Yay! I finally get to reveal a major aspect of the new comics: Flashbacks. Since I wanted to keep the comic universe basically in present day, but I really wanted to be able to tell the story of the early days of my comicing career, I decided to juxtapose certain events with relevant and revealing looks back into the characters’ past. I wanted to be able to write from the perspective of someone who’s been doing this (comics, parenting, marriage, etc) for a while, but I kept thinking back to all the weird shit that’s happened to be over the last 5 or 6 years that would make for great jumping off points for story lines. From a storytelling perspective, this is the best of both worlds for me and I’m pretty excited about it.
COMMENTERS: Did you ever get fired from a job, get dumped by a significant other, or in some other way shat upon by the Universe and have it turn out to be a catalyst for a major positive change in your life?
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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.
A number of times over the last 10 years things like that have happened.
My most recent adventure in this regard was badly breaking my leg and hand, it forced me to postpone finishing my masters degree. I then was promoted at work and since then I have finished my MA in the summer break, got even more teaching and now I’m sitting relatively happy where I am. Albeit with a sore leg most of the time and a slight limp.
Wesley · 89 weeks agoHaving been a victim of bullying for most of my youth, I came across anxiety training during my teens. This completely changed me from being completely socially incompetent to merely socially awkward but more importantly gave me the self-confidence to go out there and express myself. I’ve since been able and confident to speak in public, which has been a major uplift for me in other areas where I was insecure.
I’m pretty sure that I would have ended up a 40-year old virgin if not for that.This comic was really great! At first glace I questioned why the change in color. Then I saw the “5 Years ago” tag and realized it was a flashback. The blurred background was very effective and I got caught up in the dialogue. And then, the final line caused me to laugh out loud. Well done Sir! 😀
Oh, and the comment question…
No.I’ve been working a go-nowhere retail job that I’d held for nearly eight years, mostly out of complacency and the fear of being unable to pay my bills without it. I’d applied for better jobs on and off over the years and had been rejected each time, and the resulting demoralization had pretty much convinced me that I’d never do better. Recently I’d been facing the prospect of being let go for not meeting a sales quota.
Rather than wait for the process of performance evaluations to begin, I decided rather uncharacteristically to get off my ass and start aggressively applying for jobs in a field that I actually went to school for, because at this point I figured that I had little left to lose, rejection be damned.
Long story short, it turns out that I aced my last interview; I start my new career next week.I was dating a girl in college and trying to decide between going to grad school to earn a PhD or taking a shot at getting into a combined MD/PhD program, which I never felt she fully supported. We had been doing the long distance thing for about 6 months and then when I got home for the summer she promptly dumped me (probably for some other dude). I was pretty devastated but realized I suddenly had a lot of free time outside of work so I went ahead and registered for my MCAT prep class at night, took the MCAT in August and got a ridiculously high score (which I needed because my GPA was more of a ‘grad school’ targeted one than a ‘med school’ groomed one), applied and eventually succeeded in getting into an MD/PhD program where I met some of my best friends, my future wife, etc. etc.
Doug · 89 weeks agoI worked at a radio station through college and kept working there for a few years after. Put in over 7 years and was then laid off. My wife and I both worked there, so we were both laid off the same day. We lived in a small town, so other jobs weren’t available so we moved to Arizona. We lived with my parents for a year while I started a new job and made some money to support us. Now, 5 years later I’m a senior level developer/analyst, own my own home, and am loving life so much more. My wife went back to school for a second degree and is now a full time graphic designer. Getting let go by that place was the best thing that could have happened to us.Flashbacks are cool – I like them! – but I think maybe the color scheme could be less pastel? The pinks/baby blues said “dream sequence” to me, rather than “memory”… Maybe instead of making colors paler, they could be made less saturated? Of course that might just be me.
Looking forward to seeing what you do with them 🙂I love the pale colours, the strip stands out from the current timeline but doesn’t go all Lo-Fijinksy. A more familiar flashback tone such as sepia or grayscale would maybe too obvious, but that’s just my opinion.
bubujin_2 · 89 weeks agoIn June I was let go due to a downsizing that had been in the works over the previous four months. So no surprise there. But the BS corporate was feeding us and the transition has rather sucked. To add insult to injury was that I had a 20-year relationship with the organization but was earlier passed over for a position I was eminently qualified that would have kept me around.
