2527 Changing Sides.

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I know I should probably focus on a couple of characters, a couple of story threads, and write the way you’re supposed to. I should do things the way everyone else does so that people won’t write essays about how I ramble around and generally suck at webcomics, but I can’t. I’m too interested in this little world I made and the people who populate it. I want to write arcs for everyone and if I had infinite time and energy I would. I’d write for a thousand thousand years because I’m invested in my world. If nothing else I think that’s what ultimately salvages what I make day to day. You can tell when a creator checks out. Meanwhile I’m over here thinking about what I would write about Neil if I had time. I bet most of you don’t even remember who he is. I won’t say so that the most dedicated can dunk on everyone else by knowing. That should be fun for at least one of you. I could probably write an entire comic just about Jessica and Professor Keene. In fact, I would if I could, but even I know I have to reign myself in at least a little bit. I don’t have infinite time and I do feel at least some need to give lip service to sticking with the main cast. Of course I keep slowly expanding the main cast, but in fairness I do have a thing for expansion.
My work probably won’t be remembered even 5 years after I die, but the people who do still remember will at least say “He fucking lived for that shit.”

Take care out there kids. I’ll see you Monday.


{I know I should probably focus on a couple of characters, a couple of story threads, and write the way you’re supposed to. I should do things the way everyone else does so that people won’t write essays about how I ramble around and generally suck at webcomics, but I can’t.}

Long running webcomic Girl Genius is currently undergoing a sideplot that has lasted nine months and change, and doesn’t seem to be wrapping up soon. Babies have been conceived, incubated, and born in the time it took them to hit where it is now. The creators have said that, in order to keep themselves engaged in the comic, they have to do these sideplots and fun asides and random pretty art spreads, and we read them! Cause they are fun!

I want to read about Mike making friends and finding himself, and Brooksie’s movie and romance, and Alex and Reggie figuring themselves out. Cause I care about these little fake people.

But isn’t people weaving in and out while you have a core group of friends what life is kind of like? I think it seems more real this way. And I’m not going to lie, I had to look Neil up — and that made me realize that Alex et al. have been in the comic almost ten years. Wow.

TBH, I’m wondering when the current Girl Genius arc will actually get anywhere, and when we’ll get back to the main plot.

Yeah… I’m enjoying the side story there for what it is, but I much prefer Jackie’s “multiple-character-stories that ultimately exist within the same timeline and move the collective forward” to Girl Genius’s “And now for something in the same world, but otherwise completely unrelated!” side story.

Whoa, Neil… Haven’t heard that name since what, almost a decade now? I guess the only more character who’s been sidelined harder ever since is Wes (and for good reason, IMO). Speaking of which, I’m glad Neil gets a mention while Wes did not, the creep.

In any case, hre’s hoping there are a lot more stories, side plots, extras and everything else you might want to throw our way, Jackie. The little world you made is a good place to spend time in, and your dedication to it shows. I’m glad you’ve chosen to share it with us.

Jackie, whether you are “doing it right” or not, I’m 100% on board the Between Failures train. There has never been a time when I have not enjoyed the comic. I like your art style, I like your dialog, I like your humor, I like all of it.

And years ago you made an “avatar” picture of me based on a photo I sent you, and I treasure it. I use it everywhere.

So I am not lying or exaggerating when I say I will miss you if you die on us. And I would prefer you didn’t die, so please work on that whole “immortality” thing.

(To paraphrase Woody Allen: I don’t want you to achieve immortality through your work; I want you to achieve immortality through not dying. And, if you figure it out, please share the secret with me, thanks.)

I am completely invested in the plot thread about repairing the robot bears at the pizza place. I am completely invested in Mike and Rulette’s conversation and at this point I’m shipping them.

Yeah, when you have a zillion plot threads, you have a bunch of unresolved stuff. I’m willing to deal with it.

In summary, please keep doing what you are doing. I’m enjoying it just the way you are doing it now.

Damn Neil taking stray bullets, what did he do wrong??? (besides that webcomic :D)


I have been loving and cherishing everything that you have been posting. Keep on what you are doing it is amazing!!!

I wouldn’t be too worried about not focusing on a single character or thread. There are a ton of series that do that and are highly successful. Just because it is more common or easier or ‘more accepted’ to focus down your attention doesn’t mean it has to be done.

I’m happy to point you to One Piece as an example. It’s basically the largest Manga/Anime to exist (in terms of length, sales, popularity, etc.) and we more or less haven’t seen the main character show up in the last… I don’t know, 3-4 months worth of issues?

