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Hard Feelings Part 2

That damn back-sassin' bird.

238 thoughts on “Hard Feelings Part 2

  1. Oh man… that… that’s just really harsh. Juniper may not be “mom of the year” (by any means)… but Ginger throwing that in her face, is definitely hitting below the belt.

    And those birds, man, those birds.

    1. Idk, Juniper seems like she’s (very weakly) trying to attack Ginger’s legitimacy as Tag’s mother when, given all we’ve seen, she really has no place and no right to.

      1. most of you are looking at this from an outsiders prospective… thinking she is a horrible person for dumbing her kid like this… doing the math and some huge guess work I am thinking she was what… 16-20 when she had this kid… please tell me how great you were at dealing with crap at this age… now imagine if your mistake was large enough that you got a daily reminder… every day, all day, and even if you want to fix it you cant because someone else already stepped in and solved it years ago so now your just stuck being the person who fucked it up…. that seems to me where she is now

        1. Man…there are too many feels going on here…

          I really don’t even know what to say at this point. I can see both sides of the story and therefore I don’t feel the desire nor need to stick up for either of them, or to disagree with either of them.

          This scene is almost too realistic for me that I find myself avoiding conversation about it as if I was actually there.

        2. oh merde. This time, it’s hit the fan, high speed, full oscillation. No way a farmer against city hall can top this effect.

          Raw emotions, raw nerves, extremely raw self evaluation, raw harsh skeletons in the closet breaking free zombie style via stupid kids toy.

        3. This is actually a really interesting point. The impression I’m getting from the exchange in this comic is that Juniper’s original “plan” was to carry the child to term, then put it up for adoption and have it magically go away and never have to think about it again- but then Ginger took Juniper completely off guard by volunteering to adopt Juniper’s baby. From Juniper’s perspective at the time, he was probably a problem to make go away, but it seems Ginger immediately recognized him as a member of her family to be protected. So now the child Juniper thought would just go away and never bother her again- indeed be impossible for her to make contact with- is living with her sister where she has to watch him grow up and constantly be reminded that she abandoned a human being. I can totally see Juniper having gotten blindsided by Ginger volunteering to adopt after Juniper expressed an intention to put the child up, and at that point what was she gonna do? Say no? Once Ginger made the offer, Juniper was in a position of having to either step up and show her family she could be Mom on the spot, or give the child away to her sister; and even if she sensed that Ginger raising Tag wasn’t what she wanted, and even if she had had the strength to attempt to raise the child, she probably felt she’d already committed herself and couldn’t back out because of family pressure to do what was best for Tag. I’m not saying the family would have refused to help Juniper raise Tag, but I can totally see their help during the pregnancy being mixed with a constant barrage of criticism for having gotten herself pregnant, and Juniper may have thought that adoption, even with Tag going to her sister, was the way to escape from that, rather than the way to ensure that would never ever stop ever no matter what.

        4. I really don’t know what to think about how things played out during Juniper’s pregnancy, but I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t have been decided months before Tag was born. As far as I understand with adoption agencies, they start vetting potential parents before the child is born, and with Herb as a cop (even if not chief yet), he’d be likely at least be friend-of-a-friend level with people in family services and could easily find out the routes to go for getting his grandchild placed in a good home and I’d expect that would’ve been all dealt with before the birth.

          Now the thing I see with Juniper is the apathy, not an overly large backbone, and the additional beatdown of the situation would make her agree to whatever Ginger, Rosemary, or Herb said was what she needed to do. Not that I think they were wrong about Tag being adopted, though now that you mention it I can see how Juniper might’ve had a preference for the adoption to be away from family, but I can also see how Rosemary and Ginger would’ve been against that.

        5. I have no idea how you got that impression. With the accusatory nature of those questions and her reaction to them it seems more like she gave birth, skipped out on her child, and left her family to take care of the child. It also seems like that caused some serious issues getting him proper medical treatment without the mother present to consent. I’m not thinking she was bullied into giving up her child at this point. With what little we’ve seen of this it looks more like Juniper walked out afterward. It doesn’t seem like she had a plan and it doesn’t seem like Ginger adopting the child interfered with this plan because it didn’t exist. I may be wrong… but that’s a far more likely conclusion in my opinion.

        6. Juniper was a pregnant high school girl that no one in her family had any particular belief she was going to be responsible. I don’t see them just kinda’ shrugging and thinking, “Oh I’m sure she’ll be responsible this time, let’s just leave it all up to her.”

          I don’t think Juniper was bullied, but maybe a bit suggestible. I also don’t think she would’ve wanted to keep the child herself, the only thing I could think is that she might’ve wanted to give him up for adoption with strangers so she wouldn’t have the reminder. That’s what I could see Rosemary and Ginger possibly influencing her about that she might’ve wanted to go differently.

        7. Now imagine how the kid would feel if this ever came to light. His biological mother said she didn’t want him and abandoned him. Yeah, she says she made a mistake now… but she still did it. Sometimes that horrible mistake that you made doesn’t get to be written off. Juniper is outright refusing to allow her to take the child she left to her care away from her. Ginger’s regret is starting a battle for territory that will spill over into the lives of her children. That one gift will start a fight between children, I’ve seen it, and there is no scenario where it will end well. Yeah, she was young. Her son was younger. Yes, it was a mistake but it was a decision that she made. There’s no magic wand here and if she thinks for a second that she’s going to get to walk up and say, “I’m ready to be his mother now,” and expect his adopted mother to step aside then… well we see that Juniper is not about to do that and she shouldn’t have to.

        8. Oh for goodness sake she was just trying to give him a $20 mechanical talking parrot, not kidnap him away from his home. What capacity to “refuse” Ginger does Juniper actually posses? Ginger has all the cards, legally, financially, and familially. This fight stopped being about Tag’s well being a while ago. Ginger is just taking the opportunity to act out her pent up resentment now.

        9. Depends on how old he is when that comes out. If he finds out in elementary school, then yeah that’d be bad. By late teen years he’d probably accept that she didn’t want him because she was scared and confused and didn’t have any clue what to do with him as opposed to taking it personally. All it’d take is him to have considered just how much it’d screw with his life to suddenly have to deal with a kid before he found out for him to have the basis to forgive her. Sex ed in this country tends to try to get kids to think about that, and even if that fails hearing about a female classmate in that situation is generally enough to get it across too.

          While it’s probably different with an aunt that you know, I know plenty of people who were adopted that might’ve been upset at first but ultimately shrug off if their biological parents wanted them or not. Adoptive parents are people who explicitly want the kid and want to raise them and make sure they’re healthy and happy. By the time they’re out of high school and see things happening in the adult world, see some of the comparisons of things with how other people’s families work, and just generally get some perspective, most people who were adopted that I know consider themselves lucky. I say most because I don’t know how many people I know were adopted and don’t try to grill the ones I do know about, but it’s all, and not just most, that I’ve talked to about it.

        10. THANK YOU! Some sanity among all these people sticking up for a deadbeat parent. To those saying she was trying to do anything right, she was just being selfish again. She wanted to give it to “her kid” to feel good about herself. If she wanted to do right she’d have got a gift for all of her 4 nephews and been a good aunt as that was the roll she chose.

    2. Yeah, the wall of “repeat the last question heard” birds behind her is a hell of a twist of the knife on that one.

        1. Hang on, let me go and look. I’m a bit lost.

          However, I was wondering about the pose that Juniper was captured with on the cast page. The title the slutty one juxtaposed against her holding a drink and being drunk. I mean, that didn’t seem likely at the time, but then we’re going, “Oh that’s what you mean, STARS ABOOOOVE.”

          I was wondering around today, and I’ve been thinking about the event that may have led to Juniper going down the road she traveled. I don’t think that she had booze in high school at first, but she had sex. Found out she loved it. Then I thought, perhaps there was some stigmata put on her with that. From family, classmates, whomever, she didn’t care. Probably loved how the emotions felt, how she got attention from being the middle child.

