So the last pitfall was pride, right, and dependence wasn’t actually an obstacle? Though the presence of the ‘shamed’ cars on the dependence car just makes me think it’s more of a the-losers-are-the-real-winners type thing.
This was a good comic, concise, no wall of text, well drawn, well colored, greatly conveyed your message, but I disagree with the message nonetheless.
The man in the yellow car was alone, but he still completed a tremendous feat. It carries a reward and sacrifice, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing to reach the top alone. A lot of people hate other people, and the fact that a single person can make a trip to the top like that is a testament to the human spirit, not a fools errand.
that would be true if the obstacles were set up as a challenge for one person (i.e. like a race) but life doesn’t have a start and a finish line outside of birth and death (unless that was the idea, in which case, of course there’s no one at the winner’s circle, everyone’s dead.). “life isn’t a sprint, its a marathon” and other cliche quotes. maybe you’re looking at it like its an actual race, where winning would be a “testament to the human spirit”. i’m not going to say what i translate it is right, or what you said is wrong, but try to look at it from different perspectives.
I’m not sure I see it as implying such a pursuit as a fool’s errand, there certainly is no denying that such an accomplishment warrants respect. I think he’s right that it can be sort of lonely at the top though, especially if your only reason for getting there is to be at the top, due to the common (and in my opinion, misleading) belief that doing so is/should be the end-all goal for everyone. If you reach it, it can be disappointing if you were somehow expecting more than just the respect that comes along with being #1. Everyone’s different, and what ends up being most important is knowing what you want…if being the best is it, then by all means shoot for the stars, but don’t go along with it just because you’re told to do so.
Great comic. I like how the prize at the end is just a crumbly old trophy, that looks like it’s about to fall apart in his hands.
One thing: maybe it is time to ease up on the long-winded apologies for not having drawn any comics in a while? You are getting to the point where you won’t just be worrying about drawing the next comic, but also meta-worrying about whether you’re worrying too much about drawing the next comic. Speaking from experience, this worry-feedback-loop will only interfere with your creative process; it certainly won’t help you produce comics any faster.
Remember: you don’t owe us anything. Just work through your ideas at your own pace, and new ideas *will* follow on from each previous one – that’s actually how the brain works, provided you don’t interrupt it by trying to force it to happen. It’s just a question of trusting that it will continue to function in the way it is supposed to.
>>> One thing: maybe it is time to ease up on the long-winded apologies for not having drawn any comics in a while? <<<
Please Mr Rowntree, try to stop apologizing all the time. You're awesome, you're talented, your comic is great, you don't owe us anything. No need to undermine yourself on your own blog. Self-confidence is about doing your best and who cares what people think. We're your fans. No one will ever complain that you're late or whatever. Heck, you're not even charging us for any of this; no need to be sorry.
Next time you feel like apologizing to us for not getting us a comic, slam our faces in the car's window and shout : "YOU'LL GET NOTHING AND LIKE IT!"
Like this :
Oh, and awesome comic. Didn't understand the ending, but awesome nontheless. 🙂
Tim: Yeah, i know, i’m already there with the meta-worrying so maybe i’ll just kind of shut up for now. Having said that though, i really do hate to miss updates and i don’t wish to ever be comfortable with such absences.
Jimmy: Whoah, let’s not say anything we can’t take back!
Now, Winston, let’s not be /too/ harsh. After all, the esteemed Mr. Buckley DOES manage to update regularly, unlike others around here.
There, I said it. Now you do yourself a favor and quit harping yourself for not working on a timetable. Mr. Four-Panels-Two-Days can do it because he’s using a format that he likes for it’s familiarity and economy. YOU, on the other hand, are not using stock drawings, are not sticking to a single layout, and are not cribbing backgrounds from Google Images. Admittedly, Mr. Buckley doesn’t do that as often as he used to, but I digress.
This is coming from someone who is also releasing (Less professional) content on the internet with a small following. Your fans come here because they like the comic, because they like what it has to say. You are taking time to make a quality comic, and they understand that. And I’m sure most of them would rather hear tidbits about what you got your inspiration from, what you were thinking while you drew this, rather than “I’m so sorry for not getting this out sooner, please don’t lynch me.” Because that’s not what we’re here to do.
