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Webcomic / Air Force Blues

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Imagine the brave men and women of the United States Air Force - Some of the finest, best trained and well equipped military forces on Earth. Now throw all that junk away and meet the men and women of the 809th "Raging Peckers".

Gentlemen, we are boned.

For various reasons, the comic updated here from April 2012 to September 2013.

The strip updated fairly regularly from 2007 to 2013(at least as regular as you can get with the constraints of a deployment schedule). The strip went on a two-year hiatus from 2013 to 2015, and is back to updates as frequent as possible. The pre-hiatus archives can be found here.

There is now a Characters page. Give it some love.

Air Force Blues contains examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts - Leia hints at this when Barbie is trying to guess the sex of his pet bird. Guess where the bird went for when it saw Leia.
    Barbie: I heard that they like melons.
    [Bird flies to and perches on Leia's chest.]
    Leia: Melons, huh?
  • Animated Actors - Played with in the "Late Night With Lt. Dahl" strips.
  • Author Tract - Yeah, Farva. You think UAVs are a good concept. Got it.
    • Seems more like he thinks the "haters" from the fighter pilot community (at least stereotypically) are... well, insecure, as several strips have alluded to.
    • Also wanders into this territory on the subject of reflective belts.
  • Brand X: The pilots' favorite place to eat out? Chesticles, a hot wing restaurant where the girls wear tight-fitting outfits.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Barbie's wingman, Bert, suffers a bird strike on takeoff. Thankfully, he is uninjured, and the plane is not badly damaged. When Barbie gets on the radio with him, Bert asks Barbie to get him a new pair of underwear.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Comes closer than you'd ever think a public affairs officer (PAO) would ever be allowed to, but the dismissal of the Air Force Chief of Staff (military officer) and secretary (civilian official)note  resulted in a three-panel strip consisting of the author (voiced through Barbie) explicitly refusing to cover it: "NOT GONNA HAPPEN."
  • Can-Crushing Cranium: Barbie is on a euphoric high from piloting the F-22, and blows Rowland off when he comes asking for Diet Cokes (Barbie, being the person with the least seniority in their top-secret outfit, is the snacko). When Barbie returns to consciousness two strips later, Rowland crushes an empty can of Diet Coke on Barbie's forehead to express his displeasure.
  • Cerebus Syndrome - At times, the series veers dangerously close to acquiring this. The author, Farva, is often quick to prevent this.
  • Challenge Coin: A meta example, the author of the comic offers up custom challenge coins from time to time as added incentive for his readers to donate to various charities.
    • Not to mention the "Zaps", squadron stickers fashioned after the Raging Peckers' logo, which will turn up in the most unlikely places at Air Force installations around the world.
  • Crossover - Various characters from other webcomics have guest stared in the comic, or have had outright interwoven plotlines. Among these are . . .
  • Custom Uniform of Sexy - 1st Lt. "Leia" Willows, who doesn't seem to wear a shirt under her flight suit, and who never gets the zipper up all the way. This gets noted by Barbie's ex-girlfriend when she's doing an inspection of the squadron as part of her job in the Inspector General's office.
  • Disembodied Eyebrows: Aside from being the size of rainforest caterpillars, eyebrows in AFBlues generally float about the forehead and often climb above the hairline.
  • Ear Worm: Coffman shows up to work with Train's "Hey Soul Sister" stuck in his head. He mentions this to Barbie, who gets it stuck in his head as well. The author refers to this as being "songf*cked".
    • Also, apparently "Barbie Girl". It's how Barbie got his call sign.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: To cover for Barbie's time away from the 809th, Lt. Col. Rowland has to cook up a story for the rest of the unit about how Barbie was sent to fly UAVs, then crashed one and had to get sent back. Further, to prevent people transferring into the "special assignment" squadron (masquerading as a flight of the 809th) he and Barbie is in, Rowland has it designated as a "remedial training flight".
  • Enemy Mine - Barbie forces himself to help some UAV pilots on several occasions. He doesn't like it though.
    • Also, SSgt. Coffman once took a break from being a merciless pain in Barbie's side in order to bring RC down to size, partially because RC really was just more of a screw-up and a tool than Barbie ever was, but mostly because only Coffman gets to give Barbie shit.
  • Escalating War - Between Barbie and RC after Barbie decided to learn to fly remote planes. Barbie crashes a model plane into RC, and RC does this in return.
    • The topic of the first "Red Flag" Crossover storyline with Crew Dogs, with two squadrons trying to out-do each other in pranks, culminating in the kidnapping of each others' commanders.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Barbie nut-checks himself on a piece of ground equipment because he was wearing aviator shades under his helmet visor.
  • Fanservice - Lt. Willows. Princess Leia slave-girl outfit. Cue drooling.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The 69th Pre-Emptive Nuclear Intercept Squadron.
  • Gargle Blaster - Some of the beverages served at Jurassic Java.
  • Groin Attack: Barbie, Self-inflicted due to wearing his aviator sunglasses under his helmet's tinted visor, leading him to boldly march groin-first into a parked generator cart.
  • Home Guard: The Civil Air Patrol turns up from time to time. Barbie typically comes off as a fool while trying to treat them with contempt.
  • Hypocritical Humor - Barbie decides to learn how to fly a remote-controlled model plane. Even one of his fellow officers lampshades this.
  • I Can Explain - Barbie's room mate comes home to find him in his underwear watching Top Gun. Subverted, in that the explanation consists entirely of "You came home early."
