Wayback Whensday

Looking back at the art of cartooning with Bill Mauldin, RL Crabb, Jeff MacNelly, Ian Jones, and Sydney Jordan.

Rob Stolzer proclaims:

I consider Bill Mauldin to be one of the most influential cartoonists of the 20th century, coming into WWII as a kid cartoonist and leaving the Mediterranean Theater as someone who changed the way cartoonists depicted war, mixing reality and black humor in profound ways that helped humanize his characters.

Bill Mauldin was just 21 years old when he landed in the Mediterranean Theater, in July 1943.  Mauldin was with the 45th Infantry Division when they arrived in Sicily, Italy. He had been doing cartoons for the 45th Division News and was soon to start contributing to Stars and Stripes as well.

I have long been interested in Mauldin’s transformation as an artist, from one who wielded some good pen and ink, to an artist who found his visual voice rather quickly with brush and ink.

Rob Stolzer tracks the development of cartoonist Bill Mauldin during his 1943/1944 WWII years.


Local comic strip has fun with nationally syndicated comic strip.

Before It Takes a Village Idiot graced the pages of The Union, I did a daily comic strip called Roadskill. It was the continuing adventures of Earl and Burl Squirrel and their nemesis, the road. Most of the strips involved the characters trying (and usually failing) to cross the highway.

Blondie © King Features Syndicate; Roadskill © R.L.Crabb

One day, as a joke, I did the cartoon you see above…

RL Crabb tells of his surprisingly willing editor to poke at a big name national comic strip star.


There’s a lot going on in this political cartoon by the great Jeff MacNelly.

© Chicago Tribune/Jeff MacNelly

Using three point perspective, he fits important information neatly through each of the three windows of the ambulance; he wraps lettering and symbols at orthogonal angles around the different vehicles (even respecting the curvature of the motorcycle gas tank); he foreshortens the figures at the end, while decreasing the size of the text in the word balloon; and he even has energy left over to draw the ambulance’s front wheels at a different angle than the rear wheels.

It’s hard to draw with that kind of precision and detail while still keeping the drawing lively and spontaneous but MacNelly manages it. 

MacNelly pulls off the same trick with this next cartoon…

Now we have David Apatoff appreciating the cartoon art of Jeff MacNelly.


I love the comics … and so does Ian Jones.

© Ian Jones

Above is from 2020 but Ian did a similar daily version in his Bushy Tales of 2013.

The last couple of years have been pretty hard for cartoonists, generally, and for comic strips in particular. I was thinking about this the other day and I realized I had a choice to make. Either I could go around feeling all morose and kicking the cat (if I had one), or I could continue to celebrate what I consider to be a wonderful art form that has brought (and continues to bring) joy to countless numbers of people all over the world for many, many years.

I choose the latter option.

So, today, and each day of this next week, I am going to post some BUSHY TALES strips that I have done over the years that celebrate comic strips.

Read Ian’s inventive tales using comic titles at his Facebook page.


The Art of Sydney Jordan

The University has kindly shared some pictures of the opening, attended by Sydney himself, and the exhibition itself with downthetubes, which runs until 6th January 2024. Our thanks to curator, Matthew Jarron.

Sydney, who was born in Dundee in 1928, is best known as the creator of Jeff Hawke, whose fantastic adventures appeared daily in the Daily Express from 1954-75. He then created “Lance McLane“, a strip that ran in the Daily Record for twelve years, between 1976 and 1988.

John Freeman on the opening of The Art of Sydney Jordan: Dream Pedlar exhibition.

above: the 1977-78 run of Jeff Hawke in the United States, by Sydney jordan and Paul Neary