          Then the thing happened. Some guy turned on her romantic views, called her a slut after, shattered her ego, I don’t know. But I was wondering how much a part Cinnamon may have had in this. And I’m thinking before Zane came onto the stage before entering the bathroom.

          Juniper was held back for two years. Ginger’s already had Percy by this time, and might be pregnant with Amper when Juniper experiments with sex. Guessing by Cinnamon’s comments, probably heard their parents a bit and wanted to see what was so hot about it. I don’t know.

          TOG suggested that Juniper has more apathy than backbone, and I’m guessing that it turned into an emotional singularity that sucked any positive self image after the toll was paid on this road. What was it, three Wyomings and two American Samoas.

          I suppose that it doesn’t matter how much we speculate on why Juniper is at this point in life, the why’s, wherefors and how comes (pun NOT intended), until we get the information from Rusche, we won’t know.

          heh, and knowing is half the battle.

          G.I. Joe!!

        2. And we’re STILL on the Kung Pow references. Ah well…I love that movie too.


        3. I don’t think anybody has ever heard their parents have sex and decide that it’s what they want to try.


        4. I know that my parents talked about it a few times, and yeah. . . . . kind of anti climatic. Natural salt peter supposedly? But there are always exceptions to the rule, that’s one of the things that I learned in science.

  2. FIRST! Anyways, Juni needs to buy that bird for herself lol XD. I’ve also noticed that Ginger’s angry face is very reminiscent of Rosemary’s. That is a nice touch because it really brings out the “Don’t mess with me, I’m a mom” vibe.

    1. Also, I wonder if this might be the cusp of changes for Juni. It’s possible she might just fall back into her ways to forget about her poor choices, but hey time will tell.

      1. Looks the time you took to add “first” let Terra hit the comment button just a little bit faster :p

        1. It’s not hard to give up completely when even the toy parrots declare your failure to the world.

        2. Yeah, while the anger in the close-up could spur some people to improve, I’m not thinking that’s in Juniper’s psychology.

  3. So I love this comic and the first thing i do is check it when I log on for the day. But I have read the strip over and over and I mean from the First one to this one and in this:


    can anyone tell me which one is the child in question please? Cause if I followed it right it is the baby from the pregnancy that made her drop out of school… and I think the baby’s father was Zane or did I misinterpret that?

    1. Given his name us “Tag”, and looking at the boys cheek marks I’m thinking he’s the one in overalls during on grandmas knee.

      1. This, I believe, is correct; also note that li’l Tag has hair closer to Juni’s blond as opposed to the brown hair that Ginger’s kids all share. (Except for baby Ampersand, who doesn’t count on account of baby.)

        1. The boys, are:

          % (percent sign) – Percy, no more than 8 years old.
          & (Ampersand) – Amper, between 5 & 6.
          # (Number Sign (US) Hatch/Hash Sign (UK)) – Tag, around three years old.
          @ (Asperand) – Asperand, baby of the bunch.

        2. I cheated and went to yesterday’s page and searched for “Percy” and used Rusche’s comment on ages.

        3. Mr. Blue cheated and used that comment to update the information on Ginger, Juniper, Percy, Amper, Tag and well, okay. Not Asperand. ehhh. He’s going to be gettting a lot of, “HEY ASSSS perand.” in school. The kids are going to love it because they can say “ass. “

        4. I’m just impressed you keep them straight at all. They haven’t really been part of the comic in the sense that I have any idea of who they are. I pretty much have the sisters down now, but don’t ask me to identify kids. Then again, I have the same trouble with kids in my husband’s entended family (in my defense, this is about 50 people that I see only a few times a year. I could probably recognize them as someone I should know, but exactly who? Unlikely).

        5. I primarily remember the kids names because they’re picked to be similar to their cheek symbols.

          Makes me wonder if Tarra improved the ultrasounds in Shotgun Shuffle universe for Ginger & William to be able to see the symbols on the fetus or if don’t pick the name until after they’re born and they could check their cheeks.

  4. Ok, harsh but true, and the last panel adds a sudden bathos to the whole thing. It caused me a giggle in a situation where laughs are understandably in short supply. On the whole though, Juni made a good lot of her worst decisions while not in a capacity to decide which brand of ketchup would be best. It’s fairly obvious that buying her a drink always works, and that making reasoned decisions is something she may be beyond the capacity for. On the other hand I can understand that some part of her has been sober long enough today to realize her decisions up to this point have been toxic. There’s not much she could do for the kid she brought into this world that wouldn’t do some damage. Ginger’s words may come across as harsh but imagine it a different way: Imagine being the actual mother, doing all the best you can for the child while the guy who donated disappears in and out of the kid’s life, picking and choosing when they even make an effort. I have at least 2 friends I can count who have had Daddy-come-latelys who show up out of the blue after breaking the kid’s heart like “ok, I’m ready to be dad for a while again. Just kidding I’m off to disappear for a few years, causing more heartbreak!”

    1. I think you have a point, and I think it’s both about protecting Tag from heartbreak and protecting him physically as well. Kids aren’t dolls that can be put back on a shelf when you want to go out on a bender. Juniper surely has love in her heart for her son, but not enough love (or willpower) that she’s decided to make him a priority. He would have to be priority #1 if she ever wanted a maternal relationship with him. Ginger’s pretty cruel in her choice of words, but I don’t know if Juniper is the type who can get the point with anything less? We have a clear “Momma Bear” situation here, and for good reason – Ginger’s correct in that she’s made Tag her priority for years, kept him alive, healthy, and loved him for years, and watched her sister make no changes. I think it’s less about “Johnny come lately” and more about the fact that Juniper hasn’t shown any commitment to changing her lifestyle and being more responsible, so Ginger can’t risk Tag’s wellbeing over her sister’s hurt feelings.

        1. I was thinking the same thing, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that Rosemary pretty much put Juniper on house arrest once she found out she was pregnant.

        2. I still think that deserved a comeback by Ellie along the lines of, “Ok, but no promises about the time after that!”

        3. Ellie has demonstrated that she’s not too lazy to reply with sarcasm. Just maybe not to Rosemary.

        4. I think Ellie deserves a little backsassing to Rosemary, especially when it’s about a comment that’s really kinda’ insulting from her.

        5. Actually, that might have less impact that you think. I have a friend who was born legally drunk. It was the 70s, and folks were experimenting with lots of alternative medicine. The doctors, instead of giving her painkillers, gave her an alcohol IV. 18 years later, he went to Harvard.

          Now, I’m not recommending that anyone self administer in order to get a genius baby, but it also shows the amazing resilience of the human body.

    2. Bathos? You sure you got the right word, because I don’t think that the definition fits Rusche’s writing styles. Maybe I don’t understand it completely. Could you explain a bit? I’d appreciate it.

      1. Bathos is a literary term for unexpected comedy in a scene that is otherwise tragic. Essentially, I found odd humor in the bird getting the last word.

        1. You sure about that, amigo? As it was defined by Aristotle (or Plato, maybe), Bathos is basically an attempt to achieve pathos, but failing, or seeming insincere.

          Example of pathos- [My parents died when I was a kid.]
          It’s a sad statement, and elicits an emotional reaction. The speaker has achieved pathos with people who believe him/her.

          Example of bathos- [I feel like a slave- my parents make me do chores all day long. Stuff like doing the dishes and doing my laundry is hard work!]
          Everyone has to do something like that- it isn’t even difficult by any stretch of the imagination, but the speaker acts as if normal everyday chores are equivalent to slave labor. We know that these things are extremely different, and thus, the speaker loses his/her attempt at pathos, and achieves bathos and loses rapport with his/her audience.

          Hope that helped you.

        2. Maybe the term Tragicomedy might be more effective? Because when I looked up bathos earlier, it seemed that someone got a laugh because they hacked up what they were trying to accomplish through drama. That seemed to have been my interpretation. hang on.

          According to Meriam-Webster. c om.

