Webcomic / Terminal Lance
is a bi-weekly webcomic by Terminal Lance Corporal Maximilian Uriarte, USMC
(retired). It draws
on Uriarte's experiences as a Lance Corporal in the infantry. Think a Work Com
, but set in the military.
Uriarte has also produced an animated short called Post
, which bears the Terminal Lance brand but does not feature the same characters (or rather, if it does, it's hard to tell
Most of the humor is related to life in the Corps. Non-Marines
are advised to have a reference (or a Marine friend to act as translator) handy for all the acronyms and expressions that appear.
In 2016, The White Donkey
, a more serious graphic novel based on his experiences in Iraq, was published, funded by a Kickstarter
Terminal Lance contains examples of:
- Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: Uriarte uses a lot of terms that leave non-Marines baffled. The title of this strip refers to the trope.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: A common hobby of marines. You better believe that looking at normal porn is the one of the more normal things to happen in the strip.
- Always a Bigger Fish: In this strip, a bunch of lower-level enlisted personnel get to enjoy seeing their Gunnery Sergeant being chewed out by a more senior NCO instead of being the one giving the chewing-out to the lower-level enlisted. The title for that page is, to make the point of the strip obvious, "The Bigger Fish".
- Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Discussed in #302, Pirate Sword.
- Armed Farces: One of the purposes of the comic as a whole is to make fun of the silly stuff one regularly finds in the Marine Corps.
- Armored Closet Gay: The Drill Instructor in this strip seems to be one.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: The civilian in this strip thinks the military is a place for people too poor for college. Abe is not pleased.
- Art Evolution: Compare, say, an early strip drawn while Uriarte was still on active duty to a strip made after he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts involving the same three characters (Abe, glasses guy, and the Master Gunnery Sergeant). The characters appear much more lifelike with implied motion and depth in the second strip.
- Artifact of Doom: Sergeants suddenly turn into jerkasses when they get promoted to Staff Sarge. Some marines believe it's the extra chevron that does it.
- Ass Shove: The "oil check".
- Author Appeal: Uriarte did a short zombie arc starting here
- Author Avatar: The initially nameless brunet Marine grunt, later identified as "Abe" during the Zombie Apocalypse arc, looks an awful lot like Uriarte. Pretty much confirmed in "Paranoid Book Signing" when Uriarte draws himself: he's indistinguishable from Abe, Permastubble notwithstanding.
- Bathroom Stall Graffiti: "Wagner Loves The Cock". According to Uriarte, this particular saying is Real Life bit of Memetic Mutation in the Marine Corps. Nobody seems to know where or when it got started. In fact, according to the comic, it is impossible for a Marine to sit in a bathroom stall with a marker without either writing this message, or drawing a penis on the stall, whether that Marine is male or female.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: The common "The Taliban and people nearby them fucks goats" joke appears fairly frequently should these people be mentioned in a comic. Once though, the goat turned the tide.
- Butt Monkey: Boots and POGs are frequent targets, as well as "water dogs"—1171 water technicians.
- Catapult Nightmare: Abe has one about standing in line at the armory.
- Chest of Medals: A more subdued example than most, though still impressive given that the person in question (Senior Chief Petty Officer Edward Byers, a Combat Medic serving with the Navy SEALs) earned the Medal of Honor—as well as FOUR Bronze Stars. Abe catches a boot Marine having a date with Rosie Palms to pictures of the ribbon stack.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Shown here. Very Truth in Television among the Marines, as The Rant accompanying the comic attests.
- "Dear John" Letter: Unable to deal with spending so much time apart from him, Abe's girlfriend evidently wrote him a break-up letter a few hours after he left.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Averted. Each strip has an accompanying rant at the bottom explaining the context of the joke, especially helpful for non-marine folks. It's often as funny as the strip itself.
- Drunken Master: Cone. According to Uriarte, every platoon has at least one person who is like this, who only gets better when drunk.
- Drunk with Power: Implied in one strip, which shows a Marine who turns into a giant douchebag (literally) upon being promoted to Corporal.
- Eye Scream: Abe and a fellow Marine are engaged in unarmed combat practice. Abe does the MCMAP eye gouge move, not expecting it to do anything because it looked so stupid. Needless to say, it goes horribly right. Uriarte states in the accompanying blog that he thinks an MRE spoon is more likely to be useful as an eye-gouging device than the eye gouge move.
- Fetish Retardant: In-Universe example. One strip, and The Rant that accompanies it, comments that it's a big turn-off to be watching porn and see a Marine tattoo on one of the actors.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Attempts to avert this trope are constantly being made.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied in this strip.
- Good-Looking Privates: The dress blues can make any man into this, apparently... to the point where a joke is made about a Marine dying because he wore them home and he "drowns in pussy".
- Gossip Evolution: The comic gives readers the Marine version of the grapevine, "Lance Corporal Underground", complete with warping the actual message between its origin and final destination as a nod to the Norman Rockwell painting, and its sequel, "Lance Corporal Underground II", which references reporter Wolf Blitzer's coverage of the tunnels from Gaza to Israel.
- Iconic Outfit: Nearly all post 9-11 vets wear the same outfits. Here's why.
