• SGT Beef Hardtack
  • SGT Joe Rock
  • SGT Tuan Nguyen
  • SGT Jennifer Stills


  • Warriors Leaders Course, Ft. Lewis, Washington

I’ve met many soldiers who were hard-core “starchers”. They infuse their uniforms with so much starch that the darn things could be stood up by themselves– headless statues in a barracks room corner; as hollow as the promises of recruiters past. Seriously, though, starch used to be almost a currency item in the Army in the old days of Woodland-camouflage BDU uniforms. If enough starch was used, a uniform would literally “crunch” when it was put on for the first time– and that’s actually not a joke.

Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the era of the BDU uniform, it was expected that uniforms would be ironed and pressed. Starch was not mandatory or expected, but many soldiers would use starch to enhance the nice, crisp creases that were supposed to denote (somehow) soldierly coolness. The people I mentioned –the ones that used a lot of starch– had serious, noticeable, and hard-edges creases that made strange “crinkling” noises when they bent their elbows or knees on the first day they “broke starch”.

So of course the joke about a “sharp”-dressed man is now connected. And I’d forgotten about the song until I was halfway through the art, but I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if people had it running through their heads when they read the comic. Maybe Sergeant Stills has a fancy for Sergeant Nguyen that has gone unspoken? Perhaps, but the dynamics are changed now that her Thanksgiving Hand Turkey art is forever ruined.

On the art, one problem with drawing multiple people in camouflage stacked together is that they tend to blend together (surprise surprise) so I try to add increasing dark layers to the people as they get further into the background. In the case of Joe Rock, he ends up in dark greys, almost like some of the ill-fated “urban camo” designs that were experimented with in the past.

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