The comic Five Years Later…Where Will You Be? is a 1962 Army recruiting publication that was heavily invested in the masculine Be a Big Wheel concept.[^] The comic primarily did so through the protagonist, Bud, who used the Army to ensure a secure financial future, and won back his girl, Mary Lou, in the process. At the beginning of the comic, Bud is immature, and unsure of his future, and it is causing problems with Mary Lou. Bud spoke with Jack, his older brother, and his friends, who helped him make some serious decisions about his financial future. They all share their stories with Bud. Then men are seen as mature and developed role models, although one had been off track and was using the military to get back on track. Three of the four men served in the military, and the other is about to leave for training.
At the beginning of the story, Mary Lou, Bud’s girlfriend, became very upset with Bud’s indecisiveness, especially regarding his plans after graduation and their future together.[^] Mary Lou tells Bud he’s not half grown up yet because of this indecisiveness, and makes more remarks later on, contrasting Bud’s indecisiveness with the way a secret agent in the film ”…made things happen.”[^] Mary Lou tells him she wants to go straight home, where she tells him not to call her until he’s changed his attitude.[^] Mary Lou’s frustrations with Bud clearly threaten their relationship, and their troubles stem from Bud’s inability to make decisions or “make things happen.” This kind of language make it clear that their relationship is on the rocks over his shortcomings as a mature male who can make decisions and has some degree of financial security.
Bud meets up with Jack and all of his friends, who explain their career paths in the five years since they graduated, one of his friends had to drop out of high school, and in describing the thought process behind his getting a job, a comic pane shows him telling a young woman about have a money and a car soon, to which she replies, “Call me then, big man!”[^] Here, more support is given to the importance of a man’s ability to earn a living, and the weight women put into this status when choosing a partner.
After learning about the experiences of Jack’s friends and the options service provided for a career and financial security, Bud decided to join the Army.[^] Bud proudly informs Mary Lou that he plains to gain an income and training in the military, and find a job afterwards.[^] Building on this, he then tells her he has plans for them too, that involves an aisle.[^] This hints that the marriage (or at least the future of the relationship ) is either incomplete or dependent upon Bud securing a steady income and being able to provide for the family.
This comic depicts supports the fundamental placement of the male breadwinner role in society, by depicting heterosexual relationships with the male’s career and earnings as central to the relationship. The comic Five Years Later…Where Will You Be? plays on the appeal of the male breadwinner to women through the essentialism of the role male providers in families. The language of the story, speaking of financial security, is reminiscent of Elaine Tyler May’s Homeward Bound thesis. May argued that Cold War-era domesticity mirrored foreign policy, focusing on concepts of containment and security.[^] Male financial ‘security’ - that is, a well-paying job capable of supporting a family - was given primacy in the courtship and the understanding individuals had in society. The Navy attached their recruiting message to this ideology, putting forth service as a stable and reliable way to fulfill this essential component of manhood.