1621 Three Times.

I always second guess commenting on the physical appearance of the characters, especially the girls, now. I’ve been on the internet, absorbing the conflict, for well over a decade. In addition to growing up in the 80s and 90s where society gave out so many conflicting messages to boys that it’s a wonder all men aren’t as fucked up as me now. The constant commentary about gender, sexualization, the male gaze, feminism, and everything even tangentially related to it has given me a shaky hand in a creative sense. Who is going to give me the most shit if I do what I’m thinking about doing? Who is going to quit reading if a character that has been portrayed as callous acts that way and makes a joke at the expense of a fat person? It’s a constant brawl in my brain trying to pick a master. The fact that I’m partially cauterized emotionally at the moment doesn’t help because half the time I don’t feel anything anymore and have to rely on experience to do things I think I would like if I were in my right state of mind. I’ve trained myself to function even when I’m broken. All of the damage done over the time I’ve been making this comic has been cumulative, and nothing has come along to repair it. I need something that will fill in the holes as they get made, but the stuff that used to work doesn’t anymore. Maybe that’s why I like building things with Lego so much. It feels like i’m putting something together the right way for a change, if only for a little while.

I actually drew the entire motorcycle out so that Nina would fit on it properly. I only inked the part you see, but the sketch layer had the entire bike. In my head there was going to be more stuff to do with the bike, but then I realized it wasn’t really important and I don’t have the time or skill to be as cinematic as my head wants. Basically this is the process I go through with every page. Really high goals, acceptance of my abilities, then I make what I can realistically make. It’s kind of demoralizing when you look at it over time. I cut so many corners you’d think the comic would be presented in a circle.

I hate having to edit mistakes and stuff. On this page I was really happy with it then today as I looked I realized there was no way the helmet I drew would fit over Nina’s head. It seemed right at 5 AM after not having slept, but through fresh eyes it was clearly incorrect to a point that was unforgivable. So I went in and painted over the layer. Usually I fix things properly, but today I was like fuck it. I don’t foresee any future time where I’m ever going to need these pages in a state where I need perfect linework. I doubt seriously that there will ever be any more printed volumes of the comic. Once I’m gone they will exist as long as the website does then disappear into the digital nothingness that all digital media does when society collapses. The plans to at least publish the first story dissipated and it looks like that it’s never going to happen. I guess I shouldn’t say never. It’s just on hold until such time that I can do everything else to keep things running AND sort out the book. If I die before that time it will fall to someone else, if anyone exists that cares that much. They don’t now so why would they suddenly at that point. I won’t be there to see it so I don’t care.

I’ve still got that fucking sketch I paid $300 dollars for to make the tenth anniversary poster with sitting on my hard drive, largely untouched. I think I was the only one who cared about it in the first place. I feel like I should finish it though. Even if it’s only for me. Someday…


Hey, listen. I’ve heard that speech before, from people close to me, and from myself, as an artist. You positively affect the lives of so many people, and you’ll never know the half of them. And by making a public thing, like this web comic, with characters people can relate to as they struggle with their own problems, that effect is magnified a thousand fold. For every hater, there will always be a silent majority that cheers you on from the sidelines but doesn’t often speak up. Should they do that more? Perhaps, but the real point is that, for all the naysayers (including yourself), it is a good life you lead, it’s yours and nobody else’s, and you can make the best of it day by day.

Now, I’m just one of the silent majority, you don’t have to take my word for it. But a post, like the one you made with the comic, suggests you could use some help right now. I don’t know if you’ve seen a therapist before, but everyone needs a hand once and awhile, and if you ever feel like the world would be a better place without you, or anything, that’s when a trained hand can make all the difference.

And finally, as an artist, I have to say that putting together a comic of any quality for as long as you have is fucking impressive. I tried once, and only got about 41 (okay it was exactly 41) pages in before my life got in the way. So bravo sir, because you’ve made a comic with very well developed characters who I care about, and I’m so excited to read on. Don’t forget that the audience barely ever sees those corners you cut unless you point them out, and that over-complex backgrounds WILL reach through the screen and throttle the life out of you, if you let them.

You have amazing persistence, sir, and your product is good.
That’s worth 10 or 100 high-art perfectionists, and I’m one of those creatures myself.

Cat-shaped motorcycle helmets? Is that a thing?

Oh so very much a thing. Try doing a Google image search for “motorcycle helmet cat ears” for a whole bunch of real-world examples.

Well as the mother of “big girls”, I raised to them to like their bodies and be confident. I think for the most part, they are. There are always jerks who think women should look like Twiggy, but for the most part men seem to like curves, and the more the better in some cases. We get enough conflicting messages nowadays, and if you think the 80’s and 90’s were bad, you should have tried being a girl and young woman in the 60’s and 70’s! I still carry a lot of baggage from then, but a loving husband helped me a lot. If any one gives me crap about my size now, I have a range of language to choose from and the guts to use it. (Southern upbringing means I have to be polite about it, though!)

