Chapter 2, Page 14

It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship~ Written from experience, since most of my friendships are built on a solid foundation of angry flapping and warning coloration.

NB: Amorous Thighfish has officially evolved into Infatuated Thighfungus, thanks to commenters for teaching me its new name.

Check out this sweetass fanart by Buttoven! who is one of my long-time art crushes, so this was a joy and surprise to see :]

Quick plug: this great comic that I love a lot, Power Nap, is funding its second volume! I bought the first one and man, that is some amazing art/ story and a super high-quality book. Maybe give it a read if you haven’t yet, and defs think about supporting awesome trippy webcomics :]

Today’s bonus art: some concept art from exactly one year ago… Pretty much everyone’s sentiment, haha

And last but not least, some straggler featured Patrons XD Don’t want to forget anyone! The full list can be found and admired here.

A reminder, The Meek is updating 2x this week! If you enjoy MI, you might also like TM. Even if you don’t like new things, you should read it secretly at work just to stick it to the man like the budding comics anarchist you know you are.

147 Comments

  • Sorry Michael, you’ve just been pollenised.

    • Bellar

      Does that mean he’s going to be a mother?

  • Emblin

    Oh god. That thing crawled straight out of my nightmares and onto this panel

  • M-MAYBE IT’S FRIENDLY.

    • Brenden T.

      I think it’s going to filter the weird atmosphere down there and keep him alive. Symbiosis.

      • ShinyBlueThing

        It probably has been for a while (as well as handily stopping that bleeding!). Hence the still alive part.

  • Cheri

    HE CAN’T EVEN RUN AWAY ;A;

    • shingworks

      And curling into a fetal position will only bring it closer to your face!!

  • Mallow

    I AM EXPERIENCING FEAR

    • slickjimkennedy

      a reasonable reaction with which I wholeheartedly agree

      • Madeleine

        And my heebie-jeebies are anxiously ruffling their frightly-colored frills.

  • It’s red… with his blood, isn’t it ?

    • Aidan903

      I think that that red bit that looks like it’s dripping is the top bit of the Infatuated Legfungus.

  • Cheri

    is he laying on crazy sparkle alien spores or something? he probably shouldn’t do that.

  • Jac

    Infatuated Thighfungus doesn’t seem to like being touched. Or, maybe it likes it a little too much?

  • Jenny

    SCREAMING FOREVER

  • Maria S.

    Infatuated Thighfungus is like “the fuck are YOU”

    • shingworks

      real lols happening here

    • Arianwen

      Aaargh! There’s a human growing from my stem!

  • Flancy

    WHAT WHAT NO
    UH UH
    KINDA REALLY FREAKED OUT HOLY CRAP HWAT IS IT DOING

  • Jojo

    YOU MADE IT ANGRY!

  • charles81

    Awwww, it wants a hug.

    Considering his nature and condition he’s really taking this rather well… Maybe his mind has dreamed up much worse in the past.

  • skellagirl

    For some reason my favorite part of this page is the “feel~”

    not poke or touch. Feel. Gentle feels.

    • It’s even better on the twitter page announcement XD

  • fsjd

    i really hope that not his muscle tissue poking out there.
    and is the thighfungus thing actually attacking him, or is it just going “flappy defense activated” and falling over on his face because he shifted his leg?

    finally, whats the status on his femur? still poking out somewhere? being held together by all the mycelium/roots?

    he better not be dreaming.

    • shingworks

      You can’t just ~feel~ your thighfriends like that man, it’s rude; you gotta communicate clear boundaries first.

      As for the rest I guess you gotta keep reading :D :D

      • Laura Mac

        You always need consent! It’s important man, even with thighfriends

      • Ceceoh

        Yes, you should always let it sniff the back of your hand first. Of course, finding its nose is the trick.

    • SpookyThighMonsterThingy

      That’s muscle, you can see his skin still covering some of it.

