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Hard Feelings

This ended up being a bit late in the day because I decided in the eleventh hour to add the bottom two panels. It was saved for part of Wednesday's I had prepped, but after much debate with myself, the dialogue flowed much better with what you see here. So I put it off for a better completed strip. 1st-webcomic-problems. Also, whenever I see my fictional characters in real life, I'm always humbled to know I spawned them into existence with the sheer power of my imagination. I noticed this on a trip to Wal-Mart with the kiddies a few days ago. Glad to see Richard's found work. Richards Modeling Career

258 thoughts on “Hard Feelings

    1. Screw that. If she bounced after one week him being alive, then… yeah. She’s deserved this and a lot more for quite some time.

      1. No, she doesnt mate. Look at the timeline ang ages. Ginger is the oldest of the sisters (unless sister X is older) yet if memory serves Juniper has the oldest kid.

        People screw up, people make mistakes, its natural. Some of those mistakes are bigger than others. Reguardless of that however you dont punish someone when they are at least trying to do something, when they are actually attempting to change, even if its in a small way.

        Juniper isnt going to change over night, she isnt going to become Ginger ever, and when you think about it Juniper looks like she is well aware of the fact that she’s never going to be Tag’s mother beyond genetically. She’s going to deal with that pain to the grave.

        So again I side with her, she’s trying to do something at least, even if its only a little. That puts her head and shoulders above a *lot* of ‘parents’ out there.

        1. Thanks Kenju.

          I hate to say it, but I think that we’ve seen another easter egg laid in the past three strips. And it’s not a good one. I’m not going to say anything about it save, three strips.

          No, I’m not going to say anything else.

        2. I am going to say, that I do not expect Juniper to be inside Dennys later on. Not from the way that this seems to be leading.

        3. Had the thought of Juni going to rehab, and at the end of it to test if she’s really kicked it the following scenario:

          Tarra and Juniper sitting across from each other, a single glass of whiskey sitting on that table between them.

          Juniper reaches for the glass only to have Tarra’s braid smack her hand away and into Juni’s face.

        4. That reminds me of Opus’ diet in “Bloom County.” Opus at one side of a table with a plate between him and Milo, who is holding a baseball bat. Opus says, “Boy, I’d sure like to eat that Hostess Zinger.” Then Milo hits him with the bat, and Opus says “It’s working, Milo! I’m losing my desire to eat! I–I’m losing consciousness….” Milo barks “Get up, you weenie. There’z forty more treatments left to go!”.

        5. If you’re going where I think you are, then I really hope the strip doesn’t go there – that darkness might not be recoverable.

        6. Having realistic characters with a life and personality of their own means that Rusche only has so much discretion as to what happens in the comic without violating that.

          We need Sister X to save the day and cause a big enough distraction to stop this conversation. What’s taking her so long? Did she stop to strangle a litter of puppies or something?

        7. I’m not 100% certain about Jee’s specifics, though Juniper crawling back in her hole and not being willing to come back out again before crawling into an early grave is part of my guess.

          About the strangling puppies part, I’m just trying to clarify I’m rooting for the bad guy to break this up. Sometimes evil is USEFUL.

        8. Chris,
          I’m sorry for not responding before the posting of the next comic – I’m hesitant to do this in a public forum, and should probably email you directly.

          This mini-arc has been a bit eerie for me. I watched something play out with a friend that was so similar that I’m wondering if you and I know the same people…

          In the case of my friend, her equivalent to this showdown resulted in her giving up and going home to drink a bottle of vodka… with a bottle of valium as the chaser. Her sister was never the same after that, and the kids ended up being adopted by other family members. It was sobering and depressing, and I really hope this strip isn’t going to go quite so deeply into that abyss…

        9. Jee, I’m sorry that had to happen. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are not perfect, and some choices will cause irreparable harm.

          Someone I knew did something like that. They bounced back, but they’re not here anymore. Something else did that.

        10. How do we know the ages of the children? Was there something in the comments I maybe missed there? The only thing I though I saw was that the blonde kid (meaning Juniper’s) looked younger than at least one, maybe 2 of the others. Not that I’m really sure what that has to do with this here.

          The point is that it’s not really about Juniper or Ginger, it’s about the kids. Gingers see’s them all as hers, and she doesn’t want June playing favorites with them. She is, effectively, protecting her entire family from Juniper’s screwed-up-ness.

          Also, while I support people trying to improve their lives, Juniper is going about it in a really crappy way. You don’t start off by screwing up someone else, either by messing with Ginger’s family or by telling a kid that his whole life is a lie. In this case, I don’t think it’s a mistake that can be “fixed” by involving Juniper in the situation- it’s as good as it’s going to get. If Juniper want’s to show that she’s improving herself, then I think she should leave this behind and start over somewhere else (which doesn’t mean having another kid right away). Or, if she want’s to be involved in Tag’s life, then part of making peace with how you screwed up in the past is accepting the consequences of your actions, which in this case means she CAN’T be a mother to Tag- the role of “aunt” might be all she can manage.

          Juniper’s lifestyle seems to look like it’s all about doing whatever feels good at the moment, without considering it’s long-term consequences or the ramifications for other people. And that’s fully on display here- she wants to get Tag a gift because it will make her feel better, or maybe not such a failure.

        11. Numb, not good. I think that we went past good for a while now. She looks like she’s ready to not feel anything right now.

        12. I don’t think the ages were every specifically stated. Tag’s around three years old, and he’s the second youngest. Percy’s no older than 8, which puts Ginger having him at about 19. So Amper (glasses) would be somewhere between 3 and 8. Like 5 or 6 maybe? Probably 6.

        13. Pretty sure the baby was Ampersand. I think think I remember Ginger saying “We get that hair one way or another don’t we, Ampersand?”

        14. Quick archive check shows I was wrong, baby’s name is Asperand, but a trip through the archive is always fun.

        15. So, was Ginger still nursing Ampersand when Hashtag came along, and continued to nurse the new arrival? If so, yet another factoid to bolster her claim to authentic motherhood vis-a-vis the deadbeat.

        16. Asperand is younger and the one next one older (Andy, I think) seems to me like he’s about two years older, so I’d think probably not.

          And while I’ve heard there are additional maternal attachment bits related to breastfeeding, I don’t really see the breast vs bottle feeding to really change anything with regard to her definitely being Tag’s mother.

        17. It may be that Juniper deserves a chance at some point. But it’s going to be at his mothers (Ginger) descretion as to when an how. But I believe Ginger is right in stating that she can’t go down the road of playing favorites with time or presents. That would send way to many wrong messages and hurt too many feeling in young boys. Juniper gave him up for adopting so ALL resonsibility and rights has gone to Ginger.

        18. That is BS, she gave up her son to her sister. So to try to ride in and be the “mommy” now is just ego-centric! It’s not what is best for the kid, it isn’t even good for him! If she really had the kids best interest at heart she would be a great aunt to him since that is what she chose to do in the first place, it’s too late to take it back at this point.

      2. I’m not saying that Juniper doesn’t deserve some sort of “get your priorities sorted” speech Ginger is slapping her down much harder than she deserves.

        It’s obvious that Juniper has a hard time with applying any sort of perspective to her life and it’s just as obvious that she would not have been a good mother. But instead of Ginger simply explaining to her that she thinks Juniper giving a gift to Tag and not Percy, Amper or Asperand isn’t appropriate she’s using this as a way to belittle Juniper, further define her claim on Tag (which I don’t think Juniper was really disputing) and basically drawing a line between herself and Juniper that she doesn’t feel Juniper is worthy to cross. The ONLY thing of merit that Ginger said in this entire strip is her last word bubble. That’s the crux of the issue and I don’t disagree with Ginger on that one point. My issue with Ginger is her delivery. She’s elevating herself by stepping on Junipers past actions. You don’t win points like that because let’s face it, it seems like ANYONE looks good compared to Junipers past.

        I’m probably not wording it very well but the point I’m trying to make is it feels like Ginger is behaving more territorial than rational. Even the finger pointing body language lends itself to that type of interpretation. Is Ginger technically right? Yes. Is she treating Juniper like shit? Yes. Does Juniper deserve this treatment? Maybe but I don’t think it’s think it’s the time the place or even constructive how she’s doing it.

        So that’s why I be like “fuck Hector.”

        Yea, I don’t know, I just watched Friday recently….

        1. I think “Just because you watch him” is what really set Ginger off. That really did cast her in the role of glorified babysitter, just a placeholder until someday, when Juniper gets her act together and can sweep in and reclaim the kid.

          Juniper needs, desperately, to learn that at this point, she doesn’t get to have unapproved interactions with Tag. The sooner she recognizes that her ability to be in his life is dependent upon forging a solid relationship with Ginger, the sooner she’ll be able to actually step up.

        2. Yeah, I was all rooting for Juniper yesterday, but her comebacks today are frighteningly lame and out of touch. I definitely sounds like Juniper’s problem is as much or more failing to appreciate what Ginger has done for her child as it is failing to be responsible for herself, and then after failing that, being responsible for Tag. She knows she didn’t do *something*, but she doesn’t seem to have any real concept of what it actually was.