So I’m sort of enjoying at the moment a semi-retired condition. But still too young to be fully retired and still have a kid to get through H.S. and college. So catalyst is still pending on what I want to be when I grow up. Now if I can just get off these damned comics boards…..I know this is a cynical viewpoint, but one thing I’ve learned from working a million jobs is that a company (no matter how large) will NEVER prioritize your needs over their own. The second word in “human resources” is very telling. No matter how kind or considerate they are when you work there, when it comes to the bottom line you are a stapler, a cell phone, a company car, a vacation, a health insurance package and often a financial burden. Never expect any company that isn’t run by YOU or your family to treat you like family when $$$ is all they see.In 2002, I was fired. It was a complicated situation, but basically my boss was a terrible bully who had already run two other people out of the department (of four). He used the system to find a reason to fire me.
At the time, I had recently finished my education to change fields, but was having issues finding a position that a) would accept education without relevant experience and b) would pay a decent wage.
My mother-in-law happened to need a database built (my new field). She agreed to pay relo costs to move us and put me in for a security clearance. I agreed to accept about 80% of the going rate (which was still a raise for me).
Ten years later, I’m an in-demand professional with an excellent resume and a great salary. And it probably wouldn’t have happened without that initial boot to the rear.Colin Hay song title FTW!
I was laid off from Disney over 10 years ago. At the time I’d been there for eight years and, though I hated what I did (some weird hybrid of legal, finance and marketing), I was comfortable.
Getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve since worked in politics – which was fascinating – and I’m currently working at JPL, where I’ve been for over seven years. I love working here. It may not be my dream job (I’m an assistant, but I’d love to do more creative stuff), but I strongly believe in its mission of space exploration. It’s the first place I’ve ever worked that I could actually see myself retiring from.Do you know Bobak? He and I are buds. If I ever come down there, he’s promised to give me a tour.I’ve seen him around (including at the Wiggle Waggle Walk last weekend), but I don’t know him. You’ll LOVE the tour of JPL. It is awesome.
When he shows you the full scale model of Curiosity (and I know that will be a “when,” not an “if”), that’s in the lobby of the building where I work (Bldg. 180). I love seeing that thing nearly every day.
Becky S. · 89 weeks agoMy first job, post-grad-school, was as a tech writer for a financial software company. 30 days into the job I realized it made me feel unclean, that I was overwhelmed, and that I hated the work. But it had taken me 6 months to find a damn job, so I buckled down and did my best to learn how to do the work, in spite of minimal training and oversight. I thought the misery was paying off when I got a $4,000 raise after 7 months on the job.
Then, 1 month later, I was fired. During my performance review. Queue three-and-a-half months of job searching in between bouts of intense depression and anxiety in which I questioned my ability to be an effective and competent tech writer.
I took a job as a contractor building servers at a company a friend worked for. A monkey with reasonable power drill skills could do the job, but I was working with a buddy, the people in the company were friendly and laid-back, and I wasn’t using up my unemployment. The much-reduced comparative salary and lack of benefits didn’t bother me as much as unemployment did.
Then, through a series of conversations, the company realized I was a tech writer with a couple of masters degrees. Two years later I’m the solo documentation person, make a good living, and absolutely love my job and the people I work with and for. All because a financial company fired me.