      IT’S EATING HIM, MAN! IT’S EATING HIM ALIVE! Since it’s Mars, I suppose, “SOYLENT RED IS PEOPLE!”

  • Lar

    i think my favorite thing about this comic so far is “feel~”

    • Lar

      also, funny thing, the way i started reading the meek was at work after weeks of resisting starting the comic

  • Jenny

    Scientific Inquiry Experiment #1: *poke*

  • Becca

    Now I’m wondering if Infatuated Thighfungus is doing some kind of freaky mating dance or trying to fly them out of this cavern…
    EITHER WAY IT’S CREEPY AS HELL

    • It would be in poor taste of him/her to kill the host, wouldn’t it.

    • DukeBG

      Mating dance you say…
      But they already
        have
          a strong bond

      • shingworks

        Siiigh

      • OoooooooooOOOooh

      • Captain-Delirium

        w h e e z i n g

      • PeteRePete

        *puts on sunglasses*
        YEEEEEeeeeOOOOOOWWWWWwwwww…..!

  • datasstrophe

    And now, a musical interlude.

    ~~~
    I made it through the regolith
    Somehow I made it through
    Didn’t know how boned I was
    Until I felt you

    I was dead, like I said
    Leg’d been wreck’d, I was feckin’ drained
    But you made me feel
    Yeah, you made me feel
    Ungodly pain

    LIKE A FUNGUS
    FELT FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME
    LIKE A FUNGUS
    YOUR FEATHERS RUFFLED
    JUST LIKE MINE

    • shingworks

      A+++++++++

    • shingworks

      (I’m dying)

    • Some Unregistered Punk

      That’s awesome!

  • Quill

    this really feels like it’s some sort of dream, tho I have a sinking feeling that it really isn’t, I mean honestly how many hours could he survive in that stale cave ‘air’? I know fungus can grow in as little as five hours, so I mean, it’s reasonable to believe he could have passed out for that long, maybe even a day, time isn’t exactly easy to keep track of on another planet, inside a cave, while also having possibly internal bleeding.

  • TheStratovarian

    You know, the first thought that pops into my mind are the great barrier reef floral blooms here. You know the ones that you can see are a bright and lovely arrangement, yet live in the massive rock colonies.

    Im having expecting it to dart not away, but into that leg where the femur ‘used to be’ with him. No pain on waking we can see here.

    • StClair

      I have, in fact, been wondering (in between sessions of “……”) of how much bone, marrow, and/or muscle mass he still has in there, and how much is, shall we say, “on display.”

    • Shunka_Warakin

      Giant annelid worms? Not really ‘floral’ or ‘blooms’ but very cool looking. Used to have one in my reef aquarium.

    • Captain-Delirium

      If that happens I might not be able to handle my gag reflex QaQ

  • ChronoWaster

    Ah! The beginning of a glorious friendship.

  • Jaibyrd

    OH NOES HE ACTIVATED IT! IT’S TAKING OFF!

  • Misplaced

    Admittedly touching it would be my first reaction as well. Then violently trying to yank it because I can’t even stand scabs on my skin.

  • Android 21 3/7

    That’s it, Infatuated Thighfungus! Keep flapping! Become airborne! Rescue Mike!

  • Pirate Tome

    I laughed by the last panel, but it was more of a nervous, fearful laugh that comes about from sheer terror. I got close to that last strip, but this one drove me over the maniacal laughter edge…

  • Karyl

    Mike ought to be grateful he’s not becoming a “zombie spider” victim, or at least so far it doesn’t appear to be a parasitic wasp! Maybe that comes next? Anyway, this has got to be even more trippy for him than it is for us! Oh the feels for the “feel”!

    • What if it’s a giant parasitic wasp?

      So that you can feel its finger-sized larvae eating out of your flesh?

