Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Willie and Joe - The real US Army. A tribute to Bill Mauldin

This is a project/post that I have been wanting to write up for a long while. I first came across them when I was looking for an avatar for a bit of self indulgent whimsy. I wanted a little cartoon character to stick on the blog signature, and I ended up with this little cartoon colour drawing. He reminded me of Mauldin's Willie and Joe.
However, I had caught the humour that Bill Mauldin had drawn into his 2 protagonists. I couldn't use any of his drawings as an avatar, but I wanted to get them out into the blog. It was a feeling that I had got from reading the Wipers Times. I got a copy of the full edition when it first came out, not the originals !, but a copy, and the sense of humour was very similar. The TV serial of the Wipers Times gave that humour a twist of colour. Bill Mauldin's characters managed to get into film after WW2, and were very popular, but the film is no longer available, on DVD or any other format.

The cartoons appeared in 'The Stars and Stripes', and attracted attention throughout the US forces in Europe, to the extent that General Patton wanted Mauldin sent back to the US and the cartoons withdrawn. He made fun of Pattons obsession with uniform and dress code, and his fining of soldiers who were found to be in breach.

The popularity of them, and their piquant reportage ensured that they and their creator remained. Mauldin served as a reporter in Italy for Stars and Stripes, and the cartoons draw on his observations and experience.


Anyway, I could 'blog' on, putting in more and more cartoons. This is just a sample of some of the drawings. The complete collection, in a box set of 2 volumes is available from Fantagraphics Books, via Amazon . A definate must get.

A photo of Mauldin, taken when he was serving in Italy.

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