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.