Confusion Of Conformity

Check out my new Experiment Video Blog post over on YourTubes! 

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I made a new LoFi comic about Pacific Rim out of one of your Fancy Digital Sketch Drive sketches.

Joel has just experienced what people who go around quoting Pulp Fiction would refer to as “a moment of clarity.” A couple more flashback comics then we rocket full throttle to the present and a new storyline.

COMMENTERS: We’ve spent some time discussing places and clothes that made you feel super uncomfortable, but when or where did you know for certain that you ABSOLUTELY were in the right place or with the right people? What made you feel acceptance and “I fit in” more than any other time or place?

For me it was the first time I went to a comic convention. I had been making HE for 2 years and I had never been around other comic artists. I had hardly ever been around other creative professionals of any kind. Just seeing other people who did what I did being in their element afforded me this grand sigh of relief. Like I suddenly knew I wasn’t alone or COMPLETELY insane for trying to be a full time cartoonist. I also met a fan of my work for the first time. I met a few, actually. It was also the first time a comic creator I admired had told me they were familiar with and fond of my work. The idea that everything I had been working so hard on had not gone entirely unnoticed; that I was off to a good start and some people were paying attention was just enough validation to keep me moving in the right direction despite tremendous pressure to give up and get a regular job. Find your tribe, find your friends and you will find your home. 

Comments (37)

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Batya the Toon's avatar

Batya the Toon · 85 weeks ago

First time I ever went to a science-fiction convention. At the Masquerade, the emcee introducing the contestants had to stall between presentations for some reason, and told us so: “There’s an amber light on my console, that means I have to stall.” And after three or four minutes of filler, she announced “The light is green.” And I pavloved, out loud, “The trap is clean.”

… and so did thirty people around me, in unison.

I did not say out loud MY PEOPLE I HAVE FOUND YOU, but that’s more or less what I was feeling.

Greg's avatar

Greg · 85 weeks ago

When I went to Israel, which isn’t surprising given I’m Jewish. Of course all the locals were at best ambivalent to me ‘cos I’m British, which is the usual reaction when Brits travel (except to the US, where we’re worshipped as gods). But courtesy of being British, I was completely able to ignore local sentiment and happily assume everyone loved the pants off me.

4 replies · active 85 weeks ago

Ali's avatar

Ali · 85 weeks ago

That was my experience in Israel too (except I’m American :- ). It was nice to not be a minority.

(I have a question for you as a British person. Do all Brits watch Doctor Who? Because it seems to be a lot more popular, and part of mainstream pop culture a lot more than any American TV show is over here. In one class in college, there was a Scottish exchange student, and—without him saying anything about sci-fi at all—I found myself wondering if he was a Doctor Who fan, just because he was British. And the next day he was wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt. Was he an outlier or a typical Brit?)

Alex's avatar

Alex · 85 weeks ago

I am English, so I’ll give you an answer. Firstly, no, not all British people watch Doctor Who. However, it is a very visible part of mainstream pop culture here. Almost everyone knows of it’s existence and almost everyone over a certain age remembers watching it as a kid. (It was off air for quite a long time before returning, which is why the caveat “over a certain age”). Some people came back to it when it returned and some didn’t. Some don’t like the current Doctor, etc…
Stuey's avatar

Stuey · 85 weeks ago

Seconded from another Brit (Welsh this time!) Doctor Who is not necessarily universally loved even by geeks but things like a new Doctor make the national news and it’s part of our national consciousness in a way I can’t really think of an American comparison to

This is partly because of how long running it is. I’m 28 and my dad is 57 and we have had discussions about which Doctor was most important to us growing up etc and generally he only owns a TV to watch rugby (me Pertwee and him Troughton if you’re interested).

The mania is quite pronounced for me because I live in Cardiff and they have shot some episodes in the building I’m currently working in so it’s a big deal here

Candace's avatar

Candace · 85 weeks ago

I’m not Jewish, but I had a similar experience when visiting Stockholm. I have some Swedish ancestry, and didn’t realize how much it has influenced and affected me until I spent a few days in Stockholm, and felt oddly as if I were at home in a way I have not felt anywhere else I have traveled.
Bango's avatar

Bango · 85 weeks ago

About a week after I moved to the unnamed Caribbean island where I have lived for the past ten years I went to the DMV to register a car, and there in the line AT THE DMV was a man drinking a cold bottle of beer! And NO ONE THOUGHT THIS WAS AT ALL ODD! I knew I was home…

2 replies · active 85 weeks ago

seriously's avatar

seriously · 85 weeks ago

Wise of you not to name your new homeland, or else you’d get a never-ending stream of Fancy Bastards looking to emigrate.
Candace's avatar

Candace · 85 weeks ago

Man, I so want to retire to the Caribbean. Everything is just so laid back, and it doesn’t get cold!
When I went to C2E2 in 2011, that was my first con. I nearly cried at the thought of being among my kind.

