‘Terminal Lance’ creator makes animation debut with 3D short about Marine Corps hijinks
The New Year started off with a bang Jan. 1 when the creator of the popular Marine Corps-themed comic strip “Terminal Lance” released a 3D-animated short film about two Marines playing with a hand grenade.
“Frag Out” is the inaugural film from a series called “POST” by “Terminal Lance” scribe and bestselling author Maximilian Uriarte, with the help of fellow Marine veteran turned Hollywood actor and producer Mike Dowling.
Part “Beavis and Butt-Head” and part “Looney Tunes,” “Frag Out” follows the exploits of Marines Buck and Chuck, who experience perpetual boredom while standing post in a desert war zone.
“Frag Out” is the first effort from Post Animation LLC, the Los Angeles-based studio founded by Uriarte, Dowling and Jeanne Tumanjan, according to a statement announcing the company's founding earlier this month. Tumanjan is also a “Frag Out” executive producer.
The short film follows shortly after Uriarte’s release in July of “Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli,” a 352-page graphic novel.
“I would describe ‘Frag Out’ as a story of Buck and Chuck standing post and they get incredibly bored and hijinks ensue,” Uriarte said by phone Jan. 13 from his home in Santa Monica, Calif. “It’s a lot of just visual humor and action-based humor.”
In “Frag Out,” Buck and Chuck sleep. They fill a water bottle with urine and use it as a lightsaber. Then, one of them pulls the pin from a grenade. Neither character says a word during the seven-minute ordeal.
The film has the signature traits of a “Terminal Lance” comic. It’s at times hysterical, has some crass moments and captures the sheer boredom of standing post in the Marine Corps.
The video is available to view for free on Post Animation's YouTube page. It had nearly 22,000 views as of Tuesday.
Uriarte is best known for his satirical “Terminal Lance” comic strips, which depict the harsh realities of Marine Corps grunt life. Now 34, Uriarte enlisted in the Marines in 2006 at age 19 to gain “worldly experience” that he hoped would inform “better art.” The Oregon native saw an unglamorous world filled with unique absurdities and contradictions. He put pen to paper and began to flush them out.
Uriarte first released “Terminal Lance” to coincide with his discharge in 2010. Since then, he has posted hundreds of strips at TerminalLance.com and its social media platforms.
In 2016, he became a New York Times bestselling author with the release of his first graphic novel, “The White Donkey: Terminal Lance,” which examined the realities of war and its effects on the psyche. He followed that up last year with “Battle Born.”
The idea for the “POST” series originated in 2011, Uriarte said. Shortly after his discharge, he used the GI Bill for an animation degree at the California College of the Arts. He made a short film depicting Buck and Chuck, inspired by Sackboy from the video game LittleBigPlanet, standing post for a final project. That video can also be seen on YouTube.
He vowed to revisit the goofball characters, which resemble Funko Pop figures, if given the chance.
Uriarte said he met Dowling in 2016 when he moved to Los Angeles. Dowling was an actor and producer who worked at the military media and lifestyle company We Are The Mighty. Dowling served in the Marines from 2001 to 2005 and 2008 to 2010 and is also an Iraq War veteran. He went on to become an associate producer on the 2018 Netflix series “Medal of Honor.”
Uriarte started creating 3D versions of Buck and Chuck in 2015 but soon after put them on the back burner, he said. After Dowling completed work on “Medal of Honor,” he had more time to help his friend with his projects. They decided to develop “POST."
Dowling helped secure $50,000 from Tumanjan to fund the effort, Uriarte said.
“I’m a fan of Max and his work,” Dowling said during a Jan. 13 phone interview. “I had seen the original he had created when he was a student. The characters of Buck and Chuck, just looking at them make me laugh.”
They rented office space and hired 3D technical artists and character animators, Uriarte said. They spent most of 2020 working on the project, though principle animation took five animators, including Uriarte, five weeks of eight-hour days to complete. The rest was spent on pre- and post-production.
Uriarte sees "POST" becoming a series and, potentially, toys and video games. He said he decided to deliver the first episode directly to the public with hopes of building the brand. He used a similar strategy with "The White Donkey," which was self-published before attracting interest from publishers.
"I love creating content, and one of the most frustrating things about pursuing traditional distribution routes is how long it takes," he said. "I created something, and I wanted people to see it. More importantly, I wanted the fans of ‘Terminal Lance’ to see it."
Uriarte posted "Frag Out" to the “Terminal Lance” Facebook and Instagram pages. He hopes interest will grow and they will soon be able to make more.
“We’re very proud of what we put out there,” Dowling said.