Saturday, May 26, 2012
The Lonely War Of Captain Willy Schultz!
One of the finest series in the history of Charlton Comics also led to one of the most ignoble acts in the company's history. "The Lonely War of Willy Schultz" was the ongoing saga of a World War II soldier, a man torn between the loyalties of his heritage and country and his conscience, a man who expressed severe doubts about the great conflict he was a part of because he was able to see its costs from many sides of the equation.
The story was the creation of Willi Franz, a very young writer who was just getting started in the business and veteran artist and veteran World War II sailor Sam Glanzman. The story dealt with an American officer of German descent who is falsely found guilty of murder and then finds himself first on one side of the great conflict then another as the whole of war finds itself under indictment.
The story goes that this saga was used as the basis for a young man claiming conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War. The military then contacted Charlton Comics, a company which got a great deal of its business through military bases and pressured them to stop the series. They did, and Willi Franz (also the writer of "The Iron Corporal" stories again with Glanzman for Army War Heroes) was never used by the company again, effectively ending his brief comic book career.
Alas the very easy-going attitude toward content which had allowed the series to flourish in issues of Fightin' Army for so long, also led to its demise when the situation became uncomfortable for the powers that were. As long as sales were good, the Charlton folks didn't care about content, all other things being equal. But happily and then sadly for this series, it got noticed. Its very success is what caused its demise.
The series has never been properly collected, though ironically Charlton did later under new management reprint a few issues, and later ACG/Avalon did publish a several issues of the series under its own title and did in fact advertise a trade of the complete run. It was never published as far as I can discover, so this vivid and memorable saga remains a hard-to-find gem from those turbulent times.
Here's a cover gallery of the comics featuring some part of the great Captain Willy Schultz saga.
First there are the original issues of Fightin' Army from issues #72 through #92 save for issue #81.
Charlton Comics in the 80's published just two issues of this attempt to reprint the series and restart the company. Sadly both attempts failed.
Later when ACG/Avalon got the rights to most of the Charlton material in the 90's, they put out these four issues of limited series, but it didn't complete the saga.
This issue of Savage Combat Tales also has a Willy Schultz story within.
Sadly to date there is not proper collection of these significant comic book stories. Stories which made a real difference in the world. This work by Franz and Glanzman deserves better.