Armed Farces: Military Cartoons by VIP, edited by William McIntyre
Four out of five stars
These cartoons about military life emphasize the farcical nature rather than the brutality of combat and death by massive trauma. Many of the incongruous features of being in the military, from the strict chain of command and the necessity of following orders to the privileges accorded to rank are covered. Absurdity is emphasized, even when the context is of being in heavy combat with bullets and shells flying.
The original publication date was 1968, when the American involvement in the Vietnam War was at the highest point. There are a few references to the conflict that people familiar with the war will recognize. Likely the most common theme of the cartoons is that of the rough and tough drill sergeant, from one beating his own elderly mother to another having his teeth filed down to points.
The military is a rough culture, existing on themes that are far more profane and brutal than depicted in this book. The cartoons were constructed for a general audience, so they lack the harsh edge that an accurate depiction of military life would have. Yet, there is truth in them, if you cannot speak the truth, then the next best thing is to speak satirically.