1413 Fruit By The Foot.

That’s right, this whole section concerns erections. I’m just like every other comic in the world.

Okay, as far as Bump In The Knight is concerned there is no interest in it from any artists who could actually match the challenge. If I want to go forward with it I’ll probably have to find one myself, and I don’t have time to deal with that. So that one is going into the “I’ll probably never do it folder” for the foreseeable future.

Since people are curious about the way I describe my relationship with other comic artists I’m just going to say that most of it is just me joking. I’m sure there are people who don’t like me, but mostly I am nothing to other artists. Comics works just like any other profession. If you aren’t in the top tier you aren’t anything to them. There are exceptions to this because of nobodies meeting successes at conventions and stuff, but for the most part artists hang out with people of their own skill/success level or lower. David Willis, (I don’t know the names of some of these guys so I’m just calling them their comics.) Something positive, Homestuck, Questionable Content, Penny Arcade, are all above my station so our interaction is limited at best. Even most of the people on Hiveworks, which I am an associate of, will not talk to me the way they would to someone who is “somebody”. It’s funnier to me to pretend that they are against me, because it frames the situation in a way that I am important enough for them to have an opinion of me at all.

David Willis tolerates my fanart and kindly retweeted about my hospitalization problems. Kriss Straub, of Chainsawsuit, has helped me on a few occasions when he had no reason to. Scott Kurtz of Table Titans, Dave Kellet, of Sheldon, and Brad Guigar, of Evil Inc., have also taken time to help me out when they had no reason to take time for me other than to be nice. I always try to speak well of them because they have proven to be good people based on my personal experience.

People who have actually made an effort to speak to me like regular people are more rare. John Wigger from Zombie Roomie comes to mind. He’s at least a social level above me artistically if not more. Sam Logan of Sam and Fuzzy has actually had long conversations with me, and he is very near top level cartooning if not there already. That’s about as far up as I go as far as more successful/talented peers are concerned.

What this all comes down to is that when I say someone doesn’t like me it almost always means I am invisible to them. And I know you know what I mean by that because so many of you are like me in your general worldview. The same thing happens at your jobs, just in slightly different ways.

I’ve tried to engage artists of higher classes than I, who have similar interests, but the fact of the matter is they already have their circle and they don’t need little people clinging on to them. I make a point to treat newcomers and people of lower station with respect, because I’m aware of what being there is like. It hasn’t faded from my memory. At the same time if I get cornered into genuinely appraising the work of someone else I don’t drizzle sugar on it. If you’re on the b team and you force me to tell you I will. If my appraisal comes as a shock then you have been deluding yourself. It is important, as The Rock often said to “Know your role”. If you’re a jobber accept that, and keep working towards being a main event. I know where I belong, but I take my work seriously. I have to work harder, be on time, and provide a dependable entertainment experience because I lack so much in other areas. I play towards my strengths. I’m not the best, but when the best is on a drinking spree, or pisses away all their kickstarter money, I’m still here. That’s why my middling little comic has done better than comics that are CLEARLY superior on a technical level. I throw all of myself into it. When I get knocked down, I have a little cry, then I get back up and keep right on coming after the big kids.

You can’t always win out over raw talent, but you can certainly make it fear your resolve.


Jackie, there’s creators right now that already think you’re at the table with Jeph Jacques, Randy Millholland and David Willis (the first two are QC and Something Positive, BTW).

When I approached with the offer to help, I actually half-expected a “Who the Hell do you think you are?” response. Right now, I’m only at my current ‘station’ because of the pages you allowed me to help create and post on your page.

When I saw your first posting of the comic idea, the first thing I did was share it with Rafa to see if he would be interested. (sounded like he would be if he had time) I hope you actually get it done.

I know how it is with other stories because I’m currently sitting on 3 chapters (20+ pages each) of another script I wrote, but really can’t do anything with after they’re produced other than show them off. That’s part of my goal on the Patreon to eventually get more stories produced.

