by Mort Walker
Beetle Bailey Sunday page color proof, September 19, 1965. Zero is one of the most endearing characters in Beetle Bailey. He is just an innocent farm boy who is as honest and unsophisticated as an ear of corn. You couldn’t find a better friend. He makes everyone around him feel superior. In this classic baseball episode Zero gets a big hit and turns it into a home run. But he doesn’t stop there. His exuberance is clearly visible in the expression on his face and the exaggerated movement of his arms and legs. He puts every ounce of energy he has into his trot around the bases. The final panel leaves the reader wondering where he is headed next. This is an outstanding example of the action scenes that made the strip so popular during the 1960s. Everyone knows someone like Zero who is not quite with it. His name is a clue to his IQ. Zero may be naive and uneducated, but he is not totally hopeless as a soldier. He always tries his best. Some readers occasionally complain that we are making fun of mentally challenged people. This, of course, is not our intention. Zero wouldn’t be in the army if he were unqualified. He’s the kind of guy who is so excited when he finally tags one he doesn’t know when to stop running. Stay tooned for more classic episodes in our Timeline series. – Brian Walker

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