Hello! We’re Joey Comeau and Emily Horne and we’ve been making our webcomic A Softer World since 2003. You can go look at the comics for free on our website - www.asofterworld.com. For twelve years we’ve been making sad, weird, harsh and sometimes ridiculous and stupid comics. Our whole adult lives, it feels like. And now we’re going to stop. A Softer World is ending.

And now we'll answer any questions you have! That is our understanding of how this works I guess?

Proof it is us:



UPDATE: Thanks so much for your questions! We have to go now, but we'll check back later and answer a last few questions. xo -joey+emily

Comments: 195 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

qwantz35 karma

What would you be doing right now if A Softer World had never existed? NOTHING ELSE CHANGES, you still know each other, just no comic.

untowardlands48 karma

We'd probably be trying to come up with a plan to seduce our friend ryan into a three or even four-some.

qwantz55 karma

.... go on

thesoutherndisaster27 karma

YOU GUYS i bought 1920's style stripey singlets for everyone, let's all oil up and get this party STARTED

main_hoon_na8 karma

For... for everyone?

thesoutherndisaster14 karma

yes please line up in order of size

csreid3 karma

we talking like height or weight or

untowardlands24 karma

smile width

Shenko-wolf28 karma

Why is it ending?

untowardlands45 karma

We've been doing the comic for 12 years now. It is fun, and we enjoy working together. But we were at a comic convention last year and just started talking about when we were going to stop.

Part of why it came up was that comic conventions are NOT fun, generally. The people are great, but the days are long and it can be very tiring to be around SO MANY people for so long. So things can get a bit bleak. And it first came up as a joke. Like, "That's it, we're stopping."

But the more we talked about it, the more actual consideration we gave it. We don't know very many people who have stopped their comics. It seems like the expectation is just that it'll go on forever. And when we thought about the comic like that - like something that we would just keep doing and doing, it really didn't seem so appealing. We didn't know many comics that had stopped, but we could both name a ton that had stopped being GOOD, or where the creator was clearly bored of it and just phoning the comics in out of habit and as a job. And we did not want that. We didn't want to just keep doing the comic out of habit or for money.

And, another point - if we're being brutally honest - there is no money in it. There were a few golden years there where we made okay money from the comic and comic related things, but the only reason we can live off the comic now is because we're willing to live below the poverty line.

But, money or not, the comic is FUN. It lets us express ourselves in a way that we find very satisfying. None of these were enough to make us want to quit on their own.

It was the appeal of stopping while we were still having fun, stopping while we were still making work we were proud of. Going out on a high note instead of waiting to get to a bad place and hoping that we'd be self-aware enough to know when it was time to quit.

So we decided to end it because we liked the idea of ending it because it was our choice, instead of ending it for other, much sadder or more pathetic reasons. And certainly more than never ending it at all.

I'm rambling.

shakeyoasscheeks21 karma

Joey, you have been my soul crush since I was an angsty 14 year old trying to run away from home and aspiring to write melodramatic short stories. When are you coming to seattle? What is the best advice you would have given 14 year old me? Emily, you're tight af too!

untowardlands25 karma

The best advice I could give angsty 14 year old you is to cause as much trouble as you can! To be a maniac, because the world has enough boring people who don't ever want to upset anyone.

AHKOS18 karma

Joey, this article from 2006 says that Lockpick Pornography (which I have made all my friends read) was being turned into a screenplay, what happened there? http://www.dailyxtra.com/toronto/news-and-ideas/news/in-print-joey-comeau-11451?market=210

untowardlands11 karma

It sort of faded and died away. I liked the screenwriter guy, and met with him a few times. We had very different ideas about what the book was about, but I had already resigned myself to just letting him do whatever he wanted. My reasoning was that the book would be fine no matter what happened. A movie couldn't ruin the book! And, I should say - I don't think he was ruining it by any means. That difference in opinion is just the biggest thing I remember from those few brief meetings. But, the project just sort of died? I've learned not to hope for things like movies or whatever. It's a whole different world that I just don't understand, where everyone constantly sounds 100% certain something is gonna happen and then it doesn't. Perpetual optimists!