As for the content… Well, I guess I get satisfaction from being a little uptight. I try not to make a fool of myself (Shame), I come from a family of alcoholics (vice), I’ve yet to dabble in romance (Heartbreak), I battle depression and I absolutely fear dependence. You’re afraid of being blind? Try not being able to go for a minute without thinking about your next high. Try needing someone else to feed you and wipe your butt after you go to the bathroom.
Will I need to engage or fall into these things to make friends and achieve satisfaction? Maybe. So far, not really. We’ll only know for sure at the end, and I’ll race you there. Last one there is a rotten egg. First one there loses.
Oh, and good job integrating the comic number with the truck’s license plate. Twas a nice touch.
I really liked it. Perhaps the simplest – in the best meaning of the word – comic you’ve done in a while. I live in Shanghai, which is an incredibly ambitious place, full of incredibly ambitious people, and career success has its tangible rewards, the message of the comic rings true.
Besides, we don’t know whether the yellow driver recovered well from his surprise at the lack of acclaim and strolled off whistling, pleased with himself and already setting new targets. Remember, he can’t see the dependence truck.
The big question for me is whether ‘dependence’ is purely on others, as evinced by the couples/talking pairs at the end, or is also of the ‘substance’ variety. If purely the former then this parable’s a comparitive one of the loneliness of ‘eyes-on-prize’ versus ‘enjoy-the-ride’ journeying.
If it’s the latter, and we’re talking drug/alcohol dependency, then I wanna know who’s driving that truck and are we nearly there yet?
Just to reinforce Tim’s comment- much as I keep looking at the site in the hope of seeing a new comic, don’t sacrifice quality to quantity.
Brains are casseroles, not microwaves- they come up with the goods in their own sweet time.
I’m not entirely sure what the message behind this comic is.
As a person who tries very hard to be like the yellow racing car driver and avoid all those obstacles as much as possible (or at the very least learn from them after having slammed into some of them), I can’t tell whether the message at the end is that I’m having less ‘fun’ and missing out on some non-descript ‘thing’, or that there are so many people in the world who immediately give up that I can’t avoid feeling like I’m completely alone.
Perhaps it is a question of pride? Maybe I am proud…
Either way I’m miserable now.
Your comic has made me miserable.
NO T-SHIRT FOR YOUU!!!
p.s. hey, could you be a pal and help me set up a paypal account at some point? Thanks. Obligatory Smilie, xoxoxo, LOL and some other internet-speak bullshit.
To me, the comic’s message seems to be that all the vices, emotions, trials, and hardships are a natural part of life, and to try and fight them in hopes of winding up above all of it will leave you alone and ultimately unsatisfied.
In short form: To pursue perfection on these terms is to avoid living one’s life.
In another sense… You’re human, so why try to be above humanity?
Honestly, as someone who spent most of their life (until a couple years ago) trying to be the driver of the yellow car, this comic hit me pretty hard. Sometimes I still have trouble just letting go of the arbitrary restrictions and somewhat misguided superiority complex that I place upon myself and just enjoying the imperfections of humanity. Because really, what are pride and self-assuredness when they come at the expense of happiness and meaningful relationships?
I’m really impressed with this.
Like Tim said above, you don’t owe us anything. In addition to that statement, you and other readers gave me something for my brain to chew on. For free. Unless you fall into the cycle that our praises when you do something meaty for the mind are heaped upon a man undeserving or grow an ego the size of a blimp about it and either of those makes you crazy I don’t think anyone’s gonna be bitching about the rate of updates.
All that said, Dran gave me something to think about concerning the Dependence truck and the presence of shamed cars on it. I’ve had a hard time lately with the dual nozzles of shame and embarrassment, but I’ve also been getting a helping hand from those close to me to pull me out of the muck.
So, maybe I’ll think about that last little period of a panel a bit more than the winner’s journey.
i agree with tim, i love this comic strip and i think your doing awesomly amazingly awesome, dont worry about when you update, with you dont feel it then it wont be good, you just need to work on it when you can and try to find muse
I’ve been reading comics since the early 1970s, and IMO yours is the only comic today worth reading. And this one is one of your best. Like all great art it can be read in different ways, and each way gives a clear and powerful message. Definitely poster fodder.
