Carolnlyfans 15

Comic Vote
Holiday List
Twitter @betweenfailures
Contact me for a Discord invite.

Thomas has a quality that I have come to call Confident Neuroticism. To most people he seems perfectly normal, but his outward personality is a tarp draped over a scaffold of anxiety, phobias, & mental health issues. It’s not impossible to see in the comic, but generally he’s kept it very well hidden from the rest of the cast. It shouldn’t be surprising that I’m very familiar with the concept since it’s basically how I am in real life. Most people who know me, who don’t follow my work, or blog, or whatever, most likely see me as a fairly confident, surly, loner, who makes jokes regularly at the expense of others. Under the tarp, however, I’m barely keeping my shit together most of he time. I spend a lot of time yearning for death while simultaneously fearing it. The state of having these two states active inside yourself most of the time wears on a person. To the point that I’ve nearly completely broken down more than once. Over time it has compounded. I functioned fairly well when I was the age Thomas is in the comic but now I kind of limp along trying to overcome anxiety that has grown nearly insurmountable. Yet, somehow, I carry on. I take some measure of comfort knowing that many people struggle the exact same way as I do, and also do it without much consideration from the outside world.
When I first started the comic, at the end of the first arc. About 300 pages in. I had a pretty severe mental breakdown. I had never really had to rely completely on my own merits to survive before then. I had always been a cog in someone else’s machine. The weight of knowing that everything was on me finally broke through my denial and I cracked. It was spurred on by a round of very sustained and targeted trolling disguised as criticism. As an entertainer you have to learn that there are people who want to destroy your life just because you’re there. Being confronted with that for a prolonged period of time cause my brain to have to rewire itself to cope. It took a very long time to retrain my brain. The worst of it took about a year, then I kind of leveled out and continued to develop coping mechanisms. I developed an anxiety disorder that I have been managing ever since, but in some ways I think it was always there, it just needed something to let it loose. Now I have something more like actual self confidence that allows me to at least function well enough to produce this comic & make a living from it. But tonight I had a moment after I completed this filler page where my brain took me aside & said “What if you can’t do this properly after all this is over?” And for a moment I forgot to ignore it.
My brain is addictive. It’s why I’ve never drank, smoked, or done any drugs ever. I know that my brain can get addicted to anything I like. People, food, games, anything I like, but for most of my life I was addicted to misery. That’s part of what I had to train out of it when I had the breakdown after the first arc. Just like any addict I have to keep myself from going back to misery and wallowing in it, because my brain loves it. It loves feeling sorry for itself. It loves blaming everyone else for its failures. So I have to stop it. Tonight it got a little taste for just a second & I struggled to make it let go. It really wanted to think about how devastating to my life it would be if I suddenly couldn’t tap into my creativity anymore and keep this whole thing going. It was reaching for it like Gollum grasping for the precious. I wrestled it away, but I may have lost a finger.
Anyway, I got myself under control partially by writing this out. I always hope that by reading my posts someone with the same issues might be able to find some useful trick that helps them get by. Getting out of my head seems to help, at the risk of bringing down the room, so to speak. To end on a positive note I will say that the supportive posts and whatnot I get from you all is part of what allows me to convince myself that I will be able to keep going, so never think that taking the time to leave a little positive comment is wasted. They have a real effect. So thank you for helping me.


Strength doesn’t always come from within, Jackie. It’s okay to borrow from others.

And we’re more than happy to lend!

I prefer to donate. Lending implies they want it back, like in Bill Shakespeare’s little aside; “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears, … you can pick them up at the back of the Forum after I’m done.” I mean what’s Brutus gonna do with a bunch of ears? Can’t make jewelry out of them, although I heard that the goddess Kali wears a necklace of human skulls, yeah, not my kinda gal. Give, doesn’t have to be a lot. If you’re reading to escape, don’t skip out without tipping your server (the artist not the computer).

In tge 50’s there was a Canadian comedy troup, Wayne and Schuster, that did a sketch on Julius Caesar. Mark Anthony comes in with a bag. He says that he told a crowd “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears!”