      Go read Micro! (This suggestion has nothing at all to do with that, just a friendly suggestion of a good book)

  • Draug

    I am laughing my ass off. xD I’m sorry if that’s not your intention but those last two panels are just great. I love how he goes from “Wha–! Ah–! Hmmm…” *touch* in a very short time, too. Can’t wait for the next page!! x3

    • shingworks

      lol tbh I find this page hilarious as well XD

      • Lilian

        Gruesome horrificness of the situation aside, it is actually a funny page.

        It reminds me of those Youtube videos where a curious person/cat moves to investigate something and then freaks out when said something does something/overreacts.

        Also the “FLAPFLAPFLAPFLAP” coupled with the “AAAAAAA” is an amusing duet to imagine.

  • NielsR

    Hey Mike, heard you were a bit down? Have a couple of near-death experiences and a flappy awkward-boner first contact, and I’ll call you in the morning. Mmm’kay?

    Not sure what I’m liking more, the comic or the comments. Infatuated Thighfungus, indeed…

  • Lorenzo

    well, he seems to still be able to move his legs, that’s… good?

    Also, is that thing spitting him with his own blood? jfc

    • DS

      I don’t think that’s blood – just the very skinny top part of the critter lovingly caressing his elbow.

      Or trying to stab him in the eye. Whichever. :D

      • It’s aiming for the braaain !

  • I guess I shouldn’t find this page funny, but: LOL

  • ewitwins

    I absolutely love that his first instinct was to poke the gigantic alien shrubbery sticking out of his leg.

    Mostly because that is EXACTLY what I would probably do, too.
    A-any chance we can avoid Trypophobia triggers? EughghGHGHGHGHGHGH

  • Arianwen

    FLY, YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD! FLY!

  • Vert

    I’m curious about the “SSSSSSSSSSS” sound effect. I’m guessing it’s just sand being blown around by the vigorous flapping, but am intrigued by the idea of Thighfungus having a vocal apparatus.

    Give him a few more hours… “Hey Mike. Finally got some hyphae all up in your speech center, already rifled through the rest of your head, man you are one eff’d up character, you know that?”

    Thighfungus: mouthy sidekick to the Most Miserable Man on Mars.

  • Jay

    I don’t know if it’s my pregnancy morning sickness or regular body-horror squeamishness but the last two pages have been triggering my gag reflex very efficiently.

  • Man I gotta post the link to this on Peter Watts’ blog, I’m sure he’d dig it

  • Wonder what the red thing is on the bottom of the tighfungus – a tounge? Proboscis? Just some Mike blood and muscles?

    Infatuated tighfungus wants a bit of tongue action from Mike – it just is flustered!

    • shingworks

      Haha, that’s actually the thighfungus apex (you can see the spire on the previous page), it’s just bent over in order to get all up in his face.

      • Ah yes there it is! :D
        Now to be honest you probably could make out with that too – Mike you lucky bastard!

  • randilla

    I really enjoy how the eye pattern on Infatuated Thighfungus is the same as the one from the transitional page two pages ago – it’s a small detail that makes me reread that page as both a representation of extreme pain and as the representation of lil fungus growing while Mike is passed out.

    Also: The last panel is cute, funny, and terrifying all at once, somehow??

    • shingworks

      ʘ

  • DukeBG

    It just occurred to me that it’s been 9 months since the comic started and this thing
    Was born

    • CrazyLady

      Ooooooh so mike is a mommy now?? Maybe that’s why he’s been so moody…

  • Jay

    I’m curious why the blood and sputum on his face is clear now, and it looks like his eyes aren’t as angry red anymore. Is that lighting, time, or Infatuated blood filtration?

    • shingworks

      :]

      • Jay

        Oh, you!

    • DukeBG

      Or amorous flirtation…

  • fox-orian

    I LITERALLY laughed out loud over “feel~” being a sound effect.
    God why is that so hilarious to me.

  • Spav

    Look, man, I’m gonna plant myself inside this horrific leg injury, perform a couple small repairs on your body, filter your blood, and act as an external lung to let you survive in this atmosphere and generally help you out a little bit, but DON’T TOUCH MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! FLAPFLAPLFAP FLAP.