          Ginger is actually giving me a vibe of someone who has harbored deep-seated anxiety over this issue for a long time. I haven’t gotten to witness the quality of her parenting yet, but from this exchange I feel like she really did emotionally adopt Tag a long time ago, and has been dreading the prospect of Juniper eventually trying to re-enter his life for a long time. Ginger is definitely biting Juniper’s head off, but really Juniper trying to buy Tag a present just set of the rat-trap that Ginger has had tensed and ready to spring in her head for the past three years. Juniper’s responses sound like her just trying to defend her fragile ego on this point, but unintentionally she’s being incredibly inflammatory to Ginger, and it’s making it a lot worse- she’s just confirming a lot of the things that I think Ginger is afraid of.

          I’m not sure if there’s a realistically healthy way to resolve this. A healthy Juniper would thank Ginger for everything she’s done and ask how, in Ginger’s opinion, she could most constructively be a part of his life. A healthy Ginger would lay down some clear ground rules about which parts of Tag’s upbringing are off-limits and non-negotiable, and then give Juniper specific suggestions for ways she could contribute to raising him. But Juniper is too focused on avoiding pain to confront the real state of the situation, and Ginger is too (justifiably) protective of her adoptive son’s well-being and too (justifiably) angry to show restraint and look for constructive course of action.

        3. I will freely admit that to an extent I’m projecting on Juniper and her situation because I’ve been in a place where every effort towards redemption was spat upon and belittled and I can see how her “defense” (as reflexive and ill phrased as it may be) is lacking, but at the same time I implore those who may not have been as unfortunate, to recognize how harsh her sister is being. It’s not “is Ginger wrong” that I’m disputing because as the patriarch of two children who are not biologically my own I recognize the truth Ginger speaks. Instead I implore as one who has hit rock bottom and employed the drill bit, not all overtures towards good behaviors are without merit for indeed, may the lowly raise themselves up to become righteous members of society once more.

        4. Typos be damned, the above post should read “two children who are NOT my own.”

        5. I got that.

          I don’t know if there is going to be slapping or hugging on Wednesday. But I don’t think that I can expect much between. Even with the verbal beat down because of the pain of paying the mommy dues, there may be something else that we do not see yet.

          I don’t know if Juniper’s been in the corner before, but it sounds like the paint just started drying, supposedly, hypothetically.

        6. @TheLastOutlaw

          While I feel bad for whatever situation that was that you mentioned, and that people trying to improve themselves should be assisted appropriately, I don’t get the impression that that is what’s going on here. The vibe I get is that this isn’t about improving the lives of either Tag or Juniper, it’s about Juniper feeling less-bad about her past actions.

          And unfortunately that’s a very common attribute for the type of self-centered unreliable personality that is so devastating to so many families (often wandering into actual abuse). This kind of person believes that if they just do something nice on occasion, it makes up for all the shitty crap they’ve pulled in the past, when in reality it just means they are forcing themselves back into the lives of people who would probably be better off without them.

        7. The interesting thing about this comic is that body language is probably just as important as the dialog. Juniper’s “defense” (if you want to call it that) is horribly worded and at least partially justfies Ginger going off on her. But look at her, she’s shutting down, just trying to do/say something to explain herself (again poorly but given the emotional gut punch Ginger closed the last strip with I think the lack of eloquence is expected). I think it’s Junipers body language more than anything that makes me feel like Ginger is kicking her while she’s down. If Juniper said her dialog in panel one with the finger pointing aggression Ginger is showing in the last panel I would probably be fully on Ginger’s side. But given that she’s hunched into a ball of insecurity and can’t even make eye contact with Ginger makes it feel much more like Ginger is lashing out harder than she has to. I just get the overall sense that Ginger felt like her Alpha role was being challenged and she had to put down the opposition before it got any worse. The last panel with Juniper leaning back and still clutching the little toy bird? I don’t know, to me it’s probably the most emotional single panel Chris has drawn so far.

        8. Admittedly, Ginger possibly could have handled this situation better, but IMO it’s in line with most of the sisters having different levels of flaws. The same traits that make her a good parent or good at sister-wrangling may leave Ginger a bit short in the “emotional support” department. At least when it comes to someone who pisses her off.

          What I’m getting from the body language in this though (and I could be reading into it to much, maybe I’m projecting a bit as well) is that Juniper is effectively shutting down. The problem is that people of this personality type is that they don’t have the personal strength to face up to trouble when things get tough. They are alright so long as everything is on their terms, but the moment something starts requiring actual effort, they just quit. Whether it’s physically leaving, or drowning themselves in chemicals, or just refusing to participate any more, they don’t want to be a part of it.

        9. Agreed. I’ve seen this before. Juniper seems to be barely dangling from her last strands of hope. I worry about the dark places her psyche will go after this interaction, and am truly hoping the upcoming Sister X mini-arc will help matters.

          Initially, I figured Ginger had simply reached her limits with all the baffoonery, and just exploded, full-force against the latest perceived slight. Watching this interaction play out, I’m now leaning toward the idea that this is how Ginger treats Juniper (and to a lesser extent, all her other siblings), as a matter of course – the belittling, mocking, “nothing you do is good enough” anger constantly seething just below the surface. Most of the other sisters are either strong enough to let it slide off, or oblivious enough for it to just go over their heads. Juniper appears to internalize it; believe every last thing said about her, until she actually embodies every negative thing said about her, and seeks out the very same numbing solutions she’s accused of, despite being demonstrably smart, capable, and quick-witted (even if she ends up wasting her talents on recovering from her own screw-ups)…

        10. And the internalizing reinforces the perpetual negative self feedback loops that cause further internal belittling and retreating. To where a person feels alone even when with family.

          I had the thought that she need not be a Hemingway, but even that Stereotype makes me wonder if in order to be acknowledged as a good/great artist, need the person self destruct in order to view what they are criticizing?

        11. Considering the back history, it would probably take a Deux et Machina to fix this situation. That or AA, and if she really wanted what the double digit coin holders had. I mentioned something like this earlier. And I want to point out that ever since Juniper showed McFlapFlap to Ellie, there has been a strong deterioration in Juniper’s self esteem since that point.

          You can only lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

          You can’t help someone who doesn’t ask for it. And while Juniper is trying, she’s doing it wrong, even if someone else just did the same thing.

        12. Well, actually the best thing to do would be what Tarra said. Save the conversation for later. Ginger is tired an pissed off and has been with Juniper for probably over a normal workday. Juniper’s coming off a hangover and guilt. Maybe I’m being too optimistic about their personalities, but I’d like to think when they’re both more well rested Ginger could give Juniper a level look and ask her if she really honestly believes in her heart of hearts that she’s ready to step up and be a mom, to which Juniper would back down, and then they could constructively talk about Juniper taking baby steps to being a competent aunt and being getting ready to have a talk with Tag 15+ years from now to let him know the finer points of his genealogy.

          I guess the thing with me is that however much a family member might stress me out, I always want to try to help them back to a better path, even if maybe I don’t trust them so much. Maybe this would be different if I had the perspective of one who’s supposed to be an adult appearing to interfere with the well being of one who’s a child and I don’t want to admit that the line might have to be drawn as “Screw one, save the other.”

          To me, it’s that Juniper goes from having some hope, animation, and some semblance of what might be considered normal. Now she’s looking beaten down and slinking back in her old ways.

          I’m seeing Juniper leaving either obviously or slinking out during the Tarra vs Sister X confrontation.

        13. I’m getting the impression from your and others comments that I’ve been misinterpreted. I want to be clear: I am not defending Ginger’s verbal beat-down as constructive or justified or morally righteous. I meant only that her anger, and the fears I perceived her as harboring, were justified. I think Ginger is explicitly doing the wrong thing here, and I think Juniper was explicitly trying to do the right thing.

          The problem is that Juniper was trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons, and I think Ginger perceives that, and now Ginger is responding by doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. This is a tragedy in the classic sense playing out right now.

          I concur that the best resolution that could be realistically hoped for is for someone to end the conversation immediately, and for the subject to be delicately brought up again at a better time and in a better place.

        14. I do get what you are saying, but I still disagree with it for a simple matter.

          While perhaps misguided, Juniper is actually trying to do SOMETHING, and is getting shut down.

          Part of my job is filing child support claims against people that work for us. People who, by the time the claim has arrived, are already several states away.

          I literally see on average three to four claims come across my desk per day, and have for the last eight years. Not ONE of those individuals has been with us still when those claims come to me. Some of these individuals owe over a decade of unpaid child support.

          Now, when you see that every monday through friday for eight years, you have a different take on situations like this.

          Did Juniper screw up? Yes. But at least she is TRYING to do something, that puts her above a LOT of people.

        15. Interpretation is a pain for something like this, as what it comes down to is Ginger drawing a line and protecting Tag from Juniper’s influence is right. However supporting Juniper taking a step to better herself is also right. There are ways both could potentially be pursued, but we’re doing surgery with a sledgehammer here, so…not so much in the way of delicacy. It’s also quite possible that Juniper won’t accept proper boundaries and rules with Tag and the sledgehammer’s going to be the only way, I just think she deserves to have a few more delicate instruments tried first.

