Monthly Archives: August 2013

Page 90.

90

7 Nissan Page 90

Page 90.  Not that there’s anything WRONG, in the cosmic sense, with a guy wearing nail polish, but it was certainly a hell of a lot more conspicuous than he’d intended.  His theory, on further questioning, was that his fingernails were “weak,” and that the nail polish would toughen them up like leg braces on a polio victim.  This is yet another example of never having to actually invent dialogue for this comic, reality being quite sufficient.  “You know what — never mind.  Carry on.” should be engraved on the inside of every West Point class ring; it’s a phrase that comes in handy.

AR 670-1 is “Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia,” and also covers things like hair and makeup.  In this scene, in case some readers aren’t familiar with the process, the gunner is removing any ammunition from the machine gun — “clearing” it — to prevent lethal accidents now that they’re back on base, and the officer is checking it.


Page 89.

89

7 Nissan Page 89

Only one page this week, as I spent most of the weekend siting on the couch waiting for 6-8 gallons of snot to drain out of my head.

Naturally, the gate guard consists of one fat guy — wearing knee pads because 30 Sergeants Major with nothing better to do than correct him walk by there every day — and a Ugandan mercenary.  I hope that’s not a detail that’s lost on anyone.


Pages 87-8.

87

7 Nissan Page 87

88

7 Nissan Page 92 Web-Sized

These are pages 87 and 88 of my graphic novel about the Iraq War.

Page 88 was featured on this site back at the beginning of the project as page 92, which I drew right at the beginning in an effort to get the time-consuming cityscapes out of the way and ensure that they were consistent in style (even if nothing else is).  Some changes to the script in the last year and a half mean that it it is now 88 of 101 instead of 92 of 106.

Hopefully the transition between the two isn’t too abrupt.  I didn’t want to draw another boring sequence of these guys picking their way through an urban maze, although it would be pretty realistic to make that 90% of the book.

I’m also hoping that at least some readers catch the shadowy figures on the rooftops on page 87, which is supposed to provide some ambiguous dramatic tension in a Chekhov’s Gun sort of sense, as well as show the other side of the Iraqis we saw watching from the roofs on page 86.  When you’re surrounded by tall buildings like that there’s an inescapable sense of being watched, at best, or at worst trapped in a shooting gallery, and that’s the kind of feeling I’m trying to convey.

As most readers will have no doubt guessed, the MRAP on 87 and the city map on 86 are traced, from a public domain image and Google Maps, respectively.  This comic is mostly done freehand, but for a complex object portrayed up close, like the MRAP, there is absolutely no way I could do it justice.  I drew the city based on an actual map in a few scenes so that knowledgeable people would be able to guess pretty closely where this takes place.

A big artistic revelation for me, personally, came after I got through reading Alison Bechdel’s book, Fun Home, which is excellent.  I went to read more about the author and learned about her painstaking artistic process, which apparently consists of posing and photographing each scene, then tracing the photographs, printing, inking and scanning.  The end result looks great, but I remember thinking, “wait a minute . . . you can TRACE shit and still be a serious artist?”  Of course, as Mark Rothko demonstrates, the bounds for what you can do and still be considered a serious artist are only as limited as your own chutzpah.

It was liberating to realize that I could make art whichever way I liked as long as it was original and expressed what I wanted it to; which is good, because in terms of technical skill I am at best moderately good at drawing.  I’ve long felt that if I am in any special it is because I happened to be in the right place at the right time to tell some of these stories, and had the desire to tell them in this medium when few if any other people are doing so.

That went about three paragraphs past where I meant to.  Anyway, two more pages next weekend.


Page 86.

86

7 Nissan Page 86

Page 86.  I actually got this inked last week, but had to work on the weekend and so didn’t finish it.  Slow progress.

I believe that the U.S. Army had actually emplaced some of these obstacles in order to keep car bombs off of the highway, and we had failed to tell each other where they were.  It certainly sounds like something we would do.

On several occasions we had to go build fortifications for the Iraqi Army or Iraqi Police, and there would be Iraqis standing on nearby roofs “pulling security.”  The Iraqi commanders always told me where they were, so we never accidentally shot one or anything, but it was still extremely unnerving to have them looming over you like that.