(To be honest, if you’re not giving me the “Who the Hell are you?” reaction, I’m sure some of your readers are…)

Didn’t recognize your name, Isumi, but definitely recognized your comic. I’ve been reading it for around a month, maybe? It’s really funny, and I always look forward to the next page.

I guess what I’m saying is that you guys might get the “Who the hell are you?” reaction, but only because we’re bad at remembering names.

You’re in that brutal part of your career that’s going to continually test you. It’ll all come down to how long you can take it, and what you’re willing to sacrifice.

I don’t know how you’re still doing this 3 times a week in full color. That takes so much more dedication and drive than a lot of us have. Good show, dude. Seriously. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are lesser. Because it’s not true.

There was more to that but I’m on my phone and it doesn’t play well with the comment box.

Yeah, I know. It tries to go to email on my phone.

Thanks for the kind words by the way.

As long as I’m at it I was wondering if you would be interested in being part of the writing team for the pregnant knight story, if it ever comes to anything. I feel like, based on the sorts of things you enjoy for fun, that you would understand how to tell that sort of story.

At the very least you could be an editor.

Just putting that out there.

It’s a shame about BITK, but hopefully you can find someone to do it. It’s definitely something I’d read

I don’t think there’s a single comic artist out there that I’ve seen with your work ethic. Being a writer, I’m jealous of it. Everyone I’ve seen who’s tried to approach that level of work has broken down in some way and the only comic people I know who put out more work in a week than you outsource the real work in their comic now (and they still let quality slip). Heck, I’d encourage you to go easier if I thought you’d do it, because most people who work like you do end up in a bad way for a long time. If it means anything, I think you have more than what it takes to be up there with the big guys and you may be up there already, you just have a smaller ego than most. Thank you for the work you put into this comic and the many hours of entertainment it’s afforded me and your other readers

Howard Tayler, of Schlock Mercenary, and Bill Holbrook, of Kevin and Kell. (Mr. Holbrook is also a newspaper comic artist)

Kevin and Kell has been going for about 20 years now, and Schlock Mercenary has been going for 15 years. Both have constantly kept the strip updated. (Schlock _almost_ missed a day, and that’s because the internet line went down for two days. It was back up on another line/provider within 8 hours, albeit slow. )

I lost all respect for Pete Abrams of Sluggy Freelance, because he constantly claimed he was a ‘professional’ comic artist, but couldn’t even maintain a purely black and white strip without regularly going to ‘T-Shirt Tom’ Sluggy strips, or nothing at all. Absolutely _zero_ buffer. That’s reasonable for a ‘topical’ strip, but for a strip with long story arcs, it’s unthinkable, and unconscionable. Howard Tayler maintained a 30 day buffer while working a day job at Novell, and Bill Holbrook was doing _four_ strips a day.

Professional doesn’t mean daily, or even good content. It means that you keep your promises (schedule), and deliver the same level of content each time. (ISO-9000 :) )

Sabrina Online has been once a month for.. a very long time. Greystone Inn was regular from the beginning to the end. UserFriendly was every day, with ‘I’m sick’ strips that could be fitted in wherever. Vince Suzukawa did The Class Menagerie steadily – but it had a beginning, and an end. Same with what David Willis (WiiGii) did.

Hm, I think I may have ranted a bit too long :)

Anyway – you’ve managed to be regular with the strip, with the only downtime being unavoidable illness. I’d say you’re in good company, and far more professional than Pete Abrams :)

Don’t count me out of the running yet. Now that I have a better idea of what you have in mind, I’m working on some better concept art pages for this project. I could do penciling, inking, or both, and I’m planning on doing concept pages featuring character design, action, drama, and comedy.

Also, Guigar is a great guy; I’ve met him at conventions in Philly. Last time I was at Wizard World, he recognized me and waved me over before I even saw him. :-)

P.S.: With any luck, I’ll get these pages to you in the next few days, but drawing more detailed, manga-esque pages takes more time than that simplistic, single-panel concept sketch, and I’m leaving on a trip out-of-state for a wedding next week, so the trip, trip preparations, and work are limiting factors at this time. If you wind up liking my work, such trips aren’t going to be a frequent occurance in the future.

