Beetle Bailey Plugs Army Museum in Development

This Beetle Bailey strip by Mort Walker, which ran September 1, promotes the National Museum of the United States Army, an institution that doesn’t yet physically exist.

Beetle Bailey comic strip September 1 2011

The National Army Museum is scheduled to open in 2015 in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a half-hour from Washington, D.C. As with any museum, their goal is educational and persuasive. They aim:

to honor America’s Soldiers, preserve the history of America’s oldest military branch, and educate all Americans about the Army’s role in our nation’s development.

The coin mentioned in the strip is one of the 2011 Army Commemorative Coins issued by the U.S. Mint. A portion of the sales of these collectibles goes to the Army Historical Foundation to support construction of the museum.

Artist Mort Walker served in the Army during World War II, and his support of the military has earned him the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, the highest award a civilian can receive.

The Army is the only service branch without its own museum, which surprised me. I’d think they’d be the first. Also interesting, from the press release, that made me aware of this, is that Beetle Bailey is stated as appearing in over 1,800 newspapers. That explains why so many legacy strips are still running; no new comic will ever build up that kind of clientele.

2 Responses to “Beetle Bailey Plugs Army Museum in Development”

  1. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    I find the issue of legacy strips to be pretty analogous to the problems of the comic book direct market. Just as comic publishers are limited by what the direct market will support and are punished (by lack of sales or support) for anything new or different, legacy strips maintain a status quo for the comics page in most newspapers.

    I am hard pressed to think of a legacy strip that has remained interesting or vital once it has passed on to heirs – heck, most legacy strips are gasping for oxygen in the last decade or so of the original creator’s run. But as anyone who’s ever watched a newspaper try to change the strips that it runs knows, people freak out.

    Newspapers regularly run polls to determine the most and least popular comic strips to justify any changes – something they very rarely do with any other syndicated material, or any other section of the paper. Comic strips are a low maintenance, high visibility section of the paper, and it’s much easier to keep running “Hi and Lois” with the same jokes for the last 30 years than to run “Cul-de-Sac” and have to deal with a couple dozen irate subscribers who vow to cancel their subscription over the change. And to try to promote “Cul-de-Sac” to get NEW readers who might enjoy it seems to be beyond the scope of possibility anymore.

    If you look at any of the more recent strips that have entered the canon, like “Calvin and Hobbes” or “The Far Side,” they gained their popularity outside the newspaper, with reprint books, before they started gaining large numbers of papers.

    the internet could change all this, but people are still surprised when I comment on getting daily comic strips by email or RSS or even going to the syndicate website. Again, there’s a business model issue there – the syndicates are willing to offer all their wares to people who want them,but they don’t seem to want to be too aggressive in promoting these services so that they don’t upset their traditional print clients.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I can’t argue with any of that. Newspaper comic strips often reassure by their presence, not by their content. It’s like seeing a familiar friend, even when you and they have nothing new to say.




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