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Gabbing with Mort Walker

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Okay so we were at the Licensing show for the last few days and took a lot of pictures, which we should post but this MoCCA stuff has us pooped. No big big big news that hasn’t been released in a PR. But one person we saw that we didn’t expect to see was cartoonist Mort Walker, who had his own Beetle Bailey booth and was sitting there, drawing…BEETLE BAILEY. Now you know, we’ve done and seen quite a few things where the comics are concerned, but getting to see one of the last great mid-century cartoonists just sitting and drawing his strip…that was still right up there. We asked Walker, 83, about his oft delayed Cartoon Museum, and he responded with a long tale that stretched from Rye to Boca Raton to the Empire State Building, and involved things like…septic tanks. And local board issues. And so on and so forth. Well, no one ever said opening a museum was easy. As it stands now, the art that was once housed in the museum is sitting in storage in Stamford, CT. Walker told us that Ohio State (presumably the Cartoon Research LIbrary) has offered to take the artwork, but they have no place to display it and a sponsor is being sought for that. He estimates that he is out millions of dollars from his own pocket from his attempts to get the museum resettled.

On a happier note, Walker was sitting surrounded by all sorts of neat BEETLE BAILEY memorabilia, like old Halloween masks and paintings and so on. He said it was all taken from stuff he has sitting in his studio. You might not think that a big display of BEETLE BAILEY stuff would look so great, but the effect was surprisingly crisp and graphic and showed why it’s still around after 57 years. Walker mentioned that he’ll be the subject of a big piece in E&P soon.

Anyhoo, we’re used to seeing wrestlers and Sponge Bob at the Licensing show, so getting to talk to Walker was a pleasant surprise indeed.

  1. THANK YOU Heidi! This is the news / reporting I like to hear.
    Walker is no diamond-in-the-rough, no hidden gem, but in today’s techno hurricane it’s easy to miss the REAL stories outside of the press releases. Thanks for taking the time with Walker – he is an American treasure at this point.

  2. I never have understood why this is age-old question ever existed. Of course it’s an art form, Michael. You think up something you want to say, then you say it. You put it on paper with ink. If you did the same thing with a brush and paint and drew it on a canvas, would that be what officially makes it “art?”

    If songwriting is considered an art – wherein one puts words and sounds together – then why not a cartoon?

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