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Hitting the Fan

Next comic up around noon. Well, Ginger held her own in the vote, but Tarra kept beating her by 50 in the end. I'll plan my strips accordingly. Also, one of my commentors (boog) had an issue with his posts being caught up in the spam filter for some odd reason. As long as you're not linking to anything, your posts don't have to be moderated, and should appear immediately. If any of you have this issue, please make me aware. It's happened before, but too rarely to keep any kind of good tab on it. Especially when I receive about 90 spams a day via wordpress bots. Thanks all.

182 thoughts on “Hitting the Fan

  1. At least the girls know what’s what and we know that Juniper isn’t heartless. Kind of sad.

    But on the other hand, we know that Tag isn’t, he isn’t in a situation that could parallel Quinn’s youth. I suppose that’s one good thing here.

    I could probably understand something of Ginger’s resentment, but at least the other sisters present don’t seem to be holding it against Juniper. Does it mean something that Ellie is looking at them while Pumpkin and Anise are looking down.

    I’m under the impression that Ginger isn’t making it about money, but what she’s doing and what Juniper should be doing.

    Some people are able to confront their alcoholism, some are taken in and controlled by it. The rest get the help that they need, but they all have to say that they need help in controlling that monkey on their back.

    Too bad we can’t take her’s and shove it in that box that Chris had labeled for five.

    1. I think this is more representative of Ginger being fed up with all of them, and Juniper getting slapped because she was the next one in the chute.

      1. I can understand Ginger’s reaction here, but I’d hoped for better from her. I guess in her position, influencing how Tag turns out (and her biological sons too) is more important than straightening out an adult sister. Maybe she made allowances for Juniper too often in the past to have patience now, but I do feel sad seeing Juniper discouraged from just about the only sign in a positive direction we’ve seen from her to date.

        1. Not so sure guilt over the mirage of lost opportunity constitutes a positive direction. More like a glaring need to accept how things have turned out, and work on improving yourself to the point where you can actually own up.

        2. That’s a good perspective considering the “situation.” It’s a very sticky one. It’s hard to see something like this play out to where someone’s not the ultimate loser.

        3. The stereotype for a mirage is an image, such as an oasis in the desert, that makes a person think they should walk in a given direction. While the thing they think is there isn’t, doesn’t mean the wavy head lines might not be from a road so they can find their way out. Granted, other times it just gets them lost and dehydrated and farther from help. That’s kinda’ why someone who knows the right direction helping out a bit in those situations is a positive.

  2. Dammit. Where did these feels come from?

    I know Juni probably made her own bed in every way that matters, but that’s a bit sad.

      1. I’d say she has the right, but I don’t know that I’d say she’s in the right.

        To me, I think the distinction is “has the right” is being human and not something to judge against a person for doing, where being “in the right” is what we describe as taking a step past that.

        1. Well, we’ll just have to wait until Noon and see. If ginger picks up the tab for the extra three parrots, then we’ll know something. If not… well, we’ll see something else.

      1. Only if Ginger and William are carrying the full load for the care and feeding of Tag. My guess is that, based on my mom, Rosemary would be giving Ginger as much as she can to help out with Juniper’s burden.

        And while the family does give Juniper items of want (camera) they may not be in daily contact because of her seemingly needs (booze and/or lifestyle).

        I forget who said it in the last comments section, that there might be a possibility of four parrots.

  3. That’s what we in my family call “Momming up”. Typically, it’s when your mom calls someone to the carpet for making any of their kids feel bad, but due to an incident with my baby sister’s birth mom causing issues at Christmas one year, Ginger’s reaction falls in the bounds of this. As Ginger has quickly becomea favorite of mine due to parallels with my own mother, attitude wise, I sincerely hope this is resolved in a positive light, as the other option I can imagine would cause some real sadness going forward.

  4. *hisses* Ouch, thats, ouch.

    Something similar to that happened with my family, one of my aunts. She always favored one of her sisters kids above the ‘horde’ (grand total my generation consists of 26 in our family due to great grandma having 8 kids lol) it wasnt till I was in my twenties that I learned just why she favored him above the rest of us, same situation.

    I’m going to side with Juniper here. Ginger is the one raising Tag, but that doesnt change the fact that Juniper is his mother. Allow Little Miss Constant Letdown (according to the cast page) have her due. You never know when someone might be trying to change themselves for the better, and that first step is always the hardest.

    1. While Juni does deserve a chance, I can’t say that I would side with her. Ginger is trying to protect a little boy. Maybe once he’s older Juni can have a shot at it, but for right now, he’s just a little boy who doesn’t need the trouble.

      1. That can go either way. Sometimes the extra concern for no reason causes issues, other times that extra concern is what helps get through when they feel like they don’t quite fit. No way to tell really.

        (In real life anyway, in fiction it’s whatever the author says it is)

      2. Problem though is we have no idea how long it took or how hard it was for her to pull herself together enough to do this one small thing. Its plainly stated she doesn’t attend his birthday party or ever give him a gift before, this was the first time she tried to do *anything*

        And its being shut down. If it took someone six to eight years (by my estimate) to try for the time to reach out, and they were slapped away, there is a very good chance that they’ll never try again.

        Take it from someone that failed at life, when you hit rock bottom, its hard to try and climb out of that hole, and having someone kick you back down when you’re climbing out makes you not try a second time.

        1. Yeah, I dunno. I feel bad for Juniper, but I still think this is probably going to be the best thing for the kid. Hopefully it all works out without too much heartbreak.

        2. And please don’t take this personally. I’m assuming that you identify with Juniper based on what you said in your last paragraph, but I have no idea what your situation is, and even if it’s very similar, there can still be a ton of differences that determine what the correct course of action would be.

          Anyway, I kind of feel like I’m just sticking my foot in my mouth at this point, so, um, please don’t be mad at me?

