Hey, we haven't done one of these in a while now, have we? It's time for your Hell's Kitchen Howler, the Roarin' Ranger himself, Sgt. Nick Fury! And...once again, he's freaking out. But what's got his goose in a simmer this time, ya think? Wouldja believe...
Panels from Sgt. Fury [and His Howling Commandos] #5 (January 1964), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by George Roussos, letters by Sam Rosen
...he's steamed over continued stories in comic books. Uh oh! Better not pick up any Marvel or DC books these days, Nick! (If he sees War of the Green Lanterns or Fear Itself, his bullet-shaped head might just explode!
But just what do G.I. Joes (the original real America heroes) like Fury, Dugan, Jones, Manelli, Cohen, Pinkerton, Koenig, and Forbush read instead of multi-issue comic book sagas?
Panel from Battle Action #30 (August 1957), art by Jay Scott Pike
Well, they're much more likely to be hunkering down under enemy fire reading military-focused newspapers and magazines featuring panel and strip cartoons like George Baker's Sad Sack, Milton Caniff's Male Call, Willie and Joe by Bill Mauldin or Dr. Seuss's Private Snafu.
The Sad Sack you might be familiar with is the eponymous hero of pretty much every Harvey comic book that didn't star Richie Rich or Casper or that scary giant talking duck in a diaper...seriously, what was up with that thing? Serious nightmare fuel. Anyway:
Panels from Sad Sack 359 (June 1956)
But the Sad Sack of WWII was a strip cartoon published in Yank, one of the era's leading military-only publications, written by and for servicemen. Below are a couple spreads from a contemporary issue of Life magazine (November 15, 1943), spotlighting Yank and its cartoons and artists. "Yank [is a] weekly magazine which is the most famous of all service publications. Despite its occasional amateurness, Yank's effective combination of serious war stories and pictures, cartoons, pin-ups, editorials and question-and-answer columns give it great popularity with soldiers everywhere....No officers write for Yank. Its editors and contributors are all enlisted men."
Which is not to say that there weren't comic books being produced during the Second Big One. Here's some actual on-the-lines footage of Sergeant Stan Lee and Corporal Dick Ayers following the antics of Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos. Later, of course, Lee and Ayers served in Korea as well, where Lee's life was saved by a team of wisecracking sardonic Army frontline doctors. So grateful was Sgt. Lee that he vowed to one day name one of his comic book characters after the unit's head surgeon. Now you know...the rest of the story.
Panels from Sgt. Fury [and His Howling Commandos] #22 (September 1965), written by (and starring) Stan Lee and drawn by (and starring) Dick Ayers
But if you look back at the sequence at the top of this post (oh yeah, forgot about that!) you'll notice Nick wanted to make sure that Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Nazi and later head of HYDRA*, didn't read any lengthy comic book stories. Hmmm, what kind of comic books do you think Nazis read in the forties, huh?
Page from Wolverine: Origins #20 (February 2008), script by Daniel Way, pencils and inks by Steve Dillon, colors by Matt Milla, letters by Cory Petit
Oh. Apparently they were reading the DC/National Comics editions of Captain America.
To wrap up, here's another three-panel sequence of a Friday Night Fury Flippin' Freakout:
Panels from Sgt. Fury [and His Howling Commandos] #25 (December 1965), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Dick Ayers, inks by John Tartaglione, letters by Sam Rosen
Uh oh! That color ain't good for you, Nick! And so it proved to be: Nick Fury died of a massive coronary heart attack in 1946....and he was never seen again.