Chapter 3, Page 60

You know it’s a bad situation when thighfriend is the only one not flappin’ out

I’m going to replace my normal shill with two notes…

1) For my American readers, today Trump appointed Steve Bannon as his strategist. You can do your own fact-checking on Bannon’s reputation yourself, but both the KKK and US Nazi party praised this appointment. This is not good news for most of us. If you have the time, please give a call to your representative and/ or senator to ask them to publicly decry this appointment.

A lot of my comics deal with darker themes like war, mental illness, death, etc. This is in large part because of my own history. Whole branches of my family were exterminated during WWII, and they had to flee their country to survive and start a new life. My grandmother went insane after her family was killed in front of her, so many years ago, and yet I deal with the ramifications of that every day, my own existence is a testament to both damage and survival… I process a lot of these thoughts alone, but share the output with you in the form of comics. Until recently it never occurred to me that I would have to experience things like radical nationalism in person. Please remember that fascism is insidious, and historically always seems like it won’t happen to you or your country or loved ones. It would be really nice if we could keep it that way through actively reaching out to the people who represent our needs in government and not letting it take hold. If you need help let me know and I can try and pull up some resources on how to call or write letters, or you can look at my Tumblr or Twitter for some stuff I’ve been using myself.

2) To all readers, there’s been a definite recent dislike for Bex’s character, which is completely fine. At this point in the story I expected that. However, if I ever feel you’re commenting with racist intent, I’m going to ask you to leave. This message doesn’t apply to 99.9% of you, but for that 0.01%, I’m letting you know right now that you need to educate yourself, and until you do, I do NOT want your readership. Thank you for keeping this comic a weird but safe space for everyone.

Thanks for reading. As usual, you can discuss comic and other stuff in the comments section, just keep it RESPECTFUL above all. This isn’t a safe space for assholes and tho I haven’t had to yet, I will remove unproductive comments if necessary.

And: two more pages until end of the chapter, we’ll be done by the end of the week. You guys are going to be mad haha

editors note: I just wanted to confess that sometimes I correct your comment typos when I see them so you don’t have to feel bad. That’s all :B


  • Fawkes Rinzler

    I feel so bad for Bex at this moment, because I can only imagine what a hard time she’s had while she’s been down there….

    But oH MY GOD SHE KILLED KALLA!!!! *sobs* I’m just having such a hard time processing that death…. I feel bad for Bex, but why didja do it, Bex? Why didja do it?! D:

    But I gotta say, Kudos to Mike for being able to run with thighfriend without hurting himself…. I try to run in flared shorts and I trip, fall, and break a nose. XD

    • AGV

      He started just like you, falling over until he perfectioned his technique, that’s why he’s nose is like that

      • Fawkes Rinzler

        XD I knew someone would make a joke about the nose! I’m so glad I was not disappointed~

  • neptune432

    “You guys are going to be mad haha”

    She’s killing off thighfriend, calling it now. It’s the only logical conclusion: kill everyone Michael has come to know and love.

    Seriously though, that is some heavy stuff, both Trump and your family’s history. It’s another bleak reminder to do our best to stop him at every turn.

    • virus3D

      i will just leave this here…

      • Corbie

        That’s a sadly cold and analytical view. What is currently happening, the outrage, the protests, the public anger, is actually democracy as much as the elections were. Maybe, by definition, more so, since this outrage is personal and honest and voiced by about half of the US. Blaming these people that they would offend / neglect / not care about democracy is not democratic, it’s demagogic and manipulative. They have a damned right to say that they are not happy with the situation. Everyone has a voice and a right to be heard, not only the majority. Democracy means “rule of the people”, not “rule of the current majority, and everyone else please shut up”.

        • shingworks

          Yep! I’ve never really understood the annoyance about non-violent protest. Especially given that our country, and most of the Amendments to the Constitution exist thanks to protest… if nobody questioned the status quo we wouldn’t have much of anything we’re used to nowadays, although I suppose some types would be happy about that.

          • David

            I don’t mind protests, but they seem sort of futile. Did the Occupy Wall Street protests accomplish anything?

            I guess non-violent protests work in the case where the protesters are a majority, or close to a majority. Examples being Martin Luther King’s protests, or Ghandi’s protests. If there are only a few thousand angry people, the protests are simply ignored.

          • shingworks

            Grain of salt: went to Berkeley, patron saint of protests. But, I think it’s valuable. First, it is a disruptive force that doesn’t hurt anyone. At worst, it’s an annoyance (traffic, for example). Disruption is generally considered a force of growth, ecologically and socially, you make people uncomfortable and give them a fleeting experience of what oppression feels like… I am a fan*. Second, you raise awareness. I’m still thinking about that goddamn tree sitter in Berkeley and that was 10 years ago. Things like BLM protests, Occupy Wall Street, etc, raised awareness of issues. I am not entirely sure that protests are good for actually bringing about immediate change, but it puts the issues on the table. I’d argue that a lot of Bernie’s supporters also supported OWS protests, but didn’t have an accessible way to voice their opinion in a way that did affect change. Then when they had a candidate who spoke to those issues, that seed was able to grow. This is all just my opinion though. I’ve done a few protests and we didn’t change anything, but then again, maybe we did.

            *in this sense I can kind of appreciate the disruption of the new presidency; already I am seeing people moved to political action that I haven’t ever seen before. However it’s one thing to go through that and another to live through something VERY disruptive in a way that hurts people, like violent protest or war. I see the need at times in history but on a personal level would rather not.

          • Corbie

            @David: I’m from a country with more and smaller parties than the US. Over the last decade, we saw the two major parties dwindle step by step since people grew annoyed with their politics and most of all their bickering and fighting each other. Overall, life hasn’t changed a lot here, but the increased presence of smaller parties tells its own story. Lots of peaceful protest has been involved, in a country where protesting is not exactly traditional.
            Single people and minorities may remain ignored for a long time. But there will be change, over time, because awareness rises, a lot of thinking will be done, decisions will be made upon a new, changed, maybe more educated basis by many.
            For example we still have a rather free online culture and no state-controlled internet. Without said protests, I would probably not be able to post here today.

          • Edward Perida

            It is no longer a legitimate protest when they clog the streets and keep people from getting to work or home to their children. When your right to protest stomps on my civil rights, then you are exercising illegal restraint. If you smash my windshield with a baseball bat, as they did in Oregon, you are now a terrorist. If you are bussed in and paid, you are not a protester. I was a protester in the 60s/70s, but when the Weathermen started blowing up buildings I cut my hair and got a job. eddiep

          • shingworks

            Obviously violent protest is not great, but people are allowed to peacefully gather… the point of protest isn’t to be convenient.

  • Quill

    I’m actually having trouble getting a read on the emotion here, mostly what I’m able to gather is confusion mixed with shock and relief (shock at the ‘death’ of a character, with relief that a character we havn’t seen in so long is ok) I don’t think it’s a problem with the writing, maybe more so with the inherent downsides to per page updating? not that I want that to change, if I wanted to read this like a ‘normal’ comic I could fully well just wait a month or two between readings. am I getting the right emotional vibe from this though? am I meant to be super sad about this even though I’m not?

    • shingworks

      Yeah, it’s definitely a different experience to read the pages one by one, but you’ve actually nailed the vibe, esp confusion, at least from Bex’s perspective. I don’t think she’s actually registered that anything is wrong on her end yet. The vibe as a reader is up to you though, your mileage may definitely vary. A lot of people are more upset than I thought they would be, but it’s probably due to local external circumstances as well and taking a break via escapism.

      • Quill

        I’m no different TBH I’m having a pretty bad/long depressive episode RN, so I was unsure if my empathy was just stopped haha. but no, I did feel a pang of like “oh shit no that’s bad” when I saw what she did to sharkfriend, but the fact he comes back, like from his perspective it’s a huge inconvenience, I don’t think people getting super upset is uncalled for though I think you’re right like, as a situation it’s very well put together and honestly if I was more actively writing is the kind of thing I’d try and aim for.

        • shingworks

          Haha, yeah, the fact that there’s a possibility for revival somewhere down the line gives a bit of hope to the situation I guess. We’ll have to see~

          And, hope you are taking care of yourself.

        • Lilian

          Depression stinks. I’m sorry.

    • David

      It seems to me there’s a correct way to interpret the emotions of the *characters*, but there is no correct way that *you* are supposed to feel. That part is up to you.

      As for me, I’m not really grief-stricken over Kalla’s death. A bit disappointed, because I wanted to hear more of her story, and I also enjoyed watching the friendship develop between her and Mike. Mostly, my reaction is “Oh shit, that’s not going to be good”. A happy reunion with Bex is now pretty much toast. I am eager to see what direction things go.

      • Edmund

        I feel hollow disappointment at Bex’s complete and utter ignorance of the situation. Kalla’s death to me is upsetting because her killer literally didn’t know any better. It’s just such a luckless reason to go.

        • Sheridan

          The things that annoys me about Bex’s actions is that there was no need for them. Kallakore was not threatening her; she wasn’t even aware of her. She was merely walking through the same area Bex was in. Further, KK is several times the size of Bex; unless you know you have an significant advantage (and against a creature you’ve never seen before, surprise doesn’t count) you stay hidden.
          I wonder where she got her weapon, though. She’s killed something there recently, since Kallacore spotted a large, fresh kill there. What if this is the third time KK has died in the last three months (and twice this week)?

  • Askance

    Thank you for your commitment to making this a safe space for non-assholes. The comic is destroying me right now, but thank you for it, too.

    • shingworks

      Well some assholes are allowed, they know who they are *meaningful glance at the mirror*

      • Fridge_Logik

        Welcome to Shingworld. You’re safe here, every one of your cares and imperfection will be attended to by our hosts. I have seen to it that no one can hurt you… except me.

  • I really appreciate the metaphors and ironies woven through this story. That last panel… Was trying to explain the situation in the last few pages to my partner, and I realized just how complex and deep the story is, despite the relatively sparse dialog.

    P.S. If anything happens with the ACA, I’m totally upping my Patreon support.

    • shingworks

      Haha, I complain a lot, but I think I have more than a lot of people do. If that does happen maybe consider a donation to your local women’s/ public health clinics instead.

  • Yes. Thanksfully (?), he considers himself as one too.

  • ObservantWolf

    Alas, one less ‘monster’ now…
    Unless Kalla is reborn via the Processor, I don’t see Mike being able to forgive Bex, though even then it’d be quite a struggle.

    • Glew

      I dunno. Mike has been pretty unpredictable and volatile this far. At least for me. I have no idea at all how he will act. I know what I would expect from other characters, but I don’t know what to expect from him.
      for all I know, he might just burst into laughter.

