Monthly Archive for February, 2010

Bill Mauldin WWII Cartoons

I’m looking at these terrific “Willie and Joe” World War II cartoons by Bill Mauldin here:


“Don’t startle ‘im, Joe — it’s almost full.”

In my previous post, I focused somewhat on the drawing, which I do think is great and the above image is a terrific example, but how about the comedy! The drawing really sells the joke with composition, expression, staging, environment, etc., and all that stuff that contributes to the tone, but if you just strip it down to the basic joke, it’s still a great cartoon and that’s really his genius, I think. Many of his cartoons don’t really make light of a bad situation, so much as they find the comedy amidst a miserable situation. It could also be said that some of the jokes are really low-brow… but they are played so smartly. There is a real joy in that sort of humor.

Bill Mauldin

Wow, I have just discovered Bill Mauldin. Here’s a cartoon of his from 1944:


“Just give me the aspirin. I already got a Purple Heart.”

Why is it I never heard of this guy before? I’m seeing a strong stylistic resemblance to Will Eisner, who I also love. Check out the expressive lines. When I see how a squiggly line can just so perfectly describe something. It blows my mind. I love the rhythmic flow throughout and the mix of realism and caricature/cartoon — a mix of the tragic and the comic. Really fun stuff. I like his approach to the subject matter, too. I’m not big into war stories, per se, but I get the feeling that doesn’t matter in this case. He’s getting to the humanity of things — not glorifying the military industrial complex — and he was there. This isn’t some fantasy fan-boy stuff. He was cartooning about his own reality and of those around him. His honesty landed him a reprimanding or two from General Patton himself. Reading about Bill Mauldin here, here, and here. I’m going to enjoy looking into this further.