the thing about criticism is this: you can absolutely think “too hard” about something intended to be light fare and the delicate balancing act of art criticism is about threading various needles to avoid as many retorts as possible accusing you of opening discussions in bad faith. one of the many ways to obliterate trust in your critical audience is to become so derisively nitpicky that your attempts to draw attention to the pre-existing holes in the setting or the structure of the story will look like petty sabotage. i recognize this is the risk im taking when i get set off by the existence of sports luxury vehicles within a fictional universe created entirely to cater to a specific sexual appetite. indeed, there is no type of pedantry more obnoxious than the sexual pedant.


the work doesnt exist in a vacuum. if we’re going to be honest about the work’s intent (or, how the work’s intent explicitly reads to the audience), part of the fantasy is to be completely taken care of. i mean, who among us hasn’t dreamed of this, at least briefly. it’s one of the most fundamental of all human desires. but to be taken care of, in settings which are founded in capitalist societies (everyone groans at my shit), begs the obvious question: where is the money coming from?

author’s note so everyone knows im not insane (hahahaha): i’m not here to argue the virtues of communism over capitalism or imply that depicting capitalism favorably in your comic is a moral failing. it is not capitalism itself that i have a problem with (…in artistic depictions), it is the way that it is invoked within this comic specifically that bothers me; it demonstrates a terminal thread of thoughtlessness that threatens to unravel the entire setting, premise and moral ambiguity of what is being presented as a desirable fantasy. this element is the catalyst that sparks the degradation of the taboo into the unconscionable. 

look i’ll be up front: my primary motivation is that this comic sucks and im a hater. the anti-feminist overtones are their own kettle of fish but the runner up contender for most concerning (oooueerrrg, everyone is groaning again) element is the complete lack of class consciousness. look, i mean concerning in the sense of “why has none of this gone recognized by, like, anyone?” every time i show someone a real LO panel they react like i’m went out of my way to fuck with them in an ultra specific way. it has completely recreated the feeling of being the only person in my friend group watching riverdale, if riverdale were the crown jewel of the WB.

to strip the pretension from the phrase “class consciousness” and put it in plain text: the insertion of modern capitalism into the comic has necessitated the creation of an underclass to serve the gods (the focus of the comic). as a result, the comic has repeatedly needed to justify the abuse, exploitation and acts of dominance over the subjugated class in order for the main cast to remain sympathetic. the author is incapable of envisioning a world that does not operate on disparity, in spite of the immutable fact that the gods are the sole arbiters of seemingly infinite creation.

and i’m capable of comprehending that there are times when a work has grotesquely unlikable asshole protagonists on purpose. it could be argued that the fickle behaviors of the gods is SUPPOSED to be detestable and there are obviously times where that is the intended audience read. but this is not “succession” and the entirety of the work does not indicate that it is trying to create quiet commentary by inviting the audience to draw their own conclusions on the characters by simply presenting them with the truth of their actions and deeds. additionally, if the romantic hero also engages in that behavior and it’s unremarked on or encouraged by the author or the heroine, what is the intended audience read?

regardless, all this to say: i do not want to alter the content of the comic, but to verbalize how it reads to me as an audience member. the purpose of criticism is to demonstrate and encourage reflection and to help refine one’s own perceptions.

okay. right. the cars.




this is minthe. i could write 100000 more words about the treatment of her by the comic and, by extension, the author. her introduction is about as subtle as a brick: she serves as the evil whore foil to persephone’s virgin perfection. her introduction as hades’ randomly abusive, hyper-sexual, and cruel younger girlfriend is contrasted with persephone’s naivete, chastity, and sweetness. shes literally smoking a cigar and wearing lingerie. somehow she is not the hero.





like i said, there’s a lot to unpack with her but i need to stay on target. minthe is a nymph, one of many “beast races” (for lack of a better term) that populate olympus and fulfill menial tasks and jobs. for example, this guy runs a modeling agency.




a modeling agency that include car shows. or…dealerships. its not really clear. anyway: she is introduced to hades in a flashback through his brother zeus who sexually harasses her during her shift.

lol uh. or comes as close as he can without becoming objectively villainous instead of “rakish”. as a result, what plays out is all VERY schoolyard behavior.






he executes a 0/10 prank that still kills for some reason.




and then it happens. “it” isn’t a singular event limited to just the example im about to give. “it” is the complete undercutting of the dramatic and logical tension within the story and “it” happens with alarming frequency as the comic introduces more and more modern elements. each additional luxury vehicle or department story or cell phone comes with the artist being forced to depict the people (or in this case, beast races) providing those services. the author cannot imagine a world where luxury is not predicted on service or a product, even or especially when the existence of the service or product does not make sense.

back to “it”…hades poofs away:




if gods can poof and fly (as its been implied some or all of them can), what in the hell is the purpose of the luxury vehicle on olympus? the beast races are sure as shit not buying them as they are explicitly the working class in every single one of their appearances. what does it run on? who pumps the gas? who services the cars? the streets of olympus have been paved so that cars can be driven so this would suggest the city’s infrastructure was centered around the use of vehicles. does he hire someone to drive him around in it, despite the fact that he can teleport? he and persephone clearly use it to get around even though she can fly. these cars are so successful despite having an extremely limited number of buyers, they make enough money to hire booth babes all day explicitly so they can be sexually harassed by the men (of a superior magic immortal race) buying the cars.