You say “Comics works just like any other profession. If you aren’t in the top tier you aren’t anything to them.”

My profession happens to be software engineering. I don’t think it’s like this at all. My criterion is not “What tier are you in” but “Are you interesting to talk to?”

Maybe what you said is true of any profession that involves an audience. But I’d think that even there, with all the different skills and interests that go into a comics career, surely the benefits (fun and/or professional) of talking to a fellow artist are not strictly correlated with what “tier” they’re in?

I guess I just don’t like the idea of being limited by exclusivity; I don’t see the optimality of top-tier people only talking to each other, even from their point of view.

Having known several software engineers I can’t agree with your assessment of my assertions. I’ll give you that there might be professions that don’t work the way I posited, but I still have doubts.

At least this time when you wrote something about how lowly a web comic artist you are you actually mentioned one webcomic I actually have read and enjoyed. (and I have read a lot of them over the years)

I enjoy your art but have you ever considered you are above some of these wunderbar web comics in terms of writing? I read your comic. I read the underblog. When they are available to the common riff raff I read your text fictions. Hell, I even read the heck out of your twitter! I never go on twitter and have no account to reply with so that’s a lesson in frustration but I can’t resist your writing in all its many forms.

I’d follow your comic if it was stick figures. The fact that it actually has art that is fun to look at is just oh so sweet icing on this here cake.

Perhaps you’re a member of Hiveworks not just because you were “grandfathered” in but because I WOULDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT OR WHO THE HELL HIVEWORKS WAS IF YOU DID HAVE THEIR WIDGET >>>AND<<< KEEP MENTIONING THEM!

You big silly…

dude i at least consider your art style above questionable content. I luv QC but his characters look wooden (as far as poses go) and yours have significantly more life to them. And a lot of great webcomic artists won’t hold up against you in the story telling department.

what is it worth? what is good enough? i believe ever are we are our own harshest critics, and you’ve got a double shot of that feeling it seems. You are top tier, i wish you could believe that. You’ve got the complete package. The story, the drama, the relationships, a huge cast, great art, incredible expressions, all these elements keep us coming back to see what you’ve done now…

you won’t believe me of course, your inner voice is much more powerful, and your experience of the world has proven it right more times than not. i sorry for that, be gentle with your cool self. you are awesome. Thank you for all that you do!

Keep the faith in your art. Your strip is one of my top faves up there with Willis, Jacques and Sohmer. So if they wont let you play their reindeer games, start a new group of reindeer. I see soooo many comic artists on the net, it appears to be a huge playground. Invite others you feel comfortable into your sandbox.

Oh, and more naked Jo cant hurt. ;-)

keep the peace.

I often feel that while raw talent flattens the learning curve (especially at the steep start), and can make it easier and more pleasurable to do the practice that builds skill, that actual skill is based on hard work, practice and insight into one’s own weaknesses.

Looking back at the first pages of Between Failures, the improvement in art is major. Same with comics life Questionable Content or El Goonish Shive.

Really hope you can keep practising, and keep getting satisfaction from your art and writing. We like it :)

I always have tremendous respect for any webcomic that keeps updating and improving in art and writing, and that definitely includes Between Failures.

There was a time in my life when I thought I could make my own successful webcomic, but I would reach a point of writer’s block or frustration with my art and I’d just give up. If you really want a sense of schadenfreude you may look at my most “successful” endeavor (inspired heavily by the choose-your-own-adventure format of MS Paint Adventures) to realize how great your art and storytelling really is: http://stickfiguredungeon.blogspot.com/2009/02/you-awake-to-find-yourself-in-room.html

(My other problem is being a huge perfectionist, which prevents me from finishing work and sticking to a deadline; this is a main part of the reason why I haven’t done that theme song for Between Failures yet, despite having some ideas).

