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I’ve been sitting here for 20 minutes trying to think about how I can talk about what I want to talk about without getting punished for it. I’ve finally decided that I can’t, & it’s a bitter realization indeed. I can’t even allude to it, or talk around it. I must be silent. This is the landscape fear created & now we’re left to march through it for as long as it takes… We must endure.

I hope my work is an oasis for you, traveler.


Life gets hard sometimes, It has been hard and ugly for me for a while now. I really look forward to the small moment of joy I get when I realize there is a new comic waiting here for me. Thank you for that.

“I’m not sure i make a good first impression” could it be possible the second most annoying character in the comic is learning? As much as i truly dislike reggie, even a little bit of growth is good to see.

And for what ever you want to talk about, go for it. Who cares? The entire internet is a flaming dumpster fire. If you are scared to voice an opinion, doesnt that mean they’ve won?

I think that issue is moot for people who suffer with Aspergers. People with that kind of condition will say all sorts of random stupid shit even at the most inappropriate times which can realistically affect how others will perceive and interact with them in the foreseeable future.

It becomes even more complicated of an issue when you also have to realize that the people you express your attitude to are also responsible for your well-being. If you’re dependent and suffer a mental illness, you can’t afford to speak out of turn to them.

Clearly you haven’t considered all of the possibilities, Anonymous.

He could be considering talking about something sufficiently taboo that it could get him arrested and/or thrown in an institution just for talking about it.

I happen to know, first-hand, how a few offhand remarks online can get you locked up regardless of whether they were meant seriously or not – in my case, I spent a week in a mental institution against my will. They would have kept me longer, but they legally could not do so. That’s in the USA. If you think speech is “free” here, you’ve obviously never had to pay the price.

Anyone who Can remember J.Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy, knows how dangerous voicing an opinion can be to one’s health, freedom, and safety,… or even just being accused of Having and opinion.

I won’t begrudge someone being afraid to voice their opinion, and certainly won’t demand people speak up. But there’s no such thing as a price to pay for free speech. I’m not that anon, but I’ve been beaten up, fired, and harassed for things I’ve said and done. I still say and do them, every chance I get, because I’m not afraid to starve or die for my beliefs. It is not a price to pay for freedom, but a price to pay for the fear of others. If no one had fear, then that price wouldn’t exist. But because I recognize people are fearful that is a price I’d play gladly, on the chance it would help even a single human being.

While it’s good that you will give us a podium to speak on, Anonymous, sadly, the majority of others aren’t as chill. We’re just not that well evolved as a nation yet.

IMO, as an older person I can remember more civilized times. I tend to think of our nation as having DEvolved to this condition.

Ya know, just sayin’

If we’re talking polite society, I can see the point but at the same time, I can’t help but feel that everyone was expected to bite their tongue for the sake of maintaining it out of “appropriation”.

Didn’t that all change with the start of the 70s and the “Summer of Love”?

Following that up with a reply to the OP – I hear you all too well, Jackie. Your comic IS an oasis for me and I’m sure for many others. Whatever it is you wish you could talk about, I wish you could as well. I’m including my email address this time which you presumably have access to. If you need an ear, I promise no judgement and that nothing you say will be revealed to anyone else by choice; no law, trickery, or anything else short of actual torture will draw it out of me. If you prefer voice or another medium than email, just let me know.

I believe that everyone should have a truly safe ear. Since therapists aren’t necessarily safe (personal experience), being ‘anonymous’ online isn’t necessarily safe (second-hand experience), marking a comment as sarcasm or joking isn’t necessarily safe (second-hand experience), phone numbers that claim to be meant for just listening aren’t necessarily safe (personal experience), and alluding to or talking around certain subjects isn’t necessarily safe (personal experience), the only thing one can hope for is finding at least one single person in your life who will listen and take whatever you want to say to the grave.

I totally understand if you won’t take such a risk with a stranger. I probably wouldn’t myself, honestly. That said, it would violate my ethics not to at least make the offer.

You know, I can understand this conversation from both perspectives.

I mean, yes he’s being conservative and perhaps a bit ‘dated’ in his concepts, but his goal isn’t to spend some alone time with her to get fresh, he’s wanting to spend time with her to get to know her and understand her better as a person and as a friend.

That’s… actually pretty important, if you want a relationship to last. What Reggie doesn’t realize is that he doesn’t need to be alone with her to get to know and understand her better as a person and a friend, and in fact by observing her interactions with her social group you can glean a lot more about who they are underneath.

All told, I’m glad she finds it endearing rather than annoying. And I imagine she’s also deliberately leaving him a bit frustrated. After all, one doesn’t strive to catch what one already has. Being politely romantically pursued seems like a fairly novel concept for her, one which she is enjoying, and one that she doesn’t intend to give up just yet. But I’m also willing to bet he earned brownie points in how he phrased his objection.