why does an entire seemingly unnecessary industry exist within the confines of the universe?




all of the above questions are overthinking a basic logistical problem with the setting for anyone with a moral center: in order to be served, one must have servants. the entirety of the universe in LO is constructed around not a modern re-imagining of the ancient myth, but instead a lazy and depressing hodge-podge of various products and physical items the author places great value on as status items in the real world. and, sadly, this is not as a bit within the universe. this isn’t setting up any message other than the central one of the comic: love and worth can be quantified with a dollar amount.

hades’ department store (staffed entirely by beast races who are delighted and eager to serve their master) offers a purse that two beast race women drool over, only to be informed:




this scene has a direct and obvious purpose: through it, we establish that hades’ store caters to the ultra-ultra-rich. this is a level of rich that is unobtainable to anyone except the pantheon of gods, whose unique abilities maintain the fabric of reality and thus set the terms for the world they unilaterally control. at best, minthe, a nymph, experiences a fraction of this wealth when sugaring for hades. on the other hand, persephone is the heiress to a cereal empire (who is eating the….?………you know what dont even get me started on that whole thing) so she is all but assured to be independently wealthy even if she was temporarily without funds during certain events of the comic.




back to the purse: hades and persephone arrive at his own department store so that she can have a restorative shopping montage. she learns a heart-warming lesson about how its okay to be rich in what i think is one of the most gratuitous and absolute dog-brained moments of the entire fucking comic, thus far, including the part where persephone gets big and accidentally steps on (real, human, ancient greek) people and has to go on the lam. her accidental manslaughters evidently require a tribunal and a trial of her peers, which is odd when contrasted with the justice meted out on the beast races indiscriminately and unilaterally by individual gods who act as judge, jury, and executioner.




granted these are not the nice gods (i can think of an event with demeter, persephone’s confusingly controlling mother, specifically, as seen above), but there’s an echo of this behavior when hades bullies two beast race women into divulging information about persephone. in one example, a woman purchases a hair comb from a pawn shop, ignorant that it was a gift from hades and persephone is the one who pawned it for emergency funds. when hades shakes her down and demands where she stole the comb from, she directs him to the pawn shop and he just…takes it. to give it to persephone again. whether or not she was made whole or is even okay with this is completely inconsequential to the author but left me, the reader, in a total lurch. the complete disregard for addressing this within the narrative is less shocking when taken into total account with everything else ive been talking about.




the sequence in which hades takes her on a shopping spree to both improve her mood and express his love was too grotesque for me on every conceivable level. it is not just the shockingly antiquated “women b shoppin!” stereotype presented as a healing process, but the open and shameless conflation of money and love, net worth and self-worth. what possible message could come from this except to reinforce that within the fictional universe of LO, it is the place of the lesser to fawn over what persephone is ultimately entitled to. it is her birthright as the protagonist/self insert and as a literal goddess who determines the creation of food…and nymphs. the underclass. the gods are responsible for the creation of their servants.





the industries exist because they are 1:1 representations of or conductive to what the author considers to be a desirable luxurious fantasy. i do not think there is a more complex reason than that, as that is the reason why the entire comic exists: as a personal love letter to the author’s tastes and desires. and frankly, that’s the point of comics. ALL comic artists should succumb to this desire. what continues to vex and haunt me however is the complete lack of reflection occurring despite the author putting these elements together and presenting them for an audience who then lapped it up without questioning what, specifically, was appealing about this and why. it is by sheer accident that these elements combine together to paint an unflattering picture of a culture that has created artificial disparity for no apparent reason than personal gratification.



my question, is this:

who fills the pot holes on the roads built exclusively so that the gods can drive their luxury cars? why do they do it? to get hades some pussy????



i’m not sure it’s possible to talk about this without sounding preachy, self-congratulatory, and/or smug. no one likes to talk about morality and trying to talk about morality and art with artists is like trying to talk to a really dense brick. the conversation often devolves into juvenile fandom discourse about whether or not it’s okay to jack off to children and i really don’t want anything to do with people who consider this a major concern in their lives. i’m trying to think beyond dicks here (impossible, i know).

one of the main things that alienates me with w/ regards to my peers is my primary effort being trying to maintain some level of moral dignity in a field that is inherently slanted toward exploitation and humiliation. i am aware of “how it sounds” to talk negatively about obtaining money in a subculture (web comics, but also comics in general) that is populated largely by minority artists who view it as an avenue for financial freedom that was once closed entirely to us. but: i have no idea where the perception of online art as a source of financial security came from; an artistic career is famously synonymous with poverty. why would online be any different? why would you not anticipate the years needed to build an appreciative audience for your work? or the years of “making your bones”?

as a result, many people (i’m talking the ones who don’t have external financial assistance from friends/family) obviously struggle to maintain a job based entirely on their own work. as a result of that, there seems to be a general presumption that all methods and avenues by which an artist makes money are virtuous because they provide income to a struggling person (you, the artist). to criticize the ways people make their money (for example, taking work from companies known to be abusive to their employees or encouraging the creation of art with a factory line, quantity-over-quality mentality) is read as an attack on the viability of the profession itself. to express disgust with how someone earns a living is perceived as, in the most dramatic instances, wanting artists to starve, suffer, or die (as if the only options in life are to take bad jobs or die; there are alternatives! come on! its intellectually dishonest to pretend otherwise.). somehow, the same people who are deeply convinced that art works influence reality cannot be dissuaded that the jobs they choose to take have consequences outside of the immediate financial comfort it offers to them, the artist.

