[PW] Dairy publications from 1939 (I need all the help I can get)

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Tue Jul 2 07:26:33 PDT 2019

On Tue, Jul 2, 2019 at 3:06 AM Casey Roberson <CASEY.ROBERSON at uga.edu>

I got a reference question a couple of weeks ago from Mort Walker (creator
> of Beetle Bailey)'s old assistant, who himself is a comics historian.

Wow, what a saga.  I can't actually help, but a few comments:

> He had a comic strip in his local paper at the age of 13, but even three
> years later, landing a regular strip in a trade publication in another
> state still seems like too unlikely an accomplishment.

It doesn't seem so unlikely to me.  A syndicate wouldn't touch a cartoon
written by a teenager who can't be held to a contract, but if Walker wrote
to the editor directly, enclosing some samples, and the strips tickled the
editor's funnybone, he might well have bought them and asked for more.  It
probably wouldn't have occurred to him to ask about the cartoonist's age.
This is still more or less what happens at the New Yorker, though the odds
of an unknown beating a regular or even irregular contributor for one of
the 15-20 slots per week are very small.  But that's the New Yorker, not
whatever-it-was published in (by NYC standards) the sticks.  I bet
over-the-transom buying was far more common in 1939: certainly many
general-interest (eheu fugaces!) and specialized magazines did so for many
of the articles and stories they ran.

One obituary for Mort Walker, in The Comics Journal, says that he worked
> "as staff cartoonist on a dairy company publication".

The difference between being a regular contributor (especially if you are
the only contributor) and being on staff might seem small to an overworked
obit writer, who most likely had no books to consult when he actually wrote
it (in advance, generally, with rare updates) and no time to do so anyway.
Grievous errors in obits are almost a tradition.

John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
The first thing you learn in a lawin' family is that there ain't
no definite answers to anything.  --Calpurnia in To Kill A Mockingbird

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