The Taco Of Certainty

I guess this is the first present day appearance of Emily, other than via phoneI can remember at least a dozen times over the last 6 years that I’ve stated 100% that my wife will never appear in my comics. Not a chance in the world. Except there she is. So guess what? You from the past, no matter how right he thinks he is, is probably pretty wrong about at least some stuff. Probably a bunch of stuff. Certainty is a tricky thing. It implies you know all pieces of information relevant to a situation, all side of all stories and are somehow super-intelligent enough to determine the absolute truth of said situation.

Still, I’m pretty certain about tacos and how they are useful for making metaphors. I’m also certain that doing comics full time was the right thing for me and my family at the time. Future me may look back, as future versions of selves are wont to do, and say, “BEEP! ZORP BLOP X22222277ghghghZZZZZZzzzzz!” And, boy, would be be right. Oh, future me has a synthetic voice box and is also just a projection of a disembodied consciousness through an intricate array of holomatrices. Weird, right?

COMMENTERS: Present day you is future you to some past version of you. That’s just science. What thing was dumb old past you SUPER CERTAIN about that current present/relative future you no longer thinks is so incredibly certain or possibly even thinks the opposite of? No, I could not have worded that question more simply.


NYCC 2013

I will be at New York Comic Con Next weekend with Cyanide and Happiness at booth 2247!

UPDATE ON THE FANCY DIGITAL SKETCH DRIVE: If you are still waiting on your Fancy Digital Sketch, I am SUPER BACKLOGGED on these. I am very sorry it’s taking so long. Doing 50+ original pieces of finished art always sounds easy, until you agree to do it and take money for it. I am working through them, but if you need yours urgently, feel free to let me know via email.

Have you seen my wife’s Etsy store, “Science and Fiction?” Check out her Tetris earrings!

Tetris Earings!


Comments (72)

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Beth's avatar

Beth · 89 weeks ago

I was certain I’d get a college degree (probably in Anthropology) and be an academi and have two kids. Both girls.. I even knew what college I would attend. I was accepted to the college but had already had anthropology dam crushed and had a chance to visit England. 10 years later I have no diploma, have one boy child with no plans for more and live in England..and so unbelievably glad I made the choice to visit England and have this life.

Oh and I was certain I’d have an R2D2 by now.

I have a theater degree. I am now in Retail Management. I never pursued a career in my field. I would dabble in community shows but that was the extent of it. I’m not bitter about it, nor do I dwell on it for it is past.
My point is, I am glad for you that you have been able to do what you dreamed of doing. Thank you for the smiles and the heart-rending you exhibit in your art. I hope The Experiment continues for quite some time. Tacos on me when we meet one day!

1 reply · active 89 weeks ago

That’s very kind of you. Thanks!
Wesley's avatar

Wesley · 89 weeks ago

Emigrating. Whatever I did, I would not end up living in the same village as my parents.. not even in the same country.

Well, guess where I ended up settling down after some time abroad and some time in another city?

Emigrating may still happen – I don’t know.

I refused to cut my long hair from age 14 to almost 18 because people (my mom, my school) were always telling me to cut it. As soon as I was on my own and no one cared I shaved it to about 1/4 inch. Without the fight I didnt enjoy it as much. Still, I have long hair in almost all of my dreams which makes me think I secretly miss it.
Wesley's avatar

Wesley · 89 weeks ago

Wasn’t an 80s kid and I had pretty strict parents, so no long hair for me. When I was on my own, I didn’t – like – grow it immediately, but my girlfriend liked it so it grew.. it’s still long. I’m lately wondering about cutting it or leaving it. I think I’ll decide in 2 years 🙂
When I was a kid I would say to myself “When I grow up I’ll have enough money to buy all the Star Wars Action Figures I want.”
Then as an adult in 1999 I bought all the new Star Wars toys for my past self and hung them all on my bedroom walls. 😀
bubujin_2's avatar

bubujin_2 · 89 weeks ago

Aww, Joel, this brought a near tear to my eye. Sweet strip today.