“So what’s in that bag?”


The biggest lie told to humanity is that self-sufficiency is the peak of existence. Lean on whoever leaves an open shoulder.

Sounds like your brain is trying to bluff you, Jackie. Maybe it’s better to call its bluff and make it back off so it won’t try to destroy you.

Keep at it! The comic is great!

Thank you for giving so much of yourself to this, Jackie. Your work is one of the best I’ve ever had the chance to keep up with on the medium, or should I say, mixed media. Thank you for providing us with entertainment, but also with your wisdom, life insights and for sharing your world with us all.

This is part of why I enjoy your comic so much. It’s not just pictures and words on a digital page on a screen. Through your writing, we get to see behind the curtain into a bigger picture, of which the comic is a big part, but not the whole of it. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from you over the years thanks to this.

Your resilience on the face of challenges is a testament to your strength and something to aspire to. Not that we should be invulnerable, but that we should have the grit to keep going and deal with our flaws as they come, to the best of our capabilities. So thank you for all of that, and I hope things do get better for you. I’m over here cheering for that.

Thank you for continuing to make this comic. Its been a real joy to read all these years. You’ve made some great characters that I always love to see.

Reading and re-reading this comic has been a staple comfort for me over the years. Thank you for all of your effort to make this. I’m glad writing out your struggles helped.

Carol looks damn attractive in that second panel xD and in general. Your arts been only improving with time, better expressions, strong lines, consistent style! The writing was always so far through the roof it hit the space station.

I pray and hope for your continued mental health and safety, but it is very fascinating to see how much of yourself you’ve put into thomas because he and you make for fascinatingly deep characters. The ending of the series will be him starting to write this series, closing the metaphorical loop on his existence.

Hehe that and you can tell your dark to F off because you Have an up and running Patreon. That would not have happened if misery won and simply by the monument of this comic not just existing, but thriving. It validates that you can overcome any anxiety, etc. with nothing more than thought, like brushing a piece of dust off your shoulder.

It’s pretty grounding to have it all out and can be cathartic, too, when seeing oneself from the outside. But the clarity is still no dismissable feat here.
I recently read the more complex thinkers are often more prone to experience misery, when trying to reconcile a higher share of societies broken system, while fending off amateurs.
In V’s words from Order of the Stick: “and each of them would drive you mad, MAD!”

Financial worry is no fun.
It’s also badly justified societally.
You know what you’ve contributed, so do many others,
and even if you didn’t, it’d be good to have you around, while you try and find out.

The comic definitely shows the depth gained from having stared into the abyss and recovered with enough strength left to crack a joke about it, but still with a nuance that can put a hand on someone else’s shoulder to prevent them from toppling over, which is an emotional power to reckon with.

And is this a kind of the creator’s nightmare? Or every other working person’s worry? Probably both. The hope is that by keeping at the problem one will be able to resolve it eventually, sometimes the tools to cope are being developed by engaging it, other times only later with perspective. It’s really tricky to decide if that’s a moment to dig in or save for later.
One way I’ve used is to get self-critical at my worry and inner critic about what I really know for sure. In the absence of knowledge, worry is premature, and once I realize that I can usually push it off. But it takes time to even realize I’m in that situation, and for me, it does not always work on the ‘real’ problems, only the imagined ones – which I have collected a lot of, too. Knowing the distinction is sometimes a step forward, already.

If it’s a relief, keeping oneself engaged is usually a good insurance against mental debilitation.

If I’d have to have a guess, by now,
I think the comic is already bigger than you and will outlast you.
If you bite the dust later this century, it’ll be republished post-humously, even more easily so with the *incase-anything happens* recovery file.

… and then a second volume of Jackie’s wits and wisdoms on the blog
– edited and augmented by some droll literary scholar who’ll have chosen this niche within the overall pandemonium of life’s fictional worlds to get themselves comfy in pontificating about.

…unless we all die from our own overconsumption,
but yeah, few will feel compelled to worry about the aftermath of that.

