1531 Two For Many.

In case you’ve forgotten who James from down the hall is, you can go back to here: and have a look.

This thing is so much a part of me that I don’t always realize how long from one point to another things are. In my head they encountered James not that long ago, but in real time it’s been years. I’ve always just expected everyone to remember everything because it’s what I do fore the most part. The reality is that the average reader, even if they really like the comic, aren’t invested enough to remember every single encounter. I considered putting a note on the actual page, but I’ve never really felt like they fit with my style.
It’s kind of funny when you think about stuff like little note boxes that tell you when something happened in a past comic. When I read Marvel books they did it all the time, but I almost never had the issue they pointed to, so it was useless. Now you have access to the entire archive, so that system would actually work the way the old editors would have hoped. But then I don’t do it. XD Of course that’s part of the function of the blog. If someone came in right now they might just assume that this is a known thing and move on without thinking about it, but if they wanted backstory they probably have the wherewithal to scroll down to this text. If they don’t maybe they don’t deserve it. I always sort of expect everyone to be as good at things, or to understand the world, the way I do/am. That’s probably not the best way to live. On the other hand, pretty much every regular reader IS on par with my intelligence level. Since I actually talk to a ton of you I know it to be true. There’s even a percentage of people who exceed my powers that are very difficult to keep up with. That’s always been rare in my life.
Someone once said that your comic will attract people like you, so make it for yourself and you’ll get an audience that you’ll get along with. That’s true on some level, but at the same time if you court controversy you’ll get a second audience that reads out of hate. Of course the internet doesn’t care why someone reads. Eyes are eyes to advertisers, and even someone who hates gay people will pour a Pepsi down their neck from time to time. I’ve never felt capable of debating important issues in my work. I’m generally interested in the miniscule things people do to make life bearable.
When newspapers were still a thing my family sometimes got a sunday one, but rarely for several consecutive weeks, so I never could figure out what was going on in Mary Worth. Other cartoonists mock that strip for requiring a level of commitment that is practically impossible in our culture now. For me though, it was so frustrating never knowing why they needed a lawyer one week then months later that lawyer had had a car accident, or whatever was going on. I was fascinated by how it was just people standing around living their lives. I don’t think there was ever a punchline in any of them I managed to read. The idea that punchlines aren’t always the point is something we don’t always think about. Anyway, I think I’ve always felt out of place with other people, so I just like watching them, hoping that I’ll figure out what it is that makes it so you can be part of a group, or have a successful relationship, or whatever.
When was little I used to have conversation with how I imagined other people were in my head all the time. It started because I was so shy and scared that I had this constant need to be prepared for anything another person might say. Everyone was so mean that if you weren’t able to put up some sort of verbal defense life was miserable. I always felt inadequate. I was miserable in school almost all of the time, felt outcast and bullied. Over time the conversations went from just trying to talk to other people to figuring out how to hurt them. I would analyze how they spoke and acted until I knew what they were afraid of, what their weaknesses where, how to make them cry. Over and over, all day long, running scenario after scenario in my head. At the same time I would just listen to the teachers and memorize what they said so I didn’t need to study. As long as it wasn’t numbers all I had to do was listen with one ear and think about whatever else I wanted to in my head. I got more and more mean and arrogant over time. If anyone managed to land one on me I’d hold a grudge forever. I can still remember moments where someone managed to get one over on me and being so furious I wanted to find any way possible to hurt them back. It just got worse and worse and worse.
One day I was walking down the hall and some kid I’d never seen before stopped me. He was half as tall as me, but squared up and said “I see you walking every day. Why are you so mad all the time?” And I didn’t know. I just was. He said it in a way that sounded confrontational, but he was on his own and there was no sane reason he could possibly want to fight me. I didn’t have any idea how to react. Why did he care? What difference did it make to him? How was he trying to trick me? No one ever took any interest in me, so why would this random asshole? All of that went through my mind in seconds and what I finally landed on was “Get. Out. Of. My. Way.” And he did. Not in a scared way. He never said another word. Didn’t insult me under his breath. He just shook his head and sat back down.
I have no idea to this day who he was. I never saw him again. That might have been the first time I’d ever encountered genuine concern in a person outside my family, and I couldn’t recognize it. I’ve thought about that encounter many times over the course of my life. I wonder who he was, why he cared, and how he seemed to know that there was no point in trying to reach me after I answered. I don’t know what his goal was, but I did start thinking about why I was so angry. I didn’t stop because I found my reasons, but I thought about them in a way I hadn’t before. He nudged my trajectory that day. Like an asteroid on a collision course all you need to do sometimes is tweak the course it’s going to take and over time it misses the explosive conclusion you want to avoid.
I was still furiously angry most of the time for the better part of my schooling. No one had whatever it was going to take to make me not hate everything all the time. Not my family, not my friends, and certainly not random people I barely knew.
I went on a school trip once and I saw Adam Sandler perform his Halloween costume bit on SNL for the first time the day Curt Cobain died. I thought it was hilarious but after I was done laughing I realized everyone was looking at me. They had never seen me laugh. These are people I spent hours and hours with in the same classroom, and I’d never laughed in front of them. I’d known some of them for years.
Much later on I was leaving the school and a girl who was also an artist was standing in the hall randomly. I didn’t really know her, but I didn’t hate her at least. I just walked past without looking. Just as I reached the door she stopped me and said “You know, you’d be handsome if you’d just smile sometimes.” That was probably the only time a girl had shown any interest in how I looked in the entire time I had been in school. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t figure out how she was trying to trick me, or how this was going to turn into a joke to tell her friends later, so I just said “I don’t care.” and left.
Turns out she was gay, but I suspect she understood the rules of handsomeness at least. I’d just never been complimented before and couldn’t understand that another person might have just wanted to reach out to me.
It’s strange because usually telling someone they need to smile is something a man does to a girl, and apparently it’s insulting. Maybe it was an insult all along. I’ll never know. Although I actually remember her name, which is really weird considering I almost never learned people’s names in high school. I could potentially find out, although I doubt seriously she would remember that incident, or even who I am.
One of these days I should figure out how to make my sad stories into comics. It’s weird to think about that stuff though. I usually just repress it and it spills out unexpectedly.