          I’m also very hesitant about considering fear justified. Caution can certainly be justified in many situations with very little effort. But considering fear justified can easily turn into guilty until proven innocent, which, growing up in the US, I consider an extremely bad thing (and yes, I see it happening here more and more, many times due to peoples’ fear, which is a big part of what makes me a bit sensitive about it).

        16. Interpretation through various means. One of them seems to be through life experiences of the audience members individually. Another seems to be experiences vicariously experienced by some of the members of the audience. And, I’m not sure how to categorize the others. .

        17. Our experiences color what we perceive. The goal of the brain is to use less energy, which it does by automating shortcuts (i.e. intuition or stereotyping) rather than the more expensive process of reasoning through things. Patterns are what we tend to use for that. So the patterns that we’ve seen in our own lives or the lives around us contribute to the patterns we’ll tend to look for and match most strongly in a different situation.

          It’s the reason I strongly support the jury system even with all its flaws.

        18. I just noticed from a dramatic point of view, that the body language and staging positions changed from Juniper and Ginger being side to side facing the checkout to Ginger possibly putting Juniper into the position where they are just about face to face. Big, big, big difference between panels two and three.

          And yes, TLO, Ginger is absolutely playing it territorially. She adopted Tag, and paid the dues and she is protecting all four boys right now.

          And Chris, smart, smart, smart move on holding out for the choice today. Good flow, increased dramatic tension, and all around cliff hanger.

        19. Having dealt with shiftless birth-mothers who’ve breezed in and out of their hapless offspring’s lives, trying to buy the poor kid’s affections and forgiveness with expensive gifts and empty promises before running off to the next boyfriend/get-rich-quick dream/drug hit and leaving the grandparents/aunts and uncles/(insert other relative here) to deal with the teary aftermath… I don’t think Ginger went far enough.

        20. Agreed.

          It’s not about Juniper “deserving” this. It’s about protecting Tag. In general, Juniper seems to be the type to ignore polite reminders. The message needs to be delivered as unambiguously and timely as possible to make sure Juniper won’t go around Ginger and screw things up again, negating the possibility of her redemption.

          I’d like to see Juniper clean up her act and be a bigger part of Tag’s life. But this is not the way.

          As for Ginger being too harsh, remember:
          1) She needs to deliver a firm message
          2) What Juniper’s doing would be destructive, not just to Tag but to her biological sons, all of whom she loves fiercely.
          3) She’s tired. This has likely been a long day.
          4) She’s frustrated. She’s had to corral all of the sisters through this adventure, and Juniper had the misfortune to be the one the music stopped on.
          5) She did give Juniper a way to still buy the parrot (just buy 3 more to disguise it)
          So, is there an even more diplomatic way for her to address this situation? Yes. But if she responded that way, she’d actually be too balanced to be believed. This is far more realistic, for the pain that we feel when we watch this.

        21. I’ll buy Ginger is not at her best. However, the tone here, and Tag’s age, makes me suspect that this may be the first time Juniper’s even tried to stick her nose in Tag’s life. First and foremost Tag needs not to be confused and Juniper needs to be firmly made aware of the boundaries. But after that, it just seems like giving Juniper an avenue towards something that makes it worth the effort to pull herself out of the gutter would be a good thing too.

        22. I agree it would be a good thing.

          But after having to herd the Buckingham sisters through a Black Friday catastrophganza that lasted for four months? For her to be that patient and self-possessed would be superhuman. Considering we’ve already seen her snapping like a sergeant at the other sisters, I don’t think she has that (nor would I).

          I could see her going to Juniper afterward (once they’ve cooled down), and telling her that if she’s serious, they can give her that avenue. I can also see Juniper rejecting it, having put up a wall after being hurt and humiliated in this strip.

        23. Yea, the fact that Ginger may have totally closed the door completely is the worst part of this. I get her favoritism concerns, but making her feel completely unwelcome isn’t going to help either.

        24. Has the door been locked, barred and concrete poured? I feel that if this door is closed, Juniper has been handed the keys to get back in. Time, presents and supporting all four boys, not just singling out Tag.

          Juniper hasn’t come to grips with much of everything yet, and I’ll wager that some of it extends prior to the bathroom interrogation of another girl’s boyfriend/lover.

        25. I don’t think Ginger is attempting to weld the door shut at all. It’s just a question of Juniper is getting shut down hard enough that she’ll never want to even try a door again.

          As Deepbluediver said above, Juniper appears to be shutting down at the first hint of the negative. Which is why the thing I would’ve hoped to see from Ginger was shutting this down with a hand out saying that she’ll help her on another route if that’s what she really wants. Decent chance that Juniper wouldn’t have been ready to take that hand today, but she’d have remembered that it had been offered in the future.

        26. Personally, I think that Juniper may be shutting down because her perception of the situation is not being accepted. But I didn’t imply that Ginger is welding the door shut, it’s just that Juniper has to accept the terms and limitations of what it means to cross Ginger’s doorstep and see *sigh* her nephews.

          I dunno. I don’t understand the whole thing, but I know it sucks. What I don’t know is how Juniper got stuck there in the first place. Was it a “Spaghetti Incident” situation, why the “Kite Eating Tree” eats kites, Why Garfield must eat lasagna (which I haven’t seen him do of late), or why lemmings do what they do?

          A matter of instinct versus learned behavior or what? Am I trying to read too much into it, or what?

        27. As I said, I can accept Ginger not being at her best here. However, when it’s been a situation where someone really, truly needed help and showed the first sign of willingness to improve in years, I’ve known a lot of people who have managed to reach past that for a little more patience. I’m not saying the ability to magically have a well thought out answer, but I’ve certainly seen people who, in this situation could’ve left it as a “Hold your horses there. We need to talk about this because I see a potential problem. I know I’m too tired right now and bet you are too, and I’m betting if we try to solve this now we’ll get a bad solution. Can I call you Saturday afternoon?”

          Now I’m not going to say that I think Ginger is a bad person for not being able to do that. Everyone has limits. Now, if she doesn’t feel somewhat bad about shutting Juniper down that hard and have to console herself with concerns of protecting Tag and admitting she’s not perfectly patient, then I’ll consider her a bit of a bad person for feeling the degree here was justified.

          As an older sibling, if I were in Ginger’s shoes right now, I know I’d be regretting my lack of patience in this conversation for a long time. Possibly the rest of my life if there were no later signals of willingness to change from Juniper. I’d be regretting it every time I saw Juniper not caring (which is 99.999% of the times anyone might see Juniper), every time I saw her seat empty at a family get together, every time she skipped out on a family tradition (as I’d bet she probably will next Black Friday at this rate), and eventually at her likely-much-earlier-than-needed funeral.

          So yeah, I’m upset with Ginger both because I like her and think she’s setting up a lot of regret for herself and because I project myself in the older sibling role, though I’ve only got one younger sibling and I’d place his indiscretions as somewhere between Anise & Ellie, so nothing nearly this degree that I have to deal with.

      1. They can’t all be. My question about what we’re learning about the sisters from today’s page is how much this is Ginger not at her best versus how much this is Ginger as she chooses to be. I’m hoping it’s a lot more of the first, but I guess we’ll see (probably after the Black Friday storyline is over, whenever Ginger rotates around to having a big part again).

      2. It’s not, and that’s probably a good thing, as it gives true depth to the characters. I do worry how deep this well goes, and wonder how much climbing will need to be done to get back to level once it’s all said and done

  1. Um…Ginger…I know the air is thinner in the higher altitudes generated by your soapbox, but maybe you’ve forgotten that you were just shot at a few seconds ago? Maybe now is the time to listen to Tarra and RUN AWAY?

    1. …although, they all seem rather calm about the fact that they just survived a shelling only minutes ago. Wonder what they know that I don’t?

        1. Yeah, but look at Ellie and Pumpkin. They were facing the same direction as Tarra; why wouldn’t they know, especially at scooter speeds? But there they are, calmly looking at talking parrots and watching the back-and-forth between Tag’s moms.

        2. You need to go back and look at the entire thing from when Juniper gave Ellie the bird (pun needed for humor’s sake), strike that. Back to “The Seven Wonders” when Anise brought forth nerdy youth cashier guy (I doubt that will stick).

          I don’t know how to describe it, but Anise is on the opposite side of the rest of the girls with cashier guy. Cinnamon would be out in the mall proper (hallway?). First row of girls would be Ellie and Ginger, with Ginger at the space where people generally stand to hand the cashier money. I’ll just call that the store’s sweet spot and each aisle would have one. But we’re just concerned with this one.

          So, Ginger is in the sweet spot, Ellie is to her right (stage right and the viewer’s left (Snagglepuss, remember (Exit Stage Left Even and he goes out the right side of the screen))). halfway back to the second row, next to Ginger’s right is Pumpkin, and to Pumpkin’s right is Juniper.

