I was not totally satisfied with the way the MRAP came out on the top half of this page the first time I drew it, so I re-did it, in what I think was an improvement. There’s a point where an object in the background doesn’t have to be that detailed or exact, and a point where it’s close enough that you’re better off using the cartoonist’s secret weapon* to make sure you get a very specific object to look as accurate as possible. I misjudged it the first time around, but couldn’t just let it sit if I was unsatisfied with it.
So, two comics a week — not really.
*tracing, of course
OK, after some technical difficulties caused by the last WordPress update conflicting with a plugin, here’s page three of my current story.
I was about 5-600m away when this took place, in early April 2009, (I was with one squad, drinking chai with the Iraqi Police, and the PSG was with another) but from talking to the Soldiers this is pretty much how it went down – someone just hucked a grenade at them from out of a dark alley, missing wide and injuring no one at all, whereupon they just counted noses and went right on working, as will be covered in the next few pages. It may have been the least dramatic TIC of the whole war. No one got a CAB for it because it wasn’t even clear who was being “engaged,” and there was no one to shoot back at.
This was the way a lot (though not all) of the engagements we had went down – the Iraqis usually couldn’t hit us with whatever it was they had, and we weren’t allowed to shoot back due to ROE. In Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell referred to the Spanish Civil War as a war where “everyone always did miss everyone else, when it was humanly possible,” which I distinctly remember thinking of even at the time.
The only artistic license here is the shadowy-ness of the figures, which is more in keeping with the theme of the story than the more likely culprit: 17 year-olds in track pants.
Page two of A Haunted Country. That billboard in the background is an IA recruitment ad — not sure it worked. I’m going to try to work more photography into these illustrations, as I did in the cover page. It’s all public domain — either taken by me, personally, in Iraq, or by other Soldiers on duty there. I think it makes the pages more visually interesting.
If you want to see some much better quality illustrations of Mosul, check out Molly Crabapple’s article in Vanity Fair.
This is the first page of the other big story in this book — A Haunted Country. As you can see, I forgot my “don’t script a scene with lots if tiny buildings” rule. Updates weekly (probably) until complete.
And this starts a new story! I’m going to try to update this once a week as much as possible — but remember, this is not a webcomic. These are long-form comics that I’m posting as I complete them, and will eventually release as a completed work. So, you know, I don’t want to hear any complaining if I miss a week. Not that that’s ever happened.