1500 Doppleganger.

Jo tends to cut right to the heart of things.

The house feels warm and dusty today. Mainly my room since it sits on the sunny side of the structure. It’s a shame that the basement is contaminated with dust and whatever else makes me have a hard time breathing when I go down there. It would be really handy to just work down there where it’s always sort of cold. I don’t trust it because radon seeps in. We have a thing that sucks it out, but it always makes me feel like people shouldn’t be there, even though it’s supposedly fine. I wouldn’t trust the people who did it any further than I could toss them.
When I was a kid I lived in the basement of our house. It wasn’t totally finished, but it was finished enough to live in. Basically the entire basement was my area. My sister abandoned the place completely once she got a TV in her own room. It was a lot of space for just me. I had a recliner to play games and watch TV in, a desk for my computer eventually, and a lot of places for shelves. In addition to that there was a smaller bedroom where I could have even more junk, and my bed. I’ve never managed to claw my way to a level of success that would afford me that kind of personal space again. Most people wouldn’t even think of it as that much room, but compared to now it was insane. Our neighbors from back then still send us xmas cards. Well, they send them to mom anyway. Every so often we run into them when we go to Garden. Anyway, it was a nice house even though it was coming apart in a few places and the neighborhood was deteriorating. I haven’t really thought about it in a long time. That sort of nostalgia isn’t in my nature much anymore. I don’t think about the past because it just makes me miserable. When it comes into frame I sort of skim along the surface so my mind doesn’t really start to properly think about things. When I do on accident it makes my head get swimmy. Repressing your past is probably wildly unhealthy and will likely result in some sort of traumatic event in the future, but I don’t think I care. Living right now, all the time, keeps me from slipping all the way into despair. Just focusing on what I need to do to do what I want to do keeps me from soaking my feet in those waters.

After that house I lived in an apartment with a friend for a few years, I guess. We eventually fell out over money. Mostly money anyway. He and I were always a little ahead of our times. We wanted to do lets plays before they were a thing, but the technology was just out of reach, we recorded podcasts before that’s what they were, all kinds of things that people do now on youtube we were trying to make happen a little too early. Even shitty internet comics. I remember reading PVP, and QC, late at night in my room. I clearly remember actually deciding to sit and read QC all the way through. The first image of Marten and Pint Size is still what I first think of when I think of that comic. I remember thinking that the courtship of Brent and Jade in PVP was one of the most brilliant stories I’d ever read. I still didn’t think that was a thing I’d ever do though. At that time I had almost completely given up on art. It was movies and comedy that we were going to get rich making. The first seeds of Between Failures started coming together back then. This weird supernatural store where the help were probably dead people slowly changed, more and more, into a semi autobiographical reimagining of my life. It kept deviating bit by bit until there was this fictional framework built on a few key elements of reality, and the supernatural stuff disappeared. It was slowly getting whittled down into an actual script. Then things started to come apart. I changed from a job as a retail nobody that allowed me to basically do whatever I liked most of the time, to a manegment position in a game store. The reason I wanted to change jobs was because the other one kept trying to make me a manager and I just wanted to be no one. Forever. They feed on competence though. No store wants a really good floor associate though. They want cheap new people because we’ve all been trained to expect terrible service now. So I took the new job because another friend was going to manage it and I would just be able to do the grunt work and not worry about anything else. I don’t like having a little power. I want all the power, or no power at all. A little power is frustrating. No power is something you can just accept. A store manager has just enough power and responsibility to make the job horrifying. At least as far as I’m concerned. You can make a call on something, but there’s always someone who can overturn your ruling. That’s bullshit. It’s part of why I sympathize with Mike. He has the worst job there is, in my mind. A little too high on the chain.
Anyway, the guy who got me the new job ended up moving away and everything kind of crumbled. I didn’t want to manage the store, but had to until a new one came along. They wanted me to just do it, but I hated it. I didn’t even like being the assistant, but it was good money when I had a boss I got along with. I didn’t get along with the next one though. She made me miserable. Over the next few months all the security I had built up just sort of faded away and I got more and more sick of everything. I won’t tell you the entire story, but that’s when I really learned what it meant to want to die. Nothing was ever going to get better. At best I was going to have to start over someplace else, or just die in my bathtub. I remember sitting on the futon making the choice. For whatever reason I decided to call my mom first. She talked me down. After that I took what savings I had and moved to Colorado.
I didcked around with writing for a while then one day got inspired by Scott Kurtz and his buddies about making comics. I thought if Jeph Jaques and David Willis could do it then I could too. Fuck, the most popular comic online was stick figures…

And it mostly worked out. I’m not where I want to be, but I don’t want to be dead. That’s something at least. Maybe I can make other people not want to be dead too. Maybe I can spread around what little hope I found and we can help each other out. I hope I make the times between a little better.


of Course we all know Jess is gonna put up a bit of a counter fight to Jo’s comment but it will be a vain a futile attempt mwahahahaha, Jess got Served

Well thanks for spilling the beans. It was a well gaurded secret. Also congrats on 1500. Looking forward to the next 1500, and the 1500 after that.

