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Comic Strip: PVT Murphy's Law

A comic about life in the US Army, starring Staff Sergeant Murphy and written/drawn by retired Master Sargent Mark Baker. The title of the cartoon is both an Artifact Title and a Shout-Out to Murphy's Law, and how it relates to life in the military. But despite the exaggerated humor each cartoon is actually a pointed look at how the real-life Army operates both officially and unofficially.

Not to be confused with the Webcomic Murphy's Law, although quite a bit of PVT Murphy's Law can be found online here.

For several years, PVT Murphy's Law could be seen every week in the print version of the Army Times newspaper. However, following some controversy, the Army Times decided to drop the comic. Mr. Baker quit adding new pages to the webcomic sometime between 2010 and 2012.


This webcomic includes examples of the following tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Implied to be quite a few of them in the Army. Every time Murphy's brigade rotates home from a deployment, a beer company executive can be seen bolting upright in bed because he felt a disturbance in the force from the soldiers thinking so hard about how much they look forward to their first drink in months.
  • Artifact Title: Private Murphy got promoted long ago, and several times since then. His promotion through the ranks is typically reflected in the titles of the printed collections of the comics.
  • Cross Over: A brief one with Air Force Blues.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: As mentioned above, Murphy expects one when he's told he is going to be fighting against an Airman during a boxing tournament. Unfortunately, as the airman is an unexpectedly huge brute, it does turn out to be a Curb-Stomp Battle, except Murphy's not doing the stompin'.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Several times. Notably a Take That was aimed at a Real Life Drill Sergeant Nasty who was demoted a single paygrade after being convicted of abusing his recruits.
  • Honest John's Dealership: A literal loan shark at a car dealership is once shown asking Murphy about the length of his enlistment (presumably trying to gauge how much money Murphy could conceivably afford to pay for a car, so he can sell him the highest priced car in that range).
    • Truth in television here most military bases are surrounded by similarly run used car dealers, stereo shops, etc., that exist only to prey on soldiers' wallets.
  • Important Haircut: Murphy gets a buzz cut when he enters basic. And has to pay for it.
  • It's Raining Men: S Sgt Murphy is a paratrooper, although the only times he ever uses this skill is during his training.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Murphy's battalion commander is implied to be one.
  • Mildly Military: Murphy himself at times, on one occasion, he states this as the reason he doesn't like visiting Air Force units.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Murphy takes a grenade pin in his teeth and thinks, "This is how John Wayne does it! beat The Duke must have had a hell of a dental plan!"
  • Battlefields Are Gymnasiums: One comic featured Murphy doing chin-ups on the barrel of a parked Bradley IFV. He got yelled at for it by the vehicle's commander.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: In one comic, Murphy is seen sitting on his cot, opening a Care Package, shouting "Mom sent commo!"
    • When this one came out in 2004, radio comunications were a problem for troops stationed in Iraq.
  • Second Love: As far as the comic's representation of Murphy's love life goes, Murphy's wife Anna.
  • Snipe Hunt: Murphy gets sent on one of these as a new arrival to his unit, told to fetch such items as "gird squares". Later on, after his promotion to sergeant, he assigns such a task to a newbie, but it backfires.
  • Soldiers at the Rear: There's a comic about "Fobbits"; in a visual pun, it's Bilbo in a flak vest and ACUs (and a bag of snacks from the FOB's PX).
  • Take That: One aimed at Kid Rock, and also one aimed at a Drill Sergeant Nasty who was demoted for abusing his recruits. The latter featured the Drill Sergeant tumbling down a flight of stairs (labeled with the Army Core Values) and landing on his face.
  • Unmoving Plaid: The cammo uniforms are done like this.
  • Visual Pun: Murphy depicted as an earthworm while trying to low-crawl (he gets told to low-crawl lower), Murphy opening a care package from home, while surrounded by vultures wearing Army uniforms, a giant cockroach in charge of on-base housing, you get the general idea.
  • War On Terror: Yellowish-Orange, depending on if Murphy is deployed or not, considering his occupation. Typically only serves as background to the comic, which is mostly based around topical humor or the hijinks created by bored soldiers.

Alternative Title(s):

PVT Murphys Law