          Taking up the second row and the rear guard position is Tarragon.

          Ginger is calm and in command, Anise is intimidating the cashier, Cinnamon looting, Pumpkin seems to be watching the PINK hoverboard and Tarragon is watching for Sister X. Ellie and Juniper are off screen, stage right.

          /End The Seven Wonders

          Open McFlapFlap
          Ellie seems to be facing the Cashier from her position, so she should be facing what would be center down stage. Juniper is just facing out towards the front of the store (or the audience’s shoulder). Juniper seems to be standing at her full height, feeling, good about something. Her chin is definitely above her jacket collar.
          /End McFlapFlap

          Open Hitting the Fan
          Ellie is still looking at the Cashier. Juniper, Pumpkin and Ginger are facing the same way. Ginger’s remark about who is it for brings her focus onto Juniper with Pumpkin looking at Ginger and Ellie’s focus on Ginger. Pumpkin’s gaze turns from Ginger possibly towards Juniper or the toy. Anise is looking at the floor. Cashier may still be hanging with the credit card and Tarra is out of frame.

          Juniper’s eyes and chin drop towards the toy.

          At this point, Anise may be standing almost directly opposite Ginger, just off to stage left.
          /End Hitting the Fan

          Open Hard Feelings
          Juniper’s stance and chin lowers as her self esteem degrades under Ginger’s rant/triad. Juniper is still facing as before, but Ginger has moved past Pumpkin and is facing Juniper towards stage right. (Audience’s left)
          Ginger may have turned Juniper in order to have her face her for the 2 am points of motherhood.

          At this point, first row is Ellie and Ginger, halfway to second row is Juniper and Pumpkin. Tarragon has seemingly moved from starting point being Ginger. Cashier is assumed to still be at his register and Anise possibly blocking him from escape.

          Ellie and Pumpkin are both looking at Ginger, while Ginger’s full attention is on Juniper. Juniper is leaning backwards away from Ginger, with her chin getting lower in relation to her jacket collar. This suggests that she is retreating and also raising her shoulders while shrinking her head down.
          /End Hard Feelings… for now.

        3. From a shorter stance, Sister X is presumably someone that the sisters know about (maybe Herb’s from a pre-Rosemary relationship, or maybe a byproduct of Fusion Dance split so maybe Tarrakin or something). Possibly her only beef is with Tarra, or the others expect her to do no lasting damage and would welcome the distraction to break up Ginger/Juniper (I mean, seriously, a few cuts and burns will heal before Christmas, but it could be years for things from the argument).

          Also, I suspect all the younger Buckinghams trust Tarra to deal with problems of the epic superhero confrontation sort while keeping them, if maybe not all the other bystanders, relatively safe.

        4. I’m going to go with the dark horse candidate, Sister X IS Tarra.

          I feel I can get away with suggesting with this for the moment because so far Tarra is the only sister with a reaction to X, almost like she’s the only one who saw her. Which would make Sister X pretty much Tyler Durden. I’m probably completely wrong but it would be awesome.

          Also does anyone else find it odd that NONE of the sisters have commented on this comic? I’ve gotten used to looking for their hints/insights.

        5. I could see X being O, but it’s going to have to be a reverse Fusion Dance because we have bilocation. That’s actually my bet right now, that X is a Fusion Dance byproduct, maybe something like after Tarra & Pumpkin unfuse that X pops into being and then sticks around as long as Pumpagon was around, or something along those lines.

        6. If I were a meta commenter for one of the sisters, I don’t think I could think of anything I’d want to comment right now.

          Carrying on an argument in character as Ginger or Juniper wouldn’t be fun and would be hard to know how to do in sufficiently correct tone to how they’re going to react. The upcoming Sister X bit is too uncertain for meta-Tarra to talk about that. Being Ellie or Pumpkin in character, they wouldn’t want to talk about this. Anise appeared to take this seriously as opposed to being off-the-wall too, so don’t see her in character wanting to talk. I could see Cinn making highly sociopathic remarks about not caring about it and wanting to get the spoils of her ill-gotten-looting into Ginger’s van before the cops arrive and make her put it back, but I doubt the commenter behind meta-Cinn wants to be the mouthpiece for that, especially in the middle of all this debate. And meta comments from any of Ginger’s brood is a whole additional can of worms, and honestly the only one I could see is “Gaahhhgagagahhhh [drool]” from Asperand.

        7. Sorry, But Ellie said that you can’t score extra points for Black Friday while Pumpkin was commenting on how we beat the British.

        8. Both of those comments appear to be directed at Tarra and her use of the musket. It’s ambiguous which direction Tarra is looking when she notices Sister X, but it’s obvious by the word bubble color she’s the only one who commented on her so I suspect that neither Pumpkin nor Ellie saw her. It really comes across as Tarra being the only one to notice or acknowledge that Sister X was there. I mean how else do you explain that after wrangling a cashier to check them out NO ONE is talking about a long lost sister saving their ass with a freakin’ rocket launcher? Sure, Tarra shoots a ball display with a toy musket and it blows up, that’s an everyday thing in the Tarraverse and I can see them not wasting time talking about it. But if anyone else had seen Sister X I would assume there would some more reaction to it.

        9. Okay, so.. Ellie is all, Tarra you can’t be extra cool and stuff every time you step foot outside of your secret base of operations, I mean Apartment.

          She’s looking at Tarra, and maybe backwards at the chaos of balls.

          Pumpkin is fascinated by the explosion and looking backwards. Oblivious.

          Tarra was looking at the musket and was distracted by something that caused her to look up.

          I mean, it’s like a fly to a frog, motion or some speck of light flashing is all that it takes for the attention to be placed on the little black bug.

        10. @TheLastOutlaw – I’m not going to say it’s impossible that Ellie and Pumpkin didn’t see Sister X, though I consider it unlikely (unless she’s a figment), however I don’t see them considering Tarra’s reaction, which they pretty well have to have noticed unless they were similarly distracted by Sister X, as due to the explosion so I’d think they would be at least somewhat on their guard if the presence of Sister X worries them. Which it might not, they may get along great with Sister X and be very comfortable with how she’ll confront Tarra not to spill over to them. Seriously they’re the two most agreeable Buckinghams that you’d expect to have the best chance of being on positive terms with all of the others.

        11. I absolutely agree it’s unlikely and my speculation is most probably wrong but I’m enjoying the idea before it’s crushed by reality.

      1. Ginger was facing away from the explosion, as I recall, and might have been more focused on driving. It’s possible she didn’t see what Tara saw, and assumed the explosion was from her. Recall that a few pages back she was worried about Tara “handling things”; maybe she just assumed it was business-as-usual.

        1. Point taken, but you don’t HEAR that kind of explosion? That was a lot stronger than a toy explosion should be, really; you’d think you wouldn’t help but hear that no matter how adrenaline-crazed you are on a power scooter.

        2. That was kinda my point- with Tara, EVERYTHING is so over the top it didn’t even register. You DON’T expect explosions in a toystore….unless Tara is involved.

          Also, most of the sisters have at least one major dysfunction, maybe we’re seeing a hint of Ginger’s.

        3. Well, maybe you don’t expect explosions unless it’s a REALLY GOOD toy store. I mean, if I heard something blowing up at age 5 in a toy store, I’d probably be running to see what it was while Mom was trying to grab me back.

        4. Steve, do you hear everything when you’re pissed off?

          I remember one time my brother and I were playing on a floating pier off of a dock. Dad was fishing, but he was watching us. One of us fell into the ocean between the dock and the pier, maybe both of us. All I know is that I looked towards the shore, and I saw a big thing running from where dad might have been towards the shore end of the pier. A few seconds later, dad was hauling us both up off of the pier onto the dock. I think that we both got a few swats on our asses for scaring the shit out of dad, that and being irresponsible.

        5. I don’t believe I’ve ever been sufficiently pissed off to not hear four rockets detonate in tandem.

        6. I’m going to agree about the noticing the rocket explosions. There’s an argument of her expecting Tarra to be over the top and assuming it was just her and not hearing the verbal exchange on the roof she was dragging (especially after being deafened by the rocket blast), but Ginger pretty well had to notice the rockets (pressure wave, sound, or both).

        7. I’ve been pissed off to the point of tunnel vision, literally seeing a red haze over everything, and causing people I try to talk to indoors continually try to creep away from me and people outside getting out of my way from up to 50 yards away.

          I still would’ve seen/heard/felt a rocket blast. Hell, I probably would’ve reveled in the destruction at that degree of being pissed off.

    2. Ginger in her BIO has been called “Regulator of sisters and eater of worlds.” So I don’t think sister X causes her much concern. If anything I’d bet that sister X is waiting for Ginger to leave before making any move against Tarragon.

  2. Juni looks really incoherent in that last panel. Like she’s so used to everyone calling out her mistakes and yelling at her that it doesn’t even faze her anymore.

    1. I’d be surprised if it did. I’m sure Juniper has had to develop a skill for ignoring other people getting down on her as a defense mechanism.

