Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front

Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front

Todd DePastino

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0393334880

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“A deeply felt, vivacious and wonderfully illustrated biography.” —Clancy Sigal, Los Angeles Times Book Review

A self-described “desert rat” who rocketed to fame at the age of twenty-two, Bill Mauldin used flashing black brush lines and sardonic captions to capture the world of the American combat soldier in World War II. His cartoon dogfaces, Willie and Joe, appeared in Stars and Stripes and hundreds of newspapers back home, bearing grim witness to life in the foxhole. We’ve never viewed war in the same way since. This lushly illustrated biography draws on private papers, correspondence, and thousands of original drawings to render a full portrait of a complex and quintessentially American genius.92 illustrations

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life drawing and composition. He especially focused on portraiture. From Wellington J. Reynolds, Bill recalled, he learned “the structure of the human body from the bones outward,” as well as movement. Ruth Ford, a watercolorist, also taught life drawing and reinforced Frances Kapanke’s notion that even cartoonists needed classical academic training, a lesson Bill eventually took to heart. “In one year,” he explained, “I learned enough to realize how little I knew, which was not bad going for me”

goodbye Gold Dust Twins. Watch my smoke, you bastards.” Then Harrison informed Bill that he would be released from Company D only on Friday afternoons to draw his weekly cartoon, a task the colonel guessed would take only three or four hours. “His time estimate,” Bill later admitted, “was distressingly accurate.” Bill tried to protest but Harrison cut him off, explaining that personnel would hit the roof over a transfer for a gag artist. The paper was on thin ice already. Harrison had so far

the books. —WALT WHITMAN, UNION HOSPITAL VOLUNTEER, 1863–65 THE SENSATIONS of modern warfare are so divorced from ordinary experience that they “burst the petty bounds of art,” as Walt Whitman put it, resisting word and image. During World War II, news from the front was further thwarted by government censorship. When in 1943 General Marshall requested materials portraying the “grimness of War,” he didn’t want or expect true candor, but rather the appearance of it. Even after the loosening of

noted in his diary, “but we intended to see that the people back home knew that it was the Fifth Army that did the job and knew the price that had to be paid for it.” Defying his superior’s wishes, Clark ordered Lucian Truscott, who had taken over command of VI Corps, to divert the bulk of his forces toward Rome, away from the trap Alexander had set for the retreating Tenth Army. Truscott protested to no avail. The route leading to Rome, in the words of one military historian, became a veritable

contender, resorted to Red-baiting. For the first time, she raised the issue of Bill’s former left-wing associations, detailing his membership in such allegedly subversive organizations as the American Youth for Democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Freedom from Fear Committee. “We don’t need any eggheads to run the government,” she said. A few days later, an attack ad appeared in newspapers accusing Bill of being “unfit for office” and a “tool of un-American subversive groups.”

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