        3. I’m going along the line of “nephews”, “four” and “three” with this. Juniper may have been providing some items for Tag in the past, but not for anyone else. Concerning Ginger’s last few words, I have to wonder if Juniper was able to be present at all for any birthday. And I feel that the discussion of anything from Juniper has been held already between Ginger and Rosemary, but the speech here has less Rosemary and more Ginger in terms of the elocutionary style.

          Kenju, I hear ya, keep climbing. That’s all that we can hope for with Juniper.

          I’m going to inject reality here, and reveal some information about my other nephew. I don’t know what set him off that night, but he flew into an emotional rage and took my sister-in-law’s vehicle. He survived the crash with the building, but the condition that he was in between there and the water puddle was not known. All I’m going to say is that when he fell, he didn’t get back up. At all.

          I’ve viewed my life as a struggle through the muck and mud of depression and stuff. If I fell, I fell. But I would keep going, because there is supposed to be something out there at the other end of the muddy trail. I pictured myself, sort of like those guys in Vietnam, slogging through muddy rice paddies, creeks, riverine environments to get to their objective. I just had to get to the end to get going for the next step.

          Not sure, but that next step is coming sooner, rather than the later that I thought it was going to be. And I don’t want to walk the line between the mud and the next step, ya know?

          But the same as always, keep moving, taking the next step.

  5. Someone has clearly introduced Ginger to the tactical maneuver known as “kicking them when they’re down.” I understand this may be a standard Buckingham fighting technique, but somehow, this version is worse.

  6. Took me a while to figure out where that first word balloon was coming from. Apparently Juniper is much shorter than the rest of them?

    Seriously though, I like how all visible sisters look kind of saddened by what they’re hearing. ‘Cept Ginger, who’s really letting Juniper have it. I guess if Juni’s been ignoring the kid up until now, it makes sense what she’s saying. Though if she’s really been completely ignoring the kid up until now, it’s surprising that her response isn’t surprise.

    Wait, who’s fighting Sister X?

    1. And in response to boog being caught up in the spam filters – seems like I was blacklisted by Akismet (I assume that’s what this site uses for spam filtering – I guess it’s the default for WordPress). I had other sites I comment on that were filtering out my comments as well. Basically I was being censored for the day.

      Not sure how it started – it might have been just a single comment with three links in it and that screwed me for the rest of the day – but maybe Rusche going in to the spam folder and saying “boog isn’t so spammy after all” might have removed me from the blacklist? Or maybe Akismet un-blacklisted me after 24 hours? Also: I don’t know how Akismet works.

      Still, thanks Rusche for your help!

    2. I also wondered this. There’s a homicidal sister with a rocket launcher IN THE STORE. Maybe now is not the time for parrots and squabbling.

      1. She did appear to be HELPING the other sister’s though. Now, maybe she’s the type who you need to watch out for “friendly fire” from, but so far the evidence that she’s an active threat is minimal, IMO.

        1. Course, it’s an issue of where was she aiming? Depth perception is shot thanks to that patch. And if Sister X were helping, Tarra wouldn’t be spitting profanities at the sight of her. When’s the last time you saw Tarra look anything but smug?

        2. To answer your question- the comic titled “The Getaway” (Feb 11) when Ginger threatens Pumpagon into de-fusioning.

          I admit it could be a “no one is allowed to destroy you but me” type situation, but I still think it’s still possible to also be more like “with family this destructive who needs enemies?” or “personal rival to Tara”.

        3. I like the personal rival theory – she is perfect in every way, just like Tarra. But perfectly evil.

          Also, the eye thing, of course. Unless… what if Tarra is the sister with the glass eye? In that case, they may be equals (and probably each the cause of the other’s cyclopean state). Let’s watch!


        4. If she’s Tarra-class, while she may have lost an eye, the replacement would more likely be cybernetic than glass.

        5. Oh come on. Google can’t be evil! It’s right there in their MOTTO! “Don’t be evil,” remember??

        6. Can you personally trust someone who says, “Don’t be evil” in their public relations front while they’re building something totally secret and ignored the locals building codes and laws?

        7. The first time I saw “Don’t Be Evil” as a motto, I knew there was a problem. You don’t put something like that in the motto unless you’ve either got such a problem with evil that you have to address it at the corporate culture level or you expect to have such a problem in the future. It’s like saying that your motto is “Don’t Eat Babies”. Doesn’t everyone already not do this? Why would you need a motto to point that out?

        8. Ah, yes. Optical instead of electrical circuit. You’re right, Tarra-class fake eye would use technology beyond what you can easily find today.

    3. I feel badly as well, but Ginger is right- if Juniper couldn’t take care of her son when she had him, that’s one thing, but ignoring him for a prolonged period of time, and trying to bring him a present without getting anything for his cousins (who are closer to siblings than anything), is quite another.

      But Kenju also brings up a good point- you never know when someone is trying to pull themselves out of a bad place, so perhaps it’s best not to throw her failures in her face if she’s trying to make amends, otherwise she might just think the relationship is damaged beyond all repair, and simply not even try, and that would be the WORST thing to do.

      Nevertheless, Juniper still made a big mistake- We can’t sugarcoat that fact, or forget it.

      1. Juniper has obviously made many mistakes but completely shutting her down like that when she’s obviously trying is overly harsh. There are many nicer and more productive ways Ginger could have that discussion with Juniper and without sugarcoating either. That was a finishing move meant to hurt and close off further dialog.

    4. Ah. Never mind; think I got it now.

      Tarra’s nowhere to be seen at the register. She’s almost certainly doubled back to set up next week’s big fight.

    5. I don’t think that Juniper is that much shorter- in the second panel she’s nearly as tall as Ellie (possibly the same height but with bad posture) the location of the word-bubble is just so it doesn’t cover anything important.

      But I had to read the comic twice to understand exactly what was happening myself, so I can understand your confusion.

      1. Actually, it looks like Rusche removed the word bubble’s tail since I posted my comment. That’s probably why you didn’t get it. It used to look like Pumpkin’s feet were talking.

