Despite the six-year sabbatical that had been in play since the end of World War II in 1945, when Will Eisner shuffled through his memories of Connie Rodd and Joe Dope in the spring of 1951 it seemed like business as usual at the same old stand—except that the name of the stand had been changed fromArmy Motors to PS Magazine. It turned out to be an illusion, though.
The peacetime interval preceding the Korean War had seen a mass exodus of victorious, battle-hardened warriors. In the world of military logistics, where PSwas based, many management-level functions had been filled, to an increasing degree, by civilians. It took some time for the light to dawn on Eisner and the initial PS staff, but a heightened presence of socio-political sensitivities had replaced the successful raw instincts that had worked so well during the Big One.
The criticism focused on Connie and Joe, plus Joe’s foil—Fosgnoff.
There were four general hoo-ha categories: feminine attire/dimensions; unmilitary appearance; unmilitary actions; and, Poor Taste. Will batted 1.000 after PS 1 (June 1951) and continuing through PS 13 (July 1953) drawing fire from one or more directions with every one. He pleased everybody with an anthropomorphic M-41 Walker Bulldog tank on the Front Cover of PS 14 (August 1953), but fell back into his outrage streak with PS 15 (July 1953) andPS 16 (January 1954), followed by PS 20 (May 1954) and PS 26 (November 1954) registering high on the thunder-and-lightning meter.
We’re going to present sixteen Front Covers here, in numeric/chronological order, beginning above, with PS 2 (July 1951) and picking up with PS 3 (August 1951), below, leaving it to you to assign the fault category (or categories) involved. There was a lot of overlap, especially when Connie and Joe appeared on the same Front Cover.
PS 4 (September 1951), above, with Connie washing garments in a stream was a favorite with the troops, but not with the Brass.
PS 5 (October 1951), above, with dueling fantasies of Connie and Joe in a hurtling Jeep was something of a rework or an Army Motors Front Cover with Joe alone in a similar situation.
PS 6 (November 1951), above, with Connie and Joe in a close-up, under a vehicle, speaks for itself.
PS 7 (July 1952) finds Connie, Joe, and an outdoors bulletin board in the rain. Eisenshpritz, yet.
PS 8 (September 1952) positions Connie on a mountaintop, with hovering helicopters.
PS 9 (November 1952) has Joe and a buddy out of uniform amidst what might be construed as evidence of excessive firing to hit a target. The elevation of the gun reflects the issue’s (it turned out) extremely controversial article about addressing “high angle cant.” The weapons-design boys howled that “there ain’t no such thing” and the red-legged cannon-cockers firing the guns responded: “The hell you say!”
PS 10 (January 1953) insinuates the “crime” of “cannibalizing parts).
PS 11 (March 1953) calibrates the vicissitudes of Korean winters as related to alloy simian statuary.
PS 12 (May 1953) plays off the fact that there really was a segment of mountainous Korean terrain that the troops called “Jane Russell.” Donald K. Hubbard always said that this was his favorite PS Front Cover. Hubbard came on board PS as a writer in July of 1954, became managing editor in October of 1963, and succeeded James R. Kidd as Editor in January of 1983. He retired in November of 1991.
PS 13 (July 1953) is something of a sophomoric reach combining a weak pun with a common vulgarity regarding extremely dire circumstances and a missing means of propulsion.
PS 15 (October 1953) reflects a shorthand vulgarism for constructive criticism resulting from a meeting with a displeased supervisor.
PS 16 (January 1954) was a little late, but it’s the thought that counts. Merry Christmas!
PS 20 (May 1954) really offended Joe Dope’s dedicated critics. Joe was the subject of a major rehabilitation campaign that lasted several decades and included a weapons mishap (due to poor preventive maintenance) that required extensive cosmetic facial surgery. His jacket was too heavy, though, and eventually he was eased back into civilian life.
PS 26 (November 1954) had one of the better first-glance, purely graphic Front Covers. The fact that it became a classic with Safety Officers (both civilian and military) did not deter the Pecksniffian Connie critics from complaining about the ratio of attire-to-exposure.
"Oh my lord, how the world has changed!"
Time was when funny was funny. And Will was the master of the genre.
Reviewing those old covers described as "questionable"; A) feminine attire, B) unmilitary appearance or action and C) poor taste is like saying guys in the Armed Forces were never interested in Betty Grable, Lana Turner, or (you name her). Three cheers for Will and four cheers for getting by the blue-nosed censors!
¶ Best of Zeke Zekely in PS
¶ A Covey of Connies: World War II to Today
¶ Best PS Continuity by Backes Group
¶ Runner-Up PS Continuity by Backes Group.
¶ Best of Perspective Instructional Communications in PS