Eric: State of the Web(cartoonist): Bill Holbrook
The Webcartoonist: Bill Holbrook
Current Webcomics: Kevin and Kell
Enthusiasm: Why Do I Read This Webcomic Again?
How Frequently Read: When I Remember to Check
For some of these strips, it's easy enough to be cavalier. It's a little bit like selecting a lobster for dinner. "That one," you say with the disinterested air of a sociopath. "It looks like it has fight -- perhaps might be considering rebellion. That one. Boil it until its skin turns red and then I shall consume whatever I find when I crack the shell."
It is worth noting I am from Maine, a state that used to have lobsters on their license plates. A state where we actually have turned lobster, which is generally $22.50 for a relatively poor one on the plates of New York restaurants, into fast food. Seriously. We scoop out the meat, mix it with mayonnaise, slap it into a hot dog roll, and grill it. McDonalds sells lobster rolls around here during the summer.
It is also worth noting I hate lobster. It tastes like rubber dipped in butter. This is one reason I cannot live in my home state, but must forever live across its border, staring mournfully back from New Hampshire, yearning to be one of the special. I do not like lobster. I do not claim to like lobster. And when I describe lobster, I compare eating it to psychosis.
Once, in Camden, I saw children being entertained at a dockside restaurant by a chef who plucked out lobsters and teased them. They laughed, and then the lobsters got thrown into boiling water so their parents could eat them. The children laughed some more. As did many others. I am not a vegetarian. I am a classic omnivore, and I do enjoy meat. Still, I was creeped right the hell out that day and stuck to salad for about a week. Laugh, children, laugh.
Still, there are strips I can be that jaded about. Sooner or later, User Friendly is going to come up on the random rolls, after all, and whatever emotional connection I had to that strip suffocated sometime after the missile silo storyline.
This isn't one of those strips. Bill Holbrook isn't one of those cartoonists. I have immeasurable respect for Bill Holbrook, and I think his webcomic, Kevin and Kell, is one of the most significant in the history of webcomics. It legitimized the form from an early start. Heck, Holbrook has intimated in the past that he continues to produce his two nationally syndicated comic strips so that he can afford to keep Kevin and Kell going. And he did this years before anybody made a living at being an online cartoonist.
It is also worth noting those nationally syndicated strips are high quality, with good jokes, good art, excellent writing and continuing storylines full of strangeness and mirth the likes of which we haven't seen since Pogo. And Kevin and Kell is the strip that he does for love as much as money, and it turns all of the above up to 11.
And God help me, I'm falling out of love with it. Have fallen out of love with it, really, but I can't quite let it go and I'm not sure I ever can.
Kevin and Kell was one of the earliest online comics I read, just after the aforementioned User Friendly. (Which also wasn't the first, but this is not the venue to discuss Slugs! except to say I'd like it to come back, please.) It was a webcomic that featured good humor, a good situation, excellent geek jokes, good art, and social relevance all wrapped up with an ethernet cord chewed by a half-wolf/half-rabbit baby who was busy spitting up full elk skeletons. Which was a testament to Holbrook -- Kevin and Kell is, after all, an anthropomorphic comic. A furry strip, in other words. And 'furry' has baggage these days, deserved or not.But in Holbrook's world of Domain, the gruesome side of society is presented with as much cheer as the suburban side. Predators and prey both live and work together, but it's well known and understood that the predators eat the prey, and we see evidence of that all the time. Casual jokes about the slaughter of innocent sentient beings so that other sentients may live. A carnivorous baby who sometimes kills and eats the antagonist of a given series of strips as a resolution to a given plot. Seriously. And then the followup isn't "our nonverbal daughter in diapers just consumed a living being with hopes and dreams, solving some of my problems in a horrific but brutally final way," but "boy, I hope this doesn't screw with Coney's toilet training."
This is not the only time the day has been saved by Coney eating the antagonist. I seem to recall a sequence where a feline Human Resources manager discovers Kell is domesticated and is going to ruin her life, but the baby doesn't just eat him, she mounts his stuffed head on the wall as a trophy. But I can't find it and honestly, absent Oh No Robot access it's too hard to track down for the purposes of writing this.
As a side note, even back at the time I found the consuming of a living being perfectly acceptable, but fishing in a toilet made me a little ill. Ah, situational ethics.
