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(Allison Batdorff / S&S)
(Allison Batdorff / S&S)
Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannan Arney has drawn since she was “old enough to know which end of a pencil to use,” but she just started comic strips a couple months ago while underway on the USS Blue Ridge. “Duty Blues” is a humorous look at aspects of Navy life, she said.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannan Arney has drawn since she was “old enough to know which end of a pencil to use,” but she just started comic strips a couple months ago while underway on the USS Blue Ridge. “Duty Blues” is a humorous look at aspects of Navy life, she said. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The care package arrives on the ship and shipmates start circling even before the opening rip.

“These people are vultures,” thinks Shannan Arney.

A picture forms in her head.

The petty officer second class sits down at the computer.

And a comic strip is born.

Thus the creation story of “Duty Blues,” Arney’s humorous look at aspects of U.S. Navy life. The 7th Fleet information systems technician, who is assigned to Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet and embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge, describes it as a cross between “Calvin and Hobbes” and “Dilbert.”

“It’s the lighter side of Navy life, like how we manufacture random workplace entertainment underway or catch the wrong end of a conversation in a p-way (passageway).”

Arney, 25, said she’s drawn since she was “old enough to know which end of a pencil to use” but began drawing the comic just a few months ago, during the Blue Ridge’s last time at sea. After she showed it to some friends, “Duty Blues” made the rounds.

Two months later, the strip was published in the April 2 Stars and Stripes with the understanding it would make regular appearances.

“It spread like a virus,” Arney said. “I never would have thought that.”

The strip chronicles the life of 2nd Class Petty Officer Kayla Tursi, a short, wryly observant sailor who hates shots and likes pranks.

The drawing style borrows from Marvel and the Japanese-style manga — two of Arney’s favorites, she said (she’s a big “X-Men” fan). She creates the strips on Microsoft Paint using a regular mouse.

“It takes about an hour to draw one,” she said.

But the Orlando, Fla., native doesn’t plan to trade her Navy job for a drafting board anytime soon, she said. A fourth-generation military child who enjoys the travel, she is transferring to Guam’s Navy Satellite Operations Center in a few weeks.

“I love the Navy and would never give it up,” Arney said. “Comics are just for fun.”

Besides, she added, the sea service is her muse.

“The Navy is an endless supply of material,” Arney said. “So as long as people keep enjoying it, I’m going to keep drawing it.”

Check out ‘Duty Blues’

Click on the image below for a larger version of three Duty Blues comics:

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