And Girl Genius has been on a postholiday side story for five months and counting, with none of the main characters. Jackie, you’re in fine company with this.

Jumping between characters and arcs – At least two other of my favorite webcomics do that. You may not like them, and I’m not saying yours is similar in any other way, but they’re successful and I think they’re generally considered high-quality – QC and DoA.

“The only way to move up is if somebody died.”

(Forms malicious finger tent.)

If Mike had only known Reggie back then…

I’m not saying anything, but, hey accidents happen. Around Reggie.

You know you can just write, right?

I’m sure folks would read stories *without* the pretty pictures, too.

Substack is a good way to do that and maybe make a little recurring money.

Writing takes an equivalent amount of time, so I’m not gaining anything by adding another thing to my list of commitments. I’m glad you think I could write well enough to actually entice people though.

Jumping among characters is fine. You have a good number of interesting characters to work with, and it’s clear you care about them all; you make US care about them too, which is a hallmark of good authorship. I know some syndicated comics that have diverted so much from their original characters that they had to rebrand themselves, and yet they’re still there. You and BF are among the hard core of talented, dedicated comic artists who’ve lasted the longest in the internet world. Well done!

I would in fact dispute the claim that everyone else are staying with their main cast. Looking over those more or less active storyline comics I find worth reading, I see a number with a main cast so large that many characters will of necessity be absent for long periods (Kevin & Kell, Wapsi Square, Latchkey Kingdom, Spacetrawler, Yet Another Fantasy Game Comic, all the series of the MA3-verse) and others which, though they have more of a defined main cast, do not shy away from giving secondary characters their own arcs (El Goonish Shive, General Protection Fault, Skin Deep, Widdershins, Order of the Stick, MegaTokyo, Flaky Pastry). The series that stay with the main cast are really only the ones where the main story is about these few characters dealing with the world – and even among those some have occasionally given side characters their own arcs (Gunnerkrigg Court, Spinnerette, Sluggy Freelance, Exiern, GrrlPower, A Girl and her Fed).
So all in all I’d say your in good company and not as weird as you think (I’d place you in the first group, the ensemble cast type)

At one point in my life I was reading about a dozen webcomics, but over the years I slowly lost interest in them for one reason or another. The fact that the only ones I still read are BetweenFailures and QuestionableContent says something about the invest in your art.

QC vs GG is an interesting comparison.

GG is still offering a recognisable development of the original premise and cast, following a LOOOOOOOONG arc that traces (more or less) from the earliest days of the comic.

QC, though… the art has changed out of recognition, more than once. Of the original cast, Pint-size is reduced to occasional cameos (in an unrecognisable form) because his original role has disappeared.

Faye has….changed. She lost her original role a while ago (I thought she would disappear after her “alcoholic” arc, possibly following Angus.) Her relationship with Bubbles seems completely out of past character.

Hannelore has been through two complete metamorphoses. Marten has become a supporting player on an author tract about LGBTQYZ issues (so has Faye, really).

May and Momo change into new characters periodically. Dale and Marigold are idiots. Spookybot… I don’t know what to make of this character. Roko could be interesting but doesn’t get any real development while Melon is just another idiot.

So, don’t lose interest in BF, is all I can say…

“[In QC] Faye has….changed. She lost her original role a while ago (I thought she would disappear after her ‘alcoholic’ arc, possibly following Angus.) Her relationship with Bubbles seems completely out of past character.”

Eh, I think a certain amount of retconning is allowed. With long-running stories, I think sometimes any author will make changes so the characters can grow. When Faye was first introduced, all we knew about her was that Marten was interested in her. Maybe that’s all QC’s creator had figured out yet. We’ve found out a whole lot about her since then: the tragic way she lost her dad, her ability to weld amazing things and even repair robots, her drinking, etc.

And there was some dialog right in the comic where she said she didn’t know she could be interested in a woman… except oh hey, now she remembers some stuff never mentioned before, so maybe this wasn’t so out of left field! Well, that’s how retcons work.

And besides, stuff like that can happen in real life. I know someone in real life who was in a stable long-term relationship… she never married the guy, but they were living together long enough that they were “common-law” married. Then he left her for another woman… and now she’s together with a woman. I’ve never discussed her sex life with her, but I believe that this is her first woman-woman relationship ever and I don’t know if she had ever really thought about it before. And, I think she’s actually older than Faye is in QC.

