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Give em the bird..

Yes that stupid bird was important. Juni v Gingi is a very long arc that I'm sprinkling here and there. Juniper is that type of person that is incredibly blasé with concern to what's important to others, but then becomes hyper bent-out-of-shape when her own efforts or feelings aren't immediately catered to. She's dumbed down everyone's expectations of her so much the smallest action on her part should be met with uproarious praise and adulation. This leads to Ginger's reaction. She's a vet. Just like any of you who have your own Junipers. Her reaction is "I have a full life with other things going on. I am not your emotional doormat and I'm not recognizing this tantrum." Juniper, you make the effort. YOU have to follow-through. 

95 thoughts on “Give em the bird..

    1. That sounds great. Let’s get Juni into a photography career. We’ve already seen she can do it, and she enjoys it. Just needs to, you know, focus.

      …I assure you absolutely no pun was intended there.

  1. I love the detail on the bottom of the stand, where there is obviously a place to put batteries. I can’t wait to see what the bird says/does/annoys the ever loving crap out of. Good times will be had… with a vengence.

    1. What is it that Ginger did wrong here? She’s a busy mom that doesnt need *another* noise maker in her home, and instead of getting side tracked by Junipers attempt at a fight, Ginger redirects Junipers energy into spending time with the boys. It seems like Ginger handled that masterfully. Espescially considering that most sisters treat Juni as just garbage to be dealt with, Ginger still allows and *encourages* Juni to have a connection with her nephews.

        1. Frankly the way the entire family treats Juniper is disgusting and any actually supportive family would have actually helped her. I can’t be the only person to look at her and see an abuse victim, can I?

          Damnit can someone find the bit where Juniper buys that toy. I’m having trouble locating it.

        2. If I’m going to be completely honest every time Juniper comes up I start to feel ill at the way the artist is talking about her. Something tells me they have their own Juniper and their handling of the character is to justify their own actions towards that person in their life. The constant insults from her family, the way she’s described in the cast page and the author blurbs… it’s just awful.

        3. Help her? Are you serious? If you really had family members who are like Juniper you’d know: You can’t help them. She’s not abused. Don’t be ridiculous. You can love them and try to be supportive but help them? It’s impossible. You end up enabling them. Especially if you’re giving them money or a place to stay. They just end up mooching off you like drunken leeches and nothing fucking changes. They need to want to change. They have to help themselves.
          I have a cousin like Juniper. We used to be good friends but she was too busy partying to ever get her life together. I have no doubt that Juniper bled her family dry of sympathy a loooooong time ago, ’cause I know what dealing with that kinda person is like. Frankly I think Juniper’s family is quite nice to her given the circumstances, but then this *is* a work of fiction and Juniper is given more redeeming qualities than most of the real life people she represents. Abused! Gimme a fuckin’ break. What a laugh.

        4. She shows all the stereotypical behaviours of abuse victims – emotional problems, pathological promiscuity, alcohol abuse – and given that her father is a cop either he’s too dimwitted to notice it or… well. I did find it quite odd that the artist established that he made sure to have one on one time with every one of his daughters.

          Of course I’m hyper-vigilant for these kinds of implications whether they’re intended or not. Comes with the territory I suppose.

        5. The other explanations for her behaviour are almost as bad – I have a person in my life with similar issues who, while not abused, has suffered from bipolar for a very long time without diagnosis and in retrospect the drugs she took and booze she drank were obvious self-medication. There are many ways to help someone fight problems like this, but the one thing that never works, NEVER helps, is to insult, degrade and humiliate them. You cannot treat them as examples of ‘what not to do’, you cannot treat them as trash and you cannot stigmatise their coping mechanisms. If that is how you treat them – honestly they’ll likely have a better chance of healing if you just disappeared and never entered their life again.

