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 Mort (Addison Mortimer) Walker  (1923 - )



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Lived/Active: Kansas/New York/Missouri      Known for: cartoonist, comic strip-"Beetle Bailey"

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Addison "Mort" Mortimer Walker is primarily known as Mort (Addison Mortimer) Walker

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Ad Code: 4
Mortimer Walker
from Auction House Records.
Three Beetle Bailey cartoon strips
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Addison Morton Walker (born September 3, 1923), popularly known as Mort Walker, is an American comic artist best known for creating the newspaper comic strips Beetle Bailey in 1950 and Hi and Lois in 1954. He has signed Addison to some of his strips.

Born in El Dorado, Kansas, he grew up in Kansas City, Missouri.  He had his first comic published at age 11, and sold his first cartoon at 12.  At 15, he worked as a comic-strip artist for a daily newspaper, and by 18 became chief editorial designer at Hall Brothers.  Graduating from Northeast High School, he attended the University of Missouri, where today a life-sized bronze statue of Beetle Bailey stands in front of the alumni center.

In 1943, Walker was drafted into the United States Army and served in Europe during World War II. He was discharged as a first lieutenant in 1947.  He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1948, having been president of the local Kappa Sigma chapter.  He then went to New York to pursue a career in cartooning.  His first 200 cartoons were rejected, but he slowly gained recognition for his talent.  His break came with Beetle Bailey, followed by Hi and Lois. Other comic strips he created include Boner's Ark, Gamin & Patches, Mrs. Fitz's Flats, The Evermores, Sam's Strip and Sam and Silo (the last two with Jerry Dumas).

After more than 50 years in the business, Walker still supervises the daily work at his studio, which employs six of his children.  He is one of the longest-drawing cartoonists in history.
In 1974, he founded the National Cartoon Museum, and in 1989 was inducted into its Museum of Cartoon Art Hall of Fame.  He received the Reuben Award of 1953 for Beetle Bailey, the National Cartoonist Society Humor Strip Award for 1966 and 1969, the Gold T-Square Award in 1999, the Elzie Segar Award for 1977 and 1999, and numerous other awards for his work and dedication.  In 1978, Walker received the American Legion's Fourth Estate Award and in 2000, Walker was given the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service by the United States Army.

In his book, The Lexicon of Comicana (1980), written as a satirical look at the devices cartoonists use, Walker invented a vocabulary called Symbolia.  For example, Walker coined the term "squeans" to describe the starbusts and little circles that appear around a cartoon's head to indicate intoxication.  The typographical symbols that stand for profanities, which appear in dialogue balloons in the place of actual dialogue, Walker called "grawlixes."
He recently created the free monthly newsletter "The Best of Times". It incorporates various "helpful hints" articles along with an array of comics. While he is overseer of the project, he is assisted by his son, Neal Walker, who formats the newsletter.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Addison  “Mort” Mortimer Walker was born in El Dorado, Kansas in 1923.  He published his first comic when he was 11. He sold his first cartoon at 12, and at 14 he was selling gag cartoons regularly to Child Life, Inside Detective and Flying Aces magazines.  At 15, he was comic-strip artist for a weekly metropolitan newspaper.  Graduated from Northeast High School in 1941.  At 18, he became chief editorial designer at Hall Bros., ushering in a light, playful style for the company's Hallmark Cards line.  Served in the U.S. Army in World War II, then attended the Univ. of Missouri, Columbia where he was editor of the school magazine and graduated in 1948.  Walker then moved to New York to pursue his cartooning career.  In order to survive he worked as editor of three magazines for Dell Publishing Company.  His first 200 cartoons were rejected, but he persisted, and editors started to recognize his talent and in two years he was the top-selling magazine cartoonist.  His first big break came in 1950, when King
Features picked up "Beetle Bailey" for syndication.  Walker's comic strip "Hi and Lois,"
which he created with Dik Browne, began in 1954.  He also created "Boner's Ark" in 1968
under the name "Addison," and created "Sam & Silo" with Jerry Dumas in 1977.  Contributed many cartoons to book collections, text and humor anthologies as well as to journals such as Post, Colliers, Ladies Home Journal, and other national magazines. Founder of the Museum of Cartoon Art.

Member: National Cartoonists Society.

Exhibitions: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1951; National Cartoon Museum, 2000; Ellis
Library, Univ. of Missouri, 2000.

Awards: Cartoonist of the Year, 1953; Best Humor Strip, 1966, 1969; U.S. Army Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service, 1990; Golden T-Square from the National Cartoonists Society, 1999; The Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, 2000; The Connecticut Legend. Collections: Univ. of Missouri Campus.
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936-1962, 1970, 1976; AskART,, accessed Oct. 26, 2007; Kansas City Times (Jan. 7, 1978);, accessed Oct. 26, 2007; Art Inventories Cat.

This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

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