Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day in the Funnies

Many comic strips had Memorial Day tributes, but for some reason the one the current creative team for "Blondie" -- Dean Young and John Marshall came up with. (click on image to enlarge)

It got me thinking about how many comic strips have characters that are either in active service, or are veterans. Here's what I came up with, just off the top of my head. If I've forgotten any fictional servicemen, please let me know! (And many thanks to all the real-life heroes of our armed forces this day).

Current comic strips with vets:

Doonesbury (Gary Trudeau) - Outside of the military-oriented "Beetle Bailey," this strip has the highest number of active and retired military characters, beginning with B.D. who served in Vietnam and lost a leg in Iraq. In recent years, Gary Trudeau has focused on the issues of combat veterans returning to civilian life in a convincing manner.

Judge Parker (Woody Wilson & Mike Manley) - Sam Driver's law partner Steve is a veteran of the Gulf War, who lost both his feet to a landmine. He's a highly competent attorney and a welcome addition to the firm.

Funky Winkerbean (Tom Batiuk) - Funky's younger brother is another veteran of the Gulf War, recovering from PTSD with the help of a therapy dog.

Gasoline Alley (Frank King) - Walt Wallet served in the Navy during the First World War, and his adopted son Skeezix saw action in the Pacific during the Second World War while serving in the army. His grandson, Chipper went to Vietnam in the medical corps. He eventually built on that training and became a doctor.

Beetle Bailey (Mort Walker) - Virtually all the characters are in the Army -- even Sarge's dog.

Popeye the Sailor (Segar) - During the Second World War, Popeye was depicted as being in the Navy, although not with any consistency (his clothing never changed to regulation dress).

Dick Tracy (Chester Gould)- For the Second World War, Tracy remained part of his unnamed city's police force, fighting black marketeers like BB Eyes and Fifth Columnists like Pruneface. One of the major supporting characters during this time was Frizzletop, an ex-Army nurse who had lost an arm serving at the front.

Discontinued comic strips with vets:

Terry and the Pirates (Milton Caniff) - When America entered the Second World War, the cast of this strip signed up. Terry Lee joined the Air Force, his companion Pat Ryan becomes a Marine, and their two Chinese companions, Connie and Big Stoop join the resistance.

Steve Canyon (Milton Caniff)- Steve Canyon was an Air Force pilot during the Korean War and later rejoined the service.

Johnny Hazard (Frank Robbins) -  The hero of this strip was a pilot with the Army Air Corps. After the Second World War, he became a freelance adventurer.

Captain Easy (Roy Crane) - Originally a soldier of fortune, Easy joined the Navy during WWII, where he met Buzz Sawyer (who would take the starring role in the strip's Sunday sequences).

Steve Roper and Mike Nomad (Alan Saunders & Elmo Woggin) - Steve Roper worked for Navy Intelligence during the Second World War, while his friend (and series costar) Mike Nomad served in the Marine Corps

Bloom County (Berkeley Breathed) - One of the major characters of this strip (besides Opus the Penguin), was Cutter John, a wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet.

Lil Abner - (Al Capp) - Although focused on satirical humor, Al Capp's classic strip did have a vet -- Captain Eddy Ricketyback, decrepit World War I aviator, and owner/sole employee of Trans-Dogpatch Airlines.

Dondi - (Gus Edson & Irwin Hasen)- The title character was an Italian war orphan, who was adopted by Ted Wills and Whitey McGowan, two GIs serving in the Italian theater when the war ended.

Joe Palooka (Ham Fisher) - Boxer and all-American hero Joe Palooka joined the Army during the Second World War.

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