|Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Robert Crumb||25 Mar 2008 6:42 PM|
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"The real war," said Walt Whitman, "will never get in the books." During World War II, the closest most Americans ever came to the "real war" was through the cartoons of Bill Mauldin, the most beloved enlisted man in the U.S. Army.
Here, for the first time, Fantagraphics Books brings together Mauldin's complete works from 1940 through the end of the war. This collection of over 600 cartoons, most never before reprinted, is more than the record of a great artist: it is an essential chronicle of America's citizen-soldiers from peace through war to victory.
Bill Mauldin knew war because he was in it. He had created his characters, Willie and Joe, at age 18, before Pearl Harbor, while training with the 45th Infantry Division and cartooning part-time for the camp newspaper. His brilliant send-ups of officers were pure infantry, and the men loved it.
After wading ashore with his division on the first of its four beach invasions in July 1943, Mauldin and his men changed — and Mauldin's cartoons changed accordingly. Months of miserable weather, bad food, and tedium interrupted by the terror of intense bombing and artillery fire took its toll. By the year's end, virtually every man in Mauldin's original rifle company was killed, wounded, or captured.
The wrinkles in Willie and Joe's uniforms deepened, the bristle on their faces grew, and the eyes — "too old for those young bodies," as Mauldin put it — betrayed a weariness that would remain the entire war. With their heavy brush lines, detailed battlescapes, and pidgin of army slang and slum dialect, Mauldin's cartoons and captions recreated on paper the fully realized world of the American combat soldier. Their dark, often insubordinate humor sparked controversy among army brass and incensed General George S. Patton, Jr.
This is the first of several volumes publishing the best of Bill Mauldin's single panel strips from 1940 to 1991 (when he stopped drawing). His Willie & Joe cartoons are presented in a deluxe, beautifully designed two-volume slipcased edition of over 600 pages. The series is edited by Todd DePastino, whose Mauldin scholarship is on full display in a biography of the artist released in February 2008 from W.W. Norton. Willie & Joe contains an introduction and running commentary by DePastino, providing context for the drawings, pertinent biographical details of Mauldin's life, and occasional background on specific cartoons (such as the ones that made Patton howl).
Marvel suits are zombies, the dark shadow of the good parts they used to be. The place is crawling with security and I just play dumb. They pull my site but I'm long gone, disappearing in the internet fog but still sitting there in the office obligingly reading what Tom covets. (Like I don't know you're showing everyone different pages.)
Find Marvel_b0y if you can, which you can't. I'm squatting where there's an audience besides the Skrulls and their wannabe minions. Props to DB for slipping his way into this blog (thanks for the easy pickings, Blogger). The tight tshirt crowd at Fantagraphics won't mind the traffic and besides that Gilbert Hernandez knows how to draw a real superheroine.
More pics later just for you fans of the spoiler and not just the stuff everyone is pretending to show. Since when does Wizard have the real deal?
Don't forget! We have TWO awesome west coast events with Drew Friedman this weekend. First up is a book signing and exhibition opening at our gallery in Seattle on Thursday night. Then Drew heads down to L.A. for an event on Saturday at Skylight Books.
THURSDAY NIGHT IN SEATTLE:
DREW FRIEDMAN: THE FUN NEVER STOPS!
SATURDAY NIGHT IN LOS ANGELES:
WHO: Drew Friedman & SPECIAL GUESTS!
At Skylight, Drew will be joined by several very special surprise guests, as well as discussion moderator Ben Schwartz and comedian Andy Kindler (whose father, Larry Kindler, was good friends with comic book legends Harry Chester and Harvey Kurtzman).
And don't forget to pick up our exclusive silkscreen (pictured above) produced for the Seattle event, available ONLY at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery while supplies last. Signed by Drew and limited to 100 copies!
"Drew Friedman isn't just a brilliant artist. He takes you to a place. He takes you back in time. He makes you smell the stale cigarettes and cold brisket and you say thank you for the pleasure." - Sarah Silverman
Paul Karasik just sent along the unfortunate news that Fletcher Hanks, Jr., passsed away this week at the age of 90. Hanks, known by friends as "Christy," is the son of comic book pioneer Fletcher Hanks, Sr.
Christy was unaware of his estranged father's history in comics until Paul hunted him down to learn more about the (still) mysterious cartoonist. Paul sent over these photos shortly after completing the book "I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets"-- a collection of Hanks' comic book output. The picture below shows Christy's discovery that the book was dedicated to him.
As a pilot, inventor, and WWII veteran, Christy lived quite a life himself. Please read the obituary here.
It's a beautiful day in Seattle today so this morning I went for a long walk in my neighborhood of Ballard, running a few errands and taking in the sun. I was on the main drag of Market St. when I spotted someone curious across the street, and luckily I had my camera on me:
I had to cross the street to get a better look; could Ballard really have it's own superhero?
What could it all mean?!? What powers does he have? He obviously can't fly; if he could, he'd been surfing the net from a rooftop somehwere rather than while waiting for a bus.
I didn't have the nerve to approach him and ask for his story; I mean, he could be a supervillain for all I know. What could the "T" stand for? "T-Mobile Man"? I don't think that's their logo. "Thirtysomething Man"? He looks more like he's in his 40s to me. "Takin' a Bus Man"? "Transit Man"? If anyone has any information it would be appreciated.
UPDATE: Holy crap. He actually is named "Transit Man." Tip o' the Flog to my good pal and fellow Ballardite Jeremy Eaton.