They’ve Been Asking Where Ya Been

SHORT VERSION: I didn’t expect to have to drop everything and rebuild/relaunch my online store just a few weeks from Xmas, but I did, it took 3 weeks, it’s done and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

LONG VERSION: Is posted over at my Patreon.

I usually expect the worst when life gets in the way and the comic has to take a backseat. I expect to be once and for all officially voted off of the Internet. I expect to somehow instantly be made unable to make a living from comics, and forbidden from creating content, putting it out there for free and somehow, eventually getting paid for something tangentially related to that content. So far, despite numerous cases of real life encroaching on my Internet funny time picture production, the Internet has been waiting for me on the other side with open arms.

I expect The Internet to be cruel, because I see the cruelty it heaps on others who do not deserve it. I see the worst of all possible reactions to typical human frailty and imperfection posted in countless Youtube comments. I see threats and rage and spite lobbed from behind the safety of anonymity, and it makes me afraid of screwing up. It makes me afraid of the repercussions of failure. Then I remember that I am incredibly fortunate in that I am not dealing with the TYPICAL Internet. I have, over the last 7ish years, cultivated an audience of thoughtful, kind, respectful, patient, intelligent and empathetic humans.Β When All the real life dust clears, it’s you, The Fancy Bastards, that allow me to pick up where I left off and keep going. Thank you.

DID YOU GET YOUR HOGWARTS LETTER YET?! Check out these Harry Potter inspired owl post earrings and necklaces my wife made:

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  1. I have similar expectations of the cruelty of the internet, and I'm always so pleased when I'm wrong, as it really does surprise me time and again. True Fancy Bastards know that no creator is our bitch (to paraphrase Neil Gaiman), and to be grateful for the creation we get, whenever it happens. It's good to have you back πŸ™‚

    • Whenever someone asks me that, I always say I'm one of my clones, and the real me whom I call the Prime (All Glory to Prime), is off having fantastically impossible adventures, like photographing for Playboy, capturing drug lords in Latin America, or going to my private gaming preserve to hunt humans for sport.

      Maybe that's why I'm not asked that very often.

  2. My only problem with the comic is the word free content. Since launching a patreon I think it disqualifies the word free about your product when there are people who give you money to continue said product. Life happens and I'm not pitchforking you for that, but don't call your comic free. You're a sponsored artist who makes his work available to the public by benefit of your patrons. Again not mad you had to do the hiatus just not a fan of the word 'free'

    • I see how you came up with your point, but it comes from a lack of understanding my business model. The content I create is free, as in 100% free to the entire world. No strings attached. Those that choose to support me monetarily through store purchases or through Patreon are certainly subsidizing the content for everyone else by making it easier for me to continue creating free content without having to get a day job, but that doesn't make the content any less free. Libraries are free, even though they are subsidized by the tax payers. You seem to be implying that my Patrons are paying me to create content, which I then allow everyone else to look at without paying. This is not the case. I was making comics and giving them away years before Patreon. I used to get donations through Paypal, and the comic was still free. Your comment implies that I'm holding my comic hostage from the non-paying public until certain payment terms are met from my Patrons and that, also, is not the case.

      You'll know when my content isn't free because you'll come to my website and you won't be able to read an archive of over 1000 comics until you pull out your wallet. It's a pretty safe bet that day will never come.

  3. Ha! I find that support surprising, though I am sure you do not find it a wholly unpleasant surprise. Also, I find the cat crooked in the Internet's arm appropriate. Also, just the whole concept of personifying the internet in a comic instead of having the author talking to the audience out of the fourth wall? That is new to me, and I don't think I have seen anyone else do this. If I did, the attempt was not memorable enough to stick in my mind.
    Because of that treatment, I find this hiatus notice to be very fresh compared to the methods other cartoonists have used to connect to their audience via comic. Sort of an indirect way to do so, and I like it.
    I'm probably overthinking this comic, but it would almost be cool if the Internet became a reoccurring character. The jokes would write themselves.

