Chapter 4, Page 4

In which nobody has any answers

Gasp: Free stuff! A new public tutorial about Acting in Comics is up now and is proving to be pretty popular, which is nice. As much as I need to make money to live, I do also have very strong feelings about sharing my techniques and methodologies, so tutorials from the Patreon tutorial series are released for free 6 months after their initial subscribers-only publication. The public versions are at a lower resolution, and obviously there’s a component of having to wait half a year for it, but I’d rather folks have access than not. For the high-resolution tutorial and an entertaining 11-pg supplement worksheet, you can always grab a copy of the tutorial pack to noodle on at your own pace (or subscribe to the Patreon at the $5 level to have access to the full 9-month archive of high-res art tutorials).

This month’s Patreon tutorial/ supplement about worldbuilding is also available now! I do love me some worldbuilding. And in case you missed it, a comprehensive tutorial on how to draw our friend Thrip. Also up: the bonus notes post for this page~ So much good stuff, right? WRONG. FAKE NEWS cuz-

-there’s more good stuff… I just got my MI bookmarks in! They look sooo nice, it’s night where I am now but I’ll take some pictures for you guys in good lighting tomorrow. I’m planning to do a few bookmark set giveaways via contest for $5+ Patrons this month, just cuz they’re too nice to keep to myself~ If you’re going to ECCC this year, you can also see them (and me, I guess) there!

OK last, I was supposed to get this page up last week so there will be another MI update posted tomorrow, so please check back then~ Thanks for reading.


  • Rev

    That moment when you realize that LEVi is literally talking out of his ass.

    • charlesw81

      +10 internets

  • WizeManBOB

    He talks out of his… posterior. How long have you been sitting on that joke?

  • Brian

    Ohnoes… has LEVi been talking to Mike all along but poor Mike just lacks the gift of understanding Thripese? If only Bex knew how she knew so she could teach him!

  • Lynne

    *wolf whistle* Daaayum, LEVi been hiding a fine booty all this time.

  • “Oooh you like that booty”

    • Sheridan

      “Shake it shake it baby…”

  • james

    Babelfish man, Babelfish…

    • J.A Kooistra


  • james

    “Terrible Sci-Fi retcons to explain away translation – A History” (Now with Foreword by Michael Fisher)

    • james

      This joke being funny hinges on people understanding how much I admire the depth of your worldbuilding. I realise this now.

      • shingworks

        lol, its all good. And I can never retcon anything cuz I’m afraid of you guys XD I am pretty sure you’d catch any inconsistencies if I didn’t plan the plot years in advance.

        • james

          Just one of those “That was funny until I realised how open to interpretation it is…” moments.
          It is a testament to how difficult the language barrier problem is that SO MANY sci-fi stories just skip it altogether. It’s one of the least acceptable “acceptable breaks with reality” there is, but necessary because most writers AREN’T master worldbuilders (like you)


          • shingworks

            lol, I don’t know about that, but at the very least you can rest easy that all this crazy stuff has an explanation.

          • KittyK

            A series that I greatly enjoyed actually dealt with it immediately and quite well. In the show Farscape, a human astronaut is caught in a wormhole and sent to another corner of space. He’s picked up by aliens and at first he can’t understand them, then you see a little robot inject something into his leg and he can understand perfectly. What it was apparently were translation nanites or something of the sort.

            It was the little details like that, that made me love the series.

  • Spottedspeck

    Will Levi ever stop being adorable?!

    • J.A Kooistra

      Well, turns out to be Adolf Hitler in the long run I’m pretty sure he’d be less cute. Or it would make Adolf Hitler cute. Adolf Thripler.

    • DukeBG

      > Will Levi ever stop being adorable?!


  • Pylgrim

    Hmm did Bex die and was rebuilt attuned with the Martian environment? Shyamalan twist: everybody is dead! Their ghosts now inhabit a simulation reality run by the Martian environmental system.

    • Vert

      My thoughts exactly. All this time I thought Mike was the one who died and was rebuilt. Now I think it might have been Bex.

    • Kevin in WI

      Well, clearly Levi and Bex can communicate, but neither appeared to be understandable by Mike. Levi was “reborn” as a thrip, and there’s no evidence so far Mike’s been reborn. So, I think you’re onto it.

    • zibodiz

      The thing that bothers me about that theory is the organic vs. technology dichotomy. If LEVi had to be recreated as a Thrip due to his originally being non-reproducible technology, then what about Mike & Bex’s suits? Surely those aren’t purely organic, so why would they be reconstructed with them on (and with functioning electronics) if the suits have to be the original ones they arrived in? If the environment were capable of reproducing Mike & Bex, wouldn’t they have woken without clothes? (or at least, only wearing cotton/wool.)
      Here’s my theory: Bex suffered a head injury when she arrived. Somehow, in recovery (via a symbiotic hitch-hiker, or perhaps through some sort of environmental regeneration) she picked up the ability to understand LEVi.