I always love coming to the comic and reading your little blurbs you’ve got going on down here. It makes you the most relatable comic artist I know of, and I have read hundreds. Only a few do I still read after 20+ years, and this is one of them (been reading since the start essentially).

Struggle is real. Depression, anxiety, it sucks. I’ve recently discovered I’m some sort of autistic, to no ones surprise except myself. It’s not obvious unless you’ve known me forever. But in context of dealing with PTSD for over 15+ years now (I’m a disabled vet who used to work on nuclear subs among other things mid 2000s), there is a lot that can boil up and cripple you mentally at times. Having an outlet, even if it’s this little blog here below the comic, I’m sure helps.

Even just reading your struggles helps me out too. So dont ever stop, or worry about it please. We are all here rooting for you.

This is going to sound cynical. I’m a professional artist. The best confirmation you can give an artist is money. Send Jackie your confirmation, that his art has value. On the Patreon page. (Also, nudes for subscribers, if they want it.)

I appreciate your blogposts almost as much as the comic itself. Empathy is a big part of my personality (god, that sounds boastful), so the fact that I can relate to the creator of something I keep looking forward to every week gives me a boost, even if it is often not an update post. You write about anxiety and social anxiety with a clarity that helps me understand better quite a few friends of mine as well.

I have been reading this comic every day for years now, except for the occasional times when life events prevent it. I read it even on days when I don’t have time to read other comics. I read it on tHe days when there isn’t a new episode. And I usualky read your blog under the comic and all the comics. I’ve been reading it in tge old house. I missed it for a week when we moved to a house without stairs because my wife had Parkinson’s disease and the new place, being smaller, was so packed I could not find and set up my computer. I’ve been reading it for the two years after my wife died from heart failure and I went into lockdown from the threat of coronavirus. It’s been an invariant in my life for a long time, and I thank you. I no longer know how many years I’ve been supporting you on Patreon, but I’ll likely go kn doing that until the day one of us dies.

Hang in there. I wish I could say something more profound, but that is the hardest thing to do.
YOU are amazing and the fact your here doing this comic and still telling us hiw you are doing is strength and proof your badass enough to keep going . Don’t think for a moment if you stumble a thousand hands won’t catch you and help you back up because you’ve never let us down and WE will never let you down.

Also guys don’t forget to vote.

…and it’s comforting to know that all those other people who have their stuff together aren’t also tarping over their phobias and anxieties with a facade of “stuffness togethering.”

I’d bet that you’re all looking at each other wondering how the other guy’s handling their life so well.

Jackie, we’re all more alike than different.

I always knew my husband had more phobias than your average person but it wasn’t until this year that he figured out he had an actual factual anxiety disorder. I live with the guy and never realized how much fear he was carrying around every day – I knew he had his quirks but not the extent of it. Now he’s on a super low dose of meds and doing virtual CBT and from all appearances it’s going well. He might even be able to get a blood draw someday without ruining his whole month worrying about it. Glad you’ve found some strategies that help, I think the biggest thing really is remembering that thoughts are just thoughts, they’re not The Truth handed down from heaven. The initial thoughts our brains cough up are largely out of our control but we do have some control over how we engage with them.

It’s too bad therapy costs money (and I imagine a bloody lot of money in the states), because that can help a lot with anxiety disorders.
I say as someone also not going to therapy who probably needs it. The anxiety has definitely been compounding over the last few years and the effects are really starting to show as the pandemic is starting to clam down

Thank you for your openness, Jackie. It’s tough to do that, especially in such a public place. When you said your brain is “addicted to misery,” that really resonated with me. It’s not something I’ve seen put exactly that way before, but it’s an excellent description of how my depression often feels. The need to beat up on myself is totally messed up, and I’m making progress in refraining from indulging in it, but there are still times…

Anyway, your take on life is unique and worthwhile, keep making it.