          Bathos: ba·thos noun \ˈbā-ˌthäs\ : the sudden appearance of a silly idea or event in a book, movie discussion, etc., that is serious in tone

          Chris has been balancing serious with comedy throughout the strip damn near since day one. And with some of the new filler (CRAWL TIME, YA’LL!!) it appears that he’s been quite adept with the balance for some time.

          He’s so good at it, someone dropped the strip because of when Ellie moved in with Quinn. Chris is depicting honest situations honestly. And I think that’s why we like his work. I could go on and on, but I won’t (No the sky is not falling. The asteroid is past us for now.)

        3. Yeah, I just looked it up- seems as though that’s how Merriam-Webster defines it, but in all my life I’ve never seen the word used that way. In speech, it was the way I described it as it is in literary works. Even dictionary dot c om defines it the way I described. That’s quite odd… its a word I’m familiar with, but contains a very different meaning that I’ve always seen it with.

        4. Bathos, according to Dictionary dot com. (3/6/14)

          ba·thos [bey-thos, -thaws, -thohs] noun

          1. a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax.

          2. insincere pathos; sentimentality; mawkishness.

          3. triteness or triviality in style.

          Origin: 1630–40; -( (replaces the lowercase symbol) Greek: depth

          Can be confused: bathos, pathos.

          maudlinness, tearfulness; mush, gush, schmaltz. 3. insipidity, inanity.

        5. Willing to admit I was wrong. I commented at the wrong time of day too, when I haven’t had enough coffee to google something and make sure I got it right, despite how articulate the comment might otherwise have been.

        6. It’s not a problem. It was interesting to look up.

          Okay, I’ll admit it, I didn’t know it was something, let alone an actual thing instead of someone trying to do drama and ended up doing comedy. Unlike Leslie Nielson. But Forbidden Planet was okay. That was kind of camp.

  5. While I still think Ginger more or less forced Juniper into a corner, Juniper had to know what her “defense” in panel 1 was going to accomplish. Overall it’s still sad and I still hope this doesn’t cause Juniper to completely give up trying to keep in touch with her son. The touch of humor was good to see, a tension breaker was needed.

    1. I think Juniper is looking for something, anything, to regain some ground. She most likely feels miserable from all the shots that she’s taking, and like a fighter on the ropes, is looking for anything to swing the momentum. I doubt she thought it through. She’s just grasping for any reed, no matter how slender.

  6. ** thats just cold mate.

    Juniper has been pushed into a corner and now she’s going to lash out at anyone and everyone.

    I see her leaving pretty soon and perhaps for good. Not many people can take that kind hit and walk away. I dont just see her giving up on keeping in touch with her son, I easily see her walking away from her family all together. She hit rock bottom a long time ago, this might be the final straw that leads her to just packing her bags and moving to the opposite coast for good. Lord knows its happened plenty of times before.

    Shoot, at this point, were I in her shoes, I think thats what i’d end up doing. Just move and start over fresh.

    I still dont get what the fuss is over with her buying a gift for her son though, even under the guise of being his aunt, family is allowed to play favorites, aunts and uncles especially.

    1. I don’t really think that playing favorites among aunts and uncles is encouraged. Little acts of kindness showing that one kid is especially admired by the relative once and a while are okay, but here Juni is going to take it too far. She only wants to give attention to Tag, and only wants to give Tag any gifts. Even with favoritism among aunts and uncles, they usually at least give gifts and attention to all the nephews in some degree. If they didn’t, it’d probably leave the other kids feeling a little confused and hurt that they were being ignored completely.

      1. You dont come from a large family do you mate? lol

        Great grandmother had eight kids, each of them had at minimum two if not three, each of them has had two if not three.

        At 26, I am currently the oldest member of my family in history to not only remain single, but to have no kids of my own. I have cousins four years younger than me with two kids of their own. (youngest married with kids was 14, great grandma, to be fair she was born in 1901)

        And every last one of them plays favorites, likely by virtue of the fact that there are so many of us that its not really…feasable to be fair. Large families are like that, the larger, the more likely people will play favorites, unless they are rich lol

        Thats why I have enjoyed this comic as much as I have, its literally like watching a dramatized (at times) comic of my family.

        1. This guy gets it.

          I’m 25. My mom was one of 9 kids. Nearly all of her brothers and sisters married and had kids. Three is the average. One wound up with four. Gift giving was always ‘try to be fair’, but when you throw in that ‘god parent’ title, there were favorites. Tons. It’s not hard to spot at all. Lol

          I agree, you should get something for everyone (if you can), but it wouldn’t be odd for one niece or nephew to wind up with a few extras, or something bigger, etc. It’s just part of a large family. It’s human, I think.

        2. There are types and degrees of favoritism that are expected, for example I could see Tarra having an extra soft spot for one of the nephews if he was a tinkerer, Ellie being a little extra chummy with one who was a bit of a slacker, maybe Anise with one if he turns a bit more artsy or goth, and Pumpkin probably has a soft spot for Percy (and maybe Amper) for being close in size to them as they were growing.

          However, every family has the odd boundaries that are specific to their dynamic. While gift-giving could be within the acceptable favoritism boundary for some families, I can absolutely see how it’d be far outside the boundary for others.

          Really the thing that I’d be most worried about for Tag in terms of him coming to know Juniper is his biological mom, is if her somewhat failure-tastic attitude rubbed off. As in if he found himself someday looking at her as, “This is who I come from, this is all I can be. That’s why I failed at ${ACTIVITY_OR_EVENT}, and it’s why I’ll keep failing. I should just get used to it.”

        3. What if he becomes the opposite, and struggles to have nothing of himself associated with her? I kind of picked that thought up from “Flight“, the Denzell Washington movie about a drunk, drugged up pilot who saves a plane miraculously. His boy acts the man of the house before graduation and damn near resorts to physical violence to get the man out of his mom’s house.

          But I don’t know where this is going, I don’t know where this has been. I can only interpret from what I know.

        4. It can certainly go both ways. The thing for me, though, is the nature-vs-nurture question for Juniper’s attitude. Is it something that is passed at the genetic level and Ginger will spend the next 15+ years fighting tooth and nail to try to get him past it, or will the different environment and Ginger being wary of it and trying to steer him gently elsewhere be enough to make it disappear. I honestly don’t know. However if he’s motivated, then Juniper’s influence would just be some bad feelings but no true lasting threat.

        5. And this is another reason why I love this comic. (<3). The academic discussions.

          I’ve been of the thought that nature and nurture are both important sides of the emotional development of an individual. My believe is that the innate behavior via DNA (genetic structures of the brain and nervous system, along with the endocrine systems. ) only implies so much, and that it’s the experiences one has through nurturing and experiences while growing up that works upon the self that Tag might be at that point in time.

          So, with Ginger at the supposed helm of the mommy ship battling the storms of development and childhood and protecting Tag against the elements of humanity that would wreck havoc with him vs. the possibly plausibility of the Exxon Tag-deez with Juniper off the bridge…

          No, I’m not going to use H.M.S. Pinafore. Geezz.

          One thing is, however Tag’s innate and inherited behavior manifests itself, I’m of the thought that Ginger won’t drop the hammer, but perhaps she might point him towards a more beneficial outlet for said behavior.

        6. I’m actually from a very small family, but we are hella dysfunctional, so my Aunt actually has the nerve to brag to everyone about how I’m her mother’s favorite grandson. She does this in a misguided attempt to make me more willing to spend time with her mother, because her own children rightfully recognize that she is a hateful old bitch and won’t have anything to do with her. And it frightens me to think how my grandmother must treat other people, considering how she treats me.

          My point being, sure favoritism is something people are supposed to avoid, but all it takes is a little dysfunction for people to start doing it even when there aren’t any good excuses. And while the Buckinghams as a family are still managing to hold their clan together, they’ve got plenty of dysfunction to go around. Ginger is right to be concerned that Juni will give attention to Tag to a destructive degree, even if she’s gone a tiny bit overboard preemptively invading Juniperstan here merely because she saw Juniper buy a gift for the first time. But hey, Ginger’s already made it clear she’s commited to sticking out the eighteen-year occupation, so I guess she doesn’t care if she bombs the place so far back into the stone age that they never recover.

