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Cartoonist veterans and their work during military service

Today being Veterans Day, I thought it might be nice to look back at some of the cartoonists who put their talents to use while serving in the military. The National Constitution Center, who created the exhibit Art of the American Soldier, was kind enough to send me a list of cartoonists they featured in their exhibit.

Bill Mauldin

Easily the most famous cartoonist to produce lasting work during his military service was Bill Mauldin

Here’s Mail Call salute to Bill (you may want to turn down the volume. In typical military fashion the intro is done in a drill sergeant-esque manner.):

George Baker

George was drafted into the army in 1941 and assigned to create animation for Signal Corps training films. He was later hired by Yank, the Army Weekly where he created the popular comic strip, The Sad Sack. It debuted in June 1942. Collections of the comic were printed in 1944 by Simon and Schuster, Inc. in 1944 and 1946. The strip went on to syndication until 1957.

Dave Breger

Dave created a comic entitled Private Breger Abroad and help coin the term “G.I. Joe”. After the war Private Breger Abroad became Mister Breger and was syndicated for 25 years (1945?1970)

Irwin Caplan

Irwin served as an Army illustrator and also served in the Army Intelligence art department. When told by a superior that he could sell his cartoons that he did on duty, he quickly sold his first cartoon to Collier’s. He was also the creator of The Saturday Evening Post cartoon series.

Bil Keane

Bil served in the Army from 1942 to 1945 where he drew for Yank. He created the feature At Ease with the Japanese for the Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes.

Part I

Interview with Bil Keane, Part 1 from National Constitution Center on Vimeo.

Part II

Interview with Bil Keane, Part 2 from National Constitution Center on Vimeo.

Ralph Stein

Ralph was the staff cartoon editor for Yank, an Army weekly newspaper. After the war he was an artist and writer for the comic strip Popeye. He also co-wrote an illustrated “It’s a Cinch, Private Finch” about life in the Army.

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne is most noted for his pop-art paintings created after WWII, but he served as an artist in the United States Army Air Force from 1942-45 creating the comic strip Wingtips.

Also on the list but I had trouble finding information about them are: Daniel E. Brown Jr, Stephen E. Moss. If you know something about these gentlemen or have links to their work, please share.

Community Comments

#1 Earl Weintraub
November/13/2011
@ 7:33 am

http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/gramps/grampshome.htm

Dont forget the Navy. Reading your article reminded me of a cartoon that spanned my father and my Navy flying careers. Grandpa Pettibone created by Robert Osborn.

#2 George Rouse
November/13/2011
@ 3:18 pm

Bill Mauldin was truly the greatest of the greats. Not only were his ideas so perfectly attuned to the combat G.I.’s of that era,
but his drawings and artistic skills were impeccable.
One needs only to look back at those marvelous cartoons to get a genuine glimpse of the WWII great generation.
I am the proud owner of a personally autographed, first edition, of Mauldin’s “Up Front.” He signed it when in Atlanta at the
History Center a few years ago. As an artist and veteran (Korean War), myself, it was a thrill to hear from this master, first hand, speak of his army experiences and how he arrived at some of his cartoons.
Bill Mauldin was a unique, one and only.

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