In case you missed it, the US Army this week is “testing out” rolling their sleeves up at Ft. Hood. This has led to much panic and hysteria amongst the soldiers, as they stumble their way through figuring out how to properly roll. Meanwhile, Marines everywhere are enjoying the show immensely.

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Marines

Before I get a bunch of angry emails from soldiers with terrible sleeves and senses of humor, keep in mind that we still love you. This comic might seem like a low blow, but… Come on. I once saw an Army squad on a foot patrol and they crossed danger zones by literally having a soldier go into the prone in the center of the danger zone to cover the squad. Even as a fucking boot I was like “what the fuck are they doing…”

But I digress, we love our Army brethren. They’re like that cousin you hate running into, but once you hang out with him for a few minutes you actually have a pretty good time playing Mario Kart and drinking.

I wish the Army the best of luck rolling their sleeves, it can be dangerous.

In other news, I considered doing a comic on Brexit today, but I thought 90% of my audience would have no idea what I was talking about. Regardless, as someone with a British significant other, it was certainly a riveting night refreshing the BBC website. To all the Britons, Godspeed (and I stole one of your women get over it).

You keen observers of Terminal Lancian culture might have noticed that this strip was previously published in the Marine Corps Times newspaper a couple of years ago. However, I felt like today this was an appropriate strip to put up after having dealt with the VA healthcare system myself just earlier today.

I feel like picking on the VA is fairly low-hanging fruit at this point, but this is still a real issue. Here’s the thing, we all know that the hospital staff (nurses and doctors, etc) are not the problem. They are doing their best with the limited resources they have, and quite often do it admirably. The issue is with the layers of bureaucracy that veterans have to go through to even get to see them.

Generally speaking, my experiences with the VA haven’t actually been that bad. When I was living in the bay area, I never had to wait more than a few days for an appointment, and it was like any other doctor’s office I’d ever been to. This morning, having some lingering medical issues, I decided to try my hand at possibly getting looked at by a doctor.

The conversation on the phone went something like this:

“Hello, I would like to see a doctor.”

“Okay, does early or late September work better for you?”

“…It’s June.”

That was basically it. Luckily, and weirdly, I was actually able to just get seen as a walk-in after waiting a couple of hours at the VA itself. Again, when you actually get into it, the staff and doctors are great, but actually getting there is the challenge.

But of course, I’m not saying anything that everyone doesn’t already know.

It would just be great if there was some kind of effort to fix it.

You know how when you watch a movie about the military or war or some such and you always see them shooting fully-automatic M4’s? Yeah that’s bullshit. The Marine Corps infantry is only issued semiautomatic weapons, with the exception of the fully-automatic M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) and heavier machine-guns.

Firing the semiautomatic M4 is horrifyingly disappointing, menacingly weak, and very very easy. It bruised my ego the first time I shot one, it was as loud as a 5.56 caliber cannon, and I had mild PTSD for the rest of the day whenever someone would show me much cooler fully automatic assault rifles in movies.

Our military needs to look dope as fuck, and you can’t look dope as fuck with semiautomatic weapons. I don’t normally get political here on Terminal Lance, but please urge your congressman to stop doing whatever the fuck it is he does and fix this growing problem with our armed forces.

On an unrelated but equally important note, I will be in Oceanside tomorrow at Barnes & Noble! Come by and say what’s up, I’ll be signing things and looking sexy.

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Oceanside Barnes & Noble

A MARINE ON DUTY HAS NO FRIENDS.

Poor Duty.

Duty is as much a part of Marine Corps life as guns and disappointment. Whether you’re single, married, ranking high or low, you can’t avoid it. If you’re young and dumb you’ll be the A-Duty, if you’re an NCO you’ll be the Duty NCO, if you’re a Staff NCO you’ll be the battalion Staff Duty, if you’re an officer you’ll be the Officer of the Day. The Faceless God is the only one who can decide who stands and who rests for duty.

No but really, the duty has plenty of friends, and he keeps them by not being a total blue falcon to his fellow Marines while on duty. A good duty (and everyone’s friend) is a guy that keeps order and security in the barracks without messing up a Marine’s career over breaking some small rule he didn’t even know existed. No one likes a snitch, and most problems can be solved with words over paperwork.

Duty is actually important, because someone needs to be sober in the barracks while everyone else is not. A pack of 150 Marines without any supervision is a dangerous thing, and I’m sure duty was invented for that exact reason.

So the next time your buddy is on duty, buy him a Monster and see how he’s holding up throughout the day. Even the duty needs a friend.

On a side note, I’m really sorry to have cancelled yesterday’s book signing in San Angelo. It was a pure shitshow at DFW on Sunday and I spent about 20 hours traveling between Chicago and Texas, only to end up back in LA at the end of it. The short story is that the flight to San Angelo got cancelled due to some horrendous weather and a middle finger from American Airlines. The next flight wasn’t until Monday night, after the book signing. Without a ton of options I had to cut my losses and head back to LA (I couldn’t afford to just stay in Texas indefinitely). My publisher and the store are currently trying to figure out options for rescheduling, and I’m really sorry for any inconvenience all of this might have caused!