      • Edmund

        swim to the bottom and let himself go, on the off chance he comes back where Kalla is. But that’s the hopeful version of “Willfully go swimming with monsters”. Ugh. Too dark.

  • corndog

    Every time I see an update for this comic my heart starts pounding. So many of the other comics I follow have become so predictable but you so obviously have a strong grasp of good storytelling. Keep up the good work!

  • Herp McDerp

    Someone once asked Lois McMaster Bujold about how she wrote. She replied that she tried to create likeable, competent, engaging characters … and then put them through hell.

  • Shweta

    Thank you for both statements. And the comics. (Also, auuuugh poor everyone)

  • Localized

    But who is the REAL monster here???

    A: not Bex, because she was just doing what she had to to survive and didn’t know Kalla was a friend.

    • Glew

      Yeah, but isn’t that what monstrosity is? Placing yourself and your wellbeing and survival so high above everything else to not even consider NOT killing the stuff around you?
      And it’s not like she was attacked, the preious pages suggest she ambushed Kallakore.

      But of course I (think) I understand Bex. I’m not pretending I wouldn’t have possibly acted similarly in her place. But thinking about the implications is what makes this an engaging experience.

      • Localized

        Not really :/
        Bex didn’t know Kalla was intelligent so killing her is equivalent to killing some large animal. Gotta eat something.

        • Sumgai

          No, killing her was equivalent to killing a sentient being.

          Not realizing that you are killing a sentient being does not make it okay to kill a sentient being.

          Because at the end of both, a sentient being is still dead.

          • ProphetZarquon

            If the last sentient being dies, & no one is left to hear it, does it make a sound?

  • HyruleSymbol

    Bet Mike’s gonna suy something along the lines of “You’re the Monster!”

  • Pat

    Well shit don’t you hate when the author leaves in the description “you’re gonna hate it”. I’m expecting death and death and death even though there’s only three active characters(including thigh friend because he is sentient life and excluding thrip friend because where the hell has he been).

    • Pat

      I meant “you guys are gonna be mad”. My brain autocorrects more than my phone does I swear it’s a disease.

      • shingworks

        Well you might hate it too XD the future is full of possibilities.

  • Glew

    The world is full of monster’s Bex, and you are one of them.

    I actually feel sorry for her. I mean she just literally fell into the middle of this on her 1st day? If I remember correctly she is new to the whole Mars thing. And now suddenly aliens? So yeah, I get it that she was frigtened and most probably acted out of fear and (percieved) self-protection. Which makes the whole thing that much more tragic :(

  • Luces

    In Germany during the Third Reich, a lot of unto then decent people turned into torturers and murderers because they convinced themselfes that a part of the population – which they themselfes defined – wasn’t human and therefore open to all kind of persecution.
    Here, Bex didn’t even look for intelligence in an alien, which is hideous considering her schooling as an astronaut.
    The history of denying even the base aspects of humanity to people with the colouring of her skin makes her crime even more terrible!

    • shingworks

      You don’t know her motivations, however! Some other commenters have come very close to her actual reasonings, which I think are more than justified. Also remember, Kalla has admitted to Michael that she was the only intelligent life down here until LEVi showed up.

    • David

      Well, we’ve already seen several types of alien life that have tried to kill Mike. I’m assuming Bex did not have the benefit of meeting a friendly Wollaria (Wollarion?).

  • As a Monster, I am strongly offended by Bex…

    • shingworks


  • Luces

    >Here, Bex didn’t even look for intelligence in an alien <, …before slaughtering it…

    • Edmund

      Run into ten hostile things that don’t communicate and attempt to murder you, and you’d probably prefer to ambush the eleventh rather than repeat all THAT again.

  • Jojo

    Thanks for sharing your personal story with us here. I can relate on many levels. I really appreciate you.

  • Shakespizza

    Not just assholes, it’s a space assholes

    Ocean is a life, and life is a horrible, horrible thing, dear Bex

  • Patrick

    My respect and gratitude for you being such a great and talented artist just expanded thanks to you being such a thoughtful being with a heart on the right place. :3
    Thanks for these delightful experiences you are providing me with.

  • Adriano

    Joke on you, you’re the monster, ah!

  • Ben

    The question is, WHY did Bex kill Kalla? Right now, I can’t see it.

    I spend a lot of time with scientists and engineers AND in hostile and/or challenging environments – and by and large, these are NOT people who would act in that fashion. It doesn’t ring true for the character, unless there is something to come about Bex’ background – and there HAS been a certain amount of foreshadowing already..

    So I’m waiting with interest to see what develops.

    • Hima

      For fresh food? Kallakore had already said that this particular area had been empty of anything edible; Bex had apparently been living there for a while, hiding, already confronted with some of the actual mindless monsters, and eating what she could find. If she ran out of anything to eat and she saw a potential predator milling about, it’s logical to try to move first.
      Plus it appears that her background did prepare her for wilderness survival (camouflage, weapon, breathing mask) she know what she’s doing.
      I don’t think any of the normal challenging situations on eart are equivalent to this: being stuck underground in another planet, alone, with strange and hostile animals (like those stabfish) milling about, nothing to eat, no way out. The more equivalent things I can think of is being stuck in a tiny island or a boat in the middle of the ocean. And yeah, historically proven, people WILL try to eat the endangeded animals/their crewmates in these situations.

      • strannik

        Especially, Bex came on Mars to develop insect-based food. She’s already prepared to eat what aother people won’t for survival.

        Then the question is more : Jow Mike did survive without eating anything ?

  • Ben

    Re “racist” comments about Bex, TBH I’d regard that as a writing error.

    Given that certain people will undoubtedly have problems with a coloured character presented in a negative way, and right now Bex is being presented in a VERY negative way, I don’t see the reason for her being specifically a coloured character. It just opens doors that have no useful purpose, in plot terms.

    The plot point about the Mars programme having a diverse crew could have been made another way, it isn’t central to the plot; it’s just a background issue.

    So I’m afraid you have made that problem for yourself.

    • Kobb

      I doubt this this is a simple matter of readers being upset at a black character Doing A Bad – emotional responses to stories are great. But to make *racially charged* negative remarks is never okay and absolutely isn’t being “asked for” on any level. It really isn’t hard to just say regular disappointed things like you would for any other character. :/

      Your comment reads a bit like a suggestion to never let non-white characters be real, flawed humans. Just “diverse” set dressing? Or only perfect non-characters? Blech.

    • JJ

      Bex is presented in a humanly negative way right now (with two remaining chapters possibly differentiating this), not in a racially stereotyped negative way. Anyone seeing her as confirmation of negative preconceptions about black people is bringing their own racism into their reading.

      What you’re basically saying seems to be “only write black characters as angels”, which is positive discrimination? In the long term, writing people as people is the way to go.

      As for “it’s just a background issue”, that remains to be seen in the next two chapters. Chapter 1 set up some tensions between Mike and Bex, each informed by their diverse backgrounds, which are bound to play out starting … two pages ago.

      Ok this is getting long but one last point. Mike is mentally ill and an asshole. Is that a writing error, too?

      • Ben

        You seem to be missing the point. Some people do, indeed, bring issues of that sort with them. That being so, it would seem to be fairly predictable that presenting a coloured character in a negative light, is highly likely to produce a certain level of that sort of reaction.

        So, if you intend to make the point that a coloured character is just as likely to be good, bad or any other given thing, as anyone else – then go ahead, but be prepared for the inevitable outcome, and deal with it in a suitable fashion.

        I’d read the tensions between Mike and Bex, as based on the conflict between Mike’s troubled background – we already know that his parents divorced acrimoniously, and that caused further problems for him – and the apparent fact that for reasons not yet explained, Bex appears to have abandoned her own family to come to Mars permanently.

        This may not be true, of course; her circumstances are not fully explained AFAIK, but that’s the inference as things stand.

        So no, I don’t believe Bex’ colour or ethnic background is a plot point, based on what we presently know.

        • JJ

          I’m willing to bet Der-shing is prepared.

        • shingworks

          Believe me, I am prepared! I have been posting shit publicly on the internet for almost 10 years, my body is iron from all the slurs and insults hurled at me by angry 4chans and randos. You probably would not believe how much shit I get. But a non-negotiable thing for me is that my personal comments sections are not the place for that. Other blogs, forums, whatever, fair game. I can’t control people’s responses but I can put my foot down about the tone, especially where racism is concerned.

          And her color is really not a point at all, BUT her background (ethnically) is only going to be addressed as far as I’ve done research and had the research signed off on by Nigerian consults. I have some people from the actual country of Nigeria who I’m talking to on the side because I am trying to avoid shoehorning stuff in that I don’t understand for pointless “flavor.” The rest of her personality is just her as a person.

    • You’re right that it isn’t central to the plot, which is why it’s good writing. It isn’t a background issue – that is, characters being people of colour – given the problem of lack of diversity in media and politics.
      The creation of Bex as a person of colour has NOTHING to do with her actions. Also, I’d disagree that she is being portrayed negatively – she is not specifically trying to upset people who kill Kallakore, she’s trying to survive in a hostile environment in the belief that she’s alone.
      I’m not saying she couldn’t have been slightly less trigger happy though.

      The point about having a diverse crew – since these two are the only human characters in almost all of the comic, it couldn’t really have been made differently: would you suggest that the main characters be two white males, but they TALK about how racially diverse the crew is?

      • Ben

        No, Bex is portrayed very negatively right now. She is, after all, supposed to be a scientist involved at the extreme leading edge of Mars colonisation, and highly trained to cope with unforeseen situations.

        Kallakore had already confronted Mike without causing any insoluble problems; knows about Levi and so, would be aware of how humans behave, within limits. He/she also apparently speaks understandable, if not fluent English.

        So we must assume that Kallakore would have known about Bex before Bex knew about him/her (because helmet lights, apart from anything else) and approached Bex in the least threatening way available.

        Bex appears to have concealed herself and ambushed Kallakore with considerable force and violence.

      • Ben

        Also, there were several other characters at the habitat. Any of those could have been coloured, or Asian, or whatever – in fact it’s pretty much a cliche of SF that crews in such situations are very diverse, sometimes to the point of parody.

        • shingworks

          Uh, they were… haha. You should reread maybe? Vieties is Spanish (from Spain) and Commander Goto is Japanese-American. Braid, who is not in the comic at the moment, was Korean-American, and Ross is Chinese-American. I think Michael is the only white American in the story so far. And btw, I mostly based this split off of the coworkers in the team at my last job, not some diversity quota. Braid again is not in the comic, but based on a roommate (also Korean-American) who programs robots on the ISS for NASA. Where I live this is not an uncommon distribution, especially in tech-related fields.

