After 63 years, military cutbacks have finally hit Camp Swampy.
Stars and Stripes, the newspaper serving the U.S. military community, announced this week it has dropped Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey from its daily print edition as the average number of pages shrinks from 40 to 32 due to a number of financial factors that include Department of Defense sequestration cuts and a declining readership.
The newspaper also expects to eliminate an estimated 40 staff positions worldwide next year amid a reduction in print operations “as it tries to accelerate a shift toward digital distribution.”
Creators | Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker received messages from the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dolly Parton and Prince Albert II of Monaco ahead of his 90th birthday today. The cartoonist, who introduced Beetle Bailey in 1950, still supervises daily work on the strip at his Stamford, Connecticut, studio. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Gene Luen Yang discusses his newest work, Boxers and Saints, a 500-page, two-volume set that examines China’s Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of two very different characters. [Graphic Novel Reporter]
Comic strips | Cartoonist Tom Batiuk, whose Funky Winkerbean has addressed such topics as teen pregnancy, land mines and capital punishment, will next turn his attention to gay rights in a storyline about a gay couple that wants to attend the prom at the comic strip’s fictional fictional Westview High School. “It struck me that whenever I sit in classes at Midview High, which I still do, my overall impression is that the younger generation’s attitudes toward gays is more open and accepting than their predecessors,” Batiuk said. “It’s not perfect, but it shows promise for an emerging generation that will bring this issue (intolerance) to an end. I wanted to take those two opposing viewpoints to reach across that divide of intolerance.” The month-long storyline begins April 30. Funky Winkerbean appears in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. [The Chronicle-Telegram]
Cartoonist Mort Walker’s lanky and lazy Beetle Bailey — so lazy that he’s remained an Army private for 60 years — has become, of all things, the inspiration for a limited-edition line of designer clothing.
Working with King Features Syndicate, designers Darren Romanelli and Hitoshi Tsujimoto developed an Americana- and military-infused collection of T-shirts, sweaters, jackets, hats, shoes, pants and bags — many of which will feature Walker’s original cartoon designs. Among the items are authentic G1 leather jackets (shown at right) featuring an image of Gen. Halftrack’s secretary Sheila Buxley sitting atop a bomb beneath the words “Blonde Bombshell.” The line will be unveiled Jan. 16-18 at the apparel trade show PROJECT New York.
“It’s an Americana type of clothing line,” Walker told The Associated Press. “It’s real authentic clothes that people wore — jackets, blue jeans and stuff like that. All sweaters, all the stuff that the ordinary guys wear, not the fancy guys.”
In addition to the debut of the clothing line, the show will feature a retrospective dedicated to Walker and Beetle Bailey.
Beetle Bailey made his comic-strip debut on Sept. 4, 1950, as a college student named Spider. Six months later he accidentally enlisted in the Army, where he’s remained ever since. The strip appears daily in more than 1,800 newspapers worldwide.
The “Sunday Funnies” stamps announced earlier this year by the United States Postal Service will be issued July 16, kicking off at 10:30 a.m. with a dedication ceremony at The Ohio State University, home of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
The five stamps honor Archie, Beetle Bailey, Calvin and Hobbes, Dennis the Menace and Garfield, so it’s fitting that the ceremony’s guests include Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker, Garfield creator Jim Davis, Dennis the Menace artists Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand, Archie newspaper strip writer Craig Goldman and Calvin and Hobbes editor Lee Salem.
See larger images of the stamp artwork, and read the text from the back of the “Sunday Funnies” pane, after the break: