Interlude 1, Page 4

I’ve been dreading this page a while… It’s probably too late for a CW if you’re already reading my comment here, but if you need content warnings in the future, the tumblr update post is always tagged for any applicable pages.

I’ve talked about this subject before (with this scene in mind actually), but the stuff that goes into this comic is part of a cohesive story, not for “shock value.” I’m also responsible for the content that goes into the comic research-wise, and I ask that you trust that I’m making purposeful, informed narrative decisions. Feel free, as always, to use the comments section or the reddit to start a conversation if you feel the need to do so! Just please keep in mind that this is, and has always been, a dark survival comic… we’ll be back to Mars soon, but realistically speaking, survival isn’t limited to remote wastelands. Making it through a typical day is difficult enough for many people.

Just a reminder though, by the start of the comic Michael is a successful, respected researcher who was selected to travel off planet to test a robot that he helped create. So, there’s that.

Today’s bonus art: More concept stuff

268 Comments

  • Reikenbach

    You know, I kind of got this sensation about him from the previous page. I’m not sure whether it was how he was immediately drawing closer after getting in the pool or the silence after “you’re a good kid,” but I passed it off and assumed I was too suspicious of an adult trying to be nice to a kid in a bad situation. Nope.

    • Reikenbach

      In hindsight, I think it was also that predatory camera angle on last page’s panel 2.

      • shingworks

        Yeah, I took my cue from the opening Star Wars shot, can’t really beat a good ‘loom’

    • thomas0comer

      The way he kept shifting gears from negative comments to positive things also gave me an ill feeling, but I wasn’t quite expecting this. Despite the horribleness of it, I’m rather impressed with how naturally the narrative flows here. It builds the horror pretty well.

      • crumbles

        They used the same negative-to-positive comments in the movie Tangled and that’s what I was reminded of, when I read the last page, so yeah, I was thinking that something was strange about it all, but didn’t expect this. It’s very well done though and tells so much in very little frames and words.

    • Tubs

      Dude, I felt the same way. I’m not even sure what it was that tipped it off. I guess I’m just naturally wary of adults who seem a little “too close” to children, since I’ve unfortunately been through the same thing.

  • Sean

    Ok, that’s disturbing. An perverted. I guess I should have guessed he was also a child molester. Poor Mike. Seriously are there normal people in his life. No wonder hes got the issues hes got.

  • Ruth

    me when I see that this page has trigger warnings: huh, that’s weird, what could possibly happen on this page that would be bad I mean it’s just a pool scENE NO NO NO NO

  • Perlite

    I wanted to hope for the best, and not think what I was thinking. Just a man (uncle? family friend?) being nice. The inappropriate language, the sudden closeness, the promising of gifts. I shouldn’t be so suspicious.
    Boy was I wrong.

  • Boxer

    Shit. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be this but…shit

    • That’s kind of the reaction I had. I didn’t feel like cussing (no criticism intended, however), but I think I felt the same. …Yeah, the direction of this story changed a bit.

  • Corbie

    Augh, dammit. There goes the hope that Mike would have been spared this.

    But I’m glad about any story, most of all a comic, that threats such a subject seriously and nur as an excuse or for shockers, and I have no doubt that MI will make some people re-think the crap which most movies transport.

    No worries about the “shockers”, I think the previous pages have hints enough and still don’t tell too much. That’s some awesome storytelling.

  • DoggySpew

    GASP.

  • a.a.

    I don’t think any form of text can convey the “oh no” I said outloud as soon as I finished reading this page. God.

  • Cheri

    The most upsetting thing to me is how normalized the behavior is for Mike at this point. “Can’t we just do it later?” says so much. Man. My gut hurts reading this.

    • Cheri

      Also Brian manipulating Mike in an attempt to alienate him from his mother. Auuugh. This is too real.

      • kittenears

        I’ve been this kid.

        I’m glad for the trigger warning I was prepared. But in the end, I like stories with complicated broken characters with realistic lives. This is a horrid life and thankfully not a common one but man.

        And that Mike is so used to it (later? ) that he had to know it was an unpleasant possibility but yet he still went to Brian before his Mom. Shows how unstable the home life is that she hasn’t noticed. :/

        Man, I feel for ya Baby!Mike.

        • Jojo

          Excellent point. It is an overall horrendous situation, but definitely plausible, believable, and well executed.

  • Big Rhed

    I absolutely love this page. That sounds bad, I know. But I do. Life has shitty moments and this is one of them that happens to many people, and huge kudos to you for not shying away from it.

    Loved this comic from page 1. You earned that again right here. Thank you for confronting this.

  • Oh god, I got nauseous just reading that … I applaud the way you handled (are handling) this, though.

  • MJ

    Everything about this is so heart wrenching, but for me, it’s compounded by the fact that panels two and three are the first times we see Mike showing relaxed body language, and actually making facial expressions that a normal, happy kid would make, not gloomy/anxious, or curled in on himself. And then POW.

  • Localized

    Damn :(

    You’re an amazing writer Der-shing. The set up for this page was excellent. Not much else I can say that wouldn’t be echoing what others have said.

  • Kary;

    So it was telegraphed but not so much it didn’t still take me aback. I agree it’s not for shock, it fully informs the character of Mike that we see later in unfortunately too many ways. Poor kid! Sorry-ass bastard pervert!

  • Beth

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I wanted to break my silence to say that I think you’re handling the darker subjects in this comic REALLY well. Like it’s not often that a story comes along that delves into the dark or difficult areas of life and handles them appropriately (not making light of them, not using them for shock value, researching the hell out of the topic etc.)

    (Also it’s making me feel braver about moving forward with my idea for a story that involves some difficult subjects. It’s been rolling around in my head so much like, can I pull this off? Will people understand what I’m getting at?? So wow yeah I understand your nervousness!)

  • alec

    Mmm..this sh:t makes everyone gets crazy. Poor Mike.

    Love your work Der-Shing. :)

  • Enrique262

    I actually saw this coming, but hoped, prayed it wasn’t the case, I mean it had all the signs of a cliche scenario: An seemly cool uncle with that haircut, parents in the mist of a divorce, flashback, pool scene AND the fact that the character at hand is homosexual, I hopes you weren’t gonna go there, but you did.

    I’m very bummed out to say the least, a story seemly set on mars that has turned out to have telenoleva-tier writing, with the whole mars aspect being addressed in a minimal fraction of the pages produced so far… I didn’t wanted to say anything, but good God the story when from boring, to exiting in the final arc of the first chapter, to just so unnecessarily infuriating right now, worst of all thanks to the new schedule the pacing went out the window, over a month stuck in this flashback chapter, where we were literally left on a cliffhanger, and it all accounts to a fucking rapist uncle plot point, god dammit all…

    And I’m not going to touch on the ramifications that your gay character just happened to be molested as a kid.

    • shingworks

      lol, “that haircut.” I just gave him that cuz I don’t like shaved heads on a personal level. Does it mean something else?

      Anyways, feel free to not read, if the story bothers you or annoys you, it’s cool. Also I don’t think I’ve said anything about him being gay anywhere, but feel free to hypothesize.

      The schedule is because for the last few weeks I have been working day and night, 7 days a week on my day job in addition to pumping out 2 pages a week of personal work per week, so… if you have a solution other than to bitch about it, then feel free to offer that too. Otherwise you can join all of my other readers in waiting for July when I go literally jobless to bring you free comics because I WANT TO. And yes, I’ve noticed your other comments over the past few months, and I know you don’t seem to care very much for mine. THAT’S FINE. It’s a free internet. If you don’t like, it don’t read it. Jesus christ, it’s not that difficult a concept.

      • WawerOS

        Sorry to intrude on the discussion but Enrique262 is probably referring this page,

        http://www.marecomic.com/comic/ch1-page-16/

        , where Michael refer’s to himself as “Not Straight” which was probably taken by a lot of people probably including Enrique(and certainly including me) at first glance to mean that Micheal is gay, not catching the absence of any positive statements.

        • shingworks

          Yeah, I know. Not straight != gay though. I know it seems like a fiddly distinction to straight people, but maybe not for everyone else.

          • Enrique262

            Then you should have made that clear, because news flash mate, more than 80% of the world’s population is straight.

          • shingworks

            Thanks for taking the time to poll 80% of the world’s population in the year 2088.

          • Madeleine

            Him just saying “not straight” had given me the impression that he was purposely only revealing one detail without actually going any further into this topic. For all we know, he could be in love with Levi.
            There are quite a few areas of sexuality already known today, so I’m wondering what other options get to see the light of day by the time this comic takes place!

          • ShinyBlueThing

            Not straight just means … not strictly heterosexual. There’s a whole spectrum in the QUILTBAG. He was obviously just calling out her assumptions.

          • Layla

            To be honest, I’m bisexual and when he said “not straight” I also thought it meant gay.
            Other than that, this comic is friggin amazing, and it’s amazing that you manage to work and draw at the same time! Keep it up!

          • shingworks

            Thanks! And yeah, haha, it’s weird how fast and easy it is to switch to binary thinking, it’s just part of our programming I guess.

          • Tadrix

            Ouch. Poor Mike.

            Am I the only one who interprets “not straight” as possibly “asexual” (as would be usual outcome for someone abused earlier in life, worst-case scenarios aside)?

            Also, Der-shing, should I feel bad for nearly irresistible urge to post mean things about some other Your commenters? Sadly, that wouldn’t rewire way they are thinking, though.

      • Enrique262

        Wow touchy there eh? I never made a negative comment because I knew you would react like this, your reputation precedes you and all.

        Also if he said “not straight”, what else was I supposed to gather from that? The extremely minority that are asexuals? Come on!

        But yeah, I can still read the comic thankfully, you just keep on drowning in praise over here, while I stay here in silence because as stated with you there’s no room for negativy.

        Also you forgot to mention the revival of the Meek, which I also follow, have found problems in it too, but given your nature I won’t waste the effort in mentioning them, since “you did your research” and whatever is said against that is just bitching.

        • AnnieK

          Hate to tell you, but sexuality isn’t limited to “you’re either ‘gay,’ ‘straight,’ or ‘asexual.'” Feel free to rant against this comment if you wish, but its a true thing.

          Also, I have a real pet peeve against people who get pissed off when authors of FREE webcomics don’t update on time because they have a life outside of feeding peoples’ sense of entitlement.

          As for how this scenario plays out, I am willing to trust the author enough to wait to see before jumping to conclusions.

          • Lennier

            “Also, I have a real pet peeve against people who get pissed off when authors of FREE webcomics don’t update on time because they have a life outside of feeding peoples’ sense of entitlement.”

            I know, right?! It’s like they DON’T owe me something for having visited their page. ;)

        • shingworks

          Let’s get to the heart of the matter: you think that I should sit here and take whatever you want to dish out, because you feel that your opinion on a story you know exactly 1/5th of is more legitimate than mine. From my perspective, you are both ridiculously uninformed about my work and also not my client nor my customer… you are just a bystander. Also I think you’re super emotional about something you purportedly dislike. I mean, at least I have a reason to get angry, I made the fucking thing. What’s yours?

          Anyways feel free to try commenting again with the bare minimum of respect, if you want, and I’ll reply with the same. You actually brought up some interesting points that I might have wanted to talk about, had you not in the next breath called my work a boring telenovella. Or, you could write an external review about how much this comic sucks so other people can avoid wasting their time. Or, you know, make a well-researched comic you actually want to read? Instead of settling for something that leaves you so unfulfilled? I am more than happy to pit my work against yours if you think you are up to the task.

          But if you aren’t able to do any of that, we can continue running around in circles. Either way, you’re coming here for me, not the other way around.

          • charles81

            troll
            best ignore

          • Kitty

            *pompoms, cheers*

          • Joel

            Continuous stories with multiple levels are harder to write than easy ones with a starting point and an ending point.

            Telenovela writers have to bust their asses every day, every week, to deliver a story, an episode that not only will make people want to watch, but will make them come BACK to watch the NEXT episode too. Movie script writers have it easy, in comparison.

            Also, just to put this out there; in terms of Middle- and South American telenovelas versus North American soaps, fuck, there’s no point comparing, soap operas SUCK. They get strung on for eternity, far past the point when the story’s dead, shark has been jumped, then thrown into a fridge and nuked.

            I just found this comic and read from start to finish, and as someone who’s been writing his whole life (recreationally, mostly) so far, having your story be called a telenovela is a compliment!

            I am glad I found your comic. Thank you for making it, putting it online and not asking for payment for me to read it.

          • shingworks

            Well, it’s not a compliment because it was said with the intention of being an insult. I don’t think the story is particularly overdramatic either way.

            And glad you enjoy the comic! I will be soliciting later on next month however, since making free comics at this pace is unsustainable for me regardless of how much I enjoy doing it. I will always post my work for free though.

        • Lauren

          Honestly I’ve just said “not straight” to people in the past because I didn’t want to bother having a conversation about what asexuality is and if it exists. It just lets them know that they were wrong in their assumption and that the conversation about it is over.

          I assume that’s what Mike was going for there, to just make it awkward enough that Bex wouldn’t continue down that line of questioning. He could be straight and lied about it because he thought it would make her feel bad for all we know. That line doesn’t actually say anything about his sexuality imo.

          But it’d be cool if he was ace, even if asexuals are an “extremely minority.”

        • ItThing

          I don’t really want to jump into this shitstorm, and most of your points have already been thoroughly addressed, but this is too much for me not to respond to:

          “I never made a negative comment because I knew you would react like this”

          I’m not going to go back to read all your other comments so I don’t know if they’re negative or not but what I want to say is: she said that if you don’t like the comic you don’t have to read it (it’s true!). I can’t imagine a more accommodating and neutral response to your nonsensical toxic whining. …what were you expecting? Were you expecting her to change the entire comic just for you?

        • bleh

          you should cut down on your sodium; maybe you’ll be less salty

        • Lennier

          “Wow touchy there eh?”

          The internet: where people feel entitled to criticize other peoples work and expect not to receive blowback.

        • Fero

          sad fact, this happens to real people of all sexualities. The offensive thing here isn’t that it’s happening to someone who is “not straight” in adulthood (which can have a multitude of meanings and nuances, and is a fair statement for the character to make if the details are neither relevant nor anyone’s business). What’s offensive is the Commenter Douchemaster’s assumption that this event is intended to explain the character’s sexuality.

          True story: I have a good friend who is gay, and who was sexually assaulted by another male as an adolescent. People have assumed that the rape “made him gay”. He finds that pretty fucking offensive. The fact of the matter is that the trauma he suffered as an adolescent was coincidental to his sexuality in adulthood, not causative.

          The more you know~

          (And to the author, while this content is a bit /shocking/ it doesn’t read as a deliberate effort toward shock factor. it may not necessarily be pleasant to read but I feel you’ve handled the subject tactfully, and as gracefully as one can. it’s entirely possible to have elements like this in a fleshed-out character’s backstory and have it affect their development [as it can to real life victims] without coming off as a hackneyed freudian excuse like Enrique-whatsisnuts seems to think every incident of child abuse in fiction is by default. I have faith in your handling of the matter, you’re doing fine so far.)

        • Jack

          @Enrique862- You say “if he said “not straight”, what else was I supposed to gather from that? The extremely minority that are asexuals?”

          You really ought to check your statistics here. There is a whole spectrum of people who are not straight, and if you look at the demographics of sexual orientation

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_sexual_orientation

          then you can see that it is no small minority- I am pleased to count myself under the 4% of people in the UK who identify as bisexual (Observer study, 2014) Please think further before you say something with no prior evidence.
          Jack

          • shingworks

            Yeah, I get tired of black and white thinking T__T it’s very lazy, considering the ridiculously diverse world we live in.

        • Tadrix

          To Enrique862:

          “Also if he said “not straight”, what else was I supposed to gather from that? The extremely minority that are asexuals? Come on!”

          News flash, mate — “homosexual” isn’t “asexual”.
          As wiki puts it:
          “Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender.”
          “Asexuality (or nonsexuality) is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity.”

        • K.W.

          Uhm hate to break it to you but victims of sexual abuse, especially in childhood, usually have issues with their sexuality later in life. It’s pretty common for people to lose their sex drives all together and become disgusted with the act. For the character to point out that he’s not straight (nor gay) does mean he’s probably asexual, though not one out of choice.

          • Joel

            I’m going to ask for legitimate source for that, because it doesn’t sound sensible, based on everything I’ve read about human sexuality, how gender and sexuality develope, and how PTSD and rape survivor trauma work. And how people can, with help, work through it.

            Have you actually studied these issues, or are you just going on with “I heard someone say they read from the Internet that…”?

    • shingworks

      By the way, being abused may or may not affect your sexuality. It depends on the situation, and the person. It seems a bit crappy for you to imply an expectation of “the ramifications that your gay character just happened to be molested as a kid” either way. I don’t know how much research you have done on the subject, but there’s no “right way” to recover from something like sexual abuse. Implying that there is puts more stressed on a person recovering from an already stressful situation. Some people become terrified of sex, some people become hypersexual. Some people aren’t affected at all. Kind of a dick move to characterize anything as “cliche” when in real life, there is no right or wrong answer, only a personal recovery response. Maybe a good idea to take a look at your own projections before making these assumptions.

      • Shunka_Warakin

        Well said, Shing.

        While it is following a common “trope” about such forms of abuse and their outcomes, it isn’t belittling or making light of it. Hell, it isn’t even particularly stereotyping it as shallowly as some of the people seem to be suggesting.

        The reason these associations exist with this sort of situation, and the reason such things become tropes is because such situations are (unfortunately) common enough to have entered popular awareness as “typical” (by which I mean the old intent of the word as “indicative of a type,” not the common, dismissive use it is given now).

        I’m also rather perplexed about the accusation that suggests that the Mars elements to date are a “minority” of the story so far. What? How? This is easily readable as a flashback during a near-death experience.

        I have enjoyed your storytelling since the early days of The Meek, and hope to continue to for some time. Don’t flinch away from the hard stuff when it is a part of a character’s truth. That’s what makes them characters worth reading about.

        • Enrique262

          Thank you on the expansion of the molesting part, that’s what I’m referring to.

          As for the mars thing, I have my reasons to say that, but since I don’t want to be belittled again, I will keep them to myself, still, thanks for not attacking me.

          • Corbie

            The worst reply of all … oh, I have reasons, but if I tell them I’ll only be attacked? Please consider your own words for a moment before you post them. You attack Der-Shing by this, and then claim that you will only be attacked in each of your postings. I know that nobody has to stand up for Der-Shing, I wanted to post this because it also affects other readers who like to skim the comments. Maybe next time you do some serious research on constructive criticism before crying out what you don’t like. Uninformed mewling usually cries for a backlash, constructive criticism doesn’t.

            Same for content. I do really not think that 80% of this world’s population are straight. 80% might believe and / or pretend to be straight, and some of them actually are. More might be bi and know it or not. The problem resides in many heads that straight = sound, not straight = sick. What a stupid conclusion. Not even reproduction requires people being straight.

            I’m glad Mike used the words he did. They tell a lot on all levels and make curious for what’s to come.

    • Tomás

      What so gay characters aren’t allowed to be abused as kids, only straight characters? Is this what you’re implying? Also, most of this story has been set on Mars? Also, what everyone else said :P

      • shingworks

        I know T__T I mean, I think he was angry because he thinks I’m implying that same-sex abuse will turn people gay, which is a) a valid question b) not what I’m saying at all and c) part of a more complex discussion about the role of child sexual abuse in adult sexual development… the answer to which is that there is no right answer, so it’s like, Idk?? it’s a great question to ask, if not for all the other attacking and insults.

        • Jojo

          In my experience ‘nonhetero’ characters are criticized more harshly. I’m sorry that this is a recurring comment from people. I believe it stems from a misinterpretation of the work, and it certainly does not arise from your material nor from your comments. You have been handling very sensitive material throughout the entirety of this comic. Concepts of suicide, mental illness,sexuality, and now child molestation. I can’t imagine a task more daunting than to construct a narrative incorporating all these elements, and with sincerity, intelligence, sensitivity, and tact no less. Criticism and harsh outburst from a percentage of the audience that may not be at the level to experience the art is to be expected. It is not a poor reflection of you, Shing, but rather of them and the lack of discussion going on about these very serious issues. Issues your art is bringing attention to. Thank you for that.

          • shingworks

            Haha, thanks, but I also know I’m more than able to fuck it up too… I prefer not to blame the audience, part of why I’m writing this comic is to bring up stuff that maybe people don’t talk about often. It’s taking a lot of mental energy trying to do what I need to do without being either disrespectfully uninformed or getting bulldozed by people who think I am. If someone calls me out on a point I haven’t already considered, I will make sure I research it independently and think it over.

    • missa

      I seriously don’t get why this person is throwing a fit over ‘minimal mars elements’ when we’re only a single chapter + a handful of pages in. there’s?? gonna be more story? this is just the beginning?? like okay the update schedule isn’t EVERY SINGLE DAY but man that’s how so many webcomics are, get used to it

      saw them make a comment about how ’30 pages in and we’re still looking for the plot’ on a different page… 30 pages in is not that far…?

      • shingworks

        lol… yeah I know. Actually that’s kinda funny. Like going to sit down at a restaurant and the waiter comes up to take your order and you’re like, I’m still hungry????? why aren’t I full yet??? haha

      • fox-orian

        What’s he on about we’re still looking for a plot? There’s a shit load of plot into the first 30 pages. If he missed all that crazy amount of character development AND THE INCITING INCIDENT then that’s on him to be so unobservant.

  • Luc

    This page is amazing!! Great storytelling! I personally love panel 6, Mike’s expression broke my heart. And also, water reflection and colors!! I LOOOOOOOVE your coloring <3

  • I’ve realized that Mare Internum is a different name for Mediterranean Sea. He says that he could buy him the whole ocean and I feel like maybe that’s the reason the comic have this name in the first place? Because this scene is a symbol of all bad things which happened to the boy from the hands of that man, and the title simply shows that through every ”page” of his life they were haunting him…that’s how I interpret it so far anyway!

    • shingworks

      It’s Latin for “internal sea,” which is another name for the Mediterranean sea, but the Med doesn’t actually have anything to do with the comic, haha. It’ll be more obvious in the next chapter.

      • Localized

        I just assumed the Mare Internum was the name of a Martian landmark like Mare Australe on the moon. Guess not though.

        • shingworks

          Well, we’ll see

          • Localized

            I’m gonna guess Mike & Bex find an underground water supply, “Internal” would be applicable in that case.

          • Mouse

            At first I didn’t entirely understand the name of this webcomic, but then I saw the tiny website icon thing in my favorites tab (does that have a technical term, btw). Anyway, I FIGURED IT out huhuhuhuuu….

            Also, this page makes my stomach hurt…I wish you were terrible at comics so I wouldn’t have to feel things *rocks into fetal position*

            Ps, don’t actually be terrible at comics. It hurts so good.

            *rolls away *

          • shingworks

            Haha, yeah it’s called a “favicon,” if you mean that little 16x16px square thingy.

          • Mouse

            Thanks! I’ve been silently wondering about those for probably years :B (so lazy)

      • Awww! Oh well! I guess I over-interpret it, haha! x’D

      • Jay

        Ooo, ooo!! Is there water inside the cave? Mars is hiding its water inside the earth?

        • Lennier

          It’d be hiding water inside its mars, wouldn’t it? ;)

          • shingworks

            XD

  • Shaun

    I’ve never mentally gasped at a comic before. Well done.

    I made it through episode 4 of FMA Brotherhood; and read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I can make it through this.

  • corvideye

    Oh god, the line “You’ve earned it” on the previous page takes on a whole new meaning now. Agh.

    • vin

      Eeeurgh. Yeah. :-(

      • Lilian

        D-:

    • TurningLeaves

      Oh my God *pukes*

    • DavidJCobb

      oh no

  • I comment on here sometimes but don't want you to know me for this one

    ouch.
    ooouch.

    you know that he just want to please him because he loves him because he’s nice but it’s strange and feels wrong and it fucking hurts when you finally realize

    and then everything’s your fault because you didn’t tell your parent but they only care about themselves and their peace of mind.

    fuck I’m Mike.

    but thank you it’s cool to see it portrayed in a very sensible way.

  • LeDayz

    Argh, is this why he asked Bex if she was a good mother? Because he felt his own mother left him to this monster by constantly being a drama queen when REAL DRAMA was occurring? Poor baby Mike

    • shingworks

      To be honest, I find it really surprising that people think she is being a drama queen.

      • Seamstress

        Ooohhh we’re seeing her through the kids’ lens in those previous scenes and then through the uncles’ lens. You’ve done an incredible job of very very subtly shifting perspective, looping the reader into seeing things from different people’s eyes, and then slamming the truth home. She looks like a drama queen if you let the uncle’s perspective get to you. In reality she’s a mom who is trying to set boundaries for her son, is in a really stressful situation, isn’t really dealing with her son very well, but also keeps getting undermined by this doucheface. This flashback has solidified this comic in my mind as some of the best writing to be found for free. Thank you for not shying away from these subjects and for treating them with nuance. I’m looking forward to your Patreon launch. Thank you.

      • I’m surprised by this too actually. I thought it was pretty clear that his mom, in this particular scene, feels undermined and disrespected by the other adults around her. There’s nothing really “drama queen” about that.

        • LeDayz

          But why does she feel that way – Because she told her child no swimming without an adult and he found an adult??? That doesn’t make any sense. Had she said (in front of everyone) that she didn’t want him swimming at all and they snuck off behind her back, then yes that’s disrespectful but being mad bc your child played by your own rules is silly.

          • Shunka_Warakin

            It’s not impossible that what she’d consciously or subconsciously LIKE to tell him is “No swimming without an adult and Creepy Uncle doesn’t count.” but is unable to vocalize it due to uncertainty regarding her own judgement or unwillingness to have that particular fight out in the open.

            Most human beings aren’t particularly good at communicating nuance in real life or dealing with the possibility of differing opinions on things which they have strong feelings about (and I’m afraid some of the fuss on this particular page makes that case quite well).

            Why should fictional characters be better at it? We hold writers to a very high standard, but if they wrote “accurately,” their characters’ conversations would be a mishmash of interruptions, back-channeling, people talking over each other, “uhm,” and “uh-huh.”

            Listening to recordings of real people for an hour and comparing them to any scripted movie or television show, much less written fiction which doesn’t easily allow for simultaneous talk, makes this pretty clear.

          • nandadevi

            dude, kids drown all the time in pools and canals. If I were a mom I don’t think I’d be comfortable with my kids swimming alone or unsupervised until they were at least in their teens.

            my interpretation was that she’s stressed out with whatever is happening with her personal life, she might not want to go swimming but knows her son is bored and wants to, and annoyed he’s trying to push the boundaries she set?

            Pretty human reaction; we’re also seeing this from Micheal’s perspective, as a kid. As a kid adults are always unfair :P

            I’m more upset she doesn’t seem to know what this Uncle is doing to her kid. Is this her brother? I couldn’t tell. I know I would be devastated as a parent if someone was abusing my kid right under my nose.

      • Jade

        Yeah, it’s pretty unfortunate when people read this page and still essentially react with “UGH what a nagging BITCH” to the mom’s concerns (hope profanity isn’t an instant ban), since with this page we see that Brian is intentionally undermining her authority and positioning himself as the cool uncle in opposition to the strict mom. These past few pages have been a clever setup that indicts the audience too and shows how insidious the grooming process is.

        • shingworks

          I’ve actually never banned anyone from any of my sites, haha, so no worries, swear away.

          And yeah, I sort of set her up to not be taken seriously (and by that I unfortunately mean I made her look sexy and not momish).

      • LeDayz

        I just know who argue the same way about their kids. If you don’t want him swimming, SAY that like your word is law b/c it is. Don’t carp on the uncle and then whine to the dad about not backing you up in a squabble over nothing – he needed supervision, he got it. She’s mad she was outsmarted but she should have said “you need permission from me specifically”. She got so caught up with the argument and huffing off, she left her child with a molester.

        • Madeleine

          And she probably doesn’t even know because that guy has taught the boy too well that nobody should be seeing them this way …

      • Kittenears

        If it helps, I don’t see her as a drama queen. I see her as in the midst of a stressful, emotional situation with what appears to be two men who don’t entirely respect her.

        We don’t know enough, a few comments? Something’s going on that she doesn’t see what’s going on with Brian. She mentions being ‘bulldozed’ when really, a kid -should- have adult supervision to swim.

        Now, the question I DO have is…

        is Brian an “uncle”? (As in, family friend.) Or is he Jes’ brother? Or Mike’s Dad’s brother?

        • shingworks

          Yeah, he’s an actual uncle (his dad’s brother).

          • Kittenears

            Thanks for the clarification. I’m not sure if that makes me feel better, or not. :P

          • Joel

            No wonder he dislikes being called “uncle”. =(

      • Nikat

        I’m not really seeing drama queen in her either. All we see in one incident where she’s trying to set boundaries with an adult who is undermining her with her child.

        Honestly, I disliked Mike’s uncle from the moment he bad-mouthed Mike’s mom. It’s all kinds of inappropriate. Which I guess makes sense given that inappropriate seems to be modus operandi.

        I so feel for poor Baby Mike here. Like many other commenters, the “Can’t we just do it later?” really hit me in the gut :(

  • Infinity1201

    At first I read the page in the wrong way so I was confused but then…Oh man I cant show my reaction without a picture of my face but.. It was disturbed to say the least..

  • Shea

    Oh man. This update made me audibly go “Whoa” and lean back in my chair in surprise. Was not expecting that to happen as I glanced through the panels.

  • Coldesta

    Pardon the dent on the floor, that’s where my heart fell out of my chest and landed.

    Ever have a moment where you read something, then read it again, and again, and one more time before your brain finally decides “Nope, it is exactly what you thought it was.”

    • Joel

      This is pretty much what happened to me with my brain.

  • Jay

    Ive been this kid , but it was a neighbour across the road and he was about 17 at the time , I dont think anyone ever found out … I was only 8 or 9 at the time. Im not triggered or anything but I wanted to say that so far its so very accurate so grats on that so far ! Even the later and wont they see comments.I was reading the comments and thats why Im saying this , Id also like to add ‘not straight’ isn’t a definite no, it usually means bi or even pan sexual.

    • shingworks

      I’m sorry you had to go through that… hopefully things are going better since then.

      • Jay

        Seriously. Friggin bleedman? Those comics are up to their eyeballs in creepy exploitation, of all kinds. Also walls of text.

    • Captain-Delirium

      Looking back I think I was too
      But childhood innocence and time has me really unsure now
      oh god

  • Tomás

    The grooming, the emotional abuse. Fuck. >_<

  • Badger

    Oh man, I just got this slow wash of horror over me when I realized what was going on.

  • Mailli W

    Man, I didn’t want that to happen so bad. I feel so sick, the language was so on point- gifts and praise, dirty language and guilt tripping. So horribly accurate.

  • This must have been a very difficult page to do (and the pages leading up to it), and I commend you for taking on such a challenge. Very well done considering the subject matter.

  • whatever

    FUCK THIS WEBCOMIC.

  • ACrazyWoman

    Can…

    Can Brian get his guts sucked out of him like that pool story you linked to us last page?

    Because I could root for that at this point.

    • Socks

      I’m hoping for that sort of justice, as well.

  • Kel

    I just wanted to say, I’m asexual, I exist and I read your webcomic for so many years now (meek in the case). I read the comments, and I’m thankful you’re (as I knew) an informed writer, and even thought I’m part of an “extremely minority” I still like being represented and I feel that’s possible with artists like you, even if that’s not Mike’s case. Thanks for writting not only for the majority of people.

  • neocqb

    I wish wholeheartedly that Brian faces an untimely end by Mike in some fit of rage. Given the extent of his observable mental illness, I fear this abused continued for sometime in his young life.

    Why wouldn’t a dude run off to Mars? Obsessively pursue a career to get the fuck as far away as possible. Humans run.

  • Mistress Dizzy

    This page punched me in the gut, hard.

    Also, this brings his whole question of “Are you a good mother” to Bex into an entirely different light…

  • Maria S.

    Shing, I just want to say that I admire you for sticking to your guns and writing the story you intend to write, whatever the reader response. This is a delicate subject, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed or be part of a character’s past; it’s something that is real. It happens to real people. The way you’ve presented this scene, it’s obvious it isn’t meant to be useless shock value; this is insight into part(s) of Michael’s life, which may or may not be at an end right now. I can’t see how anyone would think that by showing this, you condone it, or haven’t researched the subject, anything like that. As you mentioned, Michael goes on to be a very successful researcher, who got to live on Mars. This scene doesn’t define the character or his life. There is so much more to him and this story, that’s very clear. I can’t wait to find out what else there is.

  • Spav

    I think you might be the G.R.R.M. of webcomics. Brilliant, lovingly crafted stories, intricate histories, and wonderful characters who get repeatedly curb-stomped by life and circumstance.

    Do you eat, or does our despair sustain you? Doesn’t matter, I’ll throw money at you anyway for the privilege of seeing more heart-wrenching and fantastic art.

  • ianna

    I realized that we never get a very good picture of his face? I dunno if that was intentional or not, but I think it’s what was making me a little uncomfortable in the earlier pages. It reads very smoothly?? The horrible chill of this page feels like an answer to a question, you know?

  • loor

    beautiful story-telling. it gave me the chills and i could feel the nausea inside when i read this, and re-read this.

    mike was a victim of selfish parents and it’s heartbreaking that this happened.

  • BoomBaby

    I don’t know if this was intentional or not but I really like how the color palette for this page is so summery and bright and cheerful but the child abuse that is happening here is so dark and frightening. I really like that contrast and was wondering if that is a particular technique in visual storytelling? Or am I just looking too much into things..

    • shingworks

      Yeah, it’s on purpose. I really dislike when abuse or rape is shown as something that happens in a dark dirty alley by some hulking masked dude or something… in reality it happens under frighteningly mundane circumstances, and most often by people who are very close to you.

      • Madeleine

        Like on the kitchen table …

        This page (or rather this chapter) is going to take a while before it settles …

  • m.m.

    Sorry you have a shit uncle, Mike. What kind of bug is that though?

    • shingworks

      THANK YOU someone finally asking the important questions. It’s an isopod (ie roly poly)

      • Jojo

        Technically, that is not a bug. Very important question.

      • Shunka_Warakin

        We had those all over the place where I grew up. Can’t imagine being a kid and not recognizing one (and not bailing it out of the pool if you saw it in there, because they Do. Not. Swim.).

        Back to the bug. It’s not the prettiest thing around, it’s adrift, flat on its back, legs splayed and helpless, and if it tries to twist in any direction, any direction at all, it’ll take on water and drown. Its only hope is that it is in a shallow puddle (which it isn’t) and it will wash up on an edge or the puddle will evaporate before it dies (it won’t).

        I’m sure that situation is entirely accidental and not at all metaphorical. Said with straight face.

        • Lennier

          It also demonstrates to us again just how much thought Der-Shing puts into her work.

        • Jojo

          Excellent point. Its adrift and trapped. There is no turn it can take that won’t result in it taking on water and becoming submerged.

      • Vert

        They’re actually really cute. Used to play with them all the time as a kid. Still do, when I find one, I just don’t spend as much time playing in the dirt as I used to.

        • shingworks

          One time I was chilling by some dirt and the ground began to volcano upwards… I thought I was hallucinating or something but no, a few seconds after the dome broke open and hundreds of these guys came pouring out. I have no idea what that was, I’m guessing some kind of mating ball or something, but it was pretty awesome.

          • Vert

            Find a towel you can spare, get it soaking wet, and leave it on a sidewalk with one corner in the dirt. Let it sit there overnight. In the morning you will find tons of these little guys under it, and probably earthworms, too.

            They actually pair up and raise their young together, though, so I have no idea what your “volcano” was. That’s pretty cool. Maybe they were pill millipedes? Those nest in big clutches.

          • shingworks

            Idk if I even need to do that XD our backyard is lousy (ha) with these guys… I really like them though, they’re always out taking walks in the middle of the day rocking that hard carapace privilege.

      • Tadrix

        Is it Mike’s pet?

      • Tadrix

        Or, rather, seeing as it is July 2051, does Mike know at all what it is?

        • shingworks

          Mike probably doesn’t care what it is other than “bug,” he has never been very interested in biology, haha.

  • ln

    i just wanted to say this is an awful and effective page, and i’ve been super impressed at the way you’ve handled really hard issues in what’s only been a chapter and a bit of an interlude. i imagine it’s taken a lot of work to get it to this point and i wanted to make sure i said i appreciated it. ty so much and i can’t wait to see how things develop as you continue

  • Sarah

    Just want to say… this page hits hard, but what hits me hardest I think is Mike’s face in the last panel.

    • dracolychee

      Yep. Perfect 2k yard stare. I bet he’s staring beyond the dead insect.
      Poor Mike :(

  • Lilian

    Crap. Crap crap crap crap crap.

    Oh, Mike. You poor child.

    I want to affirm what some other people have been saying – excellent job here.

    You are portraying a dark subject with sensitivity and honesty, but you are not glorifying the darkness nor are you (thus far) showing us all of the graphic details. I think the fact that earlier I wasn’t even thinking Brian would be a child molester while others were is indicative your skill. Looking back, I can see the clues.

    Please tell me somehow, sometime, Mike is going to find healing.

    • Tadrix

      No Man Is an Island… I suspect it will happen in this comics time frame.

  • Eversist

    Ugh, I had a sinking feeling last page, but didn’t want to assume the worst.

    It pains/scwicks me to say it, but good dialogue.

  • Georgia

    I kinda knew this was going to happen but I was like, Maybe not, Maybe not,Maybe not, NO.

  • Jojo

    I think this was very well executed. Its terrible, of course, but you built it up to here perfectly and its shocking but expected, its real but just hard to believe. Because thats how it really is.

  • Trauma… Trauma… ;_;
    I wasn’t really expecting this. I’ve been reading the comments and I see a lot of people guessed it from the beginning, but I just thought he was trying to be nice out of compassion because the kid’s parents were getting divorce and in that situation you feel like you need a third-person friend :( Am I so naïve?

    Anyway, great storytelling, as it’s been said. Really fine and tactful work (the terribleness of the act speaks by itself).

  • Arrrrgh poor kid Mike, stuck in two gross situations. Part of my mind was like “PLEASE JUST BE GETTING HIM TO TOUCH THE BUG” but… no…

  • Royco Cup-a-Soup

    So THAT’s why Mike hates bugs.
    Seriously, he’s concentrating on the the bug in the pool, so it’s the only image left in his memory associated with this event. Arthropods are tied, in his mind, to this horrifying childhood trauma.

  • Cyanilurus

    That’s not really a “bug” as far as I know. Our cellar was full of them, we played with them a lot as they made such nice little balls.

  • Tubs

    Man, I’m tearing up, this is so fucked. I wish I could just step into this page and take that kid away from this shitty experience :(

    I appreciate the work you’ve done to tell us this part of the story. I know it must have been painful. Child abuse is an ugly, horrific experience, but it’s real– and very common, and people need to know that. There should be more awareness on its presence in our society and the damage it inflicts.

    I don’t see this as going for shock value at all, especially with how accurate and respectfully sensitive the portrayal has been. I see this as a significant influence in Mike’s development that has made him into the broken individual we see in the present.

    Please don’t let the haters bog you down! You’re doing an incredible job with this comic already! I gave this story a try after an artist I’m following recommended it, and it’s got me attached. I just see a lot of myself in your Mike character. I really hope he finds a happy ending. And Dr. Egunsola too!

  • Intentionally Nameless

    I’ve never really used online anonymity for this purpose. You did an excellent, accurate job on this page. It’s a punch in the gut like no other. I, too, have been in this kind of situation, but…not from Mike’s side. Words can’t describe how deep my regret goes, but that’s not the point here. The point is that you did a perfect job portraying a special, subtle monster that’s way too hard to catch. I sincerely appreciate the research that obviously went into this.
    Brian seemed a scary sort of familiar from the start.

    • Jade

      Um, what? This page is attracting some bizarre comments.

      If you really felt indescribable regret, you’d turn yourself in.

      • Intentionally Nameless

        Please trust me when I say I HAVE.
        I fully understand that not many people on earth would mourn my passing, and the thoughts to take advantage of that are constant and unceasing.
        Everybody in my family knows what I did to my sister, as I told them.

      • Intentionally Nameless

        It turns out family members have trouble accepting you saying you want to kill yourself, even if you give them a perfevtly good reason for it.
        I don’t understand people.

  • Ness

    Man, I feel so naive for not seeing this page coming. And now I’m just staring at this page, going back to the last one, then coming back to this one…

    I’m sure you hear this a lot, but your writing and storytelling is really, really good. The pacing is fantastic.

  • pretty flacko

    Called it but wow, wasn’t expecting him to do that in the pool x.x

  • Enrique262

    You know? I read your replies and the support you received, and I must say, this really is a hugbox.

    No wonder no one outside of this place talks about this comic, not even in your reddit people do, oh well, keep on deluding yourself over how perfect it is, disregarding the anatomy problems, the wishy-washy backgrounds, the poor pacing and the excess of exposition, because this is going on it’s way of becoming yet another forgotten webcomic.

    Me? I’m going to keep reading it, since it takes no time to do so and really, you cant stop me, but don’t be fooled though, Paranatural, Poppy O’Possum, Endtown, Unsounded, Beatriz Overseer and my guilty pleasure, bleedman comics, are far superior to this one, and unlike with you, I actually have a place to discuss them, instead of the usual contest of who can kiss your ass the most over here, feel free to rant about this on reddit though.

    • shingworks

      Okay? haha. Implying I have some kind of control over the comments people leave here. Literally my only comment rule is that you aren’t ridiculously verbally abusive towards me or other readers, otherwise you’re free to post anything. Somehow very few people have been able to write about their disinterest in the comic without being dicks about it. You don’t have to like my comic, but I also don’t have to pretend I like paying to host your whining.

      I don’t make comics to get /co/ to talk about them. Getting a review offsite is a nice bonus, not the payoff. The payoff is the joy of working on a project I really care about, and interacting with readers who enjoy seeing a new story slowly unfold. Even talking to people like you is kind of interesting in a way, because you’re so insecure about your own likes and dislikes that you need to come and tell me about it like a kindergartener pinning their drawing to the fridge. I mean, I hate plenty of comics too, I just don’t feel the need to go their creators about it. I just… stop reading them, haha.

      Anyhow, I’ve never said my work is perfect, nor my art. You have valid points about the art… I didn’t go to school for this shit, I’m figuring it out as I go. And, I’m on a tight schedule at the moment, I don’t have the luxury of taking more than 12 hours per page. I think it looks good enough to get the story and my visual hooks across, which is my top priority. If I had to sit and tighten every page to the level you’re hoping for, I’d be pumping out 2x a month updates instead of 8+ a month. I have more ideas than time, so that was my personal choice to make. If you really want to know about the details of the production you can just ask. I’m right here. I assume you care a lot since you made the effort of coming here to let me know you do.

      Either way thanks for continuing to come here to read and comment, your pageviews and energy are greatly appreciated.

      • Joel

        Actually, can I ask, do you have the whole story written out in advance, or planned out in detail? Or do you have just an outline with room for the story to mutate if the characters “demand” you address something more closely? I write stories, but I can’t draw (especially humans), so I don’t know how the story-writing works with the comic-drawing.

        • shingworks

          I have the entire story in my head, yes. Mostly major story beats, critical scenes, structure, etc. I do some light scripting before each chapter to pace out the scenes but each page is written as I write it to keep the dialogue dynamic.

    • Jay

      Seeing as Shingworks webcomics can go on hiatus three years and still have a lot of fans elated to see the work again, I’m pretty sure these webcomics will not be forgotten easily.

    • Lennier

      “Me? I’m going to keep reading it, since it takes no time to do so and really, you cant stop me,”

      No one gives a shit what you do.

      • shingworks

        Of course we do. He disapproves with my handling of child exploitation in this comic, obviously I should have been modeling my work off of uh… Bleedman.

        • das

          Well shoot why don’t you just drop everything and have Angora meet up with Mike on Mars and then add some nickelodeon characters

          • Jojo

            I’ve never read a review like that. Its just strange really. Heavily manufactured if I am any good at textual clues. Shing, your story is fantastically complex and engaging. None of us here that say so are doing it to be brown noses. I am genuinely excited whenever this updates and I am never disappointed. As a writer I know people can misinterpret works pretty astoundingly. Thats the reader’s problem when the story quality is at the level you operate at. Your art is stunning. I couldn’t care less if its ‘perfectly anatomically correct’ or some nonsense. I love your style and am invested in your characters. I’m glad that person didn’t seem to get you down, because they don’t deserve your time or sadness.

          • shingworks

            Thanks! Yeah I’m more pissed off than sad or anything. I’ve never met an artist (including mysel) that felt their work was perfect… Everything has potential for improvement. The people who complain about the art quality are the same people who would complain about how slow the updates are, since they are too lazy to find out how much effort actually goes into making a single page. Anyhow, I enjoy scrapping with people like this, no harm done to either party and it gets my heart rate up.

        • dracolychee

          Shing, your art is amazing, and the writing just as well. That’s a combination rarely met. The only ones I consider as good are a few other web- und some indie comics. But anways, I like artists who don’t deem themselves perfect, ’cause they are the ones who get better and better. :)

        • fox-orian

          Holy shit I forgot about Bleedman.

    • skellagirl

      lmao you just come from fishing, brah? cause obvious bait is obvious

    • storiesintheend

      @Enrique262: Wow. Someone needs to go back to etiquette and politeness school and learn how not to sound like a spoiled rich kid throwing a tantrum after being told he can’t have the gold-covered watch he MUST have. Just listening to you rant so self-righteously makes me want to (a) vomit to get the sour taste out of my mouth and (b) avoid the comics you mentioned as if they were undead wights out to kill me.
      Seriously, get a grip. You’re not the tastiest banana in the bunch, and you really need to shut up. No one except Shing (to a small extent) deeply cares about your opinion, and chances are the type of people who “discuss comics with you” in the way you’ll accept are only the type who agree with you. No disagreements or criticisms, of course, ’cause that’s just bitching.
      People like you are the ones who make discussions like this unpleasant, not the allegedly kiss-assing people who support Shing (for good reason). Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, the people who are supporting Shing and criticizing you are doing it because they’ve actually thought about whether or not they like the comic and, if so, why they like it? I enjoy the comic because the characters are much more realistic than in most of the ones I’ve seen out there. Mare Internum, Wilde Life, Ava’s Demon, Gunnerkrigg Court, and Fey Wind all feature exceptionally well-created characters. Cliche or not, they are executed with skill. Just because you don’t like the storyline, or the characters, or the art style doesn’t give you the right to act like you’re somehow more intelligent and more morally right than anyone else here. Because news flash, kid. YOU’RE NOT. Every word you write here shows that you can’t hold up your end of an argument, that you don’t know how to deal with people in a way that earns you true respect, and that you won’t even listen to truly reasonable, well-meant criticism.

      Having finished my long and wordy rant… @shingworks: I really have been loving Mare Internum. Yeah, the story line is a bit disjointed so far what with it only being one chapter in, and the art style’s not what I’m used to…but I’m looking forward to seeing where you take it. Thanks for dealing so straightforwardly but tactfully with the Mike’s backstory–it’s one of the things that keeps these characters real for me. Here’s to the road, mate!

    • Sam_i_ham

      OMG, STFU. You’re the most passive aggressive person ever, emphasis on aggressive. “you fucking suck, but I’ll still read” JUST STOP. It’s not a hug box, it’s that we’re not insane and abusively insecure with our ability to interact with others. Attachment issues much? Get help.

    • PeteRePete

      Yikes. Someone’s butthurt. And doing a really strenuous, horrible job of trying to hide it. Good luck on that, man.
      [img]http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/bale.png[/img]

    • Ness

      Not for nothing, but I think you should be aware that in all likelihood, none of the people behind any of those webcomics you namedropped would appreciate you throwing this comic under the bus in favor of theirs. Just sayin’.

      • Ness

        Ah shoot, I meant to type *wouldn’t. Sorry!

        • Ness

          On second read, I was right the first time. Oh boy I need to go to sleep.

    • fox-orian

      “I’m gonna read your comic JUST AS MUCH as before. What’chu gonna do ’bout it, huuuuuuuh??”
      Fuck me that is a hardcore burn, dude.

  • Man, whoa, Dershing – this was very well executed. Poor Mike, and my poor heart!

    Also, I have to say that MI has really been more than I expected this far. I am not saying this to make you feel better around some of the shitty comments you get, it’s my honest opinion and I realize I haven’t commented much this far in. I think you present great storytelling in MI, on subjects that are so difficult to make convincing. If it’s not made right, it’s hard to take seriously and keep reading. But you have been spot on most of the time, which is really amazing. I am very impressed by this Interlude, too – though, the subject is upsetting, I trust this really adds to Mike’s character and explains why he is who he is today.

    And just a quick note on the bashful comments. Giving constructive critisism about what doesn’t work and what to improve in a personal point of view is one thing but just… what the… ? Hope you don’t let it get you down, and instead make use of feedback that actually benefits you in the long run.

    Anyway, can’t wait to see more! Take your time, good luck on finishing the day time job and please let us know when you get a Patreon set up. :)

  • fox

    I had to get up and pace around the house for a bit. Fuck. Fuck that guy.

  • Expendable Lad

    Read through the archives again after this comic. I didn’t see it coming at all.

    Anyway, this scene more than explains Mike’s face on page 15 after he saw the picture of Bex’s husband and kid in the pool. It broke my heart for the second time today.

    • DukeBG

      wow…

    • Jojo

      Oh my gosh, yeah.

    • dracolychee

      Sorry, me again, but I also just now noticed Bex’ comment “At this age, they can love something withiout hiding it”. That’s … ingeniously evil.
      I love it to read a story again and at a wholly new level.

  • Rusty

    Damn. I didn’t really expect this, probably as this guy reminds me a bit of my own father (who never molested me). You are really good at being really brutal at times. Also, I’m pretty sure that’s a hand in the third panel, right?

  • Sam_i_ham

    This is my first comment here. I am sure I’m the umpteenth person to say “I lived this, and this is why I’m speaking up”, which is sad as all hell, but, it is what it is.
    That said, the reason I decided to give input is not just because you decided to shed light on a tough subject, but because there are so many minute details in this one strip that, as someone who went through this exact thing (tho replace creepy bald uncle with creepy other family member), actually helps me deal with something that I’ve dealt with in near-silence most of my life. I can’t be alone.
    I want to thank you.
    Because the normalization you show doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt – and sometimes I need that reminder.
    Because that normalization/desensitization makes me feel as if perhaps I wasn’t victimized after all, because worse things could have happened – but then I see the gut reaction from everyone else and am reminded “no this is not okay”.
    Because although it’s not okay, the reality that we all deal with it differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to deal with it (except, hurting someone else of course) is also nice to be reminded of.
    I feel extremely self-centered saying all this, but, I don’t want to speak for others, and I still want to thank you. You and the other readers. The dialogue is powerfully healing.

    • Lennier

      Where’s the upvote button…?

    • hideawayhero

      This comment sums up my thoughts exactly.

      This update is really helping me process my own thoughts and past experiences in a way I never have been able to before. I didn’t know I needed something like this until now.

      Thank you so much. Seriously.

    • shingworks

      Wow… thank you for sharing. I am really relieved to hear that this dialogue is helpful to you personally. You are the type of reader I am anxious to hear from the most, and I value your feedback very highly.

      • Sam_i_ham

        Without going into much detail, I work in the behavioral health field, and from the “worker perspective” I find it powerful as hell that this particular thing has been one of the most helpful in furthering the process of the injury (lookin at you too, hideawayhero). From the “survivor perspective”, well, you can refer to my previous comment.
        As a sidenote, I know I went a little harsh on our friend Enrique up there, and hopefully it isn’t enough to violate the etiquette. I’ll try to rein it in next time. Lol.

        • hideawayhero

          “furthering the process of injury”? Do you mean healing?

          I’m currently studying psychology as my undergrad and I too find it interesting. (If you meant healing lol.) I am a huge fan of bibliotherapy and how it has helped some people, including me, find healing after traumatic situations. Even ones long since passed. It’s really amazing.

          • Sam_i_ham

            Sorry, the processing of the injury*
            I’m on my phone and despite what they all claim, it’s not that smart -_- (though I should proofread :P)

  • Jay

    Wow. That explains Mike’s reaction to Bex calling him “uncle”, and his face after seeing the photos of Bex’s kids with their dad in the pool. They’re the same ages in those pictures. Their dad is even bald.

    • Expendable Lad

      I didn’t catch the Uncle thing. Poor guy.

  • Just… wow. This is really fantastic in the way this is handling a tough topic. Like you said above, this sort of abuse isn’t something that always happens in dark alleys. It’s usually happening in everyday settings by people close to you… and it ends up feeling all the more surreal. I think this part of the comic is asking important questions that perhaps we don’t have the answers to yet… but asking them all the same in a well thought-out, respectful way. My heart wrenches for baby Mike. Poor guy.

  • diophfqipwhr

    Hey, quick question – would you say this is a story to read all in one go to get the whole picture, or page-by-page as it is put up? I know that it can depend on the reader, but I would like the author’s opinion!

    • shingworks

      It’s up to you! I love the webcomics experience (from both reader and creator perspectives), and I try to load each page so that there is enough info to start a discussion on it per update. The pacing is also adjusted because of the web experience… what reads as possibly arduously slow in real time may read as being too fast in one sitting, because of the need to load each page.

      So, I don’t know, it’s up to your preference… If you like joining in on things like weekly speculation and picking apart details (I put a lot of hooks in that aren’t clearly visible till later), then maybe weekly is more fun. But if you like getting the story in one sitting, but losing out on all the extra material and the experience, then maybe wait until the story is done… that will be sometime probably mid-late next year at the current pace. You could also check back randomly to see if a chapter has been finished so you get a chunk at a time (this comic will be 5 chapters total).

      Personally I would do it per update, since I think it’s more fun. Also we’ll be back to 2x a week updating in July when my current deadline is done, so it will be going a bit faster too.

  • There’s an odd kind of signalling going on where you show your disapproval for something like abuse by attacking the fictional creator of a story featuring such abuse. It’s really simple minded stuff.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of criticism sometimes and funnily enough it’s the stupidest ones that can be most annoying, because you know the person making the criticism is too fucking stupid to understand why he’s blowing hot air.

    But yeah, carry on with the good work :)

  • smek

    goddamn it. First I read that awful article on cracked about child molesters, and now this. I’m going to spend this entire day throwing up.

  • I KNOW HOW THIS TIES IN TO THE PLOT!!!!
    MIKE DEVELOPS HYDROPHOBIA BECAUSE OF THIS!!!!!
    SO HE DOESN’T LIKE THE INTERNAL OCEAN OF MARS!!!!!!

  • Damn, this comic’s weird. Love it.

    • shingworks

      So far it’s not even half as weird as it’s going to get. Thanks for reading.

      • Jojo

        Now I’m even more excited.

  • Nym

    :( :( :( :( :( :(:( :(
    Good story though.

  • IMONFIREGUY

    Kid can’t catch a break can he?
    “here’s a pool!”
    It’s a kiddie pool with a hole in it
    “Here’s a new puppy”
    eats his favorite childhood toy and runs away
    “Here’s a remote control plane!”
    plane is faulty, crashes into the house and burns it down
    “here’s your new home!”
    orphanage

    • shingworks

      Haha, to be fair, the rest of his life is “normal.” I can’t really show the gamut, but for what it’s worth his dad is pretty rich and he goes to a good school and he has lots of stuff and lives in a nice big house, I’m sure that’s a huge consolation.

  • Ben

    I’d taken it that Mike was homosexual, because of his earlier reply to Bex regarding having no children. A large majority of straight people simply don’t spend their time in the self-referential navel-gazing of identity politics, it seemed to be the overall interpretation intended.

    Child abuse and vulnerable, disrupted personal lives are undoubtedly connected, in a significant proportion of cases. Systematised abuse is often “normalised”, it’s like that aphorism about “the banality of evil”

  • Ben

    Re “Mare Internum”, I’d assumed all along that the comic would alternate between the external interpretation of a literal inner sea, and the internal lives if the characters. The expression “inner ocean” denoting aspects of the personality isn’t new.

  • Quill

    welp that explains the ‘not straight’ comment at least. I can’t imagine it being easy to continue having a sexual identity after surviving something like this.

    • shingworks

      Well, I definitely don’t mean to imply that being sexually assaulted results in some kind of predictable outcome… There’s a huge range of ways people cope with a trauma like this in real life, and this comic only touches on one scenario. It’s been 30+ years from this scene to the main timeline, which is time enough to figure some stuff out.

      • Quill

        I don’t mean to imply that either, I’m just using the information from the comic to discern that our ‘hero’ may be asexual, which I guess can technically be a choice. didn’t mean to say that stuff like this can ’cause’ a sexuality.

        • shingworks

          Okay, phew. I’m super anxious about this scene being misinterpreted, didn’t mean to imply you were saying that, more just trying to make sure you knew I wasn’t saying that, haha.

