Something that’s kind of been on my mind lately is the advent of social network platforms in the military environment. This particular administration of command (Gen. Amos and SgtMaj Barrett) has faced an unstoppable barrage of social media ever since they took office. Never before in the history of the military (and especially the Marine Corps) has the world been so transparent and accessible to every Marine in the Corps. At the cost of a few swipes and a ridiculously expensive data plan, you can hop on Facebook or Twitter and get the latest scoop directly from both the Marine Corps command as well as independent outlets.

Not to toot my own dick, but I credit Terminal Lance itself with opening that door. Before this humble comic strip, there really wasn’t any form of independent voice on the internet in terms of the military community at large. I recall, in the beginning days of my efforts here (2010), being really, genuinely worried that I was going to get in some kind of trouble for what I was doing. How would I know otherwise? No one had ever sought to bring a voice to the lower enlisted until then. After Terminal Lance became a thing, you began to see a lot of other independent military voices spring up across the void of the world wide web.

This mess of angry, unfiltered opinions is what you see today. Even just a few years ago, it would be unthinkable to openly insult the Commandant or the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. Today that is not the case, as made painfully obvious by really any Facebook thread even mentioning either one. Marines are upset (and they have a right to be), as they have been in the past–but unlike any other time in history, their voices are on full display.

Unlike any other time in history, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps can instantly send a 140 character statement to a lowly Lance Corporal of Marines (I know I picked up in the IRR, shut up).

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 12.03.49 PM

 

From my perch here on the Terminal Lance… tree (lol I dunno)… I observe a lot. From what I can tell, it seems like the Marine Corps command (and at large) is still coming to terms with this newfound revolution in communication. The military community has historically been one of tight control and censorship. Today’s military, within the last few years, is anything but. In today’s world, the internet has the ability to empower as well as tear apart anyone it so desires. The Marine Corps is learning this the hard way, with negative press about the Commandant’s scandals and recently SgtMaj Barrett’s words on pay cuts, being prominently featured and enflamed at every turn.

Welcome to the new age.

We all know that Marines are famous for their ability to adapt and overcome, and if I were to give advice, I would say its something the Marine Corps command desperately needs to do at this point.

PS:

Check your privilege, shitlord.

Long week for me, so instead of a customary brand new comic today I’m putting up a comic from the Marine Corps Times archives!

For those of you that don’t know, original Terminal Lance strips are featured weekly in the Marine Corps Times newspaper. You can find them on your PX newsstand, they aren’t featured online at the moment.

For everything that the Marine Corps is, it is exactly what it claims to be. It’s an organization where you wear cool uniforms, mess around with guns all day, and hang out with other likeminded rad dudes all day and night. All of that stuff happens, and generally it’s exactly what you signed up for, yet somehow it’s so easy to become disenchanted with it as soon as things start to suck… and they will suck. I suppose it’s not until you start doing it that you realize whether or not the whole thing is really for you. In my case, I was Abe, counting the days til my EAS. I haven’t regretted it since, but I know a lot of guys that tried to go straight back in as soon as the outside world reared its ugly head. For many, the military provides a stable career choice, and often it is the case that this path might be preferred when you have a wife and some kids to think about.

However, this comic is called Terminal Lance, and rightly so. I left the Marine Corps as an 0351 Lance Corporal. I didn’t have any kids to worry about and the lifestyle just wasn’t for me. I learned and experienced a lot, and I wouldn’t give any of it back.

Anyway, happy Friday or something. Go fuck something, but wear a condom.

There are few people in history that are equally feared and respected as they are loved by all. General James Mattis is one of those people, and I think the entire Marine Corps can agree that he’s basically the baddest motherfucker in the game. I’m not going to belay you with the plethora of his accomplishments (mostly because I’m lazy), but if you’re not familiar with him I suggest you take to the Google train and purchase a ticket to Kickass Marine land. Of course, he is retired at this point, and deservingly so. I personally never had any interaction with him whatsoever while I was active duty, but those that did insist he was just as much of a Marine’s Marine then as he still is today.

