More contribution by Clarence Simonsen



It was back in the war’s early days when the quickly accelerating air training machine would occasionally slip a cog and fling a temporarily forgotten band of airmen off into space. A flat top from AFHQ was sent to report on the zero-zero morale of one hapless group of cease-training air crew. Things were bad all right till he discovered a bunch of the browned-offers chuckling inanely before a collection of bulletin-board cartoons, each one a grotesque and bitter satire on Air Force life..

Some of them were unprintable. The style was so loose and explosive it threatened to bounce right off the page. But from the caricatured brass hats to the wee, cowrin’, timorous acey beasties who scuttled for cover at the smell of a pair of hooks, the stuff was as Air Force as a pair of issue boots. In the corner of each cartoon was a barely decipherable signature “Ricky”.

Whisked bodily away to Ottawa, LAC Rickard, H., was set before a drawing board and told to go right on cartooning. Soon his audience was broadened to include browned-off joes of every shade. Dazed and befuddled aceys everywhere stopped moaning long enough to chuckle at Ricky’s latest contribution to bulletin board art, hitched up their Police suspenders and went on fighting the war against the enemies of freedom, as represented by the nearest sergeant.

Gradually Rick discovered that everytime he drew a cartoon containing three or more airmen, one of them was a chubby-faced erk equipped with a skyrocketing hank of hair, an easy nack for violating every order in KR (Air), and a wholeheartedly unquenchable spirit. He decided that the little fellow deserved a chance to star in a comic strip of his own. At which appropriate moment WINGS was launched and Joe Erk went solo.

Like the guy who created Frankenstein, Ricky soon found himself being led around by the nose by his dreamchild. No matter how many high-powered directorates were demanding new and funnier posters to promote this and that great cause, always there was Joe, perched on the corner of his drawing board demanding “What am I gonna do in WINGS this month?” But by deadline or the day after – Rick always came up with Joe wangling a weekend pass, doing a tent-trick with a raincoat or brazenly tossing a nickel to the four-striper who served him his Christmas turkey.

The day that DAPS issued notice that AC2 Erk, J., was being posted overseas, Ricky bowed to the inevitable and took off for Y Depot to cover Joe Erk’s latest escapades–see below. By now FO Rickard has set up his drawing board in London, but already Joe has probably stowed away on a landing-barge bound for France to keep one jump ahead of him. If so, Ricky will be hot on his trail, and round one between Joe Erk and the Ersatzians will be seen at the same time, same place, in next month’s WINGS.

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