  4. I was just starting to wonder where you'd got to…. but in the way a person misses a friend who hasn't been in touch for a while. And when I saw you had a comic up again, I was like, "Yay!! Joel's back!" πŸ™‚

    (Anyway, you know the internet, like gambling, is addictive and enjoyable precisely because of its unpredictability… πŸ˜‰ Your occasional randomness isn't a bug, it's a feature!)

  5. I have enjoyed your comic and sense of humour for years Joel and have never really thought about this being your job. As a father of a 10 month old Girl and being the main source of income for my family. I fully appreciate what it is you do. I sincerely thank you for giving me this comic and for not expecting anything in return.

    PS. Tom Baker is the best Dr Who.

  6. Glad to have you back, Joel. It's a good moment when you've been coming to the site seeing the same thing and all-of-a-sudden there's something new!

  7. I don't know man. You say "free" but you promised an output when you took people's money. You have more asks for money than any other comic out there. You need a new air conditioner, you need a new store (to sell more garbage), you just NEED to go to that convention. You consistently make your success "our problem". If we want you we need to support you in any number of ways. Then when the store goes down you totally stop comics. I get the time that takes, I make websites myself, but you hit goals on your patreon and seem to endlessly be apologizing for not meeting the goals. You expect everyone to understand, and if they don't they are the "cruel Internet". It's garbage. Make content. Make money. And stop whining about your bills.

    • Gather round, kids, and behold EXACTLY the kind of cynical, entitled bullshit comment I was talking about. Why's this guy such an angry piece of shit? Well, kiddos, the Internet taught him this kind of behavior was acceptable because he's protected by ANONYMITY. Say it with me, "AN-O-NYM-ITY." You see, this person is a coward and would NEVER say these sorts of things to my face, or anyone else's face for that matter. It makes him feel like a BIG BOY to really put someone on their place.

      "But why does this asshole support your comic?" you may ask. That's simple. HE DOESN'T! He likely doesn't even enjoy reading it. It's more likely that he just sort of "hate fucks" my comic with his eyes. People like this can't experience actual joy, so the closest thing they CAN experience is a sort of hollow cynicism high that comes from disliking things other people like. I know, it seems like more work than just… NOT doing any of that. Go figure.

      He certainly has disdain for me as an artist, and a human being, and he lacks a very important quality that one needs to coexist with other humans. That's right… say it together… EMPATHY! He has all the answers and none of them involve empathy. That's because empathy is a difficult emotion for people so stuck up their own assholes that they can't see anything but their own shit! Furthermore, this guy has NEVER spent a dime of actual money supporting this comic, but he sure likes to have opinions about how I make money and those of you who DO support my financially. It's really hard to put your money where your mouth is, when you mouth is so far up your own ass.

      To paraphrase: You're garbage. Fuck off. Fuck yourself. And stop whining about my business.

      • TheFatherBrain isn't wrong about anything he said. Just unpleasant. Take out the two lines with the word "garbage" in them, and it's an entirely reasonable post. Your reaction is, on the other hand, rather dispropotionate, and full of straw man tirades.

        None of this is going to keep me from reading and enjoying your work, nor will it make me regret tossing some money your way back a while ago. I get that art is hard, I still applaud your courage in dropping the sure-thing job and chasing a dream, and I get the Palmer article posted here. Just saying…maybe read what he said again? I doubt he's the only person with that opinion.

        • Yeah, he is wrong. He's A LOT wrong. Factually and ideologically he's wrong. If you share his opinions (which you are entitled to), I'd say you are also wrong, but I have no interest in convincing you otherwise. Since you wrote in a respectful tone, I'm 100% fine with having a difference of opinions with you and leaving it at that.

