Beetle Bailey still hasn’t been to war

And now his creator is dead:

Mort Walker, whose “Beetle Bailey” comic strip followed the exploits of a lazy G.I. and his inept cohorts at the dysfunctional Camp Swampy, and whose dedication to his art form led him to found the first museum devoted to the history of cartooning, died Jan. 27 at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 94.

Bill Morrison, president of the National Cartoonists Society, confirmed the death. The cause was pneumonia.

In contrast with the work-shirking soldier he immortalized, Mr. Walker was a man of considerable drive and ambition. He drew his daily comic strip for 68 years, longer than any other U.S. artist in the history of the medium. …

Beetle’s cast includes the title character, a lanky goof-off whose eyes are always covered by the visor of his hat or helmet; his rotund nemesis, Sgt. Snorkel, a violent but sentimental man who frequently beat Beetle to a pulp of squiggly lines; the ineffectual Gen. Halftrack, who ran Camp Swampy (a place the Pentagon had lost track of); Halftrack’s voluptuous secretary, Miss Buxley; Cookie, the hairy-shouldered chef and purveyor of inedible meatballs; and the bumpkin Pvt. Zero.

The characters never saw battle, and weapons and uniforms were not updated. Mr. Walker said that the military setting was simply a convenient stand-in for the pecking order of which everyone is a part.

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