        6. Shane, thank you for taking the time to expand so significantly on your post. While for this strip I stand by my evaluation of Ginger’s responses to Juniper in this strip, you have raised a lot of very solid and well presented points. I am going to consider them for a while. There is an alternative diagnosis which hasn’t been proposed, and so I ask, do you think Juniper could have borderline personality?

        7. There are reasons behind everyone’s behavior but at the end of the day people make their own choices. I believe that because I want to believe in free will. I mean, the alternative is that no one can be blamed or held accountable for anything. It sounds like you want to absolve Juniper from her poor life choices and blame her family for them.

          Apparently we both have someone we know we’re inclined to think of as a Juniper, but we have very different ideas about who they are. I don’t want to put words in your mouth but you talk like Juniper is a lost soul. Someone who the world has wronged and unjustly suffers constant criticism/insults from those closest to her. I meanwhile see parallels to my cousin. Someone who is so selfish and lazy they wouldn’t even make the bare minimum of effort to help themselves, no matter how much time or money or tears her family gave to keep giving her more chances. Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle, but I still can’t bring myself to sympathize with a Juniper. Not anymore. Not after all the tears I’ve cried from being betrayed again and again by someone I was trying to help. Juniper’s wear you down with their bullshit until you finally say “Enough.” I definitely wouldn’t side with a Juniper over a Ginger, someone responsible who takes care of others and can be relied upon.
          The events of the comic make it seem like Juniper (all the characters really, Chris is an engaging writer) grows as a person. Juniper has been shown in a less shitty light, but given my personal experiences I don’t blame her family for having acquired low expectations or being wary. There reaches a point where someone has thrown away all credibility and for you to be all like: “Oh it’s not their fault. They just need understanding.” Makes me want to laugh. Or cry. Maybe both.

        8. ‘Poor life choices’ don’t happen in a vacuum. I’m not blaming the family for Juniper’s actions, I’m blaming them for their spectacularly shitty reactions to them and their complete failure as a support network.

          It can be a legitimate choice to cut off a toxic relationship because you don’t have the emotional strength to keep supporting someone. What is NOT legitimate is to then take that experience and apply it to everybody else without question or consideration. One is an example of self-care. The other is just being a grade A asshole.

        9. It’s interesting how fully committed the support for Juniper’s position is, while there isn’t an apparent consideration for what the family has been through. Ginger adopted and is *raising* the child Juniper gave birth to. There is clearly much more to that story which hasn’t been told, but already established is that Juniper has a history of playing favourites with Ginger’s kids. Why the child was adopted is the case isn’t fully fleshed out.

          I hear you saying the family must bear the burden of being experts in handling and supporting a difficult personality. Why does not that person also bear responsibility for their effects on their family? At the very least they should be striving not to perpetuate the same problems to the next generation.

        10. Sorry Me et al. for some reason I can’t reply to your post directly.
          1. IIRC Ginger was the one to convince Juniper to carry that child to term and give it to her to raise.
          2. Juniper isn’t so much playing favourites as trying to have a relationship with the child she gave birth to – she may not be raising that child, but instinct is a powerful thing. Guilt is too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Juniper is carrying some extra-heavy guilt on giving up that child, even though she did not even want to have them.
          3. I’m not saying they need to be experts Me et al. I’m saying they need to NOT be an extra weight of negativity and humiliation on Juniper’s back, which is in no way difficult. Just… don’t be an asshole to your family member. Don’t insult her any time you see her, treat her like trash, etc.

        11. Interesting, There appears to be a depth limit on replies.

          Ginger stepped up *after* Juniper said she “didn’t want him”. That’s not a lot to go on, but it reads more like a post-birth decision than a pro-(life/choice) debate. This does however open up the possibility of Juniper having suffered post-partum, but again we don’t have any real information to go on in the comic. However, Rusche’s own commentary from that time supports the idea that Juniper is apparently living her life more by choice than by tragedy. Juniper attacking Ginger’s role in Thorpe’s life doesn’t win her any sympathy. Juniper’s guilt over it all certainly makes a lot of sense, but she is now stuck in a position where she is responsible for how her actions would affect all of Ginger’s kids. Thus far it’s apparently a secret that he was adopted, so it would be hurtful to play favourites. That said, kids are quite resilient and an open honest discussion could probably be quite healthy. Juniper is not shaping up to have a healthy discussion about the subject, and since she chose to give him up for adoption (not fostering), she chose not to have the right to start that discussion.

