Chapter 1, Page 32

Bex!! I bet you thought you could fly under the radar forever (although she’s right, this isn’t new info… Mike should have read the Glossary)

Today’s bonus art: one of Mike’s early excavations

On a more personal note, I had an annoying moment last week where I found myself justifying my motives to someone who didn’t warrant that amount of effort. I’m going to set a precedent now and let you know that these are my general standards as far as the comic and on-site comments are concerned. This doesn’t apply to 99.9% of you, but if you have any questions or comments as to how I choose to run this site, please refer those basic rules. As always, thanks for your readership and interaction, I really appreciate it.

Okay that’s it. Oh wait, no, my sitebro Lowell also upgraded the Archives page, it’s now beautiful and elegant and amazing and full of thumbnails instead of text, yay :] Thanks Lowell! and see you guys soon for another page.


  • Jesus…

  • Izbomb

    Well that 4chan comment was certainly.. something else 0_0. Way to be overblown!

    • fox-orian

      Well, it’s from 4Chan. So the value of what anyone says there is about equal to that of one speck of dust. A speck of dust not even inside your home — just floating around outside where it doesn’t matter.

      • shingworks

        Actually they’re not that bad? Sometimes they’re bad. But mostly they’re just overcritical in a way I secretly don’t mind. It sucks when you’re at the end of it but on the other hand it’s nice seeing people care (maybe too much) about sometime I care about too.

        That guy’s a different story tho, that’s a personal beef thing.

        • Lennier

          4chan is somehow a container for brilliant humour and often insightful comments, while at the same time containing copious amounts of nightmare fuel.

          • charles81

            I once had 4chan explained to me like this:

            “Imagine the Earth has an anus. Now imagine that the feces of every living creature pours out of that anus. Now imagine you are strapped over that anus. That is what spending time in 4chan is like”

          • “4chan, the other reddit” (or maybe the other way round)

          • Lennier

            charles81: vivid.

      • Cruort

        4chan gets a bad rap as a result of comments like that as well as its collective involvement in various internet shenanigans, but it’s important to remember that a majority of the vitriol it causes are the result of only 5-7 of the site’s roughly 65 boards. There’s more to the community than hurling insults at people who may/(in this case) may not deserve it.

    • shingworks

      Haha yeah, it was a bit much. I have a pretty good idea who it is anyhow, since the language used was fairly specific and inappropriately vitriolic… You guys will LOVE that story.

    • naem

      Wait what 4chan comment?

    • Sean

      Really? I don’t see what’s so special about it….

      Maybe if they had something of value to say other than cursing and name calling it would be more worthy of attention.

  • Anson

    “That logo”? This logo:

    • …Michael would have felt pretty silly if it ended up being a lamp Dr Braid (the previous room owner) left there ^^;

      • shingworks

        He probably wasn’t listening on principle, but Goto also literally introduced her as such, haha

        • DukeBG

          Wow, i missed that on page 1.03, just thought that Goto described Bex as initiative in general.
          Although i read the glossary, i completely blanked on this whole permanent colonist concept and Bex being part of it! The surprise was intense!

          • shingworks

            Hahaha… it was subtle… only the I’s with capitalization have crossbars. Not your fault to have missed it, it looked like an adjective instead of a hidden noun :p

          • DukeBG

            I translated it as an adjective. Should i revise that? .__. It kiiiinda works as an adjective too in russian (as in “belongs to the Initiative”)

          • shingworks

            No, it’s fine XD

  • Evan

    Question mark in panel 3. ;)

    • shingworks

      I leave it off sometimes (including now) to show the lack of verbal inflection :] thanks for noting it tho!

      • Evan

        Aha! That makes sense.

  • DukeBG

    I voted on TWC before i noticed the new update and was confused with the changed incentive, haha. That excavation was a blast.
    The new Archive page looks great!

    This might be a dumb question, but does the “permanent” in this context mean she’ll never leave Mars?

    • shingworks

      Yes, they commit to living on the planet forever :U They don’t just do their jobs, but are guinea pigs for looking at the effects of long-term habitation.

  • a.a.

    A permanent colonist… But didn’t Goto say Bex would be employed for only six months?

    Also, a question about Levi; how far has IA advanced in this era? Did it pass (surpass?) the Turing test already? Cause that’d explain Michael’s grief after “losing it” a lot better, I think.