I’m glad The Experiment seems to worked out just as well for you, Joel.
patti · 89 weeks agoi liked the old content of your comic but because it was about pop/nerd culture it sometimes lacked depth, which was ok because it was funny and made me laugh, but im enjoying the new content because it reflects on real life more and keeps me coming back because i feel more invested in the characters and there lives, i like that your people aren’t perfect and have flaws and are struggling. thanks.I think I’m on the cusp of that moment. I’ve been in and out of day jobs for a year since moving back from Florida where I was working a dream job. There are a few things on the horizon that could be potentially life changing but there just out of reach right now in certainty. I’m only 27 and there are things that I’ve done that I can be proud of but I still don’t believe I’ve reached that one significant moment where I can say everything has changed. I did at a time and then it was taken away from me via circumstances beyond my control.I worked at a large game company for many years. They didn’t make the kinds of games I wanted to make, but it was fun so I stuck with it even though after a while I sorta wanted to be doing something else. Then they got bought out and were shut down in 2009 (we found out via Kotaku!) and I didn’t want to continue to work at the new parent company making games that were even further from what I liked…so I took the opportunity to try being indie, and started really working on a fighting game. Close to five years later, I’m still having the time of my life working on our game and the fan support is amazing.
There are always ups and downs and stress in any field, but given the choice between staying with something that’s “just a job” and taking the chance to try making something you really enjoy into your career, I highly recommend the latter.
You chose wisely, Mister Joel, because you took the chance.“we found out via Kotaku!”
What’s your game?Since you asked, it’s Skullgirls – I skipped mentioning it because that wasn’t the focus of the story. :^)
And yeah, check it, the article even says “are to be laid off today”: http://kotaku.com/5406449/rumor-rip-pandemic-stud…Congrats on your employment liberation anniversary!
Tiffany · 89 weeks agoI was staying in a dead end job as a bank teller because it was close to home NV and the hours didn’t suck. I got fired for a customer service mistake the day before my birthday in January. I spent nine months unemployed, playing videogames to escape from a minor depression, sending out resumes on Craig’s list and pretending everything was fine. All while trying to survive on $400 less a month after buying a new house in December.
A week ago I was hired as the funding assistant for an estate planning firm. A bit less an hour than the bank, but a guaranteed 40hrs a week, which the bank wasn’t. Best of all I never have to listen to complaints about fees I have no control over, get yelled at because no one keeps track of their balance, or get robbed at gunpoint again.
Honestly, the robberies were pretty good days.Lost my job because the business I was working for was slowly going down in flames. The “friends” I was living with began treating me like shit (despite the fact that I had the savings to keep paying my share of everything) and exacerbating my depression, which gave them more ammo to treat me like more shit, etc. Finally they threw me out on christmas eve, literally AS I was telling them that I finally had an interview.
I blew the interview due to being half out of my mind trying to secure alternate lodgings, and wound up moving back home, severely depressed, and with no real options. I piddled with freelance for a little while, and, in a fit of pique, threw an application at my alma matter for graduate school, which is something I’d considered doing off and on while working my shitty office job.
That was at the beginning of 2010. I’m now almost done with my MA, on my way to my PhD. What do I study, you might ask? Animation history. It is literally my job to babble about awesome cartoons all fucking day, write papers about it, and generally be a huge nerd all the time. I hang out with people who are doing amazing stuff with topics ranging from Tolkien to Indian cinema, I make good money (for a grad student), and my depression has given way to my old bubbly personality, so I’m actually popular among my peers for the first time in my life.I don’t know much about academia, so please explain how getting a masters and a PhD is a job. Like, who is paying you to do these things? Also, I think that’s a fantastic topic of study. You and Randy Milholland (somethingpositive.net) could talk for hours.Teaching assistanship. Technically my job is teaching introductory cinema theory. But I get to pick my own example clips, and such, so they’re all from stuff I enjoy watching and talking about.
Plus, I’ve always felt like non-research assistantships are technically for the job, but also for you to continue your research without having to worry about money.
So Randy Mulholand is into animation and animation history? Awesome! One more reason to add SP to my read list!
Mike · 89 weeks agoIn 2007 I was studying visual communications at a pretty prestigious art school. Unlike my previous college, it was in a bigger city with much higher cost of living. So worked full time. On black Friday, some kind person looking for a digital camera gave me a virus. It turned into bronchitis and then pneumonia. I missed my final projects and failed out of art school. I was devastated. I went to the associated community college, but I was drinking heavily. I want able to pull my gpa up, so I was kicked out in 2009. Then my girlfriend of three years dumped me, and the job that caused all that trouble fired me. I ended up drinking magnums of wine while reading Hemingway and listening to Bright Eyes. I bottomed out. Since then I’ve realized art wasn’t right for me, gotten redirected on a new career, got engaged to a wonderful woman, and I’m almost 2 years sober. So all’s well that ends well. But seriously, fuck black Friday.