          I don’t have anything more to contribute to this, however I do want to say your sympathy for people is an admirable trait and I really respect and appreciate this discussion with you Shane. I wish I could still have that much sympathy for people like Juniper.

          Sources:

          http://shotgunshuffle.com/comic/hard-feelings-part-1/
          http://shotgunshuffle.com/comic/hard-feelings-part-2/

        12. Urgh, my first draft didnt post. Sorry if this ends up more blunt. And yeah, I think there is a depth limit to replies.

          In various commentaries for Rusche has fleshed out that Juniper has lived as a burden on her family for a very long time. Then in “Hard Feelings” it’s established that Ginger offered to care for ‘Thorpe *after* Juniper said she didn’t want him. Maybe that could have been a pro-(life/choice) debate, but it really doesnt read like it in the comic. There is admitedly very little to work with though. That Juniper then put him up for Ginger to adopt, not just foster, further distanced her from him. What is not available at this time is any information regarding the possibility of post-partum depression in Juniper. However, what we’ve seen of her so far is more that she’s a user of people, and at christmas she was seeking to use him to try and ablate her own guilt.

          The kids apparently don’t know that ‘Thorpe is adopted, so for Juni to risk throwing that grenade around is not fair to them regardless of her own feelings. And since she accepted Ginger’s offer and went full adoption, she absolutely gve up the right to approach him. That said, kids are resilient, and I’m sure they could handle a healthy discussion about this all just fine. What we have seen of Juniper’s behaviour however, does not give me faith that it would be a healthy discussion.

          That’s the last I have to contribute to this. Thank you Shane for the respectful discussion, and for taking the time to respond. Your ability to maintain so much sympathy for Juniper characters is admirable, and I wish I still could.

          Sources
          http://shotgunshuffle.com/comic/hard-feelings/
          http://shotgunshuffle.com/comic/hard-feelings-part-2/

          Here is juniper ‘helping’ her sister. Nothing technically wrong, but while going above and beyond she also turned the situation for her own benefit.
          http://shotgunshuffle.com/comic/buyers-market/

        13. I don’t, I just find it odd that the artist felt the need to establish it instead of it just being a given.

        14. Wasn’t it established that Herb doesn’t spend one on one time with his daughters? Because Pumpkin felt like she was always just the tagalong to whatever he was doing with her big sisters?

        15. Parents engaging 1:1 with their kids is definitely not a given. I have to fight tooth and nail for my kids access, and his mom is actively trying to take away the time we have that is just 1:1 (i have 2, she is only the ones mom. I struggle always with my kids getting time together and the one getting my attention all to himself. My other kid is with me more). Knowing the bits of his RL story that Rusche shares, I absolutely get why it’s written into the story. That it was also a relevant dialogue between Pumpkin and the Chief, also supports the inclusion. Arguably it’s support for the idea that the family upbringing was overall loving and supportive. Consideration of this against Juniper’s behaviour is an exercise for the reader.

        16. Just to throw out another viewpoint: some people suck. Odd you’re not ok with Juniper being bad but easily accept it could be caused by someone else being bad? We know enough about her to know that the problems she presents are her own actions, she grew up very similar to her sisters, has a similar personality, and simply took that personality and went a different direction with it. All the sisters have some sort of self centered issues. They’re all not healthy in some way like normal people are. Your views show some hypocrisy in placing fault. Not every person with issues is purely a victim. Not every person with issues is without fault. People come in all shades.

