Drawing the War: Bill Mauldin's Vietnam

Drawing the War: Bill Mauldin's Vietnam

William Mauldin made his name through "Willie and Joe," but his work continued long after World War Two

William Mauldin (1921-1993) had seen war. As such, he knew how to portray soldiers. Serving as an infantryman, Mauldin traveled with the U.S. Army as it advanced through fascist occupied Europe during the Second World War. As a cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, Mauldin created a series of comics that were quickly adopted by the American soldier and public alike. Willie and Joe, his two stoic yet weary GIs, faced the grim realities of war that thousands of Americans were confronting across the continent. In 1945, Mauldin won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, commemorating the resonance of his cartoons with the American people. 

Yet while Mauldin is best remembered for his World War Two comics, he continued to work prolifically after the war. Working first with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mauldin would win a second Pulitzer in 1959. From 1962 until 1991, Mauldin worked for the Chicago Sun-Times, where he continued to produce a number of cartoons each year. Starting his work in Chicago during the 1960s would give him plenty of material, especially as the United States began to increase its involvement across the Pacific in Vietnam. 

Although Mauldin supported the policies of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, he found himself in disagreement with American policy in Vietnam. In 1965, Mauldin visited Vietnam – where his eldest son was serving – and sent back a number of cartoons on the war. After returning to the U.S., he continued to produce cartoons about Vietnam through 1975, when Saigon finally fell to North Vietnamese forces. In these cartoons, Mauldin addressed issues of voting rights, civilian casualties, and the rationale behind American involvement in Vietnam. His cartoons provide an entertaining yet sympathetic view of the U.S. soldier, and offer a critical look at American policy.

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library is proud to host the original copies of many of Bill Mauldin's cartoons. Below are a collection of Mauldin’s Vietnam works, which offer valuable insight on the war and the American soldier. Feel free to browse through this collection, and to view all Pritzker holdings on Bill Mauldin.