May 17, 2011
By Jonathan Pierce, PS Magazine
Master Sgt. Half-Mast McCanick, an illustrated comic book character and archetype Army professional mechanic, first answered Soldiers’ questions in Army Motors magazine during World War II.
Half-Mast, as he prefers to be called, and his sidekick, Cpl. Connie Rodd, took a break from military service at the end of the war, but the break was short-lived.
In June 1951, at the beginning of the Korean War, Half-Mast was recalled to duty and Connie returned as a civilian employee. They formed the core of a new publication, “PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly” — more commonly called PS Magazine. The two have been busy there for 60 years now, encouraging Soldiers to practice preventive maintenance on vehicles, weapons and equipment.
Some readers may think the two are getting a bit old to do much. But, Half-Mast and Connie haven’t aged a bit. They star in a magazine that uses “sequential art” to inform and influence Soldiers about maintenance and supply issues.
As Half-Mast would say, that’s a “highfalutin” way of saying they’re comic book characters in a magazine that pairs them with animated equipment to capture reader attention. It’s one of the oldest and most successful publications using sequential art as an educational tool to present information in short, clearly-written, highly-focused text and illustrations.
For 60 years, mechanics, supply clerks, armorers, and a host of other Soldiers who operate the Army’s equipment have used PS Magazine to stay up-to-date with changes to Army technical publications, repair parts national stock numbers, and maintenance and supply policy.
Eventually, PS became an Army technical bulletin (TB) 43-PS-series. Published monthly, the magazine regularly covers combat and tactical wheeled vehicles; small arms to crew-served weapons to cannons and missiles; radios, generators and other electronics gear; aircraft, uniforms, body armor and other Soldier support items; construction and engineer equipment; and logistics management systems, policies and techniques.
Today, the PS crew regularly visit Soldiers at installations in the continental U.S., to keep in touch with Soldier concerns, pick up article ideas, and discover Soldier solutions to maintenance and supply issues.
After their ideas are turned into articles, the PS staff has the information approved by the Army organization that is the proponent for that information. With their approval, the articles are published, and the information can be applied to Army equipment on the same basis as other Army technical manuals and bulletins.
In addition to the printed publication, PS is available online. From the PS home page, Soldiers can view complete past issues back to January 1999 or use indexes to find individual articles back to January 1990. Soldiers can also search topic areas to find what has been published on a topic since 2000.
In the 21st century, Half-Mast now has a Facebook page as well. There, he keeps Soldiers up-to-date on late-breaking hot topics, articles that will be appearing in the next issue, and when the newest issue has been posted on the PS homepage for viewing.
Half-Mast and the PS crew can be seen in the hard-copy magazine or viewed online. In the magazine’s March 2011 issue, Half-Mast visited DC Comics “SGT Rock and the men of Easy Company.” The feature article was drawn by its original artist, the renowned Joe Kubert. Kubert is also the current artist for PS Magazine. It’s the 700th issue of the magazine and a part of its 60th anniversary celebration.
The PS Magazine staff can be contacted at:
Logistics Support Activity (PS Magazine)
5307 Sparkman Circle
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898