        Also, Rusche I know you are a big fan of criticism so here it comes: while I like the use of colored word balloons to specify who is saying what, it’s best not to rely on that only. The only two things Juni says here are when she is off-panel and when I know there are half a dozen other characters in the vicinity, so I have to be following the discussion pretty closely across pages while remembering which colors go to which characters. I don’t know what the best solution would be here, but I think having Juni say something in the one panel she is visible to visually tie her word balloon color back to her would help a little.

        Definitely not recommending you “fix” the comic or anything, as it’s just my opinion, and as that might not be an easy change to make on a finished comic, but just something to keep in mind in future.

    6. I’m guessing that Juniper hasn’t been ignoring Tag, but that she either keeps starting seeming to show concern and doesn’t follow through or she tries to half-mother him in a way that breaks discipline and makes Ginger worried as to how he’ll turn out (which would explain her insistence on all or none).

      It’s also possible that it’s the first situation and Ginger being harsh is trying to stop Juniper from spending money she’ll need later. Ellie’s reaction is a bit different here and she’s possibly the only one who knows Juniper pawned the camera she’s wanted for years. That would make me feel better about Ginger’s actions, but I’m doubting that’s the primary reason if that’s even the case.

  7. I went digging through the archive to find a picture with all four of the boys in it, and all of them have some semblance of brown hair (excluding Asperand, but he doesn’t really have too much to go on yet), except for Tag, who’s blond. Dunno if that was intentional but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.

  8. I don’t get it…
    *reads through comments*
    OOOOOH. That’s just sad. On one side it seems like tragedy, but she had it coming if she never even goes to his birthday parties.

    1. I’m not sure if Ginger is actually saying that Juniper never comes to Tag’s birthday parties; I think she might be saying that Juniper never comes to any of Ginger’s biological children’s parties, and Ginger is not going to allow Juniper to make Ginger’s own kids feel bad by giving Tag even further extra attention.

      Or, in other words: “If you want to keep playing mom for your kid, then you have to play mom for my kids at the same time, like I do for your kid *every damn day*.”

      1. Considering that immediately after she says that Juniper doesn’t come to her nephew’s birthday parties that Juniper replies Tag isn’t her nephew and Ginger says he sure isn’t her son, I don’t think she’s coming to Tag’s birthday parties.

        Granted, Tag is probably young enough that he will remember little-to-nothing of what goes on at this age, too.

        I think Ginger is primarily trying to protect her kids, including Tag in that number. Sharing “that screw-up aunt” with the others isn’t the same as Tag growing up with the others saying “that screw-up aunt of ours is your real mom” whenever they get mad enough.

        I agree with Ginger in her insistence of making Tag’s biological parentage non-obvious until he’s grown. I’d like to see a bit more sympathy/caring/encouragement for Juniper here, but believing everyone deserves a second chance isn’t the same thing as believing someone deserves a seven hundred and thirty-fifth chance.

        1. I agree in that Ginger is protecting all four of the boys, but I’m making the assumption that Juniper has been giving Tag gifts either on and off over the years, or she’s been only showing him attention.

          Chris has already made reference to the source of Juniper, Megan and a third female to be shown later down the road (so she’s NOT Sister X). While Megan and Juniper are promiscuous ($5.oo word, eh?), we see that Megan is taking care of her children as well as herself. And I don’t think that she’s going to be relying on outside assistance beyond her parents. Juniper on the other hand has been described as oblivious to a fault.

          Personally, I think that Juniper made a bad choice, and guilt tripped herself into an arrested development, with possible regression along with either mindless choices and/or endless patterns of bad behavior with the consequences being completely damned. Perhaps with the means of numbness resolves itself into lack of participation or removal from society.

          With Tag, there may be a chance for her redemption, but she h a s to be willing to accept her responsibility for that.

        2. I’d be closer to your reasoning if Tag were about 10 years older. He’s maybe three years old, tops. There’s not a lot of time for an “over the years” thing, and attempts at gifts for a one or two year old are very, very similar to gifts to the parents (clothes or teething toys, etc). If she hasn’t been paying attention to his birthdays, this is her first gift attempt that would be something he’d be old enough to recognize/care about.

          For the obligation towards family bit from your below comment, in my mind I’m obligated to be willing to forgive and accept when they turn themselves around, and they definitely get an additional number of benefits of the doubt compared to the general population. However, at a certain point, I’m not obliged to continue to be taken advantage of or enable someone in a bad situation. Anytime after that point, if they clean themselves up, while it may take a while for me to believe enough to extend any trust, once I do then I’d feel that I’m obligated to accept them back.

        3. Sorry, I didn’t read your entire post. But since Juniper is family, and unless she’s driven a stake in your heart, it’s under the assumption that forgiveness may be needed at some point. But it would not be the first thing that the sisters would need to assume as the first step.

          Herb and Rosemary, I don’t know how they would react. I think that they would react differently to Juniper no matter what. And I think that we’ve seen Rosemary’s reaction to Cinnamon’s statements at the birthday party to assume that she would not want to acknowledge Juniper’s lifestyle one bit. But she does acknowledge her as a daughter. Why in the hell are the Beach Boys playing “Good Vibrations” in my head?!?!?

  9. Oooooooo shots have been fired. Though I can’t help but think that having Juni’s kid forced on her has made Ginger bitter towards Juni. I noticed a little hint of that in her dialogue.

    1. Yeah, this is a tough one. It’s not that it’s wrong to call Juni out on the carpet for literally everything she’s screwed up so far, it’s that in doing so we’re forgetting the possibility of recovery. Thankfully, the comments section has acknowledged both principles well so far, which just shows what a basket of crazy the Buckingham family really is.

    2. Probably. Both of them have a “mine but not mine” relationship with Tag. From this, we can see that Juniper has lingering attachment, and who knows, maybe she is trying to be a better parent – which puts her in the right. She also gave up Tag, presumably because she couldn’t handle him, though we assume it was voluntary, and either way, this seems to have been the right choice.

