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This is an email from a reader that I thought had some interesting stuff in it, worth sharing with the general audience. I redacted the name out of courtesy. My responses are in bold.


So idk if you want to hear from people on things. And if not, I apologize for using the email intended for patreon sketch whatever things as a means of chatting with you. I try to respect the purposes of things. And stuff. It’s the same one I use for everything anyway so no worries.

I read 2033 (One Step Beyond) today, and in the blog post you say this.

“Body positivity is one of those things that has too many layers of context. I get praised for having so many curvaceous ladies until some people find out I actually find it attractive. It’s only progressive if you don’t want to also have sex with them, kids. I don’t make the rules, I just live in perpetual fear of being singled out and destroyed because of them. ”

And I related to it a lot, because I’m a fellow appreciator of larger women. And sometimes it puts me in weird places in conversations online where people who use “it’s unhealthy” as a justification for fat-shaming, and people who use “it’s unhealthy” as a way of reasoning with and trying to support/encourage people to live their best lives overlap so invisibly. It’s a weird Venn.
I’ve noticed and greatly appreciated the range of bodies you have in your comic. Always made it feel more real to me. And I always assumed that it was because those were the body types you were drawn to, because if I were to draw something for myself and then release it to the world, I’d probably do it much the same – draw people I’m attracted to, in one way or another, damn the politics unless the politics were the point.
I get really bored drawing the same kinds of people over and over too, so there’s layers of reasons why I do what I do here. Mostly they are self serving, but you can frame some stuff as being altruistic, or whatever, for back pats. It annoys me when I perceive other creators framing their fetishes as “body positivity” or whatever buzz word. If you like big tits just own it. The people who were going to hate you for it were never going to like you regardless. Making money from a handful of perverts is way better than making no money from, but getting praised by people who don’t actually like your work.

Your last sentence really hit hard though. Probably because I was primed for it tonight. Lindsay Ellis, a media critic youtuber, did a talk at XOXO 2019 that I just found this evening. I should mention that I don’t know what XOXO is or that there was one until the video popped into my suggestions. In it, she conveys an experience from last year where a twitter joke was taken out of context, spread as a legitimate opinion, and led to a massive hate campaign against her. I can’t decide if I recommend you watch it, or if I recommend you don’t. Cuz even for me it was damn depressing.
I had already seen it. I don’t always agree with Lindsay, but generally I like her content. She shouldn’t be targeted for this kind of harassment. That said, I really dislike a lot of her friends. She tends to be a little more middle of the road. Enough so I can find her tolerable. In any case the mob mentality that is running rampant right now isn’t new. It’s just an old cycle magnified by technology. We are going to have to fight it by being aware of it in ourselves as much as in others. The video is worth watching no matter where you fall politically, although it is cringey at some points & she’s clearly having a hard time talking about the experiences.

More and more, it seems that if you occupy any public space, you can’t win.
So I guess I’ll say, I appreciate that you’re still occupying it, even in your own small way. (as Fry once said “existing is all I do!”) Which sounds patronizing and I hope it reads as supportive because that’s how it’s intended. I’ve always felt like we have a lot in common, I guess, and I admire the work you do with the comic and such. I hope that fear doesn’t hold you back too much, but I understand if it does, and I don’t think anyone who would criticize you for that understands just how terrifyingly psychotic the internet really can be.
If anyone is ever skeptical, feel free to point them to that video. Should clear that shit up real quick.

Anyway. All the best, as always.

This may sound insane, but my nihilistic attitude is kind of my life safety valve. Whenever things get tough, or people are going after me, I like to think about how we’re all going to be dead before long & the option is always available. It’s basically “this too shall pass” to a degree twisted by my abnormal psychology. It allows me to be like “If things don’t get better tomorrow there’s alwaysdeath” then I go ahead and try one more day. Maybe that’s crazy, but it works for me. I’m not trying to say it will work for anyone else. I’ve lived with such extreme anxiety for so long now that I’m pretty badly broken, and yet all the band aids I’ve slapped on my mental health have managed to keep my cuts from getting infected. Every day I wonder if I’m going to make a joke that gets me “cancelled” because my sense of humor is not popular right now. Social media is basically my only connection to other people though, so I’m trapped in a cycle of hating it, but also needing it. Not only for my business, but for my sanity. If I didn’t have the internet I wouldn’t talk to anyone but my father for MONTHS at a time sometimes. Humans are not supposed to function that way. Interaction that most people take for granted are things I haven’t experienced in vast stretches of time. Isolation is not good for social creatures, but the internet is like a drug that can simulate it & allow someone like me to at least make a living.