On another note, thank you to everyone who came out to see me in Chicago on Saturday! As well, thank you to Kim Barker and the great people at the Chicago Tribune Lit Fest for setting it all up. I was pleasantly surprised by how amazing Chicago was, especially with all the horror stories in the headlines lately. I’d definitely go back.

THIS SATURDAY you can find me at the Barnes & Noble in Oceanside! I’ll be there starting at 2pm I believe, I hope to see a ton of high and tights and digital camouflaged backpacks.

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BONUS ALTERNATE VERSION

If you’re a Marine, you probably saw the Commandant’s new tattoo regulations, designed to ease up on the Amos-era restrictions that were put in place a few years back. Now, Marines are able to have just a little bit more freedom in their choice of bodily inks in areas previously unapproved. You still can’t get a full sleeve, but at least it’s better than it was.

You can read up all about the new regulations here.

When I first enlisted there really weren’t any strict tattoo regulations. Some of the best Marines I ever met had full-sleeves full of skulls, spiderwebs and other totally rad shit that you most likely just wouldn’t see on a Marine today. As an artist myself, I don’t personally have any issue with tattoos wherever you want them (though I could see maybe not on the face or something as being a more than reasonable rule). The effort the Corps is making is to maintain a professional look for Marines, while also trying to ensure that Marines don’t make it difficult for themselves to find professional work in the future.

In all reality though, I doubt most infantry Marines with a sleeve full of skulls, spiderwebs, MOS numbers and wizards and shit is really looking for work as a Wells Fargo bank teller post-Marine Corps. Additionally, sleeves can usually be covered up with, well, sleeves. Anecdotally, my brother happens to have two full arms’ worth of ink, but works as a funeral director. He wears long sleeves to work.

In any case, I applaud the step in the right direction. It is, after all, the military. You have to expect some rules you might not like, but this is better than it was.

In other news, I’ll be hanging out with Sebastian Junger for a live talk tonight in Santa Monica if you’re around!

Otherwise, look for me in Chicago this weekend and San Angelo on Monday. I’ll be doing a book signing at Oceanside Barnes & Noble next weekend as well!

*EDIT*

I’ll be at the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Literary Festival on Saturday speaking on a panel! Come see me, details here.

If there’s one movie that polarizes Marines, it’s Jarhead. Anthony Swofford’s explorative tale on the meandering life of a Scout Sniper during the first Gulf War is sure to spark a lively debate across the barracks any time it’s brought up. Many Marines feel as though Swofford is a “whiny bitch” and that Jarhead is the most boring of the war films about Marines.

For my part, I loved the original Jarhead film and I still do. It serves as one of the only realistic representations of life in the Marine Corps, rather than just the shallow action-packed war-porn that people expect out of movies about “war.” It showed a Marine that was disenchanted and disgruntled, rather than the cliche motivators you normally get any time someone brings up the Marine Corps. It was an exploration of the state of being in a post Vietnam Marine Corps that no one had ever really seen before.

With the release of Jarhead 2: Field of Fire and this week’s Jarhead 3: The Siege, Universal has hilariously completely missed the point of the first film and proceeded to shit out two trash films straight-to-video with an apparent intent to completely destroy any legacy the original had. These movies are so bad, so utterly lacking in the nuance and subtlety of the first film, that you’ll have no choice but to assume that there is some genuine malicious intent against Anthony Swofford, Jake Gyllenhaal, or Sam Mendes.

These sequels are complete trash, but not even in the good way that a Cinemax softcore porn is trash. At least in something like that, there’s copious amounts of titties and simulated sex to distract you from how bad everything else is. Jarhead 2 and 3 are hollow shells of what could have been. They’re the rebound fucks of a longterm relationship come to an end; leaving you to feel empty and ashamed of yourself as you put your clothes back on awkwardly explain that you’re not looking for anything serious.

In other news, June and July are really busy months over at Terminal Lance. I’ll be making appearances in a few different places, so here are the details:

  • Sebastian Junger and myself will be in Santa Monica on June 7th (this Tuesday) for a live talk! Get tickets and details here.
  • Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Festival on Saturday, June 11th! I’ll be on a panel about representing the contemporary war experience. Details here.
  • Book signing at Hastings in San Angelo, TX on June 13th! If you’re in the area come by and say hi and get your book signed! Starts at 1700.
  • Oceanside Barnes & Noble book signing on June 18th! If you’re in Camp Pendleton, wade through the boots in Oceanside to come say what’s up! Starts at 1400.
  • Marine’s Memorial Club in San Francisco on July 7th! Super excited to be featured as a guest in their author lineup, I’ll be speaking and hanging out for the night!
  • San Diego Comic Con on July 21st! I’ll be on a panel about graphic novels as a medium.

