Bill Mauldin

Bill Mauldin in helmet

Bill Mauldin was a sargent during the European theater.

Bill Mauldin with a sketch pad

Artist Bill Mauldin sitting with a sketch pad

William Henry "Bill" Mauldin (1921-2003) was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning artist. A Sargent in the European Theater, he had written cartoons for the 45th Division News as well as the Mediterranian edition of Stars and Stripes. His cartoons, Willie and Joe being the most notable, championed the average Joe during war time.

The early cartoons Mauldin had created depicted camp life during the war. The main point of discussion in his comics were poor living conditions of the camp facilities such as having to sell items in order to gain money as well as the unsanitary conditions of mess halls. When Mauldin had gotten to Italy, his work had shifted to the everyday soldier’s life. He especially highlighted the resentment the “dogfaces”—the infantry—had for their officers.

Although Mauldin’s works were celebrated on the home front and with civilians as well as with the everyday infantryman, many officers had found the cartoons crude. General George Patton was also not fond of the grungy look of Willie and Joe, which appear unshaven, tired, and dirty, as they should not represent the infantry. This had led to a confrontation between Mauldin and Patton in March 1945

Mauldin’s legacy as one of the most prolific cartoonists and war reporters of his time was felt though out the rest of World War II to even Vietnam. Willie and Joe were seen as icons for GIs and were even featured on the cover of Time Magazine

Bill Mauldin