- I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: Inverted and subverted in this strip: Abe is good at Call of Duty, thanks to the military, but not because of his military training - it's because they often had nothing to do on duty but play Call of Duty.
- Important Haircut: The "high and tight" is treated as a subversion, especially after the pleasantness of the "medium reg" is discovered.
- Interservice Rivalry: Within the Corps, between POGs and grunts. Uriarte naturally takes the side of the grunts. He especially doesn't like the "Water Dogs" (Marine plumbers), though at one point he also mocks the grunts who think anyone who does technical/repair work is an immediate POG.
- Irony: Shortly after he left the military, Max was finally promoted to Corporal. Long after he had become the creator of Terminal Lance. He believes it's more of the military screwing with him.
- Part of this is on account of high tenure, wherein you get a small separation bonus when forced out of service for not making rank. Max made rank, and therefor lost the bonus.
- Of course, being a Marine, he'll take potshots at the Army and the Air Force as well.
- "Join the Army," They Said: #28: "False Advertising". First panel: Marine grunt in combat. Second panel: Three Marines in dress uniform with ceremonial rifles, with the "The Few. The Proud." recruiting slogan across it. Third panel: Guy in fatigues standing in front of a recruiting poster with a mop. The Rant even says that "making fun of the cheesy recruiting commercials is one of the favorite pass times [sic] of Marines."
Mop guy: Well anything seems cool if you say it like that...
- Lethal Chef: Naturally, military food and the ever-popular MRE get a few jokes at their expense.
- Limited Advancement Opportunities: The name Terminal Lance refers to Marines whose climb up the rank ladder has stalled at Lance Corporal (just below NCO status), often because the score required for promotion in their career specialty is ridiculously high (or the Corps just plain refuses to accept any new Corporals in that specialty). Ironically, Uriarte was ultimately promoted to Corporal, but didn't find out about it until three months after he left the Corps. In keeping with the tradition of referring to oneself by rank, he calls himself "Terminal Lance Corporal Maximilian Uriarte, USMC".
- Literal-Minded: Here,here, and here. Also, as noted in the blog post for this one:
"...90% of the time Marines tend to take the term “sound Reveille” a bit more literally than they should. They do, quite literally, yell the word “Reveille” repeatedly until everyone is awake."
- Made Myself Sad: Abe gets the Lance Corporal insignia tattooed onto his back. Garcia asks him what he'll do if he gets promoted. Abe starts laughing since he knows he won't get promoted due to Limited Advancement Opportunities—which is why he got the tattoo to begin with, in order to mock the cutting score system—then tears up a little.
- Memetic Hand Gesture: The Terminal Lance hand sign, but more endearing is "Knife Hands"—the height of which is directly in proportion to the anger of the one doing it.
- Mook Horror Show: In this strip, Abe comments that, despite the fact that everyone wants to be Solid Snake, the Marines on guard are closer to the guards who get killed.
- New Ability Addiction: #302: "Pirate Sword" has a Marine NCO on a combat mission brandish the ceremonial saber NCOs are required to buy for their dress uniform when they're promoted. He had to buy the thing, so he's darn well gonna use it! The author's remarks:
LCPL. (ret.) Max Uriarte: Back to the sword though, it's one of those things that I don't even know what the fuck it's really for. Obviously you can't go around racking up confirmed sword kills in Afghanistan, so it's really just a useless ceremonial item that no one would ever willingly pay for.
- No Name Given: Abe and Garcia are only ever known by their nickname (Abe) or their last name (Garcia). Their full names are given in the "Revenge of the Dependapotamus" PDF comics: Abe's last name is Belatzeko, and Garcia's first name is Jesus. At least in Abe's case it seems to be that no one can pronounce his last name right, which is based on Uriarte's own experience of people mispronouncing his last name while he was in active service.
- Noodle Implements: Abe's Necropocalypse Survival Kit: A bottle of wine, a can of kerosene, a rope, and condoms. Garcia calls him on it, referring to it as a "rape kit."
- Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be:
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: The Rant for this strip has Max insist he really does recall at least three occasions of Marines' lighting their own pubic hair on fire to stave off boredom from his first Iraq deployment.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat / Rules Lawyer: The Staff NCOs are frequently shown to be impairing the work of the grunts, not infrequently at the expense of getting things done.
- Old Soldier: Parodied ruthlessly, making fun of how life in the Corps seems to age people far more quickly than the calendar.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Abe is called "Abe" because no one can pronounce his last name (Belatzeko).
- This is based on the author's own experience, since nobody could pronounce Uriarte.
- Only Sane Man: A lot of the strips give the impression that anyone above the rank of Corporal is stupid, evil, or just plain nuts. They give the same impression of anyone at or below that rank as well, of course.
- Phony Veteran: Parodied in this strip, where a Marine screams at a child for dressing up as a Marine for Halloween.
- Potty Failure: Have you ever yelled so hard you shit your pants?
- Racist Ghost of Marine Corps Hero: The Ghost of Chesty Puller's advice for memorial day: "If I were you, I'd go and find a nice fat-bottomed negro woman to romp with."