      1. that’s not my experience – most people I’ve known of Juni’s ilk have been extremely empathic, and tend to believe all the negative spewed at them – thus acting the way they do, instead of getting their backs up and fighting back. She’s not ignoring it; she’s absorbing every last poisonous word.

        1. At the level I’ve seen, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. My perception has been more of a, “No one believes I’m worth a damn, so why bother putting any effort into trying to be worth a damn.” Large degrees of empathy and absorbing could cause the same effect from what I could see.

        2. I want to know how she started thinking like that. I’m thinking something happened before she got the Sister Council title and such, and that may have been the second or third tier of the “http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375912/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Layer Cake

          Personally, I don’t think that Juniper would be or is into hard drugs, just alcohol. Why not, it’s the most readily available drug on the street. She’s hot, so she doesn’t have to pay for anything, with cash that is. And by that, I mean that she’s been paying for whatever it is with her state of mind and continuing down that path.

          If this isn’t the rude awakening, then I would not mind tying Juniper to an office chair and pushing her into the doors of a rehab clinic until the rude awakening passed. Maybe that’s something that jee may have been thinking about.

        3. That’d be up to Rusche in how he clarifies. However for the very start of the path, I’ve posted my thoughts before in how her psychology makes sense with her family position (never outshining Tarra, never be a more responsible person than Ginger, never as flamboyant as Anise, twins came along and took parental attention before kindergarten, never as evil as Cinn, dealing with expectations of why she doesn’t match up from all the teachers who remember at least Tarra, etc).

          That doesn’t answer the full point of how she got to where she was before she got preggers, but the path is far enough that minor things could’ve been enough to complete it.

  3. Man. I… you know, I still have to side with Ginger on this whole thing. It isn’t the right time for Juniper to be doing this. Maybe she doesn’t have to be quite so harsh right now, but considering she’s been raising Tag this long without Juniper really wanting anything to do with him, I can understand why she’s so upset that Juniper can just assume she can drop in and out of the kids’ life whenever she wants.

    That’s not to say they can’t start working together once Juniper gets her act cleaned up (because, I’m sorry, I can’t see Ginger even letting Juniper hang out with the kids as “Aunt Juni” until she’s in a better place), but nothing good would come from that bird being under the tree with “From Juniper” on it (or worse: “From Mom”).

    1. Well, the thing I’d consider a good thing for Juniper to do right now is hand the bird to Pumpkin, tell her to hand it to Rosemary as a new toy for at Grandma’s house (no need to wait for Christmas) for all the nephews and walk out without saying anything else.

      I don’t disagree with Ginger, this does need to be stopped before any of her brood get wind of it, but I also don’t feel like the first hint of Juniper giving a damn needs to be smacked down that hard without a, “how about we try this instead, and recognize that if you care about Tag, confusing him about this is only going to make things worse.”

      1. Yeah, I’m with you. Can’t very well write off Juniper already, no matter what horror she’s wreaked. And from the sounds of it, quite a bit already, really.

        1. Whatever horrors she’s wreaked can not compare to the possibility of wreaking a child’s life if she continued down the same road she’s on without giving up custody of Tag.

          At best, completely screwed up, anti social and worse than Cinnamon. At worst, dead before first birthday.

        2. I’m not saying “write her off,” I’m saying she needs to prove she’s ready for that kind of commitment (or any kind of commitment) so she doesn’t do some real damage to Ginger’s family or just to Tag if she decides, “nope, too hard, see ya at the bar!”

        3. I don’t know, that kind of makes me think of Charlie Sheen’s character in “Two and a half men.” He’s a drunk, but he makes choices. I think that Juniper has been grabbed by the balls and is being dragged by the bottle.

  4. I don’t disagree with Ginger, but I hope that part of her reaction here is no sleep and general sisterly irritation and that if Juniper had made some form of attempt at maternal tendencies when she was in a better state she would’ve been every bit as firm with Juniper, but a bit less discouraging.

    1. I get the feeling Juniper’s someone who’s used to not really needing to think too far ahead when it comes to her own life. She didn’t really have much of a plan beyond “break into store, get voucher,” and it could explain why she never thought “use protection” was a good idea.

      But yeah, those maternal instincts can be pretty strong, especially if Juniper’s actions are going to cause a lot of turmoil in Ginger’s family.

    2. I think that one of the things setting Ginger off is that this is very obviously an ‘impulse’ thing, rather than something she’s thought about doing for awhile. Ginger’s unwilling to let Juni be a random influence on the kid’s life, period.

      1. Ginger should absolutely be a gatekeeper in this regard. The thing I’m saying is she should’ve told her to forget it about the parrot but if Juniper really wants to be a part of Tag’s life then they could talk later, and that it’s going to require effort and commitment from Juniper because “in and out” will mess with Tag’s life.

        It’s the difference between putting a hand out to arrest someone’s forward motion versus knocking their legs out from under them and kneeling on top of them. Both maneuvers can be appropriate in different scenarios, but I think the first seems like it would’ve been appropriate and sufficient for Juniper but she got the second.

        Granted, if she didn’t accept the first, then that’s when the second would’ve been appropriate to pull out.

  5. I can’t stop hearing my sisters voice come out of Ginger’s mouth. Almost 100% to a “T”. I’m not trying to say anything bad about my sister, but it seems to be the voice that equates to the OH REAALLLLY factor.

    I KNOWJuniper is f&$*#$! up. And that face in the last panel looks like she can’t wait to find another bottle. As if she can hear it calling to her, to take care of her, cuddle her, make choices for her, protect her from life.

    I’m not trying to defend Juniper, but I want to take a mack truck and run that proverbial bottle the hell OVER. As if choices, or pure will power alone can compete with indiscretions such as addictions.

    I can only think of a book by the name of “Cupcake Brown“. I’m not going to equate Cupcake with Juniper because there is NO way to equate one life with another in that way. I know how Cupcake described her first drink, how it made her feel warm, fuzzy and all far away. And that was when she was between ten and twelve.

    Juniper is right for trying to be something to Tag other than “That person.” Ginger is right because she has adopted Tag, and she paid the mommy dues, and because she wants Juniper to man up to the next level and show affection for all four boys.

    I just hope that there is not a cat fight Wednesday.

    1. Wouldn’t be so much of a cat fight – more like a momma lionness beating the shit out of a spotted hyena. With just one swipe of her paw.

  6. I understand Ginger’s anger if Juniper wants to buy only a gift for Tad but not for either of his siblings.

      1. No no, he’s exploding IN kittens and rainbows. That means HE’S exploded, and left behind a pile of kittens which were firing out amidst rainbows. The kittens are quite intact.

      1. Yeah, he’s up there holding the grass 90 degrees to reality. Lording it over all of us. meh. He needs another abacus for his birthday Chris. :D

  7. So, I’m guessing that if the vote had gone to Ginger, we’d see X pop up, rush the group, and simply have Ginger turn on her (full or her motherly fury) and giver her the Mom-state of a lifetime. X would feel super guilty, apologize (eye downcast & everything), and they’d all go out for frosty chocolate milkshakes.

    1. Ginger would swivel her neck around, glare, and grate out “Not. Now.” like a gravel mixer in the last stages of a permanent seizure. The rocket launcher would explode in her hand, and three months later, she’d be back with a new robot hand to match her likely robotic eye.

    2. I still really wish Ginger would have won. We’ve seen enough Tarra shenanigans already. But given how close the vote is, maybe the two stories can mesh or something.

      1. I wish that were possible. I said Sister X had two different backstories, as in, depending on the vote, she’s one of two people. Either a sister we haven’t met, or another character we already have.
        Tarragon winning is actually the original story I wrote. Ginger’s was one I came up with about 1/3 of the way into doing this arc. So I decided to leave it to vote. I did want Ginger to win in the end, but we miss a lot of set-up if she did.

        1. “Another character we already have…”

          …Ellie’s cross-dressing teacher? The person Ellie was IMing back at the start of the comic as a whole? Old Guy’s granddaughter, looking for revenge because someone connected to the girls upstairs punched out her grampie?

          Let the guesses begin, even if we’ll never actually know!

        2. I’m thinking Fusion Dance byproduct (or Fusion end byproduct) and being a separate physical manifestation of existing sister(s).

        3. I’m rooting for Sister X actually being Tarra’s split personality. Which as I said elsewhere would make Sister X pretty much Tyler Durden.

        4. Yeah, that IS an awesome idea. A sister who lost all her ability to succeed in life because it all went into the other sister would almost certainly resent the hell out of the sister who took it.

        5. I like the split personality idea. Like Sister X is Tyler Durden to Tarra’s Ed Norton. It wasn’t a separate sister who caused that explosion – it was actually Tarra (dun dun duuun).

          Now Tarra must confront her worst enemy: HERSELF!!

        6. So, instead of the Paper Street Soap Company we have…. what? And how would that explain Wheelchair Ninja and Matthew, the Backwards Burglar?