Anyway, if you make a living online the sword of Damocles is always right there, in the form of a mob just looking for a target. Because it feels good to destroy someone. Especially if you can do it with righteous fury. You just have to hope the odds will be ever in your favor…


I think this might be my first comment here, although I’m a Patron and subscribed to the subbreddit too, for what it’s worth. I tend to just prefer lurking.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to only have social media as your form of contact with the rest of humanity, but I hope I speak for a lot of the readers here when I say I think you just need to keep telling the story you want to tell, and I’ll be here to read it, regardless of any social media controversy. I’ve been reading this comic for years, it’s something I look forward to every M/W/F morning. I’ve stuck around because I like the characters, I like the writing, I like the humor, and the art, and the honesty of everything. I hope you get a chance to work on your mental health because it’s the most important thing in the world, maybe even more important than physical health to a degree. But you should not need to worry too much about the impact of social media, I think your fans will keep reading because we like your work.

Yeah, Ditto what Alex said. … Or’ “Me too some!”

Ditto to what both Alex W and Geneseepaws said!

Me too. Well, that and Carol…and Alex,,and Jo..and……

I’d like a moment to “cast my vote” on the “supportive” side of this.
I don’t consider myself ‘thin-skinned’ enough to be offended, just because I disagree with someone else. Nor do I believe that the “World-At-Large” is somehow wrong, just because it chooses a path that is different from mine. Nature’s supermassive biodiversity is all the proof I need, that there is no one ‘IDEAL’ path to success, & that no form of success is immune to TIME’s changing circumstances. There’s more-than-one way to be ‘right’, & what works for me is not automatically the best solution for someone else.
What keeps bringing me back here is [Jackie]’s ability to tell a story in a way that allows you to CARE about where the plot is headed, regardless of what you may think about a particular individual within that plot.
Thank You, & Here’s to (hopefully) Many More Years of Storytelling To Come.

Here here. Ditto and kudos to what you do. I also follow David Willis. For personal reasons it hurts that his most horrible villains keep being dads, but that wont stop me from reading. Rather I appreciate that we all have different perspectives and I enjoy* trying to understand other peoples stances. The body image thing is another issue for me. I very specifically find obesity challenging. I am aware of my own emptional response on the issue, and work hard to not let that colour how I treat people, but I worry that I’m not as good at behaving equally as I think. So thank you for portraying a variety of body types, as many of my content sources don’t, and I am aware that our views are partly coloured by the average of what we see.

I’m going to bow out of watching anything with Lindsey Ellis; she’s been proven to be a horrible liar and gladly joined in hate campaigns herself, so I have zero sympathy for her. It’s quite a pattern; people say hateful things online, get hate thrown back at them, and then cry about all the hate they received for “no reason.” I just think people, from all walks of life, need to realize that online is always part cesspool and people’s brains don’t always work right on it and just stop caring.

I’m sure she’s far from perfect. Based on her associations alone I can guess that much, but someone has to choose to be the better person & this time I did. Maybe next time I won’t. Regardless I’m still capable of looking at her situation dispassionately & taking anything useful I find for use later.

I think I’m gonna regret asking but what has she lied about? Who is she friends with that people hate so much? I just watch her videos for the interesting analysis of various movies and media, so I genuinely don’t know.

I will say though, in regards to the video that Jackie is specifically talking about, she wasn’t getting hate thrown at her by someone that was in any way in the right. The hate campaign she was targeted with was headed by a bunch of white supremacists. One replied to her on twitter going on about “white genocide” and she joked sarcastically that she was super down with white genocide, yep, best thing ever, and they acted like her statement was literal. Naturally, they disregarded the fact that she IS white…

Which isn’t to say that she couldn’t have been wrong in the past. I very obviously lean further left than Jackie does. I still consider myself moderate, in comparison to the crazies, but there’s definitely a difference there. I might disagree with Jackie at times, but that’s no reason to hate him or “cancel” him. I have a deep hatred for cancel culture in general, just because it stunts growth. People are meant to learn and change.

