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Sunday Funnies Characters Set to Brighten Letters
Postage stamps featuring comic strips, from left, Beetle Bailey; Calvin and Hobbes; Archie; Garfield and Dennis the Menace, part of a set of five Sunday comics stamps going on sale nationwide with dedication ceremonies at the cartoon museum at Ohio State University, Friday, July 16. AP Photo/USPS.

By: Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP).- Will Beetle Bailey ever run out of hideouts where he can catch a nap? Will Sergeant Snorkel ever tire of tracking him down and putting him to work?

"I hope not," says Mort Walker, creator of the long-running comic strip.

It's a contest more than a half-century old and comic-strip fans still love it.

Now even the post office has taken notice, with Sarge and Beetle featured on a new 44-cent stamp being released Friday.

It part of a set of five "Sunday Funnies" stamps going on sale nationwide, with dedication ceremonies at the cartoon museum at Ohio State University.

Joining Beetle and Sarge on new stamps will be:

—Calvin and Hobbes, a strip that ran from 1985 to 1995 featuring an energetic 6-year-old and his tiger pal.

—Archie, the perpetual teen shown sharing a chocolate shake with brunette Veronica Lodge on his right and blonde Betty Cooper.

—Garfield, the chubby, crabby cat who shares the stamp with his carefree dog buddy Odie.

—Dennis the Menace, the mischievous 5-year-old dressed in red coveralls and striped shirt running off to some new adventure.

Beetle Bailey was originally a college student named Spider, named for a drunken fraternity brother of Walker's, the cartoonist explained in a telephone interview. But Walker's editor told him to change the name because there was already a comic strip with a character named Spider.

So he stuck with the insect theme and picked Beetle, adding Bailey after the name of his editor.

Beetle's indolent character, Walker added, comes from a high school and college friend who was tall, lanky and lazy.

At first the comic strip didn't sell well, Walker said, but when the Korean War began he had Beetle wander into a recruiting office and sign up. Once he was in uniform the strip was quickly purchased by more than 100 newspapers and continued to grow.

Sarge recalls a sergeant Walker remembers from his own days in the service, "a big fat guy, we were scared to death of him, we would run and hide."

Perhaps that's why Beetle seems to get away with so much.

"I put myself in Beetle's place and always want to win out over sergeants. He's defying him even on the stamp," Walker said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Washington | Mort Walker | Calvin and Hobbes | Garfield | Dennis the Menace | Beetle Bailey |

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