Creator’s Note (2023):

This is where it all began.

I don’t think this is the best comic strip (or the worst), but I do think it’s effective at establishing the tone. With a pedantic argument that the main character loses, it criticizes the foibles of a segment of the pagan community, but the blow is cushioned with a tone of self-deprecation. The humor is dry, relying on the subtle absurdity of the situation rather than a punchline. While not every installment included all of these elements, I would say they were the recurring themes that became the hallmarks of the series.

Part of what makes this one work is that they’re both right, in a sense. Language is inextricably tied to social norms, which change over time and between different communities. The anglicized “sam-hane” is the norm within certain Wiccan traditions, while “sowen” is the norm in most other pagan groups (and, you know, Ireland). Since the modern pagan holiday of Samhain has been reconstructed and modernized from its ancient Celtic roots, doing the same to the name seems just as valid.

The art here is in its most rudimentary form. I was originally inspired to start my own comic by the minimalist style of Shivian’s Oh My Gods!, which made me realize, “Hey, even I could do that!” That inspiration is particularly heavy in this first comic, aping their style right down to one of the characters being defined by an identifying symbol on his shirt. (A hallmark of Oh My Gods! that I dropped pretty much immediately as I worked toward developing my own style.)

That character was named Know-It-All in my notes, and was originally meant to be part of the main cast, but I never used him again. (Well… Technically not quite never, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

About PUTF

People for the Unethical Treatment of Fireflies (PUTF) was an amateur web comic from 2003 that took a satirical look at Wicca & neopaganism. It has the somewhat dubious honor of being the second web comic ever made about modern paganism (that I know of). In honor of its 20th anniversary, I’m remastering & re-posting an old comic strip every Wednesday.

Be prepared for cartoon nudism, poking fun at pagan stereotypes, seriously dated references, probably some jokes that aged like milk, metric fucktons of snark, and the occasional dick joke.