The creators of comics gave more than just entertainment. They have also rendered service to their country when called upon in times of war.
As we take a moment to pause Veterans Day to remember those who served, here’s a look at several greats who are not just comic book veterans, but true veterans.
Stan ‘the man’ Lee was Stan ‘the sergeant’ in the United States Army during World War II. Even though he was only 20 years old when he entered the service, he already had editing training at Timely Comics, so he was assigned to the Signal Corps, the communications and information division of the ‘army.
“I wrote training films, made posters, wrote instruction manuals and visited military posts to help them speed up their training methods and operations,” Stan told Newsarama in 2015.
A poster designed by Stan carried the legendary phrase “VD? Not me!’ and encouraged the troops to obtain (free!) prophylactics on the base, lest they catch a below-waist disease and be removed from the war effort.
“I like to think that this poster alone won the war,” he joked.
Legendary artist Jack Kirby was also in the military during World War II and deployed to the European theater.
The King made PFC (private first class) in the 3rd Army, 11th Infantry Regiment, Company F.
Kirby saw quite a bit of fighting in northern France, including the crossing of the Moselle at Dornot and the battle for the city of Metz. He received a regimental bronze star.
Jazzy John was enlisted in the Korean War in 1951 and the military put his artistic talents to use.
“I made recruitment posters,” he says. “I did the first WAC [Women’s Army Corps] displayed with the new uniform in 1952. She was in every recruiting post in the world for a month. The original art is now on display at the Women’s Army Museum in Virginia. I tried to get it, but “the army never gives such material to anyone,” I was told. “
Its good. Romita also told the military to go hit rocks once, as he started his artistic career at Marvel.
“I ended up being a sergeant, and they offered me a master sergeant job with a big retirement in 1953 if I graduated for four years. I said, ‘No. Stan Lee won’t let me.’ “
Dazzlin ‘Dick Ayers served three years and three weeks in the Army in World War II and spent 21 months deployed overseas, where he was a radio operator on a bomber.
He also contributed his artistic talents, painting nose art for many airplanes.
Marvel’s The ‘Nam co-creator toured Korea and Vietnam from 1967 to 1972, primarily as an air defense radar specialist. He saw the fight, but like many in his place, he says “I don’t like to talk about it too much”.
Still, Murray says the experience “gave me a glimpse into war, life and death that I like to think has been incorporated into all of my writing since. In addition to the comics, Murray wrote 14 military novels.
Writer and artist Larry Hama is famous in comics for his lengthy stints on GI Joe, and has the hands-on training for it. He was in the military as an engineer during the height of the Vietnam War from 1969 to 1971.
“We put things together, took them apart, went to interesting places and did boring things,” he says.
Beyond that… he doesn’t say much.
“When I was coming out of the ward, walking from office to office with a stack of orders, they said to me, ‘whatever you can’t forget, deny’, and that’s what I tried to do. “