The thing is? The strip was about racism. Or anti-semitism. Or gay marriage or homophobia. Or anything else you want to talk about where one person hates other people because they're not like he is. Kevin (Heaven) is a rabbit. Kell (Hell) is a wolf. They met in an online chatroom, they fell in love, and then they discovered that she was a predator and he was prey. And they decided "well, what the heck," both having had bad experiences before -- Kell's first husband was trampled to death trying to impress people by bringing down too-large prey. Kevin's first wife, though a rabbit, was a bitch who ditched him for a skunk, then got ditched by the skunk after adopting his large number of skunk children. Later still she would be ejected from Rabbitdom and downgraded to "rodent," which she cheerfully accepted, had surgery to make herself resemble a rat, and married a predator herself.
The point is, the tension point of the strip -- the situation of the situation comedy -- is "here's a couple that's supposed to avoid each other. The wolf eats the rabbit. This is how the world works. You don't go against the order. Only they love each other, and they've had a baby, and they have children from their earlier marriages, and now they have to make it work."
And it did work -- as a marriage and as a strip. It worked for a long, long, long time, Jesus, this thing's been running since 1995. There are people reading this right now who weren't alive when this strip started. (And if you're one of them, talk to your parents about whether or not you should be reading this site. I use bad language, talk about art, and am a liberal. I just don't want you to get into trouble.)
So, why am I falling out of (fallen out of) love with this strip? It's clearly great, right?
Well... yeah. Yeah it is.
But I mentioned the tension point above. The interfactional marriage. (Interspecies marriage seems to be such a common occurrence that the taboo is clearly predator/prey.) Kevin and Kell trying to be accepted by their society, trying to hold a sometimes resentful family together, and trying to have a decent life despite being different. That's the cornerstone of the series -- the prime motivating factor behind the story and the funny.
And... well... it's been thirteen years, almost. Society's pretty well adapted. In fact, they've had several storylines to prove it. (Not the least of which was when the entire neighbor came out with mirrors to reflect sunlight onto the Dewclaws' tree -- it had lost its access to sunlight -- so that it wouldn't die and force them to move.) Heck, Kevin and Kell saved the world from the Y2K bug by fixing the code and "infusing it with their tolerant personalities." These days, when someone reacts negatively to the predator/prey relationship, it seems almost quaint and ridiculous. Jeez, man. This is yesterday's news.
Not to mention there have been lots of other interfactional marriages since then.
To compensate, Holbrook has put in other analogues. Bruno, Rudy's best friend, started the comic as a "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing," ostensibly as a hunting technique, but in actuality he was wearing his sheep girlfriend on his back the whole time (kinnnnnky....) After she was revealed (and later revealed to be half-wolf, and Ralph Dewclaw's daughter, making her Rudy's cousin and Kell's niece and -- yeah, there's a Hell of a lot of this kind of thing going on), he went back to his sheepskin disguise in part to make the character look right, but also to be reminded of Corrie (said half-sheep/half-wolf). And after that it became an analogue to crossdressing/transgendering/transsexuality when Bruno gets three extra stomachs put in so he can become a herbivore. This leads to arguments and friction and prejudice and "will Bruno be allowed to stay on the Hunting team" and Rudy and Bruno having a fistfight and...
Or how about Domestication, the homosexuality of Domain. Kell develops spontaneous domestication, which she's passed on to her son genetically, and they have to disguise the signs and compensate for it so Kell doesn't lose her job and be downgraded to Prey, et al. Later, several other people (including R.L., the Alpha Male destructive force of a wolf who owns and runs Herdthinners, Inc.) And then there's lots of ways Domestication proves to be an advantage (at least, Fiona, Rudy's girlfriend, is willing to take advantage of it).
Oh, Fiona. Half-fennec fox with rabbitlike ears that she hates at first, as her father generally does, but later accepts. Fennecs are actually African foxes and we go through a Fennec pride storyline and she wears modified "traditional Fennec dress" and are you getting the subtle point here?
