Interlude 3, Page 4

Happy New Year! And, the end of Interlude 3!

Thank you for continuing to keep it respectful in the comments~ There was a little convo in the last comment section about word usage, tone and intent, and I’m just asking that you approach commenting with a respectful intent :] Opinion sharing is encouraged ofc but avoid words you wouldn’t want to be called yourself, that sort of thing.

And! I also wanted to take some time to plug two webcomics that might interest people who like MI:
The Otherknown: a sci-fi story about a mining station, time travel and a lot of mysterious goings ons. It was my favorite “new” (to me) comic of 2016 and the next chapter is just about to start, so I’m also very excited for 2017.
The Sublimes: another sci-fi story! also about mining, haha, but a much different vibe: a planet with mysterious giant machinery below the surface, and the people who go down to dismantle it… This one has just started recently, but Kiku has made some outstanding sci-fi short comics so far (in my links section), so I know there’s some good stuff to come.

Tomorrow I’m going to be releasing another public tutorial (you can see the previously released coloring and writing tutorials here) as well as a brand new Patreon tutorial for $5 Patrons, as well as the 2017 general update.

More importantly, Chapter 4 of Mare Internum begins on Weds January 4th, which incidentally is the 2nd anniversary of the comic. We’ve got some ways to go still… Thanks for reading.

48 Comments

  • charlesw81

    Icecream makes EVERYTHING better!

    • Except frostbites

    • Sheela

      Especially when it looks like a penis!

  • Thanks for talking about this issue!

  • Darcy

    “For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve never failed at anything.”

    I get where he’s going with that little pep talk (even though I cringed hard at the comment about her being selfish and defeatist) but like we’re all going to fail at something at some point. Like you can’t be great at EVERYTHING. I mean, I hope she’s a good mom. I hope her kids are happy. But does she think she’s a good mom? People can tell you everything under the sun, but it’s all noise unless you really believe it. He thinks he’s being supportive but he’s really causing her to clam up and keep all her thoughts and feelings inside.

    • Quill

      I mean step one to believing something is outside stimulus. I used to have the shittiest attitude about myself thinking people hated me until I stepped back and realised people actually really trusted me, if they hadn’t of shown that trust I wouldn’t have known ever, and really that’s what he’s saying, it’s a ‘wait and see’ approach he’s talking about, you can’t say you’ll be bad at something till you try right? and maybe he’s too positive about it and deffinitely getting too agressive (tho props for showing supportive ideals for relationships in how he recognised when he was being too forceful with his language) but I think his goal was to get her out of an imediately bad headspace, expressing emotions is important, but wallowing in self pity is usually pretty bad too. honestly it’s from a person to person basis anyway, I can’t claim to know if this action would lead to something good or bad with a real person I wasn’t intimately familier with, but how he talks to her and even backtracks to apologise for his own shitty behavior, he comes off as the kind of person who knows the person he’s with, and is willing to make compromises with them, and lead a healthier relationship because of that.

      • Darcy

        You still had to do the bit of taking that step back and coming to that realization that people trusted you. I wrote that part remembering myself as a fairly depressed teen with my mom constantly trying to give me pep talks. Except they didn’t work because I hadn’t done the mental homework. It’s hard to be objective when you’re too busy wallowing.

        Also I realize I may have misinterpreted her expression in the last panel. I originally read it as she was covering up her emotions. It’s possible the storm has blown over and his words did help her and she’s now okay. I hope that’s the case. 2016 was all about me trying to sort out my emotions and thoughts regarding relationships so I’m not surprised I was projecting. :x

        • shingworks

          She is definitely not over it, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

        • Tam

          One thing to consider is whether the person has long term self-esteem problems. If the person is depressed, or has low self-confidence, I can imagine that this kind of reassurance may, as you experienced it, not help much (or even worsen things).
          Howevern, if it is some intense but short lived anxiety about becoming a mum, support like this can actually help I think. I believe that even someone with a robust sense of confidence can feel stress at the idea of turning parent, and be anxious about it, and that someone else reminding them that usually put the right amount of energy, time and caring in projects that are important to them can be a good thing.
          I would have to re-read the whole stuff to see whether there were hints about Bex confidence in her abilities, but I did remember thinking that she may have impostor syndrom or similar bad confidence.