          • DukeBG

            You needed more russian coworkers tho :[

            Just like all other american sci-fi! So far from reality, in which there are only russian space-capable operating vehicles presently! Arguments with exclamation points!

          • shingworks

            Haha, I figure they would have their own base XD No need to come to the American one like Bex has to.

          • DukeBG

            Yeah, that’s true. And everyone will speak russian there too, even the ones from other countries — I guess not very good for the english comic either.

    • Pylgrim

      Blaming the author is completely ridiculous. What you are suggesting is that an author either bends their will to racists (by forcing themselves to always present minorities in a positive light lest racists use it as an excuse to be racist) or they better “be prepared” for them. How? shutting up and letting them be because it’s all her fault?

      Breaking news, friend. A racist is a racist and often will find a way of letting other people know why they are right about being it. If Mike and Bex’s races were reversed, for example, they would have jumped up with racist commentaries when Mike was acting deranged or being a jerk to Kalla. Again, are the only options to either make completely angelical POCs or to humbly lay a red carpet for racists saying “do your worst, it’s clearly my fault for enabling you”?

      Or, going by another of your comments, simply not portraying any POC? Diverse crews are apparently forced political correctness almost to the point of parody, according to you. Yup, let’s make everybody white, but only to avoid casting POCs under a bad light, not for racist reasons, nope! That’s most definitely not letting racists be in control by means of an unspoken threat of bullying, right?

    • shingworks

      This is a strange comment… you’re implying the only way to solve racism is via homogeneity? I’ve seen comments (off-site) that were literally “No! I know it’s wrong to say this but this makes me dislike black people.” There’s a big difference in those comments than a comment like “No! Bex you piece of shit how dare you kill Kalla!”

      There’s an issue within the discussion of representation, which is “how do we portray minorities in fiction?” A lot of this discussion has to do with who is doing the portrayals. You might have seen a recent controversy in Spiderman where the boy, Miles, tells another character that he feels annoyed at being called “black” and “half ‘Hispanic'”, because he wants to be seen the same as any other super hero. This is dialogue written by a white man, which was praised by non-minority readers for being progressive and derided by actual black and latinx readers for being dismissive. In reality, people do not want their identities erased. I personally do not want to be seen as “the same as everyone else.” I’m not. My culture and background, such as it is, is different than yours, and important to me. It’s also important to me to have my background appear in media in ways that aren’t limited to Kung Fu and Joy Luck Club scenarios. I would like to see people like me in all sorts of media, doing all sorts of different things, having as much nuance or shitty qualities or heroic qualities or whatever as anyone else. I would love if my plot twist wasn’t related to my race, since this seems to be a fallback for writers who think that being a different race is the only personality trait that matters to a non-white/ non-default character.

      Because this is my personal belief, the reason for her being a specifically colored character (which honestly isn’t the point here… her being black is secondary to her being African/ Nigerian) is that I am trying to show that in the future, which is one I designed for this comic, developing countries have access to space via other countries. Space exploration is not just for Americans, nor should we do this exploration in a bubble. Bex likely bought a ride from an Indian or Chinese ship. The patch on her shoulder is from NASRDA, which is Nigeria’s actual government space program. So, this matters to me, and has a useful purpose to me. In the same way that making Michael a strong white man with a critical weakness is important to me. It’s because it has meaning to me, which can be picked up by the reader. I don’t think diversity in the future will be relegated to token members of a crew. They will be the people you eat and drink with, the people you become best friends with, the people you hate and the people you love. Just because you don’t value characters like them, doesn’t make them background issues. Same goes for real people.

      And your last point: I am pretty sure I did not invent racism. I can write a comic of entirely non-white characters, and if I do it with a background of education and respect, and nobody comments in a way that shits on that, there’s no problem. As soon as someone comes in here wagging their dick saying “why is everyone brown,” that is when I have the problem. If you’re interested in this subject you can definitely read more via Google, it is important especially nowadays for people to understand that brown characters are not background items meant to fulfill a quota and be killed off in the first scene.

      • Herp McDerp

        In the same way that making Michael a strong white man with a critical weakness is important to me. It’s because it has meaning to me, which can be picked up by the reader.

        It’s the nose thing, isn’t it? ;^)

        • Dar

          I like big noses and I cannot lie. True story: I had a professor in college who had a serious beak of a nose. I thought it was the most beautiful nose ever and would sit in the front row (which I never did) simply so I could admire it. Had no interest in the man. He was probably old enough to be my dad but damn, that nose was fine! :D

    • Melle

      So you’re saying a story shouldn’t have black characters unless it has a “useful purpose in plot terms”, and that there needs to be a “reason” for a character to be black. This is a really nice example of how discrimination in the media works. Humans = white dudes, and if there’s an exception to that rule, it needs to be either a plot point, or a device to avoid criticism from a minority group. Come on, let’s top it off properly: I don’t see a reason for this character specifically being female. It doesn’t have any useful purpose in plot terms – I mean, she’s not even anyone’s love interest, right? While we’re at it, Mike has been presented in a negative way in parts of the comic, isn’t he gay (And no less without “reason” or “specific plot purpose” so far, I might add)? Whoa, this might result in some nasty gay bashing. Uh-oh. Better redesign this comic’s characters quickly, make it an all white, straight male cast… in order to avoid discrimination and restore balance to the universe, of course.

  • Brian

    First time posting.. been reading since before Meek’s hiatus. Absolutely in love with these comics for more reasons than I can list.

    I came out of hiding because someone needs to stand up for Bex here. I am not yet ready to call her a monster. We’ve had an entire chapter of Mike’s Adventures on Mars and have been on an emotional roller-coaster the whole time… and we have no idea what Bex has been through in that time. I can only imagine that her experiences throughout this chapter have been just as varied and traumatic as Mike’s. Without that context to understand her actions through, I just can’t find myself in a position to pass that kind of a judgement on her yet.

    Yes she’s a scientist. But she’s also a prey item now. Granted we can’t be sure, but it’s very likely that she has suddenly found herself in world where everything Really Is trying to kill her. Who knows what else is out there. All I am willing to assume here is that she’s just trying not to die.. even if that means striking first when handed the element of surprise.

    I think she’s traumatized. I think she’s terrified. I think she wants to be alive.

    I don’t think she’s a monster.

    • Brian

      Also… If she gets killed off suddenly in the next two pages and I don’t get to find out what she’s been through..

      Then yes.. I will be mad. :)

    • Agreed. I’m surprised that Bex is getting a strong negative reaction. From that first shot of her face in the previous page, I thought “she has been slogging her way through a hostile environment, alone, without hope.” I would have been curled up in a terrified ball the whole time.

      Surely the tension is that she did something terrible and unfortunate (killing Kalla) that seemed reasonable from her side; The clashing experiences and perspectives.

      This wouldn’t be terribly interesting if the point was “Bex is bad.”

      • Lilian


    • Paula

      I agree with this, and I was also surprised by the reactions from other commenters. Yes, she is a scientist, but she also doesn’t want to die. Although I am wondering why she thought Wollarian flesh would be edible to humans. What if aliens from Mars are filled with toxins?

      That said, the last few pages have really hit me :( Poor Kalla.

      • Tam

        I guess that between “potentially toxic” and “nothing”, I would have taken my chance with the big predator too.

        I agree with you. I am quite sad for Kala, but I can totally relate to what Bex must have been under (lost, in very hostile, monster-full, alien, lonely environment).

        An also, some people brought up some racist issues. I just want to say that I did not think about skin color and/or origins for one second. Bex is Bex, a complex human character (who happen to be Nigerian, and a women), with her qualities, and her defaults. I really enjoyed the parts when of the story when she was involved (ok, to tell the truth, I enjoyed all parts of the story…). My point is: good work with creating engaging, complex, interesting characters.

  • Noble

    Why!?!? Miss helmer!!! I ask you, is this world not cruel enough!? He made Mikey smile for heavens sake…
    Tonight I sleep with a aching heart.
    Dinah Washington sounds so befitting at the moment :
    This bitter Mars
    What fruit it bears
    What good is love
    That no one shares?
    And if my life is like the dust
    That hides the glow of a rose
    What good am I?
    Heaven only knows

    This bitter Mars
    Can it be so cold?
    Today you’re young
    Too soon your old
    But while a voice
    Within me cries
    I’m sure someone
    May answer my call
    And this bitter Mars
    May not be so bitter after all

  • Squirrelmaster

    I find it far more disturbing that I made a post on another comic pointing out that there was nothing to fear and that everyone was including in making things here great again, and I was immediately attacked, called a Nazi and permanently banned. That is not rational behavior and a lot of things around the country are on fire at the moment that aren’t supposed to be. It’s not us doing it.

    Love the story, by the way. I stop in every couple of days for my dose of Buff Guy and Landshark, so please don’t freak out and ban me.

    • shingworks

      Yeah, sounds like you experienced an overreaction, but if you’ve been paying attention to the rhetoric you’ve probably noticed that most of the groups being negativity targeted right now are under-protected minority groups like Muslims, Mexicans, transgender people, immigrants (many who are here very necessarily on skilled worker Visas), outspoken women, sick people on Obamacare, etc. The sweeping generalizations paired with the glee of racists really terrifies folks like me. You are not an actual Nazi, but supporting people who can’t wait to dismantle the rights of some Americans is a distinction a lot of us can’t afford. I am very confused and disappointed at people who I thought were friends, who have made me stress about my existence to this degree.

      Either way, I do hope you’ll speak up for the weak if you see them being targeted under this new presidency. I don’t think anyone actually wants America to not be great, it would just be very nice if it could be great for everyone to equal degrees.

      • Squirrelmaster

        Well, of course I’ll speak up, and do more than that, and so will millions like me. The problem is where all this terrible information has come from. To put it simply, it’s all lies. Complete lies. I’ll leave a video here that sums it up simply too, from one of my favorite journalists. Watch it all the way to the end, if you do watch it, cause he says something that everyone needs to hear and the video clearly shows. It’s short, and rather funny, if nothing else.

        • J-Prime

          All lies? Clearly not. Have there been overreactions? Oh yeah. But there has clearly been a really big uptick in racial and gender based assaults in the last few days – both verbal and in some cases physical. And many more calls for racial and gender profiling and a retraction of civil rights for historically marginalized groups.

          Is that what Trump supporters (or Trump himself) want? Maybe many ‘no’, but certainly some ‘yes’. To try to convince oneself otherwise is simply to ignore the complicated truth of what’s taking place. The strong-minded can admit complexity, the weak demand simplicity.

          I personally know many Trump voters and nearly all I would not categorize as bigoted. Unfortunately, I also know a couple people who have taken the opportunity of Trump’s election to speak unabashedly in terms that are profoundly racist and hateful. And I’ve seen with my own eyes racist graffiti linking Trump with the rise of white power.

