walker's own time in the army in World War II.

After college, Walker sold a series of cartoons about a young university student named Spider to the Saturday Evening Post and in the 1950s during the Korean War, the character of Spider became Beetle Bailey, a private in the army. In 1954, Beetle Bailey had become so popular he received his own spin-off series co-created with Dik Browne called Hi and Lois.

In 1974, Walker founded the Museum of Cartoon Art in Connecticut, which ultimately closed in 2002 but sought to preserve the history of comics and cartoons for the future.  He had hoped to reopen the museum in 2005 but plans fell through. Walker used his cartoons to critique and question authority, occasionally leading to some controversy from those who believed it to be disrespectful. In 2000 he was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service medal by the Pentagon for not only his military service but also his work on Beetle Bailey. Two of Walker's sons Greg and Brian have worked as collaborators with their father for years and intend to continue his work.

Walker is survived by his wife, daughters, sons, stepchildren, and grandchildren.

(via NYT)