Calling up the comics brigade
January 17, 2009
More than 60 years after cartoonist Bill Mauldin’s Willie and Joe battled the Germans and bedeviled the brass, military-themed comics remain part of the mix at Stars and Stripes.
Stripes runs two comics written by members of the military community. "Gunston Street" follows the exploits of an Army reservist deployed to Iraq. And, in a nod to the more diverse nature of today’s military community, "Jenny" highlights life as a military spouse.
Basil Zaviski calls "Gunston Street" "comics for soldiers by a soldier, airborne!"
"If I can give a laugh to just one servicemember, I’ve done my job," Zaviski said. "If I can give a laugh to two, I’ve probably been drinking."
"Gunston Street" is based on his experiences during a deployment to Iraq with the Michigan National Guard. The strip usually takes a humorous look at life in camp and on patrol, but has recently taken a more serious turn while recounting the events surrounding an ambush that hit Zaviski’s unit.
Julie Negron’s "Jenny" focuses on the joys and frustrations of being an Air Force wife.
She started the comic while her husband was stationed on Okinawa, and is continuing to share her humor now that they’ve returned to the States. "Jenny" also has popped up as a prop in the Lifetime TV series "Army Wives."
Readers in Europe and the Pacific can read both comic strips on Sundays in the Scene features section. Readers in the Mideast can catch them in the comics section. Older editions of "Jenny" can be found at jennyspouse.com and "Gunston Street" can be found at gunstonstreet.com.
During the early years of the war in Iraq, Stripes’ most popular local comic was "Downrange," which featured cutting humor delivered by simple stick figures.
The strip was created by Jeff Hall, an Air Force reservist and downrange contractor. That strip was cut short when Hall returned to the States and was seriously injured in a vehicle accident.
"Downrange" can be found online at www.downrangeweb.com.