  • Shihchuan

    This storyline reminds me so, so strongly of Cristina/Owen in GA.

  • asdf

    I’ll try, I’m sorry! I swear a lot but I try not to swear at people. I just have a lot of feelings. Feeeeliiiiings.

  • His eyes and teeth are somewhat pinkish, is that a light reflection I’m not seeing or something else?

    I love this page, by the way. He unfortunately sounds like me when I snap at people.

    • Windwalker

      I think that’s the light from the delicious strawberry-looking popsicle/ice cream thingy he’s holding. Not only does it taste amaze-balls, but it GLOWS!!!

  • sloopy

    This little interlude is kicking me in the gut. That last exchange is particularly neat. Oh, Bex.

    • shingworks

      There’s nothing she can’t do!

      • Like finish off alien spices?

        • Outside

          Too soon.. :(

  • Luces

    To get a child is probably the most extensive decision in somenones live today. You can get a divorce, change a career, move to another continent.
    But you will stay a parent forever, and it will change you in a myriad ways you wouldn’t dream of in the beginning – in other words, you find you’re growing up and becoming a true adult.
    I’ts not a fate worth than death. Still, Bex has a right to these questions, and she certainly deserves better answers than a pat on the head and a (not so concealed) kick in the backside!

    • Edmund

      I would argue a different sort of adult, rather than a true one – but I am indeed being pedantic as one who does not have children of his own.
      I do quite enjoy your comparison of other classic big-life decisions. They do not stick in the same manner at all and I had not considered it in that light!

      • brokenidealist

        I agree with you on the “true adult” description. The social attitudes that equate parentood with adulthood and childlessnes with immaturity are infuriating. And they persist, despite many examples of parents who never stepped up to their adult responsibilities, alongside people who have very seriously considered what having children involves and decided not to take that path in life.

        But I’d also argue that marriage changes society’s perception just as much — “divorced” does not carry the stigma it once did, and after a certain age, that label becomes preferable to “never married” when dealing with other people.

        • Max

          ““divorced” does not carry the stigma it once did, and after a certain age, that label becomes preferable to “never married” when dealing with other people” – not so sure about that. Way too many people say “things didn’t work out” or outright “he (she) was a jerk” when more often than not what really happened was “hey nobody told me marriage is supposed to COMMIT ME to anything! I couldn’t be bothered to give a shit so when (not if!) it stopped being rosy and comfy I just walked”. And by the time the next victim gets past denial and accepts that there were NO innocents in the previous relation, they’re getting shafted royally the exact same way. Yes, there are abusive marriages that legitimately should not continue. I believe they don’t even make up 1% of all divorces.

          A “never married” might be just as bad, but is at least entitled to the benefit of doubt. “Divorced”… not really.

  • Hima

    Shing correct me if I’m wrong, as I’m sure you’ve done extensive research on this kind of thing:
    I remember reading somewhere that during and after pregnancy the hormones do their own thing and the mother can have wild mood swings, depression and things like that, regardless of whether she wanted the child before, during and after pregnancy and whether she kept it in the end or not.
    I’m just wondering if this is such a mood swing or if Bex never really wanted to become a mother…

    • Brikit

      I can answer the hormones question, at least (having been through it…and currently going through it again because I am insane…)

      During pregnancy, the body produces all kinds of weird hormones, and stops producing so much of others. They put your body under all kinds of stress, emotional and physical. For example, the thing they say about not letting pregnant people pick up/carry heavy things isn’t about the baby at all — it’s because the body starts producing relaxin, which literally turns your muscles to rubber, and it becomes so much easier to pull a muscle. The baby will be totally fine.