        7. lol reasonable question given my choice of wording I suppose. The answer is neither.

          I’m actually from the US of A, deep south for that fact. I use a number of terms and idiums however due to how much time I spend with my nose buried in books and various other writen works (comics, manga, graphi novels etc)

          Because I read so much I pick up mannerisms from other dialects and even languages. This is mangified due to having a number of friends from the UK and Japan.

          So despite having a *very* thick southern accent, I speak the Queens tongue, Aussy, and Japanese fairly well and even use words interchangably without thinking.

        8. Language has become far more universal the last few years. I used to get crap for using the word “wonky” now no one bats an eye. Ginger used to be a pretty exclusively UK idiom for red-heads, now everyone seems to know what it means.

  7. Ok. Gingers kinda gorgeous angry. She’d look good with a flaming sword.

    And it seems to me both parties have a right to feel how they feel.

      1. Emotional explosions all abound, for cannon’s to the left of me, cannon’s to the right of me, and a bastardized wall of parrots behind me.

        1. Mr. Blue, you are my new favorite person for the reference contained in your comment above.

          Angry and alone, she wandered and mumbeled,
          Through a valley of toys walked a Buckingham humbeled.

    1. I support the inclusion of fire and sharp/pointy objects.

      Granted, that’s a general principle for me.

        1. Well, we don’t have a Winnebago going into the water either. But I did see a news clip about a pregnant mother of three going for a watery drive today. */shudder*

          However, on the other hand, we have a destroyed mall and toy store.

          – Mr. Blue turns to the cashier

          Do you have Mrs. Piggy?

  8. Juniper has a right to call her sister, who adopted and is raising the kid she didn’t want, a glorified babysitter? Yeah I think not. Juniper feeling guilty? Having an urge to connect with her son? Yep, got that right. But the bitterness towards Ginger? Tough shit. She made her bed, and Ginger is who she has to make amends with first if she is serious about wanting to be involved now in her son’s life. And what Ginger is saying is stuff that Juniper has to hear-and has to face up to- to gain control of her life.

    You throw some curveballs, Mr. Rusche, that is for sure :). You got some writing skills, and in a short time you have made sombre complex characters. Keep up the good work!

    1. There’s a fundamental difference between telling people what they need to hear and beating them to death with it. Juniper looks well on her way to being beaten to death with it.

      This…this is bad territory we’re walking into here. You insist someone’s a monster long enough they’ll get to believe it. When that happens…all bets are off.

      1. Nah. I disagree. Jun made her decision, but she made it in one of the worst possible ways. Then to add to that, she has refused to be involved at all in his life. Then now she wants to be involved, but she does so in a way that would be harmful for him, and then to ice the cake, she insults the woman who has been his loving mother and caretaker. This confrontation is very human, with a lot of sympathy for both sides. But Ginger is on the right side, despite her yelling at her sister.

        1. What you’re saying would really only be true if Juniper were PLANNING to destroy a little boy. She wants to be involved, but her plan is harmful. Yes, true enough. But she doesn’t specifically know that plan is harmful.

          And as far as insults go, who threw the first barb on this one? Don’t think it was the one who went in with no more plan than to buy a cute talking parrot for a little boy.

          Think you’re mistaking ignorance for malice here, but you’re also quite right that this whole situation’s got sympathy enough for both sides. Which is why I refer back to Tarra: this is not the right time–nor really the right place–for such a situation to go on.

        2. I still contend they’re both in the wrong, there is no black and white “this side is right, this side is wrong” in this scenario. Is it wrong for Juniper to want to be involved in her sons life? Short answer no. But if that involvement consists of playing favorites or disrupting the life of her son then yes.

          Is it wrong for Ginger to want to defend her adoptive son’s feelings as well as the feelings of her biological children? No it’s not. Is it wrong for her to treat Juniper like she currently is? I would say yes (and I’ll explain why).

          There are a LOT of ways that Ginger could have talked out her concerns with what would happen if Juniper were to play favorites or even worse, pop in and out of Tag’s life as her whims may lead her. Not all them involve digging up past history and clubbing her younger sister about the face with them. Right from the start where Ginger questioned Juniper about buying the bird in the first place her body language and manner was very confrontational and argumentative. No one does well when put on the defensive at the outset of a conversation and Ginger continually escalates it. But the real tipping point where I feel Ginger crossed the line is when Tarra gives Ginger an opening to back down and discuss it more rationally later without having to be perceived as”losing face.” To which Ginger responds to by intensifying her attack with something that goes beyond self righteous anger and into abusive cruelty levels. The reason I believe that this specific moment is where she really crossed the line is because her point had already been made. This episode could have ended with , “Tarra’s right, we’ll talk more about this later.” This would have left Juniper knowing exactly where she stood and also that it wasn’t over. Sure, feelings were bruised on both sides but the situation (being the relationship between the two sisters and the boys) was probably still salvageable. But instead, Ginger’s unprovoked further escalation most likely destroyed Juniper’s desire to attempt to reach out to Tag or her nephews. So Ginger may have won if this was her goal but it certainly doesn’t make her “right.”

          I get that Juniper is displaying what could be generously called a naive world view and is certainly not giving Ginger the credit for being Tag’s mother figure that she obviously earned but at the same time Ginger was in this to win an argument, not to have a conversation that could have ultimately been beneficial to all parties involved. In my experience a lot of damage can be inflicted with the “right” message delivered the wrong way. Being “right” doesn’t make someone above reproach. This conversation should have been constructive, it’s decidedly not.

          TL;DR… As I said, both are wrong in my opinion.

        3. Didn’t we once figure that the Buckingham daughters were representations of the seven deadly sins? I think we’re getting a look at Wrath right now….

        4. With the possible exception of Juniper & Pumpkin, they’ve all manifested wrath, Ginger’s just manifesting it most strongly right now.

        5. True, but let’s face it, this is wrath on an order of magnitude above the rest. Plus, what provoked it? A parrot and a couple ignorant remarks?

        6. Barring further confirmation later, I think wrangling the sisters, including personally wrangling Juniper, and dealing with Black Friday and short sleep is what caused this. Not saying she doesn’t have some resentment issues with Juniper, but I think the degree here is magnified by the circumstances.

        7. Point taken on that she’s been provoked by circumstances, but there’s still magnitude to address. That’s a lot more rage than normally seen in the Buckingham circles, especially when fists aren’t flying.

        8. The comic “Paterfamilias.” Check about midway down.

          Rusche, interestingly, weighed in. He could neither confirm nor deny. Nor confirm.

        9. I think my resistance to that is that equating each sister with a sin makes me feel like it should be the same degree, for example I think Ellie is probably lazier than Pumpkin is greedy (and process of elimination makes that most likely for Pumpkin’s if you parcel one sin per sister). I also have a hard time considering Cinn as primarily being envious, I mean, she wants them all. Also, while Juniper is presumably lust by virtue of sister council title, it seems to me that her problem is less hedonism and more apathy (which seems closest to sloth, to me, which is assigned by sister council title to Ellie).

          So that’s where I don’t like to assign them, so much as notice manifestations of one or another and the general tendencies in each direction.

        10. I haven’t heard the Seven Deadly Sins theory before! I’m thinking about it and does mostly kinda fit. Greed and Jealousy are the weakest matches, but Ginger is a dead ringer for Wrath, Anise’s Gluttony is constantly on display, (Heck, she’s even obsessed with a fat man!), and Juniper’s Lust and Ellie’s Sloth are right there in their titles. Tarra is an odd match for Pride- it’s not really that she acts out the sin, so much as she embodies the object of the sin- as a person she’s actually deceptively modest.

          Cinnamon has done things which could be interpreted as Greed, but it’s not an even fit. She seems less interested in having “more, more, more” than simply having no impulse control to stop her from trying to take anything that catches her fancy. Although wasn’t her ex-boyfriend supposed to be rich? I seem to remember that. It’s possible Cinnamon’s inability to recognize when she’s straining the bounds of what she can get away with could be considered Greed- she doesn’t surreptitiously loot one rocket from the toy store, for example, but instead grabs a towering stack. And she was carrying an armful of stuff after she released the ratchanchulas, too. So she mostly fits.

