Monthly Archives: August 2012

7 Nissan Page 27

This is page 27 of my ongoing graphic novel project.  I was enjoying drawing complex scenes for the last couple pages, but now we’re back to people talking in offices for the next two.

The next panel, incidentally, is the first one (of about ten) that I’m going to self-censor until the whole book gets cleared by PAO.  Obviously, the XO answers the question, providing more exposition.  I’ll probably post the panel with no text next week.  Nothing to see here, red Chinese.

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7 Nissan Page 27


7 Nissan Page 26

This is page 26.  Unlike page 25, this one was in the script from the beginning and never had any text.  I was originally going for a slightly lighter shade on the building, as in reality it was painted tan, but the brownish color works, especially since it’s supposed to be late afternoon and getting dark.  As it gets to be nighttime, a country that consists mainly of dust and concrete tends to take on a muddy color anyway.

The doors on these buildings really were red, because whoever fabricated them back in 2003 apparently had a lot of red paint on hand.  Although the Soldiers on FOB Marez lived in manufactured housing (CHUs), the offices were mainly in appropriated buildings from the facility’s days as an Iraqi Air Force base.  They were much more comfortable, but of course the 101st Airborne kicked in all the doors when they captured the place, and so they were all replaced by some determined Private with a plasma cutter and some sheet metal that he found.

Sharp eyes will catch the bird’s nest on the fire extinguisher box.  There really was one outside my office, about a foot from the door.  A pigeon laid eggs in the nest while everyone was away on a mission, and then whenever I’d walk in she would glare at me, terrified, but would refuse to leave the nest for any reason.  It seemed like a metaphor for something at the time.  Later, I came by to find the nest and eggs smashed, and the pigeon gone.  I threatened to shoot the perpetrator if I found out who it was.  Only later did I see the Blackadder episode.

Sometimes, before a mission, you’ll have a stark moment of pensive clarity when you think to yourself, “Good god, this is incredibly dangerous.  What am I doing?  I could be killed.”  The trick is to totally ignore that feeling and forget that you ever had it, because you’ve got a job to do.  That’s supposed to be what’s happening here.

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7 Nissan Page 26


7 Nissan Page 25

Page 25.  I’m actually two pages ahead, so this makes the book 25% complete.  Look for it to be out in mid-2013.

I did an alternate of this without any text because I was really happy with how the artwork came out, but then decided that someone who didn’t recognize the crushed aggregate plant wouldn’t know what was going on. I may end up using the other one in the final book, though.

The NCO is, of course, speaking Turkish, though very few NCOs actually do.  Some do speak a little Arabic.

Many of the contractors and shopkeepers working for the US Army in Iraq, or at least in Mosul, were Turks, no doubt merely resuming a role that they’ve had in that country since about 1375.

And you can’t spell “contractor” without “con.”

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7 Nissan Page 25 With Text

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(Without text.)

7 Nissan Page 25


7 Nissan Panel 24

As per my intent to update the site panel-to-panel instead of monthly, here’s Page 24 of 7 Nissan, my ongoing graphic novel project, to be completed in mid-2013.

As everyone knows, the Iraq War was started as the result of a grand conspiracy by Green Bean Coffee to secure a monopoly on coffee sales to hundreds of thousands of U.S. and British service personnel.

Panels like this, which serve as a bridge between more meaningful episodes of the story, always make me worry that the book moves too slowly, but that’s probably just because it takes me so long to draw them.  I feel like a week has gone by and all that we’ve seen is this guy’s alarm clock go off.  In book form, the reader will go through it in a matter of seconds, which is fine.

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7 Nissan Page 24


7 Nissan Continued

Here I promised to update this more often, and then waited until I had three whole pages done to put them online.  Anyway, here are pages 21-3.

I guess I can make up for the slow posting with some notes on the panels below.  Web-exclusive content, it is!

Page 21, of course, follows page 20, which was in a previous posting.  The two of them together show the hours of paperwork that, for better or for worse, go into every combat patrol — this never makes it on CNN, but it’s in keeping with this book’s goal of communicating the overall feel of the Iraq War, at least from my perspective, to the vast majority of people who weren’t there.  The “Secret” computer on the Left has a completely made-up PowerPoint slide  that I created just for this purpose; it isn’t actually secret at all, obviously.  It shows a Serious Incident Report for shooting a flare at an Iraqi vehicle — this well-known practice is a great way to avoid shooting civilians who are behaving in a car-bomb-y manner (they turn right around, and it’s harmless to them), but in an effort to keep the flare expenditure down the command had us fill out paperwork every time we shot one.  It was effective, but felt pretty retarded when you had to send up a report saying that basically nothing of consequence had happened.  The computer on the Right has G-mail up.  Originally the reader was meant to be able to read the text on screen, which says “SUBJ: re, re, re, re, re Our Relationship,” in order to communicate, subtly, that often times the leadership — officers and NCOs — have to deal with their own problems at home, while at the same time not showing it so that they can take care of Soldiers who are having the same problems.  In practice, it came out much too small to read, and I’m glad that it did, because I don’t ever want to come off sounding Emo and self-absorbed.

Page 22 shows the character sleeping at his desk, which will happen when you’ve been on four hours of sleep a night for months and your actual bed is like a mile away on the other side of the base.  The calendar is there because it’s my intent to allow the reader to date this exactly by internal references.  It was originally going to be a poster reading “Don’t Kill Yourself so You Can Kill Them,” in the style of my “Sexual Assault is WRONG” poster in a previous panel, but on reflection that seemed way too morbid.

Page 23 originally wasn’t in the script, but I wanted to move the focus away from the one character and broaden it a little — this isn’t a comic about one guy, it’s just usually narrated from his perspective.  Having another panel in there also helps to convey the passage of time.  23 shows the Soldiers killing time between missions, and incorporates the most hilarious conversation fragment I’ve ever heard.  Bonus points if you can identify who actually owns the copyright to the original of the pin-up poster in the background of this.  Don’t sue, it’s the cool thing to do.

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7 Nissan Page 21

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7 Nissan Page 22

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7 Nissan Page 23