One day someone will write a book on the relationship between the rudimentary graphics of World War Two and tattoo art, pin up art and the comics. Maybe I will!
Countless cartoonists, illustrators and artists began their careers drawing for their foxhole friends, mostly for duffel bags, helmets and such. Most of the soldiers were barely out of high school, and what should have been drawn in schoolbooks and scratched onto desks were being created as patches for patriotic young cannon fodder.
Death became a game. It had to. We were losing the war, and encouraging a little more war fever with a clever drawn gag didn't hurt. War is ugly and the furthest thing from funny, but gallows humor thrives in the face of atrocity, and many a bomb was decorated with humorous graffiti before being dropped.
The illustrations here come from an enormous collection of circa 1940 paper decals I found. All anonymous. All are on scraps of waxy paper, and I believe they are intended to be applied to uniforms, helmets and footlockers. I cleaned up and isolated the images from the paper backing. Anyone with more information on either the artist or the use of these graphic appliques of doom are encouraged to write.
World War Two decals circa 1940 collection Jim Linderman
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