A clean, well-lit place to vent

Please feel free to contribute to this frequently-updated forum, which posts selected commentary on our favorite comic strip. If you’d like your critique to be posted, please note that civility, if not approbation, counts. Click here to submit a comment.

Larry S. | Hilliard, OH | January 15, 2013

Props to Jeff for asking his dad for advice. He said it was a professional question, and so it was. Rick's answer was too. Writers must write or -- they don't. Is Jeff smiling at his dad in panel four? It's an awesome moment for the Redfern family, but those two can't start getting along now. Where's the satire in that?

Dolores J. Nurss | Portland, OR | January 15, 2013

Great advice from Rick (and I'm so happy that those two are finally talking man to man!). I'd take it one step further. Go ahead and write garbage (or paint it, or sculpt it, or whatever your artform) because the moment you recognize it as garbage, you know what it should be; you suddenly realize that the right version already exists inside you for comparison -- and you can tweak what you've done till it's good.

Allie | Gettsyburg, PA | January 14, 2013

Whoa. Was that a spark of connection I saw there?

Kathleen DeWitt | Edmonton, CANADA | January 14, 2013

I love today's strip!  For the first time Jeff is showing respect for his father and his profession, and in return his father has answered him honestly -- resulting in a wonderful final panel where the two are actually communicating and sharing, maybe even laughing together.  Oh, I do hope this continues! 

Jim Milstein | New Uraniborg, CO | January 13, 2013

Who knew Zipper was such a master of memes and cliches? If he gets pointed in the right direction, I see a big future for him in management.

Anne | Bath, ME | January 12, 2013

Oh my goodness. Between yesterday's strip and today's -- Jeff made his bed! I think it shows progress that, besides going through the angst and process of writer's block, he is concerned enough to tuck and smooth the bed linens. Maybe there is hope.

Tom | San Francisco, CA | January 12, 2013

A basement is not a home. The dark and damp is bad for you. Jeff likely knows this is not a permanent solution, and Joanie should know that exiling a former kidnap victim to the basement is not a great way to foster reinsertion into society and family life. I have seen far too many homeless youth in their teens and twenties (yes, even those with wealthy or middle-class parents, like Jeff) who barely get by, using whatever means they can, because they do not feel that their parents' support is an option, or because they are too proud to ask for it. Jeff is to be commended for knowing when he needed support and assistance, and asking for it.

Dr. John | Memphis, TN | January 11, 2013

"Hemingwad" -- a classic keeper. Will credit when I steal. Maybe. Another day saved by GBT et al. Thanks!

Jason Thorn | Phoenix, AZ | January 11, 2013

Riding on luck is not a career, and "In your face! Support my bad choices!" is not the way to respect your parents. When Jeff gets a few more books in the stores, hires a financial advisor instead of blowing his advance, and treats his parents with respect instead of showing them he's still mentally a teenager, then we can consider him successful.

Barb | Bend, OR | January 11, 2013

Re DEPRESSING REALITY: There are already two comic strips about "selfish, self-centered semi-adults who refuse to take any responsibility for anything," namely Zits (who blames his parents for everything) and Dustin (whose parents blame him for everything). They may be forever stuck in their Möbius strip story lines, but Jeff at 30 is still working on his adulthood, and we can expect great things from him; great adventures, great gains, great losses, great grief, great joy, and a lot of crashing and burning and laughing (on our part) along the way. He is still his mother's son; Joanie has her own road-rash scars that painfully shine from time to time. Perhaps someday Jeff's heart will break and he will learn empathy and compassion, but not every so-called adult does, and some learn it very late in life. Until then (if ever): Onward, Sorkh Razil !

Jim Lammers | Hartford, KY | January 11, 2013

These youngsters are the reason I am going back to school at the age of sixty-three. I want to be there when Zipper finds out there is nothing new under the sun.

Chas | Newark, NJ | January 10, 2013

Jeff's parent's should cut him a break. While his work with the CIA and mercenary work might have been an hilarious example of the Peter Principle at work, his writing, for which he is a legitimate success (even if he has blown through his first advance with grandeur), means he likely will have at least the oportunity for more income going forward. I think a good portion of Jeff's parents' reaction is schadenfreude. They are clearly persons who are not where they wished they would be at this point in their lives, and seeing their child succeed has left them bitter at their own failures. They seem to take far more pride in his failure than they did in his ability to create and market a popular fictional character and universe.