As a kid I couldn’t see living anything other than the standard American life. I’m now 20+ years living in Japan and not regretting it.

3 replies · active 89 weeks ago

DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 89 weeks ago

I should have told my sister not to marry that guy. Faced all the fighting and anger and whatever else and just said it outright, no matter what the cost.

Although that would probably ONLY mean that now she expects me to say “I told you so”, but you never know.

Junkyard's avatar

Junkyard · 89 weeks ago

Ow… right in the feels!
Mike Ferris's avatar

Mike Ferris · 89 weeks ago

This new direction has turned me from an “occasional drop-in” to full on Hijinks Fan. Love the comic, Joel!

1 reply · active 89 weeks ago

Glad to hear it. Thanks!
I think the funniest version of super-dumb past-me is super-dumb 18-year-old me. I was convinced I’d go to law school and work in corporate law (!) and have a BMW by the age of 24 (!). These weren’t just things I wanted, they were things THAT WOULD TOTALLY HAPPEN. Not only was 18-year-old me super shallow and materialistic, but completely unrealistic. And stupid. So very, very stupid. I’ve done such a 180 with my life, and even though I’m not in a great place now, I’m eternally grateful I gave up on that rubbish when I did.

1 reply · active 89 weeks ago

The only future I ever saw for myself as a teenager was moving to Austin, TX and being a full time musician. I made no other plans and planned for no other possibilities until… I moved to Dallas and none of that stuff happened.
el_b's avatar

el_b · 89 weeks ago

I’m beginning to think that This is storyline is just a giant hint that you want donations 😛

3 replies · active 74 weeks ago

That’s a pretty cynical take on something Im really proud of. I’m telling a fictionalized version of my own story. I am being honest and pushing myself creatively. If you think talking about how, as an artist, I dont make a lot of money is some sort of sympathy pea, then please consider yourself exempt from ever supporting the comic financially.
el_b's avatar

el_b · 88 weeks ago

sorry if I came off cynical or insulting, it was only meant as a joke. I followed your comic for a few years now and have no intention of Insulting you.
Justplainsomething's avatar

Justplainsomething · 89 weeks ago

Well, since I just turned 28 a few weeks ago I was thinking about how 18 year old me thought I’d be a virgin until I was married. Bwahahahahahahaohgod. Yeah. no. I mean I was a very straightlaced sort of 18 year old and in the last 10 years both my sense of the world and my general sardonicness (shut up, it’s a word) has grown by leaps and bounds.

2 replies · active 74 weeks ago

I could go into a whole thing about christianity and homophobia and who was definitely bound for hell, but then I would run out of Internet and in the end everyone would just be sad.
{CB}Marsupial Vomit's avatar

{CB}Marsupial Vomit · 89 weeks ago

This comic warmed my heart. I just had almost the same conversation and experience with my wife and kiddos. Except the metaphor was enchiladas and guitar strings. I don’t even know what the hell I was trying to say…

1 reply · active 89 weeks ago

It’s like that old saying: You never throw out the enchiladas with the guitar strings.
Gordon's avatar

Gordon · 89 weeks ago

I used to be a Christian. So there’s that.

6 replies · active 88 weeks ago

Didn’t everyone?
I used to be a Jehovah’s Witness, so I got you beat. (Technically, it was thrust upon me, but I didn’t officially break free from it until I left for college)
I hope you are celebrating extra birthdays now to make up for it.
If by “extra birthdays”, you mean “gay sex”, then yes, I am partying hard.
Of course that’s what I meant.
I was a Mormon, until I discovered coffee, booze, and sex!
Fren's avatar

Fren · 88 weeks ago

Vampire Jesus, is that you? I know you gave your blood for us, but asking for it back? That’s no fair!
Collect it in jars. A medical professional may be able to reinstall it.
“That’s it, I quit 3d Model Design and Art. There’s NO WAY I can learn on a Mac and get into the game industry.”
Jay's avatar

Jay · 89 weeks ago

i’m not going to check this comment for responses and it’s a little late but.

