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Mutual Understanding

77 thoughts on “Mutual Understanding

  1. Whoo hoo first for the first time lol

    I expect to see a confession in the next page, likely how Ellie hasnt had a boyfriend or something. The status quo of hot girls, everyone thinks they have a perfect life, till you realize most people just see the outside and dont generally care about the inside. I know of a few examples from my high school days.

    Still looks like things might patch up between these two. Would be cool if sometime in the future we see them team up to take down ‘the longest for the longest’ as a team lol

        1. Please be gentle… I really like Alex. Seems like I’m one of the few that actually do. I don’t think of him as a bad guy- just a bit… slow. Though, perhaps people treat him a certain way because of his looks before they really know what he’s like. And maybe he acts that way because of this predisposition of others towards him, kind of like how everyone seems to think he’s homeless, or a hobo.

          Anyway, I’m ranting now, sooooo….. I’ll quote that guy from Angels and Demons- “When you write of us, and you WILL write of us, do so gently… All men are flawed, including this man.”

        2. I think a bunch of people hate him because he was cast to have a fairly weak spine in regards to certain things (the Hot Girl 180, for example), and because we can see him externally, we can criticize the parts of him we don’t like. And, unlike with Quinn, he not only hasn’t done much to redeem himself, he chooses to get results by revenge-based means.

          I bet some people don’t like him because he’s too close to home. Maybe they knew someone like him, maybe they have parts of him that they don’t like seeing in themselves, I’m not sure. I am sure, however, he’s been shown the way he has to give the girls a unifying target.

          On an unrelated note, nice, Mr. Rusche! Go for 10k regulars by the end of August!

        3. CoffeeFox, I can see where people would dislike him. But I’ve been in so many poor situations in life where I was judged too harshly, that I really can’t bring myself to feel judgemental about others. Of course, like all people, I’ve been judgemental, even when I didn’t want to be, or when I thought I wasn’t, so I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, as the saying goes.

          I’ve never done what Alex has done, nor do I think I’ve ever tried to actively humiliate someone because my affections were spurned, (though, at times, I sure as hell wanted to), but still… I can’t help but pity him. I mean, who hasn’t thought about getting back at people in a vicious way? Who hasn’t been angry that they’ve been cheated on or that their advances have been spurned? Perhaps Alex and I are nothing alike, but I’ve seen a lot of vitriol against him, with few people fighting on his behalf, and I’ve experienced that one too many times in life to NOT give someone a second chance.

        4. Well I did initially stigmatize him when he was introduced, and continued so for some time. It was my constant goal to give him an underlying ‘creep’ factor.
          Is he awkward? Yes. Have poor decision making and coping skills? Yes.
          Evil? No.

          My goal with Alex is to convey that type of person everyone knows as someone who should handle situations much more maturely for his age. But he doesn’t.

        5. Well I can’t argue with the word of god, to use a TV tropes term, can I? :)

          I understand. I just got the feeling that some of the comments went off the diving board. But if that was the implication all along, I guess I’m just going blind.

        6. Based on what I’ve seen, he pretty well deserves the bad rap he has so far. The 180 he did, and not keeping his mind off Ellie until he was in his own bed, were pretty pathetic. Sure, they’re “mistakes,” but pretty sad and avoidable ones.

        7. The 180 I could definitely see works against him. That’s an example of hypocrisy, which I won’t defend. I mean, he was arguing about the merits of himself being Quinn’s roommate, only to completely change his attitude upon seeing her. She deserves sympathy because of her looks? Not a pro point for Alex. On the other hand, he WAS supporting the leading lady. Perhaps not for the most noble of reasons, but at least he wasn’t trying to kick her out in the pavement like the other leading lady.

          As far as his thoughts go- are you saying you can crop your dreams? Can you prevent yourself from speaking in your sleep? Few people can. As an interesting note, my psychology professors have told the class that its actually normal for people to fantasize about other people. I would think that’s doubly accurate for involuntary things, such as dreaming.

