A historic and landmark Supreme Court decision was made this morning regarding the legalization of same sex marriage across the country. In case you haven’t heard, same sex marriage is now legally recognized across the land! Rainbow flags rejoice!

Don’t worry though, the Curse of the Dependapotamus cares not whether you are gay or straight. It starts the same. You marry young, in love (or just a convenient way for both of you to improve your living standards), you get to move out of the barracks and have awesome sex every night while your friends are field daying. It almost seems to good to be true, until the Curse starts to creep in. Your spouse starts gaining weight rapidly, and they’re upset because they think you don’t find them attractive anymore. They buy a puppy, but they’ve never had a dog before and they really have no idea what they’re doing, but that doesn’t stop them. The dog is shitty, untrained, pisses on everything and barks at everyone. The next thing you know, you’re coming home to a house smelling of animal excrement and suddenly there’s a child–then another–and maybe even a third. You max out your credit cards trying to keep your life afloat, only to find that your spouse has been having an illustrious affair with your POG neighbor the entire time you were deployed.

Somehow, this will even happen to gay Marines.

Surprisingly (or not at all surprisingly), the military and specifically the Marine Corps have been extremely progressive in their handling of same-sex affairs. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed a few years back, and everyone knew it was already gay anyway. This NCIS poster alone should give you an indication that the military has been more progressive than the average civilian populace over the last few years.

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On the other subject of the Dependapotamus, the Military Times recently did a piece about the subject of “Dependa Abuse.” I was interviewed for the article and I stand by everything I said. Obviously, I write and draw comics that are meant to get a laugh. This is not abuse, and I’m not going to stop any time soon. It’s one thing to make a joke out into the void, it’s another thing to seek people out and spout vitriol to them on Facebook or otherwise. Don’t be an asshole.

Additionally, I defend all of my Dependapotamus work simply because I make comics based on observational humor. I didn’t invent the Dependapotamus, it is a creature that exists in all of its profane glory whether I am here or not. We have all seen it, repeatedly, which is why it is funny. It is truly unfortunate that good spouses get dragged through the mud because of some unsavory wives, but every Marine in the Corps has seen it, and you would be lying if you said you hadn’t. I make generalizations out of observation, it is the nature of what I do. The marriage system in the military is ultimately flawed, by encouraging young people to get married before they even know themselves with generous incentives.

Anyone that thinks gay marriage ruins the sanctity of marriage has never seen a Marine contract marry a stripper for BAH.

In the end, of course my Dependapotamus jokes don’t apply to every military wife. That’s not the point.

 

 

Relationships get weird in the Marine Corps.

It should be common sense, but you should really never bring a woman to the barracks. There’s no real reason to anyway, and usually it just makes her super uncomfortable to be gawked at and hit on by 150 sex-starved 18-24 year old males.

I mean, it’s possible she’s into that sort of thing. Then again, I always like to say, if she even knows what a barracks or a Lance Corporal is, she’s probably not the kind of girl you want to take back anyway. (Obvious exception being a female Marine, but you know what I mean) This particular rule of thumb is why it can be difficult to enjoy being single aboard a military installation, as all of the surrounding towns and areas are usually teeming with these sorts of people. The Jacksonvilles, Oceansides and San Clementes are generally places to avoid if you’re looking for any kind of meaningful connection with a woman.

If you’re in Hawaii, try going all the way out to Honolulu on the weekend. If you’re in Camp Pendleton, take a road trip up to Los Angeles, where 90% of the women are way out of your league but might make an exception if you pull the Marine card. If you’re in Camp Lejeune, try just giving up and crying into a can of Cope Longcut, because you’re kind of fucked.

If you’re in Okinawa, I don’t know. Go eat some yakisoba or something.

On a personal note, it feels good to be back into the swing of things. I mentioned before that I took a very brief trip (like 48 hours brief) to LA for some top secret awesome stuff, but I’m back at my desk and going full speed with finishing The White Donkey. I’ve shown it to a few people now and all of the feedback I’ve gotten has been immensely positive, so I’m excited to finally unveil it on the world (and a little nervous, honestly). Among some of the top secret stuff I was doing in LA, I managed to squeeze in a photo shoot with the beautiful Gina Elise from Pin-Ups for Vets. You can look forward to seeing yours truly in the 2016 calendar.

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I try to make fun of everyone equally on this site. Boots and Staff NCO’s are easy targets, but occasionally it’s important to turn the viewing glass around on yourself. For as much as I love Lance Corporals, they are a handful for any command.