FoldableHuman18 karma

What, if any, pushback have you gotten over the years for being willing to voice suicidal ideation, or general self-destructive musings, in the comic?

ASW came along at a sort of perfect moment in my life where I really needed something that understood the need to confront my own disrupted sense of wellbeing. I kept a print of this comic on my office wall for a couple years, and would be amused by people who would read it and go through a whole turnaround, from "that's so dark" to musing "but it's true, isn't it..." in a matter of seconds.

So, thank you, I'm looking forward to adding The Anatomy of Melancholy to my shelf.

untowardlands17 karma

Most of the pushback comes from Emily, who gets nervous if we have too many suicide comics in a given couple months. She's worried about teens offing themselves and leaving "A SOFTER WORLD MADE ME DO IT" notes. (not really, but sort of really)

But we find a nice balance, I think.

taciturnTesseract14 karma

Personal favorite ASW strip of all time? Just one, no cheating!

Thank you so much for doing this comic, you've helped me get through some tough times. Really grateful for having acquired a sense of humor about life's absurdities. Although it's sad to see the comic go, I'm happy that you decided to end it while you still enjoyed doing it.

Best of luck!

untowardlands34 karma

My favourite strip of all time is a really stupid one, but one which I always forget I wrote and which therefore always takes me by surprise:


The text reads:

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day.

Teach a man to murder people who teach him things

and you're fucked.

Bow-chicka-bow-wow12 karma

You guys are so badass, just so you know.

My question is~ what's next for you guys? Not long-term, but just what will you do in the vacuum where ASW used to be?

untowardlands13 karma

I'm working on a new novel! And trying to focus on learning chess. I'm an okay player, but I want to be a strong player. So, the past few months I have been focusing on playing more, and playing more seriously. But also a new novel :P

jakespecialk11 karma

Hello, Joey and Emily! Now that A Softer World is ending, what will lull the Elder Gods back to sleep? Is your Kickstarter money being used to fund a hyperdimensional escape path?

untowardlands22 karma

We thought we were safe, that we could live our lives here, free from their ever-watchful gaze. But we said too many of the forbidden words, we unlocked too many of the screaming truths. They have seen us and we must flee.

rekcomeht10 karma

Hi Emily and Joey,

long time listener, first time caller. Loved your show, sad it's ending.

what are either / both of your opinions about who the absolute best webcomic author/artist team is? aside from yourselves.

also; will you still be selling merchandise? if I need to buy 10 'kitten tits' t-shirts to last me the next decade, I'll want the head's up.

untowardlands9 karma

Actually it seems like writer/artist teams are more rare in webcomics than in actual comics. A lot of the time in webcomics you have the one-woman-show model, where the creator is both the artist and the writer (and the publicist and the web designer)

As for merch: The store is staying up for now, for sure! But if you're ordering a lot sooner might be better because they probably won't do additional printings when the stock runs out?

shalmi10 karma

You have 24 hours to do something wrong. What would you do?

untowardlands33 karma

Whatever it is, I would take 26 hours to do it.

two_off10 karma

Which comics brought the most attention, good or bad?

untowardlands22 karma

There are a few comics that seem to get the most love. The one that springs to mind for both emily and me is the "I'd rather die terrified than live forever" comic.


jawsnnn9 karma

What does the title of the comic mean? Has it got a story behind it, or is it more of a xkcd kind of title? PS: I am bummed that it is ending, but I like that you guys want to end it as a conscious choice rather than petering out.

untowardlands9 karma

The idea behind the title was that this would be a sort of alternate reality where werewolves existed, and ghosts, and monsters and the lines between real and fantasy were not so hard and fast. Softer!

hyperspace_dog8 karma

Obviously the comic has some pretty dark themes, I was wondering if either of you had experiences of depression? If so, has the comic been a way to deal with that?