      The hormone imbalances do cause mood swings, and the stress on the body makes it hard to breathe in late pregnancy (as your lungs are being squished by the tiny being inside you), you get horrible heartburn, and sometimes any little thing can set you off. It also makes you extremely tired — which is why so many pregnant people end up cutting their hours late in pregnancy. Being big and heavy and literally weak muscled and strained ligaments and short of breath, plus being stressed out by the hormones just adds up to not a fun time when you’re also working a full time job. On top of that, some people cope really well with pregnancy (myself, for instance — I’m really lucky both times), but other people really struggle with the hormones and sickness and other pregnancy related maladies.

      Immediately postpartum, the body goes nuts and immediately shifts hormone production, which sends you into a tailspin of emotion, on top of the actual physical healing you’re doing. It’s not unusual to just burst into tears at random for a few weeks, unrelated to anything. Labor and birth is an exhausting process, and no one talks about how exhausting it is until a person is pregnant, which is kind of a bunch of garbage. People who suffer postpartum depression are struggling with those hormone shifts. It rewires your brain in really weird ways, and often it’s not that you hate the baby, it’s an overwhelming paranoia that something is going to happen to the baby and the emotional shutdown is often related to that.

      My personal theory on Bex’s situation is that she probably felt pressured to start a family, and a lot of these worries only occurred to her after she got pregnant, when it was kind of too late to reconsider (because come on, agreeing to have a kid and then getting pregnant and approaching your partner, who is desperate to be a parent, and saying “Hey actually…” is a pretty crappy thing to do). So all these worries have just been bubbling and bubbling and express themselves in crazy hormone induced mood swings, but that doesn’t make the underlying feelings any less valid.

      I know it’s rankling people, but to be honest, her husband’s reaction to this outburst is pretty realistic. He’s been trying to be a supportive partner, but he’s just at his wit’s end — as many people would be when it’s just literally the same thing again and again and again, and you don’t really have any other answers for the worries. He’s doing his best, and Quill made a good point above — expressing feelings is good, but wallowing is not. And Bex has been wallowing, if this is the millionth time this particular breakdown has happened. When you’re used to having rational conversations with your partner, and suddenly you’re stuck in an endless cycle of the same negativity, you run out of things to say and ways to say it, and it’s frustrating.

      I feel sympathy for both sides of this conversation, which shows how realistic it is. So kudos, Shing!

      • Hima

        Thank you for this very detailed and helpful answer!!!! :D :D :D

        • Brikit

          You’re welcome! :D Like I said, the fact that no one talks about the details of pregnancy until a person is pregnant is pretty crappy, and it’s even worse that no one talks about labor and birth and postpartum, because it’s all really intense. Yes, everyone has a very individualized experience in labor and birth (even the same person from birth to birth), but there are some commonalities. It shouldn’t be treated like this secret cult with mysterious knowledge. :/

          • Barefoot

            Yes yes to all this. I had some inkling of what baby life would be like, but the sleep-deprived postpartum haze took me completely by surprise. I was really bolstered by other moms who could tell what was really going on and encouraged me on how to get through it to the much better side. It shouldn’t be a postscript or a mysterious phantom. Neither a monster. Just another part of a very long process of raising a human!

          • Lilian

            “the fact that no one talks about the details of pregnancy until a person is pregnant is pretty crappy, and it’s even worse that no one talks about labor and birth and postpartum, because it’s all really intense.”

            Some great comments here. I often encounter birthing mommas that seem to have no idea that labor is going to *hurt*. Our patient population is generally more professional/informed than many, but there’s still a level of ignorance surrounding the labor/postpartum process and newborns.

            In fact, sometimes the most educated of mothers are the most uncomfortable with their newborn baby. They tend to be older women who’ve held off on pregnancy for a while to focus on education and career, and they have minimal experience with babies. I’ve had a professor of a posh local university express gratitude at little 20-something conservative me for my brief assistance with breastfeeding. She might have been an accomplished, ambitious, and intelligent woman… but with her newborn girl in her arms she felt she had no idea what she was doing.

