The Shack

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.

On Campus

The early Beetle Bailey strips were set at Rockview University, which closely resembled Mort Walker’s alma mater, the University of Missouri. Here is an aerial view of the quad at Rockview from a strip dated November 7, 1950.
The University of Missouri campus looks like this today.
The Columns at Francis Quadrangle are all that remain from a fire that destroyed the original Academic Hall on Jan. 9, 1892.


The Debut

This King Features sales brochure announced the launch of Beetle Bailey.Cheers

The first strip ran in twelve newspapers on September 4, 1950. Here is the first week of strips in the order that they were published. Compare these to Mort’s original selection in the previous post.1950.9.41950.9.7

Mort decided to use a large cast of characters in Beetle Bailey right from the beginning (see the strip dated 9/8/50 above). Beetle lived together with his buddies – Freshman, Bitter Bill, Diamond Jim, Sweatsock and Plato. Buzz was Beetle’s first girlfriend. On a few occasions, a bearded, pipe-smoking professor made an appearance as well as Beetle’s parents.