- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) Bill Mauldin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist who portrayed World War II reality laced with humor, died yesterday. He was 81.
Mr. Mauldin, one of the 20th century's pre-eminent editorial cartoonists, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, including pneumonia, at a Newport Beach nursing home, said Andy Mauldin, 54, of Santa Fe, N.M., one of the cartoonist's seven sons.
"It's really good that he's not suffering anymore," he said. "He had a terrible struggle."
His characters Willie and Joe, a laconic pair of unshaven, mud-encrusted dogfaces, slogged their way through Italy and other parts of battle-scarred Europe, surviving the enemy and the elements while caustically and sarcastically harpooning the unctuous and pompous.
They were the vessels that Mr. Mauldin, a young Army rifleman, filled with wry understatement to portray the tedium and treachery of war, entertaining and endearing himself to millions of fellow soldiers in the war and to Americans at home.
In one drawing, soldiers are marching, bone-weary. Says Willie: "Maybe Joe needs a rest. He's talking in his sleep."
In another, the two are about to jump a down-in-the-mouth German soldier walking by with a bottle of liquor. Willie says: "Don't startle 'im, Joe. It's almost full." And in another, Willie tells a medic: "Just gimme a coupla aspirin. I already got a Purple Heart."
In yet another drawing, Willie grabs a weary GI by the collar and holds up a letter from home: "My son. Five days old. Good-lookin' kid, ain't he?"
The cartoons, published in Stars and Stripes and other military journals, delighted his fellow soldiers and endeared Mr. Mauldin to Americans at home.
"I wish we had more like him," said syndicated cartoonist Paul Conrad, who served in the Pacific during WWII. "He would have been a lot of fun to go through the war with."
In his classic book "Up Front," Mr. Mauldin wrote that the expressions on Joe and Willie are "those of infantry soldiers who have been in the war for a couple of years.
Mr. Mauldin called himself "as independent as a hog on ice," and his approach brought him a face-to-face upbraiding from Gen. George S. Patton. Mr. Mauldin continued to draw what he wanted.
In 1945, at age 23, his series "Up Front With Mauldin" won him the first of his two Pulitzer Prizes for editorial cartooning.
Mr. Mauldin won the second in 1959, while he was an editorial cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for depicting Soviet novelist Boris Pasternak saying to another gulag prisoner: "I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?"
Mr. Mauldin was born near Santa Fe and spent much of his life in the West. A teacher in high school helped him nurture his art talent, and he attended the Academy of Fine Art in Chicago, learning from such teachers as cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker, a Pulitzer Prize-winner for the Chicago Daily News.
Mr. Mauldin enlisted in 1940 and, assigned as a rifleman to the 180th Infantry, started drawing cartoons depicting training camp for the Division News, the newspaper for the 45th Division.


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