I had the pleasure of meeting the good General a few weeks ago when he spoke at UC Berkeley.

1149062_10152270400673608_1013689751_n

I walked away alive, but with less hair on my head and a swollen prostate. I wasn’t able to get him to throw up the Terminal Lance hand signal, but luckily these fine young men were able to convince him to do it, which was what inspired today’s comic strip.

10265396_10203622005891167_7601904575842892715_o

You’ll notice the camera is slightly off focus. This is because his presence (much like a demon or other-worldly spirit) causes camera distortion in most devices.

Okay, in all seriousness, legends aside, he’s actually just a really awesome guy. He’s down-to-earth, supremely intelligent, and most importantly he simply loves Marines. General Mattis’ reputation amongst Marine infantry is there for a reason, and if you ever get a chance to shake his hand, don’t be a pussy–he’s a genuinely nice guy in person.

This photo was posted on the Terminal Lance Facebook page. If you’re not a fan, why the fuck not? You can also follow Terminal Lance (me) on Twitter. Please do, I’m an attention whore. The Facebook page has garnered quite a large fan base at this point, which is great. Sometimes I receive messages from other military themed Facebook pages asking me what they can do to be as successful. The short answer is I have no idea. The long answer is I really don’t identify as a “Facebook Page.” The page serves only, for me, as a fan page for the Terminal Lance comic. My Facebook page isn’t just an outlet for me to post wookie jokes and start witch hunts on every civilian with a bad opinion about the military (like so many other military Facebook pages), the page itself supports the comic, and not vice versa.

Anyway, keep posting stuff to the page! Who knows, maybe you’ll end up in the next Terminal Lance comic.

Marine Dress Blues have a powerful effect on women. They don’t call them ‘panty droppers’ for no reason. Many studies have shown that females will immediately enter ovulation and possibly become pregnant at the sight of a Marine sporting full Dress Blue Alphas in person. I don’t make these rules, it’s science. Look it up.

It’s no secret that the Marine Corps Dress Blues are, by far, the most desirable uniform in the entire world. Other branches certainly have their own form of dress and service uniforms, but none of them come close to matching the majesty of that black coat with the red trim. It’s the reason many Marines choose the Marine Corps over the other branches. You could join the Army, but would you look nearly as cool? Probably not. Wear your dress blues home and you can be sure to find slug trails from all women that come into contact with you.

Featured in today’s comic is a Marine by the name of Jordan Petersen with 3rd Radio Bn in Hawaii. Jordan was one of my Kickstarter backers that bought his way into a comic strip featuring himself. I know, the Kickstarter was a while ago, but comics featuring backers are still going to be rolling out for a while (I think I’ve got about 30 more to go).

For your weekend liberty brief:

Don’t drink too much, and be careful if you wear your Dress Blue uniform out in town… it’s a dangerous risk.

This is not a regular boner. This is a moto boner.

Singing with cadence is as American as a kick-ass military that excels at fucking shit up. Still, it’s one of those things that everyone kind of hates, but the Lieutenant probably really wants to do because his entire life he’s been led to believe that Marines actually love doing it. Now that he’s a newly minted, hardcore, United States Marine, he has to whip some motivation back into his ass-dragging platoon and cadence is the first place he’ll start. While there are some entertaining cadences out there, they are tiresome for the most part.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve never been forcefully woken up at 5:30 am and thought to myself, man I know I’m hung over and tired and there’s a weird sore on my dick but I’d really love to go for a run and sing some fucking pirate shanties or something. I mean, who hasn’t done that? Shut the fuck up, no you haven’t.

Still, they’re here and they’re not going anywhere. In all honesty the cadences can actually be kind of fun if you’re in the right mood. In a weird way, it actually makes running easier because it forces you to control your breathing. While they’re lame or moto or whatever, one thing I love about Marines is their uncanny ability to turn even the shittiest, lamest situation into immense fun. It’s a talent Marines have developed over many, many years of being in shitty, lame situations all across the globe.

