The Stars and Stripes used illustrations to communicate ideas, especially those aimed at justifying military goals and encouraging the troops' adherence to the war effort. In the early issues, editors reprinted cartoons from some of the most prominent U.S. newspapers and magazines, such as Life, New York World, and Philadelphia Press. The very first issue contained an editorial cartoon by one of the most famous illustrators of the day, Charles Dana Gibson. The cartoon, meant to inspire the troops, was entitled "On Their Way" and depicted an American soldier marching in step with a winged "Lady Victory," their arms firmly locked (February 8, 1918, p. 4, col. 4).*
In many cases, the images selected by the editors would be considered propaganda by today's standards. Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge's cartoon "Then We Will Have Peace" showed the empty throne of the Kaiser with a corpse in front of it (October 18, 1918, p. 4, col. 4 and November 15, 1918, p. 4, col. 4); his drawing "The Girl We're All Fighting For" depicted a soldier gesturing respectfully toward an image of the Statue of Liberty on the horizon (May 10, 1918, p. 1).
Besides expressing editorial opinion, cartoons entertained the troops, offering them humorous stories and images that satirized everyday life in the military. Many of these spoofs, written in 1918 and 1919, remain relevant today. The most popular among the soldiers were Private Abian A."Wally" Wallgren's cartoons and irreverent "Helpful Hints," which poked fun at army conventions from food to uniforms to rank. When a new issue of The Stars and Stripes arrived, the soldiers scanned it first for the cartoons by "Wally" Wallgren.
Private Cyrus Baldridge was also prolific, contributing many cartoons and illustrations such as "The Owner of the Stars and Stripes," a front page "portrait" of an American soldier (February 7, 1919, p. 1). After the war ended, Wallgren, Baldridge, and others published compilations of The Stars and Stripes cartoons and illustrations that had lightened the hearts of the doughboys.
*Unless otherwise noted all references are to The Stars and Stripes.