          One hopes that the people doing these things are a extremely small minority of the people, and that as time goes by, society makes it clear that these behaviours are not true to American ideals.

          But vigilance is the cost of freedom, as the saying goes.

          • Squirrelmaster

            Sure, and at least some of that racist graffiti has been traced back to people who are not Trump supporters and just want to cause more chaos.

            The lies I’m talking about are from the mainstream media and public figures. CNN even got caught interviewing a “protester” who turned out to be the reporter’s own cameraman. That’s how far they’re willing to go to fuel all the anger and fear they’ve generated with false stories.

            Now we have people rioting in the streets, damaging businesses and private property, setting things on fire, and hurting other people over it. At least some of these rioters were bussed in from out of state and are paid to riot.

            None of these people are Trump supporters or have anything to do with Trump. They’re calling him a nazi, while acting like total nazis. It just doesn’t make any sense to me that people are afraid of Trump while people on the left are out causing actual harm across the entire country. That’s something to be afraid of.

        • Corbie

          He says: “They just leave”, which is his immediate conclusion of something he sees. He has not asked even one of those who left on why they left. He’s not even trying to speak from an objective position, nope – he tells the audience not to believe a few specific channels. I would not believe somebody who, based upon assumptions and not facts, tells me what’s a lie and what not.
          Anyways, never believe just one channel or one journalist or one point of view. Poor Bex’ current problem shows that damn well. :)

          • Squirrelmaster

            His point is that these media outlets are going to be writing stories the next day based on what they are supposed to have witnessed at that location. But they aren’t there to see anything, so how can they tell you what happened? They left because they’ve already decided what to write. That Trump is racist, Bannon is racist, etc. They are lying.

          • shingworks

            It’s not like you can’t have your opinion, but it’s weird that you don’t think Trump is racist, or Bannon is racist, when they’ve literally been on record multiple time saying things that are racist. If you want to argue that simply saying racist things doesn’t make one racist, then it’s like, what DOES then? To be honest I don’t read mainstream news anymore because I hate having to fact checking everything, I usually get my news from international sources or go hunt down sources on my own if I have time. And I have no idea how you can continue to tout the “everyone except Trump supporters are rioting” party line with a straight face. I’m more than willing to accept that both sides are behaving badly, because it’s true, but this and your other comments are so absolute in your message that nobody except the media and non-supporters are doing anything wrong, it’s bizarre.

          • Squirrelmaster

            It’s bizarre to accuse Trump supporters of rioting. What possible reason is there for the people on the side that won to go out in streets and protest? There isn’t any. None.

            I also didn’t say anything about everyone rioting. Most of the nation isn’t rioting. Certain people are rioting. Some because they lost and some because they are being paid to do so by organizations set up and funded by George Soros, who is the furthest thing from right wing. There is ample proof of it, from the identities of the people arrested in the riots, to the statements they have given, to craigslist ads for protesters, to Soros’ email being hacked.

            There are people who may be Trump supporters getting into trouble here and there. But if you look honestly, it’s one guy here, one guy over there, and the guy over there turns out to be a guy with asperger’s that supported Hillary and nobody knows why he did that. The girl claiming her hijab was ripped off by guys wearing Trump hats admitted that she made the whole thing up and she’s now facing charges of making a false report, by the way.

            At least half the information flying around is completely false at this point. Kinda like when Harry Reid said Romney hadn’t paid his taxes in ten years and the media and everyone ran with it. It was totally false. Reid said the same thing about Trump, tried the same trick again. Didn’t work this time.

            So at this point one side has actual proof, and the other is saying whatever they want thinking that there are no consequences to fueling fear and violence nationwide.

            As for guilt by association, how do you feel about countries like Saudi Arabia, where women are not even allowed to drive, giving her millions of dollars and her keeping it?

          • Corbie

            Huh, but Der-Shing wrote that “everyone except” Trump supporters were rioting. Just wanted to mention, I think you missed a word there :)

            Things get tough when you need to resort to small events in order to proof a statement against the obvious. About women in Saudi-Arabia: What do they have to do with Trump? He makes obvious misogynistic comments, Saudi-Arabia basically represents misogyny at each level. But comparison is futile, not only for the largely different backgrounds, but simply for the reason that this would mean to compare the bad against the worst to make it look good. If that’s necessary, think twice – what happens if you compare Trump against, say, Sweden, which may be the country with the most developed gender euality in the whole world? He’d look like a bully who never spent a thought on the topic he barks and jibes about.
            Sadly, that’s the basic mechanism of suppression of a whole ethnic group. Thoughtlessness, “I didn’t really mean it”-jokes and comments which seem funny on the surface, failing empathy, all these are very common and drive the stake home bit by bit, until the joke becomes reality, the comment is meant by heart, and those who claim they aren’t racist, misogynistic, or whatnot, need to truly prove their statement.
            Trump and most of those around him, Bannon being the worst, have made this kind of comments, joked in that way, deliberately or thoughtless or actually meaning it. Whether they did mean it does not matter. They are politicians, they should represent and not repress. There is no way for someone in such a position to speak like this and not suffer the consequences. There is no way to say “I did not mean it”. Why should others believe them? I, as a woman, feel offended and threatened by these comments, by the thoughtlessness and deliberate hatred in them (and believe me that I’m not easily to offend). I expect a politician, a representative of a democracy, to have at least a bit of empathy. Trump showed none so far. He has painted a nice picture parading his daughter and mimicking true interest in womens’ rights. I won’t believe him a bit until he proves that at a major scale, and thereby also proves his comments and jokes to be thoughtless jokes and not his opinion after all. I doubt he’ll be able to do that.

            I don’t know what happened to the girl and her hijab. Just have a look at similar cases, sexual assaults, rape, harrassment … most of them end like this. And in most cases, the victims (not only women) say that they could not handle the pressure of being questioned all over any more. They would have said anything just to get out of a situation where their attackers are given more credibility, while they suffer from victim blaming at its worst.
            Please be careful with this kind of “fact”. It’s bad enough that Trump seems not to be even aware that rape culture is a real thing. “Facts” like this strengthen it further, and that’s just one more thing why the likes of Trump and Bannon give many people the creeps.

            You don’t need to defend Trump for what he mucked up. That’s his job. If he can’t handle that, he won’t be able to handle presidency.

          • Tadrix

            Shing, You can’t even trust international news, they are too influenced by what’s happening in USA. An example:
            In my own country before American presidential election news outlets were seriously pro-Clinton and described Trump (or Tramp, as I’m sometimes calling him) like everyone else in Your country. What happens now in news? “Well, maybe he’s not THAT bad afterall. Tramp certainly isn’t a dove of peace, but he isn’t a warmonger either.” Shows that journalism is the second most ancient profession in the world.

          • shingworks

            Yeah, I start with Al Jazeera (non-eng) just cuz they aren’t Western Centric the way that BBC is. My next step is usually local news but nowadays I have to spend as much time filtering through the articles as I do finding the articles, sigh T__T

      • Tadrix
        • shingworks

          I read it. I mean, it’s nice. It refutes some points and ignores some others. I’m glad to have a little bit more info. But it’s not enough for me. Believe me I would love nothing more than to relax and pretend everything will be fine. Experience with racism aimed at me and my family lets me know that I’d rather be paranoid and do too much than sit back and hope for the best and do too little.

      • Tadrix

        Anyway, it probably wasn’t wise to let some politics stand in the way of friendship (I’m referring here to your post about “people you thought were friends”). Every sane person acts (or is thinking, that acts) in his/her best interests. They just didn’t see this situation your way and acted according to their beliefs (choosing in their opinion the lesser evil and voting for Trump, I assume). Who of you was right, only future will tell. But it’s probably not worth arguing over unpleasant choice between two jerkasses.

        • shingworks

          Don’t tell me what is and isn’t wise for me. You’re entitled to your opinion about your own thoughts but I draw the line at people critiquing my personal feelings, full stop.

  • Hima

    New Kallakore springs from the ocean, Bex kills her again XD

    • CosmicStresshead

      Or, magnified by the fear within her when she died, KALLZILLA rises from the depths and just stomps on Bex, lifts Mike up, breaks out of the chasm, climbs atop Devotion station and roars. Chapter ends.

      I’ve taken an Ambien and forgotten to go to sleep again haven’t I?

      • Hima

        Shing said we’ll be mad with the next two pages, and the scenario you described is unfortunately far too GLORIOUS and ALLEVIATING to fit into Shing’s description :'(

      • AGV

        Isn’t that from Toy Story 3?

  • Pylgrim

    God, I’m just… dreading their conversation once Mike calms down enough to tell her that Kalla was an honest-to-goodness alien life, friendly and sapient and THEN Bex thinks like he’s just being his old crazy self. I don’t see how Mike can possibly convince her and the whole thing is just going to make it even harder for him to cope.

  • Barefoot

    I am a multi-year lurker, but had to sign in to say this: Der-Shing, you have had one of the most balanced and respectful responses to commenters that I have seen in a long time, even though there are some seriously polarizing and hateful opinions out there. It was refreshing to see how you have replied to some of the more incendiary posters with enough empathy to preserve their humanity (not easy to do in the Internet) while still acting as police to keep this site safe for all of us. ( In addition to producing a gorgeous comic that still has me feeling from its turns and super jazzed by its fantastic use of lighting.). The Internet at large could learn a thing or two from you on how to have a decent conversation. Thanks.

    • shingworks

      I hate doing it tbh XD I want to troll people who make me angry like everyone else. But I guess it is good to have calm conversations sometimes, siiiighhh

      • Lilian

        By the way, Shing, I am sorry for what happened to your family. And I am sorry for what happened to your grandmother.

    • Lilian

      I’ll echo that. Shing does indeed work hard to preserve the humanity of commenters that I know she disagrees with. It’s a wonderful quality.

      Whatever one feels about the recent election, I know that a *huge* driving force behind the outcome was a reactionary one. President Elect Trump did not appear in a vacuum. Decent people were sick of being labelled, attacked, and pigeonholed by those who claimed to stand against labels, attacks, and pigeonholes.

      Unfortunately, people with legitimate grievances can quickly become so angry that they lash out in destructive ways and their thinking becomes bitter and warped and they stop acting decent.

      At any rate, either outcome of the election would have had me wary. Trump won, and I am watching him closely.

      Thank you, Shing, for being nice to people.

  • Mark Barner

    Meta-commentary follows…

    Shing, have you considered displaying an image of a safety pin on this website? Some of us have started wearing one on our shirts and jackets to show equality, compassion and solidarity with oppressed people everywhere, and to signify that each of us is a one-person “safe zone”, as well. This custom originated during WWII to show that the person would not support the policies of the Nazi occupation, and who would even risk their own lives to protect the lives of the so0called “enemies of the state”.