i refuse to entertain the notion that a subculture built on mutual support and a DIY punk attitude should become a safe house for the financially driven. i do not believe it is acceptable to expect and defend every instance of an artist making a financially beneficial decision over a moral one. to criticize an artist for their financial/moral decisions is not an act of targeted cruelty unique to them only. i do not support a mainstream web comic scene based on gaining the respect of corporations or finding validation in brands.

freelance artists today are blessed to live in an era where becoming an artist for a living is no longer a empty pipe dream that only a tiny handful of already wealthy and connected people can obtain, but financial success is absolutely not even remotely guaranteed despite the accessibility of the career to new artists. the world at large remains hostile to arts funding and the creation of novel ideas and visuals is not of financial interest to the people providing careers (which i’ll define as “a full-time job where you get health insurance”) to artists. when you choose to become an artist for a living, you are making a conscious choice to prioritize your artistic passion over security. and i understand you, if that’s you.

no one becomes an artist to become rich except for maybe the biggest, most naive dopes on the planet. you would have to ignore over 100 years of american sneering at art and the mere concept of paying for it. you can see it in the naked contempt our peers have for art that is genuinely unusual, off-putting or “undeserving” of its status in the artistic canon (i remember some truly idiotic posts about “the comedian” aka “the banana duct taped to the wall”. no one who hated it bothered to research the artist, his work, and what he’s trying to achieve. i’m being mean now: there’s a gaping void where their intellectual curiosity should be that they  filled instead with the emotional equivalent of packing peanuts.)

we choose to be artists knowing that financial stability will never occur unless you win the literal or metaphorical lottery. to be an artist as a living is to prioritize your emotional needs over practicality. AND I GET IT. i draw for a living because i think i would be in a padded cell otherwise. there is nothing i wouldn’t give up to continue doing what i do because it’s fulfilling something nebulous and impossible to define in me that gratifies me more than any meal, any medication, any good nights sleep. there’s something wrong with my brain lol. this kind of attitude is certainly not normal.

there is nothing certain, stable or beneficial to being a freelance artist; you will need to make peace with poverty and uncertainty. you can skip this if you don’t want my life story: i started my comic in 2013 while finishing school and working a graveyard shift at the university library. i graduated and drove a small uhaul of my crap up to oregon where i lived with 3 other people who taught me how to sign up for food stamps and medicare. using government benefits, careful spending, and basically only spending my fun money on weed (lol this part i dont recommend but it made “being alive” better), i lived near portland for 4 years on my own money before picking up and moving to rhode island 3k miles away using my savings i’ve built up since i started working at 15. i’ve been living with adam for 4 years (! wowzers!) during which, for about a year, we made approx. the same amount of money lol. a dual income helped, but we were still scraping by at the time. i used my remaining savings last year to put a down payment on our house. it is literally only this month that i am starting to feel financial comfort but its because of adam’s job (which he has worked crazy hard on. manual labor is a class all of its own). however, with the 15% of my income the u.s. government takes, an economic downturn that leaves our supporters with less fun money to spend, and a society that seeks to reduce art’s virtues down to its financial worth, it is a horrible time to be an artist. i have been realizing that if i were still living with roommates, the current american economic landscape would have made it near, if not entirely, unfeasible for me to have continued working as an artist full time. and i used to work with my gloves and coat on so i didnt have to run the very expensive heat during the winter. i was already cutting a lot of corners.

when confronted with the question “then how do we make money off our art if we are expected to ALSO reject jobs on moral grounds?!” the answer is: you don’t. you already are not going to make a living off of it unless you are willing to chase down major corporations for literal years to get the 200 dollars they owe you. you live in and are arguing for the right to contribute/support, without criticism, to a society that does not believe your work has value beyond making the maximum amount of money possible. if i had to, i would rejoin the workforce at least part-time and do art on the side like literally everyone else on the planet has ever had to do (and as i did when i was building my audience). i realize that suggesting this to artists today is like suggesting they lay in the road and die. but if we are going to operate within reality then we need to accept some universal truths:

  1. no one is too good to work minimum wage.
  2. a practical solution to a problem (no money) is not an argument that your work shouldn’t have financial value.
  3. there’s nothing anyone can do about people not purchasing your work. if it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t sell. there is no guarantee that your work will connect with an audience with spare cash or the desire to fund more. that’s entertainment!

if my options for artistic financial fulfillment were limited to propping up the success of companies i am morally opposed to, i would drop art as a job. i would go back to doing it for my own gratification only and start churning out literally a thousand drawings a year. i’ll work for a company that crushes pigeons into cubes before i’ll ever work for dc/marvel (and let’s cut this off at the head: im not chomping on sour grapes here. i am not jealous of people who work for major comic corporations. when you ask them how union building is going they completely flip the fuck out because they know any sign of solidarity in public threatens their bag. and im supposed to applaud this?? lol)

i have to anticipate this: people will bring up being marginalized as a reasonable excuse and im not really sure what the fuck is up with you that you think life works like a points system and you’re just evening out an unseen scale. fuck you! hold yourself to a better standard!!! don’t throw up your hands!!! is a web comic subculture that revolves around making money, creating algorithmically exploitative works, and sharing tips on how to maximize your output (while doing the least amount of actual work) the community you want to ally yourself with? because i really really don’t and feel mortified to be associated by proxy.

