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
A selection of Willie and Joe cartoons. Willie and Joe is Mauldin's most popular work. First published in the 45th Division News in 1940 then moved on the being published in the Mediterranian edition of Stars and Stripes, the cartoons stole every GI's heart and provided laughter in times of war.
The Star Spangle Banter showcased Mauldin's cartoons written during wartime, particularly with the 45th Division infantry.