            But I digress. There could stand to be a more frank dialogue about these things. Mothers should talk about them with their daughters/friends. And why not include tracking fertility and pregnancy/birth/postpartum information in public school sex ed programs? It seems like some young women aren’t really interested in learning about carrying and having babies until they’re trying to do it – but as a single and childless person myself I am so glad for the knowledge I’ve gained as an obstetric RN.

            And no, it hasn’t scared me away from the thought of having a baby!

      • shingworks

        Yes, thanks so much for this answer Brikit! Much better answer than I could ever hope to give.

    • Jay

      As a person who has experienced pregnancy, it can be both. Pregnancy hormones can make you feel worse, but they don’t create thoughts out of no where. It’s like… Being drunk, maybe. If when you drink you get depressed, getting drunk doesn’t make you sad, it brings it to the surface. Bex probably already has feelings of anxiety and it is possible that pregnancy hormones can make that worse. But it didn’t invent her worry and she’s not irrational, just intensified.

      Also socially, becoming a parent is definitely huge and life changing. It’s natural to wonder what will happen to you and to your life once the baby arrives. The pressure on mothers particularly is huge to love every second of it and feel grateful for their sacrifice of body, mind, and identity can absolutely feel crushing. The weight of everyone’s expectations for you to live up to an ideal of soft, nurturing motherhood and never complain about what it does to you can smother. Which it is doing to Bex here.

      • Hima

        Oooh I understand! Thanks for the answer!

  • Barefoot

    Bex’s response is completely rational, from my POV, as is her husband’s. When I was pregnant with my first baby, it was rather ideal–i had a strong support system, a husband who was involved at every step, and I was really excited to quit my job and become a mother. Even with all that, the emotional and psychological and spiritual roller coaster was INTENSE. I cried all the time, for every reason (thanks Hormones!). Pregnant women are not always “rational,” and it is really hard to understand unless youve been there. They are going through a lot.

    I also got a lot of flack for deciding to quit my career to be a full time mother, because in America there seems to be the sense that you don’t count as a woman unless you have a full time job attached to your identity. Now that I see how much work goes into caring for a new baby at all hours of every day, I really resent this trend. I wish more people believed that being “just a Mom” was worthwhile.

    So I get Bex struggling with who she will be. Babies demand all of you. Especially at the beginning, and if she has a lot of her self worth attached to her job and her projects, I bet it feels like everything she is is about to be steamrollered by Motherhood. I don’t know if she is in her home country in this scene, but if it is following American trends,, then I imagine it feels like a death sentence.

    …which is really sad. Because now that I am in the midst if it, Motherhood is awesome. And really, really hard. But so worth it.

    • Jay

      For me as a mom with a full time job, I see the weight of contradicting expectations on Bex. I think there is definitely an unfair opinion of stay at home parents being “just” a mother or father. Staying at home is hard. At the same time and paradoxically, a woman who puts herself or her career first is considered anathema to motherhood in a way that fathers are rarely criticized for. To me Bex is feeling the burden of everyone’s expectations for her to love pregnancy and look forward to motherhood, but she still wants to prioritize her career and is afraid child rearing will smother her goals and identity as a scientist. It’s not an unfounded fear; It’s a shame that motherhood and careers are pitted against one another as though you cannot both be valued as a person who excels in your job and as a caretaker of your children, but I expect that what Bex is feeling caught between here.

      • shingworks

        Thank you for your perceptiveness, that (and her inability to effectively communicate her fears) is what I was hoping would come through.

        • Jay

          Thank you for this comic and for surprising me with this gut punch of a storyline. I relate to Bex in this moment very closely. When I was pregnant I worried about and said many of the same things. I remember I avoided putting pregnant pictures of myself up on social media or announcing it for as long as possible because I wanted to stay “me.” I didn’t want to become identified themselves everyone else as “future mother,” I wanted to be me.

