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Early Sarge – Part 3

It took a while for Mort Walker to decide how many teeth Sarge would have and where they would be located in his mouth. In the months after his debut on March 30, 1951, Sarge had two teeth in his upper jaw. This is what he looked like on December 13, 1951.SargeTopTeethThirteen days later, Sarge had two teeth in his lower jaw.SargeBottomTeethOver the course of the next few months, Sarge’s teeth moved around in his mouth. In this strip from February 1952, Sarge has one lower tooth in the first two panels and two upper teeth in the last panel.SargeMovingTeethFinally, by April 1952, Mort settled on a consistent look. Sarge has had a single tooth in his lower jaw ever since.SargeOneToothIn this strip from 1953, Sarge goes to the dentist for a checkup. By this time, readers knew that Sarge had only one tooth in his mouth.SargeFinalToothStay tooned for more on the early history of Beetle Bailey.
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Early Sarge – Part 2

The Beetle Bailey Sunday page debuted on September 14, 1952 (see previous post). The unusual episode below, which shows a typical day in the life of Sargeant Orville P. Snorkel, ran in newspapers thirteen months later.

Beetle Bailey Sunday page, color proof, May 10, 1953.

Beetle Bailey Sunday page, color proof, May 10, 1953.

This is the only time that Sarge’s wife ever appeared in the strip. In fact, Sarge has been a confirmed bachelor with no children ever since. The army is his family.
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Early Sarge – Part 1

When Beetle Bailey joined the army in 1951 he needed someone to keep him in line. Sarge was the result.EarlySarge2

“Sarge is probably my favorite character to draw,” Mort Walker recounted in the 1984 book, The Best of Beetle Bailey. “Not only does he look funny in all positions, but he takes up a lot of space which saves me from drawing a lot of backgrounds. He’s garrulous, profane, ecstatic, rough, sentimental, voracious…he does everything to the extreme.”
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