I often imagine the company or battalion command just sitting in their office, drinking, wondering why this happened to them. This being the responsibility of being in charge of 150-1000 18-24 year old males. Young age turns to salt and bitterness as “incidents” (as they are known) start to stack up in the company every weekend.

It’s no wonder it always seems like they’re fucking with you.

They hate you as much as you hate them.

Anyway, this is a strip from the Marine Corps Times newspaper. This week is a little crazy for me, I’m taking a very quick trip to LA, where I will not be attending E3, despite the convenient timing and my own lamenting.

Speaking of E3, how about that latest Metal Gear Solid V trailer?

 

This is the first time that a movie in the Jurassic Park franchise has been released since I’ve been doing Terminal Lance. Because of this, I feel like you guys need to know something about me:

1993’s Jurassic Park is my favorite film of all time.

No, I’m not exaggerating. While my taste in movies has shifted and turned over the years, Jurassic Park is the one movie that I will never be able to leave behind. It is the only movie that I can watch after 22 years and still feel like I’m watching it for the first time. The movie came out when I was 6 or 7 years old, but seeing those dinosaurs on screen in all of their technical glory–from the profoundly real animatronics from Stan Winston, to the groundbreaking computer animated dinosaurs–it quite literally changed my life.

From that day forward, I knew my life was going to be dedicated to creating stories and filmmaking. It’s the reason I pursued a degree in animation and am continuing to pursue a career in art, entertainment and filmmaking.

I love Jurassic Park.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was very skeptical of Jurassic World, which is officially released today. However, after seeing it last night, I am happy to tell you all that (with the exception of the shitty family being super loud right next to me, your kid is stupid as fuck and you’re shitty parents) I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and it delivers exactly what it needs to. It is a worthy follow up to the franchise that was unfortunately snubbed with 2001’s horrendous Jurassic Park 3.

I won’t go too much into the plot, but there’s a surprisingly relevant military presence throughout the film. It’s interesting to see the ways that the Post 9/11 era has shaped movies. Military are no longer treated as the bumbling fools they once were, with veterans taking respected positions in film. Chris Pratt plays Navy veteran Owen, which makes sense, cause if I were gay I totally would who happens to have a penchant for training velociraptors. They never really actually tell you what Owen did in the Navy, but we’re supposed to assume that his veteran status automatically makes him a badass. There’s other veterans in the film as well, such as the helicopter crew and the high-speed InGen operators I can only assume are ex Navy SEALs or MARSOC or something. The movie didn’t say whether these guys had written any tell-all books, so maybe they weren’t.

I think the movie could have gone really bad. I was most worried about the whole velociraptor thing, as it would have been incredibly easy to turn that into a typical shit-fest of unbelievable bullshit, but you actually find yourself loving every second of the velociraptor screen time.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I simultaneously cheered and shit my pants. It was amazing.

Anyway, without spoiling much, there’s not a lot more I can say about it. However, if you’re a fan of Jurassic Park, I feel really good being able to comfortably recommend the movie. It pays due respect to the original film while keeping things fresh and interesting. It’s not the deepest movie in the world, but as I said, it delivers everywhere it needs to.

It wouldn’t be amiss to say that I despise the armory almost as much as the 1171 Waterdog. Well, okay, maybe not that much, but the armory itself is by far the worst place on base.

It’s just miserable, on both the inside and out. Upon first approach, you can immediately feel the presence of its everlasting misery emanating from the drab, gray, concrete walls. The small little windows being the only source of natural light, the custodians within are often deformed and malnourished. Their lives a shadow of what they once were, they are often filled with anger and malice toward those on the outside (or smoothskins, as they call them).

The armory is horrible because the people on the inside hate it just as much as the ones on the outside. Spending 14 hours in the concrete box reading serial numbers off of every piece of equipment is enough to drive anyone into madness. Meanwhile, the Marines outside are forced to clean their already clean weapons for hours at a time, while custodians manage to find even the slightest trace of carbon in places you didn’t even know existed just to fuck with you.

They do it because they hate you. They hate you for having a life that exists outside of the concrete box.

Marines that enter the armory are never the same again, if they’re ever seen again.

In other news, I recently did a radio interview with the folks over at the Tennessee based show called Veteran’s Impact. In it, I talk about the creation of Terminal Lance as well as some inside details about The White Donkey. You can listen to the whole thing here! “Reveille Joe” and Zach are great guys and the show is definitely worth listening to.

As for the book itself, please stand by to stand by. I’ll be posting a big update relatively soon!

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet, TV, or another member of the species homo sapiens, you’ve probably heard about Caitlyn Jenner. In any normal circumstance, I wouldn’t be writing about this subject at all. You see, this is not a veteran issue. It has nothing to do with the military.

