The Tales of Tales of The Green Berets/Beret


Robin Moore‘s book about The Green Berets in Vietnam was released in the Spring of 1965 and before that season was over it was hitting best seller lists. Before the years was over Robin Moore had written syndicated newspaper articles about the troops and Vietnam, the book would be issued in a mass market paperback edition, would be optioned for a motion picture, and have portions adapted into a 12-week closed-end daily comic strip.

September 20, 1965 is the accepted date that Tales of the Green Berets began, though a few started earlier and some started later. The 72 comic strips were numbered, not dated, so newspapers didn’t have to worry about alignment with the calendar.

There was a week of introductory strips before the numbered strips began.

Veteran comic book artist Joe Kubert was an inspired choice by Newspaper Enterprise Association to draw the strip. Though new to the three panel comic strip format no one could have done a better job. Robin Moore was credited as the writer but it was Howard Liss or Jerry Capp (sources are unsure and both worked for NEA at the time) who put scripts to the strip. There is no doubt that Robin Moore had complete editorial control and approval.

With the introduction out of the way, some papers ran ’em – others didn’t, the 72 strip adaptation began.

For newspapers that began The Tales of the Green Berets at or around its intended start date the end came in mid-December 1965. But that wasn’t it. The mass market paperback released in December hit those best sellers lists in January of 1966. And before that Winter was over The Ballad of The Green Berets had hit #1 on the song charts where it became the best selling song of 1966.

The 1965 comic strip adaptation was a success and in the Spring of 1966 an ongoing comic strip was offered to newspapers. Somehow the Chicago Tribune- New York News Syndicate got the contract to distribute this version of Tales of the Green Beret. Wisely they kept the team that had created the closed-end strip to continue this open-ended strip, particularly Joe Kubert.

This new version would also have an introductory sequence,
though this time they would be dated, beginning April 4, 1966.

There were two differences this time around. Obviously this time the comic strip appeared daily and Sunday. But there was a more subtle change – the title was changed from the plural “Berets” to the singular “Beret.” Did NEA retain copyright of the plural?

Anyway, the story started in earnest with the April 11, 1966 daily.

The strip would last for two years, by which time the popularity of military strips, especially militantly pro-war comics, was in decline. Joe Kubert had quit the strip in early 1968 and the last six months had John Celardo on the art.

check out those Celardo jaws!

Joe Kubert, who had never left DC Comics during his Green Berets enlistment, would return there and soon became an editor of some war comics (Sgt. Rock in particular). Joe is credited with the message that ended many DC war stories.

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5 thoughts on “The Tales of Tales of The Green Berets/Beret

  1. Bob, I second the observation. Even some of those Kubert strips look like the inks could have been hatched by Heath, like the 4/6 one. Kubert could and did ink (himself and others), but sometimes in the business there would be time crunches.

  2. With all that feathering and crosshatching I see where you get a sense of Heath. There have been rumors of Russ ghosting at some time for both Joe and John on the strip, but I’m still seeing Celardo here.
    There are plenty of hands here to compare John And Russ, though I see a bigger difference with the cheekbones. Russ drew them higher and rounder.
    The lady doesn’t strike me as Heath. Jack Abel was the inker for the last months of the strip and I >may< see a bit of him with the woman. Also at this time wasn't Russ living in Chicago's Playboy Mansion? I don't see Celardo sending strips there when he had plenty of artists in New York to assist him. (Admittedly very few with Heath's talents at drawing war.) But I come back to the faces. The chins could be Heath or Kubert or Celardo (with Abel inks?), but those jaws are undeniably John.

  3. Kubert’s cross-hatching is on display up above, and though the effect is the same, the individual strokes are different. Kubert’s are very quickly made and impressionistic compared to the super clean lines in the bottom example (and one or two others).

    That said, I don’t know enough about Celardo’s style to rule him out, so I’ll shrug and move on.


    On an entirely different topic, I happened upon a trove of comic strips at archive:

    The most interesting thing to me, so far, is the 750+ pages of George Herriman art, all of which seems to be from before (or alongside?) his comic strip work: predominantly political cartoons and graphic featurettes. Some of them remind me strongly of the illustrations Winsor McCay had to draw for Hearst (or was it Brisbane?) editorials–uplifting tableaus, or allegorical scenes of misery, with a lot of texture. It wouldn’t be confused with McCay, but the similarity is there.

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