Neph Sy · 89 weeks agoBack in the 90s I was working at a company that was going through hard times and had entered bankruptcy protection, in an attempt to turn things around. Liked my job (didn’t love it), but hated my supervisor. Some branches had closed, but my location was one of the most successful. One morning my name was announced over the intercom and I had a 5 minute meeting with a Human Resources person who told me that my job did not exist anymore and that I was no longer employed. Only two people were cut from my department, I asked how this decision was made (meaning why I was targeted), but received no answers. Still in shock, I had to go to my part time job a few hour later to work my shift.
So with the help of some severance, unemployment, and the part time job, I had the time and a bit of money to take classes, so that I could get the skills to be self employed. Developing the business was slow as I was still working part time at night, plus I had a temporary teaching job. Then the owner of the store, where I had worked for 8 years mentions that we should talk about when I was going to leave??? She admitted that I was her best employee and had never done anything wrong, she just wished I had never started working in my craft (which she sold at her store!). One of her relatives was jealous of my business and felt threatened by me, since we made the same craft, and applied for the same events. So I was so insulted that I quit, my contract soon ended and I suddenly had so much free time that I was able to apply for more events and sell in more stores. Thus being forced to be completely self employed and more competition for the relative’s business.
Eric · 89 weeks agoAfter I finished college I went to work for a company doing web design work. When I started it was great working in my field but it slowly turned into one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Constant harassment from supervisors about deadlines even when all work was being done on time. Coworkers all blaming each other when thugs go wrong and just generally unpleasant work environment which was not being helped by management who made project goal incentives for people who finished stuff faster. It was terrible and was apparently making me terrible to be around. I hit a point I couldn’t take it anymore and left. Making a radical career jump I got a job working in human services. I started working with mentally disabled individuals finding employment and building job skills. Not the most glorious of jobs but I enjoy doing it and I’m happy.When I was 19 I went to university to try and get a job that would get me a career. Then through a series of misfortunes (including the divorce of my parents) I failed out of school and got a JOB.
Four years ago when the kids were in full time school I applied to go back to university. I was rejected because of my previous grades, but I appealed and wrote letters to the head of the faculty, the head of registration and everyone else I could, and I did eventually get in (there is a lesson in that).
in two years – the year I turn 50 (and 31 years after my first attempt) – I will be getting my BFA with honours.Reading all these comments really inspires me. I know when my catalyst comes, I’ll be ready for it.
The comic’s new direction is also making this community so great. I love all the honest stories and feedback from everyone. It’s a nice place. I like it here.In 2005 my marriage was imploding, the awesome seasonal job I had held for 4 years was coming apart in the worst way, and then Hurricane Katrina wiped out my regular job and home.
I got a job in DC (phone interview), drove from Washington state to DC in 3 days by myself, and started work 8 hours after I arrived. I finished my first day crying on the phone with my husband – the job was great, but I was just a mess.
But having a solid job helped pay for couples therapy, which was REALLY necessary, and the relocation is what landed (a) my husband’s job, and (b) my current ownership of my own business. Since I’ve been called “bookworm” since I was 3, owning a bookstore is a dream job. And both my husband and I are so happy together again. Money problems, PTSD, and chronic depression do not make for a happy relationship!Nothing to do with jobs (although I did land what I thought was my dream job right out of grad school and got let go within the probationary period and four years later the organization has an opening for almost the exact same thing but making < 20k of what I’m making now), but I love that your wife is babywearing your daughter in this comic.
thelogos · 89 weeks agoMy long-time partner left me recently after being together for 9 years. A couple of months later, I started hiking every week and playing my favorite sport 2-3 times a week. I’ve met lots of great people. I’m also loosing some weight in addition to having fun times.
