Many men and women were unable to participate in World War II due to physical maladies like Little Abner’s one-legged creator Al Capp. Cartoonist Milton Caniff was also unable to defend his country and saw this as an opportunity to donate his time and wit back to those on the warfront. Caniff visited veterans to appropriate true stories of base camp antics and learn GI slang for his army strip, Male Call. While most of world remembers Caniff for his Steve Canyon or Terry and the Pirates strips, he sticks out in my mind for his saucy WWII strip starring one Miss Lace and many, many, many lonely GIs.
Click the strip to see a legible version!
Miss Lace represented the ideal 1940’s woman back home, curvy and innocent, skillful yet would let a man be a man. She was the pin-up girl from your pack of cigs right in front of you. The part of me that really enjoys this strip believes it could have only existed during the time it was created, 1942-1946. Male Call of the War of 1812 might not have been as successful although I definitely would have read it but I digress. Equipped with brains and looks, Caniff also made sure that his sexy personification of home could throw a hell of a punch too.
Embodying the maternal aspect as well, Miss Lace would occasionally give a homesick GI a bit of home cookin’. She would do so wearing her hot-to-trot gowns, which amuses me to no end.
We know Caniff could paint a pretty picture using merely a brush, black ink and white paper. It is his strips that go beyond that which truly entertain us. These hidden gems include the How-To strips such as how to make hats out of surplus equipment:
Are you feeling nostalgic or perhaps just wish to gaze upon some of the most well drawn-panels of American war cartooning? If so, do not hesitate to pick up a copy of Kitchen Sink Press’ release of Male Call (or the much older Simon and Schuster version) should you find one at your local library sale or used book store!