    • Esc

      Remember kallakore couldn’t hear Levi either and she was constructed.

      My guess is that *something* happened in that last scene or beforehand to allow Levi-Bex to communicate. Their brains got plugged into the same computer. Could it be the water?

      THE Mare Internum?

      • Vert

        Kallakore called it the neural sea.

        • Aristatide

          Ooh I think we’re onto something.

  • charlesw81

    I have no explanation for this. I mean, the words aren’t coming out of nothing, they’re word balloons with pointers to LEVi so Bex is actually hearing this little creature making the… words, or at least she’s perceiving the words as originating from it.

    Without another creature around that could verify or react to the noise I can only think to test the physical aspects of the noise further, and the only physical test I can think of is an echo. So if LEVi’s voice produces an echo, its physical in nature… or your warped perception is compensating for that as well *facepalm*

    Beyond all that, I’d be wondering if Bex maybe has some “internal” audio/transmission devices such as futuristic bluetooth headphones that are actually installed in the ear’s cartilage or something, and LEVi retains some technical aspect of his former self in the form of the bluetooth transmitter… Or this little critter is simply capable of that kind of wireless communications but LEVi’s actual experience with previously having the wireless comms is enabling him to use it on the human frequencies.

    …Or this is just totally nuts

    • DukeBG

      Very interesting thoughts on a wireless transmitter, although it’s highly unlikely for a bio system to get the right frequences and almost impossible to get the right encoding.

      And the echo test too! A great thing to test, excellent idea

  • Another update tomorrow!?
    Don’t hurt your hand!

    • shingworks

      can’t stop won’t stop

  • Spark

    Did Bex eat some kinda fauna that gave her the ability to understand Thrip Twerks, or is it her background as an entomologist?

    • Vert

      Maybe the sea tentacles grabbed her and immersed her long enough for the neural grid microbes to invade her speech center!

      Or it injected them directly through her leg. You know, like in Farscape!

    • shingworks

      thrip twerks!!!!!!!

      • AGV

        Shake those PAPs, baby! *thrip thrip thrip*

  • DukeBG

    The reason there were no update on weekends was this page being #404. It wasn’t found.

  • AGV

    Now that I think about it, if at some point Mike could understand Thip LEVi, would he hurt him for the shock? Or another surprise wouldn’t be much?

  • Glavos

    Again thrip LEVi brings joy to my life

  • Greyblip

    The fact now revealed that it was LEVi pushing the martian cookie into Mike’s face is kinda of sweet. It’s like when your pets bring you things to share or just because.

    • shingworks

      The cat woke me up this morning by grooming my hair… did not appreciate the breath, but the gesture was nice.

  • Pumpkin_Cake

    Panel 3, it’s vocal cords, not chords. Well, technically, it’s vocal folds. It’s not a big deal since people use all three, though.

    • Folarx

      Biology FTW!

    • Linebyline

      Fun fact, from Wiktionary: “While prescribed against, published texts use this [“chords”] spelling about one third as often as the ‘correct’ form.”

      Shameless pun, from me: Vocal chords, with an h, are still used by vocal groups including but not limited to a cappella performers.

      Personally, I don’t remember often (if ever) seeing it without the h before, but it’s quite possible I learned it wrong and have been ignoring the correct version as a typo ever since.

      • shingworks

        Haha, vocal cords just sounds like… cords of firewood, or something XD “Chords” looks so much nicer.

  • Sane

    I love how in the middle of all of this LEVi’s just so excited about how proud Michael’s gonna be!

  • Underdawg

    And a new character too…

    • Underdawg


  • Psychotic Muffin

    she’s totally already dead aint she. the system has already rebuilt everybody. or maybe just her, because michael didn’t seem to understand thrip.

  • Lo

    Something that never quite made sense to me is how she managed to survive the fall undamaged. She fell after Mike, when the rocks had already started breaking down… Surely that should make her fall more dangerous?

    Maybe she didn’t really survive.

  • Folarx

    Do we have something of a Ladyhawke ( situation here? Here is what I make of if:
    I consider it established that Kallakore and LEVi had a catastrophic encounter with the processors’ security mechanism in the past, and that they were subsequently reconstructed. At some point there was a hypothesis flying around that LEVi and Kallakore had been separated afterwards so they wouldn’t cause such a fuss anymore. The same way teachers put chatting pupils on different benches in school. In their reconstruction it could have been easy for the control system to make them talk on something resembling different frequencies.
    Now Mike ‘tuned in’ on Kallakore when he met him/her (or the other way around). Bex, on the other hand, took Kalla for either another insane predator of this insane submartian environment, or for game. Either way, she remained ‘open’ to tune in on ThripLevi instead of Kalla.
    As for Mike and Bex – I think they actually *talk*.
    So if (hopefully) Kallakore gets reconstructed again, and is still able to communicate with Mike – it will be Mike and Bex that will be able to interpret between ThripLevi and Kalla!

