Is Bill Mauldin’s Back Home a Graphic Novel?

My new essay on Bill Mauldin’s 1947 memoir Back Home appears today at the excellent and thought-provoking comics blog Pencil, Panel, Page. Thanks again to Qiana Whitted for inviting me back for another guest post! This Mauldin piece is a sequel of sorts to my essay on the US Army War Show and Captain Marvel’s brief stint as a soldier in 1942. That essay will appear in the November 2013 issue of Alter Ego.

Mauldin’s first two books, Up Front and Back Home, have also been a revelation for me over the last year, so this essay is my way of paying tribute to him–while urging you to read him, too!

Guest Post by Brian Cremins

“History should be understood and practiced as toys.”
Tony Trigilio, White Noise(2013)

I’ll begin by repeating the question I pose in my title: Is Bill Mauldin’s Back Home, a memoir first published in 1947, a graphic novel? After all, it contains words and pictures—or, as the original dust jacket describes it, “text & drawings” by one of Charles M. Schulz’s (and Snoopy’s) favorite cartoonists.

mauldin1

A year ago I found a copy of Mauldin’s first book, Up Front, at the Gallery Bookstore in Chicago. I’d been reading Ernie Pyle’s Here Is Your War and Brave Men, too, so I thought I’d learn as much from Mauldin’s cartoons as I’d learned from Pyle’s collections of newspaper articles. When I discovered a copy of the beautiful 2011 Fantagraphics edition of Willie & Joe: Back Home, edited by Mauldin biographer Todd DePastino (2011), I…

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