      Ginger, however, is also in the right. Regardless of the details, Juniper is not the acting mother for Tag – she just happens to be related by blood to the person who is. The kids are too young to understand this right now, so displays of favoritism will be poorly received by them, which puts her in the right again.

      It’s entirely arbitrary to say which one is better justified. At least they’re not brandishing scissors over it, right?

      1. Ok, here’s how I see it- yes, I support people trying to improve their live and yes I support small steps in fixing a probelm, but parenting isn’t really something you can do by degrees. You either are, or you aren’t.

        Having known a few people in my own family with problems, the biggest issue is not that are incapable of being caring or loving or even responsible on occasion, it’s that they are UNRELIABLE. They might be a good parent some of the time, but you never know when they are going to fall off the wagon and disappear or be incapacitated for a while, and that’s a terrible way to try and raise kids. If you want to be a parent, you have to be able to be a parent for a good two-decades in a row at least, without break.

        The role of aunt (or uncle) is far more suited to someone who can step in and out on occasions when it suits them.

        1. Very well stated.

          The “fun” aunt is often a sought-after role in a kids life, but for parenting, it’s a heartbreaking disaster waiting to happen.

        2. I would have to say that I don’t see Juniper succeeding very well at all with the “Fun” aunt title. And, I don’t think that any of the boys would be left alone with her. Or Pumpkin for that matter, unless she chooses to be with Juniper.

        3. I’ll agree with your statement, but I guess, as an older sibling with one younger sibling (neither of us headed in a “having kids” direction, though), a part of me still looks at him as older/protective/try-to-help. If I were raising his kid due to him having issues even a quarter of the way toward Juniper’s, I’d have no qualms telling him to back off because he was causing problems. However, I’d be more likely to insist the gift go to Mom to give as a “from the family,” give no hint past perhaps a “I helped pick this out because I thought you’d like it,” and make sure any others kids are matched gift-wise so it doesn’t look out of place.

          It’d be unhealthy for Tag to grow with a split maternal attachment, but I guess I just feel as the older sibling Ginger should try to allow her some vicarious experiences that might help her decide it’s worth the effort to clean up her life.

  10. I’m wondering if Tag’s parentage is a secret from him? I find it hard to believe that Cinn wouldn’t have blown it by now, if so.

    1. Secret? Doubtful. Does he understand it? Questionable. Since he’s still young enough to not try to color in the lines (see the strip It Pleases the Court), hearing it would most likely confuse him.

      Ampersand might understand it. He seems old enough.

      1. The oldest of Ginger’s brood (Percy, I think) would probably be old enough to recognize that Mom’s belly didn’t get big like it did for the other ones and if not currently will be able to put it together within a few years while still in the “kids are cruel” phase of life. So while I suspect Ginger doesn’t want Tag to know, I’d bet he’ll find out by teenage years at the latest (probably earlier, especially if he’s the troublemaker of the group).

    2. It probably depends on how old he was when custody was transferred. If everyone KNEW June couldn’t handle a child and it was shortly after infancy the he might not know. If it was a few years later, say after a particular incident or something, he might be aware, though not with a complete understanding of what it means. In particular, if you grew up with June and a constantly rotating circle of men, “parenthood” might be a somewhat nebulous concept to a young kid. That’s idle speculation though.

      1. I would say that at the time, it was probably lucky that they were able to keep Juniper dry during the pregnancy. But as soon as Tag was born, she may have had a week, maybe a few months before she could medically run back to ybor. At least we don’t see him suffering from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in either his appearance or his behavior. FAS is not pretty. So, I’m going to assume that Herb put Juniper under house arrest.

        As soon as she fell(“?”) back into the bottle, it could be assumed that Rosemary stepped in backed by Herb and quite possibly already having talked and discussed this with William and Ginger, made arrangements. I just found out that a grandchild can be claimed on tax returns.

        I don’t know the situation, but I also don’t think that this family would let another kid become a screw up because of someone else’s fault.

        1. Given that she was still in high school she may not have been that severe of an alcoholic yet. I know, I know, I guess after this strip I want to think the best of her at least a little bit.

        2. TLO, yeah, I agree with you. But unless Juniper gets put under a conservatorship (re: Drew Carrey’s boss on “The Drew Carrey Show”) then she’s not really going to be able to fly so well on the crutches of the conservatorship. And until she can see the need for help in getting rid of that monkey, for the most part, she has to keep being fed rope for her own noose until she sees that she’s at the end of said rope and asks for help.

          I think that my aunt was an alcoholic, my brother was a drug user, my nephew (I mentioned him before) was a drunk and died recently a year or two ago. Scirrosis of the Pancreas or Pancratitis. He had the organs of a 50 year old drunk, and he was barely over 21. I can’t remember if he was a drinker since a tweenager or a teenager. It was available for him.

          I just hope that Juniper sees that she’s got a loving family that will (in my opinion) support her in the long term if she decides to get rid of that monkey.

        3. A loving family that may help you if they believe you’re trying to come clean may not have an easy time believing you’re coming clean if there have been too many other false starts.

        4. True, but that’s why it can only be taken with a grain of salt on a second by second basis until she can get minute by minute, then hour by hour. And that may take years. After she can get to a day by day situation, she may have earned some trust and acceptance.

        5. Whoa…what if Juniper only started drinking AFTER the pregnancy started? Her nickname is “the slutty one” not “the drunk one,” and chances are, the sisterhood starts handing out nicknames at 18.

        6. I believe that the Sisterhood names are at 16, that age memorial, especially when people down south have balls and dances and stuff.

        7. It could be, we really don’t have a lot of info on Juniper’s part but I can picture turning to drink as an escape from single momhood.

  11. Aw, I was kinda hoping ginger would’ve won the competition. I like Tarra and all, but I can’t help but feel that her over-the-top nature and general oddness feel a bit out of place in the more down-to-earth nature of family affairs and personal drama of the storyline. Don’t get me wrong- both are great, but I feel like Tarra’s nonsense is best left as ancillary stuff to the main story. If she’s going to have a major part to play, then her absurdness will undoubtedly leak into the main story.

