Speaking the hard truths
Speaking the hard truths

Joel, just calling it like he sees it.

News: Posted June 24th, 2019 by Alina

^ 40 Comments to “Speaking the hard truths”

  1. TB Says:

    While hugs and support are good, this kind of situation also needs its Joels.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 1:16 pm
  2. Joe Says:

    I really like how real the characters are.

    I like Joel’s “you’re not a baby, we have to clean this mess” attitude.

    I kinda expected Dustin and Abby to be on each other’s shoes right now.

    Overall I think this is when it’ll get really interesting.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 1:29 pm
  3. Bill Says:

    Well… sometimes getting validation that you fucked up does help in the course of things… so..go Joel?

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 1:42 pm
  4. Victor_Callow Says:

    Reason 1 why I started reading this comic: The hunter/weregeek storyline was fascinating to me.

    Reason 2 why I kept reading this comic: The characters.

    It’s important to me that I get to see characters acting how it feels like they would in that situation… and that’s exactly what we see here, even if it’s just in Joel’s unmoving posture and unwillingness to compromise or comfort Mark… he’s Mark’s friend… he’s here for him… but he’s not going to sugar coat it and he’s not going to tell his friend that it’s all alright and that he understands when that isn’t true. That’s some weird mix of loyal, dependable, well meaning and cold that makes him interesting as a character to watch.

    And I could do a whole paragraph on how each one of these characters reacts, but the big thing is that it’s exactly what I think each one of them would do.

    When what I considered the main plot of this comic was dropped, the most interesting part of it stopped being the plot itself and started being the characters… and the thing is, I don’t feel like they got all that much stronger, but they were already strong enough to carry a whole comic even without its original plot idea… in other words, this right here… this is the reason I still read this comic.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 1:43 pm
  5. Matthew Saroff Says:

    My gawd, that apartment is huge!

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 1:50 pm
  6. Kit Says:

    Joel is right. Not just in what he said but in saying it. Mark DID fuck up and it’s not going to help him if, in their desire to try to help him, people like Sarah or Dustin try to minimize that and tell him he didn’t fuck up. They can say it nicely though…

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 2:03 pm
  7. Captain America bursts through wall.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 2:57 pm
  8. Weatherheight Says:

    Sometimes, I have been Mark.
    Other times, I have been Joel.

    Both points of view are necessary – admitting you have screwed up is important, but being held to account for screwing up also matters.

    Mark better realize how good he’s got it with his group. So many don’t…

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 3:05 pm
  9. Weatherheight Says:

    Incidentally, are those Abby’s socks on the sofa?
    If so, nice touch!

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 3:06 pm
  10. Hfar Says:

    I mean, I don’t think now’s the time for this level of blunt honesty but still Joel’s a good friend.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 3:07 pm
  11. starfyre76 Says:

    Also nice touch that everyone but Mark has their shoes off, showing a respect for his house and/or the time they’d been waiting there to be for him.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 3:29 pm
  12. DocMcConvoy Says:

    Sorry if my humor is weird, but when Joel said that, I bursted a laugh. Can’t resist a good deadpan snark.

    But this Strip has so many interesting things to talk about, starting with Dustin giving Mark this sort of hug. I reminds me of the Moment in the goth club when Ravenia first jumped at the idea of getting to Mark. Dustin considerd Mark as a hunk of a man, turning red about it… maybe suspecting to much, but could it be that Dustin is fishing on both sides of the pond? It would be ok for me if so, but if I were Mark I would be unconfortable beeing hugged by a man in this fashion. Actually I would not like it regardless if man or women if it is not my significant other, but thats me.

    Then we have Abbie, standing there and not going near him, with this troubled look on her face and also her body language speaks of a person feeling guilty. Would guess that supports my reading of her face under the last strip. And also it seems she is pondering about it. Good for her.

    And then we have Joel… Oh my man Joel. Some strips ago I said Mark arrived at stage one of the deep valley, selfloathing. Well, stage two is to understand and really accept, that *you* are at fault. Only after that you can advance to stage three where to start with figuring out what exactly happend, where you went wrong and how to fix what you can fix and also where to go another way next time. And as far as i think to know Joel by now, I would guess he wants to speed up the process, since in stage one he can’t do anything to actually help Mark. There is a softie/good man hidden under all that sarcasm.

    And a little sidenote: I have percieved that using the F-Word is often considerd a huge thing in North America. I think Alina used it to emphasise the graveness of the situation, but that actually seems organic to me. In germany, where I live, swearing isn’t so much a thing to be shocked about, so I am quite relaxed about it. But i can apreciate it, when i see it used in a natural way.

    Again, nice work Alina, I now really enjoy the storyarc after all that anxious days.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 3:29 pm
  13. Oddtail Says:

    I think this is the perfect balance, right there. Joel is there for Mark, but he’s also being real. Mark gets a hug, but he also gets an acknowledgement that yes, he screwed up big time.

    You can be there for your friends and support them at all times while also expecting them to do better. And that doesn’t make you less of a friend. I think the comic does a wonderful job illustrating that.

