I was originally going to go in a completely different direction with the Station/Lt. Potter conflict. My first idea was that she’d take the shares, cash them out, be ecstatic about her sudden wealth, and get drunk as hell, which would no doubt lead to hijinks of some kind at the party.
But the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I got with that idea. Station’s offer of the shares was made entirely with good intentions on his part, but Potter accepting them might send the wrong message. That you can simply buy your way out of trouble if you’ve got the means, or that money is an acceptable substitute for contrition.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years of writing the strip is if something I’m writing makes ME uncomfortable, even only a little bit, it will probably offend other people as well, and I should rethink it. The times I’ve ignored that impulse, or told myself “no, it’s only problematic if you take an extremely narrow interpretation of the strip,” guess what: people got offended.
You as an author have control over the intent of your work, but you do not have control over how other people will interpret it. And if someone’s interpretation of your work differs from your intent, while you can defend your intent, it does not necessarily render their interpretation invalid.
Since I knew there was something problematic about the way I had originally planned this story, I decided to take it in the opposite direction. And I think it makes the Lieutenant a stronger, better character. It also gave me some new ideas for her in the near future, which will be a lot more fun to write than my original plan.
It’s very easy, when you’re writing a humor comic, to accidentally put out negative messages in the quest to be funny. Lord knows I’ve been guilty of it in the past, and I’m sure I’ll screw up again in the future, because I’m not perfect. And you’re never gonna please everybody. But I do try my best, and I think that in this case, I did it right. At least, I hope so.