Most people probably think there was nothing funny about World War II, but lucky for us the soldier and cartoonist Bill Mauldin disagreed. After joining the United States army in 1940, the young man from New Mexico began to draw cartoons about his wartime experiences. His cartoons were picked up by the US Army publication Stars and Stripes and became a huge hit among the armed forces. Most of his cartoons were single-panel jokes about the day-to-day lives of the dogfaces, the average American Infantrymen.
Often these cartoons starred a pair of dirty, sloppily dressed GIs named Willie and Joe, who are usually depicted sitting in the mud, standing in the rain, or trudging down an endless dirt road. In one memorable strip, they are crouched behind a smoking machine gun, when one turns to the other and says "I was sure a couple of Krauts were hiding behind that cow. Oh well, get the cook". Many of these cartoons were collected in Mauldin's hilarious book Up Front, about his experiences in World War II.
Recently, the company Fantagraphics has announced it will be collecting the Willie and Joe cartoons in Willie & Joe: The WWII Years ($65, 650 pages), a two-volume, hardback collection with slipcase. The collection is due out early next year. I for one can't wait.