You guys should totally make a “Sometimes I forget my wife is Awesome” T-Shirt.

1 reply · active 89 weeks ago

Going forward, I do plan to make more t-shirts and merch that reflect the new sensibilities of the comic. But I feel like Im still getting to know them. Good idea though. I’ll put that in my ideas list.
There’s a lot of dust in this comic. Yup, it’s dust. Must be coming in from the new store construction.

1 reply · active 89 weeks ago

The new store will be selling dust masks.
Tony's avatar

Tony · 89 weeks ago

Present-me doesn’t completely lament art school. It was a great experience, and I made a lot of lasting friendships (and would probably have more evidence of that if present-me talked to them more often and spent less time giving into the shame of not having cool jobs like all of them do).

But given a time-traveling DeLorean, present-me would definitely punch past-me very hard before, after, and several times during the explanation of how he doesn’t have to go to art school right out of high school, does not necessarily need the word “game” somewhere on his college degree to get a job making games, and should definitely keep an eye on this “internet” thing because it’ll be useful for supplementing his education with tutorials and art communities. And, if past-me is having trouble figuring out what to do with all that time he’s going to spend not going to college right out of high school, present-me will point out that there are lots and lots of countries that he is a long way from affording plane tickets to because there are genocides that sound less evil than having to repay private student loans while working part-time at a job where you wouldn’t want more hours even if they offered to pay you quadruple for them!

1 reply · active 88 weeks ago

Zee's avatar

Zee · 88 weeks ago


Me too, Tony. Me too. 🙁

lou's avatar

lou · 89 weeks ago

Little kid me never put much thought into what any future version of himself would do, as he had to live day-to-day in fear of bullies. Same for pre-teen me. Teenage and college-age me thought present me would be an engineer, a real-life mad scientist pushing the boundaries of human thought and reaching to the stars! I would have a big house, lots of money, and beautiful women by my side!
Past and present me both do not understand how the more complex economic concepts work, so I actually still have to live with my parents (in THEIR nice big house in wine country), my Computer Engineering degree hasn’t got me much permanent work, and I’m still single. But I take stock of the good things I have in life and work to improve my present to secure the best possible version of future me.
Although one possible future me would be a grizzled, trench-coated, part-machine badass Mad Maxing it up in a post-nuclear wasteland, with a bandolier of cigars lit only with the flaming wreckage of something I just blew up.
Joel, today’s strip made me smile, and I’m psyched you made your wife and daughter regular characters. Keep up the great work, man!
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 89 weeks ago

College me was dealing with undiagnosed depression, started realizing it around junior year and thought that I could grit my teeth, power through college, and just get over it without actually taking time to get over it.

Yeah, that didn’t work. I don’t know if what I wound up with is officially a nervous breakdown but it was the emotional equivalent to running a car without maintenance until it falls apart and then being stuck with no no way to get anywhere while you fix it.

1 reply · active 88 weeks ago

PokeyPuppy's avatar

PokeyPuppy · 88 weeks ago

Yeah, same here. Took me a ridiculously long time to fix it – “Sometimes I’m not depressed, so I shouldn’t be worrying about all the times I cry uncontrollably and sleep 18 hours a day, right? It’s just temporary!”
Runcibletune's avatar

Runcibletune · 89 weeks ago

20-year-old me was absolutely convinced that she wanted a career in musical theatre. I had done a year of a bachelor of music and thought it was dumb and boring, so I moved across the country to go to a triple-threat performing arts school.

Turns out -surprise!- I don’t like acting! Eventually at 25 I went back and started again in my first year of a B.Mus. I’ll graduate this year, with plans to become a choral conductor. Which 20-year-old me would have thought was totally lame, and which present me is ever more convinced is an ideal fit for me.

