A Tribute to Mort Walker

Tribute by Eric Reaves.

We would like to thank all of our readers for the many tributes and condolences we received after our fearless leader, Mort Walker, passed away on January 27. A famous cartoonist once said, “If you want to truly know me, read my comic strip every day.” In 67 years, 3 months and 12 days, Mort created 24,562 Beetle Bailey strips. His philosophy of life is contained in these panels. Perhaps the best way to remember him is to pick up one of his books (or scroll through the digital archive found here) and chuckle along with some of his favorite gags. It’s all there, for everyone to enjoy.  Forever.

Timeline – 1972 Part 4

Hi and Lois Sunday page color proof, December 10, 1972.

Some of the most memorable Hi and Lois gags are based on real life experiences.

In Mort Walker’s 1975 autobiography, Backstage at the Strips, he wrote, “About half the gags Jerry Dumas brings in I can spot as having come from Gail [his wife] or his three boys. His son Tim is an avid autograph collector. He goes after the usual celebrity and sports star signatures but also seeks signatures of unusual personalities. He reads up on the Supreme Court, for instance, and writes knowledgeable letters to the justices, asking them questions in order to get interesting replies. He reads books and writes the authors, commenting at great length on his favorite passages. His letters are warmly humorous, and we’ve used several of them verbatim in Hi and Lois.”
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Timeline – 1971 Part 4

Hi and Los Sunday page color proof, December 26, 1971.

This seasonal Sunday page is another masterpiece of story structure and graphic design by Mort Walker and Dik Browne.

The gag stars the innocent and endearing Ditto who tells the elderly Mr. Rimmel about his dream of becoming a cowboy when he grows up. I remember going through a cowboy phase myself when I was about Ditto’s age. Mr. Rimmel gives Ditto a lot of good reasons to aspire to be a teacher instead. My wife and daughter are both teachers, so I am very sympathetic to this argument. I believe teachers don’t get enough credit or compensation for the jobs that they do. Ditto seems to be going along with Mr. Rimmel’s logic until he reverts back to his original obsession at the end.
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