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 "My name is Thomas Blackwell. Years ago, I wanted to be a lot of things. Thing is, I'm a mediocre artist, and not much better a writer. Besides those aren't things people are successful at. Not people like me, anyway... Did college for a while. Turned out to be a waste of time... I think there are some professions where you either have it, or you don't. I spent a lot of time coming to terms with the fact that I don't. So... I'm a clerk, in a store that can't decide what to focus on. I don't know...I guess hope is something for other people. As far as I can see, life is just what happens between failures."

Written by a self proclaimed, fat, recluse Janitor.
Between Failures is a slice-of-life webcomic following the (somewhat under-motivated and decidedly sarcastic) staff of a chain music-movie-videogame-bookstore. The primary protagonist is Thomas Blackwell, but it cuts to follow many members of the staff. It's often compared to Clerks, though up to the second volume only 2 customers have actually been shown. The main focus are the characters and the shenanigans they come up with to keep themselves entertained.


This work provides examples of:

  • Art Evolution: fairly quick - by about #65, the characters settle into consistent looks, and after the switch to color at #229, it's perfectly steady. His shading gets better too.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Nina does this to Reggie hard enough to make his nose bleed after he tries to provoke Ed enough to hit him so he would get fired.
  • Author Appeal: The girls.
  • Badass Bookworm: Nina
  • Bare Your Midriff: Nina, constantly. It appears to be because she's too tall for regular shirts to fit properly.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Carol isn't obese or anything, but she's a few sizes larger than her coworkers, horizontally at least. Fortunately, the bulk of her weight is concentrated in the right places.
    • Even the guys get this, the most muscular one is probably Ed (who might be compensating for his height). Thomas and John both have average builds without a lot of definition (Thomas even has a little bit of a gut on him) but neither is considered unattractive for it.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Wesley generally acts fairly nicely in the presence of his co-workers, only to reveal that he's a sexist Jerkass behind their backs.
  • The Chessmaster: Thomas, especially when you consider that not only does he basically decide who does and doesn't get hired, but the only reason he let Reggie get hired is because he has access to inside information through his aunt, who is part of the store's management team. Borders on Magnificent Bastard, if he could ever apply himself beyond keeping his own little world to his liking. In fact, this was lampshaded in the appropriately named strip "Magnificent One."
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jolene, mostly due to 90% of her vocabulary being made of movie quotes.
  • The Cutie: Jolene again.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Carol, Thomas, Ed, John, and Reggie. It's a vital survival skill in a dead-end job.
  • Decompressed Comic: More in terms of dialog than action.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Thomas says his life world turned gray when his last girlfriend left him. The first color strip is his kiss with Carol.
  • Dramatic Irony: Nina is constantly pestering Thomas and Carol to admit their feelings for each other. They already did back in strip #229, but can't tell her because it's store policy not to date co-workers.
  • Erotic Eating: Ed and Thomas assure us its all part of God's (painful) plan.
  • Fan Service: Most of the characters have gotten this at one point or another.
  • Flanderization Jolene Brooks "Brooksie" started out as shy and sneaky with a charming, quirky, subtlety about her that made her adorable in the eyes of fans. Now she's sort of become a little too sugary, giving people attack hugs and acting like a precocious child as apposed to mildly snarky.
    • The reveal that her sexual appetite is as strong as any young woman her age has also squicked out some fans (and Thomas).
  • Funbag Airbag: Thomas gets this early on from Carol in this strip. He's entirely unrepentant about it.
  • Gainaxing: Deconstructed here, unfortunately for the woman involved.
  • Geeky Turn On: Nina wants Harry Potter to "ride her like his quidditch broom."
    • This happens to Thomas when Carol reveals that not only is she a Transformers fan, but a fan of Beast Wars as well, with quite the memory for its episodes.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Reggie Boothe, self-aggrandizing, incompetent narcissist, has more black marks on his record than a zebra wrestling a dalmatian in a coal mine at midnight. The only reason he's even still employed is that he can get his aunt to pull strings for him, meaning his record starts anew every time the manager gets replaced -- which happens unusually quickly at this particular location. He even explicitly tells Carol he's deliberately relying on this.
  • Genki Girl: Nina and Jolene both have a go at this.
  • The Glomp: Nina does this to Ed near the very beginning when she meets him for the first time.
  • Godiva Hair
  • Green Eyed Red Head: Carol.
  • Hotblooded Sideburns: Both Thomas and Ed. It's theorized that one of the reasons Thomas hired Ed was because of his sideburns ("They're coming back! We're bringing them back").
  • I Have Boobs - You Must Obey!: Carol tries this early on with Thomas, but he's preoccupied and doesn't notice. It works later on. Spectacularly.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Wu Tang Secrets
