1135 Poise.

And now we look in on Carol and Thomas for a bit.

I remember writing the punchline, or at least what would have originally been the punchline, for this page years ago. I scribbled it on a dry erase board that hung on my refrigerator. It is, arguably, the first joke ever written for the comic. Of course, at that time there wasn’t even a script. I just had a file of lines for use in some far off future, when everything was perfect in my life, and totally in order. I was still naïve enough to expect that time to be a real thing that happens to everyone eventually. I hadn’t thought it out, per se. It was just this understanding of the world I had that was unexamined and imperfect.

I used to carry around little notebooks back then. Those super tiny ones that will fit in your pocket. My friend Justin and I started doing it after we lost a few good ideas. At least we thought they were. We couldn’t remember them, so… Tiny notebooks. We also tried microcassette recorders, but in practice they work much less well then you think. It’s a lot faster to scan a few notes than it is to listen to hours of random tape. These days you can do all of that stuff on your phone, or iPod in my case. Really though, a few lines of text is the most efficient means of saving an idea. Especially if you have a way to easily organize it.

Nobody ever really taught me how to be successful at doing creative things. In fact, I basically taught myself by making this comic. The level of my success can be, and has been, debated, but I have had success, by which I mean, and the world means, I have made money doing this. I think, however, that not teaching people how to succeed is a failing in our educational system; in the U.S. at any rate. I’m not even sure you can teach it. I never understood what it takes until I was already doing it, and I had to be backed into a corner to get to that point. With no way out I rose to the occasion. Maybe not far, but I did rise. Even then my perception of having no way out wasn’t necessarily true. I could have just quit, except I couldn’t. I was afraid of success as much as I was afraid of failure, but I couldn’t give up all the things this comic gives me.

When you fail people expect less and less of you until, eventually, they expect nothing at all. That’s a very nice place to be. It’s addictive, especially when you haven’t known success. The thing is, success is worse. Once you get a taste you want it forever, you want more and more of it. That’s why incredibly successful people get right back up after they fail. They also accept that the world isn’t perfect and that every system falls apart eventually. They just don’t let it stop them.

When I was in school there was a kid who was the best at cartoons. He whipped them out like it was nothing and tossed them away in kind. I never understood that. The concept that he didn’t covet his own work was so alien to me. Now I understand why he was so much better than everyone else. He wasn’t afraid of never being able to do something good ever again. He learned at some point far, far, earlier than me that there is always another piece of paper. The paper isn’t as important as moving from page, to page, to page.


While my character does not allow for jealousy, it is amazing just how envious I am of the relationship between two people who do not exist in the common sense…

Not me. I’m perfectly capable of jealousy, and would happily kill for my own Carol somewhat less cartoony. No reflection on Crave. This one serves for the moment.

I am laughing at this page! Also, judging by your tweet did you just start watching Community? If so, sweet, that show is amazing! If not, what did you think of Season 4?

Someone has a bag of cream puns they’ve been waiting to use.

I guess it was inevitable that some would rise above the crop.

When I was in High School, I perfected the art of invisibility. I got so good at it that the toughs and grits had to work to find me. I could clench my fists and speed-walk the halls with that thousand-yard-stare that said I was in a hurry to get somewhere, even when I was going to study in the Library.

Later, when I hit my final growth and wasn’t “The Little Dude” anymore, most of the obnoxious jerks had learned to stay out of my way. I could slow down and saunter — as Thomas describes in his second speech in Panel 2. This was very helpful when I worked in Security. Guard duty is all about intimidation, and looking like I was ready to kick @$$ and take names served me as well as did being able to see in almost total darkness. Still, it was great to be able to sneak up on someone getting out of line without their noticing.

My retail career never seemed to require much in the way of shunning customers. Working at Electronics Hut (not its real name) part time just wasn’t a big enough issue to need to avoid the plastic customers. Opening shift on weekdays was always pretty slow, anyway.

Thank you for the insight into some of your past with the comic and development. Success comes and goes, as do failures, and all that jazz.

I definitely feel like I rise up when backed into a corner, but otherwise I over think things and don’t act or don’t focus enough. And I keep tons of notes on my cellphone now, though I still wipe out my small notebooks when I need to scribble down something random, cool or funny.

Got to love/hate the creative process sometimes.

This is long winded, but important to me to say, and not negative in the least, and aimed at the author.

I’m not usually the kind of person who looks at a series of events and says “That’s divine providence, God’s hand in the world!” It’s not like I don’t believe in God. On the contrary I’m rather certain of his existence, I just don’t agree that he’s sitting up there, looking down, and going “AIDS? Murder? Death? Nah, let me focus on little favors for comparatively well of 1st world housewives!” In my humble opinion this world is something of a test, a gauntlet to run that makes us stronger and more understanding. But occasionally, I think, he grants people a boon, a little favor to keep them up. It can’t be big; that’d be cheating, certainly, but small things, little pushes. You’re comments on this page, at this particular time, I think are one of those.

Let me explain; I’m struggling through college. I started out on full scholarship, but shit happens. And happens. And happens again. Roomates ended up being a horrible idea, both in the dorms and out. Now that I’m living with only one person, and someone I share a bed with, money is tight. I work for the college I’m attending, but of course every possible screw-over is happening. I can’t get many other jobs because I can’t drive to them. Life is… interesting… Anyway. I’m the kind of person who struggles through things by stressing… constantly. I don’t know why, but I do. I have been tense to the point of migraines constantly recently, and can’t sleep well. I wish I was homeless sometimes; it’d be less stressful it seems. I keep striving for what I must do, how I must go about it… and failing. Constantly. I have no idea how to get shit done, and even when I do it goes wrong pretty consistently. I have trouble with interacting with people, so that makes it WAY harder. Hell I get worried about paying bills over the phone. I’ve been frustrated like this for a while, and it’s getting better, but SLOW, and its a struggle to fight through it.

Your comments helped. I don’t know why but I just… I felt like maybe, even though I fail sometimes, even often, I can still get things done and succeed. I feel like you meant that I’m not fucking it up; life sucks and its never just in order. I don’t know if I can just swap my mentality like that, but it feels good to see someone I really respect, who’s writing and art I love and have followed for years, say “I suck at it too, but its okay because I succeed anyway.” I just wanted to say thanks. I kinda feel like crying.

TL;DR Emotional rant about the fact you said the right thing at the right moment in my life, and it made me feel like I’m not absolutely failing. I really respect your work and have silently followed for years; since before the comic was in color. I really, really, appreciate your comments, even though you were just ranting.

I am glad to know that something I did helped in some small way. It’s hard to learn to roll with the punches, but eventually you’ll get to where even if one lands it won’t knock you down.

Thank you kindly, good sir. Sorry for the rant, I just had one knock me down, so to speak so… yeah. I appreciate it.

Life is… interesting…

“May you live in interesting times,” as the old curse goes. I’ve been through a number of them in my 55+ years (yeah, and I’m still not Between Failures’ oldest fan). @Crave gives good advice — a similar philosophy has served me well. Learn to trust in yourself, and the rest of the world may learn to respect you for it. Good luck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.