Mort Walker drew a college student with a hat in some of the cartoons that he sold to the Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s.


Saturday Evening Post cartoon by Mort Walker, circa 1948

The SAP editor, John Bailey, liked the character and suggested to Mort that he develop a regular feature for the kid. These are Mort’s first design sketches of “Spider” from 1949. The one at the top center was the one he chose to use.

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