27 Comments

This is probably “Too much information”, about me. Regardless, of that I thought I’d tell some people this info, anyway.
Jackie’s thoughts about teenage years, + high school years, made me think about some of my own teen years-

My family moved a lot. From about the years of 11-17, I was…pretty much…despised…by the kids I went to school with. Or, I guess, if they didn’t, in reality- hate me as much as a piece of crap, they certainly treated me as one.
Their reasons- they imitated their parents, who were almost all business people: with ruthless, shark-like personalities…personalities that said: “crushing people, + emotionally hurting them, is fun”.
Also- these were back in the years, in the USA, where most cities + towns didn’t see violence done to kids…by kids, as any kind of a problem. So- the boys/males liked to challenge you to insult fights- and…if you were good at them…they would get mad + get violent with you. Or, if you were bad at insult fights, then they’d keep insulting you until you were almost on the edge of tears. Nice people, huh?

I suppose I was kind of lucky- I was nearly 5’10” to 6′ at age 10, so most kids didn’t want to punch me + attack me, because they thought I’d really splatter them if they got into a fistfight with a guy as tall as me. Still…being in a harsh culture of verbal abuse + physical abuse, for that many years, doesn’t leave me with a big group of fond memories of that town…or those years. Those years are sort of like going through a Driver’s Education class to me, as in: [Ok, I did that. That was a thing. It’s gone]. I don’t draw any happy memories, or “gosh, what a good time that was”-type of feelings, out of those years. That’s all.

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. I was smarter than more than half the kids in my classes, wore glasses from Second Grade on, and was always the little fat kid. That changed the summer before I was a Junior. I grew two inches, taller than most of my tormentors. The bullies who used to beat me up started getting seriously injured, so they stopped.

See? And I thought it was because my father was the principal of the school I attended.

That was just the excuse that particular tribe used.

In my experience, people are just small-minded, scared, abusive, jealous, angry little a$$-hats who like to export their misery. As they get older we [sometimes] just learn to hide it better.

Why, no, I’m not bitter. Just realistic. …And I’m not in denial. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not!

Preaching to the choir.

Thankfully, despite starting high school at 5’2″ and ending at 5’5″, I had pretty broad shoulders (21″). So, the ones that tried could never stuff me in a locker.

I’ve been told I’m built like a boxer (more like a sumo these days), so that probably helped cut down on the bullying a fair bit despite my height.

I forgot to say this, about that, when this page was 1st up, but- Thanks for the replies.
It’s good to know that other people can relate, to events done by people who acted like crap…in school days that are far behind, and- to me, are best left back there. They really are memories, that I don’t need to think about, much anymore. Thank you.

I was pretty much the same during my formative years. I was… well, not harassed or bullied to any significant degree, but people’s jokes were… persistent.

In year 9 (I don’t know what the equivalent would be in the US, middle school or something?), I just shut down. Disconnected my heart from the pain (so I thought), just surviving on academia (meh) and a handful of friends (I still talk to one, and have reconnected with the sister of another (not a euphemism)).

It was a spectacular failure. I went to TAFE (community college), and tried to get an IT job somewhere, but because my people skills were so lacking, and because they needed “experienced workers”, all it left me was a massive cup of nope and a shit-ton of rage that likes to pop up whenever I get overwhelmed.