    • shingworks

      Thanks for the suggestion! I don’t care for the symbol in the context of recent events… My personal feeling is that my words and actions are a lot more valuable than passive gestures, so I prefer to focus on those.

  • Hima

    I don’t think there is any reason Bex should have assumed Kalla was a sentient creature. There are no infrastructre or tools lying around the Mare Internum OR the Mars surface for her to make this assumption. The only tools are in Kalla’s den, which is hidden.
    Logically speaking, Bex had a sound reasoning.
    (I’m still angry at her for killing Kallakore, though XD)

    • Asterai

      Kalla’s hair appeared, to me, to be tied back, implying both personal decoration and tool-use. But that kind of detail is very very easy to miss in a life-or-death situation.

      • Hima

        Oh yeah, you’re right!
        But yes, it was easy to miss :( Poor Kala :(

  • David K.

    Can we rule out the possibility that virtually none of this chapter is happening outside of Mike’s mind? Is the real Bex even there? Note that everything we have been shown has been strictly from Mike’s point of view.

    After all, Bex is walking around with no helmet and no parasite/symbiote to help her breathe on a planet where she had no reason to believe that there was any atmosphere breathable by humans outside of the manmade bases. She has encountered complex lifeforms on a planet where if I remember correctly even microbes had not been detected. And, finally, she seems to have no natural curiosity as to what might be causing these anomalies.

    I would not be surprised if the final frame of this chapter shows Bex (wearing a helmet) pulling Mike (also wearing a helmet) out from under a pile of rubble as Mike continues to babble about what turns out to be his imaginary friend(s).

    On the other hand, if she is real, then at some point we should learn enough about what Bex has been going through to understand her current attitude.

    • David

      Yeah, I’ve been wondering how she breathes. I thought maybe that bush-thing she used as camouflage was actually a symbiote, but apparently not.

    • Sumgai

      It’s not outside the realm of possibility. It doesn’t have to be complete either. Some, all, or none of the comic up to this point, right back to the very first strip, could be entirely imagined.

      Even taking all of it as real, we don’t know exactly what Bex was thinking. In that case though, the explanation is going to have to be profoundly convoluted to be anything like forgivable.

  • Aw! Wow. This is where I come for my periodic punch in the gut, apparently. You’re so good at complicated, emotional situations.

    Monsters! Ow!

    I wonder what it says about me that my favorite webcomics are intense roller-coasters of anguish, while my own is a lighthearted comedy with cutesy art.

  • Edward Perida

    Currently in America, colored is an offensive term. A person of color can be any one of several races or nationalities and yet it is used to designate those of African descent. I’m jus’ sayin’. eddiep

    • shingworks

      Yeah, I’ve seen that word pop up. I don’t want to assume commenter country of origin though.

      As a general note for anyone reading:
      In the US at least, the labels “colored” and “black” is offensive. “African American” is best avoided since it assumes the person is of African heritage (a lot of black folks in the US hail from the East Indies, India, Southeast Asia… and honestly anywhere else. Not to mention many African-Americans from places like ZA are white). The reason the terminology in the US is so nuanced compared to other countries is because of our long and still-unresolved issues with slavery and institutional racism compared to other developed countries.

      Preferred terms to describe darker folks in the US include “person of color” or if you want to be specific, “black person” or “brown person.” Note that the use of the word “person” here emphasizes humanity over skin tone compared to the archaic terms. These terms change all the time as society evolves so this is accurate at time of writing as far as I know.

      I can’t speak for the local terminology in other countries, and people from predominately black/brown countries in particular have a completely different way that is acceptable to describe themselves that, as an outsider, I don’t get a say in. Since the majority of the readers here are from the US, if you are a commenter who wants to get your point across without your semantics being an issue, try using one of the preferred terms. Otherwise someone is likely going to say something, but that’s up to you if you want to explain that.

      • Ben

        Interesting comment. British usage is rather different: apart from anything else, it is quite possible to be British, in the sense of holding a British passport, but not English (or Scottish, Irish or Welsh) – i.e., someone of local descent stretching back as far as can be established.

      • White ally

        I used the term person of color and People of Color, but the word color in it triggered a non-white friend of mine who kindly messaged me in private asking that I should simply use non-whites instead, for it is ok when non-whites call each other POC but can be triggering when white people refer to them as poeple of color. It was used in the context that I give women, and non-whites a discount on film rental gear.

        • shingworks

          Hm, hadn’t heard that one before. I can sort of see the reason… I’ll have to look into it. Either way, that’s good of you to listen to your friend. Even as a person of color I get confused by the terminology pretty frequently, and frustrated, but a few seconds of “if it makes someone’s life easier then why not learn a new thing” clears it up. I’m very much one of those “please don’t put me in a box” kind of people but it’s also good to realize that it’s not all about me.

        • shingworks

          Actually I was pissed off the other day after I learned that bananas are technically berries, lol. I was like man I’m too old to reclassify bananas. But then I was like shit this is exactly how old people think about gender pronouns. Berries it is then.

        • Tadrix

          Sounds like same racism turned around to me. “Non-whites” specifically excludes white people (and calls them by color, kind of like poeple dislike the term “blacks”), while “people of color” assumes that “white” is not a color and it’s something that the white race lacks.
          Seriously, if you people want racial equality, then cut that shit already and treat anyone equally.

          • shingworks

            The problem forever being that people aren’t homogeneous, come from different backgrounds, and have different needs. I default to listening to people who suffer from racism more than I do because… they are the ones who know it best. A lot of white people I know STILL won’t even admit that racism exists anymore.

          • Tadrix

            Well, then the first step would be openly admitting that racial differences exist, biological as well as cultural, and respect these strong points, making humanity as a whole stronger. But that’s about races as a whole. An individual should always be appraised as a unique being, with his/her own strengths and weaknesses, and in that regard race or gender should be irrelevant.

            Alas, it’s not how it is happening nowadays. Unknown individuals are judged by their looks, but point out a real difference between various ancestries, and you’ll get yourself called a racist. At least, if you happen to have a light-colored skin.

          • shingworks

            ?? Pretty much every race can be racially prejudiced. I don’t think it’s a light-skin thing. But white people tend to not recognize racism in the same way, until it’s pointed out to them, since in the US at least they benefit from a system they built. I just wish it wasn’t such “YOU CALLED ME RACIST!!” game-ender sort of thing… like, just admit you’re racist and move on. I’ve been racist! I probably still am, because how would I know until I learn more? And through admitting it and working on it, I get to be less racist. Everyone wins. I’d really like for more white people to be able to admit when they are, and realize the world doesn’t end when you admit you were born not knowing every nuance of every subject.

            Anyhow, I try my best not to judge people off the bat, and to encourage the same- leaving this forum open for discussion is one way I do that, even though I disagree with a lot of people who comment. I’ve been really annoyed the last few days because of having to moderate this space when I’d rather just wrap myself in a blanket and go to sleep. But I think having an area where you and I can continue to talk as individuals is more important at this point than trying to maintain some false sense of comfortability. Anyhow, I’m transitioning out of this convo cuz next page is comin~

          • Tadrix

            Ok, then, who isn’t racist, at least unconsciously? Racism isn’t anything other than a type of stereotyping and prejudice, and these were around for millenia. That’s how human brain is wired to think (and deal with people), and it’s likely to stay that way. People tend to generalize, because it’s easier. More important is the way we act and treat each other.

            Also, in case someone wonders, I’m not defending Trump, just trying to stay objective. Anyway, for Democrats, Bernie Sanders IMO would have been better option.

          • shingworks

            I’m pretty sure everyone is racist to some degree. It’s part of our wiring as humans to recognize differences as potential threats. The problem is when racism becomes institutionalized. White people rallying against black people simply holds more consequences than black people rallying against white people. In the US our country is built on institutionalized racism that has never been addressed or repaired. You can google Institutional Racism on your own to find out more cuz I’m getting tired of explaining this stuff. Yes this intersects with class and other factors but you can’t put all racism on equal footing when it’s clearly not.

          • Lilian

            One reason people resist being called racist is because they don’t like racism. And because they have a lot of negative associations with it. And they think “racist” is a very, very bad word.

            And it is one stinkin’ loaded word. It’s a label harsher and more malicious and more damaging than “prejudiced”. It is not only an adjective, but a noun. Calling someone an “-ist” tends to define that person as a whole/put that person into a box/paint a complex individual in a simplistic fashion.

            Adjectives, however, describe traits. “He is a racist man” doesn’t pack *quite* the punch as “He is a racist.”.

            It may be that people come to this topic with different understandings of what the word “racism” means. Clarifying definitions may help anyone wanting to join the discussion.

            Is racism prejudice according to race or is it the belief in the superiority/inferiority of one race? If the latter, then is racism the willful assertion of racial superiority, or is it also an unconscious belief in racial superiority?

  • Yep, poor Bex, trapped down here, surviving on her wits, terrified, surrounded by monsters – “Hey, my friend! Wait… stop… WHY ARE YOU RUNNING AWAY FROM ME???”
    On that note however, it has only been 48? 72? hours since the cave in, right? I feel like no more than a couple of days at the very most (barring mysterious time-lapses)

    • Eversist

      Probably less “friend” (they’re not friends), and more “OTHER HUMAN WHO I PROBABLY ASSUMED WAS DEAD.” :)

  • Ben

    I don’t actually know about real space exploration except what I see on TV, but I do know about real life in the offshore oil construction business. Crews often have high levels of diversity, with the (fairly major) caveats that (1) they will tend to subdivide along language lines (2) they will tend to divide along cultural lines, because some cultures don’t share Western attitudes (3) they will tend to divide between groups which simply don’t trust each other.

    I don’t tend to spend my (very limited) off hours with people whose language I don’t speak, for fairly obvious reasons. I don’t tend to spend my off hours with people whose cultural practices I don’t share. I don’t eat with people who find my diet offensive or unacceptable, unless it’s a special occasion, or I’m on a vessel or platform where the diet is locally influenced (no bacon or pork in some countries, for example) in which case I eat what’s on offer.

    After many years in very diverse working environments I’ve long since ceased to feel that diversity had any special merit. It’s just what it is, you need to have a working relationship with the people around you.

    A lot of SF stories do go in for extravagantly elaborate shows of diversity, almost to the point of parody. There are plenty of characters who are half-Scandinavian, half-Zulu and all the rest of it; it doesn’t work that way, people. I’ve known SO MANY colleagues who have made local marriages, or married foreign women, and it has all gone pear-shaped over time because of simple, mundane stuff – mostly money-driven, inheritances, patrimony, supporting relatives and parents, religion and related practices, residency, yada yada yada.