          It seems you’re inserting way too much of your own personal history and projecting it onto someone else’s story. That’s my opinion.

          That said, I’ve dealt with both kinds. Some people just have their own issues and it’s not caused by the world at large. It’s also hypocritical as I said to assume that the problem person is innocent and some other person was bad instead. It’s just shifting blame inconsistently. People are bad. Sometimes it’s the problem person. Sometimes not.
          This however is a work of fiction, that’s a comedy with family drama inserted. We have word of god so far, and he may or may not later take it in one direction or another. So far what’s cannon is cannon though and blaming the author for your own history is not great imo.

          That said, you do you. I simply disagree with your stance. Nothing you’ve said is necessarily wrong. But I disagree as I’ve outlined.

        17. You can only lead a horse back to water so many times before it dies of thirst. We don’t know what happened to Juniper, or even Anise for that matter. Perhaps she followed a path that she thought was the way to greener pastures by jumping over a one way fence.

          Some people, no matter how many life savers you throw at them, will not look at the situation well enough to even grasp onto one in a storm at sea after having fallen overboard. And one thing taught to Lifeguards is how to handle a person who is resistant to be saved. Otherwise the rescuer and the rescuee will both need to be saved.

          But as for the story, all of the girls represent one of the seven deadly sins.

          Now, as for when the bird was purchased, it was after Ellie and Quinn get to the Toys-R-Us and after Finger shows up to pry two Lego sets out of their dead hands, lassos Pumpagon (my current at this time avatar (click on the name, it will take you to a few pages before Ginger appears)) and Ellie fighting off the nerds on the toy house. So go from there and read through past a point where Ginger yells at Cinnamon to stop looting

    2. Ginger didn’t do anything wrong. What the hell are you talkin’ about? Unless you mistakenly said Ginger when you meant Juniper.

    3. For what it’s worth, I agree. We’ve never seen Juniper do anything destructive. We’ve only been told that she’s awful. Like “I know it SEEMS like we’re being awful and mistreating her, but trust us, she’s actually very bad and deserves all of it.” All that we’ve actually seen of Juniper’s behavior is that she drinks and smokes and has sex and one time she gave a child up for adoption. Ye gods almighty imagine if she had had an abortion instead.

      But we HAVE seen her show up to every family function, she showed up when Ellie needed help and knocked it out of the friggin’ park, and we’ve seen her be kind to her nephews even as Ginger punishes her for it. If Juniper is supposed to be so terrible, I just don’t see it.

      What I do see is someone who has emotional needs that aren’t being met. The way she was so over the moon after a simple “good job” from Ellie makes me think she’s starved for validation. Probably has been for a long time. I can easily imagine that, as a teenager, she probably didn’t have to emotional maturity or context to be able to recognize that need, much less to articulate it, so she didn’t know how to get that need met at home. When guys started showing sexual interest in her, she was vulnerable to that. She would easily fall into manipulative relationships that exploit her for sex in exchange for validation. This tastes like dick but it FEELS like love. The substance abuse often comes with those predatory relationships, either coming from the predator as a way to control her or as self medication. SO now she smokes and drinks and has sex to vill an emotional void she never fully understood and her whole family treats this behavior as a moral failing that makes her a “bad person” even though the only person it affects is herself.

      1. First of all, hello Miss Andi. Always nice to hear from you.

        Getting into the actual discussion… If I’m honest I really don’t see the rampant negativity from her family that people keep describing. I mean there’s Ginger tearing into her on Black Friday but that’s more of a ‘my sons don’t know one of them is adopted and I won’t have you messing up my family by giving them reason to suspect one of them is before I think their emotionally mature enough to handle it’ kind of thing rather than a criticism of Juniper personally. Plus we’re supposed to sympathize with Juniper during that scene and see Ginger as overreacting. Then there’s Ginger making some passive aggressive at LoveCon criticizing Ellie for encouraging Juniper to be seductive, but other than that I don’t see Juni’s sisters treating her any different than they do each other.

