Several years ago, a little stop at the “golden arches” for a quick Saturday morning breakfast left Milford illustrator Michael Fleishman with some food for his soul—the beginnings of a valued relationship with three gentlemen who enhanced both his personal and professional life.
“Charlie Bath, Earl Ellis, and Jack Newhouse were in their late eighties and early nineties,” says Fleishman. “All were widowers who called themselves The Liars’ Club— humorously claiming that only 15% of their stories were the truth.”
To the patrons of McDonalds that morning, they might have been three old geezers laughing too loud in the back booth, but a longer conversation revealed far more. They were really what Fleishman calls “Everyday Heroes”—classic case studies of the “Greatest Generation.” These three sweet guys had served their country because it was the right thing to do. They came back to marry their sweethearts, raise families, work hard, and live rich lives. But they had made it through a hellish war with a few stories they didn’t tell just anyone.
At the time, Fleishman was teaching for a local community college in the Dayton, Ohio area and he decided to create a comic book about the WW2 veterans with one of his Illustration students. “The project wasn’t envisioned as solely about WW2 vets,” he says, “but as they won’t be with us that long, we made them a priority.” Sponsored by his county’s Council on Aging as a fundraising product, Fleishman’s graphic novel featured Charlie, Earl, and Jack in a youthful, visually accessible comic book style.
“These men were not movie stereotypes fighting battles on the back lot of Universal Studios,” says Fleishman. “They were real men who remembered the real America at the time of war, plus the fellas they served with, and their sense of obligation to serve. To them, it wasn’t political or scripted—they were patriotic from the heart.”
“Just like the kind of veterans I meet now in Milford,” says Fleishman.
Around Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Fleishman is reminded how he’d dearly love to create a Milford edition of his veterans comic book (or poster) project. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can see samples of his work on his website: www.michaelfleishman.com.
“These vets are much like my grandfather, who used to take me to McDonalds when I was a kid, until I got “too cool” to be seen with the old gent,” Fleishman adds. “Boy, I sorely wish I could take him to McDonalds right now.”