Bedcheck Charlie

In 1963 George Wunder, artist and writer of the popular comic strip Terry and the Pirates penned a story about two fourth-class cadets at the Air Force Academy, Bucky Warbow and Dudley Darby.

A 1972 article in Talon magazine continues the story:

“...they get into trouble with a Firstie – Cadet Major Rampart. It seems that Rampy was being literally chased by a female, Hildy Tome, who was in search of a husband, and the Doolies kindly offered him some advice. For this breach of the “system,” Rampy gives a difficult task to Bucky and Dudley as punishment:

“Well, as things would have it, Hildy devises a scheme which not only aids the Dools, but also gains her revenge over the Rock – Rampy. Bedcheck Charlie is born: the ghost of a World War I pilot who has returned to aid the Fourth Class with its bedtime inspections, giving advance warning of approaching upperclassmen."

"The whole affair almost backfires as the appearance of the ghost receives nationwide attention – even the Pentagon becomes concerned. An explanation has to be found in order to save the Academy, but Rampy will not put the two doolies in jeopardy. Instead he will sacrifice his career in order to save them and USAFA.”

“It really looks bleak until Hildy shows up at the big football game, scares the hell out of the opponents, and the Falcons emerge victorious. Then the whole thing is exposed as a manifestation of spirit, thus saving face for everyone. All is resolved and a tradition is born.”

The original story arc of 99 daily strips ran in newspapers nationwide from June through October 1963. To read the entire series, click the link, below right.


Bedcheck Charlie and Lewis University

Lewis University, southwest of Chicago, uses Bedcheck Charlie as their official mascot (thanks to Paul L.), although they appear to get some of the historical facts wrong.

Terry and the Pirates was originally created by Milt Caniff in 1934, but he relinquished the strip in 1946 after a dispute with his syndicate over creative control. Caniff then created Steve Canyon, while Terry and the Pirates was assigned to George Wunder, who continued it until 1973.

George Wunder's Bedcheck Charlie

Lewis University's Bedcheck Charlie

While the Lewis University artwork is definitely in the style of Milt Caniff, the signature cartouche at the bottom of the drawing, although unreadable, resembles George Wunder's, not Milt Caniff's. The small panels below show versions of each signature cartouche.

Terry and the Pirates 1936

Terry and the Pirates 1963

Steve Canyon