The Library of Congress >> Prints & Photographs

Find in

A Cartoonist, Nevertheless, 1958-1965

"Too many of today's artists regard editorial cartooning as a trade instead of a profession. They try not to be too offensive. The hell with that. We need more stirrer-uppers." - Bill Mauldin

In 1958, still seeking a path, Mauldin happened upon St. Louis. He visited Daniel Fitzpatrick, a left-liberal cartoonist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who announced his upcoming retirement. Mauldin applied for the position, and soon had a venue for his cartoons. He quickly won his second Pulitzer Prize for a cartoon produced during his first year at St. Louis. Mauldin left the Post-Dispatch when he disagreed with his publisher about syndication fees and editorial control four years later.

In 1962, Mauldin joined the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times, refusing the title of editorial cartoonist, but accepting that of "cartoon commentator." His work appeared on the op-ed page so that the readership would realize that the Sun-Times was publishing Mauldin's opinions and that the cartoonist was not a mere spokesmen for the publisher. Mauldin reveled in freedom as an artist at the height of his career, "I was free to say what I pleased," he wrote, "and travel where I wanted, so long as I got my stuff in on time."

When Mauldin first returned to cartooning in 1958 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he began using crayon again, a medium he rarely employed after his initial cartoons during the war years. He altered his technique and media to suit the needs of reproduction. While working for the Chicago Sun-Times Mauldin moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Natalie, returning to "the simple black-and-white brush work," because he transmitted his drawings over the telephone, first by telecopier and then by laser-photo. He wrote, "At best such contraptions have approximately the reproductive capability of a Sicilian copy camera dug from the rubble. And so I was forced back to my heavy, simple 'style' of yore. (Actually, I enjoy the looseness and freedom of drawing that way, but it is still too contrasty for politics.) Then in the early 80s I discovered Federal Express and was able to go back to my crayon and still make my deadlines."


Civil Rights

Bill Mauldin was a champion of the oppressed. Soon after his return to the United States in 1945 he began attacking segregationists and the Ku Klux Klan. By the 1960s, when the Civil Rights movement gathered momentum, he had further honed his skills as a cartoonist. Bill Mauldin never left his readers in doubt about his opinions, and on the issue of race relations in the United States he was forceful.

Let that one go. He says he don't wanna be mah equal
"Let that one go. He says he don't wanna be mah equal"
,
Mar. 2 1960
Crayon, ink, and white out over pencil
Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 2, 1960.
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03250 (digital copy from original)
CD 1 - Mauldin, no. 530 (A size)
Copyright 1960 by Bill Mauldin. Reproduced with Permission of the Estate of William Mauldin.

When asked by Target magazine what he thought the most important issue of his career had been, Mauldin replied, "The one thing that meant the most to me and that I got involved in was the whole civil rights thing in the sixties. It was very logical and natural for me in a way because it always seemed to me that the black was the enlisted man of our society. ... It's just that I don't like a man being told he's unequal until he gets a chance to prove his own inequality."


"By th' way, what's that big word?", May 15, 1962
Ink, crayon, and white out over pencil with scraping out
Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 15, 1962.
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03216 (digital copy from original)
CD 1 - Mauldin, no. 857 (B size)
Copyright 1962 by Bill Mauldin. Reproduced with Permission of the Estate of William Mauldin.

By th' way, what's that big word?

And you incited those innocent rioters to violence
"And you incited those innocent rioters to violence", Nov. 29, 1962
C rayon, ink, blue pencil, and white out over pencil with overlay
Published in the Chicago Sun-Times November 29, 1962.
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03244 (digital copy from original)
CD 1 - Mauldin, no. 911 (A size)
Copyright 1962 by Bill Mauldin. Reproduced with Permission of the Estate of William Mauldin.

Bill Mauldin and Bill Noke, book critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, flew down to Oxford Mississippi on Saturday September 29, the day before African American student James Meredith showed up to integrate the University of Mississippi. They returned to the airport after church on Sunday, intending to return to Chicago in Mauldin's plane, only to discover that it was surrounded by U.S. marshals, as Meredith had come into town a day early. Being newspapermen, they decided that representing the Sun-Times was more important than their own safety, and returned to town in time to see the riot ensue between federal officials and students. This cartoon was produced in the judicial aftermath.