Zach · 89 weeks agoI was doing in-home computer repair and making a grand total of -$250 every month. I was let go for ‘not having enough experience’ (or mouthing off to my boss, whatever). Three weeks later I’m staring at a dwindling bank account, maxed out credit cards and a rent payment I don’t know how to cover. Then the phone call came in.
“Hi. We saw your resume. Would you like to work for Major Tech Company?”
Suddenly I am an engineer making more money than I could have ever thought possible. All because I got fired from a crummy go-nowhere job.
Scarlettb · 89 weeks agoIt took me more than a year to get a job after I graduated college. When I finally (FINALLY) did, it was working with a program that provided therapy and foster care to juvenile sex offenders. Let that sink in for a minute. Juvenile. Sex. Offenders.
My job? Admissions. So I spent my days reading their application packets, which were exhaustive, DETAILED accounts of what had happened to them, and what they had done to others.
This summer, the stress of the job combined with my MS and the heat, and I had a serious exacerbation. 6 weeks off on disability. Came back. Cried every day. 4 weeks into being back, my neurologist puts me on a new medication to which I had an allergic reaction that made me literally suicidal. Back off on disability, and was informed on Day 2 of said disability that they don’t want me to come back. Super depressing.
HOWEVER. My headaches are less than they were. My shoulders no longer hover around my ears. I have not cried since the day I left. And a dream job I applied for on a whim is flying me up to interview in person in two weeks. So…fingers crossed that this is the catalyst moment, but even if I don’t get this position, I am so, so glad that I don’t work where I did, because that was literally (and I DO mean literally) going to kill me.Joel, I remember when you posted The Experiment. I remember feeling a bit jealous but happy for you. And just six months later I got my own kick in the ass. (I apologize for the length.)
May, 2009. I had a decent job at an ad agency in Detroit, where I lived my whole life. I was mostly doing flash work for car sites and tiring of it. I also had an ongoing string of 3D freelance work to bring in extra money. It was physically taxing and growing less and less fun. And I had a one year old son that silently urged me not to kill myself doing all nighters.
Then out of the blue I was laid off from the agency. I remember walking out of there not too worried. I had a small nest egg I had saved, and 3D clients to fall back on. I thought I’d spend a few weeks doing what I used to do when I was a kid: making video games. I would take the time to brush up my skills and experiment while I looked for more work.
Well Detroit in 2009 was a bad time to look, there was *nothing*. But I was having fun being a stay at home dad, learning to make spaceships blow up on my iPhone. We made ends meet for awhile, living cheap.
But making games takes longer than I thought. The money dried up, jobs did too. I was now banking on my iPhone game bringing in *something*. But by the summer of 2011, showing my wife something cool I had made that day started to feel more and more like ‘Check out this sweet lick I wrote today! My band’s gonna be huuuuge honey! How was work?’ I was promising my wife I would take a job, any job. I went on depressing interviews. I’m fairly sure my family thought I was having a Flaky Artist midlife crisis. Then something happened.
My little game (Awesome Saucer) was noticed by a friend of a friend who was a lead developer. He was looking to build a team for a new project and he had seen my beta. I flew to SF for a 6 hour interview, which I partly bombed. They liked me and my game, but I’m over 40, self-taught, and my coding skill was deemed ‘creative but unsophisticated’ for what they needed. I was devastated and went back to Detroit to quietly finish my game before moving on. Weeks later, right before release, they called me back. They changed the tech they were using and needed someone with my skill sets of both art and code. They offered me a job. I took it.
Now two years later, I live in the Bay Area making video games for Disney, on what I can only call a dream job. We’re out of Detroit, raising our kid in a nice area and making ends meet. I’m surrounded by creative, intensely talented people who humble me. I wake up every day aware of exactly how lucky I am. I have a career I never thought was in reach, but that I always knew I was perfect for. It might all go away tomorrow and I’ll still feel lucky. It’s not Indie life, and I’m not rich. But it’s what I want to do with my life. One day, I’ll be indie again, and this time it will be doing what I love. Because I was pushed.
Jon B · 89 weeks agoI got fired, spent a few days drunk watching Star Trek, and then wallowed in shame for about two months.
