Plus, Todd McFarlane Given Medallion of Appreciation by Army Special Service Group
Friday, August 29, 2008

Several months ago, our Web department gathered a heap of comics and action figures, and shipped them out to some friends in the U.S. Navy Seabees, stationed in Al Anbar province in Iraq.

As a security team that escorts convoys all over western Iraq, Britton Wingfield (SW1 1st class, vehicle commander), John Pierce (SW2 2nd class, gunner), Chris Cheek (HM2 Corpsman, Paramedic), Mike Raulston (CM2 2nd class, driver) and Adam Dueer (SW1 Assistant Convoy Commander) also work security for some of the construction projects taking place. Working mostly at night, they manage to catch some winks in the hot afternoon, and spend the rest of the night driving a Cougar armored vehicle (which doubles as the team's medical platform) with the convoy.

Knowing that these brave men were probably spending most of their time NOT playing with toys and reading comic books, we figured that they could probably use a much-needed geek-filled break.

Along with sending us back some shots of them posing with the Spawn & McFarlane goods, Britton had some time to answer a few questions. Any of you guys comic book readers on a normal basis?

Britton: "I have collected a lot of Jhonen Vasquez (JTHM, Squee), Roman Dirge (Lenore), and Pete Bagge (Hate) comics. Adam Dueer is a longtime Spawn fan and collects McFarlane figures, and has been a member of the online forum for several years." What are some of your favorite Image comic book titles and/or Spawn characters?

Britton: "My favorite is probably Crossing Midnight. I plan to read more of that when I get home. The Spawn Armageddon seemed to be the most popular Spawn series. The collections were best, since you get the entire story. Reading is a great escape from stress and boredom, and lots of the guys enjoy comics. I'll read anything that I can get my hands on, and really enjoyed most of the books." What are some things you're looking forward to when returning from your tour?

Britton: "Just living a normal life. Waking up with my wife. Going grocery shopping. Doing absolutely nothing, if that's what I feel like doing."

That's awesome. We're all real proud of you boys out here. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication. Enjoy the care package and get home safe and soon!

Recently, Todd McFarlane was honored to receive a "Sergeant's OIF" challenge coin from U.S. Army Sgt. Peter Sutherland prior to his redeployment in March 2008.

Generally in the Army, challenge coins are given on the spot to individuals to show appreciation for their efforts in any particular act. The custom began during WWI, and the coins are used throughout all the U.S. Armed Forces today.

What's the "challenge?" When in a bar, you present your coin to another U.S. Armed Forces personnel, and whoever has the lowest ranking coin has to buy the round. Everyone being challenged must immediately produce the coin for their organization and anyone unable to must buy a round of drinks for the challenger and everyone else who has their challenge coin. But, if everyone being challenged is able to produce their coin, the challenger must buy a round of drinks for the group.

"My brother Charles sent me a comic book signed by Todd as part of his Christmas present," says Sutherland. "Being 7,500 miles from home and spending Christmas without family and friends, the last thing I expected to receive was a personal drawing from Todd McFarlane. Bottom line is that he didn't have to do anything, but he did, and he did it for a soldier.

"Regardless of whether we ask for this war, a soldier is ready to fight and die for his country, and when a citizen takes a moment to shake their hand or show their appreciation, it means a lot and has a positive effect on their morale. Plus, he created Spawn, and SPAWN KICKS ASS!!!!

"Although these coins are common, I believe that the Sergeant's OIF coin is one to be cherished," continues Sutherland. "Sergeants in the U.S. Army are one of the only ranks that are directly involved in the daily routine and leadership of their soldiers. The lives of every soldier are dependant on the Sergeant's ability to train and lead his soldier's in battle. Also, this coin represents the OIF V, which will be known as the year that U.S. forces were able to eradicate the insurgency and allow the seeds of democracy to grow."

Todd was humbled by the gesture. "Our company tries to help the troops as much as possible, given what they do for our country every day," he says. "You never expect to get something back. We should be tipping our hats to them, not the other way around."

If you ever happen to run into Todd McFarlane in a bar, watch out -- you may be buying the next round.