untowardlands50 karma

I get quite depressed, for sure. I checked myself into a hospital last year after a suicide attempt. And yeah, sometimes it is a way to deal with depression, but not really. When depression comes up in the comic - I am usually not "working through" anything, or trying to deal with my feelings. I am trying to write a joke that treats depression in a straightforward and an adult manner. Sometimes it feels like the only time people make art about depression or suicide, they're trying to be inspirational or trying to make people feel like there's hope. Why can't there be art that just honestly points out that the world IS garbage. That sometimes suicidal thoughts are NOT irrational. When did art start having to be about holding hands and making people feel better? And - in any case - you know what makes me feel better? When I see that I'm not the only one who feels that way. When i hear about other people having the same thoughts, and not just trying to cheer me up.

main_hoon_na9 karma

As someone who's going through a rough time with this right now, do you have any advice for just... getting through life, finding a reason to live? And since this is ASW, any favorite comics that deal with these themes you can recommend to me?

untowardlands18 karma

I wish I did have a good answer for this. But the most helpful thing I can think to say is this- Sometimes we can't find a reason to live, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. It's so frustrating to admit that you can't solve your problems (internal or external) on your own, but when things are the worst and most hopeless, sometimes the best thing you can do is just put yourself in someone else's hands and say "I don't know how to keep myself alive, or why I even should." And the people at the emergency room, or mental health clinic, or wherever will then take that responsibility on for you, even if it is just for a few days.

jonathanleebyrd7 karma

Joey, are you still working on your time travel book about murdering Canadian authors? And if so, when can I read it?

untowardlands8 karma

That book has a draft, sitting "in a drawer" (on dropbox really) but I haven't worked on it in a while. I have an idea for an illustrated version, but it means waiting for the artist to have time to get things going. Also, sometimes I feel like it's a stupid and childish book and that's AWESOME and sometimes I think maybe it's better off never seeing the light of day. In short - it is in that limbo where all unfinished art sits, waiting to be born or swallowed back down and turned into something else. This is a weird and not very good metaphor!

UATWMF7 karma

What kind of music do you guys like? Any favourite bands/albums?

I just need to know if I love you guys like I think I do. Also, Joey - you are the best for replying to every random person on facebook who sends you a gushing message about how you changed their life, etc.

thesoutherndisaster7 karma

Right now, I can't stop listening to this, it's the happiest thing ever in time:


UATWMF2 karma

I'll be honest, I did not expect happy music.

untowardlands7 karma

Well then you'll love MY link:


sharkeyspizz6 karma

Hey Joey what's better, Dark Souls I or Dark Souls II?

untowardlands10 karma

Dark Souls is the best game ever made. I really do like Dark Souls II (especially the Scholar of the First Sin version) but the first game is one big seamless world that is so wonderfully strange and dark and well-crafted. I could play it forever.

As_Seen_On_Radio6 karma

This one is for Joey, Will any of your other books (ie, The Girl Who Couldn't Come) ever be reprinted? I crave a paper copy but the cheapest one on Amazon costs... $357.09

untowardlands6 karma

I would like to do a book that collects Girl who couldn't come, and too late to say I'm sorry, and some unpublished short stories. But I am not sure when that'll be. But in the next couple of years I hope!

Reverend_Banjo5 karma

What usually comes first, the text or the pictures? How do you guys put the comic together? Do you listen to music while you're working on it?

untowardlands8 karma

I like to listen to WATCH THE THRONE because in my head Kanye is the true voice of A Softer World

Fyrwit5 karma

But but... :(

What will you do with the ideas you have that are perfect for an ASW strip once you're not doing them any more? Especially that inevitable flood of them in the first post-ASW month...

untowardlands3 karma

Haha my novels will become just book-length streams of epigrams.

Space_D0g5 karma

Thank you guys so much!