my general negativity and constant stream of criticism (lol i know. i know. i dont like being this way either. i feel perpetually aggravated by the inherent evil of life) causes people to make assumptions about my financial status, my upbringing, my political, and moral beliefs and my racial background (and so on and etc). in fact, i will admit i am still burned abt being called privileged over suggesting that there’s more to life than money lol.i think this is a cowardly reaction to someone challenging you and a frantic flailing attempt to justify yourself to others by forgetting the lesson hammered into you by nearly every single literary, visual and audio artwork ever created. i guess now we have confirmation that art has 0 effect on reality.

i feel like a dick, regardless. complicated.

i dont really know what i want from this except to get it out. actually, i do know: i just need a check on how detached this mentality is from “the scene”. if this is met with universal booing, i can be placed back in my habitat so i stop bothering people who fundamentally don’t agree with me.

but man. the only thing you take with you to your grave is your reputation. when they bury me, i hope they say “she was a rotten bitch but at least she gave a shit”

post too long. die now.

**NOTE: this was supposed to be a patreon exclusive, but patreon shit the bed as i was uploading it, making all the work i just did pointless. in order to salvage this, i’m just going to post this here for anyone to see. oh well. enjoy.

hi, i meant to write this yesterday but it was my boyfriend’s birthday so i spent it with him instead [everyone boos and throws solid objects at me] i know i know.

these characters are not going to be important enough to dedicate too much of your brain pan to. im not about to dump a bazillion new important randoms on the already big cast, but the process of creating characters within a fictional world involves conceptualizing what kind of people would organically emerge from those conditions. i end up having to create a bare bones back story in my head to feel like i can draw them correctly. i dont think that makes a lot of sense now that i think of it. i feel like people usually draw the character first and then come up with a story for them. i have to think of a character first and then think “what would this character look like, based on this dumb idea i had?”

this problem was amplified ten times when faced with having to populate maxine’s coven because the only people who would choose to practice a defunct means of (what is essentially) house cleaning would be the biggest freaks in the world. it’s like joining a club for churning butter.

anyway, i’ll tell you about the freaks from left to right, as they appeared in the most recent page:

note: most them dont have names and choosing them would just add another thing to agonize over forever until they’re perfect, so some will get nicknames.

  • name: rosa, after dona rosa who offers a really interesting look at an authentic limpia in ecuador
  • approx age: late 30s
  • practices?: white magic, as a curandera. less exotic than it sounds
  • bio: rosa is a butch lesbian who works as a dental assistant. a lot more people die there than you think. it’s always cheaper to have someone on already on staff who can take care of ghosts big and small, so, you know. it looks good on a resume. even if it means you have to close for the rest of the day to clean up all the unsterilized and unidentified liquids you spit all over a space where people lay with their mouths open.
  • her specialty: using cigarette smoke to purify a room. it’s called “multi-tasking”.


  • name: lorena, after this pep torres song. it fucking rips, it’s mexican surf rock
  • age: late teens
  • practices?: black magic. uses her own blood.
  • bio: lorena is all in on this witch shit. it’s more than just an aesthetic, which might be your first impression when she turns around and you see her wearing that one fucking “black flag” (or worse, the “unknown pleasures” album cover) shirt. oh great, you might think, another goth wanna-be here. every time school starts, these baby-bat kids start flooding in to your local morgues and funeral homes and covens looking to boost their credibility by hanging out with some real freaks…only to find an icy reception from an insular and secretive group that protects their own. eventually these posers drop out and find some other way to assert their credibility. lorena made the cut when she opened a vein for her fellow coven member with no hesitation. usually, they just, you know, wait to get to know you over a period of time. but whatever.


  • name: “mom”
  • age: late 30s, early 40s. lookin good girl!
  • practices?: white magic, kitchen witchery, specifically.
  • bio: her mother was in the gottwin coven when maxine’s grandmother ran the joint. now, she’s the day to day operator of the coven (with valdo, but he defers to her when it comes to anything involving magic or the coven itself) since maxine only shows up when she has to or needs to. she has no interest in taking over the coven officially since it’s already hard enough to be a PTA member AND a witch AND a den mother. that’s too many hats and this one is pointy enough.
  • she found witchcraft to be a less expensive, in the long run, way to keep the house clean of supernatural contamination. much in the same way that clipping coupons is good value even if it takes time to do it.

  • name: millie
  • age: late teens
  • practices: white magic, not well. trying her best.
  • bio: jeremy’s girlfriend. going to college and uses the coven as an excuse to see her boyfriend, who up until very recently was spending a lot of time working shitty jobs. brace face late in life. not really taking this too seriously but valdo likes her and thinks she’s a good kid.