I do better with people now than I did then, but I still have not fully grasped concepts like “friendship”. Sometimes people do things altruistically, but I can’t help but feel like I owe them in some way, like a debt to be repaid. I mean, I do things because they need to be done, or I’ve been asked if I could help, or whatever, and the thought of being “owed” something back doesn’t even register, but I can’t fathom the feeling I get when the roles are reversed…

That debt part is something I totally get. I’m not sure if it’s that I expect myself to be so much better than everyone else, or that I’m so suspicious of other people, but I can’t accept kindness without repaying, whereas I’m just *supposed* to do nice things for people, because I need to justify my existence *somehow*.

Got excited for a moment, thinking man there is a college here in Brisbane called TAFE. Looked it up, generic term in Australia. (I just moved countries so still learning)

Yep, I’ve got a spare capture box in the basement. Practically unused, too; she could have it, boobs or no (I would’a given it to Brooksie, too).

You missed the best part. My family subscribed to two daily papers and a regular Sunday through the ’80s; we most of the comics. The titular character in Mary Worth had a tendency to go on the occasional bender. During these drunken fugues, she frequently murdered homeless people no one would miss, anyway. I think Ernst and Saunders figured it made the strip more edgy.

This is an over generalization – or at least a simplification – but I think everyone carries SOME degree of that kind of anger during their teen years. Your description is pretty similar to my younger brother.I went with the self-direct and internalize route: in other words, I blamed myself for everything, like my parent’s toxic relationship, constant moving and related lack of deep friends, and the low-key resentment towards anyone with the confidence and agency I lacked. Thought of myself as weird and unlock eagle for my seizures and the side-effects of the meds, while at the same time being disgusted with myself for not “getting over it” and making friends, or focusing on what I was good at. In short, I was unhappy because I should have been happy, angry with myself for being angry, and avoided making friends because I was a bad friend. I should-ed myself, which is messy and makes one (s attitude) stink.
I’d like to say that I’ve gotten better, but I’m not sure. My brother definitely has though, so that’s good, and I couldn’t be more proud of his resilience.

The anger thing was in the early school years, maybe due to a yin-yang set of parents.
Somehow I managed not to murder anyone in grade school yet was also the target of near continuous bullying. Maybe it was because of the “incident” that I wasn’t picked on so much as shunned.
Middle school was a transition in a lot of ways both sociologically and psychologically.
High school was not so much anger than isolation. I was the weird geeky kid, a bit heavy, totally clueless on social cues and always trying and failing to really fit in. If it wasn’t for my eternal optimism [I’m a certified pessimist these days] I may have had more than the one breakdown in first year. I joined as many clubs as would have me and that I could participate in back then, yet thinking back I was still isolated / loner. Heck, back then I fit the classic profile of one of those kids who goes postal to an outside observer.
So many years latter I learned why I was both positively or negatively treated by the teaching staff. Combine a stupid Hi IQ with Aspergers – yeah, after a while I learned to “Act” like a normal person but it took till college before I had that figured out. In the interim I read “a lot” of books. Okay, I read ALL the books in every technical section that took my fancy at any one time, plus all the sci-fi and fantasy that I could get my hands on. Video games and computers became my go to once I could afford either and new books were few and far between.
Thinking back I only had two close friends in grade school. One moved to another country and we soon lost track of each other, the other I lost track of once we entered high school due to ending up in different tracks. Only years and years after, and man, I did not recognize them. They had gotten in with a bad crown in high school and gotten into the drug scene for a period before managing to make it out alive but it really did a number on them. I was too much of an outsider that even the pot heads didn’t bother approaching me.
I think I would make a great Hermit-Sage but dealing with people is draining and what they say and do just makes me sad.

Ed’s answer reminds me of Madonna.

Rosie O’Donnel’s character in “A Leaguge of Their Own” made a comment about them.

“I’ve never felt capable of debating important issues in my work.”
Except when you do. All the time. Relationships. The importance of accepting people as they are, or seeking to improve their circumstances if you can. Minor characters who turn out to be multi-faceted and deeper than the main characters in many comics. A loyal readership that cares about you and wishes you the best. I think we’ve seen some important issues in here. As to debating- that takes two parties, and maybe that’s what we’re here for. Your rebuttal?

Also, a high school tale. Coming back from shop class one day, an uppergrader grabbed me. I was confused, at first, rather than scared. But then he hustled me along, and my head into a doorjamb. Not super hard, but far more than was good natured horseplay. He then said something to the effect of,” That’ll teach you to kick X(name). I was pretty surprised, I don’t think X the 180lb 6′ athlete needed protection from 100lb 4’11” me. And, yes I’m a guy.(and a little bigger now).

Read this comic a few days ago, just reread it. Totally missed the joke somehow. When I read the line “They’re very nice. I’ve seen” I had thought we were still talking about lets play vids for some reason. It being about Jess’s breasts makes much more sense.

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