Oh, and Lindesfarne, who was a herbivore in the registry because she was adopted as a porcupine but as it turns out she's really an English Hedgehog so she becomes an insectivore overnight, only she and her insectivore bat boyfriend Fenton are best friends with a firefly and a moth--
Oh, did I mention that Kell hated cats until she became best friends with Aby, who's a feline car mechanic who teaches her the feline language and Kell learns to--
Oh, and now we have Kevin's mother entering the strip, and she hates carnivores with a passion and tries very hard to convince Coney to be a herbivore exclusively only she and Kell's mother who despise each other really don't and learn to--
...are you seeing a pattern here?
Without the societal tension implicit in the situation, the strip loses cohesion. Holbrook is a pro (oh man is he ever) and knows this, so he has to reintroduce tense situations. Only at this point they go straight into formula, because everyone involved has huge amounts of practice. And we see a lot of repeating as a result. And yeah, every so often someone gets eaten to boot (though not "name" characters, though Holbrook used to tease it.)
The next issue is the sheer complexity of the strip. At this point, the FAQ for the strip is seventeen thousand words long, and a huge amount of that FAQ comes down to answering who all these secondary characters are. Which is a godsend and good on everyone involved, but it denotes something -- Holbrook is very creative and very careful with his continuity, and has been doing this for thirteen years. Of equal value is the Comixpedia writeup, which is very long and very complete and an excellent synopsis and oh my God there's a lot going on here, and that's not even counting the Birds.
It gets exhausting. And not unlike the Simpsons, more and more of the strips deal with the extended cast instead of the primary cast because honestly, the primary cast has done so freaking much it's hard to give them new situations.
And though he's slowly begun aging his cast (Lindesfarne was finally allowed to graduate and go to college, while Coney finally became a Toddler, for example), there are ways that aging isn't fast enough. Lindesfarne won't get married until she graduates from college, which might not take long (she is, after all, a supergenius), but if it happens before Rudy graduates from high school that would be difficult, only Rudy and Fiona moving into college would take the strip further from its roots in one sense... and in another give us another situation to set up....
And that doesn't even touch on the phrase that drives me the most insane. The phrase that for long as I've been reading this comic has knocked me right out of the moment. The phrase that doesn't happen all the time but recurs just often enough that I want to pound my head into brick walls when I see it.
"We canines use our tails to communicate--"
"We felines use our tales to indicate displeasure--"
"We bats use echolocution as--"
"We rabbits have a complicated strategy of--"
Every time I see a character say "We [whatever] do [a thing]," my brain is thrown back into the bad side of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. "As you know, Bob, the gravity reductionist device has enabled us to fly our ships without regard to inertia!" "Why yes, Steve, and as you'll recall our oxygen comes from the O2ameter here in the corner...." I know. I know Holbrook has to get us information on the way an entire civilization from the Whales to the insects are intelligent manages to operate without thermonuclear genocide, but for God's sake we know she's a cat. We can see she's a cat. Aby doesn't have to tell us she's a cat when describing cat behavior! SHE'S A CAT!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry. I got frothy there for a second.
Look, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Kevin and Kell is bad. It isn't. It's very, very good. That Holbrook still manages to make nine strips out of ten funny in the fourth panel even to a new reader is a testament to his sheer competence in this arena. But at this point, after all these years, I no longer think anything will really go wrong for these people. Society's pretty well adjusted. They adjust to each new wrinkle. Problems get solved, usually within a couple of weeks. The years of long extended metastory are well and truly behind us. We are left with domestic comedy, and we've heard the jokes a bunch of times.
It's not a hate. It's not even aggravation (outside of the phrase mentioned above, but we critics fixate on language and recurrence, as you know, Steve).
But it's hard to feel the love. It's hard to care. Rudy's not going to flunk out. Fiona's not going to cheat on him (again). And she's certainly not going to end up pregnant or anything. The family's going to make it through whatever comes up, and so are the secondary characters. Mom Kindle's got her new boyfriend and his criminal record? No big deal. Mom Kindle and Mom Dewclaw will spar as they both work at Aby's garage, but the wolf won't turn, seize the rabbit in her jaws and shake until the rabbit lies dead, waiting to be devoured. The only speaking characters who end up devoured are bad people, and it'll probably be Coney who eats them.
Laugh, children, laugh.
I'm not giving up on the strip. I've loved it too much and I don't hate it enough to try and kill the inertia. I go two or three weeks and I catch up, and usually that gets me through a conflict or two, and I enjoy Holbrook's clear skill.
