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.

The First Week

After King Features accepted Mort Walker’s college strip, starring Spider, and re-named it Beetle Bailey, they discussed a suitable launch date. The syndicate initially proposed October 16, 1950, and the first weekly batch of six strips needed to be chosen, in collaboration with Mort. The promotional campaign for the new strip was prepared, which included a presentation brochure in color, a selection of strips on paper proofs and a press release.

Beetle Begins

Mort Walker was working as a magazine cartoonist in New York when John Bailey, the cartoon editor of the Saturday Evening Post, encouraged him to do some cartoons based on his college experiences at the University of Missouri. One character, a goof-off with a hat over his eyes named “Spider,” emerged from these efforts.Spider