Drawing Fire: The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin

Drawing Fire: The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin


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The first career-spanning volume of the work of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Bill Mauldin, featuring comic art from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm, along with a half-century of graphic commentary on civil rights, free speech, the Cold War, and other issues.

Army sergeant William Henry “Bill” Mauldin shot to fame during World War II with “Willie & Joe” cartoons, which gave readers of Stars & Stripes and hundreds of home-front newspapers a glimpse of the war from the foxholes of Europe.

Lesser known are Mauldin’s second and even third acts as one of America’s premier political cartoonists from the last half of the twentieth century, when he traveled to Korea and Vietnam; Israel and Saudi Arabia; Oxford, Mississippi, and Washington, DC; covering war and peace, civil rights and the Great Society, Nixon and the Middle East. He especially kept close track of American military power, its use and abuse, and the men and women who served in uniform.

Now, for the first time, his entire career is explored in this illustrated single volume, featuring selections from Chicago’s Pritzker Military Museum & Library.

Edited by Mauldin’s biographer Todd DePastino and featuring 150 images, Drawing Fire: The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin includes illuminating essays exploring all facets of Mauldin’s career by Tom Brokaw, Denise Neil, Cord A. Scott, G. Kurt Piehler, Jean Schulz, and Christina Knopf, with a Preface by Tom Hanks.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780998968940
Publisher: Pritzker Military Museum & Library
Publication date: 09/15/2020
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 144,965
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Bill Mauldin was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist. His famous characters of Willie and Joe tracked the bootsteps of America’s GIs in Europe, drawn from Mauldin’s own experiences as a rifleman in the 45th Infantry Division during the Second World War. After the war, Mauldin returned to civilian life and cast his critical eye and sharp humor on battles back home over McCarthyism, civil rights, free speech, and ensuing wars. In addition to several books, Mauldin published essays and drawings that appeared in such magazines as Life, Sports Illustrated, and the Saturday Evening Post before turning to daily political cartooning at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Chicago Sun-Times, where he retired in 1991. Bill Mauldin died in 2003 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Todd DePastino (Editor) is the author of Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front and editor of the cartoon collections Willie & Joe: The WWII Years and Willie and Joe: Back Home. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Veteran’s Breakfast Club, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to sharing veterans’ stories with the public.

Read an Excerpt

  • Preface by Tom Hanks

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, Bill Mauldin drew hundreds of novels. Illustrations, comics, panels. Let’s call them what they were: dispatches from the front lines of World War II, an indelible record of the misery of its participants and the insanity of its purpose.

    Willie and Joe—Mauldin’s cartoon GIs—take us through a grunt’s-eye view of the European Theater of Operations: the mud and cold of their foxhole, the cold rations eaten in the rain, the maddening details of life in the Army, and the physical suffering of soldiering. Willie and Joe were proxy GIs for everyone who could read a newspaper, worry about loved ones in danger, and ponder the global risks at stake in the years 1941 through 1945. The pen of Bill Mauldin provided the laughs, as well as the ironies and the truths, for the duration.

    I have two favorite Mauldin cartoons—actually, I have hundreds, but to narrow down the scope of the war years, two stand out.

    The day is miserable as a hard rain is falling. An American soldier has his rifle slung barrel down over his shoulder as he slogs through the mud of some war-torn European village. Hungry, ragged, and battle-weary, he is escorting three enemy prisoners of war to their captivity, one with his wounded arm in a sling. With just his pen and black ink, Mauldin captures late-afternoon light, the shadow of defeat, as well as the bone-solid fatigue of the American GI. The caption reads:

    “Fresh, spirited American troops, flushed with victory, are bringing in thousands of hungry, ragged, battle-weary prisoners. (News item)”

    Mauldin reported the war as well as any correspondent or observer, taking up only a few square inches of the Stars and Stripes to transport the reader to that very day in that very place with those very soldiers. His drawings recorded the war years with fidelity, authenticity, and heart.

    My other favorite cartoon is from July 30, 1945—after victory in Europe but before VJ Day and the final end of World War II. Willie and Joe, discharged from the Army and civilians once again, run into their old commanding officer in a big, downtown hotel lobby. The ex-GI’s are in nice business suits and ties, freshly shaven and, well, home. Their former CO, though, is still in a uniform. He’s returned to his pre-war occupation as a bellboy.

    Genius. Pure and simple. Human and accurate. Bill Mauldin showed the world—and certainly his own subjects, all the Willies and Joes—the common bond that proved they were part of a great generation of Good Americans.

Table of Contents

  • Preface by Tom Hanks
  • Foreword by Colonel Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired)
  • Introduction by Todd DePastino
  • Essay by Tom Brokaw
  • Essay by Denise Neil
  • Essay by G. Kurt Piehler
  • Essay by Cord Scott
  • Essay by Christina M. Knopf
  • Essay by Jean Schulz
  • A Selection of Bill Mauldin’s Cartoons from the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Collections
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Contributors
  • About the Pritzker Military Museum & Library

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