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"The Fighting Cartoonist – How Bill Mauldin’s..." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2024 5:13 p.m. PST

… ‘Willie & Joe' Comics Captured the Plight of GIs in WWII

"Yesterday, you saved my life and I swore I'd pay you back," one says to the other. "Here's my last pair of dry socks."

That was a just one of the many fictional yet real-world-inspired wartime moments that were amusingly immortalized by William Henry "Bill" Mauldlin, history's most famous ‘fighting cartoonist.'

The baby-faced infantryman from Phoenix, Ariz. was the creative genius behind Willie and Joe, perhaps the best-loved comic strip to come out of World War Two…"


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Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 1:32 a.m. PST

Of course, Britain had 'The Two Types' by Jon. In contrast to Willy and Joe, these were two rather lanquid officers from the 8th Army who fought in North Africa and Italy (like Willy and Joe). Though the style was different, the humour was the same and there was no doubt that these two were veterans and killers. The difference between Bill Maudlin's creation and that of Jon nicely summed up the differences and similarities between the two allies and their armies.

Nine pound round22 May 2024 7:45 a.m. PST

"Up Front" is a brilliant book- I have both a first edition and a copy of his collected cartoons, which are also very good, but definitely confirm his judgment in the cartoons he selected for "Up Front." In addition to the cartoons, Mauldin wrote the narrative for "Up Front," which is meant both to explain what the experience of the war was like for the people at home, and to contextualize the individual cartoons (and explain some misunderstandings, like the origin of his "garritroopers" joke).

My favorite is probably the one where a German prisoner and a soldier stand in front of an interrogator, who is saying, "I'll let ya know if I find the one what invented th' 88," but it's hard to particularize. He spent considerable time in the 45th Division (the OK and NM National Guard, in those days, which has been suggested as the source for the main characters' aquiline noses; many of the 45th's original members were native Americans), and his impressions of military life are unerring.

In the Pentagon, they used to have a small memorial display of Omar Bradley memorabilia outside the Chairman's office, and the centerpiece was an uncaptioned cartoon of a bunch of dirty, angry men standing around a Jeep- with one in particular giving vigorous vent to his views. Listening patiently to them was a silent, pensive Omar Bradley. Brilliantly effective cartoon, and indicative of his talent as an artist and commentator.

Grelber22 May 2024 8:43 a.m. PST

So many good cartoons, a lot of them with carry over to civilian life. I've often thought of the one of two officers looking out at a sunset over the Vosges: "Beautiful view! Is there one for the enlisted men?" That certainly expressed the position of a lot of management types I have known.


donlowry22 May 2024 9:02 a.m. PST

My favorite was the old cavalry sergeant shooting his broken-down jeep to put it out its misery.

jgawne22 May 2024 9:43 a.m. PST

And yet, how many of you have read his book 'Back Home' ?

Personal logo McKinstry Supporting Member of TMP Fezian22 May 2024 10:02 a.m. PST

Mauldin's autobiography/reminiscence remains one of my favorites. His reporting on the dedication of the D Day cemeteries is incredibly moving.

Choctaw22 May 2024 12:30 p.m. PST

If you are ever in Oklahoma City, be sure to visit the 45th Infantry Museum. They have a great display dedicated to Mauldin.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 3:18 p.m. PST



Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP22 May 2024 5:16 p.m. PST

One of his last cartoons was printed just after the passing of Eisenhower, and was one of his best.

The scene is one of the US military cemeteries in Europe, rows on perfect rows on white crosses, and this caption.

"Pass the word! It's Ike himself!"

That one still brings a lump to my throat.


ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP23 May 2024 5:54 a.m. PST

As noted above some of the cartoons carry over to civilian life. In my job the people a step or two up the chain of command from me considered the vice presidents to be demi-gods who must be catered to hand and foot. But to me they were just more people who created the projects which eventually ended up in my lap. So on my wall at my desk I had the Mauldin cartoon which showed a jeep with general's stars on it surrounded by officers all saluting. While off to the side are a couple of mess attendants and one is saying: "Another dang mouth to feed." To me, those VPs were just "Another dang mouth to feed." :)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2024 3:40 p.m. PST

Thanks also…


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2024 11:13 a.m. PST

I had a fair number of bosses who wouldn't even have thought about the enlisted men getting a view. (I had a lot of good ones too, but they don't make such nice cartoon subjects.)

A special place in my heart for the artilleryman:
"Ordnance? Ah'm havin' trouble wif mah shootin ahrn."
The sense of repetition:
"This has got to be the place my father told me about!" (As everyone in the village looks like the red-haired, freckle-faced kid.)
And the great brotherhood of enlisted men:
Willie and Joe looting a batch of booze labelled "Nur fur Offizieren" as a German gefreiter explains that he has no intention of interfering.

But I think less of the Two Types than of Bruce Bairnsfather. My copy of "A Better 'Ole" is right next to my copy of "Up Front."

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