Anyway, I guess my point is that when you’re constantly surrounded by talented people, you can forget how amazing your own talent really is. But both your art and writing ARE amazing, and your fans are here to remind you of that fact.

I haven’t read all the comics you mentioned Jackie, but a fair number of them, including QC, Penny Arcade, the truly excellent Girl Genius, and A Girl and her Fed, along with 20 or so others I follow regularly . And as much as I at least quite enjoy all of the other comics I read, I have to say what you’re doing here with Between Failures is my clear favourite.

I couldn’t draw a stick figure if my life depended on it, so I really can’t comment on your art beyond that I like it, & it’s unique to your comic of all the ones I read. But your story, and your characters? Fantastic, and they’re what make Between Failures as enjoyable as it is.

Keep it up, & don’t sell yourself short :)

More than anything else, Between Failures is a slice-of-life webcomic. To pull that off effectively, one would have to populate it with characters that were believable, if slightly over the top. The situations would have to be plausible, perhaps ridiculous; to keep the audience’s attention and promote readership, humor is key.

The milieu requires something to which the reader can relate; an environment in which he or she is, if not comfortable, at least familiar. A setting in space, for instance, can be carried off if the basic premise is a known situation, e.g., hauling stuff in space (c.f. Blake’s 7, Futurama). A work life or home life setting that reverberates with the reader’s own experience is best.

Stressors and antagonists might be the home or work relationships that the characters develop: friendships, love interests and rivalries. Individual characters should have their own traits and foibles that lead to character development.

You know what? Between Failures nails all of these points. That’s why a steady readership has followed the strip all these years. It may not have the most readers of any webcomic, but that’s only because not enough people have seen it, yet.

I read a lot, and I mean a lot, of webcomics, and I have a group of what I consider the inner circle, who I consider the top tier of webcomic artists. You are a member of this group; right up there with Dave Willis, Jeph Jacques, Randy Milholland, Danielle Corsetto, Scott Kurtz, Dan Shive, Kriss Straub, Brad Guigar and Dave Kellet, among others. The way I see it, the main difference between them and you is that they have successfully commercialized their product; with respect to the product itself, there is no difference between them and you in either artistic or story writing skill; in fact, you have an abundance of both, which is a rare thing. As for Hiveworks, you are levels above most of them, and the equal of the best of them.

I have also talked to a lot of those same people at cons, or through email, and they seemed pretty friendly and approachable, for the most part, not like some of the print comic artists and writers I have run across, who did seem to be a little clicky. They have patiently answered many of my questions about the technical side of doing webcomics (I am trying to get to the point of doing my own, so I have had a lot of questions about the subject), and they provided helpful pointers when they really didn’t have to, which seems to jive with what you said about them. I suspect you have a bit of the “being your own worst critic” thing going, and I don’t agree with your characterization of your status with respect to them.

As for the comic, I am really enjoying this story line, the interaction between these two is very amusing, I hope you keep it going for a while, even if it keeps us away from the Nina and Ed storyline.

The funny thing is that I never really considered that comic authors actually… interacted with each other. Like I find weird that people assume they somehow know each other just because they’re in the same profession. I’m sure some of them meet somehow, but it all sounds like “Oh, my cousin’s a welder, too! Do you know him?”

We just met not that long ago. I’ve been a long time reader and I thoroughly admire what you do. I found your site through other comics, but I am and always have been impressed with the heart you put into this.

You may not be the pinnacle of artistic talent, but who wants that. To see skills evolve is what I love the most. And to have the amount of respect you have for everyone is amazing. I’m a nobody in the greatest of terms. I can’t draw, sketch write or anything like that. But you spoke with me. I deeply respected that and appreciated that commitment you have to your fans.

That right there is one of the biggest reasons you’re successful. And that is the reason that you have the loyal fans you have.

Keep on keeping on, Jackie. You’ve got a friend in me.

