I thought it would be an interesting look into our nation’s political cartoon history if, this month, I took a look at a different editorial cartoon each day that won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Do note that we’re talking basically 1922-1967 here, as since then, the Committee has almost always awarded cartoonists generally for their work, not for an exemplary single cartoon. So in many ways, this is a snapshot of American politics (for better or for worse) over a forty-five year period. Here is an archive of the cartoons featured thus far.
Today we look at Bill Mauldin’s 1945 award-winning cartoon.
I’ve featured Bill Mauldin (1921-2003) in the Month of Political Cartooning Stars, and I’ve already shown you Mauldin’s second Pulitzer Prize winning cartoon. Here, then, is the first cartoon by Mauldin to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning.
Mauldin gained notoriety while part of the 45th Invantry Division, and he volunteered to draw comics for the unit’s newspaper, soon creating his most famous characters (well, more or less, the only characters he would create – as his other work was topical stuff), Willie and Joe, the “everymen” infantry soldiers who Mauldin would usually use to demonstrate the daily difficulties of war.
Mauldin’s frank look at the realities of war from the front gained him a Pulitzer Prize in 1945, making him, at 23 years of age, the youngest person ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Cartooning (at the time, at least).
His winning cartoon was the following one from 1944, which is a (as usual) frank look at the realities of war contrasted with the way that the media presented the war…
“Fresh, spirited American troops, flushed with victory, are bringing in thousands of hungry, ragged, battle-weary prisoners”
What a brilliant work.