3 replies · active 85 weeks ago

I think I was there.
You WERE according to the photocomics, but the only webcomic I read at the time was Cyanide & Happiness. I distinctly remember seeing a guy I later learned was Zach Weiner staring at the long line at the Explosm booth.

In retrospect, I could have met a whole lot of awesome cartoonists that day; If I only read then what I read now…

Thats right. I was directly behind CnH. Im pretty sure that was when i met those guys.
zathael's avatar

zathael · 85 weeks ago

I actually found my tribe courtesy of Maura Wilson of Matilda fame, believe it or not.

I went to a summer camp with her when we were both teenagers. My only friend there had recently been sent back home due to alcohol consumption. I don’t drink and had been left behind at the party he was busted at.

One day I was on my way out the door of the dorms to walk idly around the camp when I heard Miss Wilson in the commons saying. “You know, I really liked Fellowship but I had trouble getting into Two Towers. Is book three really worth it to get through?”

I did a heel face turn and butted myself the hell into their conversation. Maura was a friend through the rest of the camp (though I fear I never kept up with her afterwards) but the people she was talking to taught me how to play tabletop RPG’s, introduced me to Homestar Runner and made me feel at home.

No one I socialize with reads comics or has the same interest as mine. But I introduce them to things that interest me. I consider myself the Christian Missionary of Webcomics! 😀

1 reply · active 85 weeks ago

So, they hate you for it?
Ali's avatar

Ali · 85 weeks ago

A couple days ago, while introducing my new roommates to Supernatural, they made unprompted smartass remarks about Dean and pie. I knew then for certain that I’d moved in with the right people.

Also back in college, I overheard a boy inviting another girl in my programming class to join his D&D game because they needed a cleric. I butted in, joined their party instead of her (although she’s still a very good friend), and during the first session of the game I discovered that he and I liked the same Star Wars novels (X-Wing series and the Thrawn books). I ended up inviting him back to my dorm room to watch Deep Space Nine. We dated for two years and I still miss him.

Just Me's avatar

Just Me · 85 weeks ago

I am tribeless at the moment, and it sucks.

1 reply · active 85 weeks ago

Fuck that noise. Go find ’em.
I’m fortunate to have multiple tribes:

– my immediate and extended family. We’re big, more than a little silly, but mostly we all get on well. I’m fortunate here, I know. So many of my friends in other areas don’t have that.

– The racers & race marshals I mentioned in the previous comic’s comments. This is a family-of-choice.

– My real-world friends from early life. Thanks to the magic of technology, I’m in touch with a lot of folks that otherwise were lost to me (and I to them).

– And certainly not least: the nerds, a generic term for those folks I first got to know on the other side of the computer screen, but includes the many I’ve since met at cons, at concerts/shows, on JCCC, at the game store, etc. Bound by our common love of loving something as much as we can (thanks, Wil), and appreciation for others who share that, even if their something is different than our something. That’s how I found you, Joel, and HE, and JCCC, and Marian Call, and the DoubleClicks, and Joseph Scrimshaw, and Zoe Keating, and so much more that’s made life a lot more enjoyable even when I’m not able to be with my tribemates in meatspace.

TJ "Kiltman"Anderson's avatar

TJ “Kiltman”Anderson · 85 weeks ago

I have never found that “right place”… However I seem to be accepted in both sietch and graben..

The wise paraphrased words of groucho marx.. I don’t want to be a member of any club that wants me as a member..

I enjoy comicons.. I also enjoy beer-making, guns, movies, politics, autoracing-that-isnt-NASCAR and
cruiser motorbikes.. but i have memberships in none of them

Candace's avatar

Candace · 85 weeks ago

I guess I was lucky. I found my tribe in college when I somehow accidentally fell in with a group CoSci majors, in spite of being in liberal arts and a musician myself. They loved Star Trek, Monty Python, and Hitchiker’s, as I did, and my boyfriend introduced me to AD&D, which I had been interested in getting into for a while. Being a musician, I kept trying to hang out with other musicians, and it usually didn’t work for some reason.