Stranger's avatar

Stranger · 89 weeks ago

Before Time Me thought I’d atleast have a job and maybe actually make something resembling money from art on the side. Welp, Im 27 now, havent had a real job yet, been bounced around different mental health groups since I left school, and any money I make is chicken feed at most.

Turns out, hoping life will be good when you’re older is often a complete pipe dream. Still waiting for the good life to start.

1 reply · active 89 weeks ago

PokeyPuppy's avatar

PokeyPuppy · 89 weeks ago

Teenage me was sure she would never get married, and if she did, it would be at maybe 40 years old.

23 yr-old me thought getting married to the guy I dated since I was 19 was a good idea.

They were both idiots (both of us think we got married WAY too young), but present me seems to be making it work, so there’s that! I look forward to looking back at present me and rolling my eyes! 🙂

J.P.'s avatar

J.P. · 89 weeks ago

My freshman year of high school, I declared I’d have my PhD and be a geneticist by 30. I’ll be 40 in December and I quit/burned-out-of my English PhD program in May (I also swore in high school that I’d never major in English, so my MA and MFA are just icing on the young me/not-so-young me cake). For now I manage a toy store.
Long time reader, first time commenter. I sent you an email a little while back about some annoying ads. Thanks for your quick feedback btw. Anyway, I always figured I’d be successfully running a business by now and making lots of money, either programming my own games or renting them out (this was back when people still did that) or fixing people’s computers. These days I help with a friend’s struggling web hosting startup for no cash and accept freelance programming and repair contract work. Other than that I live on Disability, which is something I also didn’t think would happen. I’m happier than I thought I’d be being poor, and honestly I have more people around I care about than I thought I would by now.

I’m 26.

1 reply · active 88 weeks ago

I guess what I’m saying is I’m a lot happier being poor and loved than I would have been being rich and lonely, even though the latter is what I envisioned for myself in my younger days.
Ken's avatar

Ken · 88 weeks ago

Not sure what is tugging at your soul with the recent comics. But if I want something dealing with families I’ll go read For better or Worse, or All in the Family, or Hi and Lois .. in the newspapers. If the experiment is to not die of boredom, perhaps you need to pull yourself our of this self-reflective funk and get back to truly entertaining the readers.

5 replies · active 88 weeks ago

A) Thanks for taking the time to comment.
B) Go fuck yourself.
C) If you want something dealing with GO FUCK YOURSELF, then you should probably GO FUCK YOURSELF TO DEATH. UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD. PLEASE DIE.
D) Pull your head out of your own ass and get back to truly FUCKING YOURSELF.
E) Fuck you.
Wow! Easy, man, easy! I disagree with “Ken.” I think the Experiment is a truly big deal for you and that it is working out for you is exceptional.

I actually had a tear welling up for the last panel. Keep up the work as you see fit to present it. Kudos.

Nah, I refuse to go easy on entitled pieces of shit like Ken. He’s not my boss and no one asked for his shitty opinion. He can see himself out the door immediately for all I care, but I do ask that he do it quietly so that he doesn’t disturb the Fancy Bastards who are here to have a good time. Fuck that guy. No seriously. Right in the face.
Zee's avatar

Zee · 88 weeks ago

I hate to school you, since you seem to be having more monetary success than me, but as someone who enjoys a moderate amount of popularity in another type of online/ art circle: Bad form. I know it’s your box of soap to stand on, if you want to, but attacking your fans for having an opinion of your current material that you don’t agree with is going to turn you rabid, you really should reconsider your “experiment”. Your material right now is not bad, but the underlying message isn’t necessarily untrue: your core readership probably didn’t sign on for the material you’re currently making. Some people will like it. Some people will not. It’s fine once in a while, of course, but the man is somewhat correct. You still have to entertain your readership to succeed. And now, you’ve probably sent enough of a negative message that he won’t be reading again, ever. In fact, he will probably tell twenty or thirty friends that you are a giant d-bag now. Even your keels, dude, and don’t over-react to criticism, even if it isn’t as polite as it could be. He loses nothing when he tells you he thinks this material stinks. When you tell him to go fuck himself, you lose readers. From what I can see, you ain’t Penny Arcade/ PVP yet, to go tell people to go fuck themselves.
“I hate to school you, but Im going to try any way…”

