If most Americans too young for membership in the Greatest Generation have any inkling at all who Bill Mauldin was, the knowledge probably comes smeared with a dash of sepia, like some Norman Rockwell of the cartoon world. The actuality of the man and his art, as presented in the fantastic two-volume box set, Willie & Joe: The WWII Years, has quite a bit more of the stink of reality to it. Said reality is accentuated by the olive-drab packaging and old typescript-dossier design. Not someone who trafficked in instant nostalgia (just as, come to think of it, Rockwell wasn’t either, regardless of his current reputation), Mauldin was instead a chronicler of the everyday grime and misery that was the life of the average G.I. The appreciation of the important if common reality of small things—cigarettes, pretty girls, wine, a bath, clean clothes—that runs through Mauldin’s work is a key to his enduring success. Wars, weapons, and causes may change, but soldiers are forever.
"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.READ the article