Betty Boop and Felix by Walker Brothers
Betty Boop and Felix, by the Walker Brothers

Greg Walker is an American cartoonist and gag writer. He is the son of legendary comics artist Mort Walker and has worked with his father on his newspaper strips 'Hi and Lois' and 'Beetle Bailey' since the 1970s.

Early life and career
Born in 1949, Walker studied liberal arts and journalism at Syracuse University and has worked in film, commercial photography, newspapers and graphic arts. His main graphic influences are his father and his godfather Dik Browne, who drew Mort Walker's 'Hi and Lois' strip. He started his cartooning career writing and drawing comic books for Charlton Comics in the 1970s. These included comic books based on animated TV series, such as Jay Ward's 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' and 'Underdog', and Hanna-Barbera's 'The Flintstones ('Barney and Betty Rubble'). He furthermore worked on 'Sarge Snorkel' (1973-1976), a comic book spin-off of Mort Walker's 'Beetle Bailey'. The comic book featured original stories with Walker's creations, but had art by either Charlton staff artists of Walker's assistants.

Beetle Bailey by Mort and Greg Walker
Beetle Bailey, credited to Mort and Greg Walker (6 February 2015)

Beetle Bailey / Hi & Lois
The largest part of Greg Walker's career has been devoted to his father's newspaper comics for King Features Syndicate. He joined Mort Walker as a gag writer for both 'Beetle Bailey' and 'Hi and Lois' in 1973, and by 1984 his brother Brian also joined the so-called "Connecticut laugh factory studio". Since the 1980s, Greg Walker has been co-writing, inking and lettering 'Beetle Bailey' in a steady collaboration with his father until Mort Walker's death in January 2018. He has been credited as co-author of the lazy soldier since 14 April 2003. Bill Janocha assisted on the artwork from 1987 onwards and the inking is done by Mark Brewer since 2001. In 1990 Greg and Brian Walker officially succeeded their father as the scriptwriters of the family comic 'Hi and Lois', which was by then drawn by Chance Browne.

Other comics
Greg Walker has additionally worked on a couple of other comic strip projects. In 1979 he was a writer and artist on the 'Bugs Bunny' newspaper comic for a while. In 1984 and 1985 he worked with Guy and Brad Gilchrist on the 'Rock Channel' comic strip for the Register and Tribune Syndicate in 1984 and 1985. The short-lived comic attempted to step on the popularity of the upcoming MTV channel, and featured a competing and low-rent music video television station. Greg and the Gilchrist brothers had an equal share in the gagwriting, while Guy Gilchrist provided the artwork. Towards the end of its run, ghost artists like Klaus Nordling and Gill Fox took over most of the art chores.

Rock Channel by Guy Chilchrist and Greg Walker
Rock Channel, drawn by Guy Gilchrist

Betty Boop and Felix
Together with his brothers Brian, Neal and Morgan, he wrote and drew the 'Betty Boop and Felix' strip between 19 November 1984 and 31 January 1988 under the collective signature "the Walker brothers". Neal and Greg Walker were responsible for the strip's artwork. Based on an original idea by their father, the unusual newspaper comic starred both Max Fleischer's flapper girl Betty Boop and Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer's 'Felix the Cat'. Walker came up with the idea after reading a book about the history of animation. He felt that Betty and Felix were such great graphic characters that they ought to be revived. The pair were also recast in different roles. Betty was now a housewife, while Felix became her pet. Much like Charles M. Schulz' 'Snoopy' and Jim Davis' 'Garfield', Felix never spoke, but just communicated his lines through thought balloons. 'Betty Boop and Felix' was in some ways comparable to 'Sam's Strip' by Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, in the sense that occasionally other well known animated characters had a cameo, like Fleischer's Koko the Clown and Jay Ward's Bullwinkle J. Moose. Ironically enough the Walker brothers didn't encounter any copyright issues with these characters, but after a while King Features discovered that they didn't own the rights to Felix! From that moment on Felix was dropped from the series which became a vehicle for Betty alone.


Beetle Bailey by Greg and Mort Walker (25 May 2003)

beetlebailey.com

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