I wish I could finish my race, but fact is I’m stuck somewhere, and I know the problem I just don’t know the answer to it. Everybody thinks I’m just hypochondriac and wants to help me with stock phrases and clichés, but it doesn’t help sh*t and they are there with there pink glasses still on thinking that “Well I did all I could” not even trying to see the roots of the problem.
You see, in my country if you suffer some mood disorder or mental problems you are automatically a nut, a lunatic madman and should be in an asylum. Psychology doesn’t have respect here, they treat it like something magic. I seen advertisements for “Aura seeing” and other Bulls**t like that in a psychology clinic, that tells it all.
I want to continue, but I can’t no one helps.
The person who said “Humans are naturally born evil” was right.
So this comic means something very different for me right now.
I think it’s like that in most places. Illness of the mind is also a taboo where I live, and victims are shoved out of the community.
I think it has to do with predictability and trust. Somehow people don’t trust other people, when they can’t accurately predict how they would react in a certain situation.
BTW: You already seem to have begun solving your problem, as the first step is always to identify it. Most people have problems and never realise it.
TF, i don’t think the message is that you are prideful to avoid all the pitfalls, or that you are having less fun, or even losing by avoiding them. The message, to me, is that we shouldn’t worry about avoiding everything life has to throw at us, because no one is going to avoid it all. The people on the truck aren’t having fun, or being happy, because they fell to a pitfall, but rather because they are surrounded by others who share experiences with them. So the secondary message is that “Happiness is other people”.
Also, i don’t think that everyone who falls to a pitfall has “given up”. The people on the “Dependence” truck certainly haven’t given up on finishing the race, they have just decided they can’t do it alone. Which isn’t bad, accepting your limits, and help from others, is a giant step forward, not a show of weakness.
Anyway, just my two cents and, as always, i love the comix Rowntree!
Just discovered your blog (though I run across your graphic off and on.) And I thoroughly enjoyed this. I hope you get more satisfaction from finishing a comic than your driver did from their gauntlet. Here’s hoping you enjoy your lonely success for just long enough, before grabbing a six pack (or whatever) and flagging down the dependency truck for something less pure. Cheers.
All the obstacles in the race are perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone deals with them at some point or another, it’s part of being human. The key to overcoming them is not to try and avoid them, but to embrace them.
And I don’t think the dependency thing refers to one person depending on everyone, but everyone depending on each other. Co-dependency brings us closer together. There are a lot of people who say “It’s ever man for himself”, but wouldn’t it be so much nicer and more rewarding if we could learn to take care of each other? Community, I think it’s called.
Very clever, as usual. Dependance is so often labeled as negative now that we forget that it’s really not too dirty word. Still, “interdependance” might have been a better choice. At least in psychological terms (no, I am not that guy who took a psychology course once and then drew his phd in crayon), dependance has a negative conotation and the fact that the guys are “having a free ride” if you will doesn’t help your message if you are saying that relationships are more valueable than complete individualization, which is definetly true. Still, good comic, good times. I think more while reading this weekly than I do in all of those dang core classes.
The way I interpreted this was much like the way Coco Bear and Leo did. All of the pitfalls along the way are things that everybody goes through at one time or another, and while they’re inconvenient, they’re quite universal, which I think the last couple panels represent nicely.
Thank you, Capt. Obvious. It also seems to me that most of the great things done in the world were, and are not done by social or dependant/interdependant people. It’s the oddballs who set themselves apart who tend to do the most remarkable things. Most of the rest of the herd just keeps grazing the grass and engaging in endless small talk.
Now, on the other hand, if you’re talking about the race to gain wealth and power for their own sake, then I would agree with you and the comic, that being the most futile race of all.
My interpretation is that it is by the aches and pitfalls in life that we find each other and become closer. Many think that if they can just get to the top then everyone will love them but there are always stories and fables of rich people who have everything but are lonely.
