Beetle and Me

Beetle Bailey—the comic strip character who celebrates his sixtieth birthday this week—is my contemporary.  At least in comic years.  Difference is, I was born a baby and he was born a college student.  A year later, he slumped into an Army recruiting office and signed up for the Korean War.

Beetle hasn’t aged a day over the years. (I’m on first name basis with him, you’ll notice, even though he doesn’t know I exist.)  He’s just as lazy as he always was.  And just as involved with his stereotypical friends (dumb blond Miss Buxley, for instance).  I, on the other hand, have changed greatly.

While Beetle has been in the army through various wars and intervening peacetime, I have grown up, gone to college, taught school, and—most of all—written about life.  The last half-dozen or so of my 36 books have been built around subjects involving social justice:  the plight of women and girls in the most unforgiving areas of the world and what we can do for them.  The blight of sex trafficking.  Fiction and non-fiction built around of the long, seductive tentacles of slavery, both in the past and now. 

During all those years Beetle spent loafing through one war after the other, I lived life.  And I saw it, too—in India, China, Nepal, Sudan, Senegal, Indonesia, Cambodia, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria.  It yanked me out of my blissful ignorance and changed me into a 21st century abolitionist.

In today’s comics, Beetle is sitting on a mountainside with Sarge, surveying the territory through binoculars.  Sarge asks if he sees anything, and Beetle says he does.  “I see happy children at play… people of all races working together… busy factories with no pollution…”  Sarge cuts him off.  “Wups!” Sarge says.  “You got the rose-colored ones.”

I’m with you, Beetle.  Not that I see the world through rose-colored glasses. I don’t.  Not by a long shot.  But I do look at it through eyes of persistent hope.

“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.

Martin Luther



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6 responses to “Beetle and Me

  1. Eric

    That’s sweet.

  2. Dear Kay’s Faithful Readers,

    What a coincidence. Beetle Bailey (one of my favorite comics, along with Garfield) plays a pivotal role in the geneses of my new book “Cooking the Books,” A Walk Down Wall Street and Other Byzantine Byways” (I got this title courtesy of Dan Kline, who did the editing). The following is from a Beetle Bailey comic dated May 15, 2009. A new recruit made the statement to Sergeant Snorkel:
    “I was under investigation for corporate fraud, so I joined the army.”
    “Do you have any military experience?” Snorkel asks.
    “No, but if you need someone to ‘cook your books,’ I’m your man.”’
    The book is about fraud on Wall Street in which I write about the origin and meaning of one hundred of the most well known idioms, phrases and proverbs dealing with white-collar crime. The first chapter is “cooking the books, an idiom that can be traced back to 1639 when the Earle of Stanford said: “We once knew the truth, but it has been cooked ever since.” The Earle was speaking about the chef who practices the alternation of ingredients in a receipt, not the “goofy” accounting practices so prevalent in today’s business world.
    That’s the entire preview you get! Look for my book coming out late September, early October, which I am self-publishing. The name of my publishing house is “Big Island Publishers,” (I live on the Big Island of Hawaii) and my web site, and face-book pages will be up and running soon. (My blog is already up and running-see address at the bottom.)
    What most all of you don’t know, it was Kay who starting me on my writing career back in Santa Barbara at an adult writing class some two decades ago. After a 30 year illustrious career in the pharmaceutical industry, I retired to Hawaii and was able to begin writing full time (in between my activities of bike riding, gardening and attending my Rotary Club meetings).
    I will tell you this, it is never too late to start a writing career, but, in the words of William Zinsser (a mentor of E.B. White) in his wonderful book, “On Writing Well”; ‘writing is hard work.”’ (I have spent more than hours on this letter–writing, rewriting and proofreading.) Don’t give up; follow you passion, live your dream!

    Thank you Kay,

    Patrick M. Edwards,

    Big Island Publishers (up and running) (soon to be up and running) (will be up and running sometime early October)

  3. Oh Kay, I made a big boo-boo in saying that William Zinsser was the mentor of E. B. White. In accuality, the reverse is the correct statement.


  4. Ooops! Thanks for the correction~!

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