“Funny” is a Relative Term

Cartooning My Way through 2014

The Pendulum
Jan 1, 2015 · 4 min read

They called it “The Look.” Coined by a group of friends at a mess hall table in Baghdad in 2012, it was the thousand-yard stare of a mediocre cartoonist experiencing an epiphany. We could be in the middle of a conversation about the wisdom of smoking cigars at night on the rooftop of the Baath party headquarters, and I’d slip away from the conversation as an idea took form for one of my patented crappy PowerPoint cartoons. Eventually, the look faded, I would return to the conversation, and after assuring everyone around me that they weren’t going to become part of a cartoon, we’d pick up where we left off.

I can go for weeks without drifting off into the look. Those gaps represent the cartooning equivalent of writer’s block. But when the look finally returns, it does so in ways that I can’t begin to describe. Like most Army leaders, I carry the ubiquitous green notebook. But unlike others, the last pages in my notebook contain lists of idea for cartoons, sketches for new characters, and quotes that some people would prefer I didn’t memorialize in PowerPoint.

The funny thing about cartooning is that you don’t always know what will resonate with your audience and what won’t. There are days when I KNOW a cartoon will strike a chord, only to watch it stumble out of the gate. There are other days when I’m ambivalent about a cartoon and people click it, like it, and share it like a Grumpy Cat meme. Needless to say, the look doesn’t always see the ball out of the park.

2014 was another solid year for The Further Adventures of Doctrine Man. Just when I thought I couldn’t get another cartoon out of Papa Panda Sexy Pants, we found ourselves back in Iraq fighting an enemy that produced new characters and fresh ideas. Even though John Kerry stopped throwing money around the Middle East, Kim Jong-Un provided a late-breaking surge of fodder with the fiasco surrounding the Sony hack. And finally, we declared victory in Afghanistan even as we prepared to double-down on the advise and assist mission.

Some people create amazing pieces of art. Some people write with the lyrical prose of Hemingway. I draw crappy PowerPoint cartoons. So, without further ado, our favorite #DailyDM ‘toons from the last year (the comments alone are worth following the hyperlinks).

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Operation Enduring Freedom gave way to Resolute Support. Otherwise, it’s another day in paradise, just livin’ the dream.

Merry Christmas, one and all. The holidays are always trying when you’re deployed. It’s even worse when you know that no one is coming to replace you.

Kim Pong-Un. I took a fair amount of crap over this cartoon, if for nothing more than suggesting that maybe the NorKs didn’t hack Sony, after all. Something the FBI is only now coming around to realizing.

Unsocial media. Thursdays combine two of my favorite activities: ridiculing extremists and cartooning about goats. Daesh has only made that all the more fun.

Blue Falcon! It’s the tyranny of body fat. You’re fit enough to go to war, but not be rewarded for it.

It’s only a lot of swearing if you do it. Anyone who has maneuvered through the Department of Veteran Affairs’ disability rating process appreciated this cartoon. It’s even funnier because you know it could be true.

Suicide bomber safety briefing. Surprisingly enough, you can see this actually happening. It’s only a matter of time.

Vitamin M fixes everything. And let’s not forget Ebola. Yes, even a deployment to fight Ebola provides some much-needed levity.

OER hijinks. Yes, it is possible to make the officer evaluation report even more painful. Whoever thought that complicating the support form was a good idea should be sealed in a wall locker with a feral honey badger.

The facts, however interesting, are irrelevant. Who wore the first reflective belt? Does it really matter? We all know they should be thrown in a burn pit somewhere and wiped from our memory.

Yeah, it was a good year, by any measure. And I can’t wait for 2015 to get here.

    The Pendulum

    Written by

    Original Thoughts and Writing from Doctrine Man!!