    • shingworks

      Yep. Her job is up establish the cricket farm, then move on to the next base or whatever. They don’t stay long in any one spot so the org gets a broader view of the planet and the challenges/ advantages of living in certain areas.

  • Mouse

    Augh he makes me so uncomfortable…I dated a guy who struggled with manic depression, which is kinda the vibe I get from Mike here.

    Not even a full chapter in and all your characters already feel so complex. *wraps around monitor* MOOOAAARRRR…..

  • anvil

    Der Shing, I know I probably don’t need to say this, but for all the people out there who may try to question your integrity, there are many, many more who understand and value your talents as a diligent, creative, freethinking, and very capable artist.

    This is pretty much the only comic where I actually make it a point to read through all the comments, because some really interesting discussions and points of view are happening. I think that speaks largely to the value of the content you are providing. Thank you again for putting your work out there, it has consistently been a highlight of my week.

  • loor

    wow mike, wanna double-check your sexist standards for a sec?

    • qqq

      How is he being sexist?
      I’d feel awfully abandoned if either my mother or father left for another planet forever.

      Hopefully there will be a programme that allows the rest of Bex’s family to join her some day?

      • Science probably wouldn’t accept sending still growing kids in a 0.38G environnement, tho (esp. since we already don’t really know the long term effect on adults)

    • Dee

      I don’t know, I don’t see any sexism necessarily. As far as we know she’s the first permanent colonist he’s interacted with. There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t be equally upset with a father for permanently moving to Mars while his kids stayed on Earth. Unless there is something I missed in the comic that indicates otherwise.

    • fox-orian

      I feel like this has more to do with his own experiences as a child and potential abandonment issues.

    • Sean

      I’m not sure if that’s a joke or not, but I’m a bit on the confused side as to how his commentary is sexist. Not here to argue with you, and while Mike is many things, sexist hasn’t been hinted at.

      In fact Bex, never inferred that she was a good mother. Mike assumed so because of the pictures. Unless you consider silence an unspoken agreement. Even still that’s not sexist it was more of a compliment. However considering his implied commentary on his idea’s of what a good parent is, he was likely abandoned at a young age by one of his parents. Or want’s kids but knows he could never have them. Just a few reasons why he might put an inordinate amount of attention on what parenthood means.

      Still I’m confused by this accusation of him being sexist.

      • I think what the commenter is referring to is the current double standard of women trying to forward their career and questions and accusations regarding their motherhood are immediately brought up while men usually don’t have to deal with that.

        While this is a very real thing many women have to deal with I don’t think it applies to the situation in the comic. Its two very different situations. Mike doesn’t appear to appreciate a parent leaving their children behind for the rest of their lives, I don’t think it has anything to do with her being a woman.

    • shingworks

      I guess you could argue that, if you argue that the expectation that all women should be fantastic mothers is sexist.

      • loor

        ^ this, a little. also the fact that he’s rushing to judgment of her parenting skills without ever having been a mother (or a father). how can he attempt to make a judgment against her based on an experience he’s never had?

        and i find it a little odd that it’s the first thing he jumps to when he “realizes” that she’s a colonist. yeah sure, the pictures of her kids seemed to have hit him in a deep way, but instead of expressing that concern in a different way, he decided to attack her parenting skills.

        i don’t like seeing other people call women “bad mothers” or “good mothers”. i don’t think they deserve that privilege, especially not from where he’s standing.

        • fox-orian

          Again, I’m just speculating here but I’m betting you Mike jumps right to that commentary first toward Bex because of things he may have dealt with as a child. It’s not that he’s outright calling Bex a bad mother as much as I think he’s projecting his own inner troubles.

  • Glenn-o-matic

    Well that guy was certainly being an offensive jerk. You shouldn’t have to put up with that sort of thing, but at least if it happens you can point at them (and rub their nose in it!!!)
    MEANWHILE, ON MARS: Bex may have to do some smooth talking to bring him back ASAP. I wonder if LEVI could help her? Does it have that kind of awareness?

  • big_guy

    So you got upset about a comment someone made on a third party website that you have zero control over? I can understand why you’re upset but honestly you’re always gonna have to deal with haters.

    • fox-orian

      Not to speak for her, but I think that’s more of an example of “What a dickhole’s comment looks like, if you comment like this then you are a dickhole” rather than “I’m super upset over this, see for yourself.”