As the Civil Rights movement picked up its pace, many White liberals began to feel uncomfortable in the company of African American leadership. However, as this cartoon makes clear, Mauldin supported African Americans in their quest to gain equality and ridiculed those who thought the progress of desegregation and civil rights was too quick by comparing the path to progress to a climb through thorns.

By th' way, what's that big word?
"What do you mean, 'not so fast'?", May 10, 1963
Crayon, ink, blue pencil, and white out over pencil
Published in the Chicago Sun-Times, May 10, 1963.
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03251 (digital copy from original)
CD 1 - Mauldin, no. 957 (A size)
Copyright 1963 by Bill Mauldin. Reproduced with Permission of the Estate of William Mauldin.



Vietnam

"What I discovered was the biggest reason the Sun-Times of those days is remembered as fiercely liberal. In fact its editorial page was wishy-washy and insignificant. Mauldin, however, was an angry, ironic sharpshooter. The editorials endorsed Richard J. Daley and Richard Nixon, but nobody read the editorials. Mauldin savaged them both, and everybody read him." - Tom Tomorrow


What to do till the Peace Corps comes
What to do till the Peace Corps comes, July 13, 1961
Ink, crayon, blue pencil and white out over pencil
Not published
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03252 (digital copy from original)
CD 1 - Mauldin, no. 1664 (B size)
Copyright 1961 by Bill Mauldin. Reproduced with Permission of the Estate of William Mauldin.

Here are two versions of a cartoon Mauldin prepared for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the version not accepted for publication, a young soldier wearing a helmet leans against a tree, smokes a cigarette, and reads a book, "What to do till the Peace Corps comes." Mauldin's editors preferred seeing the soldier standing neck deep in a foxhole, his rifle is mounted for firing.

What to do till the Peace Corps comes, July 13 1961
Ink, crayon, and white out over pencil
Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1961.
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03253 (digital copy from original)
CD 1 - Mauldin, no. 747 (A size)
Copyright 1961 by Bill Mauldin. Reproduced with Permission of the Estate of William Mauldin.

What to do till the Peace Corps comes
Don't forget your commitment

"Don't forget your commitment", Feb. 16, 1965
Ink, crayon, and white out over pencil with overlay
Inscribed on overlay lower right: Drawn in Viet Nam.
Published in the Chicago Sun-Times, February 16, 1965.
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03254 (digital copy from original)
CD 1 - Mauldin, no. 1209 (A size)
Copyright 1965 by Bill Mauldin. Reproduced with Permission of the Estate of William Mauldin.

On February 7, 1965, Mauldin experienced a Viet Cong attack while visiting his eldest son Bruce in who was stationed as a warrant officer and helicopter pilot with the 52nd U.S. Army Aviation Bn. at Pleiku, some two hundred miles north of Saigon. Mauldin had talked the Chicago Sun-Times into buying him a ticket to Vietnam, arguing that as a cartoon commentator he owed it to his readers to get "his own feet wet." He sent several cartoons back to Chicago. The Sun-Times promoted Mauldin's Vietnam visit.

Bill Mauldin invades Viet Nam! For the Chicago Sun-Times
Bill Mauldin invades Viet Nam!
For the Chicago Sun-Times
, 1965
Silver gelatin photograph
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03255 (digital copy from original)


[Up escalators], May 4, 1965
Crayon, ink, white out and blue pencil over pencil
Published in the Chicago Sun-Times, May 4, 1965.
LC-DIG-ppmsca-03256 (digital copy from original)
CD 1 - Mauldin, no. 1252 (A size)
Copyright 1965 by Bill Mauldin. Reproduced with Permission of the Estate of William Mauldin.

Although Bill Mauldin generally favored the policies of President Lyndon Baines Johnson he was critical of action in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. The United States became involved in the civil war in the Dominican Republic on April 28, when he published this cartoon about escalation. Maudlin told Target, "I'm not a pacifist. I never was. And yet I really do hate war."


 

  The Library of Congress >> Prints & Photographs
  December 14, 2012


Contact Us