I love your comic, it frequently makes me laugh out loud, and the artwork is definitely part of the enjoyment. Your characters are well drawn and interesting, and I like the way they’ve evolved over the years. In any good story you need change and progression to make it flow. I think I’ve been reading it for about as long as you’ve been doing it. It would be nice to see another book, but yeah, you have to have the interest to do it. Just saying, don’t give up.

I’d just like to add my voice, as a part of the usually silent majority.
I’ve read the entirety of Between Failures probably five times over now. If I had money, you’d be getting some of it. I love what I’ve seen of your work, I’d probably have something of an orgasm if i got this entire webcomic in book form, and I think you’ve handled the sensitive topics you’ve occasionally touched on extremely well. You make incredible content, and your work is actually something of an inspiration in my own personal projects. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for your work. Thank you.

I care about the anniversary sketch! It is something that I would pay monies for.

Is Cafe Press still a thing?
Is there any other competing service with a similar make and that ship arty / shirty / muggy / steiner stuff that is international out there?
If there is, then is there anyone out there willing to lend a bit of time to our beloved artist getting setup?

– kinda broke and not up-to-date on all the new stuff type person

Hello from the silent majority in sunny (read cold) Netherlands!

This comic is one of the handful of things that have got me through rough times. When the stupid pain condition is playing up and the depression kicks in because I’m alone and can’t even get up this comics is one of the things that makes me smile. I can just reread and lose myself instead of wallowing in my misery. And I love you art. I want to say it’s so cute but is that insulting? I don’t know. This comic has been here for me through a lot. So, a very heart felt thank you <3

I’d just like to say that Nina has my favorite “vanity plate” ever.

Many years ago, when my youngest son was about four, he slapped his mom on the butt and said; “hey you big fat babe”. I nearly bit through my lip to keep from laughing. Somehow it was my fault anyhow…..

Jackie, as a married man, I’ve said the same thing Thomas has to my wife. She thinks it’s cute. But the trick is to not push it to the level of serious. Thomas could stop there and be alright in 90% of the sane world

Hey Jackie,
thank you so much for the wonderful comic! To me, the warmth it radiates has always been evidence of a big potential for self-love – the deep caring, acceptance, foregiveness, well-wishing, indulging in treats, pursuit of dreams and so on that one prepares for oneself. As for the dying, it’s much easier when you don’t have something to live for. I read The Sculptor by Scott McCloud this spring. The artist in the story trades the rest of his life for 200 days with the power to shape anything the way he wants; he also finds and then has to give up the love of his life. Quite tragic story. There is this beautiful moment though when the lovers know their fate and she tells him a secret that they know will be forgotten when he passes away and that’s what it’s there for. Although not quite, it’s also there for them to share in the moment. That is what your post about the fate of the comic reminded me of. What it boils down to for me is the big existential question, do you want to influence the people around you and to come beyond your lifetime? For the characters, who are also people who highly depend on the artist, like kids, it’s even trickier. : ) If yes, then it’s time to start planning, getting people involved, or leave it to destiny. If no, one can actually relax. The other option is to go on living, of course, and sometimes you have to when things don’t work out, predictions turn out wrong, and you find yourself still kicking. For this opportunity I have created the anti-bucket list: It says, let’s suppose I’m still alive tomorrow, what are the things I will want to have experienced, done, or built if I haven’t been run over by a truck? So that I feel like the life I’ve inherited from my past self is worth living. What would I do differently, if I didn’t have the conditions I have? Would I try to prevent myself from going down the same path if I started over again (memory wiped)? Else, there are no regrets.^^ Seeing life as a video game where you get one life and no walkthrough (these ones really suck, man), I can’t help but keep on trying, if I get stuck. And I create my own “savegames”, just out of habit and for the memory.

You say the things I’ve heard before from people who are no longer with us. May your time be longer and less painful than those who precede you. I’m sorry.

