MOSUL, Iraq (Oct. 21, 2009) -- Famous cartoonists visited Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq, Oct. 20 to meet, greet and sketch the men and women serving there.
Garry Trudeau of the cartoon "Doonesbury," Tom Richmond of "MAD Magazine," Jeff Keane of "Family Circus," Stephan Pastis of "Pearls Before Swine" and Chip Bok, an editorial cartoonist, all sat at a row of tables in the Marez Memorial Dining Facility with blank pads of paper or note cards on which to sketch. Lines formed in front of each artist as a small crowd developed.
The National Cartoonist's Society started in World War II when artists did chalk drawings for the Soldiers. Keane, who is president of the society, said he has wanted to visit the troops in Iraq for some time.
"When I was little, my dad went to Vietnam and drew for the Soldiers in Vietnam, and ever since I became president [of the NCS], that's something I thought would be good if we did," he said.
Keane and a few other artists drew the familiar characters from their cartoons, while some drew the Soldiers seated across the table from them. Troops left the table with exaggerated renditions of themselves as seen through the artist's eyes.
"The one that I met was a political cartoonist and I thought it was awesome that he did a caricature of me. He did a good job, he hit the nail on the head," said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Linares, a paralegal with 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "He asked what my job was, and I told him I was a paralegal in the U.S. Army, so in the drawing that he did it showed me doing my job."
Visits like these brighten the horizon for Soldiers deployed to combat zones, said Linares, who with other Soldiers of the 3rd HBCT who have been in Iraq for some time and are scheduled to re-deploy to Fort Hood, Texas in the next couple of months.
"This brightens our day, it gives us the motivation we need to drive on," Linares said.
(Spc. Sharla Lewis serves with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs, Multi-National Division-North Public Affairs section.)