          Pegging Pumpkin as Jealousy takes some creativity, though. I’m especially not sure how to interpret the speculations about her sexuality if she’s supposed to represent Jealousy; that could potentially be interpreted as a negative statement about homosexuals coveting what they can’t have. The cosplaying thing, though, does give the position some merit, if you argue that Pumpkin is jealous of how cool all those characters are and wants to be them. And actually, come to think of it, I’ve looked at Pumpkin’s Tumblr and a huge part of it is just pictures of cool things that Pumpkin wishes she had or wishes she could do.

        11. I was always a little iffy on the seven sins theory myself but if I were going to try to make it fit I agree with pretty much all the points you made except I would almost think it would be easier to tie greed to Tarra as it could be tenuously linked to her obvious ambition. But it’s still a bit weak and leaves Pumpkin and Cinn with Pride and Jealousy. Does Cinn behave the way she does because of either of those? Hard to say for sure at this point. And of course Pumpkin is too soon to tell :)

        12. Thought about this one myself just recently, it’s starting to be a clean matchup.

          Anise has gluttony on a lock with that sweet tooth, plus her Thanksgiving performance.

          If Cinnamon could stop her looting for a minute we’d all know it was greed over there.

          Someone wake up Ellie and tell her she’s got sloth all to herself.

          If Tarra could stop polishing her Olympic Gold for a minute she’d be well aware she was pride.

          Do we even need to call the Slutty One out for lust? I think that’s pretty clear.

          Now here’s where it gets fun.

          Pumpkin and her cosplay and her wiggery, now that could be a nice envy, wishing she looked more like this character or that one, or had that one’s hair.

          And now…the horrors of Mount Mom, the wrath of Ginger.

        13. Nice, I didn’t think you’d be able to sell me on Pumpkin being Envy but well done.

        14. It helps that most everyone else is a clean fit. Strain of Thought had a good handle on it too, but by the time you winnow out the clear ones, you’ve just got a couple slots left. Pumpkin never could have been wrath; who’d believe that tiny pixie as a hate machine?

        15. So, are these good to go up on the wikipedia? Do we have Rusche’s stamp of approval, or would that be Anise’s boot print?

        16. Ellie- Sloth
          Anise- Gluttony
          Ginger – Wrath
          Juniper – Lust
          Tarra – Envy
          Pumpkin – Pride/Vanity
          Cinnamon – Greed

          The last three are one’s we haven’t explicitly seen yet.

        17. Waitwaitwait… How could Tarra be envy? Who does she have to be envious of? Chuck Norris?

        18. Envious of most likely the one thing she can’t be able to do. No matter the amount of skill, dedication, and/or natural talent she has to achieve this.


          I’m calling it now. Tarra cannot have kids.

        19. It’s clear that Tarra’s perfection comes because she was envious of all she saw around her, and wanted it. Now… she’s the envy of all the sisters. Envy is a two-way street.

        20. [sigh] Oh well, I now admit I’m wrong on the Seven Sisters Seven Sins parallel.

        21. So Sloth and Lust are clear by sisterly title as Ellie & Juniper. Wrath fits Ginger if you want to have it fit someone, by her profile picture yelling at her brood and her behavior here (which is stressed, but stress reverts people to the parts that they try to hide, too). Gluttony has overtones of impulse control as part of it, and aside from eating a lot we also see the impulse control with Anise.

          Now the odd ones out are Tarra, Cinn, & Pumpkin with Pride, Envy, & Greed. Tarra has no reason to envy and I’ve never seen any trace of envy in Pumpkin (though Steve’s interpretation on cosplay is an argument), so I think it fits Cinn as the slightly younger and always in trouble twin for her to envy at least Ellie. Tarra has more accomplishments for pride to latch onto and an undeniable arrogance in her abilities (though it’s almost certainly fully justified for every situation she’s run into in life) and while she’s rich she generally dresses down, so I think pride goes to her more easily than greed. The only hint of greed for Pumpkin would be her business and offering to make Quinn a deal on a wig, which is more just a hint of a certain degree of being financially minded as opposed to greed, but I think that fits her better than pride or envy anyway.

          But this also plays into how I think the seven sins is a bad fit.

        22. I kinda like this breakdown better that Rusche’s (sorry…) , although I can see pride for Pumpkin more if it’s interpreted as vanity rather than pride, since I get the sense that her wig business is there to fund her cosplay (which she legitimately enjoys) rather than she got into cosplay/wigs to make money.

          My main hang up is Tarra as envy. I don’t see who she has to be envious of, except for Chuck Norris or Kain. Unless… could it be that she’s only accomplished everything because she’s envious of Sister X and seeks to top her in every way? The idea of two Tarra’s in a given universe boggles the mind.

        23. Well, maybe the issue is what is motivating Tarragon to be such an over-the-top over-achiever. She could see something someone else can do that she can’t, and she just can’t stand the thought of not being the best, so she has to push herself to ridiculous lengths to overtake that person.

          Eh, that still sounds a lot more like pride, though…

          Maybe she’s overcompensating for something? Unfortunately the only thing I can think of that Tarra wouldn’t be able to fix with sheer awesomeness is a reproductive problem, and I don’t like the message that Tarra does all that she does just to make up for not being able to have kids, but I can’t think of anything else she could be secretly feeling inferior over.

        24. Whoa. That’s a weird idea. The perfect one would have to be the perfect girlfriend by extension, and that…that’s a development that horrifies a lot of guys out there.

          The PERFECT girlfriend. She could have literally any guy she wanted. So what in the cheery black heart of hell is she doing with YOU? God forbid she should ever break up with you! You’d NEVER FIND BETTER. That’s a thought to chill the cockles for the rest of your ever-lovin’ blue-eyed life, that’s for sure.

        25. I’m calling that Tarra is envious of Ginger because William was interested in (and married) Ginger and not Her!!

        26. Everyone is jealous of Batman so ergo Tarra is jealous of Batman. She’s even gathering a rogues gallery with which to endlessly wage war against. The Kerfuffle board game is obviously inspired by Alfred (because he’s British and all that) she’s stops random crime without killing but isn’t afraid to put someone in the hospital if she thinks they need it, she’s an inventor of many talents, an olympic level athlete. She is the terror that braids in the night.

          But yea, totally wants to be Batman.

        27. My shot in the dark is going to be that Tarra’s jealous of Ellie’s eventual boyfriend (be that Blind Guy, guy-in-a-hat from the vote, or someone else).

        28. Well, unless it’s tied into Sister X or being sterile, I’m remembering Rusche commenting that Tarra will get more coverage in the second major story arc, and thinking it’ll make more sense then.

          But yeah, in general envy from someone who’s a caricature of perfection is odd. Past bits of this comic leads me to believe it’ll be believable at the time and a nice twist, but still weird now without the backstory.

        29. I hope so, but I’m not clear yet if Ginger gives a damn about the outcome of that war.

      2. I think Ginger’s original point was: “don’t you dare buying a gift just for Tad and not his siblings”

        But she is also irritated that Juniper compares her to a babysitter (and rightfully so), hence the nasty attacks.

        1. Everyone arguing against Ginger isn’t arguing that Ginger’s wrong in her goal, just that she should’ve tried less harsh measures first and only pulled most of this out if Juniper failed to listen earlier. She could’ve been just as surly and backed Juniper off without shutting out Juniper’s avenues of hope. Seriously, Ginger could’ve very easily browbeat Juniper about drinking and scooter theft and left all the Tag-related stuff to, “Why don’t we wait a few days and have that conversation when I don’t want to strangle you?”

          I really did think last comic that Tarra’s living up to her title with her suggestion.

        2. Sure, Ginger’s rant is not productive. Something along the lines of “Look, the four of them all see themselves as brothers, so giving a gift to just one of them would be unfair” could have had a greater impact.

