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Spotlight Comics

Spotlight – How We Stay Sane @ Work



Comic name: How We Stay Sane @ Work

Creator: Sara Rude

Genre: Slice of Life

Synopsis: We’ve all had bad jobs. Stuffing envelopes, cleaning toilets, catering to arrogant customers… My goal with this webcomic is to collect work stories from all over the web so we can laugh at them instead of cry.


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Patreon/Donation: Anyone wishing to support me can donate/commission my friend who is currently homeless:


Please leave your critiques in the comments below!

And if you have fan art for the comic, you can upload it in our forums here!


An Interview with Sara Rude


1. When did you first come up with the idea for How We Stay Sane @ Work?

Sara: I once had a temp job where we were tasked with hand-writing envelopes. All. Day. I ended up chronicling stuff just to keep from going crazy, like all the weird last names I came across. It was just a one-off (which you can find in my DeviantArt gallery if you feel like hunting) and I never thought it would become anything. Over the years I realized I needed an idea for a webcomic that didn’t overwhelm me, and a gag strip seemed like the perfect opportunity to practice.


2. How We Stay Sane @ Work is all about the woes of bad work situations. We’re curious – what’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Sara: The worst is probably the one with the handwritten envelopes. But I’ve already talked about that, so I’ll tell you about the 2nd worst! About 6 people and I were hired to go through 16 pallets of medical paperwork to prepare them to be scanned into a digital database. It was a grueling job checking every page for folds, staples, and rips. Another 6 or so people were hired to “sort” the scanned paperwork, which basically meant sitting in front of a monitor pressing the “next” key all day. Soon the 2nd round of employees got moved back to our department because we weren’t moving fast enough. And very soon after that half of us were let go. (Including yours truly.) I swear they had planned since the beginning to figure out who were the fastest workers and dump the rest of us.


3. What does your workspace look like? If you can add anything to it, what would it be?

Sara: I’d like to get a real slanted desk instead of using a dining room table, but otherwise it’s pretty boss.

14-8-7 Workspace
4. And now a question by our last spotlightee, Melissa J. Massey of Vatican Assassins: Is there any recurring part of your comic you regret including because it’s a pain to draw? For me, it’s Fife’s weapon, a sickle and chain, because that chain is incredibly obnoxious to draw over and over again!

Sara: Backgrounds are the biggest pain. Not just thinking up products to fill all the store shelves, but drawing the same table/shelf over and over making sure they’re mostly straight. I finally decided to use Sketchup after I had the idea for an aerial shot of the Meat & Treat dining room in comic #57. Just learning the program was such a pain *on top of* drawing it I vowed never to draw that dining room ever again.


5 . Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Sara: Star Trek, petaQ!


6. It seems you have a special place in your heart for Corporate Radio. What song do you think should be banished from existence at this point?

Sara: You know, it’s really surprising how many songs on the radio are about adultery. In particular, “Your Love” by The Outfield should be shamed and exiled.


7. How We Stay Sane @ Work includes not only your work stories, but submissions from others. Have you ever had to turn down a submission for any reason?

Sara: I’ve had a few submissions that were either too vulgar or racist, but to be honest I’ve forgotten what they were. That’s probably for the best. XD


8. What’s your favorite time-sucking activity?

Sara: Playing with internet doll-makers. Sometimes you just have to make something pretty. Or badass. Or both.


9. You feature co-workers in many of your strips. Do they know about their respective cameos? How do they feel about being included in the comic?

Sara: I try to ask permission whenever I see or hear a story that I like. Everyone so far seems excited to have been drawn, even if I’ve forgotten a few details. Most of them don’t understand the concept of webcomics so I’m blessedly free from critique. XD


10. If you were writing a clever interview question for the next spotlight, what would it be? Feel free to answer this question for yourself if you’d like!

Sara: Do you ever fangirl/boy your own comic?


11. What’s next for your comic?

Sara: After 100 strips I want to collect the whole shebang into a book and Kickstart it. #90 just posted on the 7th, so it’s not far off! (I’m getting nervous ahhhh…) I have other longer-form ideas I’ve been eager to work on, and HWSS@W was always supposed to be an exercise for me. But there’s still tons of unused submissions, and I’m more than willing to hand over the reigns of the project if anyone’s interested. Perhaps some Kickstarter money can go to a new artist…

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  1. BluRavenHouvener says:

    Just reading a few strips I’m blown away, I’ve worked a ground floor customer service job in a grocery store for eight years now, so i know all about the repetition and aggrivation that comes with it, and it is expertly captured in this comic, I laughed until I cried haha

  2. I have been greatly enjoying this strip. I think everyone can relate to that terrible job with wacky customers and difficult bosses, which is what makes your comic such a winner. Also, I really like your coloring.l It’s not too bright, but not gritty either. Almost cartoon like? It helps keep things lighthearted. And even without naming the characters, I feel like I get to know them, even if they’re only in one strip. You’re really good at showing a lot of their personality in just a few panels! I’ll be checking this out a lot more, to be sure.

  3. Great job! It was really funny and it’s interesting that they’re based on real experiences. Letting people submit their own stories is a great way to get your readers involved with the comic and it’s a topic lots of people can relate to these days.

  4. Reminds me of “Real Conversations from Comic Book Stores”, except with a much wider appeal. The art style is simple but tight and appealing, and helps bring these various stories to life. I especially like the “Things CJ is no longer allowed to do at work” series. The next crappy job I secure is one where I’ll try to do all these things.

  5. As someone who has had some unfun jobs in the past, I can relate to a lot of the humor in this comic. I especially like strip 56, since I used to be a sign-waver and I would have to wear lots of layers and often a rain poncho to do my job. Good times.

    My favorite character is definitely CJ. I really like the running gag with him and his smart-alec sense of humor. I don’t know exactly how much you base the cast on people you know, but either way, he’s probably the most entertaining one. The other side characters get into interesting shenanigans too, but his dry sense of humor and amusingly jaded outlook stand out to me.

    I feel like the poses in the comic get a little stiff. Given that it’s a gag-a-day comic, it’s not essential, but if you wanted to improve some of the art, working on poses would help make some reactions funnier. The expressions work pretty well, though, and that’s where it counts the most. There aren’t many suggestions I can think to make about the visuals since it’s more about the writing here, but that’s my two cents.

    The website looks good, but you might want to think about adding a cast page at some point. I know these are based on real people so maybe it might seem weird to do that, but still, it would be nice to be able to refer to the cast list to get everyone’s name. Going through the archives, I feel like half the recurring characters are nameless or, at the very least, their name is mentioned once in passing and I missed it. Again, not essential, but it would be nice.

    The whole point of the comic is to show those little annoyances and quirks that people in glamorous jobs have to deal with on a daily basis. Your comic 100% succeeds at doing just that. It’s impossible not to empathize with the characters and even for the situations I haven’t directly been in, I can still understand their frustrations and joy over the small victories. Honestly, as long as you’re enjoying making this thing, just keep on doing what you’re doing.

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