Timeline – 1971 Part 1

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Beetle Bailey Sunday page color proof, February 28, 1971.

In The Best of Beetle Bailey, Mort Walker recounted the origin of Lt. Flap. “Many people had urged me for years to put a black character in the strip. The trouble was, if I made him a lazy goof-off like the regular cast I’d get complaints. Finally I thought of creating a macho type who liked wild clothes and Lt. Flap was born.” Walt “Clyde” Frazier of the New York Knicks basketball team has often by cited as a source of inspiration.

The strip below is his first appearance.

Beetle Bailey daily strip, October 5, 1970.

“There was an initial fuss from people who either thought I was propagandizing or ridiculing black people,” Mort continued. “The Stars and Stripes banned me again and Senator Proxmire had to convince them to reinstate me.”

The episode at the top appeared four months later and is the first color Sunday page starring Lt. Flap. The black power salute was used as a sign of protest by two athletes during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico. General Halftrack obviously had a lot to learn about his new lieutenant.

Mort concluded in the 1984 interview, “Now the flurry has died down and Lt. Flap is a favorite with many.” He is still a regular member of the cast.

The Timeline series will continue next week with another classic strip from 1971, so stay tooned.

– Brian Walker

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