    (now, if EVERYONE had Joel’s attitude, that’d be too harsh, in the moment. But I think Joel knows they won’t be, and accounted for that before making his comment. I see him as playing a bit of a “bad cop”)

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 3:49 pm
  14. maneyan Says:

    Hooooly cripes what a blessing this is for Mark. His friends are there for him still, and in his darkest moment he has these important people there for him.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 4:25 pm
  15. Robert Miller Says:

    I hadn’t expected Dustin to be too supportive. He’s still dating Ravenia and this gives a whole other situation for him to have to deal with. Not the reception I think Mark would expect or should expect.

    I think the whole situation shows that poly relationships aren’t for everyone.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 4:45 pm
  16. Expressiongirl Says:

    I thinking Dustin being supportive is the right move, because he might have an understanding of what Mark is going through. We are not sure if Dustin was Poly before or after Ravina. We also do not know how his true reaction to Mark dating Ravina was. He could have almost behaved the same way, but managed to work pass the jealously.

    As pointed out before in the strip, Mark does not know what it is like to be outshined by someone considered to be better looking as him, while Dustin knows the feeling all too well.

    In a poly relationship, it is really hard not to compare your looks to someone else and feel inadequate or even ugly.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 5:18 pm
  17. Johan Broad Says:

    Mark fucked up.
    He let his insecurities take control and he lost his cool in a major way.

    That said, Ravenia didn’t seem to see that, or if she did, she didn’t take it seriously.

    I’m fairly certain that Mark and she will not be on speaking terms after this, but that may be for the best.

    Hopefully both of them will have learned from this.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 6:04 pm
  18. Strix Says:

    Thank you Alina for these last few beautiful pages, and, this moving spectacular arc.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 7:03 pm
  19. Vivectius Says:

    Hugs plus brutal truth equals the best kind of friends you can have.
    Dustin: I’m your friend. I’ve got some words for you, but they can wait.

    Sarah: I know you’re hurting and I just want to help.

    Abbie: I could have prevented this and I’m afraid you hate me for not stopping you before we even got to the game. (I understand how she feels, but I don’t think there’s any way she could have known just how bad Mark was actually doing, especially since he was actively trying to hide it from her.)

    Joel: Supporting your friends means telling them the truth, no matter what it is, whether they want to hear it or not. (But advice, like comedy, is all about timing…).

    They knew Mark was unhappy, but I don’t think any of them realized just how bad it was. They thought giving him time alone to cool down was the right thing to do, but all it did was give Mark time, alone, with nothing to think about BUT Rav/Damien. Of course in hindsight it would have been better to have pulled Mark to a different room, gone on a quest, and given him something to focus on without being able to be distracted by Rav/Damien. But that’s why it’s called hindsight.

    Also I just realized the pure genius that is Alina’s storytelling. And naming.

    Mark-Normally quiet, sometimes rowdy, but fairly peaceful overall. A confirmed geek. Until one trigger sends him into an angry, blind rage. An animal that lashes out seeking only to hurt. Like, I don’t know, a were-creature. Or in his case, a Weregeek….

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 8:06 pm
  20. DevMerlin Says:

    @Matthew Holy heck yes! It’s larger then my two bedroom … but all the characters seem to have large places so far ._.

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 8:48 pm
  21. Velgar Says:

    We all need one Joel in our lives. Granted, any of them Joel’s might not be too happy about that, but they care enough not to complain too much. 😀

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 3:36 am
  22. Velgar Says:

    And now I noticed how Abby’s pants legs try to roll down, but jump right back up when she gets ticked at Joel.
    And I can’t unsee it and it’s distracting as heck… XD

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 4:38 am
  23. Charlotte Says:

    Dustin is the best.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 5:12 am
  24. Alastor Says:

    While Joel is right, Abbie is right too that it’s absolutely not the time to push on the head of a man that is already under the water.
    Moments ago, he was thinking about alcoholism. He hurt himself in self anger. He is a wreck.
    And at such a time, what he needs from his friends is not blame, but reassurance that they are still his friends, and friendly ears to just listen to him.
    Of course, much of this could probably have been avoided if when he said he was not ok in the car, Abbie had stopped everything and told him that they souldn’t go to the game before talking about it, even if that meant they missed the game. And she seems very aware of that.
    Joel’s action here might be his way of saying he’s still Mark’s friend, but still, I think he should wait for that.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 5:16 am
  25. werefrog Says:

    The Werefrog remember really liking the hunter storyline. That’s what got The Werefrog into this comic. It was an interesting take on the comic that shows the in character/out of character game stuff like Gamers did.

    However, The Werefrog also remember when the author was reaching a point where the big reveal that the hunters were a game, too. It was then that we probably all realized the characters had become more interesting than the concept, and that’s why the comic continues without the Weregeek game.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 7:23 am
  26. BethAthena Says:

    I just… it’s a good thing Dustin’s wearing a red shirt. I’m surprised nobody (in the strip) has commented on his hand yet.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 9:41 am
  27. Nep Says:

    “Dustin considerd Mark as a hunk of a man, turning red about it… maybe suspecting to much, but could it be that Dustin is fishing on both sides of the pond? It would be ok for me if so, but if I were Mark I would be unconfortable beeing hugged by a man in this fashion.”