Also, Reggie is being perhaps a bit thick between the ears when it comes to picking up subtext. But that’s also perfectly on-brand for Reggie, which is why the scene works so well. But he IS smart enough to learn from past mistakes. In being too aggressive, he lost his chance with his ‘towering goddess’ (yea, remember that phrase? Boy’s grown since then). This is not a mistake he is going to make a second time.

Of all the characters in this comic, Reggie has perhaps gone through the most character development. Remember, this is the guy who started off as the anal-retentive know-it-all with an unhealthy obsession on one of his coworkers and only retained his job because his family owned the store chain. He’s come a long way. I’m proud of him.

I agree with you, but in my experience being in a group that doesn’t care for your company means spending all your attention on deflecting attacks – instead of on observing her interactions with her peers, … even if you are just being quiet.

People who go out of their way to attack, probably aren’t worth trying to keep as friends anyways. And since your comnents carry a thread of positivity, i can only conclude that it’s their loss.

There is a very big difference in how thoroughly you can get to know someone one on one versus in a group setting. One on one attention is less split, you have significantly more control on how deep or broad the subject of the conversation gets, etc. The more people involved the more likely the topic is to meander and shift without necessarily staying on a given subject that might be important for their relationship to delve into more deeply.

Group settings are good for getting a sense for a person subtextually, but that requires much more keen and insightful observation and understanding than a one on one conversation, and his track record with people shows he likely won’t get as much out of it as some people, especially if he lacks the baseline knowledge a one on one date would give him.

Also, most of the conversations where he has endeared himself to us readers have been one on one, suggesting to me at least that he likely gets at least a bit flustered in group settings where the focus shifts constantly, making him more likely to poorly communicate his points, thus painting himself in a bad light. If someone has a deeper and more thorough understanding of him this can be worked past relatively easily, however he and Alex haven’t had the chance to establish that kind of depth, and given the opinions their common associates have demonstrated of him, should he screw up severely in front of her, it would be very easy for her to ask around about him and only receive confirmation of his negative traits without touching on the positive, which may or may not be fair depending on if those negative views of him are based on his actual positions or on him poorly communicating his positions.

All in all, I’d say he has a lot to gain from getting a one on one date with her and the more group outings he has with her the more likely he is to screw up before getting that chance. Granted, she’s seems smart and observant enough to be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt if he does screw up, I see where he’s coming from in wanting to get ahead of such an eventuality by endearing himself to her as much as possible before that happens, and he justifiably feels he needs a one on one date to do so optimally.

Different shades of unfree in the world. Sometimes it takes tact and timing. Maybe now is not the time to quench the thirst for attention and broadcasting and instead an opportunity to leave the aether open for contemplative silence for a bit. The day we can practice humility and have it mean something is a very good day.

That’s why I’m also known as Exceptionally Quiet, Jamie. You are an oasis, I love your work…. I wish I could do more.

Here, for once, I’ll post my art page. It’s not much but, it’s something? that I can give to you since you’ve given me so much

Oof. Who gave women access to the word “sweet”?

It’s the word that always triggers something negative. “You’re sweet, but, I’m not interested.” “You’re sweet, but, I already have a boyfriend.” “You’re sweet, but, the restraining order is still in place and you should be 400 yards away.” Always leads to some disaster or another.

As to what you want to say, I think the best advice about something you don’t care about and would rather not be involved in is that “you will be made to care”.

Your comic is like an oasis to us, I think,…it is to me, anyway.
Thank you for this comic, Jackie.

[Please feel free to delete this comment, if you’d rather that everyone not read it.]
The period of the last 6 years has been, emotionally, very rough, for me.
[I don’t mean rough- in political ways, or in govt. ways, or financial ways, in case you’re wondering].

While those 6 yr.s have been going on- your comic has been an enjoyable, + humorous, thing to read,…in a period when something enjoyable, and comforting, has been really appreciated.
Your comic is a great thing.
Thank you.


1)__It’s sad that you feel as though your thoughts cannot be safely shared.

2)__I applaud your restraint, choosing to err on the side of caution, rather than stir-up a $#!+-storm. As much as I trust you to be respectful of other’s opinions, I’m also aware that some folk out there are hyper-sensitive to the least little opportunity to find offense in anything-at-all. I regret that the need for such caution costs you the chance to “vent” in the presence of sympathetic ears. Here’s hoping that some other outlet can be found, to get you some catharsis, or even closure.

3)__”FWIW”, I look forward to the quality story-telling that I find at your ‘oasis’, & I hope that I might continue to do so for years to come.

This is the beginning of my favorite exchange in this entire comic. I’ve been reading here for years and I’ve reread the archive a couple times. But by far the burgeoning romance between Reggie and Alex (who is hands down my favorite character in this comic) does more for me than anything else. Thank you for creating characters I can root for. You’ve done good work, Jackie.

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