I'm tied up for the next few days with some workshops for middle-school journalists, so will be posting some of the classic cartoons I used to show high school students in a presentation on the topic.
I'd talk to the kids about stereotyped cartoons anyone can do about schools. For instance, I'd suggest, you could do a cartoon that showed kids in a cafeteria throwing up and put "(NAME OF THEIR SCHOOL) Cafeteria" and "it would get just that ... a polite chuckle."
(Sometimes a sixth or eighth grade teacher would bring me in and their kids would laugh at that lame joke, which kind of messed up my point. The high school kids got it, though.)
"But," I would continue, "you could do cartoons about things happening in this school that I wouldn't get at all, and your teachers might not get, either, because there's stuff going on here that nobody over 18 even knows about. You do cartoons about that stuff, you're going to get some laughs."
Which brings us to the difference between Beetle Bailey and Joe and Willie.
I chose this particular cartoon because, first of all, those GIs look exhausted and filthy and completely done in -- the sort of depictions that made Patton hate Mauldin. And then it adds a particularly mordant example of the gallows humor that made Mauldin so popular with the GIs in the field, who, I would tell the kids, could either cry and go home or laugh and move on, and weren't given the option of crying and going home.
There is a new book out of the cartoons Mauldin did after the war, in which he depicted Willie and Joe coming home and becoming civilians. Here's a solid review from The Comics Journal, with some examples. Sounds like one more for the historian than the casual fan, but it fills in an important gap between Willie and Joe and what came next, which is what will come next here, too.