First of all, let me just say that everyone who dumps on Joel is absolutely right. Regardless of my intentions for the character, which was to show him as an innocent creative type whose uneducated parents think he's doing something dangerous, I really have written him terribly over the last year and a half. There's so many details I should've added to make this story arc stronger.
So I apologize for pulling the whole "misunderstood artist" card on everyone. It was pompous and stupid of me to just assume that the people who don't like Joel just don't like young people in general - they had legitimate complaints, because Joel is coming across as an entitled dickbag, and I've just sucked at writing this character the way I intended him to be.
Much as I'd like to pull yet another reboot and start this series over yet again so I can finally get it right, I probably ought to stop agonizing over getting my stories to turn out flawless and spectacular the first time, every time. Fact of the matter is, I'm just not a very good writer. Especially when it comes to drama and depth of character. Much as I'd love to be Bill Watterson or Charles Schulz, I might as well accept that it's not gonna happen. Because every comic creator wants to be Bill Watterson or Charles Schulz, and obviously not all of them can be.
So, again, my sincere and deepest apologies for insulting any of you. I didn't mean to come off as entitled or snobbish - I just didn't want to face the very real possibility that I may not be good at what I want to do for a living. And if this still comes off as sounding grumbly and jerkish, then I apologize for that too, because all I ever wanted to do was entertain you guys. And when I fail so much at doing that, well, it really sort of bums me out.