Bill Mauldin

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No normal man who has smelled and associated with death ever wants to see any more of it.
I was a born troublemaker and might as well earn a living at it.

William Henry Mauldin (29 October 192122 January 2003) was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist from the United States, who became famous for his "Willie and Joe" cartoons during World War II.

Quotes[edit]

The hell this ain't the most important hole in the world. I'm in it.
  • Certainly none of the advances made in civilization has been due to counterrevolutionaries and advocates of the status quo.
    • Back Home (1947)
  • The American public highly overrates its sense of humor. We're great belly laughers and prat fallers, but we never really did have a real sense of humor. Not satire anyway. We're a fatheaded, cotton-picking society. When we realize finally that we aren't God's given children, we'll understand satire. Humor is really laughing off a hurt, grinning at misery.
    • As quoted in TIME magazine (21 July 1961)
  • You've got to be a misanthrope in this business, a real son of a bitch. I'm touchy. I've got raw nerve ends, and I'll jump. If I see a stuffed shirt, I want to punch it.
    • As quoted in "Hit It If It's Big" in TIME magazine (21 July 1961)
  • I was a born troublemaker and might as well earn a living at it.
    • The Brass Ring (1971)
  • If you're a leader, you don't push wet spaghetti, you pull it. The U.S. Army still has to learn that. The British understand it. Patton understood it. I always admired Patton. Oh, sure, the stupid bastard was crazy. He was insane. He thought he was living in the Dark Ages. Soldiers were peasants to him. I didn't like that attitude, but I certainly respected his theories and the techniques he used to get his men out of their foxholes.
    • The Brass Ring (1971)
  • My outlook on warfare is best illustrated by a cartoon I did some thirty-odd years ago of a soldier in an Italian foxhole reading about the Normandy invasion and observing to his buddy that: "The hell this ain't the most important hole in the world. I'm in it."
    • Mud & Guts : A Look at the Common Soldier of the American Revolution (1978) Foreword
  • Willie and Joe are my creatures. Or am I their creature? They are not social reformers. They're much more reactive. They're not social scientists and I'm not a social scientist. We're moral people who do not belong to the moral majority. One of my principles is, Thou shall not bully. The only answer is to muscle the bully. I'm very combative that way.

Up Front (1945)[edit]

A collection of cartoons featuring "Willie and Joe" first published in Stars and Stripes|.
I'm convinced that the infantry is the group in the army which gives more and gets less than anybody else.
  • I would like to thank the people who encouraged me to draw army cartoons at a time when the gag man's conception of the army was one of mean ole sergents and jeeps which jump over mountains.
  • I'm convinced that the infantry is the group in the army which gives more and gets less than anybody else.
  • I haven't tried to picture this war in a big, broad-minded way. I'm not old enough to understand what it's all about, and I'm not experienced enough to judge its failures and successes. My reactions are those of a young guy who has been exposed to some of it, and I try to put those reactions in my drawings. Since I'm a cartoonist maybe I can be funny after the war, but nobody who has seen this war can be cute about it while it's going on. The only way I can try to be a little funny is to make something out of the humorous situations which come up even when you don't think life could be any more miserable.
  • Many celebrities and self-appointed authorities have returned from quick tours of war zones (some of them getting within hearing distance of the shooting) and have put out their personal theories to batteries of photographers and reporters. Some say the American soldier is the same clean-cut young man who left his home; others say morale is sky-high at the front because everybody's face is shining for the great Cause.
    They are wrong. The combat man isn't the same clean-cut lad because you don't fight a kraut by Marquess of Queensberry rules. You shoot him in the back, you blow him apart with mines, you kill or maim him the quickest and most effective way you can with the least danger to yourself. He does the same to you.
    He tricks you and cheats you, and if you don't beat him at his own game you don't live to appreciate your own nobleness.
    But you don't become a killer. No normal man who has smelled and associated with death ever wants to see any more of it. In fact, the only men who are even going to want to bloody noses in a fist fight after this war will be those who want people to think they were tough combat men, when they weren't. The surest way to become a pacifist is to join the infantry.
  • I don't make the infantryman look noble, because he couldn't look noble even if he tried. Still there is a certain nobility and dignity in combat soldiers and medical aid men with dirt in their ears. They are rough and their language gets coarse because they live a life stripped of convention and niceties.
    Their nobility and dignity come from the way they live unselfishly and risk their lives to help each other.
  • While a guy at home is sweating over his income tax and Victory garden, a dogface somewhere is getting great joy out of wiggling his little finger. He does it just to see it move and to prove to himself that he is still alive and able to move it.

Quotes about Mauldin[edit]

  • More than anyone else, save only Ernie Pyle, he caught the trials and travails of the GI. For anyone who wants to know what it was like to be an infantryman in World War II, this book is the place to start — and finish.
  • I don't know what you think you're trying to do, but the krauts ought to pin a medal on you for helping them mess up discipline for us.
    • General George S. Patton, during a March 1945 meeting with Mauldin, as quoted in The Brass Ring (1971) by Bill Mauldin
  • Sergeant Bill Mauldin seemed to us over there to be the finest cartoonist the war had produced. And that's not merely because his cartoons are funny, but because they are also terribly grim and real. Mauldin's cartoons aren't about training-camp life, which is most familiar to people at home. They are about the men in the line — the tiny percentage of our vast Army who are actually doing the dying. His cartoons are about the war.

External links[edit]

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