        • Brikit

          It really is coming through brilliantly. The fact that so many of your readers who are parents are resonating with both sides of this conversation shows how effective the dialogue and imagery is.

  • brokenidealist

    Awesome comic has awesome commenters — thank you all for these really good insights! I really appreciate Brikit’s and Barefoot’s accounts of motherhood experiences!

  • Poor Bex… panel 4 she just looks so exhausted and emptied out. I can understand the struggle so much. Barefoot’s comment above about how in America, a person’s “worth” or “identity” is tied to their job. I don’t know if Bex is having conflict about her social worth/identity – it seems more like she genuinely loves her work and doesn’t want to leave it, or be forced to leave it by this new, foreign job title of “mother”.

    Judging by how she eventually had 2 kids and hesitates to call herself a “good mom”, I bet she still has all sort of conflict between the value of her job work and the value of her family work. I’m guessing we’ll see more of that play out… I really do feel for past-Bex though. I’ve got so many of those same internal arguments going on about whether or not to have kids. U___U

  • Some_Douchebag

    I don’t want to disparage anyone else’s thoughts on this, but I don’t think Bex’s doubts can be chalked up to hormones. She did decide to leave her children to farm crickets on Mars, for Pete’s sake. I think she’s always secretly been averse to having kids, but never spoke out because of society’s and her husband’s expectations. She may only be expressing these feelings now due to having pregnancy’s hormones to blame it on. Also, having a less-than-wanted person growing inside of you is horrifying.

    We know she’s had another kid after this, so maybe she reconciled her doubts about parenthood, or perhaps she decided it wasn’t so bad after all. We also know that she ultimately decided to live far, far away from them and her husband. She waited until the kids were approaching/in adolescence to do this, but boys don’t stop needing their mother once they start needing to shave. I’d say that her willingness to leave points to more mixed feelings than can be explained away with “pregnancy hormones”.

  • Kittens and Mittens

    I give no cares about this character at all. None. Zero. Amounts of interest.

    But something in the author’s commentary bothered me that led me to write here. So, it’s the internet and people get impassioned about their thoughts/opinions/facts/contributions. Sometimes, leading people to say whatever it is that they feel can/will hurt someone or give textual tone of aggression. In the same light, there are also people who are extremely light-hearted, thoughtful, kind, dismissive, uninterested, factual, or overtly opinionated. I don’t know what happened that led to the author’s comment/statement but in the event that someone says something we don’t like or something that we think was the intent to harm(whether it was or was not); at what point does that become the norm of censorship? I’m against most forms of censorship because I think that devalues some sort of growth we humans need to have. I’ve been apart of the internet world for about 17/18 years. I’ve gotten pretty numb about people saying “hurtful” things: “you’re fat/ugly/stupid,” “fuck you,” “I hope you diaf” comments and other varying forms. None of those comments “hurt” because well, what am I gonna do? Why would I be upset over something minuscule on the interwebs. Plus, that’s their right to say whatever they want to, doesn’t bother me.

    Be aware of censorship and its negative effects. It leads to intolerance and dangerously close to creating more closed minded humans. Also, just, in general rule of using the interwebs, don’t let what people say get to you. Sticks and stones. The real world is pretty hardcore, letting words effect you when it doesn’t effect your paycheck/lifestyle is just letting a thorn stay stuck in your foot without taking it out.

    Good luck out there. Internet safely.

    • shingworks

      I never promised a space here for people to voice 100% of their opinions freely; I maintain this comments section for people to discuss the comic and whatever related topics might be interesting at the moment. I’m paying for this site and am the sole creator and owner of the site and contents, so it’s definitely within my bounds to moderate as I see fit. That includes asking people to find ways of communicating that don’t include shitty, thoughtless language.

