Sunday, April 01, 2012

With Sgt. Mike

Perhaps the reason I saved a bunch of "With Sgt. Mike" cartoons, is the my father served in Vietnam. A career Air Force officer, it was his final tour of duty as the commander of a unit at Bien Hoa maintaining helicopters.

Today I'm glad that in 1968 and 1969 I clipped the cartoons from, I believe, the Holyoke Transcript.

I believe, although I certainly could be wrong, that "With Sgt. Mike" was the last nationally syndicated comic strip that was created to comment on a specific war and on the condition of American troops in that war.

Service comedy is a signifiant genre in American popular culture. Think of movies such as "Buck Privates," comic strips such as "Beetle Bailey" and television shows such as Phil Silvers' Sgt. Bilko," "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." The bureaucracy of the military, the questioning of authority and the peace-time missions that spawned behaviors out of boredom have all been basis for comedy.

Shows or movies that adds the real issues of war into the comic stew are tricker propositions. A show such as "M.A.S.H." certainly proved that it could be done.

"With Sgt. Mike" had far less polish than a "Beetle Bailey," but far more soul. The cartoonist, Michael T. Hodgson, was a Marine who served in Vietnam. This is all I know about him. His work was definitely in the tradition of "Willie and Joe" and "Sad Sack."

The tone of his work is pretty black, but he pulls it off because he is writing from experience. He successfully conveyed the ambiguity of the troop's feeling: they wanted to complete the mission, even if they question it.

What fascinates me today is how much of his humor is applicable to what American troops are experiencing now in the longest conflict in the nation's history.

Who was or, hopefully is, Mike Hodgson? I've not been able to dig up much information. The cartoons were collected in one volume published in 1970 and copies can be found on eBay.

Any information would be appreciated.

as fascinated


Unknown said...

If my research is correct -
Michael Tod (Mike) Hodgson was born November 23, 1945.
He lived in Modesto and Sacramento, California before his service and in Southern California after his service.
His "With Sgt Mike" panel was syndicated at least from January 2, 1967 through at least May 23, 1968 by the Hall Syndicate/Publishers Hall Syndicate.
The panel was carried in the Modesto Bee and the Fresno Bee, among others.
The Modesto Bee carried the hometown cartoonists panels before they were syndicated during 1966 under the title "Our Li'l War".
As far as I can determine he is still a survivor.


Mike Dobbs said...


teamklp said...

My son in law came across your blog. I am the creater of the Sgt Mike cartoon strip and I am pleased to see that someone remembers it. Happy to say I am still alive and well and recently retired from the animation industry.
While I drew the With Sgt Mike strip I must say that many of the Marines that I served with in Vietnam helped write it. For instance "Sledge" was a real guy.
I still have all of my original artwork from the strip.
I served with the 3rd Marine division, 4th Marines, and later with the 1st Marine Division at Chu Lai from 65' to 66'.
Thanks for remembering.

Mike Hodgson, (Sgt Mike)

John Mitchell said...

Sgt Mike , would love to talk to you. I was a member of the USS Pueblo and you a number of cartoons of us. My sister cut the from the Sacramento Bee and saved them for me. I just found them and am going to share them with the crew. They were so right on. I would like to post them on our Pueblo web site. Is that possible?


Mike, Mel Boyd here, my second attempt to contact you. I have been doing veteran interviews for a while and would feel very privileged if you would let me do a short interview about doing your characterizations of your fellow Marines. I do the interviews for free for you and your family. I was there during tet (67-68) at Cam Ranh Bay in Air Force Rescue. My Dad sent me a booklet of your cartoons he saved from the newspaper and I still have it and cherish it. Please contact me at The following link is a video I did Called "Goodbye Vietnam" which is used at our veterans center for PTSD.
Please contact me at any time and Welcome Home..