Jeff's career as a writer has been all his own, and something his parents should be proud of. That we've barely seen a kind word spoken to Jeff by them this entire story arc says so much about the dysfunction of this family. When he was a success his parents' reaction was incredulity; in defeat their reaction is schadenfreude. If Jeff is a self-indulgant bore (and no doubt he is) it is not hard to see from whence he learned such traits. The Red Rascal will likely ride again, but even if he does not, Jeff has already acheived more than many people ever do. It would be nice if his parents actually acknowledged this at some point.

Bob | St. Augustine, FL | January 10, 2013

Watching Joanie be fooled by Jeff takes it out of the realm of comedy for me, and into the too-depressing reality I see with several of my friends. I wish there was a comic-strip solution to their problem: immature, selfish, self-centered semi-adults who refuse to take any responsibility for anything and blame their parents for everything. One friend finally (finally!) showed her offspring the door and six months later, everyone is doing better. But mothers hold out hope, even until the last, that they will be able to save their babies. It makes my heart ache to see it.

D.B. | Lincoln, CA | January 10, 2013

Jeff's parents know him well enough to know that he isn't going to do anything useful. They aren't ready to lay down the law or throw him out on the street. That's part of how he got to be the way he is.

Larry S. | Hilliard, OH | January 09, 2013

Joanie's error was to overlook the necessity for accountability. Right now, Jeff doesn't have to show his work and he's in breach of his agreement -- and, for now, getting away with it. He still lives in a fantasy world where he just bumbles along, ducking and weaving, evading responsibility, indulging his appetites, postponing his work and rationalizing his actions with easy self-deception. Every instance of "de-entitlement" he has undergone so far has only been a temporary setback. He always reverts to type. Me, I'd throw him out, but that's probably not an effective means to satire.

Jason Thorn | Phoenix, AZ | January 09, 2013

You'd think Jeff's parents would want to see what he produces, given his track record with them.

Jesse Baker | Pound, VA | January 08, 2013

If I were Jeff, I would have negotiated a better deal in terms of scheduling: chores in the morning and then writing in the afternoon or evening. Preferably in the kitchen or living room, with everyone seeing him doing the writing from his laptop so that there is no fear that he might be shirking his part of the deal.

Tony Phillips | Chicago, IL | January 07, 2013

Re OPPONENT: Jeff's job, as with any feckless lad, is to fantasize. But, as GBT renders him, he is clever enough to pop up ahead of the idlers in the daydream department and so manages to get it down in writing for editors to put into communicable shape. That's something, I'll grant you. But still, he has yet to prove himself of any real human worth, that is, to actively care about and care for people other than himself. Then maybe he could write something substantial.

It's a big problem for the culture, for art, for literature, for Hollywood: How can a writer, a producer, a director, portray circumstances where people act within the real range of human potential, do extraordinary things while possessed of the same capabilities, the same vulnerabilities as us human beings, and maybe show what is real hero's work involving real sacrifice, without the crutch of fantasy powers -- and still make a buck? Superheroes are a safer bet. We'll pay to float upon the dream of being thus endowed, hardly challenged to imagine what might be our own real potential in difficult circumstances. It is harder to sell or engage art of substance, art that's challenging.

Meanwhile Rick, as he is given to us, has to engage and decipher the complexities of the real world and make sense of it, render it in intelligent perspective, and, perhaps, in so far as his blog would survive, give his readers insight. That's real work. The father/son psychology here is so interesting: Rick -- too much into the world; Jeff -- too far out of it.

David Kastrup | Waltrop, GERMANY | January 07, 2013

Well, let's be fair: Jeff's job is harder than Rick's. Jeff has to invent his stories, Rick only reports and discusses what is actually happening. Of course, this also means that Rick has to compete with a lot of others. Jeff's only opponent is himself. And, looking at the success he had, that is a formidable one.

Donna C. | Lucerne, CA | January 07, 2013

I just want to thank you for the Sandbox portion of this site. Both sons were in Iraq at the same time and one also served in Afghanistan. He tells me that in 72 more years he'll be able to tell me what he was doing. I truly appreciate these little windows of enlightenment that get posted -- sometimes through tears, sometimes laughing right out loud.