Dave Breger

Irving David "Dave" Breger

Irving David "Dave" Breger was an American cartoonist known for creating the wartime character "Private Breger", in less than a year after the character's creation, the character's name would be changed to “GI Joe”. The comic strip was featured in various editions of Yank, the Army Weekly, as well as in The Stars and Stripes.

Dave Breger was subject to the draft into the United States Army in early 1941. Prior to being drafted, Breger's "Private Breger" comic had run in civilian publications such as the Saturday Evening Post. "Private Breger" renamed to "GI Joe", while Breger was on military leave. While in training camp in Livingston, Louisiana working on trucks, editors of Yank and The Army Weekly discovered his works.

 

Private Breger shown doing desk jobs Private Breger shooting artillery

Breger used “GI Joe” as a military jack-of-all-trades who could change professions form one to another, mimicking the experiences of the everyday soldier. From laying barbed wire to working a desk job, Joe had worked it all. As a lieutenant, Breger was set apart from his other military cartoonist counter-parts in terms of rank which had given him a different perspective of the "average Joe" soldier.

Private Breger reinforcing norms

In 1943, Breger left Yank and began contributing to The Stars and Stripes. Unlike Bill Mauldin, Breger had resorted to themes created for him by the OWI, which dictated the positive depiction of Allied forces. The OWI had also dictated the portrayal of the enemy—Breger’s anti-German illustrations featured a “GI Jerry”. Breger’s decision to not fall away from the norms set by the OWI was strategic in order to have an easy transition into civilian publications.

The Character GI Joe remained static throughout the war. Although the character had never evolved unlike other soldier-created illustrations, “Joe” had fulfilled the mission of entertainment and allowed soldiers to laugh at their frustrations of the war while still doing little to change the soldier’s overall perception of the war.