          But Juniper touched a raw nerve around the parenting issue, triggering a very emotional reaction from Ginger.

        3. Right, but if Ginger would’ve said that from the get-go instead of making it a who’s the parent pissing contest, then either this wouldn’t have happened or Juniper would’ve walked into it. Ginger led the conversation this way from the beginning. Yes, Juniper reacted poorly and made things worse for herself, which I think everyone believes is just the norm for her; but that’s where this really looks to me like the older sister, who knows how her younger sister is likely to react, leading her to put her foot in it farther because she’s pissed off and feeling like tearing her down. Sure, I can see how these statements have been bubbling under the surface for Ginger for three years trying to get out, and this is possibly the first time Juniper brought something up to give her the excuse, but she’s taking the excuse and sprinting down the line with it.

          It’s human for Ginger to feel the way she feels, but it’s not something to be proud of to shut down her sister at what’s possibly the first glimmer of hope in years for her giving a damn about anything.

      3. The trouble is, who is holding the bat of truth and stick of reason when the wailing session comes on?

        Juniper is going to be the one who picked it up, and used it on herself.

  9. How do you even say “SHUT UPPPP!!”?

    Would it be “SHUT UPUHPUHPUHPUH!!”?

    Shouldn’t it be “SHUT UUUUP!!”?


    1. The word of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will help you through this dark time.

      “If you’re wondering how he eats, and breathes, and other science facts (la la la), then repeat to yourself it’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

        1. Thank you.

          (- Though I wonder how many of the readers are old enough to know/remember Sister Mary Elephant. -)

        2. Someone who can keep up on the give-and-go, and not get caught in the popcorn machine.

        3. Hey…why are you in my room? I believe I had something to say about that sort of thing on that very same album.

          And don’t even ask me if Dave’s here, man.

  10. I love the sense of humor here. An intense, even upsetting, moment contrasted with all these parrots flapping there wings and repeating “you didn’t want him you didn’t want him”. Makes me burst out laughing when I’m not supposed to.

    Nicely done, Chris.

    1. I was looking for the comment that Rusche mentioned Juniper’s interest in photography being important and I ran across his title names. Next comic is “The Lazy One” so possibly Ellie will attempt to make Juniper feel a bit better. I always kinda’ thought the Monopoly wrangling from her flashback was going to be foreshadowing of her having very strong feelings in the family bond direction and wanting to keep everyone close.

      1. The idea for “The Lazy One” comic was dropped. Basically Ellie would be shown clocking in to ring out her sisters, showing this was just another seasonal job. Theyd all blankly stare at her. Ginger would be upset Ellie didn’t hide the items behind the registers there too, and Ellie would just point to herself and exclaim “Pfft.. LAZY ONE…”

        I did this for timing. When its an animated show I’ll totally put it in. :D

        1. There were probably a dozen strip ideas dropped for this story just for pacing. I always over write the plots.. then whittle them down. I actually had some with Cinnamon and Anise in mall jail. Quinn reluctantly buying the DVD without being noticed by Eagan then promptly knocking over a stack of tv’s. Theres more… but yeah. Pacing.

        2. I smell a reality series. “Mall Jail: Doing time with the miscreants of the shopping mall system!”.

        3. Understandable, and thanks for the clarification as to what it would’ve been.

  11. And that bottom bird is the one the iCloud uploaded to. That, plus the infinite loop of “didn’t want [generic term for a human male with no context]” and the fact that the primary identification of the iCloud’s owner is a Pokemon, a species captured and used for indentured servitude and glorified cockfights, is how the bird learned to hate humanity.

    Thus Skynet was born. Sister X isn’t some evil alternate Tarra… She’s either Tarra from some dark dystopian future or is Tarra’s daughter, come back in time to save her from the machine killer sent back in time as well!

    I mean, for all we know Fake Spider-Man has glowing red eyes under that hood. And I don’t really remember seeing Goatee Man in the crowd before…

    1. *hands Eric the Grand Bull Moose Gold Medal for Most Ludicrous Plot Twist Proposed in a Webcomic Comments Section.*

    2. …oh my. I think I just figured out what the X stands for. But I won’t blurt it out loud in case I’m spoiling something.

  12. I don’t know what drove Juniper to drinking, but I feel that her cast page picture may be an easter egg in and of itself. Sister council title of “The Slutty One.” while partying down with a martini and slovenly shown drunkenness.

    I wonder if she got post partum depression, in a bad way. (no pun intended, but paralleled.)

  13. No particular change of opinion or comment from the last two pages.

    1) Ginger’s right to stop this before it gets to her brood.

    2) Ginger’s swatting a fly with a sledgehammer and putting holes in the walls by doing so.

    3) Question/concern if Juniper will ever glimmer in a direction of improvement again.

    4) Be it accidental or on purpose, good that Juniper tried this in front of the sisters instead of just bringing an unexpected gift on Christmas.

    I’m also curious about Tarra’s role in the family here. If it weren’t for Sister X waiting in the wings, would Tarra go after Juniper and try to help her a bit or just leave her be? With Sister X conflict looming, I’m seeing Tarra paying attention to that first and foremost, so I don’t think we’ll get a hint story-wise what she would’ve done otherwise.

    1. From my experience with recovering alcoholics, a sledgehammer like message is necessary to make the slightest impact. They’ve already developed coping mechanisms that allow them to ignore the parts of life that make them uncomfortable and allow them to do what they wanted to do anyway. The folks who backslid are the ones whose relatives were the least-strict/most enabling.

      That said, I’m find Ginger less sympathetic as this goes on. Juniper’s hands are no less black, but Ginger’s are becoming a deeper shade of grey. Still totally realistic (not just possible, but realistic), but also disappointing.

      1. Agreed. One thing that bothered me in the previous comic was how many people kept jumping in defending Ginger as some uber-mom that was raising the kids the right way. Well, compared to Juniper, she’s certainly a better option, but her smug impatience and angry outbursts aren’t exactly great ingredients for the production of well-balanced children. It’s been commented that she’s taken on Rosemary’s mantle, but look at how this generation turned out. I worry that the boys will turn out equally disfunctional.

        1. That makes me wonder how they’ll come out… how about basing these on the 10 commandments…
          – Percy becomes a tabloid reporter, obsessed with celebrities (1, 8)
          – Amper becomes a workaholic that curses like a sailor and never shows up to family events (2, 3, 4)
          – Asperand ends up serving a life sentence over a robbery that went bad when the homeowner came home unexpectedly (5, 7, 10)
          – Tag habitually convinces married women to leave their husbands for him, then leaves them high and dry when the next opportunity arises (6, 9)

      2. I’d agree the sledgehammer is necessary to be able to use. I’ve just found that with people who shut down like this (some also with alcohol problems and some not), that using the sledgehammer right away causes more problems than it solves. While the numbness is there to protect against the lesser pain, making the lesser pain a clear ramp up to breaking the apathy can sometimes teach them that even if they want to refuse to feel the lesser pain they should take it as a warning.

        The ones who can’t learn even that, well, that’s where there’s not much to do but stop them from damaging others and hope for a miracle.

        So more what I think Ginger should’ve done was try a flyswatter, then a shoe, then maybe a short 2×4 scrap, then a normal hammer, and THEN the sledgehammer. And if the sledgehammer didn’t work be ready with the bazooka. I have zero qualms with Ginger going where she did, because it can be completely necessary. My issue is going there as the first reaction.

  14. Number four is a good point, and if this storyline is continued in the future I think it could have a big impact. But I wouldn’t even characterize this as Juniper “trying” anything. They were in a toy store, Christmas shopping. Juniper saw something cute and did some Christmas shopping. It doesn’t even look like she made any mention of what she was doing- Ellie was just being observant and asked her about it. Then Ginger overheard and launched a pre-emptive missile strike with strategic warheads. Juniper is far too brazen to have planned anything that subtle, and even if she had expected to get static from Ginger, I don’t see her as expecting doing it in front of her other sisters to gain her any measure of protection. If Juniper wanted to be sneaky, she probably would have given the present to Rosemary and asked *her* to deliver it. Rosemary would definitely have given Juniper static but probably would have been strongly tempted to encourage Juniper’s good behavior by honoring her request, and is probably the only person capable of bypassing Ginger’s opposition.