          But this is all my opinion. I’m not perfect, so I really don’t think I have the right to cast the first stone- just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

        8. Typo error, I meant- “are you saying that you can control your dreams?”

        9. At first, he seemed so inocent, but then we saw his true side: an incompetent villianous jerkface. Personally I’m rooting for a BROKEN NOSE!

        10. Nick, I can only speak for myself here. I don’t think badly of “Poor Alex” because of his looks. I grew up with long hair and beards, I’m still surrounded by long hair and beards, tie-dye and home made clothing.
          I think badly of “poor Alex” because of his attitude and actions. He can’t help having REM sleep thoughts of Ellie, I don’t judge him for that. I judge him for his wide awake objectification of her, and his sense of entitlement towards both Ellie AND Quinn. He’s Quinn’s boyfriend, she’s caustic to him to be sure, but he’s sleeping over and getting sex. Still he feels entitled to pressure her about moving into her apartment, he’ll even talk to her Dad, since she’s such a weak and feeble female that she lacks the courage for it(this is implied not stated). He’s ignoring the idea that Quinn doesn’t want him to move in. He’ll go with the idea that she’s simply afraid to stand up for herself with her father.
          He sees Ellie as a walking wish fulfillment fantasy. That happens all the time. Still I won’t call foul on what goes on in a person’s head. His badgering Ellie at work for information is passive aggressive at best, manipulative at worst. Again, he acts like he’s entitled to her involvement. If I remember correctly she agreed to spill on what Quinn was doing at first in a fit of Pique over Quinn ordering her not to speak to Alex, and continued in return for computer access, right?
          That so does not say “Take me now”. Yet he immediately starts putting hands and mouth on her– I mean she didn’t even get to finish checking Facebook before he’s decided that she should replace Quinn as his girlfriend. When she tries to get out of his dorm, He kisses her. She shoves him off and makes it perfectly clear she does not want him and he saaays “But, you walked all the way to my art class to tell me about Quinn. You let me buy you dinner, now you’re in my dorm.” Talk about entitlement.
          Once she tells him “Not in this lifetime”. He gets incandescently vindictive. First he threatens to draw her naked, then he does it(his fantasy Ellie, it’s all he has to go on), then he posts it. I know you have a soft spot in your heart for him, Nick. But Alex is the worst kind of douchenozzle. He knows what assumptions will be made, not just by Quinn, but by the whole campus. This is slut shaming. Alex says it himself “I HAVE THAT POWER”. It’s about power. Alex is not some poor misunderstood guy stuck in the friendzone. He’s a smarmy little weasel, the kind a girl should never get drunk around, much less pass out near.
          For these reasons, I am looking forward to his crotch being kicked to the fullest.

        11. Well…. Are we sure 100% that home base has been obtained in the baseball metaphor? We know that Jackson is off base with his orientation comparison matrix-thingie.

        12. Well said, Bunny. All the main characters suffer from some sort of narcissism at this point. From Hotchkiss’ Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism, Alex suffers from Entitlement, as defined:

          “Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.”

          Like with Quinn, who suffers from Narcissistic Envy: “A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.”

        13. THAT alone ought to get him off of their backs as he goes back out into the singles scene in Lakeland Florida during the next hurricane just so he can enjoy the feeling of the wind through his hair as he pants in pained exhalations.

  2. Characters resolving their issues?

    By TALKING about them?

    This concept is strange and alien to me. Clearly unrealistic. You’re supposed to have them carry on for four books before they finally have a real conversation and make amends.

