September 3, 1923 |
El Dorado, Kansas
|Notable works||Beetle Bailey
Hi and Lois
Addison Morton Walker (born September 3, 1923), popularly known as Mort Walker, is an American comic artist best known for creating the newspaper comic strips Beetle Bailey in 1950 and Hi and Lois in 1954. He has signed Addison to some of his strips.
Born in El Dorado, Kansas, he grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. He had his first comic published at age 11 and sold his first cartoon at 12. At age 14, he regularly sold gag cartoons to Child Life, Flying Aces and Inside Detective magazines. When he was 15, he drew a comic strip, The Lime Juicers, for the weekly Kansas City Journal, and at age 18, he was the chief editorial designer for Hallmark Cards. Graduating from Northeast High School, he attended the University of Missouri, where today a life-sized bronze statue of Beetle Bailey stands in front of the alumni center.
In 1943, Walker was drafted into the United States Army during World War II, serving in Italy, where he was an intelligence and investigating officer and was also in charge of a German POW camp. After the war he was posted to Italy where he was in charge of an Italian guard company. He was discharged as a first lieutenant in 1947. He graduated in 1948 from the University of Missouri, where he was the editor and art director of the college's humor magazine, Showme, and was president of the local Kappa Sigma chapter.
He then went to New York to pursue a career in cartooning. He began doing Spider, a one-panel series for The Saturday Evening Post, about a lazy, laid-back college student. When he decided he could make more money doing a comic strip, Spider morphed into Beetle Bailey, eventually distributed by King Features Syndicate to 1,800 newspapers in more than 50 countries for a combined readership of 200 million daily.
In 1954, Walker and Dik Browne teamed to launch Hi and Lois, a spin-off of Beetle Bailey. Under the pseudonym "Addison", Walker began Boner's Ark in 1968. Other comic strips created by Walker include Gamin & Patches, Mrs. Fitz's Flats, The Evermores, Sam's Strip and Sam and Silo (the last two with Jerry Dumas).
In 1974, Walker opened the Museum of Cartoon Art, the first museum devoted to the art of comics, initially located in Greenwich, Connecticut and Rye Brook, New York before moving to Boca Raton, Florida in 1992.
From previous marriages, Walker and his wife, Catherine, have nine children between them. After seven decades in the business, Walker still supervises the daily work at his Connecticut studio, which has employed six of his children.
In addition to books about comics and children's books, Walker has collected his strips into 92 "Beetle Bailey" paperbacks and 35 "Hi and Lois" paperbacks, plus writing his autobiography, Mort Walker's Scrapbook: Celebrating a Life of Love and Laughter.
In his book The Lexicon of Comicana (1980), written as a satirical look at the devices cartoonists use, Walker invented a vocabulary called Symbolia. For example, Walker coined the term "squeans" to describe the starbusts and little circles that appear around a cartoon's head to indicate intoxication. The typographical symbols that stand for profanities, which appear in dialogue balloons in the place of actual dialogue, Walker called "grawlixes."
In 2006, he launched a 24-page magazine, The Best of Times. distributed free throughout Connecticut and available online. It features artwork, puzzles, editorial cartoons, ads and a selection of articles, comics and columns syndicated by King Features. His son, Neal Walker, was the editor and publisher. Between 2006 and 2010, they published 27 issues.
In September 2000, the University of Missouri staged a Beetle Bailey 50th anniversary exhibition in the grand concourse of the Elmer Ellis Library, displaying original daily and Sunday strips, published reprints and poster-size lithographs of selected strips.
In 1974, he founded the National Cartoon Museum, and in 1989 was inducted into its Museum of Cartoon Art Hall of Fame. He received the Reuben Award of 1953 for Beetle Bailey, the National Cartoonists Society's Humor Strip Award for 1966 and 1969, the Gold T-Square Award in 1999, the Elzie Segar Award for 1977 and 1999, and numerous other awards. In 1978, Walker received the American Legion's Fourth Estate Award, and in 2000, he was given the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service by the United States Army. Walker was also given the best wardrobe in the category of shoes by the American Dress and Clothing Association. Walker received the Sparky Award for lifetime achievement from the Cartoon Art Museum at the 2010 New York Comic-Con.
- Official site
- National Cartoonists Society: Mort Walker
- Mort Walker Papers 1950-1968 at Syracuse University (primary source material)
- Mort Walker Collection at University of Missouri (primary source material)
- "Connecticut Talent". Connecticut Historical Society. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
- "The Mort Walker Interview". The Comics Journal (297) (Online excerpts from print interview). April 13, 2009 (posted online). Archived from the original on August 18, 2009.