  • name: “gordon”. as in freeman. read on.
  • age: mid-20s.
  • practices: he does not.
  • bio: a grad student studying covens and their functions in a modern society, he has been reluctantly allowed to hover and observe as long as his questions are not intrusive, he doesn’t take photos or video and he does not identify anyone in the coven. so far, has kept this up, possibly out of direct fear of retaliation from either valdo or maxine. as a note: every single grad student on planet earth looks like a gordon freeman clone. it’s fucked up and wrong and we should stop tolerating it.


  • name: “penny” for penanggalan
  • age: died in her late 20s, currently tipping 40 years old.
  • practices: law
  • bio: killed in a freak car power window accident, penny is the daughter of an immigrant mother/former coven member. having been brought to coven meetings as a child, penny feels a sense of familial comfort among those whom she grew up with and frequently visits to spend time people she ultimately feels the most comfortable with, despite her upward mobility in life. except uh, sometimes she does have to go upstairs if someone starts experimenting with an extermination technique. its not like they’ll accidentally exterminate her, but it wont feel good and she will make that known. studied hard and became a lawyer, much to her mother’s surprise and joy. she does not represent maxine often due to her being “career poison”.


  • name: albert
  • age: early 80s
  • practices: oh, a little of this. a little of that.
  • bio: albert is a hobbyist witch who has spent a long and storied career studying, discovering and fine-tuning some spells from difficult to decipher grimoires. while this never lead to any mind-blowing discoveries, he did make some significant enough to have his name appear in a few research papers and books. albert is one of those guys who will be like “ah, i can use this skill i learned from when i tamed lions in the circus when i deserted the french legion!” and you just have to take his word for it that he probably did that at some point…but its impossible to know if he’s bullshitting or not. legally blind. dont feel too sorry for him, he looked at a lunar eclipse.
  • “bea dont you mean solar eclipse” no i do not!!! you will read more in the coming pages about the MOON. im annoyed that lunar magic is already a thing that exists but everyone will think im just cribbing bloodborne. a hell of my own making.
  • currently attempting to make a major discovery before he dies by unlocking the secrets of alchemy using forbidden black magics. the thing is, alchemy is not real. but he’ll show them when he’s swimming in his scrooge mcduck gold vault

  • name: uh…m-mary? no that’s not it. it’s like uhh, japanese? shit. juri? maybe it was juri. ayami? wait! asami!…right?
  • age: uh did anyone get this from her? i dont think we asked
  • practices: definitely black magic.
  • bio: he’ll be sorry.



penny again. moving on.



  • name: fatima
  • age: just a little baby…
  • practices: only with adult supervision
  • bio: some kids are just born weird and develop an affinity for things that make absolutely no sense to their befuddled parents. these children might also have a difficult time connecting with other children without beating the absolute fucking shit out of them with their patented HULK HANDS. fatima’s parents are dealing with a certified weird child who has developed an all consuming interest in something that does not have an after school program or any mainstream means of indulging. plus it’s threatening to make her even MORE socially awkward than she already is; who wants to be friends with the kid obsessed with butter churning? valdo, having been a family friend since they moved into town (he’s friends with EVERYONE its SO annoying to jack and maxine) offered to babysit on coven nights. the diversity of mostly successful weirdos in the coven did much to assure fatima’s parents that she was in good hands. maxine had not attended that day. things might have been different if she had.

that’s all for now. there are some not pictured who are joke characters or just haven’t shown up yet. such as:

– a ghost learning white magic to sate his sexual masochism

-a living sex worker learning for the same reason, but as a niche dominatrix.

-a living woman who has “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” and claims to feels pain from the electro-magnetic pulse bombs used in commercial ghost extermination. this is not a thing.

-a man who has emblazoned his hat with the runes (WOMEN) (NEED) (SELF) / (WATER BEAST [bountiful]) (TERROR) (SELF)

-mervin, from the municipal government

well. ill see you soon. i have a page to draw and movie reviews to do. i finally thought of an angle for one of them. it was struggling with how to tackle it bc there was something i wanted to do with it but the framing of it all wasn’t coming together. this is incomprehensible, sorry. well. good night
this post contains frank discussions of suicide.

one of the premiere rules of webcomics, and life really, is “never give people the ammunition they need to kill you”. which is uhhh a little overdramatic considering the scale of what we’re working with here, but i think it’s just a matter of taking one’s own well-being seriously; those who cannot endure criticism should not open avenues that facilitate it. online communities from 2010-approximately 2014 were much more open and heavy handed with their criticisms, a fact which i think really impressed itself on me as i watched people in art communities, especially webcomics, flame out painfully because of a constant stream of negative feedback. in spite of my little edgy, (and frankly pathetic) needlessly cruel and nihilistic-through-narcissism exterior, i was and still am pretty terrified of other people and what they think. to add to this, i get perspective from webcomic readers who do not have an appreciation for the wilder and stranger examples in the community (which i think is a shame). this makes me very self-conscious; what will they say if that target ever gets turned on me? it’s harrowing to put yourself out there, and when i was basically a shambling corpse from 2009-2014 i was a little too cavalier about that fact. corpses don’t have to care about what people think of them because they’re dead. now i’m at least 1% human being and it’s a problem.