        And to be fair to Ginger it only makes sense for her to have a tenser relationship with Juniper since she seems to base a lot of her self image on being a mother and having Juniper be dismissive of that without putting in any of the hard work of raising a child probably sticks in Ginger’s craw. Plus Ginger literally uprooted her family and moved them to Florida from Arizona just because Juniper got pregnant so it’d only be natural for her to be somewhat resentful, even if just subconsciously.

        Now, on the issue of Juniper did nothing wrong besides her vices… She stole Quinn’s boyfriend in high school, she tried to steal Ian, she broke into a store rather than wait in line, and she’s a bum check artist because there a sign warning about her at the bar in the hotel Ellie stayed at. (Granted that last one is an unflattering extrapolation based on evidence, but not an unreasonable one I think.) All of which affect people other than herself. I suppose it’s debatable whether becoming pregnant does or not. And it’s an nitpick but for the sake of clarity I’ll point out that Juniper was not at the twins birthday and in fact her mother had no idea where she was.

        On the plus side I’ll point out that Juniper has attended at least one AA meeting, so good for her. Hmm, now that I think of it I don’t think we ever see Juniper drink anything at LoveCon…

        Finally, on the origins of Juniper’s party girl behavior… It’s always been my assumption based on what I’ve seen in the comic that partying started as a means of escaping the boredom of having to spend all her time with her family. And from there I suppose I figured it devolved into a sensation junky situation rather than being the result of an outside party. I suppose the term is ‘sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’

        I will say I find your explanation much more, compelling feels like the wrong word but I’ll go with it for lack of a better one, than the original post which I felt… needlessly implicated Herb. I suppose just using the word abuse without further specification just puts me in the mindset of teacher, parent, etc.but then again it also puts me in the mindset of Juniper being in the ballpark of about ten or less when this occurred which might explain my aversion to giving the idea consideration due to the inherent abhorrence of it.

        1. Hello, Shineyorkboy. It’s good to be heard from.

          I think your reading of Juniper is valid, but there are a few things I would contest. First, We haven’t seen a lot of interactions between Juniper and the other sisters except for Ginger being consistently hostile. She belittled her during the Black Friday arc (even before she showed up, let alone before the adoption talk). And we didn’t get much of the other sisters interacting with her at Love Con except for Juniper sobbing when Ellie said she was proud of her and Ginger telling Ellie not to encourage her. We recently (well, recent within comic time) saw Pumpkin called her trash when she arrived at the party. So we don’t have a lot of examples of her familial relationships, but the ones we do have paint a negative picture. “No one’s ever said that to me before” was legitimately heartbreaking for me.

          As for the adoption… it’s a complete fluster cluck to be sure. Open adoptions are hard enough as it is, but asking Juniper to see Tag at every family function and pretend that he isn’t adopted certainly has to be harder than anything I”VE ever done. I cannot begin to fathom the depth of that pain. And it wasn’t even Juniper’s idea. It was Ginger’s. Juniper said “I don’t remember asking you to volunteer, Ginger. You were the one who suggested that you should adopt Tag.” This gives me the impression that Ginger decided for herself that Juniper couldn’t raise Tag and took it upon herself to uproot her family and transplant them all to Florida to adopt Tag and what Juniper wanted was not at all a consideration. I would be very surprised if there wasn’t some amount of pressure on Juniper from Mom or even some of the other sisters.

          As to what she’s done wrong? Well…

          “She stole Quinn’s boyfriend in high school, she tried to steal Ian…” Let me put this out there in no uncertain terms. You cannot steal a boyfriend.Boyfriends are people who make their own decisions and Zane made a bad one. We don’t know if Juniper knew that Zane was dating Quinn, but Zane sure as hell knew. As for Ian, I don’t recall if the scene in the nightclub went beyond “He’s cute.” and I can’t check because I’m not a patron anymore, but as I recall, Ian and Quinn never actually started dating. And if they did, he was clearly not invested in the relationship.

