Zilch! By Roy Delgado

As the cover says, from Boot Camp to Vietnam, which just about covers it. 

There is an interesting blog with the background on this cartoon book. I feel quite lucky to have stumbled upon it, as usually I have no idea how the cartoon came into being. From that blog, we have the following:

“The story behind this paperback: While stationed on Okinawa in 1955-56-57, I was the staff cartoonist for   ” THE TRIAD ” . . . The official newspaper of The Third Marine Division, a very proud battle group of profane warriors who’d earned respect due to their herioc adventures during the Second World War in the “taking” of Okinawa and many other South Pacific islands including Iwo Jima.My job as cartoonist for the newspaper was like my ” second ” job . . . my first job was as a Fire-Direction-Center guy for A battery of 105 Howitzers . . . I was in Headquarters & Service Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division . . .Later in 1956 I was transferred to Headquarters, 3rd Marine Division and moved across the island of Okinawa to Camp Tengan and worked directly for Col. Edwin Pollock in G-3 Intelligence.  My primary job was to prepare Secret and Top Secret briefing charts for the Colonel and I’ve got to say, it was a nice “cushy” job. ( The Colonel called me by my first name, I wouldn’t have believed it if someone would have told me back then . . . that a Colonel would call you by your first name. )  This was the only time in my tour of four years that this ever happened ! )  By then I was a Corporal and every time a Sergeant would come  up to me to assign me to a work detail, I would always say, like a knee-jerk type answer: ” Sorry, Sarge, I’ve got to finish up these charts I’m working on for the Colonel . . . Those words were like magic . . . I wasn’t really lying . . I was ALWAYS working on some charts for the Colonel . . . Anyway, one day I get a phone call from a man named John Servaites, who was an American civilian on the island who owned a printing company, The Star-News Printing Company, which happened to print several newspapers on the island including The TRIAD, The 3rd Marine Division newspaper . . . I was doing a regular panel called PVT. ZILCH for The Triad and it was his idea to print the book, to be sold for a buck at Marine bases on the island . . . I said sure and the book made me about $200.00 . . . Later, Chas. Tuttle Publishing Co. ( With offices in Rutland Vermont and Tokyo, Japan ), saw the little book and approached me to do a new book, “Zilch ” and about a year later they asked me to do another brand new one called ” More Zilch” . . . The  paperbacks were to be sold throughout the far east in Post Exchange stores and military Commisaries . . . both books made about 5 to 600 bucks . . . that was all . .

The Charles Tuttle Publishing Company is, (was) an interesting company. I remember seeing their books in Hawaii in the 1960s. There was a certain look and feel to them. From Wikipedia, we have, “Publisher and book dealer Charles E. Tuttle (1915–1993) founded the company in 1948 in Tokyo, Japan, with the aim of publishing “books to span the East and West.”[1][4][5] It was the 31st corporation approved by the occupying Allied administration.[4] In its first year of operation, the company imported and distributed US paperback publications to the occupying forces, and the next year, it released its first publication.[4] From 1951, it published many books on the Japanese language, arts, and culture, as well as translations of Japanese works into the English language.”

Delgado continues to produce cartoons.  He has his own blog. From which the following is excerpted. “I love cartoons about bums, tramps, hoboes, or hobos . . . . but NOT homeless people . . . there is not anything funny about the homeless . . . BUT, BUT, all the rest are fair game . . . oh-h the ambiguity of words . . political correctness . . . it takes all the fun out of it.”

Delgado seems to be a keen observer of life today as we see from the, The Saturday Evening Post  which has a spread of current cartoons.

From which comes this quote: “After graduating from Tucson High School, Roy attended The Billy Hon Cartoon School in Los Angeles. (Now you know—there IS such a thing as cartoon school.) He took a Greyhound bus from Tucson: “I was on my way to become a magazine cartoonist and nothing was going to stop me.” Roy sold his first cartoon to a farm trade journal for four dollars.”

From Delgado’s own blog comes this cartoon and discussion.