Sorry, I don’t want to go off on a tangent, just wanted to clarify. Just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean that the way they were attacked wasn’t legitimately worthy of sympathy. In my opinion, anyway, take it with a grain of salt.

I really appreciated the commentary today. I don’t comment much, but the obvious thoughtfulness you put into your work and interactions with fans is a big part of why I’ve been reading the comics for 8 or 9 years now, why this is one of the few comics that I read where I regularly check out the commentary and the comments, and why Between Failures is never going to end up dropped from my weekly reading list, no matter how busy my life gets. I may never meet you in real life Jackie, but I’m sure I speak for more than just myself when I assure you I’m in this for the long haul. (and heck, even beyond Between Failures if that day comes)

I used to loathe not being social “enough”. Then someone recommended a personality test and I scored thinker type. A quiet place is where I get in the zone, just due to my information preferences and what I want to achieve. This said outward stimulation is great to give you ideas, test ideas, mirror your behavior, and surround you with less critical voices than your inner critic. Social contract is nice, for some it’s optional, for some it’s paramount, and sure the benefits of physical touch and presence cannot be denied. … I think shaming someone for being into big types is short-sighted. It happens a) by people who are disgusted by big bodies and, well, that’s as far as their narrow life concept allows them to go, or b) people thinking inconsequentially, since liking someone for their sexual appeal is also a type of validation, showing big body types can be sexy, too (precisely what those folks have been rebelling against in ads) and admitting you are into them is even a step further of validation since it takes away the drawing out of pity or diversity for diversity’s sake. That’s the real deal, and I would bet the critics are uncomfortable with such an embodiment of values (i.e., thinking “we should have big folks in our team photo, but not having sex”). Hmm. So listen to the peeps in as much as getting their point of view, after all they are all trying to practice getting their values heard, which is nice, but no need to subscribe to a narrow view when there is more inclusive thinking around. The pits of equal opinions are tough, but there’s more delight to be had when you get a development perspective of society, like playing with the kids or idiots. You can get frustrated or not. Last point, the other day I “sinned” according to my system in the supermarket going against a plant-based diet, because I wanted to experience rebelling. The whole point of why we go for evil is a thirst for information and experience and a disliking of intellectual confines. We are hungry animals. Once I got this, I was able to calm myself that the options are all on the table, and if I want to experience a medium I can do so, but I am free to go for my high, too, whenever I can so. So insanity as a counter-balance for a super-sane comic? I’m not sure, maybe you just have a hard time accepting that sanity can look weird on some days and from the outside. Particularly U.S. media or media- and economics-influenced individuals may not be one of the best groups to compare oneself against. If I’d run a show on it, I’d call it Paranoia.

I had to look up Lindsey Ellis to figure out who she was. I watch a lot of internet video but I guess I’m not her demographic.Regarding Ms.Ellis, I would have to say that when your product is your opinion on things there is always the possibility that some people won’t like what you are selling. I’ve experienced the temptation to make my opinions more palatable to others and you end up in a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation. I like to think of myself as a student of history and from my own admittedly egocentric point of view there has been a revolution in how we share information and a lot of voices that were previously marginalized can now make them selves heard. The downside is that revolutions tend to eat their young. The changes are progressing but there have been and will be casualties along the way. I respect that Jackie acknowledges the pressures out there in the world but he continues to do his thing according to what he wants to say. That he has the opportunity to do that is a part of this revolution. I enjoy the comic and hope that Jackie continues to speak his mind. This makes more sense in my head but it is hard to spell it out without writing a PhD dissertation.