QC also had a retcon I rather liked. Hannelore has developed into a very distinct character, but when we first met her she was nothing like she is now. (Marten walked into the women’s bathroom by mistake, and she handled the whole thing very calmly when the Hannelore we now know should have had a lot of stress over the situation.) There was one comic where Marten brought up how they met, and she said something like “Oh, I was on some weird drugs when I met you. They were great in some ways but I couldn’t handle the side-effects.” That’s perfect.

I didn’t much like how QC handled Marten and Dora breaking up. It seemed like it came out of nowhere… slacker, chill Marten got so upset he had to break off a long-term relationship, over what seemed like nothing?

It kind of felt like QC’s creator just suddenly said “too much cis-hetero normativity” so the male/female romance had to go; so Dora got together with a woman, Marten got together with a trans woman, Clinton got together with a man, Faye got together with a female android (i.e. Bubbles). Brun seems like she might be ace but there are hints she could be romantic with a female android.

But I haven’t rage-quite QC because I still basically like it. I enjoy Faye and Bubbles being together. I enjoyed the weird interaction of Claire’s mom and Spookybot. This whole subplot where Marigold got rich as a streamer is silly in ways I enjoy.

Between Favorites is IMHO a better comic than QC but QC stays in my rotation.

P.S. I think it’s interesting that androids in QC can fall in love or even lust. Of course if androids like the ones in QC can be built, sexbots will be built… and it then follows that there will be some high-end general-purpose androids not specifically built to be sexbots but built with, to quote QC, “a human-standard number of holes.” But why would a combat model like Bubbles be made with that kind of personality, and apparently Bubbles and Faye can both have fun together in ways that please them both. Heck, for kissing, does Bubbles even have a tongue? If so, why was she built with that feature?

In my own head-canon, I explain this by saying that the AI in the QC universe was jump-started by copying patterns from human minds, to make the AIs more human, and love and lust were part of what was copied. And I can imagine several ways a combat android could end up being built capable of sex… for example, one executive at a defense contractor pushed for it to happen because he (I’m sure it would be a “he”) has a fetish but he came up with plausible BS to justify it, something about the androids “being better connected with humanity” or something if they are able to, um, interact with humans.

I like this worldbuilding, Jackie, and am glad to hear that you’re still invested, too. I’ve seen a couple of webcomics creators undergo a radicalisation and turn on their creations and fanbase. The premise here is fairly simple, no magic or powers or extradimensional science. As cool and awesome as those are, it’s the characters and their interactions that many (I daresay most) of us really stick around for, and that is something you have got IN SPADES with this comic. Of course we want to explore those, with you!

Shut up and kiss the girl!

Talk about male-dominant personal zone-invading behavior. At least ask for permission?

“Yes, you want her. Look at her! You know you do. It’s possible she wants you too, there’s one way to ask her. She don’t say a word — and she won’t say a word — until you kiss the girl.”

It may be creeper behavior (advanced by the world’s most famous group of child groomers,) but that bit of advice made millions of dollars.

T-Ray in your honest opinion do you think the updated song really made any kind of sense to make? The original has Ariel and her friends trying to get the prince to kiss her, it’s them pushing the action not the prince, in the vain of the moment shouldn’t the song have been spun to be getting HIS permission as the target of their desire? I feel putting it the way they did just makes the prince(male) in a bad light even though he has done nothing but be kind to her.

I honestly don’t know if your joking or didn’t get my reference. It was simply a rushed reference to a classic beloved film (that recently got an unneeded update). Simply put I ship these two. Also I hope to the gods your not actually like this.

Of course I remember Evrina’s side bit- I mean, potential suitor, Neil. Now, BRIDGETTE, that’s a real headscratcher. I actually had to go back to remember her name, whereas Neil gave enough of an impression that I instantly remembered him when you mentioned him by name.

I used to read this comic a long time ago, but I fell away for many years. I’ve spent all weekend making up for lost time. Catching up to the current feels like waking from a long beautiful dream.

I’d say there’s a fair bet your work will be remembered longer than you’d think, I’ve shared your work with my kids and they enjoy it too. As for the length of memory, well there was an early 2000’s sprite based webcomic called Oh My Gods!, my friends of that time and I reminisce about it often and it’s been gone well over a decade. Hopefully I won’t ever need to think about how good this comic WAS because it’ll still be around doing what it always has and showing us a little bit of life. thank you

Didn’t actually reread that far back cuz your comic is LONG, but I do remember Neil’s the one who made that webcomic I didn’t like. I’d love to see more of Neil and Bridgette. The whole furry club was pretty interesting, made me wish I was a furry even though I’m only furry adjacent.

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