    • shingworks

      Did I say I was upset somewhere? I used them as an example of what not to do on this site. The incident in question took place on-site, which is why I wrote a thing about on-site behaving. And yes, it’s been over a decade of me putting my work online. I’m used to people I’ve never met insulting me, belittling me, and giving me honest advice about stuff I have been dealing with for years.

      • big_guy

        I apologize, the tone of the post seemed upset to me. I thought your response was about the 4chan post, and then I went back to last week’s comment section and read up.

        • shingworks

          That’s ok. Sorry I replied kinda snarkily!

  • DS

    Someone who leaves a spouse and kids behind to set up cricket farms on Mars… On one hand, omg you’re on Mars! On the other hand, you’ll never see your family again outside of Skype. Nor touch them unless they’re part of some second wave of colonists that will arrive later. I mean you can’t really condemn someone for choosing to follow their career but making that sort of jump is huge. And her face indicates it wasn’t a decision she made lightly. I’m gonna wager that Mike isn’t the only one struggling now at the bottom of that cave.

    • There is a 3 to 22 minutes communication delay EarthMars, so skype is a bad idea.
      I guess they’d be stuck sending full video messages.

      • DS

        Ok, so Skype is a bad idea. That delay makes it even worse.

    • DukeBG

      Skype is a terrible piece of software overall, although, probably in the future there’ll be some other popular equal replacement they use…

  • lamepudding


  • Geez! Talk about a sucker-punch to the feels, that was … unexpected. In a good way (for ah, dramatic tension reasons?).

    Agreed with fox-orian in that it feels like he’s blindly reacting from abandonment traumas; there’s something about the aggressive way he’s standing in the second-to last panel that feels like he’s lashing out for a really personal reason.

    (Incidentally I love the way you composed the second and third panels – the harsh glare of the light and the harsh angularity of Mike’s (darling) nose are all in contrast to Bex’ (even more darling) features. It really flows well.

    Gah, my feels for Bex, though. ;a;

  • Cain

    Shits heatin’ up… I’m feeling for Mike hardcore right now. Episodes like this are devastating, I hope they both get out of that hole alright…

  • …HOLY crap.

    • The “are you a good mother question”. Looking again , in retrospect. Her pausing at that moment.

      • Sharp

        Yeah that expression really stood out to me. There is a sort of horror there that is very suspicious. Normally that kind question makes people defensive, not afraid. I was also surprised Mike asked, it was like his mind was elsewhere and his brain-to-mouth filter shut down for a sec

        That vote incentive is so cute!! I hope we get little glances into the past for all the characters at some point, I live for that stuff

  • Lennier

    Speaking of things that annoy people…

    I meant to ask this question earlier, but I was still in the archives, so passed: Bex is from Nigeria. In OTL, Nigerian attitudes to non-‘Heteronormative’ relationships are… hostile. In MI, there are images of Bex and her kids playing in a ‘built’ environment that would not look out of place in Western society, so can I assume Nigeria ITTL is not the Nigeria of OTL (assuming the photos were taken in Nigeria?). What is the attitude of Nigerians (and perhaps Africans more generally) ITTL to homosexuality?

    • shingworks

      Well, Nigeria is advancing pretty fast in all things (irl)… one of the hugest media presences in the world, one of the faster growing economies, and becoming very modern in a lot of ways. I can only assume that in the future that trend will continue. So at least as far as the “built” thing is concerned, I don’t think that would be too far-fetched.

      For attitudes, I decided for myself while worldbuilding that the country would have a split of Western and traditional feels. I could see how future Africans wouldn’t necessarily want to glorify the type of culture that we have, especially since the West also has a lot of flaws. At the same time, you can’t avoid Westernization anymore. So there’s a mix, and that includes views on things like non-het relationships.

      As for Bex, she attended school in England and the US, and returned home after. She probably strongly desired to be friends with Michael initially, having some preconceived notion about him in her head from the documentaries and her kids growing up playing with products associated with his work or whatever, but then realized he is awkward and condescending. The non-heteronormative thing probably gives her some pause, as in, not really wanting to talk about it to avoid an uncomfortable atmosphere, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the other stuff haha.

      • Lennier


      • Lilian

        That’s a well-reasoned response.