The people who “fail” learn the most, see the most, and live the most because they’ve been through a lot but it isn’t all bad because they learn through their mistakes and by living their lives and continuing to move on despite the rough parts, they are happy and find others. My best friends are those who’ve I help though bad times and they’ve helped me too.
Finally, this comic fills me with a lot of hope because it tells me I don’t have to be perfect and wildly successful to be happy because no one is perfect and in any case, the top isn’t great, but in fact lonely, so don’t worry about it.
It’s in the ditches and dusty corners that we find our humanity. And it’s our humanity that brings us together.
I think this comic ends up catching a few universal experiences, including those of the yellow driver as well. Life is not a single race, but its own series of challenges, and at times I expect most people have had that feeling of empty achievement. Whether its because of a lack of recognition, disillusionment, or just the emotional crash which comes with achieving a long strived for goal. A few years back, I read an article looking at the depression that often follows achieving life goals, finding that there is another page after the end. It made me realize how under explored a topic it was, at least in the media I had been experiencing. Whenever goals are presented as being empty, this is generally presented as something inherent in the nature of a particular goal, rather than something more fundamental to attaining a target.
After thinking about it some more, I see the comic as showing the quitters of the world and how few actually try all the way. The race to succeed at something was just too hard for most and they gave up and went home. “Ah heck Orville, this hunk of crap will never fly, let’s just go back to fixing bikes and go home.” “Gee general Patton, fighting the Nazis is too hard, lets just quit and go home.” “Who are we kidding, President Kennedy, we’ll never get to the moon.” “Land a robot on Mars? What? You must be kidding!” Overall, I think the winner was given short shrift in the comic and the quitters praised. But that is the liberal mindset.
What is this “liberal” mindset I keep hearing so much about?
Anyway, the comic seems to be about people who just sacrifice everything to become (what they perceive to be) perfect and lost any social connections they ever had. If being alone and successful is something you want to glorify then what ever, the nature of the beast is that nobody else really gives a crap. It does not seem to apply to our great inventors, who mostly did in fact keep their humanity. The exceptions to this (people driven mad by their work), this could be seen as a warning to.
I really don’t see how your comics are so damn good so consistently… Maybe it’s because you don’t try to make something out of nothing on some regular schedule… And likely because you’re also just a smart guy with a strong bit of insight into human nature.
Seriously, though, please don’t feel pressured to provide content at any particular interval. You’re the artist, make the art on your own time, for the sake of quality if not the sake of your own sanity and artistic integrity.
Also, this particular comic was the final nail in the coffin that inspired me to not only comment here, but to give you some money (you sure as hell deserve it). I don’t even need a poster… Though the artistic journey one is still incredible, so I suppose that works out.
Our yellow-car Hero has finally mounted the white T, waving his decaying braun/beige Trophy…Hmm..No sign of any ongoing party! ???
I can’t see any real problem here. Well, a fistful of existent-ial ones, maybe. Nothing serious.
The setting sun is still warming his back. There might even live rare fringe-toed lizards and pink windmill bats here.. Beware every irritating moth! !
Now, let’s forget about depression/vice/sloth*/hell-fire/ and shame. And SUSY.
This is part of Reality Zone. A real, pastoral idyl.
I’ve been reading this comic for a few years now, and I have to say this is one of my favorites so far. From reading other comments, it seems like a number of people were interpreting it differently from how I understood it. To me, the message is that by avoiding the pitfalls of life (or by simply never experiencing them) a person misses out on a huge part of the human experience. The people who ended up on the “dependency truck” HAD experienced things, like the oil slick and the shame goo, and were shown communicating with each other, perhaps sharing in their mutual “failure.” For me, the comic was saying that its human nature to be imperfect, to experience hardship, and that those experiences (And in particular, being able to depend on others) brings us together. Isolating yourself from pain will, in turn, leave you lonely.
Sorry if I’m rambling. TLDR, great comic, keep up the genius 😀
Very well made comic, with a great thematic being shown. Is not just the final objective that matters, is the journey that’s more important and interesting, besides of the unactrativeness of the negative points, it’s all part of the experience.
How much value would you give to a good situation/moment if you didn’t know the worst part of life?