    1. You’re not alone, but considering that it looks like Tarra’s gone off to fight alone, that part of the canon may prove successfully walled off.

      1. That’s what happens when Tarra is voted for by a two out of three ratio (I admit that statistic is generating only through a sample size of one voter.)

      2. You where looking to raise money for the comic or serve, right? Why not offer the fully illustrated alt-cannon story line as a Kickstarter or other incentive?

        1. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a good story, and even though I voted for the Tarra-storyline, I’d pay a few dollars to find out what would have happened had things gone the other way. I HATE NOT KNOWING!

      3. Well, more like that’s what happens when democracy is equated with first-past-the-post voting systems. Then there’s no difference between 91% of people wanting the same thing and 51% of people wanting the same thing.

        Is there no way the two different planned resolutions can be combined a little? The thought of Sister X not being acknowledged as a legitimate member of the family on the cast page, just because Tarra is really hot, makes me really sad. Like, depressed level sad.

    2. I can’t see a time that I’d ever argue Tarra wasn’t over the top. However, when dealing with a character introduced by the use of a rocket launcher, I can’t say a response from the over the top sister is wholly inappropriate.

  12. I keep looking at the phrase “as far as the situation is concerned,” and it makes me think there’s a point in time where things could have gone two ways.

    One, Juniper gives birth, immediately resents Tag, family tries to figure out what to do, Ginger steps up and claims him before he gets taken by the state. This now all stems from Juniper intentionally avoiding her son so she can resume partying and screwing around.

    Two, Juniper DID try but was just unable to be a good parent despite the support of her parents (I don’t see them kicking out a teenage pregnant girl) and winds up pleading with Ginger to formally adopt him because she realizes her own failings. Ginger agrees, but for Tag’s benefit it boils down to “if we do this, you can never tell him until we both agree he’s old enough.”

    I could see it going either way, of course, but I don’t see it being anything other than one extreme or the other considering it’s Juniper and she does nothing “middle of the road.”

    I can’t help but wonder if it’s Quinn’s presence that has made her this willing to do something for Tag now. Based on Ginger’s reaction, her attempting to do things for Tag isn’t a common occurrence at all.

    1. I guess there is a third option…the state did get involved because Juniper was still out drinking while taking Tag with her, and Ginger stepped up because someone -had- to. Maybe the state told Juniper she couldn’t’t be within X distance of Tag until she cleaned up her act.

      1. Sorry, but I am going with a fourth option.

        Everyone, including Juniper, would have been aware of her unsuitability for parenthood when she got pregnant. She was a twice held-back high school dropout with a penchant for partying, after all. I’m guessing the whole family was involved with her pregnancy to a certain extend and that Ginger had already agreed to adopt the baby long before he was born.

        1. I’m with you as closest likelihood here. Though as an added potential for anger/drama, I could see a possibility that Juniper wanted to abort, perhaps instead of dropping out. That could explain both Rosemary’s attitude at Ellie/Cinn’s birthday party and Ginger’s response here.

  13. RUSCHE WHY YOU MAKE ME CRY LIKE THIS!!!! Gah, I hate being a man with emotions. She gets a gift for her son, and Ginger won’t let it go. SHE’S TRYING! I’m crying. . . dang it. DANG IT!! asokdvvalsdkfas;dlfjasdfalsdf;akjdf I’ll be fine.

        1. It’s not a label – it’s a state. Like if I’m hungry it’s just my present state and, artistically, it wouldn’t detract from my character’s description base as a human being. You wouldn’t label me as “hungry”, because I’d just eat a sandwich and then I wouldn’t be hungry anymore.

          Although to be fair I’ve seen characters who were hungry all the time (like in Samurai Champloo) – and I didn’t think it made them any less human, in fact it added a certain charm to the overall work I think. Same goes for characters who are drunk all the time. Not the charm bit, but the not any less human bit. In fact, the flaws made them seem more human.

          In Juniper’s case, it’s well established that she’s a frequent party-goer, and it has been implied that she’s drunk most of the time, so I can see how you might assume that I meant it as a label, but unfortunately you are mistaken. I meant it as her current state – in fact I specifically said she was “still a little drunk”, as in it is a residual state and the effects are slowing wearing off. I mean, she was just barfing her guts out in the bathroom stall, like, a few hours ago? But you’re probably right, she’s good to drive.

        2. Well, when you say “I’m hungry” I get a picture of Jughead, Garfield, and Dagwood Bumstead.

          If I had to come up with a decision tree for Juniper, it would be around 65 – 60 % habitual patterns overcoming reason and will power, 15% will power, 10% ability and 5% body impulse. I am still curious as to how Juniper started to act this way. Unless it was a very flamboyant choice that resulted in severe negative emotional feedback immediately afterwards leading to a severe destructive lifestyle through habitual situations that resulted in sex, booze and cigs for an immediate gratification from the negative emotions which would just reinforce the said negative emotional feedback cycle to a place beyond the point of no return.

          Honestly, I can’t picture a situation where a normal person would make a choice that would lead to such a lousy lifestyle without an external manipulation by either a second or third party.

        3. Juniper fits within normal bounds as a forth child considering her three older sisters and the degree attention was drawn away at age two by twins (one of them turning out to be fairly evil).

          As an older sibling, I’m going from hearsay, but it’s my understanding that younger siblings like to carve out a niche for themselves within the family hierarchy and at least partially for parental affection. You have Ginger with her life together following the traditional path. You have Tarra as the ultimate overachiever so nothing academic, athletic, or cultural could ever top her. You’ve got Anise, who goes in a very artsy direction with somewhat bizarre acting out-type behavior and with her acting like a giant child still in her mid-twenties, her parents might’ve worried about her having some degree of mental disability as she was growing up. So nothing from a positive direction of acting out will distinguish Juniper, and negative acting out options more flamboyant than Anise wouldn’t be that feasible (and she’s not dumb enough to try to be more evil than Cinn). So apathetic hedonism isn’t an unlikely direction for Juniper.