  • Magdalene

    I love this comic but I feel like I don’t understand a lot of what’s happening, even after looking through the terminology a bunch of times. Is there a prologue or some other information that I missed? I can tell a major bomb just got dropped but I’m lost as to what is significant and why. Maybe I’m just slow haha. Anyways great page! I really do love this comic–a lot of times even if I see something I don’t understand, it still feels powerful, and the style/art is impeccable besides

    • shingworks

      No worries! You are not slow at all XD Bex has confirmed that she is a permanent colonist, ie, she is staying on Mars forever. Mike is under a lot of stress and has a hangup about kids, and is only down here because he thought he was doing them a cool favor or something by helping their mom. Instead he found out that he’s helping a parent who willingly left her kids behind. The significance of that is not yet known, and we have no information at all about Bex and her motivations, so it’s okay to feel like you have no idea why it’s important!

      • VainVillain

        Thank you for clarifying that, I was also confused and I thought I’d missed something! Can’t wait to find out more about these characters!

  • Skellagirl

    lmao @ that guy on 4chan; reminds me of all the similar comments about HINABN. A creator’s real life takes precedence. If one is weak enough to get “blue balls” about that, that’s THEIR problem. I’m a little puzzled by all the inflammatory comments here, too. Your comic is dealing with heavy stuff, and you’re certainly not under any obligation to deal with it… for lack of a better term, “politically correctly”. Who fricking cares if Mike’s comment is sexist? He’s an incredibly interesting, multifaceted character with flaws and needs – if characters were completely perfect all the time, they’d lose all their depth.

    Blah, sorry. I think you’re great, and I really admire your art, storytelling, and patience.

    Also as an aside – the character-selector vote button thing on TWC was Bex for me! c:

    • shingworks

      You’re pretty sharp. The reason the comments are similar is because they’re likely by the same person.

      And there’s no inflammation today XD Convo is fine. Last page tho someone was trying to like, precognitively shame my plot, which annoyed me big time.

      • Skellagirl

        Ha, no yeah, I wasn’t talking about this update; I was talking about the person last time, about the “mentally ill people being scary” stuff and whatnot. I mean, goodness, you spend four years on a desolate planet with basically nobody to talk to, robots maybe possibly controlling your thoughts (Or even just feeling like they are) and other, yet-to-be revealed problems and see how friendly YOU feel, commenter =p

  • Enigma42

    So does the procedure of when a guy goes nuts in space apply here, for those of you that dont know they duck tape the guy to an anchored object

    • Madeleine

      You’d need to find a duck there first.

      Today’s vote incentive is sooo adorable! :D

      • shingworks

        Fun fact, it is actually called “duck tape” and not “duct tape” … it is waterproof, so water falls off of it like water off a duck’s back :u It’s also called 100mph tape in the US Army, cuz it can hold together a jeep traveling that speed.

        I like duck tape

    • And suddenly, I’m wondering whether I’ve seen that method applied outside Bruce Willis’ Armagedon.

  • If it comes to a tussle I wonder if Mike’s extended stay in low gravity will have an effect. He’s fairly burly, but he’s been on Mars 10 years, while Bex is newly arrived from Earth.

    Mars seems to have under .4 of Earth’s gravity, so that’s pretty low. Mike does look like he works out though.

    • Hmm.

      I would expect working out to be mandatory, for similar reasons as on the International Space Station : trying to offset the problems linked to a lower gravity (or absence thereof)

      • shingworks

        Exercising is mandatory. They’re also on injectable drug cocktails that inhibit loss of bone density, and that tight black outfit everyone is wearing under their clothes is a special garment (Gravity Loading Countermeasure Suit) that compresses for the same reason.

  • AGillyo

    I have been thinking about this page nonstop for the past day, I can’t even begin to describe how impressed I am at how well you’re slowly revealing the different facets of these characters!

    I was wondering though, I recall you saying that April’s incentives were going up on Facebook at the beginning of the month; am I looking in the wrong place for them, or were they not posted yet? (no rush whatsoever or anything if you didn’t post them, I’d just love to see the days I had missed… don’t mean to be impatient or anything, was just curious!)

    • shingworks

      Yeah, they are up! I hate how Facebook does it, I have them added to the “TWC vote incentives” folder but the update did not appear anywhere on the timeline; you have to go inside the photo album to see them. Sorry that wasn’t clear!

