Friday, April 2, 2010

Bill Mauldin Goes Postal

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Today I picked up a couple of sheets of the Postal Service's newest commemorative stamp, this one honoring cartoonist Bill Mauldin. Actually, referring to Mauldin as just a cartoonist is classic understatement. He was the cartoonist of World War II, with his beloved G.I. characters, Willie and Joe, making a very real connection between the guys fighting the war and the folks back home. After the war, Mauldin went on to become a highly respected editorial cartoonist.

Maudlin, who was himself an infantryman in the war, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for his war cartoons.

The new Mauldin forty-four cent stamp has a photo of the young soldier, in uniform, at work with his sketch pad, alongside one of his drawings of Willie and Joe. It is done in shades of olive drab and brown, giving the stamp an old military appearance. It is one of the postal service's best efforts in recent years.

There was a story about Bill Mauldin in our local free rag, The West Valley View, this morning. It noted that Mauldin moved to Litchfield, Arizona, (where I currently live), with his parents during the Great Depression. His dad farmed in the desert twenty miles west of Phoenix. Bill went to the local schools. Litchfield Park today is still twenty miles west of downtown Phoenix, but the city of Phoenix has reached out and swallowed the entire valley with its urban sprawl. The twenty miles from Litchfield Park to downtown Phoenix is all city now.

Still, it is good to know that a local kid made good. It is unlikely to become a habit considering Arizona's loud disdain for taxes and education, but hopefully some kids will have the grit and determination of Mauldin to find their talents and hone them to brilliance. Bill Mauldin was the epitome of success, and he has been honored with a great stamp - a stamp that is as original and as artistic as the man to whom it pays homage.

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