Awesome Men Throughout History: Vic Green
This week’s Awesome Man Throughout History is cartoonist Vic Green, whose near-total obscurity is quite impressive in this day and age. Vic was a painter and cartoonist whose comic strip “Willie Dee” ran in newspapers from 1948 to 1952, and was fairly typical of comics from that era in that it wasn’t very good unless the reader has lots of tender dewy-eyed nostalgic feelings for that era.
Vic was also an accomplished photographer and painter who had the very first televised art show in Texas.
That’s not why Vic fascinates me so much, though. In addition to his comic strip and his day job working at Premier Printing in Houston, Texas (where he lived for most of his life), Vic drew dirty cartoons for servicemen during WWII.
That sounds weird and unwholesome, and there’s really no other way to phrase it, but it’s not quite as seedy as it sounds. There were lots of things done specifically for servicemen during the war, including command radio broadcasts of then-popular shows, because a soldier’s life is either soul-crushing boredom or running while being shot at. Clearly, people at home felt compelled to help out however they could.
This was also still the era of pin-up illustrations and paintings, and Tijuana bibles were still floating around; hell, even Dr. Seuss made racy animated cartoons for soldiers about condoms and STD prevention. Lowbrow, sure, but that stuff wasn’t considered serious deviant behavior back then.
Think of it this way: that era’s sexy comics are an ancestor to the fan-art stuff you’d see on Tumblr or whatever today, and often much less creepy.
Anyway, Vic produced and sold runs of sleazy cartoons (some of which were billed as “Leftovers”) to servicemen overseas. Vic even sold them in specialized mailer envelopes that could be sent directly to soldiers. The layout was cheaply done, usually printed on one side of each page, and the cartoons were a mix of one-panel jokes, funny songs, and women in their underwear. Here’s an example.
Vic passed away in 1989, but his Army cartoons have become fairly valuable collectibles, and who knows, maybe he’ll be discovered posthumously like other “lowbrow” artists of yore and properly celebrated for his talents, and for the joy he brought to all those soldiers bunkered down in lonely battlefields, trying to survive long enough to kill Hitler.
Excelsior, Vic Green.
About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.