      1. You did, but I agree, point four is a good one. Also I went back to re-read the last few strips yet again and have to comment on how Chris laid out the panel framing.

        (Because it’s me I will do so by appearing to talk about something COMPLETELY unrelated first.)

        So, I love movies and when I can (usually after a few viewings) I will start to dissect the techniques used in a film I liked and I also like to listen to commentary tracks/study film technique. Some of my favorite commentary tracks have been Die Hard (goes amazingly into the symbolism of almost every shot including wardrobe choices and the psychological tropes that they used to jerk the audience around along with one of the best explanations behind the difference between the antagonist and protagonist ever) and Friday the 13th part seven because the director and Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees in parts 7 through 10) because they were amazingly twisted and funny men and also because the director (who’s name escapes me now) discussed how he got around the studios initial dislike of Kane for the role (they though he was too short to play Jason) through a few different techniques, the simplest one being that when showing Kane as Jason on film he ALMOST ALWAYS was framed taking up most of the screen, as though being looked up from a lower height which tricks the audience into believing he’s larger than he actually is in relation to the rest of the cast. Also it infers dominance just through presence.

        So go back and read the last few strips again and pay attention to how Ginger is framed.

        I know I’ve said a few times that Chris has a flair for the cinematic, or maybe I’m just projecting because film is a medium I’m very familiar with, but he’s one of the few artists I see noticeably using film techniques in the comic medium and it’s awesome.

        That being said, any of you who do not run out to experience the tracks for Die Hard and Friday part seven are missing out. Seriously.

        1. They thought Kane Hodder was too short to play Jason?

          Well, at least he wasn’t Derek Mears. Wow. Just…wow.

        2. Mr. Blue realized that you have Mr. Pink’s chin hair.

          But, also, Mr. Blue went through and analyzed the blocking from a technical theatrical standpoint of live drama and audience. Creation of the dramatic tension with elements on stage situated to draw the audience onto the proper focus. (Triangles and such)

    1. Yes, I think Juniper probably wasn’t thinking about any pushback here. However, if she had the question is if she would’ve done something in front of Ginger first to allow her the chance to push back, or have showed up to Christmas carrying exactly one gift which she might even have just handed to Tag and asked him to open before the rest because she wasn’t going to stay long. Because at that point, there isn’t anything Ginger can do to stop things.

      I think the reason that comes to mind as relevant to me is that Juniper is reminding some people of the “pop in for an hour, disappear for a year” parents who do a lot of emotional damage in their lives, and this seems like a distinction to me that says she’s not doing that (at least not yet, not impossible she might start).

  15. Oh, God. How do you deal with your big sister cleaning up your mess? Especially when you were young and totally unprepared for the mess? And now, when there might be just a glimmer of chance for future competence, and you allow yourself to maybe possibly think of yourself as someone’s mom instead of the person that gave away her son, you have to deal with the righteous anger of said sister at your (admittedly sneaky and tenuous) attempts at possibly re-entering your son’s life as more than just one more Aunt.

    But your big sister ADOPTED him. Presumably with full legal custody with the paperwork and the signatures and everything, that means big sister IS Mom. And you are just another Aunt. And it doesn’t matter what you want, or what you might be capable of in the future, or if maybe this time you might just straighten yourself out and be a person that just maybe your son could be proud of. Cause he’s not your son anymore. And chances are very very small that he ever will be again.

    So, how do you deal with the fact that you can never redeem yourself? And that you have to treat your son as just another nephew?

    Chris Rusche, you are a horrible person for doing this to us. And ever though I regard you as the authorial equivalent of a gleeful sadist for introducing real-life realism into a fluff piece about Black Thursday, I will return every day on the off chance that there will be more. There must be more.

    And I would request a return to ridiculous references to magical conjoining of supernatural powers and Mad Max villains, but this chunk of realism is better than the previous 15 strips put together.

    In conclusion, you’re killing it. Keep going. Please.

  16. I second every part of this, except for the word “sneaky” (See above comment). Right now I’m actually feeling way more interested in Juniper’s story than Ellie’s, which has admittedly leveled off since she made peace with Quinn, and I’m kind of dreading the possibility that after this Christmas storyline is over we’ll hardly ever see Juniper again and she’ll end up being just one more dangling unresolved plot thread out of a hundred others.

    Will we get to see more Juniper in the coming stories? Are you planning on eventually giving Juniper and Ginger and Tag some kind of collective resolution at some point?

    1. Oh My Fracking God I Did It Again. How did I do it again? I don’t even know how I did it again.

      This is supposed to be a reply to Jado above. Somehow I keep screwing up the reply function. Sorry. My bad.

    2. Rusche mentioned in the comments for the comic Stuck In the Middle With You (http://shotgunshuffle.com/stuck-in-the-middle-with-you/#comment-16268) when talking about sister backstories that “Ginger and Juniper will be a pairing we’ll see again as most have speculated for a certain reason”

      There’s also this comment (http://shotgunshuffle.com/the-getaway-2/#comment-18715) where the end of his second-to-last paragraph states:
      “There’s also a comic-ending element in this story I buried in a passing thought which is Juniper taking an interest in photography. Juniper isn’t a strip-ending character, but that fact that she likes taking pictures is critical to the ending of this comic.”

      So we will see more of Juniper. However, I don’t know that enough time will pass in Tag’s life before the end of the comic for things to truly be settled for Juniper with him.

      1. Hey Jessica,

        I don’t know the plugins you use, but any chance that moderation could be turned off for if the link is to shotgunshuffle.com? I figure it’s either a checkbox that could easily be done or it’s not, but thought I’d ask.

    3. It will be a dangling plot out there until it’s resolved. But it will be. I have to get through a very other stories first.

      Both Juniper and Pumpkin are characters I’ve thought of using in a straight-to-book type of supplemental. A book for possibly each of them. I have enough material to do it easily. Time is the problem.

        1. As will I. My “Shotgun Shuffle merch” emergency fund is there for a reason. If I’m not first in line when any becomes available it will because I was asleep or something.

  17. I wonder if that was a full thought or a muttered half reply when she was asked about tag, Also there is a really major difference between Don’t want him, and can’t want him.

    Given what little we know about the days around Tag’s Birth, Juniper could have been brutally honest with herself, and admitted that she was completely incapable of properly caring for tag when he was born.
    As it is currently implied that she could barely be depended on to take care of herself at the time let alone, and in a fit of depression lashed out the only way she could, verbally.

    1. If Juniper wasn’t honest with herself, I’d bet her parents and probably all of her sisters, with the possible exception of Cinn, pointed it out to her. I’m sure Rosemary and Ginger pointed it out at the very least. Probably fairly often. Possibly at full volume.

  18. I don’t have any kids of my own, but I have several nieces and nephews. And I absolutely have some I give more attention and gifts to. If Juniper wants Tag to be her favorite nephew, and give more to him than the rest, why does that have to have some special meaning in the kids’ eyes? Why is Ginger making this requirement that everything has to be balanced and fair and even?

  19. Wow, that was a lot of comments today. I’m humbled by everyone weighing in. Not only a ton, but lengthy. That means a crazy lot to me.

    I read all of them. Took me like an hour. Thanks to everyone who’s new for commenting as well. Thanks for joining us, and don’t go anywhere. :D

    I guess this is semi a.. bulk reply? But basically Juniper is trying to turn this around on Ginger with “well it’s not my fault if you asked for him.” She’s manipulating Ginger’s words into sounding like her older sister is blaming her for the “added hardship” of mothering Tag. Whatever she can do to deflect ‘fault’ she will. This isn’t Ginger’s argument at all. Ginger wants the reality of Tag thinking he’s HER son to be airtight. Allowing no room for suspicion from Juniper’s actions. She’s not denying Juniper the ability to do something nice for Tag, but only asking her to treat all 4 of her nephews equally. Well, ok.. maybe DEMANDING is a better word.