      • AGillyo

        Totally fine, thanks! :)

  • Luces

    Next picture, Beth is floating lifeless to the ground, while Mike is slowly stumbling into eternal darkness… Short end of the story. Everyone, we’re going back to the Meek! ;-)
    On another hand, thank you so much for portraying somebody who isn’t up to traditional motherhood, yet still worthwhile to know!
    Even in the best of circumstances motherhood isn’t easy to grasp. I’ve known to many mothers who tried to fulfill their roles (or the roles society put them into) with gnashed teeth, making themselfes and everyone around very unhappy, often leaving a permanent dent in the personalities of the children.

    Better to go to mars on time and pay for decent childcare, beeing – at least – an absent parent children could be proud of!

    • fox-orian

      Lol I’d personally laugh if this was all just a massive rug-pull to be an announcement for the return of The Meek.

      Like literally next page, mike just turns around to the viewer with a big smile and a thumbs up “the meek is back.”

      -The end

    • Kittenears

      Yes, so much yes. It seems like everyone expects all women to want to be mothers, and then they must be GOOD mothers.

      Parenting is hard. Your life is no longer your own for about 10 years, and even then you’ve got another 10 where you still have a dependant that you are obligated towards.

      It is so hard, so draining mentally and emotionally, and so few people recognize that some people can’t do it. Even if you love kids, and you love your kids, there is a breaking point for everyone. That doesn’t make you a Bad Person. We don’t know why Bex is not with her kids, but she’s not a bad person yet. Who knows?

      I donno. I’m so intrigued by all of these characters, I want to know the whys and the hows and the histories.

    • Lennier

      I think it’s healthy that we are having (irl) conversations with (willing) mothers who point-blank say that they don’t like being mothers. Unwilling mothers (women from, say, Ireland, Brazil, or flyover states in the US) even more so,
      Even if you think you’ll be the best mother in the world, and look forward to it, you’ll never really know until it happens.

      Which is why I and the other half get so annoyed at people who proclaim “but you’d be a great mother/father”. There’s no way to tell, and, given that neither of us likes kids anyway, the chances are further reduced.

  • Toast

    Wait a minute, on this page
    she said that she was working a six month contract. does that mean she’s moving to another habitat after six months? or something else?

    • shingworks

      Yep, Initiative members usually have some sort of function (medical, scientific, mechanical, etc) that they carry out while at a base, then move on to another host base. That way FWI can collect a lot of information about the practical habitability of certain areas, as well as contribute something towards the goal of colonization at the base they are visiting (like Bex with her cricket farm).

  • L

    Honestly, Dr. Fisher seems to be a well written character. I’m not sure why the reader felt concerned about the direction you were going. Most works don’t handle mental illness well, but you portray him as a whole person with feelings, aspirations, and struggles complicated by an ineffectively treated mental illness not a mere stereotype or example of crazy=evil.

    Schizophrenia and other diseases can derail one’s career and relationships and your portrayal of that seems realistic and sympathetic. Even people who have no personal/professional experiences with this stuff should be ale to relate to his emotional struggles.

    Besides, workaholics who’ve lost their livelihoods and have to move tend to get temperamental and lash out even when they DON’T have a mental illness. I wouldn’t characterize this work as “socially irresponsible” or “offensive” at all.

    • Arianwen

      Tbh last week’s comment looked like a copy-pasted thing that might get posted on any story or article that dares discuss mental illness. The person writing it might be sincere, but all they did was try to kill the conversation. I shouldn’t worry about it.

  • ScriptorSapiens

    If you ever find yourself in need of references for the surface of Mars from a groung PoV, Google has made a “google Mars,” which functions like Google Earth in that one can get right up next to the ground and observe the topography (complete with atmospheric haze). It’s pretty nifty.

    Also, just a question, do the colonists ever organize night to stargaze, so that they can see Earth in the sky? I bet that would be a pretty alien (no pun intended) experience.

  • Oly

    Only managed to get back to your comic, so glad I did. :D

    And you said stuff about fiction better than I can say it. I think reading well-researched fiction CAN be educational for someone but it doesn’t mean that fiction should be some sort of encyclopaedia. It’s not. It’s a specific story of specific people. If it makes us think that’s pretty cool but those thoughts also don’t have to be pleasant.

    Speaking of that, my mother worked away from home from my early years to my teen years, panel 4 struck a chord.

  • Inchiquin

    I think this is my favorite page so far. It has all the emotion! All of it. Thank you.

  • SotiCoto

    Well, his kind of depress sure doesn’t strike me as the regular sort of depress. He is externalising it a bit too much for that…

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