        7. While neither are looking at her, Ellie and Pumpkin both appear to be talking to Tarra with the musket (with Pumpkin referencing the musket) while Sister X had to be elsewhere. Sister X kinda’ has to have a physical presence separate from Tarra for that to make much sense, so it can’t be a straight Tyler Durdan. Needs some Tarra-physics to explain a physical split or at least telekinetic manipulation of the rocket launcher from several feet away. So I’m mostly with you, but with the addition of a physical split.

        8. Fair enough. Regardless of which way the story arc goes, I will still enjoy the comic nonetheless. I also look forward to when shotshuff shirts become available. My tax returns are itching to be spent lol

  8. I’m having trouble figuring out what Juniper’s face is supposed to be in the last panel. Can anyone help me out? What is that reaction supposed to convey?

    1. That’s she’s still tipsy, maybe? But then, according to Ginger, it’s been 10+ hours since this days started, which would seem like enough time for ANYONE to sober up. Maybe it’s just that her state is one of perpetual lethargy and sluggishness. I’ve known people like that, who could spend 6 weeks in a detox tank and still talk like they where stoned out of there mind.

        1. Juniper almost seems to me to be the sort of person who normally metabolizes any form of carbohydrate into alcohol. I remember there are the occasional odd people for whom that happens (and they only discovered by putting the previously suspected drunks into hospital isolation conditions and noticed they had a high blood alcohol level with no possibility of ingesting alcohol).

          My first Google attempt didn’t find a reference, but if you’re not familiar I can poke around past that.

    2. She’s glazed over, taking another “this is how much you disappoint me” verbal lashing. It’s a look of un-expressive subservience. She’s taking it like a punching bag. She obviously can’t look Ginger in the eye, so Ginger is forcing the eye contact by getting in her face more with each remark. So my goal is to show her just zoning out until the onslaught passes. Juniper’s not on the right side of history enough to forcefully lock eyes with Ginger on this.

        1. Came across loud and clear. I saw it as “crawling back in her hole” and some degree of “stubbornness like a pillow” in terms of no argument, no force back, but complete and total unwillingness to change that you can see if you care to (I have more than a few relatives that tend that way).

  9. Ginger is Tag’s mom. After that rant, especially so.

    It’s nice to see that Juniper is actually feeling guilty for once, but while it might seem that getting Tag a gift is a nice gesture, it’s actually very self-serving. She wants to do it because it will temporarily relieve her guilt, but it’ll only confuse Tag, upset his siblings, and make things awkward for Ginger, his real mom. So I guess go for it then…?

    But Tarra is right, now is not the time. Tarra… Tarra…

    Wait, who’s fighting Sister X?!?
    Is she just waiting patiently?

    1. I’m going with the theory that even Sister X knows better than to cross Ginger in Momma Bear Mode. So she’s casually waiting until Ginger storms out, and then planning on re-ambushing Tarra.

    2. We don’t know Sister X’s motives, but she might be quite content to let Ginger tear down Juniper for reasons of her own.

      As the potential aggressor, she can leave her potential prey waiting as long as she pleases to allow other events to unfold or increase their worry of where she’ll strike.

    1. I literally did not make the connection until you pointed it out. I saw it, yeah, but I just called it “toy store background” until you pointed it out specifically. It was like, oh, THAT family fun. Yeah, okay.

  10. Rusche, a little while back you asked us to be honest with criticisms and our thoughts on this comic. Would you prefer I say something in the comments section, or would a private message be more appropriate?

      1. Criticism? In my comment section? It’s more likely than you think.

        Even if only one person gets this pointless reference it was still worth it.

        1. On the off chance that anyone here doesn’t recognize that from this, go to images.google.com and search for “Centipedes in my” and you’ll get the idea from that.

        2. The “x in my x” was a fun meme, I always liked the Fallout themed one. Changes? In my war? I lol’d. This is the first time I heard the centipede one.

  11. Ahh, Holiday stress, it’s enough to make anyone snap at family for the wrong reasons. Ot sad that Ellie seems to be the most Well adjusted, and she’s seems to be going through a sexuality Identity…. crisis (Stupid uncommon words. ))



      2. Christmas Easter is the best Christmas, because then you get all the extra candy along with the toys. Also most of the ancillary Easter traditions are kinda’ non-sequiturs for the meaning that the holiday has in Christianity (and it is considered a Christian holiday), so adding more just seems like it’s in the spirit.

        1. The Easter Bunny brings Chocolate Santas that have Chocolate Crucifixes in his goodie bag. And the Chocolate crosses have chocolate Easter Bunnies nailed to them.

        2. You really want to focus on the chocolate Easter Bunnies chocolate balls while they are nailed to the crucifixes in Chocolate Santa’s goodie bag?

          That’s work of a level of detail reserved for makers of Fine Swiss Watches, or Rolex even. We’re talking tolerances even tighter than Ginger’s finger wagging.

        3. I was really just hoping that in the spirit of crossed customs the eggs could be not hard-boiled when hung on the tree.

    1. Because you always find yourself debating paternity with your siblings when someone with a rocket launcher is stalking you through a store?

      1. No, no, no. Maternity. Juniper’s learned that attempts to debate anything about her remembering the men in her life from more than five minutes ago is a lost cause.

  12. So playing with some rough math in my head, I’m assuming that Tag’s dad is the BF Juniper stole from Quinn?

    1. That’s the current suspicion, and I think Rusche has confirmed it.

      However, I’m curious if we know for sure since we have no idea how much Juniper was sleeping around in high school.

      1. There is that, but a girl is supposed to know who, when and where.. supposedly. A guy is just, WHAT?!?!?

        The timing works, three years back from now is roughly summer break from Sophomore year. Tag, if not born prematurely, would/should be a march baby.

      2. I think it goes beyond suspicion. In Name Dropping, Ellie mentioned that Juniper dropped out after Zane got her pregnant. It’s at just the right time for Tag.

        1. Agreed, it’s not quite Word Of God confirmed, but it’s that open secret that everyone knows about and believes because every piece of evidence points that way and it’d be shocking if it weren’t the case.

        2. Shocking Season Finale: Tired Old Guy is Juniper’s son. The father is Tired Old Guy.

        3. I swear we aren’t. Also, could you please move a few inches to your left? Something is blocking the camera.

        4. Now you’re making me wonder if somewhere before this arc is over we’ll have someone wake up in a hospital bed just thinkin’, “I believe I coulda’ took her if I hadn’t been drinkin’!”

  13. Well shit, Ginger just shot up as the coolest of the sisters.

    Multiple trips to the emergency room? Due to having poor health because his mom maybe took drugs while pregnant?
    Was Zane involved?

    1. I looked up newborn and infantile Jaundice last night. Some causes are because the infant’s liver is gearing up towards starting it’s job removing certain proteins that the mother’s placenta did. Present in most infants up to about five days after birth. Still some other newborns present cases of Jaundice to a week and half after birth.

      Other causes, premature birth. And this leads to a bit more serious bouts of Jaundice.

  14. Just gonna point this out here, Rusche. See all these comments? See these lengthy comments and discussions going on between your readers as to how and why and which is the right or wrong between the deal going on? See how quickly you turned this from ‘We’re blowing up the mall’ to ‘serious and proper motherly conduct’?

    See how you’ve got people riled up, while at the same time, kept them from tearing each other’s heads off over a difference of opinion?

    Of course you do. You’re not an idiot. I just want to affirm that these are all signs of you doing something right. I’m simultaneously fascinated and drawn in. With this storyline alone you’ve gotten a lot of people very vested in the going-ons of the Buckingham family to the point that I wonder what’s going to happen when the focus shifts back to Ellie and Quinn… if you ever intend to return to that route at all.

    I tip my hat to you, sir. You seem to have struck gold, but simply be aware that on the internet, striking gold usually means you’re digging through a minefield.

    1. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that this is like Ellie and Quinn’s conflict on a more serious scale. And what I mean by that is Chris did not make it black and white, Juniper is wrong and Ginger is right which would be stale and uninteresting. Instead they are both partially right/wrong (depending if you’re a glass half empy or full type) which is both more realistic and makes for a more dynamic conflict. And I say conflict in the sense that it’s building story tension. As I said in other comments here, I can definitely see Gingers point of view because I was/am very much in her role. But at the same time I disagree with her approach. The fact that Chris didn’t make either Juniper or Ginger a one dimensional characiture for the sake of “teh drama” is great, it’s much better to read something that has rounded characters who even if you don’t agree with can understand their motives and identify with.

      1. I think the reason for Ginger’s approach here is that she’s first and foremost protecting her kids. It would be bad to give Juniper any leeway here, lest she hurt Ginger’s kids (albeit with good intentions).

        And I don’t think she’s trying to shoot down Juni’s attempts to become a better person here, even if she comes across that way – quite the contrary actually, she’s helping Juniper. What Juni thinks “being a better person” means in this situation is basically bad for everyone, so putting her in her place is the right thing to do.

        Once Ginger knows her kids are safe, then she can help Juni change her ways.

        1. Ginger certainly isn’t trying to shoot down Juniper’s attempt to be a better person. She’s ignoring that question entirely and doing so is incidental. I don’t disagree with Ginger stopping Juniper and I don’t disagree with anything Ginger’s said. I disagree with her pulling out big guns to start with instead of attempting to solve the situation with less force.