By the time I had finished university, I had (mostly) realized that computer engineers are my tribe, even though I don’t always understand when they start “talking shop,” because we share much geekery.

lou's avatar

lou · 85 weeks ago

For me, it was the year I first went to the GDC and FanimeCon. There are these huge gatherings of nerds and geeks all coming together to share and celebrate their fandoms, free of judgement. It was glorious!
Franz's avatar

Franz · 85 weeks ago

Hi Joel! Just wanted to say that I shotgunned all your archived comics in the last 6 days and loved them all! Amazing work! Really like the new direction! Much respect! Thanks to the guys at C&H for turning me on to your comic!
Andy's avatar

Andy · 85 weeks ago

My first Gen Con in 2000 was really the first large gathering where I felt “home”. SDCC is a close second
Stephen's avatar

Stephen · 85 weeks ago

If I could afford to buy clothes such as those, and (while we’re dreaming) I was about 100 pounds less fat, I would wear those suits multiple times per week. As it is, I can’t even afford suits from JC Penny, half the suits I have don’t fit, and the two that do fit (I was given these when my dad lost about 100 pounds) I don’t wear very often because I hate how fat I’ve gotten. But oh! For Comstock to have measurements on file for me! T’would be a dream come true.
David's avatar

David · 84 weeks ago

You should definitely consider an app for your comics. They would be great to read on the go without having to load the whole website for each new comic.

1 reply · active 84 weeks ago

Of course, you coming to the website is how I get paid.

The first time I walked into a bear bar, C.C.’s to be exact, I knew I had found my home.
PokeyPuppy's avatar

PokeyPuppy · 84 weeks ago

So late to this, but I remember in high school meeting my now-best friend who grew up all over the U.S. I grew up in Billings, MT in the 80’s & early 90’s before the Internet was really a “thing,” and I went NUTS when I saw his music collection. I had no idea there was music that fit me, that there was so much more out there than 80’s pop & techno! Punk music was a thing!

I’ve had lots of “this is my tribe” moments since then, but that was the first time I knew it was possible.

Will "Deadpool7100"'s avatar

Will “Deadpool7100” · 84 weeks ago

uh hi this is the first time i ever commented on any of these…
by the way this is entirely unrelated to your question up there.
but anyway i started reading your comics awhile back, cant remember where i saw them… probably a link off explosm or The Chive
but anyway i really got hooked on your style and characters and was really excited with your “big change” awhile back and you started doing more stories and recurring characters and the whatnot
at some point i became interested enough to start randomly clicking around your site and read at least most of your experiment stuff
it was really interesting and i would like to say i could compare but my extent of work in this area of “art” is building with LEGO on deviant art < My profile!
i have begun to write a story that i cooked up awhile ago and have started thinking seriously-ish about trying to publish it, maybe, eventually and i guess thats the most of any kind of link there

but yeah i just wanted to say keep up the good work!
pretty cool to see you making a living doing your dream!
always looking forward to the next comic!!!
dont really know why i felt like babbling 😀
did i mention i like your comics?

2 replies · active 84 weeks ago

I appreciate the sentiment and the encouragement. Work on that story, and don’t be afraid to put it out there. Most creative types rarely love the first thing they ever put out for public consumption, but it’s important to do it, and keep doing it in order to get the practice you need to really hone your creative craft. Make, do, go, repeat.
Will "Deadpool7100"'s avatar

Will “Deadpool7100” · 84 weeks ago

thanks man!
keep comic-ing!!!!
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One Comment

  1. Erm, kind of necroposting (binging a new comic is fun!), but had to comment on this one:
    My first SCA camping event. The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) are folks who study history by doing it. Sort of. Each person picks a time period and culture of interest, and studies it to the extent they want to in order to recreate a bit of it. It’s a group of insane, awesome wierdos, most of whom are as socially deficient as I am, and are damned cheerful about it. Hitting people with sticks is allowed, under the right circumstances, as is staying up all night around a bonfire singing medieval-esque songs and telling tales. Plus booze. All of the booze. These folks helped me find a job, move across state, get settled into my new state, and gave me crash space until I could find another job. They’re my tribe!

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