Truly, a comic that shows many things in just one page.
I have self-actualized and am a Human, Being completely on my own. I can do whatever I want; as a wise old Jewish man told me back when I was slicing meat at the deli, I don’t have to do anything but die. I feel free. I have faced myself.
Where are the others who feel like this so I can share existence with them?
Oh, right. They’re all the way back there. Still getting here, but slower because larger bodies don’t move as quickly as Independent ones.
Did I do it wrong? Should I have just attached myself to others, and reached my destination later, but in comfort and security? I would go back, but I don’t think I can because I have already been here. And now I am doubting my independence, because like Randy Newman says, Oh, it’s lonely at the top; and wouldn’t a true independent not feel lonely?
It is good to know others feel like this.
In gratitude to your understanding, my webcomic friend, I have written you a brief poem. I hope you enjoy it, but if you do not I will probably love you anyway.
And yes, I’ve swum the thrifty cataract
and landed me upon a beach
where I can count ten millions grains of sand
in two heartbeats;
and yes, the sun sings songs whose chords I hear,
and yes, all shades of light caress
with vibrancy my chattering fingertips.
My dears, my heart still jumps
to go to sleep alone. My dears,
the day I see your eyes inside the sea
will be the day I’m slaved to being free.
Can i just say that this is like the Best Comments Section Ever? Reading all this has just been friggin’ amazing. I’m really glad that the comic turned out to be so pleasantly ambiguous, and my only regret is that i don’t have time to properly join in on the conversation just now. Helping out at my old day job this week, manual labor etc, rather a bit tired, mental state best described as: “grooooooooooooooooo… Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh..” Must…go…to…bed… I’ll be back though..
Actually I kind of thought I would be instantly lambasted as a troll and expelled for pointing out what machodogzilla has now also pointed out. Not that the 19th century political cartoon thing isn’t a common occurrence here, but I guess I’m less accustomed to it. Would people mind being informally polled as to how they feel about it? Inquiring mind wants to know.
The only truly independent people I know of are those creepy mountain men who grow/hunt all their own food/clothing, live off the grid and never return to civilization. I imagine even “self-fulfiiled” people (those who seem to be the ones who would consider themselves “winners” in my interpretation of the comic’s metaphor) go to the grocery store or buy clothes made by someone else. That’s a rather semantic explanation, but darn it, that’s just how I force it to conform to my previously held beliefs.
Wow, I love this.
the surface symbolism is fairly obvious
that life is a race, and there’s lots of things we need to avoid. but wow, at the end there, how you showed that the “perfect” ones end up so lonely. Powerful.
Eh, I understand the concept, but don’t necessarily agree with it. I’m a yellow car driver. I don’t expect anyone to cheer my successes (or failures, because no one is perfect and succeeds at everything they try). I don’t even expect anyone to care. It’s the challenge. I fucking thrive on the novelty of doing new things that are challenging and not really rewarding either monetarily or socially (in fact, I fully recognize that the outcome of my lifestyle leads to a very truncated social life, due to amount of time studying and training). If the race is over, then there’s the mountain to climb, the language to learn, the new skill to master. If others want just cruise and connect with others, well, more power to ’em. We’re all motivated by different things.
This was amazing
it has touched me on a level your comics generally don’t reach
I’d always heard of “carpe diem” but I was like “eh I shouldn’t use that as an excuse to do stupid things”
but then this comic is like “haha yeah, sure, go on and be perfect, have fun with that, meanwhile, every real person ever is gonna go over there and have common ground”
The sight of all that emptiness hit me harder than anything else you’ve done since “Captain Estar Goes to Heaven”. It was the first cautionary fable I’ve read that actually described me.
Mr. Yellow thought he was doing something, but it wasn’t until the end that he realized his “victory” was worthless, that he had literally done nothing. He wasn’t having an adventure, he was avoiding one. He had lived a life of caution, too much caution. I know this, because I made the same mistake. I can say from experience that a life spent avoiding every potential danger is not worth living.
Buy the way, did everybody notice what what was covering the ground around the track? That’s right, flowers; the ones you’re supposed to STOP AND FUCKING SMELL.
