“Look After My Billy,” a comic in the 1952 publication, The United States Marines No 7, is a short piece that addresses ‘momism,’ stoicism, and courage at war, as well as the interpersonal dynamics of military service.
The comic opens with a panel showing a young, weak, and inept looking American soldier with a letter from Billy’s mom asking Jim to look after him.[^] Given the context, it’s rather clear that Billy is the weak, young GI, about to be killed in combat, who is inept and needs his mother to look after him.[^] Billy was perturbed that his mother sent the letter, and the story began with Billy being overzealous and acting as though he had been there for some time and held a position of authority, although the artwork and the pushback from others told another story.[^] Billy repeatedly attempts to establish as reputation as a rugged, masculine soldier, playing craps and getting into fights.[^] These are attempts to assert his masculinity are clearly intended to contrast with his immaturity, boyish looks, and the letter his mom sent to Jim. One further example of this, in addition to gambling, fighting, and roughhousing, is one GI complaining, “If that guy mentions one more time about what a tough football player he was, I’m gonna slug him!”[^] Although his overbearing attempts to prove his masculinity are clearly not working with others in his unit, this illustrates that his football prowess is an important factor in his attempts to gain respect. This exchange also shows the delicate masculine hierarchy that soldiers had to navigate in their installment, and the role that athletics and similar masculine bravado played in these reputations.