Thursday, September 29, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! BEETLE BAILEY 1950-1952 by Mort Walker (Checker, 2008)

The '66 BEETLE BAILEY volume reviewed earlier had me on the go for more classic strips, and although for the life of me I thought there would have been an ongoing attempt to reproduce the series in its entirety I was wrong. Too bad for me, because I certainly would like to read those late-fifties and early-sixties BAILEY comics from right around the time the strip really began to get into the swing that it was known for for years, and why IDW or Fantagraphics doesn't get into gear I'll never know because hey, you think there'd be a market for reprints of a strip as popular as this 'un!

Thankfully the comparatively obscure-o Checker line has reprinted the first two years of BEETLE BAILEY strips and I at least should be thankful for those at least until I can get hold of some worthy paperbacks at a rummage sale. And yeah, although I gotta admit that the early-fifties BEETLE ain't quite the same as the one that I grew up reading there's still a whole lot more fun 'n jamz to be found here than there is to be found within the entire comic strip medium (including the modern day BEETLE BAILEY) these days.

The early college-oriented strips really don't do that much for me, perhaps because this BEETLE and the one I grew up reading don't quite mesh. Galpal Buzzy isn't as cute as Bunny and although there is a certain feeling to these which hints at the latterday strip the early BEETLEs just don't affect me the way I was kinda hopin' they would. Naturally the switch to the army helped out plenty, and although most of my fave BAILEY characters have yet to be introduced we do see early versions of Sarge, Killer, Cookie, Captain Scabbard and the General, none who've yet been developed to their fullest potential but still fit the strip better'n the college guys who seemed so pale in comparison.

The "retired" army-era characters are interesting as well from Dawg, the unsanitary one with flies buzzing around to the gambler Snakeyes (phased out in favor of Cosmo in the sixties), not to mention Bammy, a guy who was such a major character in the BEETLE sphere of things to the point where you wonder why he was dumped in the first place. A rather strong personality, Bammy is always being described as a Southerner "who is still fighting the Civil War", though none of the strips I've read even hint at this so once again I chalk this description up to Northern snootery since ya know, "enlightened" people gotta keep up their NEGATIVE images of others or something like that. If ya got any evidence to the contrary please do send it in, but as for now I'm sticking in Bammy's corner considering the unfair trouncing Southerners have been getting for a longer time 'n anyone deserves!

Yeah, no Zero or Lt. Fuzz or even Otto, but these strips sure do show a whole lotta promise that would come to fruition within a few short years. I'd sure like to get an eyefulla more of these earlier BAILEYs so if there's any enterprising published out there willing to crank out more reprint editions well...you got at least one customer out there!

6 comments:

Bill S. said...

This looks like a must-own edition. Did you pay full price for this? I've NEVER seen a Checker book in an actual store which was NOT remaindered. I picked up an old BEETLE BAILEY paperback at a used book store in Oklahoma this summer....and I "read" it in 15 minutes! For me, BEETLE never gets old. Mort Walker's characters ALL still exist, and the military setting could easily be replaced by ANY workplace--that's how universal the characters (and the knowledge of human nature) are, which probably explains why the strip has been so popular for so long.

top_cat_james said...

Fantagraphics has a new NANCY collection due out in December.

Bill S. said...

I also have some BEETLE BAILEY Charlton comic books in the garage somewhere....I hope the silverfish are enjoying them! I should retrieve those...

Tad Reedy said...

"All of this reminds me of the cartoon "Beetle Bailey". The editor didn't like Mort Walker drawing in belly buttons, so he would take a small knife and cut them out of the strips. Soon the editor had a box on his desk labeled "Beetle Bailey's Belly Button Box". Walker decided to revolt: he would give women extra belly buttons and place them everywhere. Eventually the editor surrendered. Perhaps our Olympians need extra navels..."

http://www.hackerfactor.com/blog/index.php?/archives/213-The-Olympic-Image.html

Christopher Stigliano said...

The breaking point at King Features was when Walker drew a cartoon where Beetle gave his girlfriend Bunny a crate of navel oranges. After that they gave up.

top_cat_james said...

My apologies - no NANCY collection forthcoming anytime soon (bad intel), but there IS volume 21 of DICK TRACY that's being released in a couple months.