…Wow. I’m not really sure what to say. I can definitely sympathize with working shitty service industry jobs you hate. (4 years in the dish pit when I wanted to be a cook).
I’m glad your mom talked you out of it.Glad your mom talked you out of it.

BTW, do you have compression socks or stockings?

Thanks for sharing your story. It’s WV always interesting to hear about where the origins of you and the comic are. I am also looking forward to the next 1500 comics.

Zing! I think Jo is saying Jess is like a gender-bendered John. Only more successful.

I don’t want you to be dead, either. After more than 1500 episodes (there are some toss-ins in there) and close to what, ten years, you make dozens or hundreds of other folks not want to be dead, too, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“Oh, so you don’t like [John] because he’s you, as a boy.”

Ooch! Or as they say at newgrounds: “YEE-Owwch!!!!!”


Retail… literally makes people not want to live.

I’ve seen people who are smart, ambitious folks go into retail and get turned into… I don’t know what to call them. Sad. They buy the corporate jargon hook line and sinker because if they DON’T buy it, then they are living a lie. Fighting and working for a company that seriously doesn’t care about them. And there is nothing they can do short of just finding another job. And when you work in retail long enough, every job appears like the one you have from the outside. There goes any motivation to improve. The only course of action is to conform and hope that you die without being a burden.

Very much Brazil only without all the fancy special effects.

I’m really glad you got out Jackie.

Dude, I wish you could come home after a long day and read webcomics as a little escapism and a cheer up. That’s one big difference between you and us. We can come here and escape into your world. I wish it was a better place for you.

Congrats on 1500! I read a lot of webcomics, including the ones you mentioned. One of the coolest things I’ve experienced with a webcomic is when Between Failures went from black and white to color with Thomas and Carol’s kiss.

I loved the comic, but honestly the post below it is what makes me comment. I know I’ll never know exactly the way you felt, possibly how you feel now, but I definitely know that feeling of wanting to give up. I’ve been there, and I’m so glad you’re still around. I hope that you never give up.
Thanks for all the joy that you’ve given me- I started reading this when I was working my own dead-end job. I remember walking around that day, wondering if I mattered at all, and then I found this comic, found Thomas speaking my very words. I may still be where I was then, but at least now I look forward to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Thank you again.

Love Jo’s response in the last panel. Well played :)

On your post below… That is where I was, probably six months ago. Angry, hateful, depressed and even suicidal (at one point I was so tempted to just use the work equipment to reach the roof, reach up and grab some frayed power leads). I fucking hated the warehouse (I work in the receiving/dispatch part of the store), because I felt part of myself being whittled away into nothingness. My intelligence, my interest in science and computing, just wasting away.

I still have the same shitty retail job, don’t get me wrong there, but I found people around me that actually care. Even my bosses are helping me to become something better.

I think through this comic, you found that. People who not only just enjoy the comic (which is nice enough on its own), but actually care about you as a Real Human Person. People who, knowing the problems that you have, show their sympathy, share their personal stories, and even offer advice. You’re a good guy, from what I have seen, and you deserve good things. I hope that some day things work out for you :)

PS. Congratulations on #1500! :D

I’ve worked retail for years.

Felt disposable, like a cog in a machine and worse, like a non functioning cog or a barely functioning one. No one wants to hire you if you suffer from depression and even if you manage to fool someone into it, it’s hard as hell faking enthusiasm. Constantly get told to smile by corporate ladder climbers who happen to be above me. Not enough that I do a crappy job for crappy pay, I have to pretend to be happy as well??

It’s just shit and I hate it.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I love your comic so much. It feels like the people and the issues are real, like coworkers I’ve talked to and places I’ve been. I can relate to it and I really enjoy reading it. With art you can reach out and touch people and I suppose what I’m trying to say is that your comic has done that for me.

Thank you.

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