As for Lieutenants… Well, I’ve said it before, they’re a really easy target to make fun of. I’ll tell you why… it’s because they accomplish two things simultaneously that no one else can:

  • They’re in charge of you.
  • They’re fucking boots.

This is always a recipe for hilarity, and a lot of grief. While you can normally tell the average PFC boot to fuck off and stop booting off so much, you’re kind of stuck dealing with the Lieutenant’s bootisms on a fundamentally intrusive and oppressive level. If he wants everyone to get high and tights and sing songs while you run, you kind of have to do it, lest ye face the wrath of the Ninja Punch.

Can we just talk about rock tossing for a few minutes?

Rock Tossing is a favorite pastime of Marines everywhere! There’s an equation for this. If you put a Marine or two in a place with nothing to do, and there are rocks around, they will start throwing rocks.

Marines(Boredom)+Rocks=Rock Tossing

The sum is always true. You’d be surprised how many people have actually taken the time to email me and message me and ask “bro why hasn’t there been a comic about tossing rocks?” Every time I read them, I ask myself the same question.

The game itself is simple really… You pick up a rock and you throw it at something. There’s usually some kind of target. In this case, it’s a random piece of rebar (a harrowing target to say the least), but it can just as easily be a hole in a HESCO barrier or even other Marines. Usually, Rock Tossing almost always ends with Marines throwing rocks at each other. I would say you’d be surprised at how often Marines toss rocks when they’re bored, but you probably wouldn’t be, considering Marines are bored literally all the fucking time. I guess a key component to this is being bored outside, which they usually are. There’s always some stupid reason you’re sitting around outside waiting for something. You could be waiting on your buddy, you’re waiting on word from Staff Sergeant, you’re waiting because you were told to hang out at the company office until formation for some fucking reason; there’s an indefinite number of reasons this could occur.

Oh, and for those of you still reeling with the news that I had sold out to start “Staff Sergeant,” I am happy to inform you that that was an April Fool’s joke.

This might seem like a tame comic given this week’s events at Ft. Hood, but that was kind of what I was going for. I’ve already addressed the issue of public perception about violent crimes committed by service members a couple of years ago. From what I’ve read, the guy who committed the act at Ft. Hood this week was an Iraq veteran, but it was a 4 month deployment in 2011. Having absolutely no idea to the specifics of his deployment, I don’t think it’s really fair to comment on it. I was in Iraq for a second round in 2009 though, and it was anything but a kinetic warfare environment.

However, I think more to the point, his deployment history is irrelevant to what happened. It’s an unfortunate truth that the media will focus its attention on the fact that he was an Iraq veteran. The media and the people at large are quick to want to comprehend why something like this happens, in a latent attempt to prevent it from happening again.

I think it needs to be clearly understood: This man’s deployment to Iraq was not why this happened. For whatever his mental history is, there are literally thousands of good men and women that served in Iraq and Afghanistan that have not gone on shooting rampages. The narrative being spun that he is damaged goods because of his wartime experience are an injustice to all of those who are functioning admirably after such (which is most of them).

We’ve been at war for over a decade. Can we stop being afraid of veterans yet?

Welcome to Staff Sergeant!

Staff Sergeant is a webcomic dedicated to providing a hilarious look into the life of the average Staff NCO. This comic details the struggles of leadership and how it relates to the hilarious world of the IPAC Marine Corps environment.

I know what you’re all thinking: what happened to that other, maliciously damaging to Corps Values comic, Terminal Lance? Well, some people in Quantico offered me a lot of money to stop making it and instead focus on leadership and core values. This comic was meant to show the impact a simple uniform correction can have on a young Lance Corporal.