    • shingworks

      Yeah, definitely. Cliques are a big thing here too in the Bay Area where there a lot of different groups… maybe the Chinese ladies frequently eat together, or the Indian guys all carpool and hang out together because they share the same apartment. It’s understandable. I also don’t like Entertaining Diversity Teams, because they often seem forced and are also often written by people who think that diversity means stuffing as many tokens as possible into the same space ship. It’s a case-by-case judgement call for me at least.

      But the group in this comic is pretty similar to groups I’ve either been a part of at research institutions, or just working locally. And regardless of my own feelings on diversity in the workplace (because yes, sometimes cultural clashes can cause interpersonal issues), it doesn’t take away from my interest as a creator to show a reality that is held to a higher standard than the real world is. I’d like to live in a future where diversity isn’t a talking point, just an accepted part of life.

      • Ben

        Generally speaking, diverse teams work well enough. Partly, of course, because people who conspicuously DONT fit in, tend to end up posted somewhere else, or simply unemployed.

        Education and common professional specialities are great levellers. Broadly speaking, I’d say that the most integrated teams are technical and scientific specialists from nominally Christian countries, because they have the most in common, rarely have strong religious affiliations, have generally similar attitudes to and acceptance of the roles of the women in the group, and tend to speak varying combinations of the same languages.

        Get too far away from that in pretty much any direction, and it soon breaks down.

    • vin

      “There are plenty of characters who are half-Scandinavian, half-Zulu and all the rest of it; it doesn’t work that way, people.”

      I promise you, it works that way.

      I have the urge to list the demographics of all the people I know who are in happy, long-term, cross-cultural/interracial relationships and/or are the products of such a relationship. But I have papers to write instead.

      “I’ve known SO MANY colleagues who have made local marriages, or married foreign women, and it has all gone pear-shaped over time because of simple, mundane stuff – mostly money-driven, inheritances, patrimony, supporting relatives and parents, religion and related practices, residency, yada yada yada.”

      I mean… did they not negotiate those things before getting married?

      • Yeah, that “mundane stuff” that the OP attributed to cultural differences is the same stuff that ruins relationships within culturally homogeneous families.

        Much like the OP I know so MANY people who got married without a clue about what kind of commitment they were making and it has gone horribly wrong over: inheritances, money, care for elders, converting to a different branch of christianity then trying to steal the family farm “for the church” – yes, that really happened –

        So, I don’t really see that stuff as something that would have been avoided by sticking to our own kind…

      • shingworks

        I think it only ruins families when nobody plans for it. Compromise is not that hard! But you’d be surprised at how many people refuse to entertain the thought.

  • AGV

    That’s the point, Bex
    He went to the sea because he thinks that it’s a safe place (relatively)

    I wonder if she’ll realize that, that would give her a whole new (and probably incomprehensible) perspective

    • Ben

      Don’t forget that he has no serviceable helmet, his suit is damaged and he is expecting to be dismissed with prejudice from his post… he has also discarded whatever medication he was taking. Mike isn’t taking rational decisions leading towards clear, realistic goals right now

  • Spark

    She’s not wrong about the monsters in the water. The stabfish are probably still lurking around and Kalla isn’t here to save him anymore ;_;

    Also, for all we know she has run into creatures other than Kalla who actively posed a threat. Have we forgotten that weird Venus fly trap scythe thing that attacked Michael way back when he first woke up with Thighfriend? I can only assume she was taking preventive action / getting food at the same time.

  • Maggie

    uhh unsure if this has been asked but what’s the time line? How long were they separate? I don’t really remember :(

    • shingworks


    • Fawnet

      Other readers noticed that Mike’s beard has grown a *lot* since he and Bex were separated. Human hair grows about half an inch a month, so unless Mike’s symbiotes have speeded that process, he and Bex have been apart for a month, maybe two. Certainly more than a couple of days, even though the story feels like it’s only been a couple of days…

      • Sumgai

        For that matter Mike hasn’t visibly eaten even once that we’ve seen. He’s had scarce chance to do so off screen too, since he’s ostensibly been unconscious during those periods. Especially given the ecosystem possibly resurrecting people with their memories wiped, there’s lots of potential for weird story stuff in there.

        • Maggie

          :Oc I didn’t even think of that! How many times have Mike and Kalla met???

          Also I noticed the beard changed but I just thought it was stylistic rather than story lol

  • Gonfrask

    No parasite attached to the mouth…I don’t know if I’m disappointed or not…

    Bex reaction is really interesting, seems like she only found those fishes that attacked mike, and not of the helpfull ones

  • Minutiae

    Thank you.

    And as for the comic? I love it when an author gives me broken, realistic characters. Yeah, I’m mad at Bex right now. But.

    Kalla went in search for food. Technically, Bex could be food. Whatever happened was offscreen. I do want to know how Bex has succeeded (??) So much more effectively than Mike. I’m looking forward to the story.

    • Samuel

      I’m really pretty sure Kalla wouldn’t have attacked Bex and would have recognized her as Human, just like she did with Mike.
      It looked like Bex ambushed Kalla unawares, she didn’t even have time to try and speak to Bex to stop the attack.
      I’d wager Bex has done so well because she didn’t break her leg in the fall like Mike did.

  • David Miles

    Auuuugh! So much allegory!!!!!!! And here I thought this was just going to be a straight up narrative about a moody dude on mars.

    • shingworks

      lol yeah it’s been a little bit out there, huh

  • SSR

    >editors note: I just wanted to confess that sometimes I correct your comment typos when I see them so you don’t have to feel bad. That’s all :B

    ahahah, I can relate.

  • Shihchuan

    I just want to say, that the next-to-last panel is wonderful. The spark in Bex’s eyes and the emotion in conveys……I believed that there were animations for a second.

    This page comes really close to a perspective flip to me: if one starts from this page, I doubt they’d be able to guess easily from whose perspective the previous story was told. This is very successful writing in my opinion.

  • Edward Perida

    Actually, most of my friends in the U.S. prefer Black. They call me white, only because I look white, I’m a Heinz 57 creatiion, multiple ethnicities. And, yes, I am an American who voted Trump, as did many of my Black friends. We voted that way mostly due to HRC’s criminal behaviour and continual lies about, almost everything. We know what we get with her, Trump was the wild card and not my first choice.

    • shingworks

      Yeah… Neither candidate was my choice either, but I also own a uterus and I prefer not being told what I can do with it. I’m not optimistic about the situation so far given that he’s cool with appointing open racists to his cabinet.

      • Squirrelmaster
        • J-Prime

          Oy vey Squirrelmaster, shingworks was pretty obviously reffering to Stephen Bannon. Yes, they slightly mispoke because Chief Strategist is not a cabinet poistion – but it’s arguably even more important, since the guy will have an office right down the hall from Trump, and by Trump’s own press release, Bannon will be “co-equal” with the Chief of Staff.

          And let’s not be coy – Bannon clearly holds many racist views and has said or published many racist things.

          (Btw, I voted for neither major party candidate, having had the luxury of living in a state where the outcome was forgone – but I totally get many people’s grave concerns re the incoming administration).

        • shingworks

          Yeah, I’m talking about Bannon. Strategist isn’t a cabinet position, good catch. I am not sure it is even an established position. Either way, Bannon is not a dude who represents the viewpoint of general non-hateful Americans that I’m familiar with.

          • Squirrelmaster

            Well, they’re being hard pressed to actually prove it, with the Zionist Organization of America, Pamela Geller, and even Alan Dershowitz (a jewish democrat) defending him, among many others, including Trump’s daughter, who is jewish. Now they’re going to have to prove it in court, since there’s a lawsuit being filed over it, ala Hulk Hogan vs the site formerly known as Gawker.

            Here’s an article on the people around Trump who also happen to be Jewish:

            What they’re doing to Bannon, since it failed on Trump (remember they accused Trump of the same things), is basically like trolling through your comments sections in order to find something to attack you with. One of the reporters talking about it directly referenced the comments on the site as proof. That doesn’t fly.

            The rest is based on opinion articles, some of them written by the guy in the video I posted. He works at Breitbart, among other things, is both British and gay, and goes after PC culture rather enthusiastically. That drives the rest of the media a bit insane since they can’t use the normal tactics to attack him, even though some do anyway. He’s been bashed as a racist homophobe on multiple occasions. A gay man with a fetish for black men attacked as a racist homophobe. Let that one sink in.

            Now if it turns out they can prove Bannon is everything they say he is, by all means throw him out immediately, which Trump will do. But they’ve been after him for a while now and they haven’t come up with much of anything beyond “because we say so”.

          • shingworks

            There are huge problems with the things you’re saying here, the most egregious one being that someone of [identity] can’t rabidly hate themselves, or that someone who is friends with [identity] can’t also speak out against them. Both are false, and common. Instead of taking my word for it I’d suggest doing some research on your own on the subject. I have also read various things about Trump and the women and men (including people of color) who work for him. But man, being part of a minority does not preclude one from shitting on other minorities. The “fetish for black men” as code for “he can’t be racist” is terrifically offensive as well, as fetishization is right up there with objectification insofar as a person is reduced to a symbolic sexual object and not an individual.

            Anyways, I urge you to keep an open mind and continue to develop your thoughts? Definitely look into those biases, they are pretty heavy. And I’ll do my part to continue reading a variety of views and sources on these guys but… “not yet 100% proven racist” and “only profited from antisemitic, anti-women, lie-filled content, but didn’t write it himself” is still nowhere near my standards for an advisor.

          • Squirrelmaster

            I find the reaction of accusing anyone who doesn’t agree with a certain widely held view of hating themselves to be a bit absurd.

            I can see your point on racists covering themselves with the old “I have a black friend” line, or whatever. But then you said something about biases? I have biases? You didn’t say what they were but I can guess.

            I actually have a sister in law who is Filipino, just got her citizenship the last year, who I currently rent a room from. My other sister in law is black, and my brother and her have two mixed children who are adorably fluffy. The youngest boy has to climb on my lap and bang the hell out my keyboard until my machine crashes every time they come over, and I let him cause it’s funny. They’re great, as obnoxious as children can be, and I love em.

            Now I don’t think that line of reasoning about self hate and hidden bias can be stretched quite far enough to cover me, but I’ve had many people try lately.

            As for calling a gay man homophobic, specifically Milo, that would be news to him and all the other gays he hangs out with, including Twinks For Trump.

            There’s also a disturbing trend for anyone who is a part of these groups to be immediately attacked and derided the moment they dare disagree with the leftist party line.