You’ve been one of the 4 webcomics I have kept following all these years no matter my passing interests, jobs, and living situations. My life hasn’t always been flowers and sunshine either and I never really delve into the wretched discourse of the internet but; I happened to read this after a few beers so I’ll just say I love your comic and there is a truth of life in it I appreciate.

Never commented before, but I’ve been reading your comic for years. I just recently joined your patreon. Just wanted to say, you have a creative gift. I thank you for providing it to the public for free. I hope more people can help support you in your effort. Keep fighting the good fight. There are a lot more people who enjoy your work that don’t comment for whatever reason. I hope your troubles end soon. Any content you provide is greatly appreciated. Good luck.

Oof. That rings so true with me. One of the biggest things to help me fight my inner demons was to stop thinking in terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (i.e. morality/retributive justice’) and start thinking in terms of ‘virtues’ and ‘vices’ (i.e. making things better or worse/restorative justice). By recognizing that while evil can’t be cured, brokenness can be fixed, I found that I now had achievable goals AND could find paths to get to them. As I dug into how I became who I am, I realized more and more that everyone who had caused me harm (including myself) was simply broken, riddled with vices that were crippling their ability to act in healthy ways. That allowed me to let go and forgive because I now understood that they literally *couldn’t* act with virtue, as their brokenness and/or lack of helpful knowledge prevented it.

I still have a *LONG* way to go, but I’m on a path that leads to life, having left the one that leads to death. I’m still in Hell, but getting through it is *SO* much easier when I know that my journey surely leads out of it. I’m even to the point where I can share what I’ve learned to help others find a way out of *their* Hell!

by Paul Laurence Dunbar
My cot was down by a cypress grove,
And I sat by my window the whole night long,
And heard well up from the deep dark wood
A mocking bird’s passionate song.

And I thought of myself so sad and lone,
And my ]ife’s cold winter that knew no spring;
Of my mind so weary and sick and wild,
Of my heart too sad to sing.

But e’en as I listened the mock-bird’s song,
A thought stole into my saddened heart,
And I said, “I can cheer some other soul
By a carol’s simple art.”

For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives
Come songs that brim with joy and light,
As out of the gloom of the cypress grove
The mocking-bird sings at night.

So I sang a lay for a brother’s ear
In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart,
And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre,
Tho’ mine was a feeble art.

But at his smile, I smiled in turn
And into my soul there came a ray:
In trying to soothe another’s woes
Mine own had passed away.

Your characters are REAL and that’s what keeps me coming back. After years of reading this I feel like I’m checking in on old friends, not reading fiction. In my mind, this creation of yours is on par with JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, George RR Martin and other authors of their class and I am so glad to be part of this world even if it’s only as an observer

When most artists do fillers it’s not a comic within a comic so definite kudos there. I’m reminded of the stories that Johnny Carson was not really a people person but was really good at faking it. We all need time to be human. This means time to break down, get upset, be sad and other things that aren’t considered perfect. All you can do is minimize the damage, put yourself back together and try again. God knows that these days the world seems to be on the edge of falling apart. I’ve had to have moments of where I had to make peace with the idea of falling into the abyss and possibly not getting out this time. There are only so many miracles one person can do. So far though I fight to keep going because tomorrow may be a better day. Sometimes it is and other times it’s not… I will say this much the one thing that keeps me driving on is the fact that although not everyone has a happy ending, I will never be accused of not trying for it. When looking back you don’t make it as far as you have if you don’t keep trying. This comic has lasted longer than a lot of other ones so something is going right.

“confidently neurotic” Okay, scaredy cat :3c
I get it, Thomas just doesn’t like to show it! But him thinking he’s rationalized out the fear when the threat level is so much lower than he makes it out to be is just…>:(
Personally, I can get behind being scared of water that potentially has a fish in it though, but I have a phobia and will openly be phobic about it, while still taking every chance I have to play in the water. I guess it’s less limiting for me than it is him since he’s afraid to show how afraid he is?
It’s good you express yourself and your worries with your writing Jackie, a very good coping mechanism indeed. I kinda just pace around and complain about the little things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.