Garcia: Wow...that was really racist.
Abe: His time was a different time.
- The Rant: Every comic is accompanied by an entry explaining the background behind the joke for anyone who wasn't a Grunt, as well as giving the author's feelings about it.
- Recruiters Always Lie/Join the Marines, They Said: Several strips deal with the fact that the advertisements always paint a much rosier picture of service than the reality.
- Semper Fi: The United States Marine Corps plays a important role in the comic.
- Serious Business: Uriarte notes in the blog post for this strip that Marines will argue about pretty much anything to get away from the boredom of everyday life in the Corps, and they'll stick to their guns no matter how pointless the argument is.
- Shout-Out: Most of the titles of the comics. The subtitle of the website itself is a line from one of The Killers' most popular songs.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Boots and the newly promoted often have much motivation and the belief that they can change the Corps and have a good time. Such "moto" dies out in time.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Exaggerated and parodied here. And only very slightly exaggerated, too, if the video in the accompanying rant is any indication.
- Sound Off: When tasked for someone else to call cadence, Abe volunteers. Cue Visible Silence.
Platoon Leader: ...I don't hear anything!
Abe: I know! Isn't this so much better?
- Splash of Color: The comic is done in black and white, with the exception generally being reflective belts (always very bright yellow, regardless of it being relevant or not). Other one-off splashes of color include service ribbons in some strips, a candy wrapper, and a green Clone-A-Willy.
- Squee!: Abe goes completely fanboy over the thought of being shown the inside of a tank.
- Strangely Arousing: Abe's reaction to a female marine wearing the Dress Blues, who—in a push for equality among marines—also has a medium-reg haircut.
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: Within three days of his returning home on leave, Abe finds he is bored as hell of civilian life and misses the barracks. Uriarte describes the more dramatic version of this trope in his accompanying blog post.
- Take That, Audience!: A photo of a boot corporal holding an umbrella for the President while he gave a speech was met with derision and declarations to tell him to hold his own umbrella...from Talking Heads to other servicefolknote The strip has the corporal complain, whereupon the President about tears his head off.
: “I would have told him to fuck off and hold his own umbrella.” No you wouldn’t. Shut up
. We’re Marines, if the President of the fucking United States
asks you to hold a fucking umbrella, you hold a fucking umbrella.
[...] He’s the President, he rates an umbrella. Get over it.
- Thirsty Desert: The Marine base at Twentynine Palms is in the middle of the desert, a good two to three hour drive from any off-base amusements, and generally an unpleasant place to be (even worse if one is permanently stationed there). Uriarte calls it one of the most miserable permanent duty stations in the Corps. In one of the blog posts, he even calls the base Satan's Asshole in jest.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: This image of Sgt. Dakota Meyer receiving the Medal of Honor, described by Uriarte as a man who "bears more burden than [he] can fathom."
- Took a Level in Cynic: The strip generally portrays the boot, the newbies, as a Butt Monkey Naďve Newcomer. Over time, he'll slowly get more cynical, with the worst being a Lance Corporal. Eventually, once he leaves the military, he'll be back to normal.
- Too Much Information: In one instance of Abe being on barracks duty, he is told to "keep track of everything" in the logbook. Taking this at face value, he entered, in concise but excruciating detail, an account of his trip to the bathroom to perform some bodily functions. The Officer On Duty notes that this account "is a bit unnecessary".
- Too Soon: Uriarte drew this strip making a racism joke before he realized that it would be put up right after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Discusses it in the accompanying rant.
- Traumatic Haircut: A marine forces his son to get a high-and-tight haircut, and the kid is very much distraught over it. Abe, regarding it as child abuse, reports it to PMO...who move quickly.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Uriarte notes that Marines will complain about anything and everything. Even Hawaii.
- Worth It: Yes, some Marines are willing to get their teeth pulled if it means getting out of something particularly grueling.
Post contains examples of:
- Animated Adaptation: Uriarte was required to produce an animated short for a class, and decided to base it on the same experiences that the online comics draw from.
- Art Shift: From Uriarte's normal style. This one features much more simplified, Super-Deformed characters, presumably to make animating much easier.
- Bathroom Stall Graffiti: One of the Marines draws a penis on the wall, while giggling uncontrollably.
- Bookends: The film begins and ends the same way: With a shift change, a Marine tapping the butt of the machine gun, and sighing.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Primary theme of the short. They appear to spend all of ten seconds actually standing watch, and the rest of their shift finding various ways to pass the time.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Or at least, very bored sentries love any distraction from the monotony of their day, which would include stray dogs passing nearby.
- Shout-Out: To a Youtube video about a Marine standing watch, called "Momma Dog"
- Splash of Color: The entire film is in a gray-scale color palette, except for a bottle of urine.
- Super-Deformed: All of the Marines appear to be about three feet tall with huge heads. Effectively a step up from being stick figures.
- Toilet Humour: At one point, one of the Marines is shown pissing into an empty bottle. Shortly after, they decide to see how far they can throw it.
- Truth in Television: According to some of the YouTube comments on the film, quite a bit of this stuff happens in Real Life, if not all in one shift.