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 Bill (William Henry) Mauldin  (1921 - 2003)



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Lived/Active: Missouri/Illinois/California/New Mexico / Mexico      Known for: editorial cartoonist-war genre

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Bill Mauldin
An example of work by Bill (William Henry) Mauldin
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Bill Mauldin was born in Mountain Park, New Mexico on October 29, 1921. His desire to be a cartoonist mushroomed at an early age.  After finishing high school, Mauldin initiated studies at the Academy of Fine Art in Chicago.  World War II interrupted his studies, and in 1940 he became a member of the U.S. Army's 45 Division.  Although the war may have intervened with his studies, it did not squelch his intended career of cartooning.

"Willie & Joe", a couple of weary 'dogfaced' cartoon soldiers, was created by him in 1940 for the 45th Division News, his Division's newspaper.  In 1943, Mauldin participated in the invasions of Sicily and Italy.  Although the cartoon was somewhat despised by the conservative brass, often reflecting his anti-authoritarian views, it was so well received by the army's rank and file that Mauldin was accepted as a full-time cartoonist in 1944 for Stars & Stripes, a military newspaper serving the entire U.S. Army.

As inferred above, Mauldin's work was sometimes abrasive with military officers. Stars and Strips received a letter from General George Patton in 1945, which threatened to ban the newspaper from his Third Army if it did not cease "Mauldin's scurrilous attempts to undermine military discipline."  Gen. Dwight Eisenhower disagreed with Patton, fearing that army morale would be undermined if censorship were attempted.  In 1945, Mauldin survived a long Patton lecture (arranged by General Eisenhower) on the risks of producing "anti-officer cartoons".  It was Mauldin's response that the soldier's legitimate grievances needed to be addressed.

Besides winning his first Pulitzer Price for newspaper cartooning in 1945, he was also the youngest to ever claim the Pulitzer.  Dozens of his "Willie & Joe" cartoons were reprinted in Up Front With Mauldin, which included his experiences and comments from real life situations portrayed by his fictional characters.  To this day, it remains as one of the most vibrant and true-to-life accounts of the typical American soldier's life during World War II.

In 1958, Mauldin joined the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  "The hottest editorial brush in the U.S." won his second Pulitzer Price followed in 1959, and in 1961 was awarded The National Cartoonist's Society's Reuben Award as cartoonist of the year.

During the era of McCarthyism and the Ku Klux Klan, the United Feature Syndicate found that Mauldin's cartoons did not sell well in many markets due to his ridicule on these themes.  Somewhat discouraged, Mauldin stopped cartooning for several years during the 1950s.  He would later find that larger urban areas would hold a wider acceptance to his liberal viewpoints.  In 1958, the disillusioned Mauldin was able to publish his strong views on racism at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, made possible due to the retirement of Daniel Fitzpatrick.  Another Pulitzer followed for his cartoon, "I won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  What was your crime?"

In 1962, Mauldin moved to The Chicago Sun-Times. One of the most famous cartoons in American history was Mauldin's drawing of Abraham Lincoln weeping at the death of John F. Kennedy.

When Mauldin retired in 1992, his cartoons were syndicated in about 250 newspapers.

Mauldin's additional books include Back Home (1947), Bill Mauldin's Army (1951), Bill Mauldin in Korea (1952), and The Brass Ring (1971).

William Mauldin died in January, 2003. He was 81.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist, Bill Mauldin was known for his down-to-earth, no glamour images of Army soldiers during World War II.  Two of his famous characters were GI Joe and GI Willie.  They became the voice of the infantryman as they "slogged their way through battle-scarred Europe, surviving the enemy and the elements while sarcastically mocking everything from their orders to their equipment and even their allies".  These cartoons, which won him the Pulitzer Prizes, were published in Stars and Stripes and other military journals.  In addition to his many editorial cartoons, he was also the writer and illustrator of 16 books.

One of his most famous drawings was of a grieving President Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial with his head in his hands.  This piece was for the Chicago Sun Times and appeared shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy.

Mauldin was born near Santa Fe, New Mexico and spent much of his life in the West.  He attended the Academy of Fine Art in Chicago where one of his teachers was Vaughn Shoemaker, a Pulitzer winner from the Chicago Daily News.

In 1940, Mauldin enlisted as a rifleman in the 180th Infantry, and started drawing cartoons of army life when he was in training camp.  When he shipped overseas with the 45th Division, the military began publishing his cartoons in Stars and Stripes.  After the war he did free-lance illustration, worked briefly for the St. Louis Post Dispatch (1958-62) and then moved to the Sun Times.

He died in January, 2003, in Newport Beach, California, at a nursing home where he spent his last years as an Alzheimer's patient.

The Associated Press, Scottsdale Tribune, obituary, 1/23/2003

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