    (Maybe I’ve been reading too much Wheel of Time…)

    1. You’re not speaking my language here.. do you mean, like… Goku taking 4 episodes to charge a spirit bomb? Cause that’s more like English to my ears. =P

  3. Wow… it really seems like Ellie lacks a lot of self confidence. I think someone commented on the last strip (was it Bunny?) that Ellie seems like the kind of girl that’s had plenty of boyfriends because she’s pretty, but in actuality lacks them BECAUSE she’s pretty. An astute observation, I thought at the time, though it seemed a bit obvious. But then again, I’m an anal person, and I like to dissect characters and personalities, both in fictional works, and in real life (when I took psychology classes, I tried to discern the possible [perhaps nonexistant] problems of some of my friends and my parents). So perhaps it seemed obvious to me because I was looking for it… :/

    In any case, I really like the way Ellie’s character has turned out. From the girl ready to pose in lingerie for photos on facebook, to the girl here in this strip, she certainly has become a different person. (The art style has certainly changed as well.) I hope she finds a nice person to “find herself,” to use a cliche.

    On an offhand note, Rusche, do you ever plan on writing yourself in the strip? I think that some folks tend to shy away from self insertion, simply because so much fanfiction (poor ones, at that) revolves around that, but I think there are plenty of artful ways of doing so. Kind of like how Stan Lee used to talk to Spider-Man. I’d like to see something like that… Ellie! The hell have you been doin’?!”

    1. I was just asked this yesterday online.

      Wasn’t really planning on plugging myself in. The characters have enough of my own personality flaws and life experiences in each of them already, to really need me in the strip to join them. Cameo or otherwise. Some characters hit close enough to home for me to be content.

      1. Alright, fair enough. I suppose if everyone represented a facet of you or your experiences, self insertion would be redundant. Just thought I’d ask. I normally like seeing self insertion in literature and other forms of media. Not when M. Night Shamylan dies it, though. Then it’s just gratuitous. And dumb.

    2. I don’t get the impression that Ellie hasn’t had boyfriends; if anything, I think she’s used to excessive male and female attention, and rather basks in it- witness the very facebook pandering you mentioned. However, I am also kind of expecting that it’s been very shallow attention, even within her family- she’s used to all her sisters living in close quarters, but she’s also used to them not really caring about the effects of their actions on each other’s feelings. It’s clearly been a huge, constant dogpile of fighting, and I expect her parents only intervened in the most extreme circumstances, if at all, and were ready to pick favorites- the abruptness with which they ejected Ellie her from her home still smacks of callous indifference to me.

      But getting back to the point, I think Ellie’s used to lots of attention, but all of it very shallow, and getting burned a lot by the shallow attention-givers selfish intentions. So, much like with her sisters, she learned to be selfish herself, take what she needed when she could get it, not think about other’s needs, and keep moving from person to person before they could take advantage of her. Honestly, I hate that we’re missing out on so much of her relationship with her boss at work, because I feel like she must be the first person to really respect Ellie for what she was capable of, and be willing to stick her neck out for her. Showing up at Quinn’s apartment to get Ellie’s cat took me totally by surprise; I can imagine how that kind of dedication to her employees would inspire Ellie to go from never-worked-a-day to doing double shifts for two weeks.

      I think Ellie’s real self-transcendental moment will come when she meets a male who is not only willing to commit to her as a person, but *doesn’t* fixate on her appearance, which I think she takes for granted that all people, male or female, must do. Which is really saying something, because *I* fixate on her appearance, against my better judgement. I started reading this comic because of a link to The Hot Girl 180, and now I’ve come to care about the characters enough that I’m ashamed of it.

      Damn good comic, by the way. I just finished my archive binge, and I think I’m going to be in this one for the long hall. I haven’t been willing to get into a new webcomic in a long while. Absolutely not what I was expecting, going in, looking at a sexy pinup. I put a fiver in the till.

      1. Strain, thanks for the comment. That made my day.

        Speaking only from my personal experience, I find Ellie to be a girl who realized early (probably through association with her older sisters) that she was good looking enough to use her appearance to her advantage. We’re entering a point where this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anymore.

