Here’s the last Roomies! that was ever published in a newspaper (which a nonzero number of verifiable people read), and it ran January 29, 1999. After this, Roomies! was properly a web-only webcomic, published to the lofty perches of Tripod.
Since I am a guy who writes strips about going to college, younger folks often ask me for advice on going to college. It makes sense, right? I’m that Roomies!/Dumbing of Age guy! College stuffs? That’s where I’m a viking!
So, sure, here’s my advice for the college-bound out there: Be sociable, leave your room sometimes, maybe even look at people in the face on the rare occasion you break free of your crippling social anxiety to talk to them, and for the love of God — and I cannot stress this enough — it is probably a good idea to actually register for spring semester courses at some point. Seriously, don’t freak out and put it off and put it off and eventually it’s too late but it’s probably not actually too late, but at this point it’s pretty embarrassing, so maybe the problem will go away, and oh whoops we’re back after winter break and you still don’t have classes, so maybe you should pretend to go to classes, you know, just take regular leaves of absences so your roommate doesn’t get suspicious?
And then maybe you should top it all off with a tearful call home a few weeks later, describing how you’ve actually had some sort of nervous breakdown and you are in this pit of amazing depression and you don’t know why you’re here or why you’re alive or why anyone does anything at all. And so your legitimately concerned parents remove you from school — well, as much as they can remove someone from school who isn’t really registered for school — no, seriously, this should not have worked at all, they have failsafes to catch weirdos like me, and the college rep we spoke to on my out thought I was some sort of college ninja for having been able to have still been there without having been caught at what I’d been doing. I had slipped through their cracks swiftly and unseen.
So we packed up all my stuff and I went home. But not before drawing this strip and handing it to the lady at the newspaper reception desk.
Y’know, it’s funny. All my friends before college were homeschooled. La Porte, Indiana, is Homeschooling Capital Of The Universe, and so even though I went to public school myself, all of my actual friends were homeschooled, because all of my friends were from church. And in those first few weeks of Freshman Year, I’d hear tales from home of how many of them couldn’t survive college and had to go back. And I was pretty self-satisfied, being the smug little jerk I was. That’s why you go to public school, ya nerds! To get socialized. To be able to get along with a world that doesn’t always share your views. To learn how to establish eye contact with other human beings. And yet here I was, a year and a half later, suffering the same damn fate. I was, practically if not technically, a home schooled child.
And in a few months I joined my public high school friend Steve Richardson, who had also left college for his own very different reasons, at an art school outside of Chicago. This was what saved my life, I think. I am really terrible at making friends. I am the terriblest. I am a little antisocial weirdo who is afraid to talk to people. It was amazingly good for me to go to a school chained to a person I already knew. And I was this little uptight dork and he was an aggressive outgoing horndog, and finally I was living that Roomies! buddy dynamic myself, for real.
In the meantime, in the months between schools, I would sit alone and finish out the infamous strips you are about to see. You know, the super depressing ones where Important Stuff Happens. Because that’s where my brain was at the time, and it’s where my brain lived. And out the other end, at my new school, I began to pull myself back together, just as the characters in my strip were.
I’ve never really told anybody. And now you all know.
Don’t ask me for advice on how to succeed at college.