But I'm falling out of love with it. Have fallen out of love with it. I'm just sticking with it because I don't actually dislike it, and that's a little sad for me.
Anyway, 2800 words in and we'll get to the metrics.
As stated at length, Holbrook is a consummate professional. He's rock steady on updates. His strips are perfectly executed from panel one to panel four. The art is distinctive and clean and lovely. The characters are well written. The jokes are funny. It's hard to say anything bad about someone who's so good. And the FAQ and other website elements (on the several websites where Kevin and Kell appear) are well done and easy to work with.
Beyond the malaise I mention in the body of the essay, the biggest issues are actually pretty trivial. The tag lines added to the strips can sometimes spoil them if you don't train yourself not to read them before looking at the strip. Though it would be a monumental task for the fanbase, incorporating Oh No Robot would be a very cool thing and helpful to boot. And while there may not be anything to be done for it, the cast really is unfeasibly large at this point, and it might behoove Holbrook to do some series surgery to narrow things down.
On the Whole
Kevin and Kell is still a damn good comic. Better than most, really.
It's like in any relationship. You want to say how they've let you down, but really sometimes the magic just fades.
It's not you, it's me.
And that's a sad thing to write.
Right-o. We roll the dice for the next one of these -- hopefully not so complex, so I can get it out in a more timely fashion....
Oh! Cool. Right. See you then.
Posted by Eric Burns-White at March 14, 2008 1:07 PM
Comment from: B. Durbin posted at March 14, 2008 1:50 PM
It seems to me that what you're saying is the story is good, but the story is done.
I'm also a Maine expat, and agree wholeheartedly about lobster. (My father-in-law wants to go visit just because he wants to see a lobster roll that's sold at McDonald's. Seriously.)
Lobster ice cream! WHAT ABOUT THE LOBSTER ICE CREAM?
One thing I like about reading these is that, at the end when you do your little random number generator thing, you inevitably go "Oh! Cool!" or "Ah, interesting," or "oh, this'll be neat," or whatever.
It's nice to know that even after doing Websnark for a few years, and taking a few long breaks, you still get excited about this stuff.
I'm personally looking forward to a CRFH essay, if only because my feelings toward it are so ambiguous it'll be nice to see someone more articulate than I express an opinion. Maybe then I'll understand why I keep checking it every MWF, despite barely caring about anything that's happening...
Comment from: Korvar The Fox posted at March 14, 2008 3:05 PM
It sounds more like it really is you, rather than the strip - perhaps a newer reader would still find it fresh and interesting. It's hard to retain any relationship over that length of time, after all.
I just read K&K in February. I'm one of those completionists who wants to know all the history, so I always start on the archives, and this one always seemed daunting. For literally years I've had it bookmarked, but it wasn't till last month that I finally had time to read it.
And I'm a better man for it.
It may be that I end up feeling I've accomplished something rather than become a part of it, but there is no denying the consistent quality of the work. I find that I only check it once a week, though, and that is largely due to the fact that it's never really surprising. I wouldn't be surprised if the reader base is limited by the obstacle that is the archives, too, which might be a good reason to move to something new. Then again, it sounds like he's still got stories to tell, and far be it from me to stand in the way. I probably would have complained about the size of the archives on Peanuts.
I sort of wonder if Kevin and Kell would be helped by breaking up the stories into smaller chunks. For example, the recent Ma Dewclaw dating a criminal storyline suffered from the fact that it was really rushed (we see them dating, then immediately learn that he's a criminal, then have that resolved in like 3 days.) The storyline would work better if we see them dating, then cut for a month to something else (with periodic dates interspersed to remind us something happening), then learn about his past, then cut for a week or two to something else (with a few reminders of the situation), and then see the resolution.
Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 14, 2008 8:39 PM
Well, you know, we humans do like overexplaining ourselves at times.
Something else to add to this - perhaps it's sadly inevitable, but with a comic that long, it's inevitable that there will be a storyline that makes you fall out of love with it.
For me and K&K, it was the "Rabbits Revenge" storyline. I was really into it, and the climax, where George and Danielle kiss as she's dying from being shot with a stake, that was great stuff. I was amazed that Holbrook was actually going to go that route.