  • Insult Backfire: "If that sounded like a compliment, I apologise. It wasn't meant to."
  • Jerkass: Reggie Boothe
    • Even Jerkass Has Standards: He's still reliable enough to come in (though not necessarily work) for unexpected shortages, doesn't ever entertain the idea of theft, and has no qualms shooting down Wes' paper-thin attempts at seducing Jolene.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Thomas again.
  • Love Triangle: Type 4. Reggie likes Nina, Nina and Ed like each other. Both hate Reggie.
    • While it's still conjecture at this point, there is a lot to be said for the fact that Jolene has warmed up to Ed so quickly.
  • Male Gaze: Carol, quite often.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Brooksie, although she usually covers it with colored contacts. Played a bit more realistically, as they're two distinct shades of brown.
  • Moe: Brooksie as a whole, and Nina's overbite. Carol has her moments.
  • The Napoleon: Ed.
  • Noodle Incident: How, exactly, did Reggie accidentally set a display stand on fire?
    • Mike's tirade about Reggie's record reveals that this is not an isolated incident; so par for the course, in fact, that it is literally only the factors that got him the job in the first place (his aunt the executive, and the high turnover rate of actual managers at this particular location) that are keeping him employed.
  • Out of Focus: John gets this sometimes, though justified in that he doesn't want to get involved in others peoples' drama and so avoids it when it happens. It was even Lampshaded by the man himself.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Thanks to lousy corporate training, Mike lacks any form of managerial skill beyond vacuous optimism. Unlike most PHBs, he's aware of his own incompetence and is generally portrayed as the victim rather than an obnoxious idiot.
    • Further subverted in Mike as well, in that he's got a very solid history in organizing and opening new stores... But managing an active store is a completely different thing. It's also rather intentional on the part of corporate management: this store just barely stays afloat, so it's where they send low-level management careers to die. Carol has since decided to try to cure Mike's PHBness, so the store can get some stability.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Ed and his twin sister, Jessica.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Nina.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin
  • Scenery Censor
  • Shout-Out: To The Breakfast Club in this strip
    • Strictly speaking, while it may be possible to find strips which do not contain shout outs...
    • It's rather difficult to find them, as one character's dialogue is 90% movie quotes.
  • Shrinking Violet: Jolene is rather prone to this.
  • Skunk Stripe: Brooksie, who covers it up with hair dye. Her natural look is shown here.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Reggie.
  • Stealth Hi Bye: Jolene practices hiding so she can do this to people.
  • Straw Misogynist: Wes, the new-new guy, seems to be headed this way. He specifically cites Mike's gender as one of the reasons he should "put [Carol] in her place".
    • His philosophy on women ("Women are easy, you just have to wait for her to shut up so you can seduce her") and his attempt to demonstrate this on Brooksie, which failed so badly that even Reggie thinks it was the dumbest shit ever, put him pretty firmly in this category.
  • Team Dad: Thomas instructs everyone on the finer points of working together.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Reggie, by a wide margin. He's so incompetent that he relies entirely on his aunt's position and the high turnover rate of managers to keep his job. When he sets the microwave on fire, Mike tells him that "accident" is no longer sufficient to describe what Reggie does.
  • Too Soon: Steve Irwin dead.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ice cream for Carol, it's power over her is enough to completely negate her wrath.
  • Tsundere: Carol.
    • This backfires horribly when she tries it on Ed.
      • Wes manages to turn it around on her, too, although it's not likely to happen again.
  • Unsound Effect: Regarding how much trouble Ed is in.
  • Unusual Euphemism "I'd let him Ron my Hermione if he plays his cards right."
  • Walking Techbane: Getting Reggie to operate equipment is a bad idea, as it will most likely catch on fire.
  • Webcomic Time: 488 comics from March 2007 to July 2009 covered around 1 1/2 days, with the 1st day taking 305 strips.
    • It's a very decompressed comic. Instead of going the Wall of Text method, Crave has each comic represent what would basically be two lines of a conversation - which, in Real Life, would be about five seconds. (When his server's bogged down, it literally takes longer to load each strip than it would to read them or act them out.)
    • Lately though things seem to have moved up considerably, but it also seems that a few days between storylines have been skipped.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The picture on Jolene's shirt is Athena, goddess of wisdom.
    • Ed Lincoln and Reggie Boothe hate each other. In fact, this was lampshaded in a later strip.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Thomas and Carol. They're still denying that they have a relationship... in public.
    • There's also some traces of this with Ed and Nina.
  • X Meets Y: Clerks meets... Clerks II.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Shy Blue-Haired Girl Jolene.
  • Your Mom: Short Thief explains the subjectivity of beauty.
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