Canteen Kate was an altogether unexceptional military humor comic with a Korean War setting made exceptional by Matt Baker’s art and his singular protagonist. It really is sort of amazing just how many toxic 50′s female stereotypes Kate manages to avoid. Although she felt affection towards enlisted men romance never entered her mind; she wanted to be treated like one of the guys. And, just as unlikely, the guys felt the same way about her. She was always eager to help them with their problems and while her plans invariably went pear shaped it was never due to a lack of either smarts or gumption
But of course the principal part of her appeal was visual;with her rumbled short hair and abbreviated, disheveled military outfit she was every bit as sexy as any of Baker’s jungle girls. And maybe it’s just me projecting but along with that hot tomboy quality to me Kate always looked really relaxed to the point of being post-coital. As if minutes before appearing on panel she had she woken up in a strange bunk, pulled on her rumbled outfit from off the floor of some lucky guy and hastily gotten dressed when heading for the door.
But that’s probably just me.
She made her first appearance in St. John’s Anchors Andrews, a by the numbers buddies in the navy comic by person or persons unknown.
Kate was apparently a civilian US government employee who worked at an Army base PX that seemed to be fairly close to the front. I write “apparently” because while clearly not a WAC I was unable to discover online whether civilian women were permitted to run an Army PX on foreign soil during the Korean War. Not that any of that matters given she’s clearly a fantasy figure with a tenuous connection to reality at best.
In issue #2 Anchors Andrew changed it’s named to Anchors The Salt Water Daffy and Kate graduated to her own short-lived title. It was a minor effort to be sure but one that was as odd as it was interesting.