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.