            Anyway, I’ve been reading Breitbart for years and I haven’t seen the things they’re talking about. Speaking of which, I’ve yet to see any examples of it. Wouldn’t that be the easiest part, for them to just post these stories for everyone to see for themselves? They’ve been on the hunt for months at this point. Why haven’t they done that? It just doesn’t make sense.

            As for research, believe me, that’s probably the thing I spend the most time on. You find things like the fact that the democrat party had a bonafide klan member holding a senate seat until his death in 2010. And not just a member, a high ranking officer.


            Now I know a little about the klan, from friends I used to have years ago, one of which was briefly in it (for his own protection since his drug use landed him in prison and he was an idiot. He was also later briefly a muslim). You don’t get promoted without proving yourself. You have to go out and do something bad to someone. This senator did that multiple times. You won’t ever see it on CNN though.

            Then again…

          • shingworks

            Wasn’t calling Milo homophobic, but I know quite a few gay men who I’d classify as misogynistic (and to be fair, some gay women can also be very negative towards men as well). Again, not super rare for an oppressed group to hate on other oppressed groups, in the way that you see recently legal immigrant viciously attack non-legal immigrants, because “they didn’t do it the right way.” My own grandmother (full Mexican) was extremely racist to the point of not even calling me by my name for years, because she hated that it was a Chinese name. I still joke about her asking me every time I visited if I had a boyfriend, and if he was “Anglo.” Intersectionality is a very strange thing… my point wasn’t that everyone on his cabinet is self-loathing, but that being of a minority doesn’t preclude you from oppressing other minorities, sometimes including your own. Is this the case with Trump’s group? I have no idea. But it’s very strange for people to work against the self-interests of a community they love. And to further clarify one more time, I’m NOT saying this happens 100% of the time, just that it’s not super uncommon.

            And having a hard time knowing that you visit Breitbart and haven’t seen something inflammatory or misogynistic for the point of riling up its main readerbase, I basically can’t go there because it’ll just piss me off for no reason that I need.

            Anyways, I’m going to stop the convo from my end here, just cuz it’s not really getting either of us anywhere… sounds like we’re both on the same page about at least trying to keep an open mind, which is the most we can hope for the other, haha. We’ll both just have to see how things develop in Washington. And you’re welcome to keep chatting and reading of course, thank you for keeping it respectful despite our disagreements.

          • strannik

            ” it’s very strange for people to work against the self-interests of a community they love”

            it’s not uncommon : In France, we have a extreme-right party called “Front National” who has mysogynistic and homophobic programs. This party is led by a woman, Marine Le Pen, and his main advisor is a gay man, Florian Phillipot.

          • Tadrix

            Well, you don’t exactly need your strategist to represent someone’s views. At the very least you could use a leash dog in carefully selected situations. Everyone has his/her use, and views of subordinates matter much less than those of superiors.

  • Steffyanie

    I cant imagine how things have gone for Bex at this point… she just wanted to scope out the area and before she knew ot she was in an alien land full of monsters that she has to defend herself from! I’m very sad about Kalla but if the body at the bottom of the lake is any indicator of hope, well… I just hope Kallakore may return! Poor Mike too, though. I’m just full of emotion!!

    Sorry you have had to deal with some disrespectful people, even if its a very small amount of people. Just… thank you for all that you do, your works are beautiful, and inspiring! As a long time fan (~2009 I started reading TM) I just wanted to come out from my usual lurking and make a nice comment at you because I appreciate you and your creations. ♡

  • Jayson Smyth

    Thanks for the insinuation that 1/2 the country is supporting a KKK and NAZI agenda. That’s mighty civil….

    • shingworks

      You are free to do your own fact checking if you don’t like the ones I’ve presented here, but I’m not interested in supporting active or passive sit-back-and-let-it-happen racists.

      • Bratwurst

        You have nothing to worry about Shing. Trump has worked with people of many different creeds and colors. Heck, ex candidate Ben Carson who is African American is working with with Trump. Theres no racism at work in the Trump organization.

        I’m just a regular guy who gets up and goes to work everyday to pay my bills. I voted for Trump so he could (hopefully) get my taxes lower and make healthcare affordable to me. I didnt vote for him out of some racial hatred. That is nothing more then a silly meme thats been passed around by the opposing side for decades.

        Really, you have nothing to worry about. Trump is not the next Hitler. And the people who voted for him are not racists. Frankly, I am tired of hearing that because I voted for Trump then I am a racist. I am not a racist. There’s not a racist bone in my body. His supporters are just normal people who get up everyday at 7 AM and go to work and come home at 5 PM. They just weren’t happy with where the country was going and the lagging economy and the crushing regulations and unaffordable healthcare and they wanted to stop it. So they voted for the person that said he was going to fix it. Give Trump a chance. Hes not as bad as the media has made him out to be.

        Also, keep up the good work with MI. Its a great comic.

        • shingworks

          I’m glad you’re enjoying the comic. Gonna respectfully disagree with you about Trump. I understand that the majority of his voters are “normal” people who voted in their economic or social self-interests at the expense of the interests of others. Unfortunately I’m one of those others. A candidate who runs on a platform of dismantling women/ social healthcare affects me very much, as someone who does not get access to a certain level of healthcare without the ACA. Trump does not have a plan to replace it, but sure was enthusiastic about removing it. Same with a candidate with homophobic leanings, as several of my friends and family are gay/ trans or have devoted their professional life to fighting for those issues. Trump is appointing and strongly associating with people who are verifiable racists, and is endorsed by them. And by now I’m sure you’ve seen the uptick in hate messages tied to the Trump and general white nationalist campaigns. It would be very foolish of me to ignore all of that and pretend my life will be fine so you can sleep better at night.

          But even if I was also in your position, and working a traditional 9-5 for some big corporation that would take care of me, I would still not vote for someone who spoke so vehemently about Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants and so many others who are a part of this country. I am not sure how you can frame “build a wall to keep the rapist Mexicans out” as pure media spin, or “no racism at work,” but it’s not working for me. I will continue to urge my readers to do what they can to halt the progression of this disgusting attitude in our country’s leadership.

          • Dar

            I work a traditional 9-5 but we rely on the government to provide the work we do. There’s currently rumors that they’re thinking to get rid of the dept. of education, etc. The higher ups are positively aghast right now. “Is he really planning to do that?!” With the approaching holidays and end of the year, the hiring always slows down but I think it’ll be worse now because they’re going to hunker down and wait to see how this all plays out. No sense hiring more staff if the projects get scrapped. But don’t worry. He’ll make America great again. :|

        • Pylgrim

          You are missing the point. You and many others who voted for Trump may not be racist, but let’s face it: every racist person who voted, voted for Trump, as he was the only candidate who aligned with their ideals.

          I know that you living in your decent, white-bread world, where you know your own intentions and those of the people who surround you may think “Yeah, I guess there are some racists out there? Maybe some inbred, paranoid hick or two living alone in the mountains? But for sure, 99% of the rest of us are educated, urbane and a too much of a secular humanist to entertain racist thoughts!” What you fail to understand is that you cannot see how prevalent, how systemic racism can be /because it’s never targeted in your direction/.

          So, the fact that the not-insignificant percentage of the American population who is or leans racist (or sexist) got a man on the chair is legitimating to them. America has been increasingly progressive through the last decade and most of those people had been shamed and dismissed as the archaic relics of outdated ways of thinking by people like you and me. But now, all of a sudden, they have been told that being a racist is ok! You can even be the president, if you are racist! If you understand what I’m saying, you’ll surely see how this people will feel emboldened and righteous for the next 4 years and how that is a bad thing.

          But going back to you: you are not a racist and don’t appreciate being lumped together with them. Understandable. There are certain issues that you care for and who commanded your choice of candidate. Still understandable, I certainly hope that those issues will be solved for you. Yet, you cannot claim ignorance about Trump position on human rights, race, sexism and climate change, as he made them LOUDLY clear for most of a year. So this means that you care less for those issues less than you care for the ones that made you vote for him. “hmm, he’s an outspoken racist and sexist? But he /may/solve my financial issues! Sorry, women and people of colour, gotta look out for myself!”

          I’m sorry but I don’t see how you can complain about being lumped with the racists that helped elect Trump even if you don’t agree with them.

  • Lost Yooper

    …more mad?

    • AGV


  • Rev

    “This ocean is FULL of monsters! How can you just SIT THERE and eat canapés?!”

    • Rev

      On a more serious note: I read through your entire comments about what your family went through during WWII, and I’m so sorry to hear that happened. As someone who is LGBT+ this election has me frightened for myself and the people around me as well. I have no idea where our rights are going to be within the next four years, between Trump’s fascist ideologies and so many of his supporters bolstering radical nationalism. I’m just hoping that my family will respect my wish not to engage in discussions praising Trump’s presidency during the holidays (or ever), because I know others out there are not nearly so fortunate and safe.

      • shingworks

        Yeah… it’s up to the “haves” to protect the “have-nots,” something that (imho) our consumerist culture has pushed us away from. Lots of our values center around money and ownership, instead of advocacy. Anyways I know I am stressed the fuck out, I’m sure you are as well… please take care of yourself, and let’s all take care of each other.

  • Samuel

    And then he swam away and never talked to her again.

  • Vert

    I haven’t seen anyone else mention the fact that the blue fluid retreated from Bex, leaving her standing only in clear water. Since I’m pretty sure the blue stuff is part of the Mare system’s “brain” (if you can use such a term for hive of interconnected bacterial ‘neurons’), that’s probably significant.

    Bex isn’t part of the system. Mike is. Which (assuming his experience up until now has been real) means that the one choice he felt really had meaning has been taken from him; he no longer gets to die.

    How delightful!

    • Pylgrim

      I read it as though Bex approached the beach and then a tide of the fluid lapped near her feet, which made her stop following Mike, as she’s clearly afraid of entering it.

      • Slug

        Hi! New reader here! I think either of these are likely, because if I was Bex I would absolutely stay away from that water, but the whole Mike becoming part of the system thing is too intriguing to pass up. Time for rambling tangents!

        I’m looking at earlier pages of the water and so far the only disturbances I can see are ones made by Kal and Mike. Pages 31, 32 in chapter 2, and chapter 3, pages 11 to 15. It seems pretty calm, save for some rippling.

        So either the water is moving because Mike is entering it and in a hurry, or it IS retreating away from Bex, which in itself is fascinating. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Mike HAS become a part of the system. I mean, just look at him. The dude is like 50% fungus (Okay, not that much, but still). I’d be really interested to see what his bloodwork looked like at this point.

        In comparison to Bex, who has bloodshot eyes and is covering her mouth. She may have been here as long as Mike, but wasn’t subjected to the same circumstances as him (i.e, broken bones and thighfriend), or her body is still in the process of changing and the system hasn’t recognized her as a part of it yet.