Thank you, anonymou5, for making me aware and for your well-wishes! It’s very good to reach out, just in case. This is probably numbers. People who think themselves close to death due to old age, body condition, social atmosphere, suicide plans, plain carelessness are more likely to contemplate life and death more often and comment on it. And then they die and there you have a correlation. But there are others as well. Some like to be prepared, and have things settled, just to take that eventuality of their mind. Some like to buy a life insurance. Some follow philosophies where they are always reminded you could die at any moment and that is the basis for your beliefs and actions, makes life more serene. Some just watch too much media content, where peoples lives are at stake. Personally, I have felt in existential crisis emotionally, but it was not a physical one, still made me think. I have also experienced the grinding nagging of a body in slow decay. This one is much harder to withstand psychologically, because you have to do it all the time, against contrary prospects, and thoughts of giving up may creep in every once in a while. It’s also a motivation killer and source of panic. But I’m also a proponent of the unexpected better-ever-after. Which can happen at any time. Always worth trying for. ; ) Pain I can stand if I can numb it or turn it into experience, as long as the body knows its own limits. The really important question for me is what mindset is most likely to get you out of a difficult situation in the long run. Say, you find out you have cancer. And you want to go for one of these unexplained healings, in which positive psychology might play a role (or you might have been destined to get better anyway and your physicians got it wrong). Does it help you more to acknowledge the fact and do everything you can to use the rest of your time in the best way possible OR ignore it and delude yourself every time you feel your condition getting worse OR fight no matter what OR since you may not be able to do anything just go on doing what you were doing? Truly positive thinking is supposed to help you get better, as tough survivor stories will have us, but how do you get there?

The part is kinda why I feel so strongly about protecting guys that create stuff they like. Having been in a male dominated genre people get really rude with me until they find out I’m a woman and that’s not cool. For the most part people know what you intend and don’t care about the internet fighting over isms. The only people that do care aren’t your fans and are probably miserable people looking to feel superior to someone else.

If people can bitch about me about male gaze then turn around and praise me if they find out I’m a girl there’s something wrong with them. Not me. Not any male artist like me.

The only thing I find particularly offensive about portrayals of “minorties” in media is when they make their enemy the isms. Women get to fight sexist men. Black people have to fight racism. Fat people have to fight mean people. It’s great when people get to be characters and not a revenge fantasy for their minority group.

Maybe you should try to work with someone on something small to get some… I can’t finish this without sounding dirty. Collaborate son.

As far as the editing: Never look back. Never surrender. The flaws are my battle scars. What else would my readers have to comment on?

I don’t have a suitable expletive to express my awe at panel 1, but it’s probably a good thing poor Ed wasn’t there to react

As for the newspost, most of what I have to say has been said, but Jack, you keep people comiing back here week after week, and you’ve kept chugging along even though some awfully hard times. You’re not in the ground yet, man.

The effort you’re putting into thinking carefully about what goes into the strip – its really paying off. Your strip is great because of it.

Jackie, you know your readers love your work and care about you. I too hope that things get better.

You might want to ask your doctor about getting on an antidepressant. Over the past year I experienced extreme stress both at work and at home and came close to divorce. I went from being a happy guy who found pleasure in building/repairing/creating to a guy who got home from work and just wanted to lay on the couch. I found no joy in my hobbies and

(continued) couldn’t seem to understand anything i read any more. Memory suffered too and I just felt like crap. I finally got the courage to ask to be medicated for it and they put me on Lexapro. I’m about 3 weeks in (full effects at 6-8) and already feel more like my old self. I’m happier, I can understand reading again, and I no longer feel hopeless.

Might be something to look into.

Well Jackie, you could always stop caring what others think about you. Oh sure, tons of people say this, but very few really do. Doing so opens up a whole new world of options. You can start shopping at this website for example.


Seriously though man, I will pray for you, and hope that God will make a path for you out of the place you’re in.

I’ve read every page of this comic, and I was moved to finally comment. Your whole body of work is just ….REALITY.

I feel like Thomas, the caretaker of the group. I have a Best Friend who is exactly like Jo, except her contacts are Elven Green, as she calls them. My fiance is no-nonsense, curvy, and philosophical, like Carol. I even have a Reggie, whom I am “trying” to help soften his attitude issues. This is a true case of “Art imitating Life”.

With the exception of race, you are pretty much drawing my life…and doing an extremely awesome job of it! Please please PLEASE keep up the GREAT WORK that you do. We, your adoring fans, as well as me personally, appreciate and look forward to more.

You do you buddy, I like the story as it’s been, and I’ma keep reading ’till it ends, if/when. That or I lose all my favorites again on google.

I’m not seeing any problem with the helmet; looks to me as though she can don it easily. Her braid coil will be squished against her head, is all; she shouldn’t notice any discomfort from that unless she’s got a barrette in the wrong place, or something like that.

As for panel 2, it should be clear to any reader–and to Carol–that Thomas is just being very literal and sincere, and not going for a rimshot at all: he likes her butt, and appreciates its quantity as well as its quality in a genuine and heartfelt way.

Hi there, I just wanted to say that I don’t think it matters if you’re cutting corners or not. Actually, being able to adjust your idea of a perfect picture to something that’s more doable, while still doing justice to the story, is a skill in itself.

I really like this comic, I’ve been reading it for almost a year now. I have so much respect for you for being able to make this, despite everything else that’s going on. I admire your perseverance. Keep going!

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