A Toast to Bill Mauldin

This Peanuts strip was first published on November 11, 1996.

A new book of Bill Mauldin’s cartoons, Drawing Fire: The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin, has just been published by the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. Mauldin’s cartoons offer a wonderful and pointed commentary on war and politics—from the 1940s to the Gulf War.

Drawing Fire: The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin by Todd DePastino (Pritzker Military Museum & Library, September 2020)

As the Peanuts characters are mentioned in the book, I was asked to write something of Bill and Sparky’s friendship, which I did. However, rather than repeating what I wrote there, I will simply tell you about Sparky reaching out to artists he admired.

Although he was basically reserved, Sparky was not afraid to publicly declare his admiration for fellow cartoonists and authors. I remember once, when we were in England, Sparky thought he would see if Margaret Drabble was listed in the phonebook. He found her number, dialed it, announced himself, and asked if he could speak with Margaret Drabble—if she were home. He then heard a child’s voice shouting something like, “Mummy! Mummy! Charles Schulz is on the phone!” which was very gratifying.

I am not sure how Sparky and Bill first became acquainted, but I think it is likely that Sparky contacted an editor at United Features Syndicate, which then handled both Peanuts and Mauldin’s cartoons, and asked that an introduction be made.

At any rate, Sparky and Bill had a telephone relationship for a number of years, and what I remember most are the times he would come home and share with me the war stories that Bill had regaled him with over the phone earlier that day.

Detail of a wall panel in the Museum describing Schulz’s admiration for Mauldin.

The genius of Bill Mauldin’s cartoons in Stars and Stripes made a profound impression on staff Sgt. Charles M. Schulz.

 

One of Mauldin’s best-known cartoons is of the soldier shooting his Jeep. Sparky has a bronze sculpture of that scene in his studio.

Cartoon for Stars and Stripes, the American soldiers’ newspaper.

Metal cast maquette statue of Bill Mauldin’s classic cartoon of a soldier shooting his Jeep, c. 1970s. From Charles Schulz’s studio.

 

Sparky admired Bill’s ability to be “in the face” of the officers, always sticking up for the little guy.

From p.36 of Drawing Fire.

I know that Sparky would love this beautiful book. Bill Mauldin’s penetrating humor and beautiful draftsmanship and shading make this book a delightful look back at his artistic legacy and the history central to his work.

—Jean Schulz

Due to COVID-19 regulations, the Schulz Museum is temporarily closed until further notice. Please visit our Calendar page for online events.

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