  • Folarx

    Seriously though, this is so good!

  • Windwalker

    Thrip: ” I talk by rubbing my butt cheeks together…SEE?”

    • shingworks

      make it clap~

  • Fraaaaank...?

    “We’re not really communicating, it’s just the weird space gasses down here making you hallucinate. I’m actually a dangerous parasite, and my dance is just me preparing to inject my extremely deadly venom. Isn’t that something?”

    • hkmaly

      … you know, for parasite, having deadly venom will be counterproductive.

  • Not terribly often you meet anyone that can say with such fervid conviction, “I can poop!”

    • Asterai

      Oh boy, you should meet some recently toilet-trained children.

  • asdf

    SHINGWOOOOORRRRRRKKKKKS. I don’t have anything to say, this is more of a cheer.

  • PositronicGirl

    While we’re on the subject of pronouncing things – Kallakore? First syllable “call” or “Cal” (as in Calvin)? Ending “core” or “co-ray”? I’ve been saying Cal-la-co-ray.

    • DukeBG

      in the options you provided: cal-la-core

    • shingworks

      Yeah, like Duke said, the first part of her name is “Cal” as in Calvin and “kore” is like “core.” But, if you want to say it like “moray” I don’t mind XD The origin of her name (purely from the creator pov, not in the comic) is a portmanteau of Calla and Kore, an alternate name of Persphone, and in Greek that would be pronounced to rhyme with “moray.”

      • PositronicGirl

        Michael Fisher had a little trip,
        To the watery home of the golden thrip.
        “I gotta leave this crazy place,
        There’s a toaster growing out of my face!”
        “You can’t escape,” said Kallakore,
        “I think it was my body on the sea floor.”

  • Derkasnake

    He can poop now! I’m proud of ya, little buddy

    • JJ

      Can we have a spinoff comic of ‘newborn’ Threvi flailing and figuring out their hot gold bod?

  • Toothy

    she speaks cricket so she can speak thrip-ese

  • Bex can now speak bug!

    Now I wish all the hours I spent catching and identifying bugs as a child had taught me bugese too. XD

  • mmk

    First comment on this comic.

    Impressions thus far:
    Hmm, mixed feelings thus far. Dr. Fisher reminds me of protagonist from ohumanstar…but more… stuck. But of course… He *is* in an alien cavern on Mars. Dont know how much more stuck he can get… But I guess now… That might be different.

    I *love* the laughing at the void and continuing, despite hardship aspect to this comic. There’s something innately human to that, and that particular scene with Kalla is by far my favorite. Hope that aspect that aspect is emphasized more.

    Thrip’s strangely cute (how the hell did a weird crustacean/bug become cute? I mean…Just look at panel 3 in this comic. *Super* adorable), but I only came to that conclusion after reading audience’s posts and reading his/her dialogue. Before that, it/he/she seemed kind of a secondary aspect of the environment… Kind of like the weird flappy plant.

    I love how there’s no explanation (well, I guess there was, but even then), it’s just an alien aspect of the environment and that’s super cool and OK. Probably could’ve even avoided the explanation, but that places emphasis on the plot a bit more.

    Kalla’s awesome and unique … Love the unusual poses. Hope she/he isn’t gone. Strong character.

    You seem to be favoring darker colors in this comic, which is OK, but that also puts more emphasis on the character on the panel. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. *Love* your use of blue color on the pools of water. Awesome imagery. Still kind of in awe of your ability to frame a scene. Looking forward to your continued posts!

    • mmk

      Correction: LEVi

  • Gonfrasl

    That count as…twerking?

  • Phi

    my name is Bex,
    and wen in Mars,
    I fell in deep,
    I see no stars.
    and wen alone,
    inside my hutt,
    I cannot sleep

    I hear the butt.

    • shingworks

      jesus christ XD

    • DukeBG

      OMG, this is the best comment

      • Phi

        thank you, Your Grace

  • Adriano

    *something something the matrix*

  • Fuzyhamster

    This is my favorite page all because of Levi showing how his acoustic plates work. XD

  • Sunflower

    In Panel 3, bubble 3, it should be vocal “cords” rather than “chords.” (Sorry, I’m such a pedant, but I used to be a copy editor.)

  • “AND I learned how to defecate!” Why do poop jokes always get me, am I 12 years old? *cleaning tea off monitor*

  • Sheridan

    “And I learned how to defecate!”
    You go, little buddy!

  • No One

    In the future, cricket farmers will be able to speak bug.

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