You Can Take Any Experience And Make A Joke Of It: Life Imitates Art For The Creator Of Beetle Bailey

Mort Walker


Cartoonist Mort Walker started drawing cartoons as a young boy because he had fond memories of reading comic strips with his father, and he wanted a career where he could make people laugh. During World War II he was drafted, eventually became an officer, and deployed to Europe after the war ended. Following his service, during which he ran a P.O.W. camp in Italy for about a year, he attended the University of Missouri, where he managed “ShowMe,” the college magazine. After graduation, he moved to New York, where he worked for several magazines while developing experience as a cartoonist, eventually making it big with “Beetle Bailey” and “Hi and Lois,” among others. He continued to draw cartoons until his death on January 27, 2018. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, deciding to become a cartoonist, serving in the Army during WWII, and working as a cartoonist. He discusses his strip “Beetle Bailey” and the evolution of some of its most notable characters. He describes developing ideas for his strips and others he’s worked with, including members of his family. Finally, he examines changes in the world that have occurred during his lifetime, and how his service during WWII changed him.


conflicts World War II
topics Morale P.O.W.s Returning from War Leadership Life After Military Writing the Soldier's Life
interviewer Mark Frankel
date 05 December 2012


name Mort Walker
institution University of Missouri
graduation year 1948
service Air Corps / Infantry
specialty Comic Strip Artist
service dates 1942 1946