          “she broke into a store rather than wait in line” And that was probably the LEAST horrible thing the sisters did that night.

          “and she’s a bum [cheque] artist because there a sign warning about her at the bar in the hotel Ellie stayed at.” Fair point. Granted.

          “And it’s an nitpick but for the sake of clarity I’ll point out that Juniper was not at the twins birthday and in fact her mother had no idea where she was” Neither was Tarra or Ginger or Herb. And it was made clear that it was uncertain if Ellie was even going to be there. So I think it’s fair to assume the family as whole wasn’t taking that party too seriously.

          To be absolutely clear, I think your read of Juniper is completely valid. But I also think that Shane’s read of Juniper is also valid and is the one I am more sympathetic to. And even more than Ginger or any other sister, I think replies in the comments like “Help her? Are you serious? If you really had family members who are like Juniper you’d know: You can’t help them. She’s not abused. Don’t be ridiculous. You can love them and try to be supportive but help them? It’s impossible.” are deeply distressing.

          Juniper is a character we actually haven’t seen much of. What we HAVE seen fits pretty neatly into a “trashy sister” archetype. The kinds of scenes we see her in play well as cartoon logic wacky hijinks where “the slutty one” is just the kind of hijinks she brings to the scene. The characterization of Juniper as irredeemable is a whole lot of projection. Chris’s own characterization of this scene as a tantrum that Ginger is right to deflect rubs me the wrong way. His suggestion that it’s entirely up to Juniper to do the hard work of repairing the relationship with her family does, too. But it’s really the “if you have your own, you know” attitude that gets me the worst.

          Do we? Do WE know that? Because I don’t know that. I have my own Juniper. Well, HAD my own juniper. Her name was Holly. She’s dead now. Heroin overdose. I just don’t believe that there was nothing anyone could have done to help her. And I can’t imagine how anyone could see Juniper and think that she can’t be helped. The poor woman just needs a little validation and Ginger seems committed to denying her a healthy place to get it.

        2. Well that’s certainly a lot to think about. And after several days of thinking I can’t really say I’ve reached any sort of satisfactory conclusion. Unfortunately I feel like this is one of those topics that doesn’t have any easy answers and especially doesn’t lend itself to a one size fits all type of solution.

          I’ll point out that I’m not the best person to speak with authority on this subject since I don’t technically have a Juniper in my life and my personality doesn’t really lend itself towards getting close with, well people in general, but specifically someone with Juniper’s behaviors is not someone I’d want to spend a lot of time around.

          That being said I feel that while there is a degree of moral obligation to help a self destructive person change I also feel there’s a limit to how much you can do if they’re unwilling to change. I don’t think you can really force them to improve without a level of violation of their personal liberty that I’m not comfortable with.

          This is a bit of a tangent, but I just wanted to point out that I’ve kind of come to see Juniper as a parallel to what would have happened to Ellie if she didn’t have David to give her a kick in the pants and get her to start taking life seriously. And I think there’s considerable groundwork, mostly in the Patreon stuff granted, for the idea of Ellie becoming Juniper’s David.

          On the topic of discussing how we discuss Juniper… I agree that the initial response to Shane was not of a nature which encouraged reasoned debate. However, I’m going to disagree with your interpretation of Chris’ statements. I read it less as ‘Ginger is 100% morally correct’ and more as ‘Ginger is displaying behavior typical of someone dealing with another person that they have a long history of negative interactions with’. I am very willing to believe that Juniper has a history of crying wolf about getting her act together to the extent that Ginger has become jaded to the idea that ‘this’ is the time that will actually result in something positive.

          Something like fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Second chances are all well and good, but I have a feeling Juniper used up all of her’s a long time ago.