        • Jojo

          Quill, Mike could be asexual but like homosexuality it can be very damaging to say it is caused by something like assault or otherwise a choice. Being celibate is a choice. Being asexual has to do with attraction just like any other sexuality. You can be asexual and /choose/ to have sex anyway. That’s a choice. Human sexuality is just too complex to be summed up or assumed to be a ‘choice’. Asexual people face a lot of stigma and intrusive questioning due to the assumption that we were all abused. Some of us were, but that doesn’t make us any less Ace, or explain away our feelings. I’m not accusing you of this. I just thought I’d add to the conversation.

  • Ben

    The past few posts illustrate the endless complexities of trying to “define yourself” by something capable of endless variations, many if them self-defined or incapable of accurate definition.

    Identity politics in action – maximum confusion, minimum result.

    As far as I can tell, the only conclusion presently available is that Mike is a somewhat disturbed individual whose professional performance is compromised by personal limitations or weaknesses. He has described himself as “not straight” which appears to be relevant to his apparent status as a childless bachelor.

    He appears to have long-term issues related to his parents divorce, coupled with systematic abuse over time by a man who we are told is his paternal uncle, and acts as a carer for him as part of the overall domestic scenario.

    • Jojo

      I agree, people are too complex for definitive labels. But labels can be helpful, like any other language. Thus why I use the terminology that best explains what I am referring to. Words are infinitely inefficient in general. It certainly makes my work as a writer more difficult. Tone is also lost in this format so I’m not certain if you were intending to criticize or just adding to the conversation. In both circumstances I appreciate the input.

    • shingworks

      I always enjoy reading your comments, they are always very reasonable. For all of the knowns, including your comments above, you’re right on the money. And personally I agree with you re: pointlessness of labels for more fluid subjects but I also understand/ respect why some people, especially from more marginalized groups, need them for validation, or to educate others…

      Anyways as far as the comic goes, Michael’s sexuality isn’t a huge plot point or anything. He’s just not the kind of person that wants to share that level of information with someone he just met, and who also resents people who make assumptions.

      • Jojo

        Thank you, Shing. I appreciate that. Labels can serve as a method of connecting with others experiencing the world in similar ways. That can be not only validating but even life saving for some people. I would never discourage it for reasons of inaccuracy. Its just the same with any other group of people. Religious groups house a plethora of diversity. In fact from one church to the next, even claiming the same alignment, you can encounter drastically different world views and ideologies. Humans are just beyond explanation, as it were.

        And that makes total sense. In fact in my own work I try for a certain level of ‘interpretable’ content. My character’s sexualities and sexual identities fall within that perimeter. Sexuality can be important to a story, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. As a culture we are fixated on it. As a species really. But it should not have to be disclosed or dwelt on if it is not relevant to the overall narrative. Speculating is just entertaining.

  • Luces

    I thought Brian was the father, by the way. That the predator is scolding his victim “not being so selfisch” and their obvious long history of misuse gives the tale an even more evil twist.
    The same time, all the artwork around the water and the slight breaking of perspective above and beyond the surface are just beautiful!

  • Snow Grey

    Hi Der-Shing!

    I really wish you wouldn’t do this like so many straight writers do, because implying that being sexually abuse is why gay people are gay is hightly upsetting and offensive to people like me. And if he isn’t gay and instead is asexual or something I can almost guarantee you that the implication is just as upsetting (and false!) for asexual people too! You don’t need to add in sexual abuse to make non-straight person interesting, just as you shouldn’t need to add rape to a female character to make her interesting.

    I hope you understand.

    • skellagirl

      Der-Shing certainly doesn’t need my defense, but I’m just going to let you know that she has already explained this point in several comments above. Mike’s sexuality (or lack thereof) could have nothing at all to do with this traumatic situation; we don’t know yet. We aren’t that far into the story. I’m assuming it’s definitely left him with some kind of trauma, but we have no idea what or how. We’re only a chapter and some pages in; try not to jump to conclusions here.

      Also I’m not sure why you’re assuming she is straight? Has she said? It’s not even important or any of your business, either way; it has nothing to do with the storytelling choices she’s made for her own comic and characters.

    • shingworks

      Thanks for the comment… I won’t be changing his character, however. The point you’ve brought up is very valid, and has been discussed already several times in this thread. I need to ask you some further questions though… Do you think that the implication you’ve described is actually happening in the comic? If so, where? Do you think I have thrown this issue in for thrills/ fun/ shock value, or without consideration of the issues you’ve mentioned (pls read the paragraph up top if so)? Are you assuming I am a straight writer with no personal experience with this subject? And last, do you think it is okay to censor informed writing and discussion because they may be misinterpreted by readers? I’m asking you all of this because it does seem a bit like you’ve ignored all my commentary and all the illuminating discussion simply because you want to prevent people from dialoguing about a sensitive subject… It also almost borders on belittling and erasure of actual survivors who may find themselves living an “unpopular” outcome :/

      Given my several assurances that I am writing in an informed way, you have to either trust me or choose to stop reading for now until you have more information (or just stop reading altogether). I am not fetishizing the issue or simplifying. If you ever see me doing that, you can point it out publicly or private and we can discuss. But at the end of the day I AM telling a fictional story, for which I have made deliberate narrative choices that I will defend. My characters are not strawmen for larger issues, they are individuals serving a purpose for this story only. I have from the start proven that I am researching and treating every subject in this comic with respect, which you should be able to find on past pages and discussion if you take time to look. And while I appreciate your perspective and input, asking me to rewrite my comic and these characters because you have decided on a whim that you don’t trust my writing, is not a realistic option for me.

      Like I said, feel fee to look above for more clarifying discussion, to keep chatting here, or you can always PM or email if you want to continue the dialogue in private.

      • Lilian

        “It also almost borders on belittling and erasure of actual survivors who may find themselves living an “unpopular” outcome”

        Good point. If there is data indicating that being abuse as a child makes someone statistically more likely to express homosexuality later in life, then there is data indicating that.

        That doesn’t mean that any non-straight person who was abused as a child is non-straight because of the abuse, nor does it mean that every abused child will express something other than heterosexuality in the future. That doesn’t mean that’s what you’re saying about Mike.

  • Ben

    Speaking from considerable experience if working in isolated, safety-critical locations I have to say that I wouldn’t want Mike around ME. Reason is that when your life consists of long stretches of “close quarters” alternating with activities which can kill you, trusting your team is everything. That doesn’t mean LIKING them, just relying on them to do what is needful.

    You can usually tell who can, and can’t be trusted and Mike would probably become very isolated because he seems to give off that vibe.

  • Ben

    Incidentally, does Bex call him “uncle” as a generic term of respect, signifying that he is senior to her in context?

    I’ve been called that in Africa

    • shingworks

      That’s exactly why she calls him that, and for the same explanation (it’s a common phrase in West Africa, idk for sure in other areas). It’s also a little overly familiar in this context; Bex is an optimistic gal.

      Also man, your life sounds super interesting.

  • Div

    This is extremely creepy to read, I would say you managed to get exactly the right feeling about this.
    And that is not so easily done when you see how awkwardly some authors are treating this particular subject.

    Good luck with that anyway, even without your comment, we can see you’re making “purposeful, informed narrative decisions” and not using the thing lightly.

  • First of all, I want to say that I have no experience on dealing with this kind of situation, so my comments are coming from a total lack of knowledge in regards to abuse or childhood trauma. Or making art, for that matter. That said:

    1) I’ve been dreading this moment. I don’t know how will you handle this, but the build up and execution have been marvellous this far. Not only on this scene, but on the comic as a whole.

    2) I must confess I am one of those who associated “Not Straight” = “Homosexual”. I probably would’ve considered bisexuality, but since the topic being discussed was the fact of him not having a female partner… Did not consider other possible sexualities though. My mistake.

    3) Is that a woodlouse? Woodlouse are nice. Much overlooked, as far as arthropods go. I couldn’t help but notice that you seem to have a rather positive view of insects and other creepy crawlies. At least that’s the impression I take. If so, I highly recommend a fantasy/steampunk series called “Shadows of the Apt”. Well written, lovingly features insects. Kind of.
    Anyway.

    Other than that, just wanted to say that I love your comics. Keep on fighting the good (artistic) fight, pen in hand!
    And pay no heed to the caustic, non-constructive commenters!

    • shingworks

      “Creepy crawlies,” lol. I spent 3 years in a herp genetics lab in college so yeah, I’m a fan of the crawlers. Insects are sort of new territory for me but I’m enjoying the reading I’ve done so far.

    • Bobthellama

      on Leguim Mai’s second point- forgive me if I’m completely wrong, and I probably am, but I thought it was mentioned somewhere that Mike had a “non professional” relationship with Braid, and that that meant romantic? so I was a little confused about that too.

      • shingworks

        Yeah, he did, I think it was in a bonus comic at some point. Idk that was super “romantic” though.

  • grenli

    I’m gutted. I did not see it coming. This is the second time this month I’ve read a story and did not pick up the cues of the predatory character.

  • Natalie

    Ugh, this page made me feel a bit sick (in a way that is a credit to you)!

    If I start talking about how the entitled trolls on this page make me feel I’m going to sound like a great-grandma, which at 24 I guess I basically am compared to some readers.

    Really like how you have a happy summery looking page with a horrible story!

    (Btw, I noticed a little bit of nose growing + shrinking on this page wrt Mike)

    • shingworks

      Oh god, I’m like a great great great grandma then, haha. And nice work noticing the nose thing, nobody else here has noticed yet (or they assumed my art was going off the rails, and were too nice to say something).

      • Jade

        Wait- so there’s an intentional reason behind that? Like in the Family Man webcomic?

        • shingworks

          Yep! I don’t think for the same reasons, haha, but there is intent.

    • aroree

      Hmm, at 27 I’m somewhere up there too. Dang I feel old.

  • Ben

    One thing that has been completely overlooked in the various posts above us that a common feature of “straight” people us that they really don’t give it a thought, most of the time. They have lives to lead, families to raise, jobs to go to, budgets to balance and all the rest of it.