Having read through people’s responses, I’m wondering if anyone would have reacted differently if the truck had been labelled “interdependence” instead of “dependence”? Because dependence implies a certain level of parasitism, which is obviously considered a negative quality, whereas interdependence is more representative of the sort of symbiosis that has made civilisation such a wildly successful adaptation for the human species. It certainly reflects my interpretation of the comic more accurately, anyway.
I think what everyone else thinks and has said before me. But also:
* The yellow car passed the truck, so maybe it’s going to the same place. After all, we’re but tiny specks on a tiny speck in and infinitely large universe. Dust in the Wind and whatnot. Then again, I heard there’s one hell of a party floating around somewhere…
* The blue truck is both (+&-)? The lower section says “Caution!”
Thanks again. But really though: I dunno what these other louts are talking about, but you need to stop slacking off. What do you think, that this is Hell or something? =p
Dave: To me it was about the folly of trying to be perfect, of trying to avoid risk and similar such lessons i need to learn. It was phrased perfectly by Innominate in a comment above: “if we avoid all the pitfalls of human experience, we necessarily avoid humanity itself.”
The request is much appreciated, but i can’t provide this week unfortunately, i’ve already got something else in the works. For what it’s worth though, happy birthday, and i’ll try and have a sphynx comic for you in the next few weeks at least..
I’m not sure if anyone mentioned it (didn’t read all the thousand comments) but I think the comic is also saying that although most of us fall to vises/depression/etc, we are not too worse off, not being #1. The imperfections in us make us have things in common and help us bond. The people that can become #1 are strong, fast, smart, etc… but they don’t need anyone and therefore can be lonely. One example is a monarch who, with all the privileges and an upper hand is still often lonely as he cannot identify with anyone else around him.
Maybe it’s just me.. but I imagine that guy stepping down off the podium, and looking behind it. He finds a comfortable chair and a side-table, the table containing a good cigar, a glass of good scotch, and a folded copy of the New York Times. He sets the helmet down, seats himself, takes a sip of the scotch, unfolds the newspaper and puffs intermittently on the ‘gar while enjoying the paper and the vista in turn.
I think the comic is more about growth then anything. The yellow racer manages to avoid pitfalls and obstacles but a the end realizes that he might have missed out on something unlike the other drivers.
You know I’ve just discovered your comics thanks to stumble upon and… WOW they are amazingly drawn, but the message on them… This one hit me like a bullet in the head to be honest… I really like the message you set at the end of them, kudos and keep the brutal work you do to get people on their tracks 😉
Like most good art, the message its trying to convey is whatever message you receive from it.
I see a man, focused, driven, talented pushing for excellence, while leaving everyone else behind without even realizing, he has failed. He is alone with no one to share the satisfaction of winning with. How do you win with no one to lose?
If you look at the drivers on the “Dependence” truck, you’ll notice one has his arm around the other, another is waving, two seemingly having a conversation. Not to mention a free ride…
Not saying loosing is good, but apparently neither is winning at times.
I’d rather be a loser who keeps good company than a winner all alone.
OR everyone jump on the band-wagon before you’re all alone!!!! I don’t like this concept as much…
Man, geez, I cannot express enough how much I like this page in particular. lol
I mean, I love the “race” analogy/pun, but looking at the whole thing it really makes me think of the paradox that exists in human existance. Like how concentrating too much onbeing successful means you’ll have to leve a lot of things behind that you might enjoy, as opposed to doing more mundane stuff that you nonetheless like, but at the same time feeling kind of unfullfilled. I just love the fact that someone drew a comic that made me think of that. So, thank you. ^^
Just want to say, I keep coming back to and thinking about this picture all the time. Reminds me to remember to enjoy life and be fine with indulging in normal human pleasures, to find time for friends and games and watching tv, not just spending my whole life stuck in a study-work-sleep-study-work-sleep-wash-rinse-repeat cycle.
So, yeah, thanks. I love your comics. Keep doing what you do.
I have watched the motorheads pollute and destroy the Baja desert for years. It’s still happening. Great piles of trash and tires left behind to never rot in that climate. Insensitive, mindless destruction of another country.