Synopsis: A group of archeologists discovers the rambling diary of a tortured soul slowly going mad. There’s no consistent logic, coherent meaning, or even an apparent chronological order to the bizarre episodes scrawled across the tattered book’s pages. But nonetheless, the engrossed readers can’t help but digest the entire manifesto cover to cover. Now the unhinged protagonist is in uniform, sent away to a faraway war zone. Where this war happened, assuming it happened at all, the madman doesn’t say. But he does describe at length what had started as a boring overnight watch. Reposted from the author’s blog on Reading Junkie.
I was quite the rising star in those days. So far, I had managed not to get any DUI’s or murder any hookers. A true accomplishment in the Corps. A true warfighter indeed. But let’s be honest. I was mediocre at best. But being mediocre is better than trying to cram a dead underrage methhead in your wall locker.
But anyway, there I was in Camp [Indistinguishable nonsense]. It was night. I was on duty with a staff sergeant… I cannot remember almost anyone’s names, and they really don’t matter. The people behind those names don’t matter too much either. They’re like me. Irrelevant.
Our eyes glued to the murky laptop screens, radios crackling within arm’s reach, we sat ready and vigilant for any emergency that came our way, via chat message. At the time we used mIRC (The DOD changes systems more often than a heavy bleeder changes her tampons), receiving, copying, pasting, and relaying message after message, not so different from sentries shouting down the line. If this picture I’m painting for you is unclear, let me explain a typical marvel of military ingenuity that we played an honorable role in.
A BOLO is issued.
“Be on the lookout for a 1994 white Corolla.”
Good to go. Then someone asks a fateful question… “what does a 1994 Corolla look like?”
A fair question, but impossible to answer. Google is blocked. Fifty men, all the men currently on watch in every company, battery, and battalion on the base, pool our collective dim brains to solve this strange puzzle. Can we use Bing? Yahoo? Mr. Skin? No. We’re fucked.
The world’s mightiest war machine defeated by its own firewall. But it’s alright. Military discipline requires sacrifice at times, you see. Tonight the western berm and towers of the base might be incinerated by our mysterious stranger in his corolla, but at least we weren’t fucking off on the internet.
However dumb life is in a line company, the Division HQ is so much worse. Though that wasn’t much comfort at the time.
The next day, the company commander informed us that the Commandant of the Marine Corps was visiting. Therefore, he ordered us to find and pick up every rock and pebble on the base. Do you know how many rocks that goddamn country has in it? But we did it. Somehow. The commandant never showed. But at least we were no longer plagued by rocks.
Catch up on all the chapters of the Madman’s Manifesto!
Suggested Books and Movies
Here are some books I have personally enjoyed considering the technical, human, and weird aspects of humanity at war.
Martin van Creveld has spoken and written about his theories and projections of how human conflict is likely to evolve in the upcoming years as the world and people in it undergo their own personal metamorphosis into… god knows what. It’s a brave new world after all. Despite being written almost 30 years ago, The Transformation of War has aged well, which is more than can be said for most contemporary books on military theory.
The broad real-life developments of conflict between human tribes, whether they’re small clans or great nation states, has in many ways matched patterns he theorized they would follow. Now that the Global War on Terror, which in of itself launched a decade after this book, has dragged on and evolved, it’s beneficial to go back and see the often prophetic vision that van Creveld perceived and transferred to ink on paper.
Did he hit the mark on everything, or was he wrong on certain points? I’m not going to answer that for you. Read and judge for yourself. It’s a dense, academic read, but packed with information and worth the time demanded to digest it. I will say that I am skeptical that the world is going quite down the gloomy road that van Creveld is fairly adamant about. However, he is a brilliant scholar and he’s been proven right on many things so far. Only time will tell.
Weird War Tales is a delightfully macabre DC comic series that ran throughout the ’70s. For anyone who delights in comic book parables with a dark and sometimes eccentric flare, this is a must-read.
Like just about any long-running comic book series, Weird War Tales has some ups and downs, hits and misses, but the good stories outnumber the bad. The artwork follows the established styles of the era, original ink and color panels, illustrations, and internal alternative covers printed in fairly consistent quality.
I can’t claim to have read all of Weird War Tales, but enough to say that some are silly, others frightening, and others teach a moral lesson or provide some other insight on warfare and the people in it. I like weird, so it’s probably no surprise that I like this. Zombies? Ghosts? Vengeful Jewish ghosts terrorizing Nazis? Eh, why not. Just about anything goes.
The links in the picture and embedded in the text will take you, the curious reader, to a semi-complete listing of volumes and individual issues available for order, many of them for pennies on the dollar.
The White Donkey can be fairly described as the magnum opus of Maximilian Uriarte, who was once just another denizen of the so-called “lance corporal underground” of disgruntled junior Marines. But the “artist recruit” threw some silly comics together, and became a legendary figure almost overnight. The story-telling flavor that made Uriarte famous is reminiscent of Dilbert: humorous jabs at a community written by an insider. His trademark artistic style started as simple line drawings in the universally known sequential rectangular format, usually featuring two or three panels leading up to a punchline, at times mixing things up with a single large panel in which the protagonist (who is loosely based on Uriarte himself) or one of his battle buddies makes a silly and yet strangely profound observation on the absurdities and contradictions of military life.
After obtaining an art degree and many years of practice, Uriarte has greatly improved his artwork and is a capable artist easily the equal of the teams at major comic book publishers. He uses that more realism-oriented art to tell a story that’s more serious and, honestly, much darker than his humor comic strips. His line art is detailed and close to flawless. His employment of color theory to capture different moods and even differentiate between time periods and locations in the story, demonstrate an excellence that many sequential artists try and fail at.
I believe Uriarte is most in his element with his Dilbertesque humor, and wish he would take a crack at the faux “manuals” that Scott Adams churned out and make me chuckle. However, by no means am I dismissive of this ambitious launch effort of serious military fiction in the format of a graphic novel. Not just any graphic novel, a painstaking one he spent well over a year planning, storyboarding, producing, and publishing. It deserves recognition and it’s good that it appears to have brought him considerable commercial and branding success.
I worked in the Army’s Public Affairs program as a multi-media “correspondent,” if you will, for eight years, producing news articles, video, and photography in around the United States as well as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.
My current creative endeavors include Tales From Venus, the Night Witches Project, and The Man With No Heart. A full list of my published work on Fabius Maximus can be found here. My portfolio of military work and publications is located here. I have the attention span of a squirrel, so none of these are quite finished yet. I’m excited to have launched Reading Junkie, and hope it is a platform that other creators enjoy and find useful. See my full bio here.
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