          (if you ask why Ellie and Pumpkin didn’t end up that way, Ellie probably got a lot of attention for not being evil or comforted for being the butt of Cinn’s evil with that being replaced by attention at school at least by 5th grade when she got boobs, but probably before as she’s a bubbly/positive social person. Pumpkin is and always has been the baby and would have some additional attention from that but also the perspective of seeing how sometimes older sisters’ attention has been problematic for them and might relish lack of attention at times.)

        4. As I explained, I was talking about states. Conditions. Current modes of being.

          Seems you’re still stuck on labels. Guess I can’t help you?

    1. You do realize the alternative to those inconvenient emotions is in the direction that’s called sociopathology/psychopathology, right?

  14. Wow, things got harsh. Hopefully the coming drama with Sister X will alleviate some tension.
    Also hopefully multiple apologies will be thrown about.

  15. On a lighter note, if Ginger is “trying to replicate the experience…but in bizarro world” then that would imply Sister-X is a cousin- the biological child of one of their parent’s irresponsible siblings how was raised alongside the 7 main sisters.
    Possibly someone who wasn’t rescued from their first parent(s) in time, or resented finding out their whole life was a lie, and is wee bit messed up because of that?

    1. One of Herb’s sibling’s child raised by Rosemary & Herb is possible, but so is one of Herb’s byblows raised by one of his siblings during his “wild youth.”

  16. Damn….that was a bit harsh. But, I’m thinking deserved. Sometime a good slap in the face with our dumb-assery is what is needed.

    Good job on the emotional ups and downs here Rushce

  17. All I can say is, “ouch.” I haven’t been in Juniper’s specific situation but I have been in a place where attempts at making right are shut down. It sucks. Despite her obvious past mistakes I still feel bad for Juniper in this situation. She obviously wanted to try to do something good, sure she probably didn’t think about the other boys but damn, Ginger was ice cold.

  18. Both sisters are somewhat insensitive towards one-another, but Ginger has a point.

    After all, Ginger is Tag’s mother. She’s the one who loves and cares for him along side her other children. She’s one who kisses his boo-boos and put’s his drawings on the fridge.

    Juniper is TRYING to be a less-sucky person, but she is overstepping the boundaries a bit. She obviously can’t just forget she gave birth to him, but she can try to remember and appreciate the fact that for all intents and purposes Ginger is his mother and it’s insensitive for her to show care only towards Tag when there are three other nephews.

    Ginger could try to be less harsh about it, but I imagine after putting up with Juniper’s shit for years she’s probably more than a little fed up. Also I’m not sure if anything but the super-harsh methods even work. I wouldn’t doubt Juniper has had gentler warnings about this sort of thing before, but just blew them off.

    Still, Ginger could temper her rebuke with a bit of kindness. It’s not too late for a little apology or something. Otherwise Juniper may end up resenting her, and may screw things up further by doing something stupid to spite her, like tell Tag she’s his biological mother or something.

    1. I understand where you are coming from, and what you say does make logical sense; however, these situations are harder than they seem on the surface, and they seem pretty hard. Ginger right now is trying to protect Tag and the others.

      Ginger right now is trying to protect Tag, in the fact that the emotional toll of finding our your “mother” wasn’t, and that your “mother” IS a total wash, it could possibly wreck a kid.

      Also, one has to wonder whether or not Ginger will ever let Tag go. In some situations like this, even after the mother comes around, the adoptive parent will still not allow the child any freedom to see the paternal parent due to either jealousy or fear.

      It’s a tepid situation, but I feel deeply for Juni as someone who is trying to be a parent. I know what it is like to have a bad parent, so when I see otehrs trying, even when failing, I constantly want to cheer them on. The goal isn’t to be perfect, it’s to be loving and to be there. Juni has a far way to go before she can be a mother, but I think Ginger was wrong in shutting her down like this, and not even giving her the chance to move forward.

      1. I don’t think she isn’t giving her the chance to go forward so much as she’s trying to make sure that Juniper picks the right time, place, and method. Just spontaneously deciding to show favoritism to one kid and leaving the others hurt is wrong. Just spontaneously deciding to spring for a gift without talking with Ginger about the ramifications it might have is wrong.

        If Juniper is just doing it because she’s feeling a momentary pang of guilt or some holiday feeling has come over her, then she’s buying the gift for all the wrong reasons. As Ginger pointed out, she doesn’t do anything else to try to be part of Tag’s life, including going to birthdays. I’m pretty sure Ginger probably invited the other sisters to birthdays (mine would invite aunts, uncles, and grandparents when I was little), but again, if Juniper wants to be involved, she needs to work the details out ahead of time.

        To be honest, part of me isn’t wondering if Juniper isn’t doing this out of some sort of selfishness. After all, she didn’t ask if Tag would like a talking bird, she said “I think it’s cute.” She probably didn’t expect Ellie to suddenly be managing her own life as well (sort of) as she is, and only really heard about how Quinn has made her “more responsible.” Pumpkin has her own business already, so she really is now the lowest sister on the totem pole. A “I want people to say something good about me” wouldn’t be out of the question here.

        1. And she’s feeling this pang of guilt from seeing Quinn outside, which got her to self-reflect in a way she hasn’t before (assuming this is the first she’s seen this “Quinn” girl since high school.)

        2. If attempting to do something right based on a pang of guilt is wrong, then why bother to do anything at all? I kind of have to ask this, because Juniper is the lowest sister, and all of the stuff isn’t swirling around her head right now because the alcohol has dwindled.

          Ginger is upset, probably from having to drag everyone around, stay up all night when they could have possibly have gotten a nap before showing up at Denny’s for breakfast. I know that I’d be cranky from an all nighter.

          I just got to say, if Juniper is going to be serious about cleaning up her act, she’s going to have to get out of the crowd that she hung out with. They will tear her up, rip her to shreds and party on. And they won’t do that out of malice, the party will take Juniper by the hand and let her do it to herself.