    Wow. That’s hella homophobic/biphobic. Literally the only thing Dustin is doing here is offering comfort to a friend. Even if he is bi, there’s nothing inappropriate about this hug. We know that Sarah has had a crush on him, but there’s no comment about how theoretically inappropriate her hug is? (Not that it is – they are FRIENDS providing EMOTIONAL SUPPORT.) Gross.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 11:12 am
  28. akemi Says:

    @nep Dude. Being uncomfortable with certain kinds of physical contact is not innate homophobic. For example. Rimming disgusts me. I do not feel like a tongue belongs near the ass, but not wanting a tongue in my ass doesn’t make me tongue phobic.
    I know alot of men who were abused by men as children, and as such they absolutely cannot deal with anything more intimate than a handshake. That doesn’t make them afraid of gay people. In fact I would wager that most people who get called homophobic do not fear gay people.

    To say out right that someone who doesn’t want physical contact with the same gender is automatically phobic is pretty disgusting, and kinda makes me wonder if you are projecting a bit too much here. I’d say that you were the gross one here.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 12:13 pm
  29. Eva Says:

    I am so relieved that he hasn’t alienated Dustin (I mean not that he didn’t hurt his other friends, but he lashed out at Dustin directly and even if Dustin knew that it was only lashing out, that can be hard to get over).

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 3:58 pm
  30. Kobold Says:

    „Yes, you fucked up, but we’re still your friends because a real friendship should be able to survive the occasional fuckup, especially when it’s a sign of you being in a bad place and we’d like to help.”
    That’s the vibes I’m getting and I’m loving it. That’s my ideal of friendship.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 4:05 pm
  31. C.A.Collins Says:

    @Nep: Decouple the two halves of the statement and is it still? I’m uncomfortable being wrap-hugged, too–the huggers gender and orientation are irrelevant–I feel trapped.
    Mark obviously from body language is feeling supported. I’d be wriggling to get loose.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 6:35 pm
  32. Kelly Martin Says:

    Joel is the kind of friend you need. The kind who can be harsh and truthful when required.

    Posted June 25th, 2019 at 7:38 pm
  33. HousePet Says:

    A few things about Dustin:
    I don’t think we really know when Dustin started dating Ravenia, and even if he did start seeing Ravenia before Mark became his friend, that doesn’t mean he isn’t closer to Mark due to spending more time with him, or just likes him a lot (as a friend, for people who get confused).
    More importantly, Dustin knows a lot about what Mark was feeling, because Dustin has already been through it twice. Once when Ravenia decided to add Mark as a secondary. (Dustin seemed to take this quite well.) And again when he was finally introduced to Damien.
    So it makes sense for Dustin to be there for Mark.

    Posted June 26th, 2019 at 4:12 am
  34. BethAthena Says:

    Housepet, Dustin and Mark have been playing D&D together since the just about the beginning, and Dustin only started “dating” Ravenia recently.

    Posted June 26th, 2019 at 1:59 pm
  35. A. Guy Says:

    We all need a Joel from time to time

    Posted June 28th, 2019 at 4:20 pm
  36. Ozzi Says:

    @Vulgar the armless glasses too

    Posted June 28th, 2019 at 11:11 pm
  37. anonamousethatscurriesinthedarkness Says:

    We also all need to be the Joel in someone else’s life every once in a while

    Posted July 3rd, 2019 at 9:56 am
  38. Eva Says:

    Housepet… if you go read the archives we definitely do know when Ravenia and Dustin started dating. It was a whole big thing with Abby and Sarah egging him on.

    Posted July 3rd, 2019 at 2:43 pm
  39. Shinjischneider Says:

    I agree with you Nep.

    Seeing ANYTHING in Dustins hug except a friggin friend comforting his friend who just went through a horrible experience is mindblowing to me. Speaking from experience. After a breakdown you don’t care HOW you get hugged by people you love unless they are kneeling in front of you and hug only certain bodyparts.

    This being said. I also want to rant about something else.

    I really have issues with people who try to turn everybody bi and ship everybody. “Oh. Can we ship Mark with Hadeed? Can we ship Mark with Damien? Is this a male EMT so we can finally turn Mark bi?”

    A guy is just having a mental breakdown. Let’s focus on who he could fuck with…..
    (Damn Fujoshis and their extreme fetishes)

    Posted July 7th, 2019 at 7:09 am
  40. MuchachoNL Says:

    HousePet, Dustin was never the Primary. That is what he was trying to tell Mark earlier. Damien has always been the Primary… Dustin and Mark are secondary/tertiary. Dustin started dating Ravenia about half-way through the storyline so far.

    Posted July 7th, 2019 at 10:09 pm