There’s a common term in the Marine Corps known as “The Suck.”

Much like the omnipresent Green Weenie, The Suck perpetually exists as a state of being in the Corps. Everything you do is part of The Suck, mostly because everything you do just kind of sucks for some reason.

There’s an inexplicable phenomenon in the military, where even when you’re doing the most awesome thing you can possibly think of, the powers that be find some way to make it a dragging, miserable experience. For instance, shooting guns with your friends all day sounds like a great time, except for the part where you have to go the armory at 5am, stand around in the sun for hours, go through safety briefs, brass call, check for saved rounds, return weapons to the armory, etc. It’s just a shitty day for something that sounds like it’s going to be awesome.

This is a common pattern though, layers of bureaucracy and the tact of your 52 year old father trying to be hip and cool permeate every activity of the Corps establishment.

You can never escape The Suck.

In other news, I’ve got some stuff going on this week that’ll make doing a comic for Friday rather difficult, so I’m holding a contest! You get to draw Friday’s new Terminal Lance!

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Click on the image above to download it.

The Rules:

  • Must be original artwork (no memes or copy/pasting others)
  • Must be an original joke
  • Must use template provided
  • Must have your name on it
  • DEADLINE: JULY 28th @ 1700 PST
  • Only open to Active Duty and Active Reserve Servicemembers and Veterans

The Prize:

Email your submission to me at maximilian.uriarte@terminallance.com, put the subject as “TERMINAL LANCE COMIC CONTEST.”

I will personally sift through and pick the winner, which will be featured as Friday’s comic! Personally chosen runner up comics will also most likely be posted. By entering the contest you agree to have your work displayed on www.terminallance.com

Good luck!

The Air Force is a weird branch of the military.

Semantically, if you were to define “military” by things that are generally “military,” like fitness, shooting guns, hiking, being a hard ass, etc., I’m not sure if the Air Force would fit into that. This isn’t to say the Air Force isn’t important in our national defense–of course they are–but more that it is the military lite. A Diet Military, if you would.

Marines and Airmen are nearly opposites in every conceivable way, as Abe describes in this strip. If it weren’t for their largely symbiotic relationship, you could probably say the same things about the Navy and the Corps as well. However, Marines and Navy are like peanut butter and jelly–they stick together and go great on a sandwich (or something).

Ignoring the Coast Guard for a second (lol we usually do), the Air Force is generally the outlier of the military. They’re small and mostly keep to themselves, with their culture rarely permeating the popular consciousness. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just their style. They don’t tend to make as much noise as Marines or Army in the news, but we love them all the same.

The title of this strip is even an homage to an Air Force comic. Did you know that Air Force Blues is back up? Check it out!

Late strip today. The world is on fire and I’m just trying to keep up. I thought about tackling some current events, but honestly I just wanted to get back to some classic Terminal Lance material. You know, back in the days when I just made jokes about life in the military and didn’t have a responsibility to comment on every current event.

Anyway, if you’d like to see me in person, I’ll be in Oregon next week! Here’s where you can find me:

  • Corvallis, OR — Monday July 18th
    • Grass Roots Book & Music at 7pm
  • Portland, OR — Tuesday July 19th
    • Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton) at 7pm
  • San Diego Comic Con — Thursday July 21st
    • Panel, Graphic Novels as a Medium, Room 29AB
    • I’ll be signing books after the panel as well!

Come out and say what’s up! Oregon is my home, born and raised, I’m excited to go back.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or have an old flip phone), you’ve probably seen the craze that is the new Pokemon GO app on smartphones. Twenty-something year olds have taken to the streets as kids again, enslaving iconic Pokemon into their red and white orb prisons and sending them into virtual battle.

I’m pretty sure the Marine Corps almost completely shut down this week with Marines across the continent engaged in the hunt.

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Why is the world’s most hardened fighting force so obsessed with this silly game? If you’ve found yourself bewildered and scared over the last week in lieu of this new craze, I’m going to fill you in on some key information.

Remember that silly Japanese Gameboy game that kids were obsessed with in the late 90’s? The one with the Pikachu and the cards and the toys and the movies and the billions of dollars? Well, kids grow up, and many of them are in their mid-twenties now. These people probably grew up literally obsessed with Pokemon at the time, and are now reliving the nostalgia of their childhood.

Not to sound like a badass, but I actually still have two holographic Charizard cards. Yeah, it’s okay, you can change your panties. I’ll wait.

But for real, the entire Corps is obsessed. The Japanese had it all wrong with World War II. Pearl Harbor was a terrible plan to defeat the United States military, all they had to do was develop some super cute animal things that you lob balls at all day. If only they would have thought of it sooner!

Sorry for the lack of update last week, it ended up just being kind of a crazy week. I ended up needing to go to the ER due to a bad sinus infection and then I found myself in San Francisco speaking at the Marine’s Memorial Club hopped up on antibiotics and Pepto Bismol. I want to thank everyone that was able to come out for your support, it was a great night and I had a lot of fun! I especially want to thank Christopher Starling and the rest of the staff at the hotel for their hospitality, it’s truly a beautiful place to visit and stay. If you’re a Marine and you’ve never been, I really do encourage you to go, you won’t feel more welcome anywhere else.

On a side note, a lot of weird shit has been going on in my apartment lately. If I suddenly die of mysterious circumstances or develop some crazy form of cancer, just assume I’ve been assassinated lol but seriously what the fuck.

This sure has been a busy week for the Marine Corps.

First the Corps brought new job titles, eliminating the word “man” from everything. Then the DOD announced that trans service members would be welcomed into the military and also not discharged for their gender. To top it off, today the Corps released brand new PFT standards across the branch, eliminating the flexed arm hang as well.

The Corps has also noticed that its breasts are more tender and skin a bit softer. It is transitioning.

I say this in jest but also as a matter of fact. The Corps is changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Of course, most of the outrage toward these changes doesn’t come from the active duty community, but rather people that effectively hashtag everything they write with “so glad I’m out.” If you’re one of these people, I have some news for you…

Bring it in real close…

No one fucking cares.

Seriously, the Active Duty Corps will proudly continue on with or without your permission. Changes come with society, and the Marine Corps and military at large is surprisingly more progressive than you’d initially think. The consensus from the majority of the active duty community is a resounding meh to most of these radical changes to the military.

Then again, the people lamenting these decisions are the same ones that thought repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would destroy the very fabric of society, rather than simply allow a (large) group of people to openly be themselves.

The Corps is fine.

I realize all of this is a lot to take in in the span of a week, but it was all going to happen anyway. Might as well roll with it.

In other news, I’ll be speaking at the Marine’s Memorial Club in San Francisco on Thursday night! Here are the details, please RSVP.

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.