        I’ve known several girls that found this out later in life. Sometime in the middle of high school. Sometimes during or after college. I’ve had my experience with some with ‘ugly duckling’ syndrome that actually WERE good looking already (Quinn.) Regardless, she’s in a certain demographic of attractive females who’ve let it go to their head, and is now evolving past it. Some females, unfortunately, never get past their own vanity. But I’d like to think most do.

    3. Nick, Ellie is pretty obvious to me. I raised an Ellie to adulthood. I grew up in the close confidence of a couple Ellies. I’m particularly pleased with Rusche’s ability to give his main characters many facet that seem like they couldn’t belong all to the same person. It’s tricky to write such characters without making them ridiculous.

  4. My only complaint: I was hoping to meet more of the sisters this week.

    So it sounds like they are roommates again. That’s good. Now maybe they can learn to help each other out with their respective flaws, instead of chastising each other for them. Ellie can give Quinn fashion tips and relationship advice, and Quinn can encourage Ellie to make good choices life.

    Then eventually they can become friends. Friends who fight crime, preferably.

  5. You know… I have to admit that Ellie’s attitude is a little confusing to me. I, too, grew up in a large family, and had many things in common… but I guess I went the other route. Because there were so few things that I could actually call ‘my own’, I guarded them jealously. They were not to be touched by anyone else without permission. This could be anything from the simplest toy to my own car (when I got one) and ESPECIALLY my computers and other electronic devices.

    As a result, when I finally got to University and struck out on my own for the first time, I made it VERY clear to all of my roommates that my personal items, mostly food, clothes, and non-communal electronics (PC, laptop, MP3 player etc…) were NOT to be used without express permission. But other, more communal things (condiments and spices that I happened to purchase, my TV and/or DVD player and such) could be freely used. Still… the first time I actually was able to control my own things, I did so rather vehemently.

    Maybe Ellie just simply never had anything that she owned personally… but I find that a LITTLE hard to believe, but I guess everyone’s different.

    Now, we get to find out how Quinn will react to Ellie’s comment here. It’s my experience that people like Quinn don’t like to be told that ‘they’re just jealous’, which is what, in effect, Ellie is saying here. Will she strongly deny that she feels any jealousy towards Ellie, or, since all the chips are being laid out on the table, will she recognize that a part of her DOES, in fact, feel that way?

    1. The crucial factor is the parents–yours presumably permitted/encouraged/enforced those small bits of ownership; Ellie’s may very well have been fully onboard with the communal property vibe, at least among the kids, figuring that it was an easy way to prevent arguments about borrowing/returning, stealing, etc. “If you’re not using it right now, whoever needs it can do so.”

    2. Ellie obviously didn’t even have her own computer. It’s possible she really has nothing aside from clothing. Obviously she placed a lot of value on her facespace account, so it’s possible she has *nothing* going on in real life.

    3. I think it’s just where you grow up. I had a roommate from a large family of girls and she was always willing to let others borrow her stuff and clothes etc etc. Her response was “I’m from a family of girls so I’m use to sharing”. So maybe gender plays a part.

      I’ve personally never remembered going to college and being adamant about what was mine. I just remember saying that people could use my stuff if they wanted (food rule was: if there was only one left it was mine and you couldn’t have it) and for certain things I required they let me know they were going to use it beforehand. Maybe it was just your own personality at play there. Perhaps some of Ellie’s sisters feel the way you do. haha

    4. Regarding Quinn’s jealousy, Quinn kinda admitted to it when we first met her – she claimed Ellie had won the genetic lottery. Quinn is jealous that Ellie can “breeze” through life, without trying. As we’ve seen, Quinn didn’t really have any empathy; she thought the world was *exactly* how she saw it, and if Ellie would’ve complained, well, she didn’t know what life was like.

      I’m using past tense since we don’t know how *much* growth Quinn has had. She may have some empathy, or none. I doubt her ‘heart grew three times bigger…’

    5. Breakfast, couple of points on that,

      What Ellie deems as “community use” would be typical of what’s been established in the comic. She’s only seen sharing, if memory serves, three types of things.