    They are, after all, “normal” in the statistical sense. They have marriages or partnerships which fit the definition if whatever religion they adhere to, if any; this is perhaps why political correctness and identity politics focus on homosexuality, because when you have all that going on then the minute sub-divisions and general angst just doesn’t form part of their daily thoughts.

    • bleh

      what

  • Unclever title

    Damn. I had a feeling something was… off about Brian, that there was something insincere in how he was interacting with Mike.

    But never would I have expected THIS. In retrospect everything he said now, disturbingly, fits.

    Yeah this is precisely the kind of thing that can mess a person up for life. Feel even sadder for Mike now.

  • BrobyDDark

    Welp. That got fucking dark real quick. If you don’t mind me, I’m going to go into my happy place/

  • I’d just like to say that reading the latest page and re-reading the whole comic again as a consequence has been really enlightening for me. It’s so interesting how many hidden clues there were at the beginning that pointed to aspects of Mike’s life and how many more might come to light from future events. Also, as someone who’s in a relationship where questions of age difference and what constitutes as grooming come up from time to time, this Interlude was really eye opening for me in my own life about how my relationship is really nothing like that of Mike and Brian (if it should even be called a ‘relationship’ in the traditional sense). So yeah, thank you for having the guts and the skill to address the kinds of topics that you tackle well :)

  • Lexi

    Am I the only one who thought when mike said “not straight”, he meant that he’s not straight in the head? That he’s a little off because of what he’s been through?

    • Ben

      The context is clear enough – they are discussing Bex’s family, and she makes a fairly obvious reply to Mike (because whatever the sexual identity politics zealots think, if you are discussing families with an older man the probability is that he is straight and has children himself)

      She makes a generic reply, he shoots it down (and could perfectly well have simp,y said “no”, there was no necessary reason to say “not straight” – but the clear inference is that he is homosexual and therefore has no children, another statistical probability)

      Mike was just being rude, which seems consistent with his character

  • Dammit. I liked that guy, and thennnnnn…shit he’s pedo. God dammit.

  • Hima

    Oh God. This is so much worse than a stranger grabbing a kid in an alley, making it do what Mike is doing right now, and running away after 5 minutes.
    The manipulation. The subtleness. The prolongued cruelty. He’s distancing his nephew from his mother. He makes him feel guilty. He makes him feel bad. Insecure, sad, lonely, everything! It’s HORRIBLE.

    I have a question: will Mike’s mother find out what her brother had been doing?

    • shingworks

      It’s actually her husband’s brother! And, we’ll find out.

    • Coldesta

      The worst part Hima is what Mike is going through, this is how the majority of children are abused. It’s not the stranger in a van cruising along alleys or lonely county roads, the creepy old man in the house down the block, or the weird man in the trench coat and no pants walking down main blvd with a big grin on his face.

      It’s the thing wearing the mask of a family best friend, the uncle or aunt you trusted, the cousin who watches you and relates so well to all of your problems. We are so worried about an outside threat, we don’t see the one hiding in plain sight. The majority of child sexual abuse towards children is by trusted family and friends.

      • Hima

        You are right! I hadn’t realized things were like that… I guess I hadn’t really thought about abuse etc until now… The dangerous people are often really close and familiar.

        I’m glad this comic is making me think about things I hadn’t thought before, and portrays such a scenario in a realistic manner.

  • Jakob

    It takes a lot of guts to touch on this subject, but you seem to be handling this masterfully. I knew from page one that this wasn’t going to be your typical webcomic, and I’m excited to see how this develops. Keep up the amazing work!

    Oh, and just try to push past those assholes who try to tell you your work is anything but fantastic. Because I’ll bet there are a thousand more that would say just the opposite- me included.

  • (eye twitch)

    Please tell me that shortly after this, Uncle Brian fell victim to a series of unlikely mishaps involving a pack of wild boars, a vat of acid, and a wood chipper.

  • potayjay

    So I read through half the commemts … then I realised there were maaan yy comments But I did read Enriques comments about your art and your reply saying you didnt go to school for this ??
    Im just going to mention el goonish shive another webcomic and Im almost certain that the artist never attended art school or atleast not in a long standing way like college (its 4am and Im on my phone sorry if this contains spelling mistakes or weirdly worded sentences !!)
    But El Goonish Shive now have very good art and thats purely from persistance and continuing to work. Nothings evr going to be perfect but I love Mare internum so far, and Im sure it can only get better (not neccesarily a happier story lol )
    How you handled this page and the event within it was very straightforward and I think it was the right thing to do. Have a nice day !

    • shingworks

      Thanks for the nice comment! Yeah I don’t have any formal art schooling but I do currently work in art professionally… My webcomics are side projects for the most part, and part of the reality of limited time resource is that the art just can’t be at my max level (or else I wouldn’t be able to update at a reasonable pace). A big part of real life is making compromises, and living with the consequences, I guess. So I’m fine with crits on the art; I know it’s not perfect but I think gets the job it needs to done without looking too terrible. The most important thing to me is getting to tell this story, so I am glad you’re enjoying it so far. Thanks for reading.

  • I feel sick to my stomach…
    I hate when stuff like this happens to anyone. Especially someone so young.

  • Socks

    While I thought Brian was a bit creepy, I was still surprised by the twist at the end of this panel. With that said, I think you did an excellent job of showing this aspect of Mike’s life. Poor kid!

    I re-read the whole story before reading the comments, and I still missed some of the subtleties others caught. Guess I need to read it again.

    (I am dreading finding out why Bex left her children behind.)

  • Jorge SZ

    Hi, i been reading your comic for a while and i havent take the time to cogratulate you for your awesome work. Not only the great art but the history and the way you have handled it is incredible. You´ve show some very dark topics, like depression in a very professional an realistic way, and the built up of this scene was brilliant. The focus in the insect at the end was a really interestin way to end this scene, full of simbolism.
    Despite the bad sensations i get from this scene, my artistic side was pleased on how talented you are.
    Congrats and keep being cool!

    (Sorry if i have language errors, im still perfecting my english )

  • Miggea

    This page was so effective in making my stomach churn that even days after first reading it if it even comes near to popping in my head I feel the wave of disgust come over me in a completely unavoidable moment. You are an amazing artist and story teller and this page is a, albeit uncomfortable, prime example of that.

    Awesome work, honestly you are amazing.

  • Sybarite

    Well, I followed a link here and this was the first page I saw. I had to look at the page, the disclaimer, and then a couple of comments to realize what it was that I was really seeing. I was hoping he was just a very delicate young man.

    But in any case, the interlude is interesting so far, and I am looking forward to reading through the archive!

  • aroree

    Dang, I was giving the Uncle the benefit of the doubt here. D: I thought he had Mike’s best interest at heart….nope. We just can’t have nice things. >< So many feels.

  • …nooooo

  • SK

    Wow

    I’m loving you hard for your Characters and Plot in “The Meek” for a long time now. Today I finally found my way to this Gem.

    My first thought about his sexuality was also “homosexual” after he declared himself as “not straight”. A few pages later I thought he might be having a thing for objects or robots, since I’m not native with english, I’m having a hard time with some of the vague dialogues, it’s not that easy to grasp the “big picture”. I don’t think it’s that important, what it his, he likes, sexually-wise. But it sure makes one curious about the way he thinks. What a character, wow.

    I just read the whole thing again and scrolled through the comments on some pages (the first time I ever did that in a webcomic, I spend a lot of time with this artwork today, haha). It’s really interesting, to hear the thoughts of some readers and getting more background-Information from you to some Details.

    I’m amazed by your work, your research and the feelings you can communicate through the comic.

    Personally, I’m deeply touched by the way you tell this story, especially the pool-scene with the uncle. Since I’ve, like other reader too, come in contact with similar experiences, I have to tell you that you did an outstanding job to pin it down .. the dialogue, the body language … also you handle the topic with care, without romanticizing or overdramaticizing it.

    Now I’m so curious about more of the story, whats the deal with this nose-thing and whats further happening on mars.

    Thanks for your great work!

  • Lugalias

    I was wondering about the nose change in the last bit; when you say its intentional, do you mean that his nose is actually changing for a physical reason or just as a artistic way to show something going on mentally? Not sure if my question makes sense, but from the few replies I’ve seen above I’m imagining his nose physically growing which is really weird to me…

    • shingworks

      Oh, haha no it’s not physically growing, that would be weird XD Consider it an art thing.

  • purplefelix

    Just found this comic today while in a fit of procrastination. So much of this comic really connects with me, and is overall realy cool and well architectured. I definitely got a similar feeling that something was up with this scenario like many of the other readers, but for different reasons. For some reason when I was a child up until the end of high school I fantasized about this sort of thing happening to me. To my knowledge I never had this sort of experience, but I saw that he Mike wanted someone to pay attention to him, and I saw an older male taking advantage of that need for support and companionship. As much as I wanted this in some twisted way, I would never wish such abuse and manipulation on anyone.

  • superclairebear

    the way you handle subjects like suicide and sexual assault is too real, shing. You give the story dimension and shock factor while maintaining solid realism. Like the fact that everyone in the comments is freaking out really shows that you stirred up our emotions with this update. The scene isn’t particularly violent or extreme but you give it this silent drama and a feeling of fear that really makes me have to re-read out of shock. awesome job

  • S.D. Reeves

    Just started reading through your comics, I just wanted to say I like your storytelling and art quite a bit. It’s rare that the story is deep, and the art so effective.

  • tbkondos

    2nd to last panel is an inner sea if I ever saw one.

  • SotiCoto

    I’m not entirely sure what is going on, but it sure generated a lot of comments.

    Why did his uncle want to show him a dead woodlouse?

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