          I will mention that I wouldn’t have given Chris’ rant too much thought if you hadn’t brought it up. So I’d like to look at this as a good example of why it’s important to have dissenting voices to avoid excessive group think.

  2. Kudos for drawing anatomically correct feet on the parrot toy. A large fraction of parrot art, including works that carefully get everything else just right, still mess up and draw “chicken feet” with three toes forward and one toe back. Real parrot feet have two toes facing forward and two toes facing back.

    1. Was going to stay mum, because that’s not a detail *I* would have picked up on, but Ichneumon makes a great point. There are things in art (movies, tv, stories) that can completely break the immersion of the viewer. An absurdist comic is one of the last places I could (or would) carry those expectations with me, and yet it’s that level of detail and passion that makes your work, Rusche, such a joy to follow.

      To provide emphasis to the kudos, via anecdote:
      In a FarSide book, Gary Larson related a story about getting called out for drawing bananas growing pointing down. He *knew* that they grew up, but had still made the mistake. That it stuck with him so much that he included in his retrospective. So be proud of your attention to detail Rusche, you do amazing work. (and yes I mean I get amazed by it. I loved learning about the women’s work battleship edition. All these little tidbits get locked on my brain. I wish high school had be even half as effective.)

  3. There’s going to be several unrelated drama-bombs going off at this party and it’s going to turn into Dramageddon.

  4. Omg, unless someone else has messed with the bird since they got it from the store, wouldn’t the last thing recorded on it be Ginger saying Juniper didn’t want Tag? (Back in “hard feelings” part one and two, in the archive).

    1. …oh boy.

      Um.

      And if she actually sets that off, there, during the party….

      …ooooooooh boy.

      Excellent catch, Anonymouse; we can only hope it has been sufficiently tampered with since.

  5. I’m really wondering what Juniper considers spending quality time with small boys with a vengeance, and I’m wondering if it’s going to be a foreground or background show.

    1. For me, “with a vengeance,” includes things like teaching my kids fun/dark things to say. So for example, when they want my attention to show me something, “watch me,” /can/ work, but yelling, “WITNESS ME,” always gets my attention immediately. And it sets them up to REALLY enjoy watching fury road in another decade.

    1. It was only a couple of days ago that Ellie ignored him in favor of David. I’m sure she’ll need to get on her computer eventually and then we’ll see how she handles things.

    1. This is a point we have considered on at least one point in time previously. I believe it goes back to discovering Juniper passed out in a dumpster behind the Bumble Beats music store. We believe she has one other, similar red dress with a kind of black piping.

    1. What with the anime, cosplay, and gaming, I would have imagined that Pumpkin had that all sewn up. Along with also being young enough to get the nephews memes. Maybe down some points for being a teenager with her own focus, but I’d be surprised if she’s not the funnest aunt.

      And Ginger is mom, I doubt she cares that she’s judged against the funness of the aunts. re:cigarettes and booze, just like the rest of the family, the nephews are well old enough to already have their own history with Junioer. She only bought them one gift, to share, for christmas.

    2. You guys I’m guessing have never had one of those uncles, aunts or cousins that was of legal age and little boundary. I’m talking not just the fun aunt, but the cool aunt. For me it was an Uncle. Got the 5th Graders taking the 1st Graders stuff and nobody in admin seems to care, my Uncle Marco showed me the ropes. Middle School Girls starting to look pretty, but I don’t know what to say or do; my Uncle Marco’s advice left with a damn near harem by the time I became a HS Frosh. High School getting rough and I could use a break, my Uncle Marco could be counted on to provide a cold brew and a non-judgmental ear.

      So long as Juniper doesn’t betray that trust, she’s going to become that kind of Aunt.

  6. Next page is just gonna be a montage of Juniper dragging the boys through a series of questionable bonding activities, Juniper looking increasingly manic/frantic and the boys looking increasingly nonplussed/traumatized.