This cartoon reminds me of an incident way back in 1953, while attending art school in LALA land – – – having always had an interest in photography, I got this great idea, I bought an inexpensive camera and feeling bold, one lazy nice balmy Sunday in November I took a bus deep into the bowels of Los Angeles – – – back then, the Cecil Hotel on Main street was about as far downtown it was safe to walk around in without either getting mugged or knifed, so I decided to walk slowly deeper into the abyss – – – I remember walking by Wall Street and I started to notice I was now looking straight at what I came looking for – – – people who were a couple or more notches down the socio-economic scale than I, people I had heard about, people I would see in the news i.e. – – – pan handlers, bums, drug dealers, winos, prostitutes, people with interesting faces who begged to tell you the string of bad luck they were on – – –  who would make great black and white photo studies – – –  back then that is how you would describe them, now, you would say you ran into some people who were homeless, destitute, disadvantaged, victims, disenfranchised – – – maybe it was the same thing, I don’t know – – –  all I knew is I felt and believed, for a moment, I was going to be the next Richard Avedon, Arthur Tcholakian, Gordon Parks or some other celebrated pulitzer-prize-winning world class photographer – – –

For a moment I was Walter Mitty fantasizing all of this – – – – then, POOF! – – – just before I was about to take my first photo shot of an unshaven poor wino clutching a paper bag with the bottleneck of a pint of cheap apple wine peeking out of the brown paper bag laying on his back in an alley next to an overflowing garbage can, Man! what a shot, I thought ! – – –  I noticed just as I was about to snap that first picture, I see out of the corner of my eye, a policeman in a squad car motioning to me to come to his car – – –

He said to me: ” What are you doing here ? ” – – – “You don’t belong here, I suggest for you to get back over in a safer part of town. “

That incident, which is as clear as it happened yesterday, makes me wonder – – – Either One, that policeman shattered my dreams of becoming a famous phographer, or two, that policeman saved my life – – – I prefer to think of it as the latter.

Here is another site with quite a few of Delgado’s cartoons. I only found one cartoon from his Marine Corps days, however.  I was in the Corps about the same time,  but I don’t understan it, so I left it out. If you come across it, maybe it will make sense to you.

Well, I started out with Zilch!, and ended up with all things Delgado. Not bad for a morning’s work.

——————–  September 2012 —————————

Roy and I have exchanged email’s after I got his comment (below).  The last email makes reference to computer problems.  The problems were on my end, and I was explaining why my messages were more garbled than usual.  Here is his email:

Hi ted –
Good to hear from you.  It is frustrating when you cannot communicate easily from your computer.  We take things for granted.
Re: Zilch . . . . I’d tried a third book, back around ’70-72: ” Still More Zilch”, but by then the situation from the VietNam war had put the military in such a bad light that the publisher nixed the idea . . . the timing was just too bad by then. I remember the part in the letter went something like this: ” The feeling that a military solution to the world’s problems are not always the best answers, etc., etc. “
Off and on I continue to sell cartoons to Leatherneck, The magazine of the Marines, especially in the last couple years or so I have been in there quite a lot.
Attached is the cover of the second book: ” More Zilch ” . . . and also, I have a copy of the ORIGINAL  “ZILCH” paperback, which was published in Okinawa by the Star-News Printing Co.  ( Who originally approached me after seeing my PVT. ZILCH” character in The TRIAD, The newspaper of the Third Marine Division, who they happened to print for the Marines. )
The original paper bound book ” PVT. ZILCH ” was published and sold mostly on the island of Okinawa for a buck.  I only have one copy left and although the cover is a little torn, the inside is all in tact.  I think it is a collector’s item.
My work has improved by leaps and bounds and it is almost embarrassing to see my crude early work. But I guess this happen and is normal.
Roy Delgado

And, here are the two covers he mentioned.  In the following, for those of you not conversant with military courtesy, Zilch is rendering a rifle salute.

And the cover of his collectors item.

Hum, in 1957 I was a boot Marine…

I really appreciate Roy sharing information on this strip.  I am curious if any readers remember the original strip, and if so, would comment on it.

Thanks for reading.



About visualhumor

Enjoy viewing and collecting visual humor from around the world.
This entry was posted in military cartoons and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Zilch! By Roy Delgado

  1. roydelgado says:

    RE: The Marine General cartoon you didn’t understand. It is kind of an inside joke. The General has a long chest full of medals and ribbons, and the stereotypical dumb blonde asks the usual stupid question: ” Have you been in long ? ” ( it is obvious by the ribbons and medals that the man has been in uniform a long, long time.)

    The cartoon came out originally in The National Review magazine. The original was sold to an administrative assistant of a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was retiring. It was a General Brown I remember, U.S. Army, 4-star General. They were having a retirement party. Of course they asked me to change the uniform to an Army uniform, which was no problem. They told me the character was a spittin’ image of the General. It’s these little tid-bits and stories that I really enjoy about this business.

    Thanks for your interest in my work. You do a neat job with this site. I really enjoyed looking at all of my collegues’ cartoons in the biz. I highly adore all of them.

    Thanks for a good job and keep it up.

    Roy Delgado

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s