Wednesday, July 06, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! BEETLE BAILEY 1966 DAILY & SUNDAY STRIPS by Mort Walker (Titan Books, 2011)

Even this late in my life I on scant occasion will eyeball the comic page in my local paper, but frankly I don't know why I even bother. After all, the entire comic strip industry seems to be following the lead of the newspapers in which they appear heading into a big morass of nada, serving no particular purpose than to permit a bunch of carbon-copy employees to continue working the way they had for years on end somehow oblivious to the fact that they and their entire industry is up against an infinite number of internet sites and opinions of all stripes that you'll never see touted in the local fishwrap. Heck, blokes like myself are now able to cut through the chaff and get to the news, ideals and comics entertainment that we want via our computers without having to put up with the pomposity and belittling we've been getting from our "betters" for years on end. And besides, it's kinda painful reading the modern-day versions of those strips I grew up with seeing just how dull and unfunny they've become o'er the years, as if anyone with a sense of humor could laugh at the antics of Dagwood or even that once-boffo Nancy now the same way they did when they were but mere suburban slob ranch house UHF-tee vee kids living a Corgi Toys and Great Shakes kinda existence.

And as far as painful comic strip reading goes nothing can be more painful than reading the current version of BEETLE BAILEY. Once an all-time fave rave this strip is nothing but extremely watered down gags that would have been rejected had they crossed the eyes of creator Mort Walker a good fiftysome years back. I blame it all on Walker's capitulation to the women's lip crowd who, after years of badgering Walker over the sexually-drenched General Halftrack/Miss Buxley strips (with Walker putting up a good front for quite some time), had the General go to a "sensitivity training seminar" in a series that was so dour that it obviously set the tone for the rest of the strip's run. Like just about every "comedian" out there who thinks its his job to make you "think" rather than laugh, BEETLE BAILEY is nothing but a series of drawings without any real punch or guffaw-inducing tendencies and yeah, things do change but must they be for the worse???

At least fifty years ago when these '66 strips first appeared the comic strip page was still pumping on a whole lotta past glories with new ones still being churned out regularly. And man are these '66 BEETLE strips fuh-knee unlike the current edition. Sure Sarge still wallops Beetle, but nobody would think of complaining that this was cruelty played up for cheap laughs. Zero still pulls all of his funny stunts but it wasn't like people though he was actually retarded. And the General still leers at the WAC's tits during inspection but the flat chested brigade feminists weren't all up in hairy pitted arms about it. In fact, were there feminists in 1966 other'n the failed New York City communist types who eventually pushed the issue to the front page thus tipping off frowzy housewives that they were being exploited???

Some real good chucklers in this one. And even some I remember the first time around. After all, in our household the March 27th Sunday BEETLE ("Fatman and Slobber") got a huge laugh outta not only myself but cyster and the November 27th got a rise outta alla us if only because of a cameo appearance from none other than Snoopy of PEANUTS fame! Also of note were the strips starting off the year dealing with the up 'n coming long hair brigade that show off that great ol' older generation resentment to the peace and love types who eventually ruined us all. Not so surprisingly the same sentiments that pop up here were also brought up in a concurrent FRECKLES storyline I'll fill you in on someday which only goes to show you just how loathed most of Ameriga felt towards the longhairs and their totally anti-anti-anti-hypocritical (or something like that) values which continue to reek this far down the timescape!

Don't remember my offhand reactions to any of the others, but for being a first-grade fanabla tortured day in and out by teachers and students struggling for hours through homework that should only take me fifteen minutes and not having all of the toys the other kids had because I was supposed to learn frugality and hadda save my dough well...I'm positive they were something that I looked forward to with unbridled glee once the newspaper hit the front porch back during those rather stellar days.

Titan has a volume of 1965 strips out which is fine, but frankly I could sure use some of the earlier (and later) BAILEYs in my existence. Anyone know what's available out there???

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