        3. Doing something because you feel guilty isn’t in itself wrong, it’s doing something to quiet the guilt without addressing the actual problem that’s wrong. Juniper’s feeling guilty right now, so buying the bird is just a simple band-aid to tide her over until she can have another drink and forget all about it.

          I’d almost equate this to getting a fender bender with someone because I was drinking, so my solution to the guilt is to sneak over during the night and repaint their car. It doesn’t address the real problem, it just lets me put a “plus” in my column so I don’t have to feel so bad. In this instance, Juniper’s “plus” would only cause more problems because she’s looking for a quick fix (something I bet she’s used to looking for).

          If she is genuine in wanting to do something right by her son, then there’s some much bigger steps she needs to start taking before the little things really mean anything. Attend AA meetings. Stop sleeping around. Be more involved in family events. In fact, just asking “hey…how’s Tag doing?” or “What is Tag interested in these days?” would be a great start. If she’s serious about wanting to buy a gift, talk to Ginger about having it show up as a present from “Santa.” She gets the good feeling of having secretly given her son a gift, and she isn’t risking disrupting some family relationships during it.

        4. I can’t completely agree with you, but I do agree about the arranging gift misdirection. I also think that the effort should be going to all the nephews birthday parties (and if she misses one out of five for the other three due to something coming up but none from Tag that’s not too noticeable).

          If she wants to try to form a “special nephew” bond of some sort with Tag, she should talk to Ginger about it and get an agreement and make it a point to live by it. For example maybe an, “us blond/blonde’s gotta stick together, right” sort of thing that could be taken as somewhat of a joke even by a kid and not noticeable by an adult.

          Juniper absolutely needs to avoid adding herself as a mother figure for Tag for Tag’s own good. For one, Tag’ll use it as ammo against Ginger & William to rebel and put them off their game and incidentally foster some degree of animosity that I’m sure they’ll try to quash, but may not ever fully manage. For another, I’ve seen a lot of kids who decide they can’t do something and then stop trying. One or two instances of getting in trouble incidents for Tag along with feeling an association with biological mom could easily lead to him deciding not to even try to avoid trouble.

          I do want Ginger to show some sympathy and care for Juniper, but Tag is her greater concern.

      2. Agree with everything you have here and would like to add that if Juni wants what’s best for Tag and wants to continue to be a part of his life in any way, she’ll respect the boundaries that his adoptive mother has laid out.

    2. Mr. Blue just had the thought. . . what if Juniper’s pregnancy coincided with the timing of Percy’s birth, and subsequent fawning over the newborn birthmark and mother? She may have been somewhat anally explosive from a Freudian standpoint before, but that could have been the icing on said cake. Just a thought though.

  19. Is it just me, or does Pumpkin look a little bit like Tarra’s braid got a hold of her neck? Something feels off, I’m just not sure what.

  20. Also, I went back through the comments, and Tag seems to always wear somewhat more…how do I say this…hillbilly like than the others. Is there a reason? Like, for example, does Ginger force Juniper to buy his clothes and that’s all she can afford, or what? Now I wish to know more of the family dynamic…

    1. From a practical stance, with a child of Juniper’s blood at that size, overalls are also probably convenient as you can catch a hold of the shoulder straps to grab him as he’s running by.

  21. I would like to ask that while Ginger is dumping a bit of salt into the wounds with semantics, she could be pissed that Juniper hasn’t been well much of anything. Only slightly, and only for Tag it seems, judging by the dialogue.

    My question is, that while Ginger chose to use the word SON to refer to Tag, could the situation have been worsened either in reference to the mother child (don’t say reunion, don’t say reunion) status or Sister Council status (possible references to Sister X having been *sigh* excommunicated from the council) revoked if Ginger said “CHILD

    1. But then again, I wonder who much Ginger may have prepared for this event before hand. How much… is based on off the cuff remarks, or just pre planned confrontation possibly made to plant the seeds of growth in Juniper, if and only if she accepts.

      1. Today doesn’t seem like seeds of growth. Might be the slash and burn to clear the land before the seeds can be planted, but this ain’t seeds.

        I’d imagine Ginger is at least somewhat prepared for this conversation, but I’d bet her focus is protecting Tag.

        1. Great. Sisterly love applied like as a clearing in the Brazilian Rain Forest for agricultural sustenance.

          I agree with your assessment that Ginger is protecting Tag and her other boys as well. And that this tough love is an attempt to get Juniper to “Man UP” as well. But more for Tag. Which is something that Juniper needs to understand, learns and accept.

        2. dangit, I don’t know why but for some reason your comment made me think the follow:

          Tag: “So Aunt Junie’s my mom? Are my brothers also kids of the other Aunts?”

          Offscreen: “Can Ellie be my mom?”

          Someone else Offscreen: “Can I be Tarra’s?”

        3. True fact: Tarra has complete mental control over her reproductive cycle. She can mentally will herself to be fertile or non-fertile when the mood suits her.

        4. I look forward to the Final Battle between Terra Buckingham, Chuck Norris, and Charles Nelson Reilly. Even if viewing it through anything less than a foot of smoked glass will melt your eyes and the resulting carnage will destroy the planet, it’s still going to be awesome. :D

        5. I like that image, though there’s a lot more arguing about it in my mind about which Aunt would be the better mom to have, and I also keep hearing “No, Aunt ____ can’t be your mom. Aunt Cinn’s your mom!” “Is NOT!” creeping up. I’m not sure that I am seeing Ginger avoiding putting her head in her hands at this point.

  22. As much as Ginger’s statement is cutting; I think it was more to remind how fragile tag’s situation is. My guess is that since he was adopted into Ginger’s family unit; he’s completely unaware of who he real mother is. Ginger is very content in keeping that way for his sake. Ginger knows that while Juniper does has her heart in the right place; it may also lead to some serious backlash and possibly undo the facade that has been created for Tag.

  23. Damn. I was all ready to boast about how I called it when Tag’s true parentage came to light. Then Rusche had to go, and inject the reveal with serious emotional depth for multiple characters. And such tragic emotions as well.