I don't really have a specific question, but I remember starting to read ASW when I was in a really bad place, maybe 7 or 8 years ago. I binge-read the whole thing, up to that point; all while crying, hiccuping and having the weirdest bouts of laughter between sobs. I also remember thinking "What the hell is wrong with these people? How could anyone...?! Oh, I love them".

After that I really got into Joey's books and have been a fan ever since.

Thank you guys so, so much and I hope you keep doing awesome projects! I'll be stalking you.

untowardlands9 karma

Thank you for the kind words and the vague stalking threat! It's going in THE FILE. :D

jennydecki5 karma

I love A Softer World. Are you both as sad, weird, harsh, and ridiculous in everyday life as the comics (words and photographs) appear or do you use A Softer World to get it out of your system? Also, do the photographs inspire the words or do the words inspire the photographs or do you kind of put it all together at once? Thank you so much, this is my first ever AMA question and I'm sorry if it sucks.

untowardlands8 karma

Sometimes the photos inspire the text and sometimes the text comes first! We find it fun to take turns making the first part of the comic and letting the other run with it! It keeps things fresh!

a_wandering_vagrant4 karma

You awake in a dimly lit room.


What action do you take?

untowardlands20 karma


rroy154 karma

E and J, in what ways are you most different from each other? Does that add to the webcomic or get in the way?

thesoutherndisaster7 karma

I am a way more practical person that Joey, which helps in terms of the comic (someone has to remember when the hosting bill is due) but might have (along with countless other things) doomed our Relationship. But comics are better than relationships anyway


untowardlands11 karma

I'm like a feral animal. I'm surprised I have lived this long, foraging for food and living in attics.

christophales4 karma

Big fans of your site since discovering it in college. Love love love you both.

What has been your favorite ASW comic? Have you ever made one that you deemed too dark or depressing to post? Any advice for young artists?

untowardlands6 karma

There have been some that were originally too depressing, but I eventually convinced emily. The examples that come to mind are:



capsjackson4 karma

Joey, I really enjoy all of the books you've written on top of your ASW stuff! I think your writing style does an incredible job of conveying strong emotions without belaboring the point in tons of words.

Are you going to continue to write books and such as your future post-ASW opens up? I admit I haven't payed much attention so maybe I missed it...

untowardlands4 karma

I am! I'm working on a new novel now, though I don't have anything interesting to say about it. Just that more is coming! I like writing and don't think I will ever stop!

Cormamin4 karma

Why did you do a 12 year project about me???

untowardlands13 karma

We found this old hand mirror at a yard sale and it looked right into your soul! We didn't pick you in particular, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Haunted hand mirrors are once in a lifetime!

thumb223 karma

Hey guys, been a big fan of the comic for a long time!

Joey: I used to have a quote of yours in my AIM away message (sorry for making us all sound old!). Something about a guy seeing a little kid at a zoo. It ended with a sentence about wanting to be soft and pink. I can't seem to find it anymore. You wouldn't happen to remember where this is from, would you?

Emily: What's your favorite brand of film? Do you do any sort of post-processing on the images for the comic?

untowardlands2 karma

That quote is from my novel One Bloody Thing After Another!

Karim973 karma

What do you guys have in mind for future projects? Any collaborations with fellow comic makers?

untowardlands8 karma

The only project we are here to talk about is the movie RAMPART.

Tophersaurus1683 karma

Joey! One of my favorite memories of my days of youth was when you came to San Francisco and did a reading of Overqualified. You signed it for me and it's one of the most prized possessions I have. It really means a lot to me.

Anyway, are you working on writing another book? I feel like it's been forever since I read The Summer is Ended yet it looks likes it's only been two years. Time is a fucked up plane of trickery.

untowardlands5 karma

I am working on a new novel! Also, I had a kid's book called Ninja-rella come out in Feb, and there will be a sequel to Overqualified coming out in the fall of this year! (It is a collection of the remaining letters, rather than a novel with story, like the first was)

The new novel is very different from the others! I am trying something new! I'm excited!