John Holmes illustrates service life and transition, frame by frame

Sweat, as in equity and hard-won military experience, paint, line drawings and bubbles of text comprise our WoW today as Words on Wednesdays spotlights John Holmes – creator of Power Point Ranger, EZKGTB and The Longest War. 

John Holmes, PPR creator

John Holmes, PPR creator

The comic strip, zombie tales book and story collection, respectively originated with John Holmes. When I interviewed him near his home and work in Saratoga, New York, we spoke of his having spent half his 44 years in the service of his country. Of those 22 years, 14 were in the army and the balance in the National Guard.

As of this publishing time, only days after our long-awaited phone call, Holmes announced that he had officially chosen to enter civilian life, full time. It appeared shortly after the fact on his social media page. 

Transition, while it does reach deeply into our personal and professional lives, is not always, for most of us, immensely public. The process for Holmes has been graduated in his shift from one service to another and now the big leap into life as most of America knows it.

And, it has been very public. Holmes has folded a lifetime of experience along with humor and relevant commentary into his creative efforts frame by frame and chapter by chapter.

His tips on transition next time. Today, a peek into his creative side, via a May 2013 interview, in John Holmes’ s own words……

Power Point Ranger character created by John Holmes

Power Point Ranger character created by John Holmes

Comic strip is something I do for entertainment, mine and the readers.

The comic strip Power Point Ranger (PPR) was born in Georgia in the middle of a class. It grew out of a moment of boredom one day in a Satellite Communications course. 

I just started doodling in Power Point and made a little cartoon of myself being bored in class.  Some of my friends liked it so I made a couple more on various different topics.  A friend suggested I put it up on a website or Facebook. So, I did. It started getting featured on another friend’s website.  The fan base grew from there.

Even an outside observer not fully versed in the inside language military folks have with each other, can see that Holmes captures the everyday in a unique way inside the cartoon frame. The dialogue bubbles signal both the out loud and the inner brain activity of his characters.

 Thog, Roy, Amber Tiffany and the whole gang have now appeared in about 800 cartoons so far.

The Zombie book started on a whim. I was watching a zombie movie one night and got mad at how they kept doing it wrong from a military point of view.  So, I just started writing it from a more military point of view.

I get feedback from people who are following. They might be subject matter experts on things I don’t know a lot about like, for example, being a helicopter pilot. Someone might tell me they don’t use a particular type of helicopter. I can’t change it once it is published, but I can fix it and write about it more accurately in the next chapters.

 The Zombie Killer crowdwith specialized knowledge gets to comment, but then everyone gets to discuss it, learn and have input.

So, when I go to actually publish the book, I’ll add in the corrected information in the book’s final form.

And he’s gathered a following.

Even Zombie Killers Get The Blues or EZKGTB and Power Point Ranger, his cartoon strip have fans who’ve enlisted to both support the content and to draw on the humor that hits home for their community.  Combined, their about 40,000 strong.

The book of EZKGTB, which is the collection of stories Holmes publishes online, in serial form, is available on Amazon.

The input brings authenticity to what he does, but the initiative comes from him, and the military army discipline to get things done boosts productivity

By the time ‘Zombies’ saw the light of day, Holmes already had a book under his belt.

The Longest War is a collection of 45 stories from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is told by the men and women who lived it. Soldiers and civilians, all affected by war, shared their stories.

“I polled my readers from the comic strip and asked if they’d like to share their voices.”

John Holmes 3 Think OnHolmes experienced a steep learning curve in his new life as editor and book project manager. “We used a small publisher just outside NY City. I would go the self published route, like the Zombies book, next time.”

He kept his promise of publishing despite going with a small time publisher” whose financial problems and technical challenges caused delays and veered off the plan.

Holmes took on his first role as editor having assured the contributors that their voices would be heard accurately, and their words not heavily edited. He did so then as a Sgt. First Class and an Iraq War Veteran with his own stories. Since The Longest War, Holmes has continued to create and to collaborate with a community of folks invested in imagination and an alternate look at military life. 

Next time we check in on John Holmes, we’ll find him in official transition to civilian life and see what advice he’ll be ‘drawing’ out for us. Join us and SUBSCRIBE now while you think of it, at the top right this page. Privacy assured.

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