The best-known works of Roy Lichtenstein, such as Woman in the Bath or Girl with a Ball, are linked to images of the most carefree and consumerist American way of life, so that generally have a lot of similarity with scenes typical of advertising. However, this outstanding representative of Pop Art also has works with different themes.
A good example is this diptych titled Whaam, which maintains, as in other works, the aesthetic similar to commercial posters, as well as an undoubted resemblance to the comics of the moment. But despite what it may seem, here we are before a great painting also in terms of its dimensions, since it measures 172 x 406 cm. In other words, it is a huge canvas that the American artist painted with oil and acrylic paint.
And it's very curious since this great work that today hangs in the rooms of the Modern Tate in London, is actually a gigantic reproduction of some vignettes published in the number 89 of the comic All American Men of War, published in 1962, while the painting was made by the painter the following year.
However, it must be said that this comic was one of the many products that evoked the heroes of World War II, for which real characters were used or invented when it was thought appropriate. In fact, in this caseBoth in the comic and in the painting, the pilot is a fictional character named Johnny Flying Cluoud, nicknamed "Ace Navajo", and represents a US Air Force soldier, although of Indian origin, who was piloting one of the P-51 Mustangs.
As we have said, the comics that inspired Lichtenstein had a clear warmongering tone and in some cases are the result of extensive documentation work, to recount true events or show details exhaustive of the weapons, the vehicles or the situations experienced in that conflict.
But instead, Lichtenstein has another purpose when making such a canvas. And that he is not that he was an anti-war, or critical of that war. He even enlisted early on in the army and received training as a pilot, although he didn't get to fly and only did simulations. But, a few decades later, that is, in 1963 when he painted this work, what he was looking for was to create an image with strong chromatic values and that would simply be spectacular in the eyes of the viewer. Which at the same time serves to capture in a very visual way the violence of that conflict.