This week, Army Times introduces “Power Point Ranger,” a cartoon created by Sgt. 1st Class John Holmes.
PowerPoint Ranger replaces “Private Murphy’s Law,” by Mark Baker, who joined Army Times in February 2000.
Baker, a retired intelligence noncommissioned officer, “ETSed” from the Army Times with last week’s cartoon.
“It’s time that I stepped aside and allowed some fresh blood to take over,” Baker wrote in an email announcing his retirement.
Holmes, 43, joins a distinguished group of artists and cartoonists whose work has appeared in Army Times. Among the first was the award-winning Bill Mauldin, whose “Willie and Joe” cartoons about Army life during World War II appeared in Army Times in 1943. In the 1950s, “Beetle Bailey” joined Army Times — and continues to appear in the OFFduty section.
Although Holmes is a cartoonist, he wants the world to know he’s no artist.
His formerly Web-only comic lampoons the Army, the enemy and combat itself. Its crude style is itself a joke, drawn using the indispensible software program soldiers love to hate: PowerPoint.
“It all started as a joke,” said Holmes, whose kooky cast of characters includes clueless privates, “overly sensitive” Army wives and arrogant helicopter pilots. They include Corporal Thog, the Good Idea Fairy, Sam the Working Dog and Captain Obvious.
“I have two characters who are insurgents, who say, ‘Is it the red wire or the blue wire?’ Boom,” said Holmes, who relishes being politically incorrect and targeting hypocrisy where he sees it. “The Army gives you the opportunity to witness the absurd over and over and over. I think my sense of humor just comes from being a crusty old NCO.”
Now on the verge of retirement, Holmes has worked in recruiting for the New York National Guard for the past three years. But much of his 20-year career was spent in field artillery and in the active-duty military.
In Iraq in 2005, he was a self-described “fobbit,” slang for a soldier who stays inside the wire, honing his PowerPoint skills and creating his comics. Since 2009, he has published his comics on Facebook and later his website, http://pptranger.net/.
The most rewarding part of drawing comics, Holmes said, is his interactions with soldiers who feed him ideas or just let him know he brightened their day.
“Hopefully, I just give people a chance to laugh, even when they’re having a crappy day,” Holmes said.