however, i really like comics. and i really want other people to make comics. the ability for literally anyone (yes, especially the common lunatics) to be able to publish their art, no matter what the quality, to an eager audience with little effort is one of the few great changes that the internet has brought to the lives of both hobbyists and professionals. art is wonderful, but comics offer some interesting challenges that inexplicably have always called me to the field. the constraints of the same sized canvas every update, the decisions as to what information you need or want to convey to the audience, being extremely specific with dialog and word choices to make sure them talk in a way that’s informed by who they are…this is all the stuff that both drives me insane and that i live for. i’m not under any delusion that i’m not the only person in the world who notices or cares about this stuff, but more than anything i just want to be understood, like all people. the entire time i’ve been making comics i get the notion that i’m doing them “wrong” and no one has bothered to correct me. so with this post, hopefully either i will accidentally create good advice or create something contentious enough in its audacity that it starts a conversation about this exact topic.

i do not like to position myself as an authority and go through great means not to do so: doing this is like handing people a heat seeking ballistic missile. but i am dying to see new, less practiced voices enter the field now that it’s not as blisteringly hostile as it once was. it’s a great time to legitimize comic making as a hobby and i sincerely hope more people get into it.

i forgot where i was going with this from paragraph one. oh right. so, in order to hopefully dismiss any preconceived notions about how webcomics are made, i will reveal my writing process for the most recent chunk in my webcomic in the hopes that others will be inspired in one way or another. that took a long time to get here. lol.

i will be using my own comic as an example. you can read it here.

Step one: what

ok so what am i doing here.

i’m going to use the very specific chunk i just worked on, a flashback between jack and maxine, as the example. if you don’t know who they are, well, i guess you’ll just have to read literally all of my comic and get back to me. sorry, but them’s the breaks. anyway, i already knew where i was going with this flashback in general, so now its time to get down to specifics.

things i knew ahead of time i needed to cover and put on the page:

  • establish that jack and maxine met enough at college to recognize each other again in the future
  • that jack is at the lowest low of his life when he met maxine
  • establish that maxine has always been maxine. maybe more maxine than she is without jack to restrain her impulses 
  • make sure they leave together. lol. can you imagine if maxine had to come back a second time and jack had time to process and think about his first encounter with her. there’s no way

STEP two: the first part

the first part of the flashback, the college meet-up, was the least difficult. i’ve always known how this was supposed to go. they certainly met more than once during college, but were not friends (but not unfriendly). jack at this point in his life would have been the kind of insufferable 90’s guy who would bring his guitar to a party. maxine would be so depressed she would be oblivious to it; spending most of her time sleeping or in bed. the hardest part of this whole thing was figuring out what jack would have looked like in the 90s. i think i did a good job lol

left: the man of the past, right: the man of the future! the biggest change is his hair rotated

i got in and out in 2 pages. hell yeah. you see, a thing about webcomics is that they update page by page, typically on a regular schedule. unlike a comic book, which you can read through all in one go, a webcomic is something you get in drops. piecemeal. which means the pacing is always going to be glacial. this is simply a feature of the medium and i guess i see it as an additional challenge.

it’s a delicate balancing act: you have to think about timing not only on a micro scale when working per page but also on a macro scale by considering how it will read when read all in one go. it’s trickier than it sounds! consider: when updating only 2 pages a week, i only have those two opportunities to convince people to keep reading so i need to give them SOMETHING on that page to keep them coming back. on the other hand, i’m trying to tell a well paced story for archive readers someday. it’s entertaining two different audiences at the same time. 

it’s vital to his character to know he was also once a “sport jacket with tennis shoes” guy. just detestable.

my early pages are unreadable for a lot of reasons, but as a whole the story is also difficult to read because i, in a desperate attempt to make every page “mean something” put a joke or a plot beat on every page at the end of the page.  it was like the reading equivalent getting pelted with a baseball every 7 seconds. like at that point you know a joke or something is coming so you’re already primed for it to happen, right? anyway. 

the truth is your audience probably isn’t reading your stuff with the intent to hate on it, so whoever is reading it will be willing to endure the updates that are not packed to the brim with heart-pounding excitement. thank god for that, because jack and maxine truly meeting was something i assumed would take me like 5 pages. it wound up taking me like 15. 15 pages of these two sidestepping each other. fuck! it sure as shit didn’t look like 15 pages! that’s 7 weeks of this! you see what i mean!

step three: THE FIRST DRAFT

while sitting on the couch watching some dumb shit, i hammered out the first draft of this sequence. it is incomplete, it is erratic and it sucks. that’s fine. as long as no one picks up my notebook and reads it without the context of knowing everything in there is supposed to suck, i’m in the clear. i’ve provided a transcript below. this appears to take place after the part where maxine initially recognizes him after 8 years. this is a part i’ve been thinking about for years, so i knew exactly how it would go. easy.

the not easy part was extracting myself, and these characters, out of this flashback. here’s where we’re at: jack has been successfully recognized, not as a horrible bastard who is currently at the hands of internet and real life mockery and scorn, but as someone she met a few times in college. this is the turning point event in his life, unfortunately.

i thought they were called “push pops” but those are the candy ones. shows what i know.

i. ignore the fingerprints.

(J: Jack, M: Maxine, b: me commentating)


J: I’d rather hear more about what you’ve been up to…ugh. (b: apparently i already knew he was going to dump ice cream on himself, hence the “ugh”. he’s wiping it off.)

M: Still exterminating.

J: Oh you’re an exterminator? Which company?