          Dipshit up there gets zero points from me regardless of his underlying message because of how he chose to present it. His shitty attitude and combative, smarmy, entitled tone immediately invalidate any and all valid points he may have had. I have, and will always have zero tolerance for that kind of attitude on my website. He got banned immediately and anyone else who comes out of the gate slinging shit everyone will get the same.

          • I've been a Fancy Bastard since just a bit before you started The Experiment. I think I may have commented once or twice before (I'm not generally a talkative person) but I've always read the comments under the comics as I enjoy the banter between you and your readers and it's always been a friendly and welcoming environment. You've always shut down trolls and jerks pretty quickly, but this past year I've noticed you've become much more defensive and aggressive in your dealings with them.

            Now I don't personally agree with @thefatherbrain (and certainly don't condone the rude and generally inflammatory tone) but I can understand the underlying frustration with you not meeting your patreon goals. Many people (myself included) have been burned by things like patreon and kickstarter campaigns just never really living up to any of their promises. I understand the challenges and frustrations you've had and I know that you care about your work, so I'm not really worried about that in this case.

            I guess what I'm trying to say is that you've been a bit hostile lately with anyone criticizing you. I understand shutting down trolls, but lately you've been a bit too aggressive in your responses for my taste. It kind of ruins the chill, friendly vibe I've always gotten from the conversations here. I can get that you've been under a lot of pressure lately, but I just don't want that to make the atmosphere around here feel so harsh.

            Anyway, I'm glad the comics are back up and that it was just you being busy and not something more serious. Godspeed.

            • I understand your sentiments and appreciate your continued interest in my work over the years. I would like to point out that my attitude towards "Internet Rudeness" has always been the same and always been met with the same level of hostility. Maybe I've just had two or three of these types of rude assholes in the last month, so it has seemed like my vitriol has stepped up. I'd suggest that my documented comment history of dealing with this type of "fan" will show that I've always had zero tolerance for this type of behavior.

              As an aside, I've never considered the comments of my website to be a forum for criticism of my work. If someone has a problem with me, it's more appropriate to handle it privately via email. Airing grievances in public means the griever WANTS an audience and that's rarely a recipe for a cordial discussion. Rather, it's a performance that only one party has rehearsed for.

      • I guess you've found where the real internet was hidden. It decided to creep off into a dark corner and lunge at you while you were apparently napping. HA! Stupid internet! I guess it doesn't realize just how much caffeine intake is required for creating really good comics. I'm thinking with that much coffee in your system you can probably fold space, or tear someone's liver out with a single thought! There is no SLEEP! The badgers they call to you telepathically 24/7!!!

        Seriously though that TheFatherBrain post was just way past wrong, uninformed and just plain rude.

      • That was such a good article, as was the info Pomplamoose shared recently that spawned all this conversation.

        I just realized this dipshit's point is the same as that of Pomplamoose's detractors. "How dare you talk openly and honestly about how you get paid for your art?" The attitude seems to be "Just make art for me and stop talking about how you do/need to make a living from it!" I guess these people don't realize how intrinsically linked the two are. There is no "get to keep making art for a job" without "GETTING PAID SOMEHOW." A major component of that "getting paid" is making sure your audience knows that you NEED TO GET PAID.

        I think the confusion from commenter's like the aforementioned dipshit stems from not understanding and not wanting to understand how independent artists get paid. Lady Gaga isn't talking about her mortgage, so why should I? The guy who inks Spider-Man isn't asking for donations, so why should I. I suppose this dude and dude's like him don't understand the how little I (or any independent artist) have in common with people topping the iTunes charts or people who get a steady paycheck to draw.

        This subject is near and dear to my heart and I love educating people about it, but ADS (Aforementioned Dipshit) didn't ask me any questions about my business. He TOLD me my business.

  8. I was expecting something more like tourette's. "Oh that's okay Joel we understand that you're a HITLER DID NOTHING WRONG person and you have a real life outside of IT'S ABOUT ETHICS IN JOURNALISM BASED GAMING your website."