  • Badger

    I gotta say, he’s taking the whole “giant horrible mushroom thing growing out my injured leg” thing waaaaaay better then I ever would

  • Sharp

    oh my god it’s just like when a bird gets stuck in your house

    you try to be calm and slow it but the bird jumps and screams so you jump and scream and then everyone is just shrieking and flapping uncontrollably

    except in this case the bird is inexplicably tied to your exposed thigh bone

    • Lilian

      This made me laugh. Thanks.

      • Aidan903

        Seconded. This was probably one of the funniest comment I’ve read so far.

  • Ar

    He’s a distant relative of Angora. Only his powers are a lot more painful and slightly more disturbing to witness.

  • Mallow

    I’m very worried now that our other scientist friend is going to re-appear with a fungal bloom coming out of her eyesocket or something and just. D:

    I’m worried about her.

  • Brian

    My money is on Bex no longer recognizing Mike when she stumbles over him (surely they’re destined to meet up again down there, no?)…

  • Localized

    Mike, you are being very rude.

    Seriously, that’s no way to act around your new thighwormfungus friend.

  • Ah, the human response.

    “Something is weird? IMMA POKE IT!”

  • TheWiggleKing

    I’D BE SCREAMING TOO JFC.

  • Spav

    This is going to result in Mike becoming some kind of subterranean (is subterranean even the right word when on Mars?) fungus god, isn’t it?

    I hope so.

  • Brian

    Observation: Mare Internum utterly dominates the Google search results for: amorous thighfish

    • shingworks

      Welp, comic over, I achieved my all my goals

  • Minando

    It´s an intelligent life form. And you just touched it at it´s…well…don´t touch it there, okay ?

  • LameFox

    Still, of the two most exposed bodyparts he has right now, I think the leg remains the most pleasant place to keep a giant angry flower thing with more personal space issues than are really justified under the circumstances.

  • Leon

    Oh my, what’s that weird alien thing growing out of him !?
    With those five appendages covered in smaller appendages, and these strange blue marks on a pale body, it’s so ugly !!!

  • Vert

    … wait a minute. Warning coloration? That means there’s visible light where it lives…

    Okay, let’s step back for a moment. What do we know about Thighfungus?

    1) It grows fairly rapidly, likely within hours (Mike helmet battery is still going and also he’s not dead).
    2) It has multiple, complex structures and an overall design that maximizes surface area. This could be for movement, gas exchange, spore distribution, or something else entirely.
    3) It is capable of rapid, complex movement and color changes in response to stimuli it doesn’t like (or possibly that it *does* like, hard to tell).

    Traits that creatures don’t *need* disappear rapidly due to genetic drift. That means that wherever this thing evolved, there is (or was until very recently) enough light to see by. We saw lights on something under the water, but Thighfungus probably isn’t aquatic (even in Martian gravity, I doubt a completely aquatic critter could support its weight in open air, much less perform gas or nutrient exchange). That means that either it’s not native to this cave (which was dark), or there’s a lot of land-dwelling creatures with their own hunting lights around somewhere.

    The rapid movement implies high-energy biology. This in turn implies predation and a food chain, because it’s difficult to get enough energy for rapid movement solely from photo- or chemosynthesis. The “garbage bag” is a massive thing, which implies an equally massive food supply. Somewhere not far from Mike there is a *big* energy source, and possibly one that casts a lot of light around.

    Thighfungus is acting like a parasite on Mike, but that may be entirely incidental; thighfungi may ordinarily root in rock or sand and require iron, calcium or phosphorus, which Mike’s exposed femur would provide in abundance. Alternatively, it may be a parasite that normally lives on garbagebag-monsters, which implanted on Mike by accident. If so, the fact that it can make use of earth-based life as a host is worth noting.