The Lance Corporal in this comic will go on to do wonderful things in the Corps after this one event. You never know the impact your words will have on your junior Marines. This Marine will forever remember the importance of keeping his hands out of his pockets, which will instill within him a discipline he never would have before. It might seem like it’s harsh to violently yell at someone because of where their hands are placed, but remember: if you’re louder, they can’t not hear you (and your experienced leadership).

Lastly, happy April Fool’s Day.

Today’s comic “God Loves Marines” had a link to Terminal Lance #74 “No Preference” in the blog post.

It’s always weird for me to go back to my old comic strips and look at the artwork and such. It’s strange for me because the old strips look so terrible in comparison. I never really noticed myself consciously getting better at drawing the strips, in my head I’ve been at the same skill level for years. It’s not until you actually go back and look at your old work that you can see where you’ve improved.

It’s also worth noting that #74 here was done with an Intuos tablet rather than a Cintiq monitor. With the success of the Kickstarter, I was able to buy a 22HD Cintiq monitor for work, and it’s really made a huge difference in my ability to draw digitally. I always thought I was fine with an Intuos tablet, but when I actually draw on the Cintiq it’s a night and day difference. My lines are smoother, done with broad strokes rather than scratchy nudging, and everything is precise due to the fact that I can see directly what I’m drawing.

More importantly though, I think the style of drawing has become more solidified for me. I’ve managed to strike a good balance of cartoony and realism, while still maintaining the “Terminal Lance” look to things. I like to think my artwork is a good blend of Japanese and American influence. My favorite artist of all time is Yoji Shinkawa, with American artists like Andrew Loomis and Greg Ruth being close seconds. Of course, I could spend all day drawing loose, painterly brush work, but it doesn’t make for a good comic strip.

The White Donkey is giving me a chance to focus more on painterly ink work, and I’m grateful for that. The “look” of The White Donkey is very different, it’s realism reflects the more serious nature of the story, and I think it’s appropriate.

I know people look at me as “The Terminal Lance Guy” or whatever, but often forget that first and foremost, I am an artist. I spent many years of my life filling countless sketchbooks with random drawings, doodles and studies. This is a skill I possess because I put a lot of time and effort into it, and it didn’t happen overnight.

I put the comic strip up twice a week and never really talk about the process of it, but there is a process. There’s a lot of time spent thinking of jokes to draw, drawing thumbnails and roughs, and figuring out the best way to word things. Comic strips don’t randomly appear on my website, they are a conscious effort on my part. Some are better than others, but all of them are drawn by hand. To date, there are over 500 Terminal Lance strips between the website and the Marine Corps Times newspaper. This is a massive body of work, and it’s crazy to think about sometimes.

This is kind of a ramble, but I guess I’ve just been thinking about art a lot lately. The other day I posted a photo of a brush doodle I did to the Facebook Fan Page and people seemed to be shocked. It was like “Oh yeah, I forgot, you draw things and you’re pretty good.”

I guess I don’t really know how to feel about that. On one hand, I recognize that my name has transcended the simplicity of recognizing me simply for my work, and on the other I kind of wish people still remembered that I really just love to draw things.

So much violence in the realm of Terminal Lance as of late.

In any case, God loves you.

Okay, not really. Or maybe? I don’t know. I’m not particularly religious. Even if I were, it’s really not my place to tell you what God does or doesn’t do. With that said, this wasn’t really meant to come off as being a secular joke, it’s really more of just a joke. If you’re not sure about what Abe is talking about, I would kindly point you toward even something as renown as the Stanley Kubrick classic, Full Metal Jacket.

God has a hard-on for Marines.

But really, religion–specifically Christianity–is very deeply tied into Marine Corps culture. This is natural, and entirely to be expected with such a strong conservative presence typically found in the military as a whole. I would not be so bold as to proclaim that there is anything inherently wrong with this, I don’t think that’s the correct way to look at it anyway. People have their beliefs and they should be respected regardless. You will find that Christian imagery has a very strong presence amongst the Marine Corps, as is to be expected, in the form of internet memes and the like if you browse any of the plethoric military Facebook pages.

