An Interview With Sgt. Nutcracker

sgt nutcracker sezWhile I was busy travelling to and from Denver’s Rocky Mountain Con, Gryphon Games and Comics in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and generally gearing up for Veterans’ Day, I took a moment to sit and chat for a while with one of Tiger on the Storm‘s toughest if not biggest supporters, Sgt. Garry Owen Kilroy Nutcracker, US Army.

Valerie: How about if we begin by telling us a bit about your background?

Sgt. Nutcracker: I don’t even know where exactly I came from, whether I was made in the USA or imported from China. But that doesn’t matter quite as much as what I actually am. I’m constructed out of a composite of many different kinds of wood, but my sap and pith are all American.

Valerie: I understand your patriotism. What drives your interest in Tiger on the Storm?

Sgt. Nutcracker: It’s really simple. The Air Force 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing flies A-10 Warthogs. Their Warthogs were first really put to the test in Operation: Desert Storm back in 1991. From then on through today, the Warthogs and their pilots have performed admirably, their close air support and search and rescue capabilities saving the lives of thousands of Marines, soldiers, and anyone else on the ground taking enemy fire. As a cav officer, I consider the Warthogs and their crews our guardian angels.

Valerie: Speaking of your rank, meaning no offense, sir, but where’s your rank insignia?

Sgt. Nutcracker: I’d been so busy going everywhere like anyone with Kilroy in the name does, that I got promoted and still haven’t had time to have the proper stripes painted on.

Valerie: And your mustache?

Sgt. Nutcracker: Some joker decided that I should join the Air Force in Mustache March…

Valerie: … Mustache March being an Air Force tradition rather than Army, right?

Sgt. Nutcracker: Exactly. And this clown painted it on my face while I was asleep. It’s not regulation, but I can’t take it off, so I look permanently like Robin Olds. I’m stuck observing Mustache March year round.

Valerie: It may only be the beginning of November, but people are already gearing up for Christmas. How are you preparing for the holiday?

Sgt. Nutcracker: Nothing. I’m a Nutcracker, so people already think I’m just a Christmas decoration. But I’m actually out all year round. I do have advice for people who are jumping the gun on Christmas, though. Take it easy and keep in mind that Christmas can be tough on some people. Don’t forget that there’s also Veterans’ Day. Think about doing something nice for some Marines, Airmen, Sailors, or my fellow soldiers.

And if you’re already thinking about Christmas presents, a good one would be supporting Tiger on the Storm. The 25th Anniversary of Desert Storm, as you well know, is coming up on January 15. Everyone who served there and their families should appreciate that they are being remembered. Are you going to post the link?

Valerie: Absolutely. As “Sgt. Nutcracker sez,” go to Indiegogo to help Tiger on the Storm go to print.

Tiger on the Storm

Yes, the blog’s been very quiet lately. Life’s been anything but, and one of the things keeping me busiest over the past several months has been work on another graphic novel.

It was at last year’s Salt Lake Comic Con when Pam Sawyer, the daughter of the late Air Force Maj. Gen. David Sawyer, had seen the copies of Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan and Korean War on my table, and requested that I give similar treatment to her father’s journal from his service in Operation: Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I was impressed to hear that her father had commanded the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing- The Flying Tigers- and jumped at the chance to write this book.

Then I got to work. Being a person on the ground and a civilian, I had to do what I did when writing the account of Boots Blesse for Korean War. I had to admit I didn’t know a thing, research very heavily, and rely on the vast pool of talent and knowledge that is my brain trust to help where even the most thorough research could fail me. Making matters more complicated was the fact that the late Maj. Gen. Sawyer was… well… unable to take my questions. I believe I did his stories due justice, though.

The aircraft themselves also proved a bit of a challenge. Appearance counts for a lot in a visual medium like comics, which is probably why A-10 Warthogs such as those flown by the 23rd TFW don’t appear often in comics. The civilian public wouldn’t line up by the hundreds or thousands to see them in an air show like they would for much prettier F-18 Hornets. While Warthogs are maneuverable enough to do their jobs, they look ugly and sound downright obnoxious.

Get to know them though, and you just may fall in love as much as anyone can with aircraft. In talking with veterans who served on the ground as well as in the air, I learned why the Warthogs are so feared by enemy forces and strongly beloved by our troops. This is why I’m glad to have Korean War penciller Dan Monroe on board doing pencils and inks. His ten years in the Army helped him learn a healthy appreciation of good close air support such as the Warthogs provide.

Also working with us are a couple more Korean War teammates, Eric White on colors and Tom Orzechowski doing the lettering. With the talent on board as well as everyone helping me properly research, the challenges of making sure this book will be awesome seem quite manageable.

There’s just one more big challenge in store- covering the production, printing, and distribution expenses, and this is where everyone can help!–2/x/6957287#/story

Spoilerific – Geek Lust: Pop Culture, Gadgets, and Other Desires of the Likeable Modern Geek

Yes, I know, I’ve been very quiet lately. This past Christmas, I was quite caught up in shopping, keeping tabs on friends, visiting family, and trying hard to forget that I was actually feeling somewhat Scroogey. Thankfully, a certain Christmas present cheered me up a great deal, and I’m not referring to a torch carrying ghost straight out of Dickens.

What would be a good book to give to a woman who rejoiced over receiving a copy of Battle Los Angeles and named the pistol crossbow she got Li’l Asskicker? My husband didn’t have to think too hard about that. He gave me a copy of this new compilation of commentaries on most things geeky, then immediately borrowed it for his own reading pleasure.

What caught my attention the most were the footnotes.¹ Author Alex Langley kept me laughing from the very first one which described the origin of the word “geek” onward to “And if you haven’t been reading this book, what are you doing reading the end? Cheater!”

At only 239 pages including an index and some pretty thorough end notes², Geek Lust packs a lot of laughs, fun factoids, general weirdness, and earnest appreciation for the odd objects of geeky fascination in a pretty slim read.

¹ … humorous asides and marginal glosses by the author, actually, rather than real footnotes.

² Real end notes, citing sources!