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Mort Walker, creator of 'Beetle Bailey,' dies at 94

By Susan McFarland
Mort Walker, creator of 'Beetle Bailey,' dies at 94
Creator of the legendary comic strip “Beetle Bailey,” Mort Walker, died Saturday at his home in Stamford, Conn. Photo courtesy Beetle Bailey official Facebook page

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Creator of the legendary comic strip "Beetle Bailey," Mort Walker, died of pneumonia Saturday at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 94.

Walker was a lifelong cartoonist who drew his first comic strip, "Lime Juices," at age 12. By age 15 he began publishing a strip called "Sunshine and Shadow" and at age 18 he became the chief editorial designer of Hallmark Cards.

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Along his career path he published other comic strips including "Hi and Lois," a "Beetle" spin-off he launched in 1954.

According to his family, Walker died in his studio surrounded by cartoon troops in various forms including toys, comic books and strips.

"Beetle Bailey," known as the longest-running comic strip drawn by its original creator, showcased calamities of a lazy Army soldier at the fictional Camp Swampy. Inspiration for the comic came to Walker as he served a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II.

From its debut in 1950 to the day he died, Walker drew each day's "Beetle Bailey." His assistant for more than 30 years, Bill Janocha, said Walker worked ahead so "months of his work exists and will be appearing throughout 2018."

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Janocha said thousands of hand-drawn sketches have been saved, "so Mort's writings and layouts can potentially continue to help steer 'Beetle Bailey' for years to come."

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