By Spc. Monte Swift (USARCENT)December 12, 2009
Creative. Talented. Driven. These are just a few words thatcould be used to describe Staff Sgt.
Mark Bennett, 54th Signal Battalion, 160th Brigade.
As a cartoonist, poet, play writer, musician and published author of his new novel 'Sunjata, Book 1: The Blood Wars,' the proper word to describe this 38 year-old staff sergeant may be "multi-talented."
Bennett is currently serving Third Army as an alternate communication security custodian who performs administrative, logistical and communication security in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He is the illustrator and mind behind the up-coming military-themed Desert Voice comic strip 'O.N.E.' (Officers, NCOs and Enlisted), which can be seen in future issues.
"All the ideas and humor for the comic strip come from either my own experiences or those experiences from people I come across," said Bennett. "They are stories and anecdotes that people tell me, along my travels in the Army."
As a child growing up in 1980s Brooklyn, N.Y., Bennett became exposed to the seldom heard of
creativity that flows through the community. He developed a fond interest in Marvel and DC comic books. Their exciting and adventurous characters led him to begin drawing them and later creating his own.
"I grew up seeing a lot of characters that other children and I couldn't relate to," said Bennet. "I
took it upon myself to create characters that kids could relate to."
Bennett found great teachers for his creative inspiration in comic artists like Charles Schultz, Todd Mcfarlane, Frank Miller and John Burns. Finding more creative inspiration in the Star Wars Trilogy helped Bennett hone his fondness for complex and interesting story
"I prefer characters that use their mind. They use spirituality and they are mentally strong," said
Bennett. "I like to break the stereotype of what to expect in a character."
In his recent novel entitled 'Sunjata Book 1: The Blood Wars,' the first book of a trilogy, Bennett uses military influences combined with martial arts, spirituality and technology to create a character battling his past and trying to secure
The author's first book has received five-star reviews on internet book sites, with many fans anticipating the follow-up which is currently in the works.
"Experiencing this whole new world of Sunjata was fun and enjoyable. There is lots of great
action infusing spirituality, technology and martial arts with an epic cinematic finish," said one reader. "I am eagerly anticipating book two."
Bennett has no doubt come a long way since first taking up a pencil and sketching characters from his favorite comic books. While working as a freelance artist as a civilian, he found it difficult to pay the bills, but that hasn't stopped him from pursuing his passion as he writes stories, poems and plays in his spare time even while deployed.
"This is just touching the tip of the iceberg," said Bennett. "I want to take this the whole way. I see live action movies, animation, toy figurines and merchandising."
Not one to work alone, Bennett finds support in his parents and wife who have followed him on his creative journey and have supported him through the trials artistic
"My wife is like my own personal editor. She reads my stories, listens to my poetry and will tell
me the truth. If it sucks, she won't hesitate to tell me," says Bennett.
"My two sons are following in my footsteps."
Perhaps he will find new words to describe this creatively driven artist. Look for the new comic
strip 'O.N.E' in future issues of the Desert Voice!