Posts Tagged empathy
There are any number of reasons that I have Bill Mauldin on my mind these days.
The first reason would be that a few weekends back, I stumbled across a Seventh Printing (August 1945) edition of his 1944 book, Up Front. The book conveys (through some text as well as single panel cartoons of his soldier characters, Willie and Joe) the risks, absurdities and triumphs that he experienced while serving in World War II. I was astounded to get my hands on a copy printed at such a pivotal time, August 1945, when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki–ultimately leading to the end of the war. Realize that 1945 was also when 23-year-old Mauldin won a Pulitzer Prize for his work.
But the other reasons that Mauldin is at the forefront of my mind is what is coming up in February and March. Next month will feature the release of a new Mauldin biography (Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front by Todd DePastino). But also DePastino has edited Willie & Joe: The WWII Years, a 600-page collection of Mauldin’s work due to be released by Fantagraphics in March 2008. If I am lucky, this blog will have additional coverage about these two projects in the weeks to come, so please keep an eye out for updates.
As you can tell from the post’s headline, I’m curious if the world has a reasonable equivalent to Mauldin in the present day. Depending on your perspective and political leanings, some (not myself) might point to Ted Rall. For myself, however, the storyteller artist coming closest to Mauldin would be Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau. Trudeau amazes me with the outlet he gives troops, as well as their loved ones. On one level, he does it by giving voice to their struggles with injuries and stress upon returning home, as played out through longtime character B.D. and his supporting cast. Of equal importance is the platform Trudeau gives readers on the homefront and soldiers still serving, through such web forums as Blowback (for readers) and The Sandbox (dispatches from troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan).
As a guy who considers himself a frustrated moderate, I’m glad to see Trudeau keeping the executive and legislative branch’s respective feet to the fire, while leaving the troops out of the political metaphorical crossfire. In a highly political world, Trudeau does great political commentary while also showing his readers what matters more than politics and the heavily fortified political lines of partisanship.