Remembering Bill Mauldin of ‘Willie & Joe’

Van Jensen

Van Jensen is a former crime reporter turned comic book writer. In addition to ComicMix, he contributes to Publishers Weekly and Comic Book Resources. He lives in Atlanta, and his blog can be found at

5 Responses

  1. Mike Gold says:

    I'm not about to step on anybody's review, so here's merely my two cents: Bill Mauldin was one of the absolute all-time greats, and this hefty tome is worthy of the challenge of representing merely a small fraction of the cartoonist's awe-inspiring work.

  2. mike weber says:

    The reak underlying joke of the cartoon you show is that the soldier is a long-service cavalry soldier – probably served when they actually had horses…

    • John Tebbel says:

      Or perhaps the joke is that a jeep, whatever your equestrian experience, could be loved as much as any horse and, when it was suffering from a mortal injury, induce you, a compassionate being, to end that suffering. Metaphorically speaking. The switch is that the other half of our brain knows cars don't suffer and if they did, a bullet wouldn't end their non-existent consciousness. Another switch is that compassion exists in the middle of the worst war in human history.

      • mike weber says:

        No, in "Up Front", Mauldin makes a specific point about the sergeant being an old Cavalry sergeant.Remember – despite the image that we have of WW2 as a mechanised war, both the Germans and the Russians were still using a fair amount of horse-drawn transport, the US had relatively recently retired the horse cavalry – and the Poles actually made at least one cavalry charge against German tanks. (This is not a Polish joke – it was what was there, and, given the relative strengths of the Poles and the Germans, anything they might have done against the Wehrmacht was pretty well a futile but gallant gesture…)

  3. Russ Rogers says:

    There were Cavalry Devisions in the Army long after the Cavalry stopped using horses. The front of the jeep says "CAVALRY" on it. Yes, the joke is about putting down an injured jeep like an injured horse. But there is nothing in this cartoon that implies this old Cavalry Sergeant ever rode on horseback. I would pity the horse that would have had to carry him.Part of the joke is in that the military still designated it's jeeps as Cavalry. The term was archaic and so dealing with a broken jeep in an archaic Cavalry manor may be part of why it's funny. The cartoon may be a very subtle commentary on Army Bureaucracy; saying, "Why do we call jeeps 'cavalry'?"The fact is, the joke is simple, but it works on many levels. There is irony, pathos and absurdity. It's funny and touching.There have even been Air Cavalry Devisions of the U.S. Air Force. I imagine those were made up of Valkyrie WACS on Pegasus-steeds.