I’m in the same category as Mgnostic with regard to whoever Lindsay Ellis is, so I looked her up (her Wikipedia entry is pretty short) and she still doesn’t ring any bells of familiarity, probably because I’m a little older (Jackie’s age) and wasn’t completely submerged in social media from an early age. I still prefer phone calls or face to face interaction to texting, email or social media, but I recognize that it’s a part of society now and sometimes it’s the only readily available source of “human contact” people (particularly in the USA) have on a regular basis. The unfortunate side effect is that isolating yourself is a self-feeding problem (I know this from personal experience), like Jackie mentioned. If you already have crippling anxiety issues, they aren’t likely to improve if you’re never around other human beings, and how people behave on the Internet is truly apalling, even on good days. You don’t need to have been scorched by a flame war to understand that unfiltered interactions are far from an optimal way of connecting with other people. Even if you’re representing yourself truthfully over social media (i.e. not using an alias or fake identity), the reality is that most people don’t recognize the impact of their activity on other people because, psychologically speaking, since they’re not facing another person while communicating, they don’t have the same instinctual reactions. They cannot see the other person flinch, sigh, get wide-eyed with shock, cry or scream in frustration or anger when they see someone’s photos or reads their words, so their reactions are not “real” to them. Sure, a person can train themselves to think more carefully before letting their unfiltered emotions and thoughts sprawl all over Facebook, but that requires a degree of self-awareness that, younger generations especially, are not used to confronting. This is one reason why I am such a big fan of Mike Rowe, because he not only advocates the value of hard work, diligence and patience when it comes to pursuing your goals, he also stresses the importance of “soft skills”, which basically boils down to good manners, something that is woefully lacking in our modern society, partly due to the immediacy of social media.

All this is to say that, while I don’t share Jackie’s nihilistic view of life, I do sincerely agree with his encouragement to live day by day and make the most of what time you do have on this Earth. People like Jackie are, generally speaking, the rare bright spots in the online world, who do their best to bring people together with their work instead of segregating and belittling those who don’t share their opinions. For that, even if nothing else, he has a constant reader and fan in me, because I don’t have to agree with everything he says or does to appreciate what he shares with us three times a week.

TL;DR Live long and prosper, Jackie. I appreciate you and your work more than can be expressed in mere words.

Interesting reading, Jackie. Thanks for sharing it.

I think the main issue (read: problem) with the Internet, especially these days, is that people don’t tend to discuss things – they tend to either argue or bully, more often than discuss. Whether you like the guys who write it, PA’s GIFT (Greater Internet F-wad Theory) seems like it’s more true than not. People say things against others in ways that are much harsher than they might face to face, and the mob mentality rules as others borrow the momentum from opinions that mirror their own, and the meanness and disrespect of opposing opinions tends to snowball. People forget that opinions are just that – opinions.

But with the Internet, these opinions now carry other weight. Businesses can live or die based on Yelp reviews, for example, despite the fact that it’s a self-selected population of opinions, and that it’s human nature to bitch more than praise (i.e., “If you like something you’ll tell one person, if you hate something, you’ll tell ten people.”). Critics tell us what we’re supposed to like and dislike, and have been for decades, and many people accept that, despite the fact people all have different tastes.

Include the fact that the Internet monetizes a lot of that through kickbacks based on followers or advertising (which is more profitable the more people who go to your site), and even those opinions can come into question. It’s a problem that even news sources are coming under fire for – ratings driving their presentation of content.

I guess what I’m hoping is that despite all this, people should strive to hold on to their own opinions as their own, and avoid being influenced by the Internet (or others) too much. That includes getting swept up in the mob mentality, Working to respond civilly and in a constructive manner to others, whether they agree with your opinion or not, should be more important than it seems to be.

Also, I’m hoping that people get back to the realization that their opinion is a single opinion, as is everyone else’s opinion, and treat them with the importance and respect they deserve – your opinion is no less important than another’s FOR YOU, and your opinion is no more important than that person’s opinion FOR THEM, and respect that.

As for readership of this comic, Jackie, as long as you keep this online, you’ll have at least one reader. I’m a regular to the current AND archived material, and it’s still some of the best material out there. Thank you!

Don’t let it bug you, Carol. :)

Your true friends really like it, if you tell them- something cute + vulnerable about yourself, or you tell them about- some small thing that you need help with.
I once told friends that occasionally I sleepwalk, + that if they see me in their house, doing so, to just- kindly tell me that I need to go back to sleep, + to lead me back to my bed, + tell me to go to sleep.

My friends liked that. They liked it that I told them that sometimes I need help with stuff, + that- sometimes my life can get just as messy, or messed up, as anyone else’s. :)

I should clarify that. I meant-
…when I’m staying over at their house, + they see me walking around in their house.
[ As in, I don’t walk into random homes, (while) I’m sleepwalking.]
Sometimes, I forget to put in all of the story.

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