Then I launched a distillery. Life got pretty amazing after that. I refer to this year as the year everything changed. I sleep better. I weigh less. I talk to my wife and friends more. I worry about more things, but I care about life more.
Hang in there.A series of bad decisions on my part in life and love (suffice to say I’ve no real qualification and a child I’ve never seen, a divorce and a child I hardly see) have dogged my life. However even though sometimes it gets me down and its a struggle, for the most part I remain pretty upbeat. I’ve not moved on to a greater thing career wise. I am an office schlub but the pay is ok and rights in the UK are on my side with employment. I have vague plans about starting a web comic of my own but before that happens I have a shit ton of procrastination to finish.
But my attitude is we have one life to live (not that YOLO crap), I mean we make mistakes, we fuck up, we carry on going and sometimes we learn, sometimes we don’t. But each mistake or trouble put me where I am now. That’s with a wife who is amazing and a whole range of new friends that make me feel amazing.
The issue is never the problems we face but how we face them. I’ve had some shit times but each one of those was key to putting me on the path I am on and I would not change it for the world. No doubt the future holds further shit for me, remember that learning part, but I’ve always ended up somewhere interesting as a result.I was a fresh-faced college grad working my first job in LA as a Story Executive (a pretty BS title anyways) when the 2007 WGA writer’s strike happened. My boss didn’t fire me, but let me know he couldn’t afford to pay me anymore. I hated the job, hated wearing heels to work every day, hated having to deal with stuffy executives all day, but man, the money was nice. I ended up broke and living on the couch cushions of my friend’s dead grandmother’s apartment in San Francisco. (She’d been gone a while, it’s cool. It wasn’t haunted, though we did find some Nazi stuff.)
I worked for Apple for a while and for a small knitting/dye store where I learned tons of stuff about dying and fabric manipulation but would never advance in either company without drinking the koolaid. I convinced myself I was in love with a guy back in Los Angles and moved back down. It didn’t hurt that there were zero film industry jobs in the Bay Area and I had made some new contacts in LA.
The very night I moved back, I met his new girlfriend who is now his fiance. After the initial oh-shit-I-fucking-hate-you, we eventually became good friends and it was at her urging that I published my first book. Now, I’ve published five, and am a steadily working prop master for indie films. I’m not rich, will probably never be, but I love my job and love writing.
Do I wish I had more money? Do I wish I didn’t work 12 hour days? Do I wish I could fly back to see my parents more often? Of course. But last week, I had a 15 on 15 Nerf war with my awesome nerdy LA friends. I’ve had dinner with my greatest childhood hero. And tomorrow I leave for (exotic!) Bakersfield to work on a film with A-list actors. And that’s pretty rad.
Life is insanely crazy. I’m never sure if I made all of the right decisions. I think I made the best ones I knew how. And I’m still floundering a bit but man, what a story it will make!
Kaidah · 71 weeks agoI wasn’t really shat on by the universe, but much like the birth of your daughter was for you the impending birth of my first son was the catalyst for a major positive change in my life.
I was once the manager of two gas stations for a local chain and I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t making much, but it was regular and allowed us to do pretty much what we liked. Then my fiance (now ex-wife) got pregnant. I was 23 and we were living in my dad’s basement. The people I’d worked for at the same salary for over two years wouldn’t even discuss a raise with me. Needless to say, I was crapping my pants about how I was going to support my new family. About a month later I was offered a job with the maintenance company that serviced our pumps. I didn’t know squat about gas pumps, and it was for less money per hour but with better benifits and regular raises. I was comfortable where I was, and knew if I cocked up the new job there’d be no going back. Many a sleepless night followed
I then made the scariest decision of my life, and havent’ regretted it since. That was 13 years ago next week.
I took to the job like a fish to water and succeed beyond everyone’s expectations (including my own). My first year I made more than I ever had before (God bless overtime pay), and somewhere around year 7 I paid more in taxes than I had made a year managing those two stations. All because I was going to be a dad and had a family to support. It’s not glamorous, the hours are long, it’s often physically demanding and my clothes constantly reek of gasoline…but I love it and have never once been ashamed of telling my kids about what I do.