by Mort Walker
Beetle Bailey Sunday page color proof, October 13, 1974. Ever wonder what might occur in Beetle Bailey either before or after the current time frame? So do we. It’s exciting to travel back to the past or forward to the future. This can be accomplished quite easily in a comic strip just by using a little imagination. Cartoon time has its own rules so scenarios like this can be whatever we want them to be. In the episode above, Sarge visualizes what it might look like “30 years from now,” which would have been 2004, since this page was published in 1974. Sarge, Plato, Zero and Beetle are shown as decrepit older versions of themselves with wrinkles, beards, moustaches and gray hair. The twist here is that the reader is led to believe that this life of drudgery is not something that Sarge is looking forward to. In the end, we are surprised to find out that he actually hopes things stay the same. This is his optimistic view of the future. It can also be fun to fill in the backstories for some of the characters. What did Beetle look like when he was a child? Where did Sarge come from? Why did Rocky enlist in the Army? How did General Halftrack end up being in charge of Camp Swampy? The possibilities are endless. It’s a great source of gag ideas. Next week we will continue with another classic episode from 1974 in our Timeline series. – Brian Walker

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