    Personally, I’m betting that it is the sessile stage of something even more horrifying :(

    • fox-orian

      Ladies and gentlemen I’d like to present to you the conclusive findings of my research. I believe this creature is Rule of Cool. My supporting evidence? Art Major Biology.

      • fox-orian

        (lol just kidding Dershing. I know you put a lot of time and effort into the research for your designs and story.)

        • shingworks

          lol I am always willing to admit that I like cool things. COOL STUFF. But yes there is some direction behind it to make it plausible too XD

    • shingworks

      I think it’s better to let the actual comic speak for itself, but I just want to comment that I love this comment, haha. GOOD THOUGHTS and you should keep them in mind for later :]

      • Vert

        I only post these wildly speculative things because I enjoy puzzles… and usually I end up watching in awe as actual *creative* people like yourself go on to utterly surpass (or deftly subvert) whatever theories I come up with :)

    • Aidan903

      Wait, it has WARNING COLORATION!?! IS IT POISONOUS!?!

      • Jtheletter

        Hmm… We know warning coloration from our own particular well-lit, blue-tinted sky environment. Who’s to say that the red/blue combination here isn’t just standard coloration? Especially for a life form that lives underground, near water on a primarily red planet?

        • Jtheletter

          Doh, I mean other than the author herself who said it. lol
          But I’m still reserving judgement. ;)

      • shingworks

        Haha, well warning coloration can either serve to warn of presence of poison/ toxins, to pretend to warn of the presence of poison/ toxins, or to be visually frightening so you don’t do things it doesn’t want, like eat it or ~feel~

    • I’ve checked for “similar” looking plants on wikipedia, and they were striving on calcium.

  • Lilian

    Looks like Mike is moving the injured leg. Is our thighfungus holding his femur together?

    • I’m wondering if he can feel his leg at all anymore.

      • …if the plant connected to his nerves he may be yelling of pain rather than of scare.

        • Kittenears

          Or maybe it tickled. I’d holler too if I somehow managed to tickle myself by poking a Scary Death Flapper that sprouted out of a limb

  • Mallow

    I think, upon multiple re-views, the worst part is the faint pattern of So Many Eyes on Infatuated Thighfungus when it responds violently(?) to Mike’s feel~

  • GAAAH!
    Oh hell, I really, really, don’t want to be an astronaut now.

  • sweet_gardenia

    ‘It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship~ Written from experience, since most of my friendships are built on a solid foundation of angry flapping and warning coloration.’

    And also attaching oneself to limbs.

  • Cassie

    What can we say–he’s just a fungi.

    Someone had to do it.

  • Vert

    Also, is it my imagination or is Mike getting bluer?

  • Tindi

    Oh, I hope that doesn’t hurt as much as it looks like it would.

    I did giggle first, but my immediate second thought was “OH OW OW OUCH.”

  • Jojo

    I have a light filter that clicks on when its dark since I have sensitive eyes. It makes this page look entirely different, especially since most blues are eliminated. Though I must say, I notice different things dependent on the filter. Both ways are interesting. It speaks highly of the detail work I’d say.

    • shingworks

      Can you screencap it? I want to see exactly what “detail” you’re seeing (ie can you see all my cheating and mistakes, lol)

      • Jojo

        The only method of capturing the image that I can think of would actually be taking a picture of the screen, which wouldn’t provide much clarity. My efforts to capture the page have only resulted in regular copies unfortunately. The program I use is called f.lux. I use one of the deeper light filters that makes the screen tinted orange and most blues eliminated.

        Running the page through this light filter or another with similar effects should yield the same result. I’m not catching anything like cheats or mistakes, ha ha. Just a difference of focus I imagine, provided some of the focal colors are less poignant with my filter on than they are without. For instance without it I notice the feathery portions of the ‘plant’, with it I notice the patterns on the ‘plant’ more than the feathery constructs.