And then, he ruined it in the coda by having Danielle's human twin from an alternate dimension appear, which was a giant, waving flag that she'd somehow come over, transform into a rabbit, and take the place of the rabbit version. It ruined everything for me.
Now, K&K and I are good friends, and we occasionally talk about what we used to have. But it isn't love, and we're not going back.
I'm going to say what I think I'm hearing, but no one is explicitly saying: maybe it's time for Kevin and Kell to wrap itself up and Holbrooks should start with something new.
I think this shows a problem with Webcomics: strips tend to have a shorter overall "lifespan" before they grow stale and seem to be just merely going through the motion, which I believe is the main complaint about Kevin & Kell.
Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at March 15, 2008 12:36 AM
Don't mistake your ennui for universal truth. :)
People who have just discovered Kevin and Kell seem to find it just as fresh and exciting as Eric did when he first discovered it.
Comment from: DocN posted at March 15, 2008 6:26 AM
The thing to remember here is that Holbrook isn't doing a "webcomic", per se, but rather, a "syndicated-style" strip that happens to be on the web. In other words, a newspaper strip.
For a syndicated strip (or one emulating that style) stasis is preferred, as is minimal conflict, and short-term individual storylines, with some minor long-term goals (like Dave- excuse me, Lindesfarne- going to college) to give the series some sort of plot.
The strip would be seen, at times, as edgy and thought-provoking in a newspaper, but when seen online, in the company of "Sluggy Freelance", "xkcd", "Girl Genius" and "Something Positive", it looks like what it is; a fairly tame gag-a-day strip that desperately wants to be a syndicated newspaper comic and doesn't want to frighten away any potential editors that happen across it.
It's not you, Eric, it's the strip. Other comics stretch the boundaries of the medium, keeping the readers' interest even after all too many years (how many current comics are knocking on ten years old now? A dozen? More?) but a strip in the newspaper style has to stay in it's niche. Dagwood's never going to get his raise, Hildegard Hamhocker is never going to marry Tumbleweeds, and Sgt. Snorkel is never going to retire to civillian life.
Doesn't mean the strip's bad or that Holbrook should start taking cues from Randy "I hate all my characters and wish they'd die" Milholland (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek) it's just that there's better strips out there now.
Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at March 15, 2008 8:16 AM
What always bugged me about Kevin & Kell is the tendency that characters have to repeat the important points from the last few strips. I understand that this is so that anyone new to the comic can just read the latest strip and be able to get what's going on, but reading the archives it really felt like Bill Holbrook thinks that his readers have the short-term memory of a plastic bag.
(I've started reading Websnark like crazy again! The reviews have been awesome, and I think might borrow that roll-of-the-die topic picking.)
I like K&K. It's actually only in the last year that I've started actively following it, 'tho I've occasionally checked it out for years. I don't think the lack of tension has hurt the script because its never just been about that tension.
No, what's been bugging me is how quickly the stories go lately. Conflict arises, it gets dealt with, and everything's over in maybe five days. I like how things are evolving with the set-up, but I wish the storylines were meatier.
Comment from: Sean Duggan posted at March 15, 2008 9:13 PM
Huh... honestly, I hadn't thought of the various plotlines like Domestication as parallel to homosexuality and the like. Makes it all the more interesting that the only incident of homosexuality I remember mentioned in the strip was a one-off joke about Rachel. I actually had forgotten that aspect of the character and only rechecked the archives for it because the Comixpedia article explicitly noted her as a lesbian.
I'm with Spatulus with regards to the short story lines, and the occasionally too pat conclusions.
...and the internet apparently ate half of my previous post.
*retypes* Grandma Kindle reaction to her boyfriend's past as the most infamous hijacker of all time is ... "Oh, well, he did serve some time in prison, so that's okay then." Happy times again!
...and the internet apparently ate half of my previous post.
*retypes* Grandma Kindle reaction to her boyfriend's past as the most infamous hijacker of all time is ... "Oh, well, he did serve some time in prison, so that's okay then." Happy times again!
I can't believe I'm doing this:
"We felines use our tales to indicate displeasure--"
We Humans do use our tales too. We have an oral tradition, after all. ;-)
I've tried getting into K&K but it was always a bit too much, with an archive spanning 13 years. Although now I can just put it into Piperka and get back to the right page when I want to.
I think I will, because even though you've fallen out of love with it, you still amke it sound interesting enough to invest some time in it.
