Sunday, July 24, 2011

22 – Army’s Grand 60th Birthday Party for PS: Part C

There can be no doubt about it. A grand time was had by all!

If you don’t believe me, look at the pictures. Everybody has a smile. Smiles here! There! Everywhere! A truly Joyous Occasion.

Look at the image above, taken by Pete Carlsson and showing his boss, Joe Kubert, in the early stages of the U.S. Army’s grand 60th Anniversary celebration of PS Magazine. Talk about ill-concealed, mirthful enjoyment!

Much of the Happy Face that I put forward throughout the pleasurable event derived from a renewed awareness that the PS operation is a respected and admired element of the Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA) headed by Colonel Robert P. “Pat” Sullivan. And, Colonel Sullivan marches under the four-star aegis of the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), the overarching embodiment of a unifying logistics concept that was yet to exist in the balkanized technical terrain of the mid-Twentieth Century when PS was picking its precarious way through its first two decades of existence.

Smiles, indeed!

And, in the two-step cake-cutting sequence below, also snapped by Pete, there’s no cloud on anybody’s horizon.

From left: LOGSA Sergeant Major Timothy Shelton; Lieutenant General Dennis L. Via, Deputy Commanding General of AMC; Jonathan Pierce, Acting Editor of PS Magazine; and Colonel Sullivan, LOGSA Commander.

At this point, we were firmly convinced that Colonel Sullivan and his Sergeant Major were truly enjoying the event.

The Keynote Address was delivered by General Via.

General Via’s awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster; Defense Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters; Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Joint Service Achievement Medal; and the Army Achievement Medal. He is authorized to wear the Master Parachutist Badge and Army Staff Identification Badge.


Lieutenant General Dennis L. Via

Deputy Commanding General United States Army Materiel Command

60th Anniversary Ceremony for PS Magazine

June 27, 2011, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama

Good morning! What a great day to be a Soldier. Colonel Sullivan - thank you for the kind invitation to participate in today's ceremony.

I want to also welcome all of our distinguished guests - and especially the Department of the Army civilians who make PS Magazine possible. It's good to see all of you here.

Mr. Fitzgerald, I'm honored— Sir!— to meet you and join you in this great celebration. Our Army is forever indebted to you and Mr. Will Eisner for your role in establishing an incredibly valuable resource for our Soldiers and our Army.

And to Mr. Kubert, you know many of us grew up reading Sergeant Rock, Hawkman, and other DC Comics. And today, we all have the opportunity to meet the artist who brought us so much enjoyment in our younger years, and who continues to entertain and educate us with your current work on PS Magazine. Thank you for being here.

This month, June 2011, marks the 60-year anniversary of PS Magazine, The Army's Preventive Maintenance Monthly. The idea for PS Magazine was formed in April 1940 when Army Motors—a small monthly mimeographed publication on automotive maintenance was first introduced by the Quartermaster Corps.

A short time later, in May 1942, Private Will Eisner was inducted into the army. Private Eisner was already an established comic's artist with his The Spirit strip appearing in newspapers. Mr. Eisner began drawing for the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, post newspaper, and it wasn't long before the Ordnance Corps, which now owned Army Motors, recognized the potential of having Mr. Eisner join its staff, and the rest is history.

Corporal Eisner (eventually Chief Warrant Officer Eisner) initiated a graphic makeover ofArmy Motors, polishing existing characters such as Connie Rodd and Master Sergeant Half-Mast McCanick and adding Privates Joe Dope and Fogsnoff. Circulation of Army Motors shot up to 1.5 million copies monthly.

With the start of the Korean War, the army soon realized it needed a publication similar to Army Motors to promote preventive maintenance. PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, would be the name of the new publication. The army awarded a contract to Mr. Eisner to design and draw what would come to be popularly known as PS Magazine—one of the oldest and most successful publications using "sequential art" as an educational tool to present information in short, clearly-written, highly-focused text and illustrations, the magazine illustrated proper maintenance methods with a comic book-style art form that has proven to be very effective for six decades.

As the Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Material Command, I'm proud to say, the magazine's main character, MSG Half-Mast, is still in uniform even though his tour of duty began during WWII. He and his counter-part, Connie Rodd, still encourage Soldiers to practice preventive maintenance on their vehicles, weapons, and equipment. His famous question – “Would you stake your life . . . right now . . . on the condition of your equipment?” – is as relevant today as it has ever been.

