Maximilian Uriarte (Animation 2013) literally draws from experience to create the virally popular comic strip Terminal Lance. Started in late 2009 and based on Uriarte’s experiences as a Marine in Iraq, Terminal Lance is now published weekly in the Marine Corps Times newspaper and online.
In the Marines for “Art’s Sake”
There are many reasons men and women join the military, but Uriarte’s reasoning at age 19 was quite unique. “As an artist, I felt an intense need to experience the world in order to give a kind of legitimacy to my art. It might sound strange, but ultimately I joined for the sake of my art. I wanted to find the most difficult thing I could imagine.”
Uriarte joined in 2006, with the war in Iraq in full swing. With high scores on his ASVB entrance exam, Uriarte chose to go into the infantry. “My actual MOS ended up being 0351, Infantry Assaultman. I was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in Hawaii, where I deployed to Iraq twice between 2007 and 2009.”
Art at War
During Uriarte’s second tour, his battalion commander saw his penchant for art and photography and offered him the opportunity to serve as combat artist and photographer. Through this, Uriarte was able to travel all over Iraq, taking photos and sketching the Marines’ daily lives.
“Most of the work I did was official, classified, documentary photojournalism. On a rare occasion, I would embed with a unit and effectively be allowed to capture anything I wanted, photographically or otherwise. This was the most fun, as I was given artistic freedom to sketch and take pictures of basically anything.
Part of my billet was also photographing for use our battalion “Cruise Book” (a yearbook for the deployment), which I designed cover to cover.
“This would ultimately prove to be an important step in my career, as it not only gave me experience I could draw from, but also laid the groundwork for Terminal Lance.”