    Also throwing my two cents in: from what I’ve seen so far, Juniper was a bored high schooler who wanted to do things that weren’t board game family night every night. She wound up sleeping around and stealing boyfriends, which resulted in a pregnancy and forced her to drop out of school. She didn’t want to keep the baby, and her sister adopted him. (This may have been part of a power game between her mom and sister, as her sister’s family moved back from Arizona to Florida to complete the adoption, iirc.)

    Not sure if she left home willingly or if her mom tossed her out, or some combination of the two. It’s unclear of her current living situation, her family thinks she lives in a ditch and we saw her sleeping in a dumpster (across the street from her sister’s apartment to boot.) She only seems to own one dress and jacket. We saw her at an AA meeting and know she smokes, which is very common in alcoholics and recovering alcoholics. She has an Instagram and Amazon wishlist but we don’t know of any other source of income.

    Her responses may be lackluster but when her family needs her she comes through (talking to hundreds of men at Lovecon, climbing through the ceilings to make sure she gets a ticket for her mom’s Christmas gift.) She’s deluded about her status as Tag’s family member.

    My conclusion: she’s a homeless high school dropout who owns nothing but the clothes on her back. She’s a teen mom that didn’t want the responsibility of raising a child, but now has to see the kid happy in someone else’s family very frequently. Her support system cut her off and treats her like garbage (calling her trash to her face.) She struggles with alcoholism and has wound up on the wrong side of the law more than once.

    I wasn’t really going anywhere with this, just laying things out as I see them. I don’t get the Juniper hate, but I understand if it’s different for people who know someone like that irl. I’m not gonna judge her until I see her do something actually bad.

    “She stole Quinn’s boyfriend!” Lots of high school girls do that.
    “She said she didn’t want Tag!” Lots of teen moms give their kids up for adoption.
    “She’s an alcoholic!” Lots of people are.
    “She showed up to the party in a muzzle and a cop car!” Have you MET the Buckingham sisters?

    1. It still puzzles me how Juniper can be the worst one when her competition includes a sociopath who planned to use people’s brains to mine cryptocurrency and a bioterrorist who unleashed a plague of mutants on a crowded shopping mall.

      1. I guess it’s because she’s realistically flawed instead of wacky fictional hijinks flawed, but honestly that’s why I like her better.

      2. Of course, now that I’ve had some time to think about it–one of the advantages of a month between strips–didn’t Juni take out Anise’s eye at Thanksgiving one year? Hence the sporks?

        1. Someone took out Anise’s eye with a fork. Was it Juni? (dumpster dives the archives…)
          Thanksgiving:

          http://shotgunshuffle.com/comic/family-birthmark/

          And Birthday cake:
          http://shotgunshuffle.com/comic/mob-mentality/

          No clarification on /who/ held the eye-fork… but wait, there are FORKS for the CAKE! So presumably, assuming this isn’t contradictory, it means the eye-fork wielder missed the birthday party…
          Candidates:
          Juniper
          Ginger
          Tarragon
          or *Gasp*
          Dad

  7. There is another component to some RL Junipers–impulse control, followed by guilt. (Hey, Chris, how did Anise lose her eye?) Sadly, the impulse/guilt cycle often results in deflecting blame to those who call them on their actions. Ginger/Juniper interactions. Few faster ways to alienate loved ones than blaming them for your behavior.
    Incidentally, loving support doesn’t help. Clinical diagnosis, therapy, training, meds help. Harsh reminders of culpability are often necessary to break cycle of denial/excuse.

  8. Should specify POOR impulse control or lack of control. Alcohol/ drugs only help denial of guilt while simultaneously impairing exacerbating already poor executive function. Kindness in such cases MUST include truth-telling. “YOU did this.”

    1. Well, considering what one of the kids has severe asthma, and the SARS-CoV-2 has hit their area in the past two weeks. Parenting duties may have increased and encroached on artistic time. Unsure, unknown. However, I do believe that we have an inkling of an assumption that Chris will put the kids first.

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