Comment from: Bill Holbrook posted at March 20, 2008 1:43 AM
Thanks for your thoughtful essay, and for reading "Kevin & Kell" for so many years. I do hope that you'll continue.
I'd to use this space to talk about where the strip stands in this, its 13th year. It has achieved maturity, meaning that its themes and characters are well-established. Afer more than a decade of adventures, the Dewclaws have a arrived at a level of familiarity with the readers.
Being a pioneering webcomic, "K&K" was probably the first webcomic to reach this stage. Many newspaper strips have gotten there first, of course, and at this point some creators simply go on autopilot, buying from gagwriters and locking their features into long twilight of stagnation. Others simply quit.
I have no intention of following either path. I will continue to create "K&K" for many years to come, as long as I am able. For fresh material I'll rely on current events, such as my recent predator's strike arc, and the life changes of the characters such as Lindesfarne's engagement to Fenton. When I go into my studio to write, I'm always interested to discover what the Dewclaws will do next. The results often surprise me, and it is my hope that the readers will be surprised as well.
Comment from: Sean Duggan posted at March 20, 2008 2:35 PM
I just have to say that it's incredibly cool when the comic artists show up to respond to comments. ^_^ It's like a brush with celebrity or something.
It does sound like Holbrook plans on having some changes. There was a note, I think in the Comixpedia article, about how it's a relatively recent thing that people are indeed aging such that Lindesfarne's going to college and all (and it tied the timing back to Fiona's apparently flippant comment before about "setting her biological clock for 2005" or somesuch). I think the big question will be whether Holbrook's willing to let his characters suffer for longer than a short arc. Like has been noted, we're not likely to have a named character eaten any time soon. And things like Bruno's herbivorism became pretty well accepted after that whole arc. It would be nice for there to be something longstanding whether it's the loss of a named cast member to predators (it would be interesting seeing how Kell would deal with one of her longstanding co-workers eating a friend of hers for example. Would she be able to handle it professionally? And what if it were Coney who did the eating?
One of the frequent complaints I've heard about For Better or For Worse was Patterson losing her ability to inflict cruelty upon the characters. And, as a result, we're back into a freeze, at least last I heard, and she's strongly nudging the Liz/Anthony setup since that's how true love worked in her life. Can Holbrook inflict a lasting problem in his cartoon family's life?
Yo, Mr. Burns. Have you noticed the Project Wonderful Ad you've got up on your sidebar right now? (It would be hard to miss, but anyways...) I don't know if it's tongue and cheek or what since I haven't checked where it leads. While I personally have no issues with a "brunette amateur girl with juicy ass", I get the feeling that it's not necessarily the kind of thing you were looking to have up on this site.
I'd actually canceled an ad from that site before. This time I had to go all the way and reset my ad to not accept NSFW ads. I didn't want to do that because, for example, I have no problem with Slipshine advertising here.
Comment from: d-gradeBoys.com posted at April 12, 2008 11:48 PM
My friend and I are currently producing a web comic entitled "June Sux!" as well as some animated cartoons which we publish on our website located at http://www.d-gradeboys.com(.)
We were wondering if either you or Wednesday White might be interested in reviewing our web comic on Websnark. If not, we thought you guys might like to check it out for a bit of a laugh.
We are currently advertising our comic on your page via project wonderful and want to thank you for the traffic you have been sending to us recently!
If you have any questions or wanted to chat, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org(.)
Comment from: Maus Merryjest posted at May 12, 2008 3:46 AM
I have noticed a certain tendency for Hollbrook to resort to formulaic treatment. With the strips he's juggling, I am surprised he hasn't cracked.
But yes, on to Kevin and Kell... I sometimes get the impression that Kevin and Kell sometimes balances on the edge of "Still Good" and "Should Have Quit While Still Strong."
Point: The Golden Girls. Bea Arthur decided to leave the show while it was still going strong rather than see it go downhill (and knowing that the show rested not on one sole person but on the ensemble cast, Arthur knew that they couldn't continue it without her any more that they could continue it without Rue McClanahan or the others.) The result is a show that never really withered in decrepitude and is rather fondly remembered by its fans as something they wanted to go on. In many ways, it is better to leave early and leave them longing than to outstay your welcome.
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