The circulation of Beetle Bailey had rocketed past 800 newspapers by 1961, when the brochure above was produced. King Features Syndicate claimed that only Chic Young’s Blondie had more clients.
The biographical profile on the left recounted how Mort Walker had his first cartoon published when he was 11 years old, began selling cartoons nationally by the age of 14, had his own comic strip in the Kansas City Journal at 15, and became a designer for Hallmark Greeting Card Company when he was 18. After serving in the army during World War II, Mort attended the University of Missouri. He then came to New York City and was a top-selling magazine gag cartoonist before creating Beetle Bailey for King Features in 1950.
The next Beetle Bailey sales brochure was mailed out by King Features Syndicate in 1959. The circulation of the strip at that point was 704 newspapers.
“It’s simply that Beetle Bailey packs a daily laugh for readers of every age group – mom, dad, junior and sis,” the copy claimed. “And Beetle Bailey doesn’t have to carry the ball alone. Famed gag writer and comic artist Mort Walker provides refreshing variety every day by peopling his strip with such mirth-provoking characters as Sgt. Snorkel, Lt. Fuzz, Zero, Cookie, Killer and General Halftrack.”
Beetle Bailey Sales Brochure cover, 1957.
When the King Features sales brochure, shown above, was mailed out in 1957, Beetle Bailey had 600 newspaper clients.
In 1984, Mort Walker looked back on these early days. “A cartoonist once told me to work very hard for the first year or so until you get your strip off the ground, then you can relax, hire someone to do it for you, and have a life of ease. That cartoonist soon lost his strip and never got another one.”