Today’s comic “God Loves Marines” had a link to Terminal Lance #74 “No Preference” in the blog post.

It’s always weird for me to go back to my old comic strips and look at the artwork and such. It’s always weird for me because the old strips look so terrible in comparison. I never really noticed myself consciously getting better at drawing the strips, in my head I’ve been at the same skill level for years. It’s not until you actually go back and look at your old work that you can see where you’ve improved.

It’s also worth noting that #74 here was done with an Intuos tablet rather than a Cintiq monitor. With the success of the Kickstarter, I was able to buy a 22HD Cintiq monitor for work, and it’s really made a huge difference in my ability to draw digitally. I always thought I was fine with an Intuos tablet, but when I actually draw on the Cintiq it’s a night and day difference. My lines are smoother, done with broad strokes rather than scratchy nudging, and everything is precise due to the fact that I can see directly what I’m drawing.

More importantly though, I think the style of drawing has become more solidified for me. I’ve managed to strike a good balance of cartoony and realism, while still maintaining the “Terminal Lance” look to things. I like to think my artwork is a good blend of Japanese and American influence. My favorite artist of all time is Yoji Shinkawa, with American artists like Andrew Loomis and Greg Ruth being close seconds. Of course, I could spend all day drawing loose, painterly brush work, but it doesn’t make for a good comic strip.

The White Donkey is giving me a chance to focus more on painterly ink work, and I’m grateful for that. The “look” of The White Donkey is very different, it’s realism reflects the more serious nature of the story, and I think it’s appropriate.

I know people look at me as “The Terminal Lance Guy” or whatever, but often forget that first and foremost, I am an artist. I spent many years of my life filling countless sketchbooks with random drawings, doodles and studies. This is a skill I possess because I put a lot of time and effort into it, and it didn’t happen overnight.

I put the comic strip up twice a week and never really talk about the process of it, but there is a process. There’s a lot of time spent thinking of jokes to draw, drawing thumbnails and roughs, and figuring out the best way to word things. Comic strips don’t randomly appear on my website, they are a conscious effort on my part. Some are better than others, but all of them are drawn by hand. To date, there are over 500 Terminal Lance strips between the website and the Marine Corps Times newspaper. This is a massive body of work, and it’s crazy to think about sometimes.

This is kind of a ramble, but I guess I’ve just been thinking about art a lot lately. The other day I posted a photo of a brush doodle I did to the Facebook Fan Page and people seemed to be shocked. It was like “Oh yeah, I forgot, you draw things and you’re pretty good.”

I guess I don’t really know how to feel about that. On one hand, I recognize that my name has transcended the simplicity of recognizing me simply for my work, and on the other I kind of wish people still remembered that I really just love to draw things.

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Happy 1st anniversary to the cutest girl in the world!

Happy 1st anniversary to the cutest girl in the world!

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I took these photos in Iraq.

Sometimes the thing that keeps me up at night is trying to find meaning in what I’ve done.

Sometimes what keeps me up at night is whether or not it meant anything at all.

The last photo was taken on the day that keeps me up at night.

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I need to move on.

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So ten years ago, I was 15 and my good friends Kirsten and Spencer took this random photo with me (I’m the idiot in the middle with the sweet Final Fantasy VIII necklace). Every time we get together now, which isn’t often, we take this photo again.

The first one is from High School, then in 2006 just before I joined the Marine Corps at my going away party. 2010 is at my “EAS” party when I left the Corps, and 2012 is from her wedding last night.

We’ve been separated by half the earth at times, but they’re still my two best friends.

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