        On the other hand, if she wasn’t part of the system, why would it retreat away from her, or even retreat from her at all? Does it feel threatened by her? For what reason? The system seems plenty capable of defending itself. I’m gonna scratch my head about that one.

        End note: half-hoping Bex gets her own kind of thighfriend tbh. xD Would be interesting to see what other weird alien stuff can grow from human bodies.

        • Vert

          When Mike first fell in the sea, it wasn’t blue yet. I find that interesting.

        • Retterhardt

          Oh yeah, good point about Bex’s bloodshot eyes and breathing protection! I forgot that Mike at first coughed when he breathed the air down here – but he’s been fine breathing-wise since he woke up with Thighfriend. (But also haha “woke up with Thighfriend” – sounds like a weird one-night stand lol)

      • Vert

        That’s what I thought at first, too, or that the sea was avoiding her foot, but in the last panel there are clear ripples and couple of bubbles emerging from beneath her boot.

        • shingworks

          It’s meant to be more like Pylgrim interpreted, where she is unwilling to let the water touch her; the bubbles are just cuz I’ve noticed them sitting on top of wetted sand at the beach in general. But I can edit for clarity if anyone else is having confusion with that. The last panel hasn’t been read correctly by anyone so far (I didn’t push one visual hard enough), so I already have some editing to do.

          • Vert

            Well it also looks like Kalla’s blood is returning to the sea, or at least that it will if the surf laps her boot. Guessing that’s what has to happen before the system can reintegrate and spin up a new Kalla.

          • Dar

            Didn’t push a visual? You talking about the blood on the boot or the greenish blob in the water in the lower left side? Or something else?

          • shingworks

            yea, Dat Blob. It’s more than a blob but that’s the part that has been lost to over-blending.

          • Dar

            Bob the Blob. Green eggs and ham. Kelp? Tentacle? Any relation to the weird critter in Ch. 2-Pg. 2? I know you can’t answer that. But yeah, blends in a little too well. I really should know to pay more attention by now given how sneaky you are.

            (And damn you, autocorrect. You kept insisting “rumors” should be “tumors” but an “s” by itself is a legit word? Wth.)

          • Sumgai

            Given just *how* averse to the water Bex is, I would guess that those are some sort of little organisms that have been hostile to her in the past, but are ignoring Mike.

  • It’s not full of monsters… It’s full of machines.

    Good god am I afraid for everything right now.

  • Fawkes Rinzler

    Just wanted to say that I got my Thrip sticker tonight! :D I have placed him on my computer so that he can help me get through the Kalla-less times of this comic! :’D It will be hard… but Thrip shall see me through…. *sage nod*
    Thank you for the lovely sticker, Der-shing!! I positively adore it! :D

  • AGV

    PD: D’awwww, thanks for the typo correcting

  • Alan

    Interesting. It looks like the ocean is actively avoiding Bex. There are no tides on Mars, no wind underground, and therefore no waves.

    • Vert

      We know there is wind down there, because Kallakore and LEVi climbed over star dunes. Mars would also still have solar tides.

    • shingworks

      There are waves, and actually small weather systems inside the cave as well. It’s all very odd.

  • GalopaWXY

    Finally found someplace she won’t follow him xD I’m guessing he’s going back to the pink caves

  • Anthony P

    what if I only type in typos? you wish to fix but I make your kindness into sport. XD

    my real question, is if we can get some sort of change on the actual webpage. I can’t figure out what day this updates so having a tiny little image put in somewhere that says what days this typically updates would be very helpful. :3

    also… KALLAKOOOOOOOOORE!!!!! ;.; Y U MUST DIE BY ROCK!? such cruel. ;.;

    • shingworks

      Uhhhh HAHA yeah so, I update the comic as soon as the page is done, like, when I’m done making it. So there’s no official update schedule though I think a year ago I was on T/ Th… now it’s like, 2-3x a week. The best way to get updates is to subscribe to the email list, it’s just literally an update notification with a link and nothing else that goes out as soon as the page is up. There’s also an RSS option that I don’t really use but I guess it’s there, and the social links are eventually updated as well. I just really enjoy updating “live” so this is the price to pay for reading, haha.

  • Jake

    Just wanted to say thank you for sharing part of your story and for sharing THIS story. I found myself here for sci-fi but keep reading for the compelling human element to the tale.
    Side note: is Michael getting more buff as the story progresses? Something in the Martian nutrition? Haha

  • May

    So no face mushrooms (faceshrooms?) for Bex. That’s good. Why did Mike get them then? Was caused by the little critters that rushed over him way earlier?

    Anyway, put your mask back on please. And maybe wipe off that blood. This ecosystem is weird and we don’t want you catching a bad case of the faceshrooms.

  • Akara

    This makes you wonder… Because Mike fell right into the ocean. Perhaps Bex didn’t??

  • I haven’t been reading comments but still think Bex is awesome. She’s responding intelligently based on what she has been able to figure out–it’s just that she has not had the same experience Mike has so far, and the evidence she’s seen has led her to an erroneous decision.

    I (like Akara above) also wonder about whether Bex didn’t fall into the ocean like Mike did.


    editors note: I just wanted to confess that sometimes I correct your comment typos when I see them so you don’t have to feel bad. That’s all :B

    That’s all.*


    • shingworks

      haha, but nocaps apunctuated internet speak is my jam

  • Neera

    I’ve liked Bex so far. I’m very interested in what Bex has been up to since we last saw her, and a little confused by some of the more… negative… responses… :(

    Writers should never have to be afraid to depict flawed protagonists.

  • For months we were all like ‘Where’s Bex? What happened to Bex?’ and now I think we wish we didn’t know.

    I’m sure there’s a lot to her story right now, but blood-covered, Kallakore-killing Bex was definitely shocking. Not many writers can surprise me, so this is a refreshing (horrifying, traumatising) plot-line. ;)

  • Corbie

    Yikes, sorry for almost spamming comments here, but I only now noticed the weirdly reddish rim around the left side of Bex’ mouth. So something did happen to her already. A wound, or her kind of fungus-toaster? She doesn’t cough at all despite running and calling after Mike.

    • shingworks

      Oh, that’s just Kalla’s blood from her hand transferring to her face when she removed her face mask thingy :]


      • Corbie

        Oops, I may have misinterpreted that because on my crappy laptop screen, the smear around her mouth (right side in the picture) looks as if it has a faint outline, while the smear on her cheek clearly has none. Or I’m simply too stupid to read this right because I’m freaked out about Mike or Green Blob F(r)iend might do something awful to her. (Bex-is-not-evil-supporter here) :)

        • DukeBG

          I think what looks like the smear around her mouth is the upper lip

          • Corbie

            Yeah, I already wondered, but Bex’ lips seem mostly to be darker and not so much red in the other pages. But then, the light is veeery unusual anyways. Mostly I thought it’s not her lip since it’s only visible around one side, and does not get very thin (stretched tissue) around the corner of her mouth. Which is not critique at Der-Shing’s art. I suck at drawing faces. :o

          • shingworks

            Yeah, it’s hard to explain as an art choice (it was intentional)… I could have done it more balanced but I wanted an unbalanced look to throw the weight of the yell to that side of her face? if that makes sense? probably not haha.

          • Corbie

            Enough sense for me :)
            It doesn’t look wrong, I actually had to read the page time and again to notice.

  • Thighfriend noooooo

  • I don’t usually comment, but I just want to say you’re a treasure.

  • SotiCoto

    Ran out of pages.
    Mike never removed the fungus.

    And humans are the real monsters afterall.

  • VIII Strength

    I just want to point out that I like all of the characters in the comic, and that Bex still remains one of my favourites. While I am sad that Kallakore was killed in what was, to the audience, a needless way (Kallakore might have been able to talk to Bex given the opportunity), I also would like to try to understand the events from Bex’s perspective. Being lost and trapped on a strange planet that was previously thought to be uninhabitable that is full of strange creatures gives reason for survival tactics to kick in.
    Bex acted in a very conventional way, and had the story been told from her perspective first, the shock would likely not have resonated among readers as strongly.
    This story is very rich with a diverse cast of characters. I look forward to seeing more of there interactions.

  • VIII Strength

    Addendum, thank you Der-Shing for sharing your experience with us, both through the comics and through the comments. I feel that my life is richer because of it. :)

  • Cheri

    space whale’s gonna come from stage left and nom the shit outta mike, isn’t it? :| :| :|

  • Egg

    Appreciate the choice to give Kalla red blood

  • Esn

    Two articles for those who would consider stepping back a little to realize that there’s no real reason to panic about Trump.

    This one is about data showing that this election was not about racism:
    This one is a thoughtful account by someone who lives in Trump country:

    P.S. My tentative prediction is that Kalla will return in some way, at some future point. After all, it already happened once… (well, I’m going to keep hoping, anyway)

  • AGV

    Wait a moment, I’m pretty sure that this red tentacle-thing wasn’t there before!

    That or I’m losing my mind

    • shingworks

      In the page comments I explained I had to recolor the tentacle (previously yellow) because it was difficult to see.

  • Steve Lackey

    Hey, just visiting. Just wanted to comment on some things in these comments. Not hate in any way. First our recent election is the product of our Democracy. While it is OK to do peaceful protests, many of those protesting are not peaceful. The whole gamut runs from protesters who place themselves and others in danger [blocking roads, etc…] to those who become violent towards others with a different point of view to the extreme of destroying property and rioting to enrich themselves. Second, it is a bit of a stretch to say that half of American voters are protesting Trumps outrageous statements. Most are just shocked that SHE lost because many thousands of voters woke up to vote AGAINST HER. There is a reason for that. Third, at least as many people are tired of the last 8 years of political manipulation and defiance of our laws and constitution. Obama has continued to blame ALL his woes the entire time on the previous President. By his OWN statement just before the election, that says he has been unfit to hold the office all this time. MANY Americans feel that way and they spoke loudly. Fourth and finally, whatever Trump said during the campaign, he has already shown that his methods in practice probably are NOT going to be as extreme as people want to think. I and others believe Hillary would continue to do the same things and LIE about it. Many voted for Trump AGAINST HER. We all have pray and hope that at least with Trump some good may be done. PEACE… Thank You

  • Sheridan

    It’s important to note (having not read further just yet) that we didn’t actually *see* Bex kill Kallakore. It’s heavily implied and a logical conclusion based on what we readers have seen, but writers have been known to give readers a gut-punch and knee to the chin followed by a big reveal – although I don’t think shing is going to do that. There’s a dead Wollaria that Bex is hacking into but Bex also had to get her weapon from somewhere.

  • No One

    Run away Michael, run away. You’re next, Michael.

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