      Food, which her parents would’ve bought for the household.

      Clothes, as most of her sisters would probably share/steal their wardrobes.

      Computer: It was shown in her house, they had one computer for the family.

      This does not excuse Ellie’s shortsightedness that these same items of Quinn’s, in their apartment, were not purchased to share. Also, you said you safely guarded your own possessions at home being from a large family. That’s exactly my point, right. Why did you feel the need to do that? Because of the threat of your own household’s Ellies (Banenas.) =))

      1. Would I be giving Ellie too much of a pass to point out that she’s apparently had NO money at all for maybe a couple of weeks? Maybe she “borrowed” some food from Quinn, and now that she has a real paycheck (also pointing out that she HAD the rent money ready and in hand – there was no thought of spending it on clothes, food or computer stuff) she might start kicking in her share of the food and other items. Like internet expenses in return for using the computer when Quinn’s not?

      2. I did so because not only did my family’s Ellies like to use my things with reckless abandon, they often didn’t know how to properly care for them either. (Like, say, a certain number of Foxtrot books…)


          I don’t even remember destroying those books. I bet it was Peck. In fact, I will put all bets on him because he’s not here to defend himself.

  6. Ahh…mutual understanding at lakeside by moonlight. Where all good conversations happen, haha!

    I’m proud of both the girls. initially overreacting, Recognizing their own faults, having a normal conversation and growing in the process. Screams of real life!

  7. Is it just me, or does anybody else miss the color coded speech balloons?

    I know they’re mostly for keeping track of who is speaking out of sight, but I got so used to them it seems odd to be back to white ones…

    1. I like the colored word bubbles. I typically ONLY use them if the comic requires certain bubbles assigned to certain people. If I feel the readers would be even remotely confused over who’s talking, I assigned a color. This is usual among comics featuring flashbacks, or floating bubbles.

      1. I thought it was something like that.

        It’s just the difference between book form (which I must say, I CANNOT wait for…) and web form. In a book, you wouldn’t get so attached to the “pretty” colors from so many strips in a row featuring them. In web form tho… weeks straight of it has trained my brain to think “Shotgun Shuffle – pretty colors”. Still a true statement (there’s a reason you’re in my top 3 web comics of all time after all), just not always with word bubbles.

  8. Oh, the feels! Coming to understanding, oh, I love it. <3 And oh, the vengeance I smell brewing….it will be magnificent. Alex….oh Alex. You will not like what is coming your way.

  9. I like Ellie. I did before, but this bargain is a good sign from where I stand.

    Also, I agree with Pat’s request above about Ellie’s sisters and the Hardy Boys. If killing and maiming is too dark for the comic, maybe at least give Nancy Drew a swirly, or even just laughing at Scooby Doo continually licking the roof of his mouth after feeding him peanut butter? Maybe I’m taking the abuse of childhood mystery solvers too far, though…

  10. Well, its good to see that even Ellie can admit mistakes without it turning into a drama, altrough her comment of “u have nothing to be jealous about” might still fall in wrong since Quinn is still quite jealous of Ellie’s bust.
    Even more so after Alex his stunt…

  11. Aww what a nice conversation. The page when Ellie was talking about how her sisters cut her hair made me laugh super hard. Especially the older sister. She kind of reminds me of Lara Croft with her hair do.

  12. I’m glad to see Quinn and Ellie talking to each other like adults. And I really can’t wait to see the tag-team action against Alex later in the week!

  13. she’s still a bimbozilla. She cheats on her boyfriend (who she treats like a doormat) chasing after a guy whose name she doesn’t even know, then blames her roommate when the consequences catch up with her. She’s STILL due a buttwhuppin’ or twenty, just to break even.

  14. And Alex is getting screwed over. His girl treats him like a doormat, what a SHOCK, he decides to make a pass at another girl.. so of course, he’s the only one who will get it in the teeth for it.

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