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Timeline – 1965 Part 4

Beetle Bailey Sunday page color proof, October 31, 1965.

Sylvan Byck, the comics editor of King Features Syndicate, once told Mort Walker, “Have your character get hit over the head at least once a week.” Mort has never forgotten these words of wisdom. He regularly puts his characters in physical peril by pummeling them with custard pies, meatballs, swift kicks and flying fists. Beetle frequently finds himself shattered in pieces on the ground and Sarge is always falling off precipitous cliffs. Fortunately, none of the characters ever gets permanently injured as they inevitably manage to bounce back for another day of punishment.
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Beetle Bailey Sales – 1963

1963 sales brochure comp1sm copy 2

In 1961, three advertising executives from Chicago published “The Executive Coloring Book” and sold 300,000 copies. The following year, the “JFK Coloring Book,” which featured caricatures by MAD magazine’s Mort Drucker, made the bestseller list and adult coloring books had become a hot trend.

King Features Syndicate picked up on the fad and came out with “The Editors Coloring Book” by Mort Walker in 1963 (cover and first page shown above). This cleverly designed sales brochure for Beetle Bailey was sent to newspaper editors around the world encouraging them to pick up the strip.
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Beetle Bailey Sales – 1961

1961 sales brochure outside

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.
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