    Well played, sir. Well played.

  24. Here’s a question that I think I’d like to see the answer in your comic post in a week or week and a half and not to this comment.

    If Ginger had won the vote, as opposed to Tarra, would walking into this conversation (quite possibly taking Juniper’s side) be the confrontation with Sister X, or would that have segued to something different?

  25. Woah… this comic just took a turn for the…


    …the I’m not sure how I want to describe it, but it certainly just took a turn somewhere.

        1. I was trying to quote Adams, but 90 degrees perpendicular to reality would not get it from there over to here. Just the other direction.

  26. See this? This right here? This is freakin’ AWESOME storytelling. Two lines of dialogue, a tiny bit of context, and WHAM! Emotional sucker punch. Not a drawn-out flashback, not a lengthy exposition, and yet we have all the backstory we could possibly need to understand both characters’ reactions.

    Hollywood writers should take writing lessons from Rusche.

    1. Hollywood writers would require that Anise hadn’t changed appearance since Santa and Ginger’s final speech bubble be moved a bit.

  27. I find it rather interesting how detestable people found Quinn, cheering when things went wrong in her relationship with her ex and calling for acts of violence to be performed on her, but people seem so willing to go “awwwwww, poor thing” when something bad happens to Juniper, a woman who has made a lifetime of making bad decisions, alienating others, and not taking responsibility. Rusche even describes her a the girl who “hits bottom and starts digging,” so I guess I’m just puzzled why the different attitudes exist.

    This isn’t to evangelize Quinn by any means, but is it that we just haven’t seen Juniper make all of her bad decisions (besides going into the men’s room to hit on Quinn’s boyfriend and steal him) while we saw Quinn in the midst of making hers?

    1. I think the fact that there’s a mother/son element colors the whole thing a little differently, too. It’s always hard to see a parent and child that are separated, especially when it’s clear that one or both parties don’t want the separation to exist. Juniper probably did bring this on herself, but she clearly wants a relationship with her child, and the fact that she can’t have it makes us sad for her.

    2. Quinn was made to be unlikable at first because, in my opinion, we are seeing her from Ellie’s perspective at the very beginning of the comic. It isn’t until after the fight that we start to see another side of her. Regarding Juniper, she doesn’t strike me as being as prone to hulk level raging and violence the way Quinn is, though Quinn is getting better. Juni strikes me more as the charming slacker, the one who won’t do anything to help herself or her loved ones but will compliment your new clothes.

    3. Short answer, for me, is that Quinn’s issues are based upon perception and arrogance and making her aware of them is the way to fix them, where Juniper’s issues are motivation and/or belief in ability and support/encouragement (making sure NOT to enable) is the way to fix those.

      I didn’t detest Quinn, I’m actually in Ian’s boat of thinking that if Quinn would decide to grow as a person somewhat she might be someone I’d really like, but that’s something she’ll need to do first on her own, I’m not trusting/waiting.

      To me, the main difference between Quinn & Juniper is their types of issues and personality. Quinn’s issues and personality are the type that strike me as belonging in the “kick her ass to get her head on straight” category. Quinn doesn’t see where she’s going wrong, but she’s generally capable enough to deal with her issues if she could even see them and believe they were issues. Juniper, on the other hand, has issues that she’s fully aware of and are blindingly obvious to pretty much everyone and she just doesn’t have the desire or willpower to fix them. So shoving her flaws in her face isn’t going to be the proper tactic for any kind of positive change for Juniper, because she sees them and knows about them. The direction for change for Juniper would be a change in her priorities and what she deems important, and that’s where defending and supporting anything in that direction comes in as more appropriate.

  28. BREAKFAST!!!

    Your icon, it just reminded me of something. When the girls are playing monopoly with the Cinnamon flashback, I was wondering if that could have been the summer break between Ellie’s sophomore – junior years. It’d explain why she’s there, why Anise is there and why she’s letting her head hit the table in anguish to get out of there. . .

    1. Hard telling when that was. Anise’s presence makes me think it’s a bit before then, as she’d likely have moved out by that summer.

      However thinking about that time period and remembering that Ellie’s hair used to be much longer makes me wonder what prompted Tarra to cut Ellie’s hair (I’m thinking that would’ve been late in Ellie’s senior year or after she graduated) and if it was intended more playfully or more as a serious repremand/reminder of something.

      1. Well, what if some of the sisters goaded her on. I mean, Ginger said how easy it was to manipulate Ellie into thinking that she might be gay instead of Pumpkin.

        I mean:

        *Ginger* Ellie, look how long that ponytail is. Just think, if you could do it, you’d be able to accomplish anything.

        Or something like that.

        1. I’d categorize being goaded by the other sisters into challenging Tarra’s supremacy as “playful.” And while I think it’d take something other than the possibility of more effort to convince The Lazy One to try that, I’m sure something could’ve been managed.

          I guess the sisterly interaction snapshot here is making me wonder if Tarra was trying to straighten Ellie out on something serious or not. Not that Ellie would have anything remotely resembling something this serious to be smacked down about, but I’m curious.

        2. perhaps a 50/50 mix then? After Tarra tried to straighten (groan, pun not intended) Number 5 out (Johnny 5 Alive), some of the sisters convinced her to get back at Tarra with the scissors..?

  29. Daaaaaaam. It took me a while to understand this comic strip, had to read a few comments to get it.

    That. Is. Harsh. Ginger.

  30. Hey, hivemind, I’m trying to find where it was referenced that Juni pawned a camera but I can’t seem to track it down. I either missed it or it was in the comments somewhere, could someone point me in the right direction?

    1. It was mentioned during the phone conversation between Ellie and Ginger in the strip “Turnabout.”

      1. *Mr. Blue adjusts his finger metrics from strips to days to weeks. *

        My bad, It’s two months, sixteen strips back. My finger is borken sometimes. And if you think that’s bad, left bird is off by at least 7 – 10 degrees due to a football injury.

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