After Mort Walker served in the Army during World War II, he enrolled at the University of Missouri and became editor of the campus magazine. In his 1975 autobiography, Backstage at the Strips, Mort recounted his days working on the Missouri Showme.
“The magazine was quite an experience, a better ‘school’ than the school itself. I wrote many of the articles, drew cartoons and illustrations, did layouts, proofread, set type by hand, sold ads, worked directly with the printer, did four-color hand separations for the covers, sold the magazine on the street corners of the campus, and took the unsold copies to the used-paper dump for sale.”
“The University of Missouri, approached me to do a sculpture of Beetle Bailey for the campus, since I was a graduate,” Mort Walker explained in his autobiography.
“I had seen a sculpture by Gutzon Borglum (the Mount Rushmore creator) of Lincoln seated on a bench with space beside him. I had watched kids climb up to sit with Lincoln and get their pictures taken. So I adapted the idea and designed Beetle sitting in a booth at the Shack with room beside him.”
When Mort Walker attended the University of Missouri in the 1940s, the favorite campus hangout was The Shack. The origins of this restaurant went back to 1921 when Chandler Davis and his family sold sandwiches out of their car across from Jesse Hall.
The Shack was known for its low ceilings, dark interior, piecemeal construction and leaky roof. Students flocked to The Shack to enjoy the famous “Shackburger,” a frosty beverage, and to carve their initials into the wooden interior.