I’ll also be in Portland and Corvallis in July for book signings, the details to follow. If you can make it to any of these events, you should! It should be a lot of fun!

Lastly, I really want to throw a shoutout to CBS for putting together such a great piece on Terminal Lance. If you missed it, check it out here.

I mean what else do they do?

I don’t normally do comics on Monday’s, but today is a very special Monday! Today is Memorial Day.

I’m not going to sit here and guilt-trip you into being miserable on your day off, because I don’t think that’s what our fallen brothers and sisters would have wanted from us. In my humble opinion as a Marine, I like to think that those that gave the ultimate sacrifice would want us to carry on and enjoy ourselves without them. After all, it is their sacrifices that allow us the freedoms we have, so shouldn’t we celebrate those freedoms?

For my part, I know that if I wouldn’t have made it back from Iraq all those years ago, I wouldn’t be sitting up in heaven wishing my friends and family were posting angry Facebook statuses on my behalf. I don’t know, that’s just not my thing. From what I know of Marines, I think they would rather see you drink a beer, get laid, and light something on fire today rather than mope around feeling sorry for them.

Still, this day is important, as it gives us all a chance to honor and reflect on those great men and women that never made it home. Certainly no one would fault you for taking a bit of time today to remember those heroes of the past…

…Even those from the Coast Guard.

But for real, Marines get kind of fucked over in heaven. That contract is for eternity.

I’ll admit that this strip definitely won’t apply to everyone that reads it. Very few Marines end up in the predicament of being the designated art-guy of the battalion, which can mean basically anything depending on what needs to get done. Need a mural painted? A T-shirt? A company logo?

Go get the art-guy, he’ll do it. I saw him drawing some sick tattoos for people one time. He can do anything. Who cares if he’s never painted before?

Regardless, if you take anything away from this strip, it’s this: if you’re good at something, don’t tell anyone.

For the most part I actually didn’t mind doing that stuff, it was always cool to see my sketchbook drawings end up as the company logo or something on the back of the T-shirts of other Marines. Additionally, I have to admit that “Artist Recruit” is actually the single best billet you can snag in boot camp. If you can scrape together artwork on a cover block or a range flag, definitely raise your hand when they ask if anyone in the squad bay can do art.

After boot camp though? Never tell anyone.

This strip is pretty random, but lately I have to remind myself that it’s okay to just do a funny random strip and not worry about inserting some grand message into it. Sometimes you just want to draw a dick in the third panel.

On a sidenote, I’ll be back in Santa Monica at Hi De Ho Comics for a signing TOMORROW! Come on by and say what’s up! It should be a lot of fun. Have I mentioned that The White Donkey has been on the New York Times best seller list for 4 weeks in a row now? If you haven’t gotten it yet, you should.

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Growing up as a millennial, it was common to have grandparents or elderly that had served in Korea or even World War II. “The Greatest Generation,” as they’re known, are lauded with a natural aura of respect (and rightly so). There’s no question in their heroism and deeds of the time, answering the nation’s call to arms in a war with great purpose.

Our generation is not them. Our war is not their war.

That is of course not to say that we are also not a great generation. I think there is a lot to be said of the fact that we are a wartime generation of all-volunteer service members, answering the call of the nation on our own accord. Much like the millennial generation itself, our war was apathetic and meandering, and often without purpose. The honor and prestige of our grandfathers were often not to be found in the mess of our 13 year war in the middle east, the ripples of which likely to subsist in the region for another generation or two.

But we still went.

History will ultimately tell the tale of the valor of longest war in American history, but I often wonder how the veterans will tell it 30 or 40 years from now. When we are the old men in the big, pinned hats, will we have the same respect for our own experience as those that look up to us.

Anyway, this is actually a previously published Marine Corps Times strip. Today has been a hassle and a half, but the good news is we might have another book signing event coming up this weekend on Saturday! Stand by for the details.

How do I reach these keeds?

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All over the Marine Corps, Company Commanders and leaders everywhere are trying to figure out how they can reach their Marines and improve the morale of their units. The answer is usually pretty straightforward, but seems to always elude the command.

This is how you end up with Family Fun Day. Instead of respecting your personal space, the command will continue to shove its overlording presence into your 48 hours of liberty for no apparent reason. The only saving grace is finally getting to see what your Company Commander’s wife looks like. (She’ll never be what you expected, she’s always either way out of his league or the exact opposite)

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It’s not all bad though, sometimes it’s easy to just blame the parents. The command is put into an extraordinary circumstance of being responsible for the wellbeing and happiness of hundreds of young men (and now women). Unfortunately there’s no easy way to make everyone happy, on either side.

On a side note, thank you to everyone for your massive outpouring of support for The White Donkey. It is now on week #3 of being #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list for hard cover graphic novels. It is making waves, and it’s because of you guys. We have some events and signings coming up next month, so if you haven’t picked up a book yet you can here:

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