Friday, January 09, 2009

 

News of Yore 1968: Walker Monopolizes the Funnies Page


Mort Walker Begins Third Comic Strip

By Ray Erwin (E&P, 1/20/1968)

One of the most successful cartoonists in the country has created a wild and way-out comic strip in which humor verges on the edge of fantasy.

The cartoon: “Boner’s Ark.”
The cartoonist: Addison (Mort Walker).
The format: Daily four-column strip and Sunday one-third standard page.
The release: March 11.
The distributor: King Features Syndicate.

Mort Walker, whose “Beetle Bailey” and “Hi and Lois” strips already have marked him as one of the most inventive and prolific of American cartoonists, is responsible for “Boner’s Ark.”

Chance to Change
“For quite a while, I felt a need to move in new directions, to change and to grow,” he explained. “I guess I’d been looking for a new way to express myself more imaginatively. About a year ago, I began to develop the idea that finally became ‘Boner’s Ark.’

“At first it didn’t jell, and I put it aside for a while. Then when I went back to it, the whole thing suddenly fell into place. I began making sketches and new characters emerged as though they had simply been waiting to be released.”

The title character is a plump and warmly funny little ship captain whose passenger list includes the kookiest group of oddly-shaped animals that ever came down a gangplank or across an artist’s drawing board. Boner made his first mistake when he took only one of each
species of animal on board his ark. After that, the other blunders just seemed to come naturally. A procession of wacky, wonderful, way-out quadrupeds marched into the strip displaying all kinds of quirks and temperaments.

Satire and Fun
The ark is a little cosmos in itself; the animals represent the foibles of man and the ship provides a stage for both wicked satire and innocent fun.

The new strip is aimed at young moderns whether they are hip teenagers or adult sophisticates. The byline “Addison” may be a new one to editors and comic strip fans but no secret will be made of the fact that the creator is Addison Morton Walker — Mort Walker — who created “Beetle Bailey,” the popular G.I. strip, in 1950 and the popular family humor strip, “Hi and Lois” in 1954.

“Beetle” is distributed by KFS to 1,073 newspapers globally, second only to “Blondie” by Chic Young, which reaches 1,617 papers, according to the syndicate. “Hi and Lois,” which Walker produces with artist Dik Browne, appears in 496 newspapers here and abroad.

Walker, who was born in Kansas and educated at the University of Missouri, started professional cartooning young, making his first sale at 11. At 15, he was a comic strip artist for a daily metropolitan newspaper and by 16 more than 300 of his cartoons had been published.
Walker’s wife is the former Jean Suffill, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. They live in Greenwich, Conn., with their four sons and two daughters.

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