For 60 years, mechanics, supply clerks, and a host of other Soldiers who operate the Army's equipment have used PS Magazine to stay up-to-date with changes to Army technical publications, repair parts, national stock numbers, and maintenance and supply policy. In every motor pool, and at every army post, camp, and station throughout the world, you're likely to see copies of PS Magazine in the office, posted on a wall, or being used at the workbench. The characters and themes in PS Magazine have changed in appearance over the years to reflect war scenarios and changes within the Army and society at large. However, while our equipment has evolved tremendously over the past 60 years, the need to properly maintain that equipment has not. Corrosion, metal fatigue, sand and mud, and simple wear and tear continue to take a toll on Army equipment. Finding and fixing these problems when they are still faults remains the most economical way to keep equipment combat ready for our Soldiers. PS Magazine's dedicated promotion of preventive maintenance will continue to play a significant role in the future.

Today, the magazine's writers, including the PS Magazine Office at the Tank and Automotive Command (TACOM) in Warren, Michigan, visit units regularly at installations across the world to keep in touch with Soldier concerns, pick up article ideas, and discover solutions to maintenance and supply issues. We are now a decade into the Twenty-First Century, and Half-Mast now has a Facebook page as well. As always, he keeps Soldiers up-to-date on late-breaking hot topics, articles that will be appearing in the next issue, and when the newest issue has been posted on the magazine's home page for viewing.

As we begin the next decade, we look forward to what PS Magazine may become as you apply technological advances to better illustrate technical art and to make the magazine as fully available electronically as it is in print. We can be assured that as history and the Army's demands continually change, PS Magazine will be at the forefront of the Soldier's need for supply and preventive maintenance issues.

The writers and the artists of PS Magazine are a team that has put together a 60-year winning streak. Not many teams can boast of that kind of record... Not even the great football teams here in Alabama.

Again, PS Magazine – Congratulations on your 60th Anniversary . . . and best wishes for much continued success.

Army Strong!

Welcoming Remarks were presented by Colonel Sullivan, above.

Colonel Sullivan’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster); the Meritorious Service Medal (five Oak Leaf clusters); the Joint Service Commendation Medal; the Army Commendation Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters); Army Achievement Medal (two Oak leaf Clusters; Master Parachutist Badge; Parachute Rigger Badge; and other service awards. He is authorized to wear the Australian, Canadian, and German Parachutist wings.


Colonel Robert P. “Pat” Sullivan

Commander, Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA)

PS Magazine 60th Anniversary Celebration

June 27, 2011, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama

Good morning: Lieutenant General Via; Mr. Rogers, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army; Mr. Taylor, President of the Huntsville-Madison AUSA Chapter; distinguished guests; LOGSA team; and fans of PS Magazine.

PS Magazine's first issue was published in June 1951. In the first two years the magazine functioned with one editor and its editorial staff. And now, here we are 60 years later celebrating not only the publication of PS but, even more importantly, the incredible dedication and commitment of those pioneers and currently serving professionals who have created an enduring maintenance capability that has outlasted any other Army program of instruction or technical manual.

Today we will hear remarks from two icons in the comics industry: Paul E. Fitzgerald, the first managing editor of the magazine: and Mr. Joe Kubert, current artist for PS Magazine.

We are also honored to have joining us, Lieutenant General Dennis Via, who even though he is the longest serving active duty member here today, his thirty years only represent half a lifetime to Half-Mast, Connie Rodd and the crew.

We are honored by the presence of these leaders.

So today we'll hear a great deal about the legacy of the magazine and great accomplishments over the years. And that is essential to ensure we sustain the character and identity of this great training guide.

But before I relinquish the podium, I didn't want to lose sight of the team we have today who diligently work to carry on the cutting edge task of a previous generation. The 11-person staff of PS Magazine represents over 160 years with the magazine and over 238 years of government service. I ask that this team led by Jon Pierce, acting editor, stand so that the audience may recognize you for your contributions.

Thank you.

So let's enjoy this opportunity to celebrate the past and the incredible promise for PSmagazine as it has served Soldiers past and present and will serve future generations of America's greatest treasure.

‘Twas a most lovely and lively affair . . . the proprieties were observed at all times . . . and inevitably with a smile and a twinkle! (The “signing” photos and those of General Via and Colonel Sullivan were taken by Clay Fitzgerald.)