          Part of my assumption here is that this truly is the first attempt Juniper has made, not a recurring pattern. We have that Tag is ~3 and Juniper never went to any of the four boy’s birthday parties so I’m not seeing unwanted gifts as something that likely has come up before. Also, every bit of Ginger’s response states lack of any concern or appearance, so that along with Tag’s age makes me think she wasn’t trying to just show up to say hi to Tag at Ginger’s place every couple of months or anything else along those lines. I think this is the first time she made this attempt. The attempt needed to meet a locked door with instructions about the proper entrance, but instead she got a wall falling on her.

        2. To be fair though, there is no proper entrance. Juni is simply not the kid’s mom. The only role she gets to play is aunt, same as for the other boys. Which is exactly the response Ginger started out with: Buy all four nephews presents – don’t single one out, because he’s not your son. Any subsequent wall-falling was likely due to Juni spitting on the wall.

          I mean, it’s not a properly constructed wall I guess?

        3. I’ve got to tell all of you, I have never seen a situation where a mother would be an aunt in real life. I don’t think that I’ve heard of situation like that in my family.

          The only thing that I can recall is a mother adopting her daughter’s child as her own and then presenting them both as her daughters. Marvel Comics… X something, parody, teleporter who is high profile, hollywood level fandom. She hangs around with some guy with white antennae.

        4. Well if his biological aunt is his adoptive mother, wouldn’t his biological mother become his adoptive aunt?

          That’s what I meant. Also never have encountered such a situation in real life, but won’t deny it exists.

        5. Absolutely, the boy a woman adopts is a nephew to her siblings. Period.

          The thing to me is that in Ginger’s shoes, the priority of protecting Tag is much, much higher than the priority for helping Juniper dig herself out, but it seems to me like instead of a a 50:5 sort of ratio, we’re seeing 50:0. She’s shutting Juniper down without offering a ray of hope, and that’s the thing to me. She absolutely needed to shut Juniper down, but she should’ve included a, “Look, if you’re serious we can work something out but I’m going to put Tag’s needs and not confusing him about this above yours. I want to help you if I can, but he has to be my priority. If you can respect that and work toward what’s best for Tag, then I’ll welcome the changes you make in your life and try to help you with them. If you can’t respect that and insist on confusing Tag and causing problems in his life, as his mother, I WILL make you suffer, even more than you are now. You don’t have to make any decisions now, but that’s where I stand and where I will continue to stand. Do we understand each other?”

          Ginger needed to be strong, she needed to be firm, and she needed to leave no doubt in Juniper’s mind about the situation and her intentions, but she could’ve left an avenue of hope and a hand held out for Juniper to know is there in the future if she ever finally decides that she wants to change.

          If Ginger’s snapping this way due to stress and exhaustion, I can fully understand and think no less of her for it.

        6. I can certainly agree with Ginger needing to leave Juniper a ray of hope – not for one day being Tag’s mother, but for being in his life at least, and for improving her own.

          In that case, I only hope she’s just not done yet and maybe that will happen tomorrow? *shrug*

        7. Yeah, I’m coming from seeing more people shut down and never being willing to try again as opposed to seeing people who keep trying after they really need to stop and either look for a different approach or give up entirely.

          If my experience had been reversed, I’d probably be cheering for Ginger to tighten the thumb screws even more.

          As it is, I want Ginger to hold the line (and protect Tag), but I also want her to offer a ray of hope that Juniper knows is there for the future. Not for being a mom, which I don’t think Juniper is capable of doing in under of a decade (which is much too late for taking up a “Mom” role for Tag), but for having something to look forward to be worth the effort of pulling herself out of the pit she lives in.

        8. Okay, so what if one of the sisters decides to help Juniper to do what Ginger asks. Be a bit of a crutch, so to speak, for Juniper.

    2. Agreed. I have great fans. I just try to make a comic I would want to read. Nerdy silliness, but enough normal situations to reel it back in.

      1. I have to laugh, Rusche. For some reason your fans took my merely pointing out your success with this comment as another means to start a conversation.

        I didn’t think I was trying to do that.

        1. I think that Chris is doing a better job than Kevin Smith, if we have to look at the movies that came about from his comics. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We have another John Hughes.

    3. We’ll enjoy Tarra making X’s eyepatch orbit Mars in a strip or two too. There’s just fewer non-repetitive ways to say that was cool and amusing than there are arguments for complex moral situations.

  15. Wow. I side with Ginger on the whole matter because I have personally known too many mothers who have had to deal with the damage that the pick-and-choose father can do. Come in and out of the child’s life sporadically at best, try to swoop in and be the parent for a bit then disappear at the first sign of something that looks better. Ginger didn’t birth this child but she certainly paid her dues.

    1. Agreed, although “paid her dues” doesn’t have a very good feel to it. Like she worked hard and suffered, and so Juni owes her the kid or something. Instead, I would say that after Tag was born, Ginger was the only one who loved him as his mother. I mean, Juni sure as hell didn’t.

      But yes, your comment is right – pick-and-choose parents only cause grief for the family and, as much as people want to see Juni redeem/improve herself, suddenly trying to act like a mom to Tag would be a terrible thing to do. It would only make her a more horrible human being. Ginger is right to set a boundary, and has every right to be this harsh to Juni for not respecting it.

      And to be clear, she’s being harsh, but she’s not being cruel. She’s not shaming Juniper for her mistakes, just making it clear what Juni’s role is in Tag’s life.

      1. “She’s not shaming Juniper for her mistakes”

        … I have to disagree with you on that point.

        “okay, *real mom*; where were you when…”
        “…fleeting feelings of remorse…”

        every example, and every emphasized word wielded like a scalpel, cutting deeper and deeper…

        I get it – she’s protective, and at the end of the day, she’s right to now allow Juni’s current path. But she absolutely *IS* being unneccessarily cruel, even borderline abusive.

        1. Maybe I’m just a bit inured to brutal honesty. Ginger certainly isn’t sparing Juni’s feelings here, but personally I don’t think that amounts to cruelty. I think the point I’m making is that while her words may be harsh, her intent is not to make Juni feel bad – it’s to really drive the point home that she needs to back off. Do you really think she wants Juniper to feel bad?

          “okay *real mom*; where were you when…”
          Juniper’s role so far has been pretty much non-existent – certainly not a “real mom”, as she claims. What is a non-cruel way of correcting her? Normal text as opposed to boldface?

          “…fleeting feelings of remorse…”
          If this is in fact the first time Juni has shown any interest in the kid, and it is only being driven by guilt (which is apparent to us, after she just saw Quinn outside), then I’d call this a harsh truth, not unnecessary cruelty.

          Yeah okay, I’ll sorta take back my “not being cruel” comment for this one, though I would probably chalk up the name-calling as being emotional, and still not so much a direct attempt to make Juniper feel ashamed.

          I should also clarify that when I say Ginger is not TRYING to shame Juniper for her mistakes, I don’t mean that her words won’t cause Juniper to feel ashamed.

        2. When I’m in the wrong, I personally prefer brutal honesty and want that as opposed to false hope. However, I’ve come to realize I’m in the minority in that desire.

          I’ve also seen too many people who don’t have the strength to dig themselves out of their own holes without a bit of false hope to cling to until they get to a level where real hope is possible. To be completely honest, I can’t say I’m certainly not amongst that number so much as I can say I haven’t been in a situation where I realize I’m amongst that number. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been able to see others that would’ve needed false hope to climb to where I have been able to, but that doesn’t mean that I might not have needed false hope had I been in a deeper hole.

  16. Leaving the issue of the child aside (it’s important to the story, but I think I’ll wait a tiny bit longer before making a full judgement… even if I AM incredibly leaning for Ginger’s side at this point), I’d like to bring up what I did a couple days ago; the storytelling. Specifically, the exposition and how it’s worked into the dialogue.
    I’m an aspiring author, so being able to weave the exposition into the story is a talent I’ve been trying to hone a long time. I’ve actually made it a hobby of mine to, when reading stories, novels, comics, fanfics, and webcomics, examine this aspect of the writing.
    Cutting this short a bit (because low battery; I blame the commies (it’s for the best, I had, like, six more paragraphs of literary theory here)), I’d just like to quickly point out how well the story itself has been blended into the three first panels, without compromising the characters themselves. In fact, the way it’s been stated makes it VERY clear how the characters feel about this situation, and what they feel must be done about it.
    Okay, just got the 5% warning, so I’ll just cut it here. I tip my hat to you, sir, keep up the amazing work, looking forward to see more of the Buckingham family!

    1. hahah. Well thanks Weirdo.

      I am by no means a master of storytelling. My writing skills are akin to shows like FLCL (God help anyone who attempts to watch this and hasn’t before.)
      You get through so much fast paced ridiculousness, then it slows down. Leaving the viewer going “I’ll be damned, there was a point to all that.”

