Graphics Standards - History of Bedcheck Charlie

In 1963, a cartoonist by the name of Milton Caniff illustrated a comic strip called Steve Canyon. This series was a follow-up to a previous strip called Terry and the Pirates, and followed the adventures of an Air Force pilot. Steve Canyon would investigate mysteries within the Air Force. One of Steve Canyon’s adventures took him to a flight school, at which he learned of the existence of Bedcheck Charlie. Charlie was a student at the school who dressed up in World War I flight gear and went around scaring the other cadets. It was unknown whether the cadet was a male or female, and the person was never caught.

In the fall of ’63, some Lewis students were sitting in Sheil Hall one weekend discussing the need for a mascot. Steve Moskal, a freshman history major, and his proctor, Roger Mills, were discussing the fact that the students needed a symbol with which to identify. Moskal, having been a fan of Caniff’s work, remembered reading about Bedcheck Charlie in the Chicago Tribune. The two of them decided to write Caniff, asking him for permission to use Charlie as the school symbol. Caniff wrote back and gave permission to use Charlie.

Almost immediately, the college adopted Charlie as its own. The students quickly related to the symbol and Charlie began appearing all over campus. He was welcomed at pep rallies and home games.

Over the years, the image of Charlie has been adjusted in an effort to make the artwork more easily reproduced on merchandise and printed materials.

In 2002, in conjunction with the creation of the Lewis University Graphic Standards Manual and Editorial Style Guide, the decision was made to update many of the graphic elements of the University. The image of Bedcheck Charlie was recreated in a graphic, stylized version using Caniff’s original drawing as a reference.

A Lewis Flyer graphic was also created using Charlie’s image along with the words Lewis University Flyers to familiarize the public with our University’s mascot.