  • Indy Ploy: How Barbie takes down the F-117.
  • The Inquisitor General - Barbie's ex-girlfriend Capt. Dhart works for the Inspector General's office.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Dahl, in some rare moments, can actually be quite nice and amicable. These times are short and not often seen.
    • The rest of the time, he's just a Jerkass.
    • Coffman also sometimes has shades of this, though usually more heart of gold and less jerk than Barbie.
  • Jizzed in My Pants: Barbie reacts this way when he gets to pilot an F-22 for the first time.
    • Alluded to as well in an earlier strip where he's in a bathroom stall with a magazine about the F-22...
  • King Incognito: At one point, the colonel's "father" visits the 69th. Dahl needs it spelled out to him that this is in fact General Willows trying to be discreet.
  • Klatchian Coffee: The "Bitter Spitter", by virtue of extreme—in fact, toxic—effects.
  • Laxative Prank: Coffman to Dahl on a near daily basis. Willows seems to have adopted the squadron coffee as a weight-loss plan.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "It all seems a little far-fetched, you know? Like something you'd only find in comics."
  • Mathematician's Answer: RC gloats to Barbie that he is flying an UAV mission in Afghanistan using an iPhone app. Barbie points out that they are in the BX, asking RC whether he can get signals inside the building. After a beat, this exchange follows:
    RC: It seems to have crashed.
    Barbie: The app or the plane?
    RC: Yes.
  • Mildly Military - To varying degrees depending on the character. Coffman is usually being a pain in Barbie's ass over various uniform violations due to their being on opposite ends of this spectrum, though most of it seems to be just another thing he uses to annoy Barbie.
  • Military Brat - Barbie. Not that he'd admit it.
  • Mood Whiplash - Will likely result if you read the strips from 11/11/2010 to 11/22/2010 in succession: a Veteran's Day tribute, followed by two strips of Toilet Humor, then two strips in tribute to a downed pilot.
  • Ms. Fanservice - Lt. Willows, with the aforementioned low-cut uniform, and of course, Barbie's girlfriend, who works as a waitress at Chesticles.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: T Sgt. Drain keeps telling his coworkers outlandish stories of how he lost half an ear. This backfires when he says he visited a risque entertainer but forgot his wallet, so he paid the entertainer—a huge Van Gogh fan—with half of his ear; Barbie confirms that the entertainer is a real person.
    Oh, yeah. The "Starry Night Senorita". Some of my students have had run-ins with her.
  • Nom de Guerre - Every pilot character has a callsign. One arc is devoted to choosing one for Lt. Willows, and confirming Capt. Dahl as "Barbie."
  • Nose Art - One storyline had the pilots adorning their new F-22s with custom artwork and names. Leia's appears fairly mild (aside from a Punny Name based on her callsign), until it is viewed from above: The greyscale camo pattern a pair of Mudflap Girls on the wings.
  • Parental Abandonment - Well, Dahl's parents didn't abandon him; his dad is merely stationed at a different base.
    • Also subverted by the fact that Dahl seems happy enough to stay away from his father for being an enlisted airman.
  • Porn Stache - Basically the whole of Moustache March. Barbie tries very, very hard to grow one, but has had little success until of late.
  • Punny Name: We meet a cocky UAV pilot early on. His callsign? "RC."
    • Also the "69th Pre-emptive Nuclear Intercept Squadron."
    • Captain Dhart, whose name is a Stealth Pun based on the airframe she flies, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, or as it's known by F-15 Eagle pilots, the "Lawn Dart", for its relatively large single engine and alleged tendency to plow into the ground early in its career.
    • Not to mention Ken "Barbie" Dahl. Or so we are lead to believe. Barbie actually got the name after deciding, while on furlough and drunk off his ass, that "Barbie Girl" was the greatest song ever and spent most of the night badgering the DJ to play it. The next day, Barbie was flying and began singing the song on a mic he didn't know was hot, and the result was played on the Laughlin AFB PA system.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lt. Col. Rowland, though even he gets tired of Barbie's antics from time to time.
  • Red Alert: Dahl is sitting in the ready room eating a sandwich while the light flashes and the alarm blares until his commander comes in yelling for him to SCRAMBLE!
  • Reverse Psychology: Coffman applies this expertly when asking Barbie about his family.
  • Running Gag - You have a pick between fighter pilots being jerks, or reflective belts.
    • The author also has a habit of making The Empire a lot like the Air Force.
    • More recently, Coffman spiking the officers' coffee with laxatives.
  • Sensor Suspense - The dogfight between a MiG and a UAV as seen from the perspective of AWACS. It isn't quite as exciting as many forms of media will have you believe.
  • Sergeant Rock - Typical of Crew Chiefs, including Ken Dahl Sr. Also qualifying are the Navy Chiefs mentioned in some of the strips, but that tends to cross into Drill Sergeant Nasty territory.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis - Dahl is split between SSgt. Coffman and the scourge of UAVs.
    • RC also counts, whenever he turns up.
  • Shout-Out - To...
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Barbie and the new wing commander's egos are so thick, they actually stuff up the air of the room they're both in.
  • So To Speak - Almost a catch phrase, with virtually everybody getting one off at some point. So to speak...
  • Take That! - Here.
  • Tempting Fate "I think the only way this day could be ruined is if the entire F-15 fleet was suddenly grounded."
  • Token Minority - Lt. Willows. She didn't get her callsign for her personality. Nudge nudge.
  • We Can Rebuild Him - Conversed when Barbie and Gordon discover that the Snowman has melted in Gordon's squad car's back seat.