At all.

Yet, that hasn’t stopped the usual crowd of “Angry Facebook Veterans” (as I call them) from turning it into a veteran’s issue. Over the last week, half my Facebook feed has been littered (correct word) with memes and images somehow relating Caitlyn Jenner to the struggles of Marines and service members at war.

It’s a stretch, I know, but I’m not making this up.

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A few months ago there was the tragic case of the Marine that murdered the Filipina transgender woman while on shore leave in the Philippines. I never did a comic on the subject for one simple reason:

I didn’t want to read the comments.

Every time I saw the story posted on Facebook, there was nothing but the most vile, ignorant and hateful sentiments coming from people I am ashamed to say I served in the same branch with. I’m not an expert on transgender issues by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know that that woman was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, or someone’s friend.

In my case, it could have been my brother.

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My brother is a transgender male.

I’m the youngest of three, so when I was born I had two sisters. When I was in Iraq in 2007, I remember sitting in that dank little phone corner of the Camp Fallujah MWR talking with my mother. The conversation went something like this:

“So… Betty is going to become a man.”

“…Oh.”

And, so be it, over years of hormone therapy and surgery, I now have a brother. Sure, he’s a little shorter than me, as the Creator gifted me with a “Y” chromosome at birth; but he’s my brother nonetheless. I am not ashamed of this, I love my brother. The only thing I am disgusted by is the reaction of the veteran community over the last week regarding the subject of Caitlyn Jenner.

As an infantry Marine, I deployed to Iraq twice. I’ve done and seen a lot in my life; but do you know what I’ve never done? I’ve never felt so alienated by my own body that I’ve wanted to become a female. I’ve never done hormone therapy and I’ve never dealt with the judgements of the world for my gender or sexuality. I respect my brother as much as I love him for everything that he’s been through–from giving birth to a child (my niece) and transitioning into the successful person he is today, through much adversity along the way. I have no idea what that’s like.

I don’t care about Caitlyn Jenner, but I think it’s important to remember that we are not the end-all to struggles in life. Life is very relative, and while veterans and service members deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments and their sacrifices, we need to take a step back and understand that the world is much bigger than us.

I constantly see blogs and articles about the “veteran divide” in this nation. 1% protecting and serving the 99%. Veterans often feel alienated and alone when they return to the world, taking solace only around other veterans that have shared their struggles. No one understands us, but have we made an effort to understand civilians? Maybe it’s not the 99% with the problem, but the 1% that needs to come back down to earth.

War is an extraordinary thing to go through, but life is relative. Your experiences do not invalidate those of others.

Caitlyn Jenner is not my hero, but to thousands of transgender people out there, she just might be.

…And that’s okay.

 

I was always taken aback by just how shitty every day life in the barracks can actually be. Then again, I had the dubious honor of spending my first year in the fleet living in beautiful Mackie Hall aboard MCBH Kaneohe Bay. Mackie Hall rarely had working washing machines, hot water, air conditioning or comfort. It provided adequate shelter for a battalion of Marines, by Marine Corps standards, but it was as ubiquitous and defining of a “bricks” as you could possibly get.

There’s a vision of government entities in the minds of the average civilian–you often see it in the movies–where things are high-tech and new. People behind holographic monitors clamoring over bluetooth headsets conducting advanced military exercises. This is the vision, and I assure you it is nowhere to be found in the reality of it all.

For the most part, the base conditions are maintained by the Marines. If a washer or dryer breaks, you better hope that one of the Marines in your platoon had a previous life as a washer and dryer repairman, or it will be months before someone can replace or fix it.

Speaking of laundry specifically, I always thought the contrast between being deployed in Iraq and being back in the rear was interesting. For those of you not in the know, on the larger bases overseas there’s actually a laundry service run by local nationals. They take your bag, wash and dry your clothes, then fold them nicely for you to pick up the next day. It’s 100% free and awesome. Then, you return back to the barracks from whence you came and are met with conditions of deplorable poverty that baffle the mind.

Bare in mind, this experience of mine was during the glorious Bush years of plethoric military funding. The budget was anything but cut, as re-enlistment bonuses surged upwards of $80-100,000 for infantry squad leaders.

It was a time to be alive!

But not a time to get your laundry done.

I feel like every time I do one of these strips I have to preface it by saying that I really don’t actually have a personal bias against Chaplains (or Catholics). I do these things for the sake of humor, so if you are offended, I might ask where you’ve been for the last few years. It’s been a bit, but this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve done a “Creepy Chaplain” joke (a recurring character in this comic strip of mine).