    This small little tangent in this story is written to be a grey area. We WANT Juniper to succeed, but we also WANT Tag to have a normal childhood and understand Ginger’s position. I’ve seen this happen in real life. And it’s fun for no one.

    1. Ha! Get used to it, man. We’re not going anywhere. You have built an exciting world here and we love it. I’m speaking for a lot of people on this one but I doubt anyone’s going to deny it.

      1. Raise money for Chris, but in doing so, some of the people who have been voted on by the commenters for being either best comments, best references or best logic and most calling “its” would be drinking beer or something at a table together in a scene to come up. Kind of like a WAH cameo or something like that.

        NO not at a gentlemens club are you Borken or something?

    2. Is it intentional that Ginger is coming off as telling Juniper to just go away and stay gone then? I know those aren’t even literally Ginger’s words, it’s just that it feels like all of her dialogue for the least three comics could be replaced with “You’rebadyour’reawfuyou’reafailureyousuck.” over and over again and there wouldn’t have been any actual loss of meaning. I’m completely unable to tell whether that’s an issue with the writing or with Ginger’s wrath. I think I’ve realized that although I am personally almost completely unlike Juniper, I identify with her strongly on the point of being labelled a “screw up” by other family members, who then become more invested in having been right about the labeling than in seeing any improvements regarding whatever problems are actually there. I can’t tell how much I’m projecting my own issues into the story at this point. Suffice it to say, I read this whole exchange as Ginger telling Juniper that she’s toxic and can’t do anything right and that if she thinks she cares about Tag then the best thing for her to do is just keep staying the hell out of his life like she has been.

      On a happier note, what are you doing about monetization right now? And do you read Howard Tayler’s blog? If you don’t, you should: He gives out a wealth of information about making money off of webcomics, especially managing the home front. He started from nothing, with no art skills whatsoever, and now supports a wife and kids off of his comic. He tends to thoroughly document every little financial venture his family makes, covers the speed bumps and how well they actually profited, and there’s a lot of supplemental stuff, like when his wife wrote an article about how to do Christmas on the cheap the first year he went full-time on the comic.

      1. If you’re projecting then it’s along the same lines as what I’m projecting because I also noted the “you’re toxic, go away” subtext.

      2. Juniper is bringing up the last thing Ginger wants to deal with right now. Ginger’s tired, and annoyed. Now her younger sister is doing something she warned her not to years ago. She just wants to buy presents and get it over with, not corral every sister and remind them to do what she asked. Juniper’s getting the blunt end of the stick, for sure.

        Ginger’s anger may seem escalated to some readers, while others not so much. There are many reasons to this that aren’t laid out yet. But in terms of spoilers, Ginger made an agreement with Juniper when she adopted Tag. And now she’s going down the road she was told not to. More or less, she told her there would be no special treatment, no playing favorites, and give no reason to make Tag question who his parents were. There’s more, but its one of those things that becomes clearer in hindsight.

        1. This observation is not specific to the Juniper/Ginger relationship but something I apparently just noticed today. Why do none of the girls seem to have any piercings? I would expect most if not all to at least have pierced ears and I would think it in character if Anise had something more prominent, eyebrow, nose, lip, etc.

          I know you’re fairly specific with various design elements so I figured I’d ask what was up with that if you’re willing to share.

        2. I have a characters with facial piercings later on in the story. I don’t do pierced ears b/c I find them distracting to the eye.

        3. All of that makes sense, but I still feel like Ginger’s escalation was pretty fast. Was that left out for pacing or intending to be a character insight to Ginger?

      3. So I went and looked again at that blog I just directed you to and realized that the business-related content is actually really hard to find among all the another well-wishing, movie reviews, new product announcements, product plugs, personal updates, et cetera, so I went ahead and just dug this up directly:


        That’s Howard Tayler’s presentation at the 2008 Utah Open Source Conference entitled “The free content business model”.

        I want to be clear, I’m not suggesting you have any obligation to try and quit your day job to do the comic full-time. Mark Stanley, who has been posting the webcomic “Freefall” three times a week for the past fifteen years, once said that he’d quit his job to do the comic full time when the world was willing to pay him as much to draw comics as it is to be an engineer at a nuclear power plant; I think the subtext there was that the stability of that position did more to ensure the comic’s ongoing production than attempting to go full-time ever could. I’m just saying that, for goodness sake, with a comic this excellent you shouldn’t have to be struggling just to pay your server costs.

  20. I think that there’s room on both sides here. On the one hand, Juniper has a right to feel how she feels, and finding you have more of an emotional connection to the child you gave away is entirely valid.

    However, Ginger is *also* correct, because playing favorites, or being half in the door, half out the door is just going to hurt the kid, and it’s completely unnecessary. I get the feeling that if Juni was serious, and wanted her son back, that Ginger would be okay with it. However, she isn’t serious yet, she’s just entertaining the thought, but she isn’t considering the damage she could do without intending to. If she’s serious, she’s going to have to stand up to Ginger for her, and prove herself ready to take care of Tag. Some of that means accepting responsibility for her choices, and learning to be an adult about it first, meaning that she considers the harm her actions, and inactions, can do.

    Addressing the writing point of this, I’d say it’s pretty amazingly well done. I mean, we aren’t talking about it’s place in the comic, we’re all talking about the *people* involved, and there’s no clear “This person’s right, and the other one’s wrong”. It feels very organic, and like sisters fighting.

  21. You know, would be kinda nice if the bird didnt get bought and the sisters just leave, then one of them (shadowed out so its unknown which, other than it not being Juniper) goes back to buy it for Tag.

    Leaving it as being unknown which of them did it other than visual confermation that it couldnt have been Juniper. I would love to see the theories and comments for such a strip lol

    1. Juniper might’ve left it behind, but she did buy it, as evidenced by having it in the plastic bag and the statement that she bought a gift with her own money.

      But the thing that would be a nice thing to do is go back in and pick up the one Juniper dropped and buy three more as well.

      1. I suspect, instead, we will have some flash to Juniper’s ditch at some point in the future, and the bird will occupy some place of honor, alongside a few photos of Tag…

        1. No, my guess is that your mom doesn’t want to acknowledge much of your lifestyle, perhaps to sooth her conscience when it comes to Pumpkin.

          But if Cinnamon’s button pushing is any indicator, some topics may be perhaps left to general terms, if for any reason, to take the possible shine off of the pyrite.

        2. I could see that too, but that’d be even a bit more of a sad bit considering that Juniper was stated to not have her own place and just bounce around staying with friends. I’d expect the things that are her permanent possessions need to be easy for her to carry herself on foot in one trip, so that bird, while light, would take up a fair amount of space in her bag.

    1. Say, Chris, Jessica, can someone delete this post and the parent post. The URL is misspelled, and I want everyone to look at the one above, as it has the working URL.

      I got excited, I waited over a year for this.

        1. No.


          No, no, no, no, no, know, no, no, no.

          The ComicMIX March Madness link, I spelled tournament wrong. But then again, I work for EWE, so I guess it’s not all my fault. Can you call me a tow truck?

  22. Everybody needs to do two things, maybe three if this is read before midnight pacific time 3/7/2014.

    1. go to comicmix, click on news, select mix march madness tournament
    2. Enter/vote for Shotgun Shuffle
    3. Read Friday’s Shotgun Shuffle.

    NOTE: 2 and 3 are interchangeable. And the want to see Chris in the tournament is about the opposite side of the axis (absolute value) raised to a logarithmic power cubed.

    Never mind that math, Getting Chris into the Tournament is paramount, and not the movie studio.

      1. Sure. But I wouldn’t put it past sisters to have some overly-heated arguments that probably go too far. Arguing with brothers and sisters isn’t like, say, arguing with friends. Because they’re family, they know you can’t get rid of them.

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