A Covey of Connies: World War II to Today

Eisner Saluted Gunsmoke in PS

Best of Zeke Zekely in PS

PS Characters in Animation

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

21 - Army’s Grand 60th Birthday Party for PS: Part B

Come on in and meet the current PS Magazine Staff!

That’s what Joe and I did, down at Redstone Arsenal, following the impressive U.S. Army ceremony marking the 60th Anniversary of the trail-blazing sequential art success story that is internationally acclaimed for effectively communicating motivational and technical information.

The image above, presenting Master Sergeant Half-Mast and his mantra, is one of many life-size displays that spiced the setting of the celebration.

We were put to work the moment we stepped into the PS digs in the Sparkman Center at Redstone, signing over-sized posters related to the day’s festivities. The image below (that’s Joe, on the right) shows us in the Editor’s Corner, tackling the task under the watchful eye of this year’s PS Summer Intern, Ms. Eryn Patton.

Displays reflecting PS covers, characters and milestones were encountered at every turn. The two images below present some of the coverage provided by the post newspaper, the Redstone Rocket, in connection with publication of my Will Eisner and PS Magazine.

The treat of the trip came when Acting Editor (and Managing Editor) Jon Pierce invited Joe, Joe’s right-hand man Pete Carlsson, my son Clay, and me to join a staff meeting that involved a token brush-by acknowledgment of “back in the day” and then a big batch of looking down the road ahead.

Interactions involving totally credentialed professionals, displaying fully formed and widely disparate personalities, demonstrated both tenacity and reciprocal respect. I sat there with little doubt that a session involving today’s staffers in a meeting to resolve pencil-dummy differences would carry me back over six decades to recall some of the unrestrained enthusiasms of their predecessors.

The most enlightening of the exchanges were those involving Joe and the staffers, relating to the essentiality of accuracy and scale in visual reference materials provided to Joe’s shop. It had an old, familiar ring to it.

Not so familiar, though, was the demonstrated commitment to online availability and essence-of-the-moment use of electronic social media.

Clay took nearly 100 photos of the day’s events, including multiple views of the staff meeting. We’ve selected the four images displayed below to give you a visual introduction to every member of today’s PS staff, with a numeric-keyed link to names and assignments.


The warmth with which Pete and I were greeted was most gratifying. And getting together with Fitz and his son, Clay, was a great deal more than pleasurable.

Meeting and speaking directly to the PS Staff put the ribbon on the whole package. The session confirmed our dedication to produce our best efforts, knowing the benefits derived. Pete and I returned to New Jersey firm in our belief that our guys in the Army will continue to benefit from the info contained in every monthly issue of PS.


PS Staff Meeting

June 27, 2001

Numeric Key for Identifications

1 Adams, Glen—Senior Writer for Small Arms, Missiles and CBRN.

2 Andree, Dan—Senior Media Specialist.

3 Brent, Ms. Juanetta—Senior Writer for Wheeled Vehicles.

4 Carlsson, Pete—Joe Kubert’s Executive Officer

5 Chase, Frank—Senior Writer for Aviation articles.

6 Cotton, Bruce—Senior Writer for Combat Vehicles.

7 Fitzgerald, Paul E.—First Managing Editor of PS (1953-1963).

8 Franck, Michael—Tank-Automotive Command (TACOM) liaison and Senior Writer for Combat Engineering Equipment and MRAP/Route Clearance Vehicles.

9 Henderson, Ms. Mary Lou—Wife of Production Manager Stuart Henderson.

10 Henderson, Stuart—Production Manager.

11 Kubert, Joe—Current contractor for PS creative art, design, and pre-press production services.

12 McAllister, Ms. Patricia—Senior Writer for Logistics Management

13 Nickerson, Lynn C. ("L.C.") Nickerson—Senior Researcher and Reader Service Facilitator.

14 Pierce, Jonathan W.—Managing Editor and Acting Editor.

15 Stringfellow, Michael—Senior Writer for Commo and Soldier Support.


¶ A Covey of Connies: World War II to Today

¶ Eisner Saluted Gunsmoke in PS

PS Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration

¶ Best of Zeke Zekely in PS

PS Characters in Animation

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

20 - U.S. Army's Grand 60th Birthday Party for PS: Part A

Please forgive us, folks! We missed getting our blogpost up last week because both Joe and I ran away to Alabama. On Monday, June 27, we met up at Redstone Arsenal where we had been invited to participate in the splendid celebration the U.S. Army had laid on to recognize the Sixtieth Anniversary of PS Magazine. It was so impressive that we plan to present a sub-set of at least three postings regarding the event, to make sure that all the many facets involved are covered.