M: I’m independent.

J: No kidding? You own your own business?

M: Yeah, I’m a, what do you call it? Entrepreneur. (b: would she be able to successfully pull this word? on the one hand she is business minded and would know it to throw it around. on the other, french?)

Okay, now you have to answer my question.

J: Is that how it works?

M: Yeah, let’s trade information! (b: oh i remember why i set this up this way. maxine has this relationship with victoria. she trades errands and lunch orders for information and money)

J: I don’t think I…have information.

M: Sure you do, everyone knows something worth knowing.

J: If you say so.

M: I’ll start with an easy one. Didn’t you used to sound different? (b: this is one of those ‘things no one cares about or notices but me’ things. jack in the modernest day drops his “g”s and has a few more linguistic quirks. being a newscaster meant he had to stomp that out in favor of a general american english accent. right now, jack is in a weird transitional state where he’s both newscast-voicing and reverting back to his feral texan form. so until maxine makes him go nuts with stress, his “g”s stay on)

J: Is it…? Oh my god, its that noticeable, huh?

M: Weren’t you southern? You sound like… (b: …joke pending)

J: How do you remember all of this? I can barely remember my first name most days. (b: he would never say this. jack henderson would never forget anything about jack henderson).

M: Is that your question?

J: Sure.

M: …You have a face that’s hard to forget.

M: My turn. Uh, this one’s awkward. You sleeping rough? Not to put you on the spot but you look…you have the look. (b: maxine has almost certainly slept in public before. she has probably seen the look in a mirror.)

and that’s what i managed. it sucks dog shit but its some kind of bridge to somewhere. beats nothing.

step four: second pass

now, while staring at my notebook with disdain, i retype everything into a notepad document, but good this time.

uh, “good”

this one is much longer and i was further in the flashback. it was at this point i was realizing my little flashback was going to be much longer than i anticipated it would be. i needed an exit strategy, but the problem was it needed to be natural feeling. or. as natural feeling as the cartoon universe of A Ghost Story can be. what possible fucking reason would anyone willingly walk away with maxine gottwin? i still hadn’t solved that and its evident in the script, which i will now give the same treatment as the previous one.

[maxine looks down at him, putting her knife away]
m: sleeping rough?

[jack looks back up at her trying to scramble for change]
j: …what?

m: if you need somewhere to stay, i know some people who can put you up. (b: lie)

j: no! no, no! i’m fine. i’m…my apartment’s being remodeled, so I’m staying at a hotel. (b: lie)

m: which one? i do work for a lot of the owners. i might be able to get you some money knocked off your tab.

j: …there’s a motel 6 off the highway.

m: oh, yeah.

j: i wanted something- i’m trying to save money for-

m: well, this is awkward but…if you kill yourself, can you do it at a different motel? 

[page] (b: lol this indicates to me when a good time to cut a page would be. i had to veto most of these in the creation process because they just didn’t fit the way i thought they would)

m: maybe the motor-lodge?

j: WHAT?!

m: like, i don’t think keith will care as much as nancy, but nancy’s mom just died and she doesn’t need any more stress in her life.

j: excuse me?? what the hell?

m: isn’t that what you were saying just now? you /just/ said you were thinking about dying!! (b: i mean, he did. this just wasn’t even remotely the reaction he or anyone probably expected another human being to throw at them)

j: n- i- what’s wrong with you?!

m: me? you’re the one jerking me around!

j: /wow/, this conversation is bad in a new way.

m: you’re really annoying. i see why people are mean to you now.

j: what’s your problem? why are you /soooo/ interested in where i die?


[maxine takes out her business card and hands it to him]
[jack stares at the card while maxine rambles]
m: didn’t you use to talk different? you were southern…it’s been cutting in and out this whole time. now you sound like someone from a commercial for a class action lawsuit. (b: joke pending)

…joke pending

j: how do you remember all this?

m: you’re a hard guy to forget.
[jack starts sobbing]


[jack’s hysterical]

m: shit, okay, uh.
m: ah, listen. i’m in no position to judge, alright? what’d you do?

m: okay! okay!

m: you on the lam?
[j shakes his head]

m: felony?
j: [weakly] no…

m: well what-? was it a crime?
j: [sniff] t-they’re still figurin’ t-that out.
m: alright. okay.

j: i’m sorry. i’m so embarrassed. this whole thing is embarrassin’. (b: embarrassed has 2 “r”s??? great now i have to go fix my speech bubbles)
j: no one’s been nice to me in months so i thought-
j: i thought…
j: I’m worth more dead than alive.

j: …where do you want me to do it?
m: wh- n…no. no, forget it. never mind. I was being stupid. I kinda, my brain…doesn’t.
m: you know.


m: if you wanna do it thats your business but…don’t do it on account of me.
j: [small font] i don’t- i’m a c-coward.
m: wait, you DON’T want to?
j: i want to but i…can’t.
m: oh, jesus christ. what the hell, man!
j: i j-just want to be u-useful. i’m s-sorry.

m: je-sus! that’s no way to die! if you want to be useful stay alive and- and-…be useful!
if you die, i make like, what, 150 bucks? once? that’s really the amount of useful you deem acceptable to die for?

j: are you tryin’ to make me feel better?
m: y- n- uh, is it working?

j: …I don’t know.