      But since you don’t seem to be aware of this, usually the people who aren’t deeply affected by namecalling are those who don’t understand the issues well enough to understand why word choice holds different weight and meaning to different people. Assuming that different people of different backgrounds will react in the exact same way as you do in every situation is illogical. And, asking people already targeted by as punchlines to “grow a thicker skin and get over it” is a lazy attitude that is completely antithetical to obvious themes of the comic.

      Anyways, that’s the way it is on this website (and on all spaces I maintain). I don’t ban for anything other than abuse of myself or other readers, and despite some very heated topics I haven’t had to ban anyone at all. If you can’t, like the other hundreds of commenters, find a way to express yourself with basic respect towards others, I definitely invite you to exercise your right to 100% free speech elsewhere.

    • Little Brit

      You can convey different ideas without resorting to Ad Hominem retorts. I’ve even seen online discussions about hot-button issues (such as Brexit and Trump vs Hillary) treated in a reasonable and empathetic way in which people endeavored to see why others might think the way they do, only asking for the same consideration in return. Just a couple of pages ago someone complained about the lack of overt Nigerian-indications with regards to Bex, and I politely disagreed. No swearing (not even contextually) or name-calling. Compassion is the key to cohesion!

  • anameer

    “This what you wanted right?”
    “Yes. It’s perfect.” NOT.
    I love how the whole conflict in this interlude can be summarized with just those two panels, or so it seems to me. Either way, very nice Shing.

  • atomic_opera

    A couple of typos I noticed:
    4th panel: “I wish you’d listen when I say you’ll be *a* great mom too.”
    5th panel: “This *is* what you wanted, right?”

    Loving the comic as always; can’t believe it’s been two years!

  • Ben

    So, now we are getting the reveal about Bex?

    Common problem for strongly motivated career women, especially feminist ones. Fact is, there are a whole range of things which fall onto the mother, and nobody else. That’s how it works.

    Doesn’t matter how many cliches you spout, how politically correct you pose or how much you stamp your foot and cry “it’s not FAAAIIRRRRR” ol’ Mother Nature just goes on doing what she does…

    • Jay

      It’s more that our social world makes it difficult for women to be both mothers and career people, not the natural ones. The way that we work also makes it hard for men to be both deeply engaged fathers and fully realize their careers.

      You can see this in action at companies like Patagonia, who have radically reorganized their corporate structure to accommodate parents. And, no surprise, their retention of mothers and fathers after they have children is near 100%, because people don’t feel like they have to choose between being the Chief Financial Officer and having dinner with their kids. It has paid off for the company as well, because they retain their best talent rather than relying only on those willing to sacrifice their family life to accomplish their career goals, men and women both.

  • Kempson Bellington

    Oh shit. Didn’t recognize her.

  • CrisprChild

    The thing about your comics that I just can’t get over is that there are ‘no minor characters’.
    This page is about Bex, this interlude is about Bex, hell half this comic is probably going to be about Bex, but I still find myself caught up examining the husband as well.

    We know nothing of him or his situation, but his frustration is palpable. The stress that he is dealing with from the idea of becoming a father. The subtle guilt that he is letting his partner down in some way, and the almost panic because he dosent understand how he is. Despite this he backs off realising that there is a problem and that he need to be there for her, but you can almost feel him wishing that he had someone for support on his end as well. That last bit is so powerful; They’re both smiling at each other and acting like everything’s OK, and at the same time both feeling isolated in that moment, just putting on a face for the sake of the other person. How much of this she picks up on and how it plays into her own perception of her situation I can only wait to find out. There’s a surprising amount of insight into the relationship through him, and about him as well.

    In this particular instance I might be a little biased as I identify more with the husband than Bex in the first place, but I’ve noticed it elsewhere in The Meek, and even earlier in this comic as well. It really keeps everything immersed and believable, and makes you empathise with all the characters so much more. Much props. Good Comics. :)

  • TorgueRND

    Humans only smile in flashbacks, or when razzing a Martian.
    Kallakore, by contrast, has resting smirk face. Go figure.

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