Whenever someone says that no one besides Schulz drew the Peanuts newspaper strip, some nitpicky fan like myself is apt to add a caveat about the 1998 Veterans Day strip, signed “Schulz and my hero Bill Mauldin”, in which Snoopy meets Mauldin’s classic wartime characters Willie & Joe, favorites of the soldiers during World War II, who found that these single-panel cartoons in Stars and Stripes reflected their own experiences. (You can see this strip on page 138 of It’s a Dog’s Life, Snoopy.) So did Schulz really have someone else draw part of this Peanuts strip?
As Todd DePastino, author of an upcoming biography of Mauldin pointed out to me, not really.
It turns out that what Schulz did was reuse the Willie and Joe figures from a Mauldin cartoon that was first published on June 26, 1944 (in the Mediterranean edition of Stars and Stripes). This one made a useful source, because the characters are looking down at and commenting on discarded gas masks (“I see Comp’ny E got th’ new style gas masks, Joe.”) Remove the gas masks (and the rest of the background) and add in Snoopy as the war’s smallest soldier, and now Willie and Joe are looking down at him.
So rather than a collaboration, it’s more along the line of what Schulz would do on other wartime strips with reusing old photos.
DePastino’s Mauldin bio is slated to come from WW Norton in the fall of next year. He’s also working with Complete Peanuts publisher Fantagraphics on a series of new Mauldin collections, starting with a two-volume complete collection of the wartime and military cartoons, Willie & Joe: WWII Years. I suspect a few of you out there are going to want these books for your shelves, and I will try to remember to mention them again as their release approaches.