Mar 28, 2008

‘He Drew Great Mud’

(NYTimes) - Until surprisingly late in World War II, Army cartooning consisted of gags about mean old drill sergeants and raw recruits on K.P. duty. Then came Bill Mauldin, an impish rifleman from the 180th Infantry Regiment, who volunteered as a cartoonist for The 45th Division News. On July 10, 1943, he stumbled ashore, pistol drawn, in the Allied invasion of Sicily and went on to fight in the Italian campaign while turning the raw material of the front into captioned panel cartoons, often at the expense of superiors in the rear. Mauldin listened to his fellow dogfaces in their foxholes and sketched quickly, sometimes rendering finished work on the back of whatever scrap he could find in the rubble.
... These were not the square-jawed soldiers of enlistment posters. Pale, densely bearded, forested by their own rifles and packs, their huge dirt-caked boots and filthy uniforms delineated in heavily shaded brush strokes, Willie and Joe looked not just disheveled but mummified by mud. One G.I., a machine-gunner named Charles Schulz who went on to do some cartooning of his own, spoke for many when he later had Snoopy remark, “He drew great mud.” Continued

Cartoons by Bill Mauldin from the Library of Congress