I think one of the things that sets you apart, Jackie, is that you let us into not only the lives of your characters, but your own life. Your readers get to feel they have a personal connection to you – witness the people who stepped up to help you out a little financially with your latest bout of ill health. I don’t know any other cartoonists who have motivated that kind of actions. You are in that rare zone of having otherwise complete strangers CARE about you – whether other webcomic artists acknowledge your existence or not… :-)

Thanks for enriching our lives with your comic – and your life.

I stand on this bizarre edge of the entire webcomic thing. I know Mike K from Penny Arcade personally. I went to Rodney Caston’s wedding in the same car as Fred Gallagher (MegaTokyo). Scott Kurtz and I hated each other personally for a short period due to a misunderstanding from a convention in Boston one year.

My only way of associating with these people to the point they remember and know who I am (and I’m not a webcomic artist) is that I attend conventions. Or I’m a very active person email and forum-wise with them.

I know due to health issues, limited funds and restricted mobility that it must incredibly hard for you to maintain the relationships that most webcomic artists enjoy. A lot of it is making a good first impression (usually a funny one or one by playing some board/card game). You don’t do that … I don’t know what to say.

I also know that a lot of these guys would be open to making new friends in the webcomic arena. The problem is time and networking. It’s hard if they don’t meet you in person, and it’s hard when they have 9 trillion other things going on. I don’t think it’s that they consider you a “lesser mortal/artist” as much as they don’t know you and don’t have time outside of conventions and doing their thing to make large overtures towards you. A lot of my friendships with the people in the industry requires me doing a lot of continuous communication and waiting for a reply. I’m just ONE guy out of hundreds they interact with on a regular basis.

Save Fred Gallagher. He’s a bit eccentric and doesn’t have a lot of real “friends” he trusts (he has some issues), so we do talk more than most.

Oh, and I realized I didn’t actually paste the bit in where I say I like your comic a lot. It’s a great comic – don’t lose heart or think people don’t care. It’s just we’re all really busy and the industry is sometimes ruthless because we have so much to do.

Jackie the way I see it you are like me when it comes to work. We think and feel like we are invisible, that we don’t matter and are unnoticeable by our higher ranked peers. We do more than our fair share, half the time without complaint and seem to be held more responsible than the rest of our peers when it comes to mistakes. We are punished, if not by ourselves then by others, for small mistakes that everyone else gets away with doing. Thats just it though. We are held to a higher standard because they know us to be better than the rest. They know us to be more hardworking and worth keeping around compared to our peers and will do anything to keep us, if they are not idiots. But they forget sometimes to let us know, and it makes us lower our confidence in ourselves, or even our confidence in those we work with.

I got back from an 8 month deployment overseas in January to learn from my husband that all of my higher ups talked about me as if I were one of their children. Proud, ecstatic, and swearing I’d go far in the world.

My husband and I had prior thought my chain of command didn’t even know my name, or of my accomplishments, meager as they are compared to others. Goes to show nto everything is how we perceive it to be.

This is a great example of why it is so important to take time to say “thank-you” to the people we work with and who work for us. A lot of people neglect to express their appreciation and so people feel unappreciated. Come to think of it, if you DON’T take time to EXPRESS gratitude and appreciation, you are probably guilty of being ungrateful – a significant character flaw.

I fully agree with you. It’s all about moral. Showing appreciation to those who are under your jurisdiction improves moral as well as work efficiency.

That seems to happen a lot in the Armed Forces.

I was a Captain in the Air Force before I disengaged from the military to pursue a corporate lifestyle (granted, the military was starting to be treated more like a corporation in the middle of my five year stint). I watched my COs and my peers in other areas alongside mine (I was in Intel and then I took over running the Deployment people). I found what you said to be true – they would talk to me and other officers about how good this guy was and how great that gal was, but not tell the person themselves. So I pondered why that was – when I acknowledged a person’s accomplishments, they seemed to improve.