With that said, Chaplains are a great addition to the battalion. I personally always liked the Chaplain that was available with us during my deployments. He was a super nice guy that always a pleasure to talk to. The one time I did want to talk to him for personal advice, he didn’t try to push a religious agenda on me or anything silly like that.

I almost feel bad every time I do one of these strips, but I just really wanted to find a way to fit Snapchat into a joke. Speaking of Snapchat, you can follow the official Terminal Lance Snapchat by adding the username “tlcplmax.”

I occasionally post Story updates, but I don’t add anyone. However, you’re welcome to Snap me anything you like. I know I’m going to regret that…

 

I have an interesting relationship with the Marine Corps these days. This, obviously, is due to the nature of my work. I happen to run a social media/internet-based business that deals directly with Marines and the military at large.

While I am grateful to say that the Corps itself has largely left me alone in my work, there’s an occasional butt of heads when it comes to the user-submitted content I post to my Facebook page or Twitter. You see, Marines do silly things, and these days more than ever they like to document it with their smartphones and cameras. They send it to me and I put it up for a good laugh.

Rarely, but sometimes, I’ll receive an email or a message asking me to take the photo down. Sometimes the request is vague, but most of the time it’s something like “dude my chain of command is freaking out about that photo can you take it down please?”

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m some insane maverick that abides to nothing. Generally, I will take the photo down when there’s a genuine request on behest of the person in or responsible for the photo because I’m not an asshole. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about some chains of command, where even after the photo is removed, the Marine is punished.

There is a lot to be said about the advent of social media in the military community in the last 5 years–myself admittedly near the helm of it–and possibly even more to be said about handling of it by the official channels. In my humble opinion, I don’t think the Marine Corps was ready for the rise of Facebook and is still playing catch-up with how to handle it. This was abundantly clear during the reign of General Amos, whose reputation amongst the general enlisted population was nigh abysmal by any standard. Social media played a huge part in this, where even the most general of the general population could voice their concerns and complaints in broad daylight–which is something that really never existed before. What used to be grumblings in the barracks was now a public display of memes, CAR jokes and general discontent.

The military, as an institution, has always relied on militant control over its own. It is the military, after all. More recently, this has been expressed by a quick trigger when it comes to posting content online. Marines are often punished for even the most slight of slights in an effort to control the uncontrollable.

There is an underlying reality that should be noted in all of this, however.

Marines have been doing stupid shit since 1775.

The only difference is now everyone has a camera in their pocket. I often see, in comments on my own content, how Marines didn’t do such dumb stuff back in the “old Corps” (as its known). This is absolutely false, you just didn’t take photos of it and post it on the internet.

Social media in the military is an interesting subject, one I find intriguing on both a personal and professional level. Over the years its been interesting to me not only to see how Marines interact with it, but how the Marine Corps itself has reacted to it.

Angry Facebook veterans are officially the Tumblr social justice warriors of the veteran world.

If you’ve been in the veteran/military Facebook page circuit lately, you’ve probably seen at least once or twice a collective, hive mind outrage at a shirt that Under Armor put out called “Band of Ballers.”

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As you can see, it’s clearly a parody of the iconic Iwo Jima flag raising from World War II.

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This is an outrage! I guess? Don’t get me wrong, I understand the significance of the Iwo Jima flag raising photo (especially as a Marine), but what bothers me is that every week there’s some new collective butt-hurt about some stupid thing that impacts absolutely no one. This week was “Band of Ballers,” last week was minorities stepping on the American flag. Every week there’s something new to be upset about floating around the veteran community and it gets old really fast.

Here’s the thing…

If you truly believe in Freedom of Speech and support and defend the United States Constitution, you will defend even those you disagree with. You should embrace the fact that you are offended, because this is America, and people have the right to offend you.

Unfortunately the vocal minority of the veteran community seems to be the loudest, and any time there’s some insignificant slight that happens, it makes the rounds. I can’t tell you the countless amount of Facebook messages and emails I receive every day that are some conversation with a civilian that dislikes the military, or a dumb Facebook post that’s anti-military, or something as stupid as a shirt called Band of Ballers that I’m supposed to “make famous.” I also can’t describe to you how much I don’t care every time I see it.

This is America.

You cannot demand censorship of someone just because they offend you.

The saddest part of this comic strip is that I almost didn’t do it because I was genuinely worried I might offend some veterans, but then I realized that’s exactly why I needed to do it. To sum this up, everyone just needs to chill the fuck out. Under Armor had no malicious intent with their shirt, and they certainly aren’t the first people to parody the Iwo Jima flag raising.

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