    • I will forever carry a torch for RSS. The internet never embraced what was essentially a perfect solution to "when does this site update." What fools. They didn't know how good they had it.

  9. I don't see how anyone gets so bent out of shape about this. I mean, just about every other form of amusement takes breaks — TV shows have long hiatuses between seasons; movie franchises go years between releases. Books in a series seem to take forever. I don't see people ranting on about how everyone working on Castle is worthless shit because we have to wait all summer to get our next installment of entertainment. For some reason, that kind of irrational rage seems to be reserved for online content.

    Personally, I'm perpetually astonished at how much material independent online artists manage to produce, and would frankly expect more of these kinds of mini-breaks than fewer.

    Look, you're always going to have a life outside of work. Stuff will come up, you'll need to take breaks, and the vast majority of us will understand. We have lives too, and we have stuff come up. It's not a foreign concept to anyone. Don't let the trolls get you down, man. Stay funny and take care of yourself and your family. I look forward to the next update.

    • There might come a day where I decide that HE, or whatever project I'm working on at the time, is delivered in "seasons." 10 months on, two months off with a summer break in the middle.

      I often think about the musicians and comedians I know. They're expected to produce 10-12 new songs every few years, or 1 hour of new comedy material every couple of years. Daily, even weekly comics are expected to PRODUCE PRODUCE PRODUCE constantly with no breaks and maintain if not elevate the quality their audiences are used to.

      I'd be lying if I said I see myself doing a thrice weekly comic when I'm 50. I really hope I'll have moved on to writing for larger projects before then.

    • I have SO MANY OPINIONS about this subject. I could talk for hours. Having worked on Youtube videos with views in the multiple millions, I am now gaining perspective on just what a shit hole the comments are. There's a whole comment culture built around Youtube and they actually seem to think they are doing the creators a service. On the far end of the spectrum are the "THIS SUCKS U SUCK UNSUBBED REPORTED THESE VIDEOS USED TO BE GREAT AND NOW THEY SUCKKKKKKK!!!" types and on the other end, THE MOST REASONABLE AND RATIONAL end are the "Guys, calm down! We should give the creators CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM so they can get BETTER!" types. At some point they got the collective impression that the purpose of comments is to day by day, video by video evaluate content creators and let them know their every fault, every misstep so they can get better at their job. At what point did these commenters become the creators' peers? When were they asked for their feedback, constructive or otherwise? Do they think content creators read over their minutia and go, "He's got a great point. We should change everything we're doing." Or, worse yet, do creators actually DO THIS?! Do they flip flop every creative decision based on the whims of cranky children?

      Either way, I've decided the entire system would be improved if you had to have your actual age next to your screen name. Then I could filter out the opinions of anyone, say, under 25. Maybe anyone under 50. Either way it's a fucking garbage town of garbage opinions and it's made me leery of the concept of ever getting "Youtube Popular."

      • I've read somewhere, on the Internet no less, that someone reads YouTube comments to laugh at human stupidity, and Yahoo!News comments to cry about it.

        Yahoo!News – now THAT'S what I call a shithole.

  10. Thank goodness it was just work — I was starting to worry that someone had gotten sick!*wipes brow in relief*
    Congratulations on being finished!*offers hugs and chocolate-covered butter-snap pretzels*

    • I appreciate the concern. I really wanted to make and post this comic a dozen times during the hiatus but every time I'd get started I'd think "That's 4 hours you could be spending figuring out why the shipping calculator goes bonkers if someone tries to order a shirt and book at the same time."

  11. Checked out the new store last night. Looked at everything in the store, and zoomed in and enlarged every picture. Everything looked great and worked fine. Ordering went perfectly smooth. So looks like taking the time off to get everything right was worth it.

    • Im really glad to hear that and thank you for the voluntary quality control. Another reader found a bug a couple of days ago that was preventing Canadians from ordering t-shirts. I checked the logs and sure enough there were no t-shirt orders to canada. I guess everyone else just got the error and gave up.

