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December 14, 2004

More on Combat Art.

...who knew we military types were so artsy? Resident Rotorhead Bill T chimed in with a comment on my art post below. I decided his point was worth bringing up here, to introduce you guys who may not be that familiar with war art.

Bill said:

Here comes my two cents-worth:

1. For black-and-white, you can't beat Donald Dickson's stark pencil
sketches of the Marines on Guadalcanal ("Killer" is one of his best);

2. For color work, it's Kerr Eby's stuff (never seen anything quite as
horrific--on paper--as "The Wound").

But wait--there's more!

3. For cartoons, Bill Mauldin--nobody else (including me) even comes close...

If you are ever in the Oklahoma City area, I strongly recommend a visit to the 45th Infantry Division Museum - one of the official archives of Mauldin's cartoons and an excellent museum in it's own right.

Now - I'm just guessing here - but I'm willing to bet a Castle Argghhh! coffee mug that Bill really meant Tom Lea's painting - The Price.

Regardless, there were a lot of simply astounding pieces of art generated by artists who accompanied the troops into the danger zone, the fields where the Iron Crosses grow, as the Germans put it. And not all that art is of the 'realism' school that I tend to favor, but is more impressionistic - such as this painting by Theo Hios, called Ambush at Saipan.

These guys and gals covered the sad, the funny, the mundane, the down time, the horror, and the awesome... as in the original meaning of the word, as opposed to the devalued usage of today. And the cost.

PBS has an excellent website on the subject: They Drew Fire. It has a lot of this type of art available on it, and chronicles the programs and artists involved. Many of the art has accompanying commentary by the artist, as well.

Oh, yeah - Bill, are you a cartoonist? Got proof(s)?