        1. GIYF

          Though I don’t think reading about it on Wikipedia or having anyone tell you what it is will do it any justice.

        2. My preference in that direction is a lmgtfy.com link, but then again, I’m an ass and unashamed of that fact.

          For any other asses out there, I also recommend dickensurl.com . That’s a vastly underused service.

        3. Okay, okay.. I’ve seen it before. I think it was through a discussion on here. I remember the motor scooter running around on the end of the show.

          I just wasn’t able to put the name to the show. I get that way. Just like people.

        4. Furikuri!

          One of the most awesome yet patently ridiculous anime ever made. It’s almost nonsense, but only almost, and full of bizarre images that occasionally have a point. Tons of references to other anime–the Lupin the 3rd reference was hilarious–and all around fun for days. Six episodes, but man, were those six great.

          Personal favorite? Brittle Bullet.

  17. Here’s where I’m looking at this from: my granddaughter at one year and a few weeks was taken away from my daughter (on totally bogus grounds, but I later learned there were real grounds the court didn’t know about) and placed in an open adoption whereby the kid acquired two older brothers and a baby brother. We see our granddaughter several times a year, our daughter sees her every few years.

    I have been totally clear to our granddaughter (and the adoptive mother) from the very first time the question came up that, to me, “real Mom” is THE ONE WHO’S THERE. The other one is the birth mother, not the real mom.

    (Or as as T-shirt I’ve seen says, “Any man can be a father, it takes someone special to be a daddy”.

    And our daughter isn’t nearly as messed-up as Juniper.

    We have no direct family connection to the three boys or the parents, but the boxes we sent for Christmas for quite a few years included gifts for them and for the family as a whole. Not equal to what our granddaughter got, but something.

    1. Thanks for the personal story Warrl. That’s tough.

      There’s an elderly lady at my kids daycare that dropped off a preschooler for years. One day she’s there, miserably crying, and visibly distraught. Apparently, the child was her grandson. The mother was in some other state, doing whatever she wanted with her life. So grandma did everything for her own grandchild, caring for him, supporting him, with the real mother no where in the picture. One day the “real mom” asked to have the child visit with her where she lived over the summer (I think it was Texas.) Came time for the trip to be over, and “real mom” called and informed the grandmother she was now keeping her own child permanently. No trips back to visit. Get his personal things, toys, etc. Just “Hope you can come visit us sometime in Texas.”

      That to me, is absolutely moronic. Apparently the “real mom” has come around to some degree. She now wants to financially support the child, be with him. But with the same selfish regard she always had.

      I took my daughter Lily to her first grade orientation back in August. And I remember the auditorium was set up with tables as a kind of “sign up” room. After school, girl scouts, misc programs offered to the community…
      I saw this elderly lady with two small children. I mean, OBVIOUSLY the grandmother… but this poor lady was not 50-60 year old grandma. She was easily in her mid to late 70’s, doing school orientation for a 6 and 7 year old boy and girl. I was a bit irked, as to why she’s doing this for these children with no younger, more physically-abled parents in the vicinity. I later saw her as I was walking back to the car. Just her and those little kids, walking to an old rusted pick up. Broke my heart since I saw her spending a significant amount of time at a booth for a form of children’s medicade. I’m not sure what it’s called her in Alabama, but she was looking over the brochures. That’s a hard situation. I’m 31, and my kids wear me the hell out daily. I can’t imagine trying to do that at her age, and struggle financially to boot.

      1. Rusche, have you read “How to Traumatize Your Children”? You can find it on amazon or thinkgeek, and it basically describes 7 common methods of bad parenting, including the Neglector and the Narcissist.

        Based on some of the bad parenting stories I read on this site, you might find it interesting.

  18. well… it would be nice if ginger let juniper act as a sort of godmother. that way its okay to play favorites a little- however if that was going to work she’d have to give her other kinds godmothers too. but I don’t think that’s a bad idea… that way juniper has an excuse to become close to tag without pralying too much favoritism or telling him his mom isn’t his mom. she could just be his favorite aunt or something.

      1. Yes, Cinn is even capable of ruining things beyond the 4th wall. She’s just that evil.

        As to the godmother thing, if Juniper had approached Tarra, Anise, & Ellie and gotten their buy-in to be godmothers and then talked to Ginger about it (with the others ideally), then that would’ve been one thing and possibly a very tidy solution (and would’ve shown some added degree of effort and commitment on Juniper’s part). However, after-the-fact setting something like that up with Juniper in flux would probably just enable bad behavior from Juniper.

  19. One thing I haven’t seen in all these comments. Maybe you all already thought of it and it’s obvious so nobody bothered to say it.

    But an aunt treating one nephew better than the other kids would absolutely introduce real friction and conflict among those kids. I was one of 5 kids growing up, and we had various petty squabbles all the time… I am trying to picture the results if we had one aunt giving presents to just one of us, and it wouldn’t have been good.

    So this idea “buy four birds or zero, but do NOT play favorites among the kids” is one I absolutely endorse. This probably isn’t the time for this discussion, and it maybe could have been handled more diplomatically, but Ginger is not wrong here. She’s protecting all four of those kids from traumatic drama.

    I do hope Juniper pulls herself together, but her “…you watch him…” comment clearly shows that she has some attitudes she really needs to correct.

    1. I didn’t want to try to quantify the degree and manner it’d be problematic, because there are multiple. Jealousy is one, but with Juniper being the black sheep of the family, the thing I’m seeing more likely is Percy figuring it out due to remembering Ginger not being pregnant and using it to browbeat Tag into submission as being inferior (and that’s without the special treatment, which would just help him put the pieces together sooner). At that point the others would pick up on it, because if there’s anything a pack of small boys will quickly pick up on, it’s weakness in a member of the pack. Considering the age differences, it’ll probably end up being common knowledge at school for Tag. I see that as a near certainty regardless of any of this. Juniper getting in the game would mess things up even worse, but I don’t see Tag having an easy time regardless. Granted, that’s almost certainly an event for after this comic is over, though; as Rusche stated the final arc of the comic would be happening at the same time as the current one but with KK as more of a main character.

      The thing I haven’t seen in the comments yet, and it is circumstantial if this was deliberate/knowing by Juniper or just an accident, is that Juniper did at least start this in front of Ginger with none of the boys around. Since she drove separately and there were plenty of those birds on the shelf, she could’ve come back later to pick one up and came to Christmas with the gift as a surprise to everyone.

      1. Sorry, Midwestern mindset and not taking Juniper’s character and situation into account. That should be that Juniper arrived separately as opposed to drove separately.

        1. We do have Herb saying something to the effect, “William, just like last year, well see you at Denny’s for Breakfast with the boys when it’s all over with.”

    1. Yes. Apparently Department of Children and Families was already called in the past because of alleged abuse the teen was claiming. The agent found nothing, and on his assessment said the girl was “spoiled” and there was no reason for concern.

      It’s a real landmark case, and so far the judge seems to be handling it appropriately by denying the girl child support from her parents as the case goes on. Imagine this opening up tens of thousands of cases of other teens suing their parents because they left home at 18 crying they didn’t get their way, and the parents were still supposed to fit the bill for their lifestyles. It’s even sadder the friend she’s staying with.. that kid’s dad is representing the teen and bringing about the lawsuit. What a complete ass. HIS kid must be 100 times worse.

        1. It’s hard to say. MSNBC is about as bad about bias as Fox, so I’m not sure if I should read a story from msn.com as assuming it’s MSNBC or someone more balanced.

          Everything in the article you linked seems very appropriate from the judge’s stance. It doesn’t seem to be a valid case, but allowing the possibility for further evidence to prove that the case is more than it seems at first blush. Personally, that sort of deliberation and attitude is exactly what I’d want from a judge, regardless of how irritating it’d be to be the party in the right for that lawsuit. Proper justice can still be quite irritating for someone on the receiving end of an attempt to abuse it.

        2. Nah, I just saw the article, skimmed it, re-read it and thought that perhaps there might be some parallel here with one of the sisters and the plaintiff.

          That and the dad is a top cop or something as well.

  20. I didn’t know about the ‘abuse’, but it confirms my suspicions. It makes me sad about the world my kids will grow up in.

    I bet Rosemary and Ellie are watching this case with keen interest, though, right?

  21. I’m adopted. My birthmom was a teen when she had me. Gah! I really can’t put to words what I want to. My gift of the gab has failed me.

    All I can say about this twist in the plot is that I’ve found myself speechless. This is a condition that is so rare for me that most who know me thought it impossible.

    Hell, the last time it happened was when a certain writer of a popular vampire sorta-kinda porn series was sitting on my lap and asked confirmation about something one of her fans had told her about me.

    But yeah, back to speechlessness. I really don’t know how to put what I am thinking/feeling into words over this.

  22. Well, this is certainly an awkward situation.

    And amazingly enough, not one I’m unfamiliar with.

    I’ve wondered a few times, on those odd occasions where I decide to buy things for my somewhat estranged daughter… whether I should be getting things for her half-brother too in order to avoid friction. Not as much of an issue any more though, since they now sorta live apart.

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