In short, it was a magic moment in time where there was a constant mingling of praise and appreciation of the successes of the past with vigorous visions of creative future avenues for sharpening the PS-edge in the communications revolution that is upon us.

The image above shows the Front Cover of the impressive four-color program for the event, held in the Bob Jones Auditorium of the Sparkman Center—home of the Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA), a key element of the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC). LOGSA is PS’s parent group. AMC is the embodiment of the Army’s over-arching logistics overhaul initiated in the 1960s.

The image below shows, left to right: Joe Kubert; Lieutenant General Dennis L. Via, Deputy Commanding General of AMC; Colonel Robert P. Sullivan. LOGSA Commander; and Paul E. Fitzgerald. We were chatting shortly before the opening of the event.

Both Colonel Sullivan, as the welcoming host, and Lieutenant General Via, the keynote speaker, heaped fulsome praise and encouragement on PS. We plan to post their complete remarks as soon as transcripts have been processed.

The image above shows the birthday cake prepared for the occasion. In a subsequent posting, we’ll show you a picture of the cake-cutting event, a facet of the celebration that out-did any wedding-cake efforts that I’ve ever observed.

The “challenge coin” (or medallion) created for the occasion is pictured below.

Following Colonel Sullivan’s welcome, I was the leadoff speaker with an assignment to “tell us how PS began.” You’ll find my remarks toward the bottom of this blogpost. Joe followed me, and then handed things off to Lieutenant General Via.

Joe was accompanied on this expedition by Pete Carlsson, his right-hand man at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art and in fulfilling Joe’s contract with PS for creative art, design and pre-press production services. My driver/bodyguard/aide-de-camp was my youngest son, Clay, who took the pictures displayed here.

In our next blogpost, there’s a possibility we may have some video and/or video clips for you. And, in the one after that, we’ll tell you (and show you) our meeting with the current PS Magazine staff.


To say that I was impressed by the warmth displayed on this occasion would be the understatement of the decade. Spending time with Fitz and his son, Clay, was the cherry on top of the whipped cream.

The soldiers, officers and E were absolutely great. They confirmed our own feelings of the value of PS to lives of soldiers all over the world. I felt humble and proud at the same time.

On top of all that, I thought they were gonna draft me into the Army—again. Seriously, though, the entire experience was fantastic!


Remarks made by Joe Kubert

June 27, 2011, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama

Following in the footsteps of someone like Will Eisner can be both daunting and rewarding. He described so many times the effectiveness of the combination of the written word and illustration in terms of communication and teaching. His theory: you can take any subject be it as dry as a bone—maintenance—and make it interesting and absorbing if done in an amusing, entertaining manner has been proven over and over again—every month for the last 60 years. It was in this way he applied himself to the subject of maintenance for the army; a well-traveled path that Pete and I have tried to follow.

JOE at the lectern.

But what he did then and what we do today is not just a matter of drawing funny pictures. There has to be a definitive flow, done in such a way that the presentation of the "story" seems natural and legitimate to the reader—including its entertainment value. In this way a subject less conducive to be read and followed—say an announcement about NSN numbers—will be absorbed by a less than interested reader, simply because he is being entertained and learning, whether he realizes it or not. Our mission with PS Magazine is to follow the road Will has beaten clean. We have to be innovative, creative, interesting and accurate. I'm not sure which one is the most difficult.Story-telling and sequential art demands a smooth transition when done in panel form and sometimes hopefully a startling surprised reaction from a one-panel form. Armed with the knowledgeable information afforded to us through the Editors our task is to select the proper illustrations utilizing the characters HALF-MAST, CONNIE, BONNIE and BLADE in describing the proper care and maintenance of materials used by the Soldiers in the Armed Forces. All of us understand and realize the seriousness of our mission. We try to be precise and correct in delineating the various equipment and their usages and maintenance. Added to that, we mix some humor (or try to) so that the medicinal dose goes down smoothly and that the recipient is hardly conscious of the fact that he's learned something. We know that the men and women in the Armed Forces stake their lives on their equipment, and the maintenance and understanding of it, every day. Our relationship with the staff of PS has been terrific. And we continue to look forward to working with them into the foreseeable future.

Remarks made by Paul E. Fitzgerald

June 27, 2011, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama

My assignment today is: “Tell us how PS began.” That is going to involve a “blivet.” “Blivet” was a World War Two slang term. Its polite definition would be that it involves getting ten pounds into a five-pound bag. Let’s start with this morning’s Magic Words: Sixty years!