  12. I've been dutifully checking your page at least once a day during your unscheduled hiatus. Very happy to have you back. Sorry about the Bad Things. I now look forward to the further adventures of Josh and his penis. πŸ™‚

  13. "Anyone who says they are their own worst critic has never published anything on the internet" (Tom Vasel, The Dice Tower podcast)

    Great to have you back πŸ™‚ Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  14. Wow, that's a lot of comments, and not one of them said "Merry Christmas Joel, and to all You Fancy Bastards out there".__Oh and if Christmas isn't your thing, 'Merry [your thing here] to you!'

  15. Is there anywhere on Patreon to make a one time donation? I love your work and would love to make a contribution, but am not really comfortable making another monthly payment, even 1 or 3 dollars (though I may when I'm more financially stable).

  16. Joel, the key thing to remember is that the Internet is A.D.D., so if we don't see an update for a while, we don't flip out we just….hey…look! KITTIES!!!!!

    We come back when you come back, don't worry

  17. Welcome back to the world of the functioning, Joel. Have some coffee, some bacon, and enjoy that I just bought 2 signed prints for a belated xmas present; a friend of mine who squees whenever she sees your Calvin & Hobbes-esque takes on the world, and so I figured why not use your shiny new store to promote that? Keep on trucking, good sir.

    • I went to fulfill your order (thanks, by the way) today and found that all the "Snowflake on the Wind" prints I ordered are screwed up. I had more printed and I'm going to pick them up tomorrow.

  18. Glad your back. I was wondering where you went. I don't bitch when people who provide me a free 30 seconds of entertainment have to go do life stuff. It's great to here how you're able to support your family with your work. It's part of what inspired me to pursue similar changes in my life (that and the awesomest most supportive wife ever). Thanks for the comic.

  19. That tee shirt is hilarious. Welcome back, Joel.

    I'm not a Patreon supporter so I don't have a dog in this fight, so to speak, but I am curious – do you think you made a mistake by making some of your milestone goals revolve around a certain update schedule?

    • Yup. I went back and altered the goals to be more in line with reality. I still hope to get things running smoothly here in terms of regular updates, but in 7 years I have not been able to meet this goal.

  20. Glad to have you back Joel. I read a few online comics and yours is by far the funniest I have in my favourites list. Losing you to the machinations of the fickle mistress that is the interwebs would be a travesty. If your travels ever bring you to Western Australia…do let us know. I want to shout you a beers

  21. Welcome back, Joel! Don't let the whiners get to you. The thing I noticed and dislike about certain parts of the Internet is the over-inflated sense of entitlement, and it feels like a competition among these trolls to sound the more outraged over the most trivial issues. Like when a highly anticipated movie is less than what is imagined to be, the correct response is "I did not like this. I will tell my friends not to see it.", not "I WILL KILL WHOEVER MADE THIS AND THEIR WHOLE FAMILY AND HATE WHOEVER DISAGREES WITH ME FOREVERRRRRRR!!!" Meanwhile, the NSA agent assigned to monitor whichever part of the web that's in drinks the fifth shot he's had on his shift wondering what is wrong with "these people".
    Wow, I went to a weird place. Point is, ignore the haters and keep on doing what you do best, as much as your schedule allows.

  22. Totally off-topic, but I just saw something and I wanted to share it as a bit of a Christmas present to any and all who have Netflix (and I expect that's pretty much everyone here, so yeah. Merry Christmas):

    They just added a program that's an hour-long filming of a fireplace, with instrumental Christmas music overlaid.

    Turn on closed captioning. If needed, imagine you are deaf.

    I might also recommend doing this while you have a lot of company over — the sort you would have over to watch Monty Python's Holy Grail for the 72nd time. You're welcome, internet.

  23. We're sorry Joel. If it makes you feel better, we could rant incoherently about Mens Rights and send severed doll heads to you as bizarre gift threats? Would that feel more like the regular Internet?

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