Entitled assholes like Ken don’t deserve civility or to have their opinions taken seriously. I’ve written extensively about why Im taking a different direction with the comics. It’s not a “maybe I’ll do this sometimes” situation. This is how it is now. I’m not looking for suggestions for “improvement”, especially when they are essentially saying “go back to the way things were when you weren’t making the comics you really enjoyed making.” Ken, and you and anyone else who aren’t on board with the new direction of HE are free and welcomed to stop reading. But that’s it. Just stop. Don’t tell me why, don’t make a big announcement and don’t think you have to get a final word in before you go.

Ken did not offer “criticism.” He offered a shitty fucking comment, designed to undermine my creative decisions. Further more, I didn’t ask for his opinion, nor do I require it, nor do I consider it valid since he isn’t one of my A) friends or B) peers. This isn’t YouTube. You can’t just go around telling content creators, “Hey, your thing sucks. Change it so I can be happy.” This entertainment is free. Take it or leave it. You aren’t my boss, and it sounds like you (and Ken) won’t be readers for much longer. See yourself out. I don’t care if Ken, his 30 friends and you think Im a douchebag for giving away my art, my creativity, my humor and my SELF for free. I think Ken’s a real piece of shit and if you agree that his approach was “constructive in any way” then you probably aren’t too far behind.

Cori K's avatar

Cori K · 88 weeks ago

I was a freshman in college in a math class, and after years of being (as my high school went to great lengths to convince me) pretty mediocre, something clicked. The professor pulled me aside and told me that I shouldn’t stop at the BA–I should someday go for a doctorate. Not necessarily in math, but, you know, I should do *something* with my life rather than just getting through college as fast as I could. I remember smiling, nodding, and thinking he was insane (really cool–a biker/civil engineer–but a little crazy). Pshh. What did he know? I was hell-bent on getting a BA in an acceptable, okay-by-me field in four years and going straight into a career that made my family happy.

Eleven years (and a double-major BA and an MA) later, I’m about 36 hours from the oral defense of my doctoral exams, and I’ll be proposing a dissertation on religion and webcomics. Not bad for someone the guidance counselor said wasn’t even smart enough to go to the local state college. But I think I owe that professor a “you were right,” too.

(And I, for one, like your latest storylines–character depth is good, and you do it without being all cheesy and crap. That’s not to say that I don’t love the earlier HE stuff too, but variety, change, all that, it’s a good thing. Keep up the great work.)

Fren's avatar

Fren · 88 weeks ago

Well, there’s been a few people over the years that I lost touch with, and some bad bad things happened to them. I know, I know, no way in hell I could’ve saved any of ’em, but man … still tugs at you now and again. If only you were there, right?

Eh well.

Kaidah's avatar

Kaidah · 71 weeks ago

This comic makes me tear up every time I read it.
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  1. Well, since I just turned 28 a few weeks ago I was thinking about how 18 year old me thought I'd be a virgin until I was married. Bwahahahahahahaohgod. Yeah. no. I mean I was a very straightlaced sort of 18 year old and in the last 10 years both my sense of the world and my general sardonicness (shut up, it's a word) has grown by leaps and bounds.

  2. lol, i was a loner in highschool and decided to embrace it. I made a commitment to never kiss until i was married. it was easy because as a narcassistic(SP) snob i found most girls I went on dates with to be insufferably borning,

    Until i met the most awesome lady ever. We were friends for about 2 months and I suggested I would like to take things slow but did want to date her. A week later we were making out like 24/7. Married about 4 months later.

    kinda related i guess

    but yea Sardonia for the win!

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