I learned the hard way from the Commander of the 55th Wing that “an officer does not immediately recognize openly or directly the accomplishments of their subordinates.” I questioned why (I find now that I was on the edge of what is now the new era of officers) since that seemed to be counter-productive. Part of it was what you said – they don’t always realize they haven’t said anything to the person. But the other part was kind of more old-school officer training.

If you consistently point out someone who performs beyond the expectations, other enlisted or subordinates get jealous and start to work counter to the person’s best efforts. Some upper tier leadership views everyone under them as children who can’t be trusted to get along with each, and you should always expect the worst behavior in enlisted/subordinate folk. Of course I didn’t see it that way, and continued to do things how I saw fit. Which despite the excellent performance and turn around of my people, I got hounded for not conforming to the old school thought processes.

So I left.

I forgot what my original point is, but the reality is you do what you think is right for you and your people as long as you get the results you want. And ignore illogical criticism or complaining. I would have made it a thing to acknowledge your work at every critical juncture, but that’s just who I was – someone who knew people desire feedback, even if they pretend they don’t.

I’m glad to hear how it is from a prior officer’s point of view, rather than simply just the enlisted view. I would have loved to have you in my chain of command, but I’ll agree on the matter of co-workers doing everything possible to make each other look bad.

I went through something along those lines during my second year of service. I’m a Services Airman. A fellow airmen had somehow convinced the chain of command in a section we both got switched to, her a month earlier than me, that I was a Dirtbag. For about a year, they constantly overworked me, called me in to work for others so they could give them extra days off without a legitimate reason, and gave me paperwork over the smallest of mistakes that tend to happen when learning to work in a new section. It got bad enough that I started having to take meds for anxiety. I never complained, as I had yet to fully grow my backbone.

It only stopped when she screwed up and got in trouble for having a food fight with customers and our cashier on a night I wasn’t working. When I came in the next day the higher ups sat me down and tried to accuse me of being a part of it. I pointed out that as a married woman living in housing, there would be no reason for me to even go to the DFAC on a day off when my husband and I can cook our own meals in our home. That was when they realized how ridiculous the entire situation was and I stopped getting over worked and mistreated.

People only receive individual praise during promotions and Commander’s Calls. Any other praise given is over the unit or section without names ever being mentioned.

It’s not as much about talent than raw resilience and imperviousness. As Balzac said once, being a creative, takes a lot of time and effort. Those who won’t last are those who thought that “I’m good enough”. But going to the extreme can burn you. I like the overall writing of your comic, and the art supports it quite nicely. But I can’t concurr at all on the “tier” view on the webcomics field. It can work as a mindset to “stay on the map” but in the long run it can be counter-productive. Your work has a quality of its own, and I’d say that you have a small, but serious following. Keep the good work, (consistent updates are more than half the success of a webcomic… and that’s amazing). When this webcomic ends (I hope it won’t be any time soon!) I ‘ll be checking on any new webcomic from you.

P.S. On the topic of how work is recognized and awarded by the audience or the peers, it can be a mix of patience, comunity work, steadiness, and some luck. For example, David Willis, has an enormous online following, through the comments section of his webcomics, some of these decades old! But his main ingredient is very much the same as yours: don’t quit, and update constantly, holding your standards towards what you want make of the story. It’s quite simple. The only thing, it’s that he started sooner (many webcomics, many years). Talent, in the long run, only factors little of the total result.

Funny how this works, I just thought today that everybody should have a right to hang primarily around people that have similar abilities to one’s own.

Which is how it should work. And sometimes does work.

Just that the more popular web comic artists don’t have the time they once did to network with newer people (or other artists in general). Their answer is to attend conventions and avoid the less stable method of … comments or forums.

Granted, I like this comic. I like the Jackie. If I could afford it and I was nearby, I would probably volunteer to help him and his comic get to more conventions to actually hang with other artists. From what I’ve seen, that’s the best way to network with other web comic people. And with fans and possible NEW fans.

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