Willie & Joe: Back Home

Overview

WWII’s most famous soldiers, Willie and Joe, battle civilian life upon their return home in this sequel.
In the summer of 1945, a great tide of battered soldiers began flowing back to the united States from around the globe. Though victorious, these exhausted men were nevertheless too grief-stricken over the loss of comrades, too guilt-ridden that they had survived, and too numbed by trauma to share in the country’s euphoria. Most never saw a ticker-tape parade, or stole a Times...

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Overview

WWII’s most famous soldiers, Willie and Joe, battle civilian life upon their return home in this sequel.
In the summer of 1945, a great tide of battered soldiers began flowing back to the united States from around the globe. Though victorious, these exhausted men were nevertheless too grief-stricken over the loss of comrades, too guilt-ridden that they had survived, and too numbed by trauma to share in the country’s euphoria. Most never saw a ticker-tape parade, or stole a Times Square kiss. All they wanted was to settle back into quiet workaday lives without fear. How tragic that the forces unleashed by World War II made this simple wish impossible.
Willie & Joe: Back Home brilliantly chronicles the struggles and disillusionments of these early postwar years and, in doing so, tells Bill Mauldin’s own extraordinary story of his journey home to a wife he barely knew and a son he had only seen in pictures. The drawings capture the texture and feel, the warp and woof, of this confusing time: the ubiquitous hats and cigarettes, the domestic rubs, the rising fear of another war, and new conflicts over Civil Rights, civil liberties, and free speech. This second volume of Fantagraphics’ series reprinting Mauldin’s greatest work identifies and restores the dozens of cartoons censored by Mauldin’s syndicate for their attacks on racial segregation and McCarthy-style “witch hunts.” Mauldin pleaded with his syndicate to let him out of his contract so that he could return to the simple quiet life so desired by Willie & Joe. The syndicate refused, so Mauldin did battle, as always, through pen and ink.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This time capsule is the second collection of Mauldin's cartoons from Fantagraphics, this time covering the post-World War II period of 1945-1946. Pulitzer Prize–winner Mauldin is best known for drawing foxhole-level realistic images of everyday soldiers Willie and Joe on the European front for Stars and Stripes. In this follow-up collection, the problem of "what do we do with them now that the war is over?" is apparent both in the explicit content of the single-page cartoons as well as Mauldin's struggles to find suitable subjects. The book would have been much improved with annotations for the images, explaining long-forgotten political arguments and names. The linework and chiaroscuro are amazing, but too often the subjects are of little to no meaning to modern readers, especially once Mauldin gets into the anti-Communist propaganda or forgotten foreign controversies of the time. Editor Todd DePastino's introduction, covering key events in Mauldin's life during the creation of these cartoons, is essential to comprehending some of the content, but other cartoons—such as those featuring forgotten veterans, lying politicians, or creeping consumerism—are universal. Best for those who already know Mauldin's skill and want more examples of his work with characters now out of infantry uniform. (Aug.)
Michael Giltz - The Huffington Post
“...Willie & Joe: Back Home… moved me... Mauldin is always funny, but those with a rosy image of WW II will be surprised by the complex world shown here... Fantagraphics has captured Mauldin's most enduring characters in two releases that do him justice.”
David Allen - Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
“Mauldin's postwar panels in which Willie and Joe tried to readjust to civilian life... were somewhat controversial, but their chronicle of the duo's struggles and disillusionment might be enjoyed by anyone who's ever left the service to return to a life that seems both familiar and foreign.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606993514
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 8/3/2011
  • Pages: 268
  • Sales rank: 403,889
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in 1921, Bill Mauldin squeezed several lifetimes into his eighty-one years. In addition to cartooning, he acted in Hollywood movies, ran for Congress, piloted airplanes, wrote several books and hundreds of articles, and won two Pulitzer Prizes, the first for his wartime cartoons. He died in 2003.

Todd DePastino is the author of Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America and Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front, and the editor of the cartoon collections Willie & Joe: The WWII Years and Willie & Joe: Back Home. He teaches history and writes and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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