Pathetic Geek Stories

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What Readers Say About PGS:
"I'm very glad you do this… However, I must admit that looking at your site is a little like picking at a scab.
No—more like stabbing at an old scar or playing baseball with a phantom limb but actually hitting with the stump."

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Frequently Asked Questions:
(For some basic info about submitting your PGS, go to Submit)


Do you accept third-party submissions? Because I have this friend who is such a geek and there's noooo way they would ever submit a story themselves.


As a rule I do not take third-party submissions. I don't want to risk hurting the feelings of the subject, and, worse-case scenario, lawsuits. Nope, the humiliation of a PGS should be yours and yours alone. I do make a partial exception with stories that involve the submitter and a friend, because it implicates the submitter.If you know someone who you think has a great PGS and won't burst into tears at the thought of having it made public, encourage them to write me.


Can you explain the standards you use in judging a suitable PGS?


This is hard to explain. I guess in choosing stories for the strip, I like variety. Some are truly horrifying. Others are more quietly disturbing. Some are tragicomic or just silly, even cute.Early on, fumbling to summarize the strip's theme, I said "basically anything embarrassing." But that is an oversimplification. Public farting is embarrassing. Making a drunken ass of yourself is embarrassing. Is it geeky? It sure can be. But it's not as resonant or blood-curdling, as, say, audio-taping a request for a date to your crush, than giving your crush the tape, and subsequently being turned down, publicly. I guess I tend to prefer the stories in which a chronic, pathological pattern of awkwardness and alienation can be detected. The pain and the humor compete in equal measure. I am more sympathetic to the serial geek than to the occasional offender. Sinking the ball in the opposing team's basket, yeah, that's pretty mortifying. Being bullied in your own bedroom, or living inside your head to the point where you worry that you've been branded by visiting aliens, BOY is that mortifying.


I submitted a PGS months ago and never heard back from you. Why not? Should I submit my story half-a-dozen more times?


Please don't. I limit my personal replies to people whose stories I'm going to use. Be assured, though, that I appreciate all the stories I receive. There wouldn't be a PGS without them. And if another story occurs to you, feel free to submit it if you like. Seriously, please don't keep submitting the same story over and over. It wastes your time. Don't be so aggressive! We're trying to have fun here.


How can you consider a story not "good" enough if it was a real thing that happened and was really humiliating to its author? You can't get any lower than being rejected by Pathetic Geek Stories.


I look for stories that are not only perversely entertaining in their own way, but I think would be resonant with readers or uncover a small truth you don't really hear about much. It follows that some stories are more compelling than others. I think that's pretty evident.


Heck, you could argue by having your story rejected you dodged a bullet.


Yeah, "not 'good' enough" FAQ, you should listen to this FAQ. Hey, wait, that's not really nice either.


How do you weed out fakes? Surely you must get fakes.


I use the maligned and far-from-perfect honor system. The strip is by fans and for fans, and in that spirit I generally assume that the stories are as truthful as the writer's objectivity will allow. I have some small vetting tactics too. Plus I receive more stories than I publish.


Do you accept stories from adulthood? Because for many of us, the pain continues.


Absolutely. Pathetic Geek Stories don't always take place when you're 13 years old.


How young can a pathetic geek be?


I'm reluctant to run stories about kids under the age of 10. How much sophistication can you expect from a first grader? It's cute when they hide from the cleaning lady. It's not so cute when they're 14.


I'm a really bad artist. Do I have to draw my own strip?


Um, no. You send me the story, I draw it.


"Pathetic Geek Stories?" Oh that's so mean! Why pick apart an open sore? Some of these "geeks" are victims of bullying and class bias. Don't make light of real suffering.


Relax! It's meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I don't draw this strip to put down anyone. If I didn't closely identify with the "geeks," I doubt I would have ever conceived this strip. I wanted to tell these seldom-told stories of humiliation. It's a facet of life I felt was getting overlooked. The many people who send stories don't seem particularly offended either. As far as I know, the adults who have written me did not die of their experiences. They survived. They may have wanted to die at some point, but they didn't. Over time, their trauma lessened. And it's a lovely thing to look back at a bad experience with humor and perspective.Also, I discovered something interesting while reading submissions through the years. Sometimes the "victim" is not always blameless; in fact, he or she can be the unwitting prime perpetrator. Sometimes their own behavior earns them contempt, whether through pretension, greed, a compulsive need for attention, or even their own quest for popularity.


Wow, you sure have had a lot of humiliating stuff happen to you.


Uh-huh...wait, what?


All these stories. How did you survive being such a geek? you think these stories are all mine?


Yeah. Aren't they?


No, man. They're sent to me by readers. I just illustrate them. A different story from a different person each week.


Have you ever published a book?


Not yet. Rest assured I will let readers know should it ever happen. In the meantime, enjoy this archive of some of the best stories.


Can I buy an original PGS strip from you?


Well, we can discuss it. I have sold originals in the past, but have always done so to the submitter who supplied the original story or to a friend/relative/significant other who wanted to surprise them. I am reluctant to sell them to people who have no relationship to the protagonist. That's why I've never sold originals to random people on eBay. Prices vary and are negotiable, and I prefer shipping the originals via Priority Mail or Federal Express.


Can't I just have my old strip for free?


Usually I can't do that. I'm sorry. Nothing personal. I can supply free xeroxed copies to you if you give me an address, or you can download the Internet version.






Can we at least end this FAQ on a good note?