When I got into the Marine Corps, I asked that my dog tags have “NO PREFERENCE” embossed in their steely surface. Boot camp was quite possibly the only time I engaged in any kind of religious activity, as is the case with many Marines, but it wasn’t a passionate rediscovering of my faith. No, it was attending the Jewish service on Friday nights. I suppose, growing up, I never really identified with any particular religion, but I knew my family background was Jewish. My grandfather was a practicing Jew, but he died when my mom was very young, long before I was ever even a sperm in my daddy’s balls. As a result, there was simply no religious presence whatsoever in my household. It wasn’t like there was any disdain for it, it just wasn’t something we did. We celebrated Christmas, but on the basis of it being an American pastime rather than the celebration of Christ.

Back to boot camp, when the drill instructors, in that ever-memorable first week, came to the front of the squad bay and asked “Which one of you motherfuckers is Jewish?” I responded reluctantly, not really sure what to expect. Having no real idea what was happening, we were escorted to a small room across the parade deck at MCRD San Diego. It wasn’t until I was instructed to put on a yarmulke that I had any idea what I had gotten myself into. We sat down amongst a few civilians, sang songs and had a good time. The Friday Jewish services, it turned out, were actually really awesome, and I’m very happy I went.

The best part was that on Sunday, when 90% of the squad bay was at church, the Drill Instructors would let the Jewish recruits just chill out.

I would read the Sunday comics in the newspaper, without the faintest clue I would be starting my own comic strip in years to come…

In other news, I’ve been in full production mode over the last couple of weeks and have barely slept. Producing what? The White Donkey of course! A lot of you have asked me what’s going on with the book, and I’m here to tell you today to expect some news in the very near future.

In the meantime, have a great weekend and go to church on Sunday. Or synagogue on Friday night. Or whatever it is you do I already know it’s getting really drunk and playing PlayStation. Also, follow me on Twitter. I need the attention.

From the shadows of your company office and battalion headquarters, an ancient warrior of stealth strikes whence heeded upon by your command.

He is the Ninja… and he likes to punch Marines.

For those of you unaware, Ninja Punch refers to an “NJP” or “Non-Judicial Punishment.” This is more or less an all-encompassing term for any kind of formal punishment in the Marine Corps above a Page 11 but below a court martial. Many Lance Corporals have fallen victim to the shadow warrior, their rank stricken from their collar upon impact of his fierce and swift strikes.

Of course, an NJP doesn’t necessarily mean reduction in rank, but it certainly can if it’s bad enough. Generally, I think you’d only get busted down from a battalion NJP, but I didn’t want to draw Abe wearing his Alphas because the rank flying off wouldn’t really work. Creative license, if you will.

It’s a funny thing about the whole “Terminal Lance” thing. Despite the fact that I’m published every week in the Marine Times and basically the entire Marine Corps reads this, there’s still a funny stigma associated with my website. The term “Terminal Lance” really just means anyone that got out of the Marine Corps as a Lance Corporal. It’s typically negative because the connotation is that you either got in some kind of trouble, reducing your rank, or you were simply a total shit-bag incapable of a cutting score. This is all based on a true story, though. In my case, I simply was unable to pick up because my MOS (0351) cutting score was either laughably high or closed out completely. People that pick up Corporal with some low ass cutting score like 1400 and act like it’s an accomplishment always bothered me. There’s plenty of good Marines that fall victim to the broken cutting score system, but from what I’ve read, that’s going to change soon. Anyway, the point of this rant is that I’ve never been NJP’d or demoted, despite the fact that I got out as a Lance Corporal.

I’ve never felt the wrath of the Ninja, but I know plenty of otherwise good Marines that have. Getting an NJP or losing rank doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means you fucked up.

Besides, we all know the Green Weenie is one horny motherfucker, and he’s always looking for the next butthole to forcefully take.