By: Dave Astor
In late May, Mort Walker became only the ninth creator to receive the National Cartoonists Society’s Gold Key Award ? and he’s been an NCS member long enough to have known most of the previous winners well. “It seems like I’ve been around forever,” says Walker, 83.
Walker joined the NCS when he started “Beetle Bailey” in 1950. The comic struggled at first, but took off when Beetle left college for the Army in 1951. Today, the King Features strip still runs in 1,800 papers, and Walker still works on it (with collaborators). “I enjoy it so much I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to stop,” he tells E&P.
As always, Beetle remains in basic training rather than on a battlefield. Walker said one reason his comic doesn’t allude to things like the Iraq war is that it would alienate part of his readership.
Walker’s creations also include “Hi and Lois” (which co-stars Beetle’s sister), seven other strips, the 33-year-old National Cartoon Museum (whose huge collection is now in storage), and the new Mort Walker’s Best of Times magazine.