        • shingworks

          oh I see :D Ok that doesn’t sound too bad, lol… your experience is carefully crafted to hide the gaps in my art skills, hopefully it’s not exposed too much~

      • Vert

        I can see what Jojo is talking about (I also use f.lux). Basically it throws more emphasis on the folds and surface features of Thighfungus and away from the bright blue “feathers”.

        • Jojo

          Exactly. Different focus.

        • Jojo

          Thank you, Vert.

      • Vert

        Sorry for the double reply, but after playing with it for a bit the effect really is kind of striking, so I’ve attempted to reproduce it here:

        http://imgur.com/PbOcVmJ.jpg

        To me it makes Thighfungus look like it has more visible depth. It looks like there’s a thin, transparent surface layer (like plastic wrap) and a thick, viscous liquid or meaty layer beneath, where the pattern is being displayed.

        Is that pattern moving, like a cuttlefish display?

        (Der-Shing I realize this is an unauthorized copy of your work, so let me know if that isn’t cool and I’ll remove the image immediately.)

        • shingworks

          Oh, haha that’s fine, I was curious to see it! And that’s neat, although I think using a program like flux would drive me batty. I can barely walk outside with shades on without wanting to throw them off my head.

          • Jojo

            That is perfect Vert! Thank you again. The copy depicts just what we were mentioning.

            And I have a similar issue with shades. Though I have some photosensitivity so shades are at times a must. Screens are just way too bright for me. The brightness has to be down to about 2-3 on my Mac without my filter on. It drives people crazy when they need to use my computer. Ha ha.

  • Kastuk

    Waking Mars, really.

  • Enkro

    How does Shing find out about my worst nightmares and put them into the comics?

    This is… I love your art but I can not look at this page too long… the white tissue that looks as if it’s beeing pulled apart at the bottom of the… fungus… where it fuses with the… twisted muscle-fibre (I guess?) (Panel 3) That really reminds me of how chewing-gum-like my finger bones looked when they got crushed and then pulled… I still have nightmares about it and this pretty much makes them come back.

    (Do never ever grab into moving machinery kids!)

    Still the geek in me squees for the direction this comic is heading.

    • Enkrod

      Enkrod, it’s Enkrod…

      Guess why typing is hard XD

  • Infinity1201

    *puts laptop on floor and runs away*

  • Thank you for the Power Nap shout-out, by the way. Here’s to a long and prosperous mutual fandom. After all, “most of my friendships are built on a solid foundation of angry flapping and warning coloration”. ♥

  • ShinyBlueThing

    Maybe it’s really excited that he’s still alive? Like a really enthusiastic dog, kinda. A symbiotic … dog.

    • Jojo

      I like this theory.

  • Belen

    I love how the comic starts out impeccably factual and accurate so when the amazing happens you’re just like: alright!

  • Unclever title

    Congratulations Mike! You’re a mom!

  • Aidan903

    I want to see the thighfungus dart into Mike’s leg now, like those things from the part in the movie Avatar, when Jake touches them and they make that *thwoop* sound as they dart into the ground

  • Volkspanzer

    I might be reading into this too much, but I find it eerie and ominous that the creature is going straight for his face, unless there’s something like emissions that cause it to strike the face (like bees do with would-be threats).

    Either there are species found in this ecosystem that also have face-like structures that serve vital functions, or the creature was able to somehow reason that the face was the best place to attack?

    Any chance you can throw us a bone, shing?

  • Ben

    Ok, this is all getting seriously weird. Where’s the Bex lady? Whatever he’s smoking, I don’t want any.

    Love the art work

  • DatDat

    So… Maybe he has a food source and doesn’t have to eat himself…

    …directly…

  • Mockingbirdflyaway

    I think this is the first time that I’ve actually felt visceral horror from a drawn image. Like, getting the shudders and making gasping noises that made my coworkers look at me funny.

  • Flancy

    I can easily imagine ‘feel~’ to go along with a whispery, gentle sound affect that one most often hears/feels in their own ears while stretching and yawning or while they’re about to pop their ears to adjust for altitude.

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