As I continue to make final edits to my graphic novel about the Iraq War (six words that I’m getting tired of typing at this point), I’ve come to several pages that I had previously not published due to concerns on my part about the necessity of getting the work cleared for public release by the DA/DOD. However, a more careful reading of the regulations indicates that this is not necessary for “works of fiction (to include those based on real events),” as long as I’m confident that there’s no classified information disclosure. I am very confident in this, due to the extreme vagueness written into the story.
AR 360-1, Para. 6-6 (c)
So, without further ado, here are some previously unpublished pages to tide you over while the editing continues.
Pages 37 and 38 will appear side by side in the final print version, like so. They explain the basics of what is going on to the casual reader. I had originally written this as a big block of text, but I think that this is much more clear and reads much better.
This section is the culminating point of the book, and cuts a clear contrast to the later pages when they’re handing out candy to little kids. It’s based on one particularly frightening incident that happened to me in 2009 in which an Iraqi driver, who may or may not have been guilty of anything, only escaped being stapled to the pavement by 7.62 rounds because my vehicle gunner didn’t have that last cup of coffee before setting out. We would almost certainly have been within our rights to shoot him, but in retrospect of course I’m glad we didn’t. I included the escalation of force scene here, instead of something more violent, because the point of writing the book was to show an unremarkable mission on an unremarkable day by an unremarkable unit in Iraq, and while shootings and IED attacks did happen, they were much rarer, whereas even to this day in Afghanistan you have 18 and 19 year-old vehicle gunners making these kinds of shoot/no-shoot decisions every single day. Hopefully that comes across.
Anyway, I’ve got the first 75 pages edited at this point, and I’ll post the whole thing once it’s complete before I move on to .pdf and print layouts.
All eleven regular readers will have noticed a long delay since my last update. This is not because I haven’t been working, but rather because I’ve been editing, and it’s boring as hell. It turns out that there’s a big difference between having drawn enough pages to fill a book and having completed a book. There are three main steps to bridging this gap:
1. Un-fuck the pages that I already drew. This mainly stems from the fact that I got much better at drawing over the past couple of years (100% due to practice and 0% due to natural talent) and so the later panels look better than the earlier ones. I also didn’t draw model sheets when I began this project, which started off as something — anything — to fill the time while I sweated out the purgatory of living in Hawaii, and turned into a first novel once I realized how long it would be when it was done. This means that some of the characters and objects change appearance incrementally but noticeably between the beginning and the end when I wasn’t paying attention, which won’t do. Anyway, this means making a lot of little changes to details in the earlier pages, as below. See if you can spot them!
2. Put all of the pages into a .pdf file, laid out for printing. I use Adobe InDesign for this, and will format it for Amazon’s CreateSpace POD publishing business, although the same document will be for sale as a .pdf and will be sent to publishers to see if anyone’s interested.
3. Draw a cover. This is the most fun part, but also the most challenging, since it’s a different sort of design challenge than drawing the interior pages. I can pretty much visualize what’s happening in the story, sometimes all too vividly, and most of the time it’s not hard to just draw that. Drawing a cover is different, because I have to accurately convey the artwork that’s inside without making it too complex to catch the eye. I also have to write a synopsis for the back that’s meaningful but not pretentious, which may be the hardest part of the whole project.
I have a lot of downtime at work around Christmas, so that’ll probably be when most of this gets done. I’m uploading the final pages on my Tumblr as I complete them, and I’ll put the whole thing up on this website in one long post once it’s finally done. Stay tuned!