How sweet it sounds! Has a ring to it. Sixty years ago, we at PS would have laughed at the thought. There were times when we were sweating out the next sixty DAYS. In plain language, the early, toddling PS was almost smothered in its crib. The sad part is that much of the problem was caused by those most closely involved in its birth and early, shaky steps.

FITZ at the lectern.

The first recorded, official action, involving PS Magazine occurred shortly after the Korean War started in June of 1950. Army Field Forces—later Continental Army Command—at Fort Monroe, referenced the success of Army Motors during World War Two, and requested that a similar, updated program be initiated. Similar sentiments began to arrive through technical channels from Ordnance officers in Korea and Europe. It was viewed from the outset as an Ordnance matter.

Plans for a new-and-improved publication were packaged with a revived program of technical assistance representatives. A new organization—the Preventive Maintenance Agency, under the purview of the Field Maintenance Branch of the Office, Chief of Ordnance—was established and located at Aberdeen Proving Group. That command line and physical location loomed large in some of the PS problems that eventuated.

The tossing of PS into the 1951 mix of Army publications provoked cultural-clash criticisms that ranged from “undignified” through “the prejudice of good order and discipline.” Other problems arose from the Reader Service Letter program—a close, direct, and mutually affectionate relationship with its readers—that helped shape the product. Paradoxically, it also turned out to be a major source of friction in our relations with the technical people who reviewed our manuscripts

Not all Reader Letters were love-notes. In preparing responses to these letters, PS shared them—without identification—with our technical reviewers. In many instances, it was unpleasant news, and we all are familiar with ancient custom regarding messengers bearing bad news. PS was the messenger. The resentment choked our manuscript flow to a trickle. Technicians began to tinker with the PS writing style. Reviews were delayed. That caused an immediate disruption of the publication schedule that was not resolved until intervening higher authority imposed turnaround deadlines and limited review action choices to either “Approved” or “Approved with technical changes as indicated.”

Other problems came from internal deficiencies. In less than three years, our first editor was released when PS only published seven issues in twenty months. In one sixty-day period, PS had THREE editors. It’s only had six more in the fifty-seven years since then. The third editor was James R. Kidd, a twice-decorated infantry officer and member of the West Virginia University School of Journalism faculty, who had been cleared, hired, and was on the staff as a summer intern. He lasted 29 years, and it took him the first ten of them to establish that ours was a communications mission based on timeliness, technical accuracy, an innovative writing style, and artistic creativity.

At the time, I was the Managing Editor of a newspaper near Aberdeen. Kidd knew me as a WVU-SJ student and graduate. He hired me as the magazine’s first Managing Editor and I went to work there early the next month—October 1963. We agreed to a Good Cop / Bad Cop understanding, cleared out a warren of makeshift cubicles, created a newsroom environment, and established standards and controls. Sequential production deadlines were set for a year in advance. At the end of three months, we returned PS to an on-time, monthly publication schedule. In the fifty-seven ensuing years, there have been only two publication delays—both caused by outside organizations.

Even though the magazine was marching in the right direction, the frictions and failures of the early years were in our jacket. In January of 1955, we were moved out of Aberdeen—seemed like in the dark of night, with burlap wrapped around the horses’ hooves—and reported for duty at Raritan Arsenal in New Jersey. The fit was not comfortable for anybody. Raritan had long been the home of the Ordnance Corps Publications Division. The very existence of an outside-the-tent PS was like a genetic aberration at a family reunion.

It was encouraging, though, that many recognized the potential of PS as a communication tool with a logistics-wide potential, but there was no command mandate for it. In that era of sweeping change, Colonel William B. Latta, in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, moved to resolve the various contentions. In April of 1959, while we were still in exile at Raritan Arsenal, a Logistics Directive formalized—for the first time— the Scope and Objectives of PS Magazine, including the mandated participation of all technical services and the Reader Service Program with its confidentiality. It also recognized a policy relationship between PS and the Army Maintenance Board at Fort Knox. Later, in October of 1962, we were moved to Fort Knox and the command of Colonel George C. Benjamin, the President of the Maintenance Board.

We had found the Home we had never known.


¶ A Covey of Connies: World War II to Today

¶ Eisner Saluted Gunsmoke in PS

¶ Best of Zeke Zekely in PS

PS Characters in Animation