(b: this whole section got cut for time constraints. it just would have taken like 2 more pages and i just didnt have it in me when it came to actually drawing it and decided it could be excised. fwiw i think i was able to get across that jack is in that paradoxical state of mind where you both do not want to participate in life but are afraid to die. like you want to burrow underground like a cicada for a huge chunk of time. experiencing nothingness like you’re vacationing…)


m: hell of a reunion.

[a customer is laying on their horn] (b: a trickle of an idea to get me the fuck of of the past arrives. what if they had a third party to gang up on, or that maxine could field for jack, giving him a taste of the delicious high of companionship and its perks)


m: let’s get outta here.
j: [sniff] what?

m: I’m hungry, aren’t you? It’s late.
j: i…guess. i don’t k-know.

m: i live above a chinese place, you like chinese? the old lady’ll feed you 

j: oh no, p-please. i can’t. no more people-

m: c’mon, i won’t let her do anything to you.
m: trust me, she’s way more mad at me than she ever could be at you.

[the customer is still laying on their horn]
c: HEY!! HOW ABOUT SOME SERVICE? HEY!! (b: this guy was going to be just a common asshole but that was too easy. he wound up being one of those extremely passive types that totally shuts down when presented with adversity)
j: shit. work.

m: oh, yeah. uh, just tell them you had uncontrollable diarrhea.
j: i’m not. i’m not goin’ to do that.
m: okay fine. “medical emergency”. coward. (b: no one listens to me, but this is the most potent and powerful way to get out of literally anything. now you can’t use it bc of the deadly pandemic sweeping the nation, but you know. in the before times lying about having the shits promises no one will ask for follow up questions or demands)

c: hey!! HEYYY!!
m: stay here, wouldya?

[maxine walks over to the car which is in the background they are distant as jack watches]
[there is a pause before the customer slowly drives away] (b: by the time i got to drawing this part i absolutely did not want to draw a car in motion. it would have been mad funny if i had used an entire page to draw him slowly making his way out of the parking lot as they just stare at him uncomfortably)

m: you wanna go?
j: i can’t pay.
m: neither can i. come on!

[maxine runs off, then stops and looks back]

m: what’s your name again?

[back to the modern day]

j: and i never left.

okay! better. as i draw the page, i put some last minute touches and spins on what i’m doing because, unfortunately, coming up with funny ideas doesn’t happen on a schedule.

step five: drawing it and the final revisions

FINALLY let’s get this fucking thing made. i mean i’ve been making it simultaneously this whole time but you know what i mean. webcomics (as i understand it) is that one scene from “the wrong trousers” where gromit is desperately putting down tracks as they go full steam ahead. it makes for some wild and on the fly creative decisions.

for example, i still wasn’t satisfied with my ending. what, they just walk off after maxine epically owns some guy and everyone stands up and claps?? it’s bad. i have no idea why or how i thought of it but thankfully i got a better idea as to how to get them to leave together: have her literally drag him away.

this page dedicated to oregon’s gas pump laws (they do not live in oregon)

he’s not struggling and he’s not really putting up any kind of defense. life is happening to him and he just re-cycled through his grief stages and is back at acceptance. maxine is free to rehome him. how can you have the high ground in an argument while you’re dragging someone on asphalt to an unknown location?

this was the most last-minute change i made. literally the update before oh i remember now. i realized i had written this dialog knowing that maxine was going to touch jack in some way at this point. like, pulling him to his feet, not anything weird. but when the time came i didn’t…have enough space on the page. big problem! and with deadlines coming up i had to compromise. i thought, maybe it would be funny if she just hooked her arms under him so she could take him away like a piece of used furniture back to her hovel.

that’s the “shuff”

thank god i made all my rambling come together. now you know why i was ranting about update schedules and pacing and shit.


additionally, as i use photoshop to put the dialog into the comic…it gets its last re-write I SWEAR. i tend to mouth it under my breath as i type it to try to make sure it sounds like dialog from people and not comic book character dialog. if you scroll back up to the example page in step 4 you’ll see diversions from the script that maintain the spirit but plug up the empty air with small talk and babblings. the purpose of the page and the end result is the same but it adds the additional, explicit reasoning for maxine’s location request: she’s lazy and doesn’t want to travel far.

one pitfall i fall into a lot is that i’ll write “maxine hands him her business card” and then, at the moment of business card conception, realize i have no idea what it would look like. this results in a ton of research into business card templates and standard phrases to make a card that maxine would make herself. same thing with “jack works at a convenience store”. when i go to draw it im like “shit, what does it look like? where in the city is it? is it a gas station too?” etc. there will always be surprises you don’t anticipate lol. half of comics is rolling with those punches.

well, that’s it i think. i made it over the finish line in 2 months, which is 1 more than i wanted which is a bummer but listen: webcomics are unpredictable. 99% of my life is starting to draw something and then going “uh oh!!!!!!!!” as i realize the problems i’ve backed myself into. maybe i will make a post about victoria’s house. i already talked about it on tumblr but i could talk about, in general, how the landscape of A Ghost Story has changed as i’ve changed coasts and finally have first hand experience of the buildings and environments im trying to draw.

thanks for reading. or if you hated this, fuck you sucker! i stole precious minutes of your life you’ll never get back. ppppbbbbt!!