Chapter 5, Page 1

Shut up, Mike

As reader Arteopteryx noted last page, the processor is indeed in the shape of a Minor (a major Minor). Default setting, though the form the processor can take is somewhat fluid.

Hugo Nominations will be opening soon to voting members… Mare Internum and The Meek should both be eligible under the Best Graphic Story. If you’re a fellow member, I would really appreciate if you’d keep my work in mind! I’m hoping to attend WorldCon this year as an exhibitor anyway since it’s going to be nearby :]

Mare Internum won a bunch of nice mentions via the Excellence In Webcomics award, which is awesome! If you’d like, you can nominate the comic for their People’s Choice award as well.

The new Patron tutorial is up now: a guide to going indie. A new free, public tutorial goes up at the Tumblr soon, joining its fellows here. Third update of the week will go up late Friday, worksheets up for Patrons over the weekend, and I’ll try to do a more regular MWF page update schedule thereafter for my own sanity…

Also we had a quick and dramatic earthquake where I live at 240 am, jolting much of the area awake and onto Twitter to yell at each other; in case any of my readers are from the Bay Area I just wanted to make a :[______]!!! face at you in solidarity, haha.

Last but not least, today is the 3rd anniversary of the start of the comic, and its last live anniversary… thank you for an excellent 3 years :]



  • Kevin in WI

    Oh, this is going to be good!

  • Unclever title

    Mysterious Water God Being: That’s because you’re a sourpuss, Mike.

  • V

    If anyone asked me for one page that would tell them what they needed about the comic to convince them to read it, this would be the page. Then they’d be entranced before being blindsided by the slow but steady steamroller of feels (The Feelsroller), like Der-Shing intended.

  • arteopteryx

    (sempai noticed meee :D) Was “somewhat fluid” a word-play?

    Congrats on all the mentions! That’s awesome!! Has it really been 3 years? Happy anniversary, and happy web-birth day to Mare Internum! *showers Mike with sunflowers*

    • Nicole

      I’ve been trying to figure out what a “minor” morph wolleria female means and google isn’t helping… what does it mean? The water looks like something but idk what….

      • shingworks

        There are three Wollerian genders, two of which can reproduce (“female”) and are called Majors (like Kalla) and Minors. Minors are generally considered to be more intelligent and of a higher social value.

        • Nicole

          oh, OHHHH!! I got it now. It does look similar to Kalla I see it now…. and wow there is lore in this comic that I was not aware really should ketch up on before re-reading….

        • Lilian

          Why was Kalla, as a major, chosen as the one to remain in Mare?

          • shingworks

            :o good question

  • Mal-L

    Wonder if the interludes is the processor flashing through Mike and Bex’s memories while they’re inside the water, enough hints of that it could be the case…

    On another note now that we’re heading towards the climax I’m trying to figure out where this is going thematically. In the first few chapters I figured it was an analogy of living with mental illness (or any long term illness really). A man trapped inside an biological machine that seems to be malfunctioning. But the focus on Bex seems to wreck that theory. The biggest similarity between Bex and Mike so far is that they have a tendency to push their family members away. And there’s definitely a push pull between loneliness and finding connection.

    On another note I kinda try to do this with all stories I like, probably a tad odd to do this is a forum where the author reads it but… ah well.

    • shingworks

      lol, I live for people theorizing… and it should tie together by the end but that is very much dependent on my ability to not drive this bus off a cliff

    • Lilian

      I like your thoughts.

    • Some_Douchebag

      There’s no reason why it can’t mean one thing for Mike and another for Bex.

      I reeeeeeeeally like your interpretation for Mike’s story, by the way.

    • Shweta

      I’ve been wondering about loneliness/self-isolation/connection/vulnerability too, those seem to be major themes for both Mike & Bex, but maybe also Kalla?

      Especially intro to Bex was getting killed and eaten, the dangers of connection seem pretty literal there.

      & Levi seems like such a foil for the others – including self isolating because Mike ordered it (?) to, and being vulnerable to them all

      And like… Communication as both necessary and unreliable, they’re out of communication with earth, Bex and her dude were definitely not communicating well, Mike’s communication with others is messed up, and there’s him being told not to talk by his abuser iirc, kalla’s got a literal language barrier, threvi has even more of one…

      So I’m wondering at the processor communicating with both l language and gesture, and claiming to know Bex; send to me like it’s claiming to hold the answer to every character’s loneliness/silence, while being benevolent?

      But we’ve seen examples throughout of authorities claiming to be benevolent and know best and be the communication bottleneck, haven’t we? Mike’s abuser, Bex’s husband wrt both her and the kids, Mike to Levi…

  • Spottedspeck

    … where the hell did it get that sunflower?

    • shingworks

      Scary, isn’t it!

      • SSR

        She probably had some leftover birdseed in a pocket or something.

        • Solanuma

          That would be not too unrealistic if Bex came from east europe/central asia. Best snack tbh

    • Vert

      It can manufacture entire life forms from a whole cloth – I imagine a blob of matter in the shape of a sunflower would be easy for such an entity.

    • R C

      Exactly! Mike should be GLAD he didn’t get a flower!!! (ok, so he got mushrooms growing out his head, but I would steer clear of that flower)

    • Rei

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it was able to just make it from scratch with the available molecules in the system.

  • Shunka_Warakin

    I’m intrigued by the choice of a sunflower, here.

    Sunflowers are a sort of a multi-part organism in a way…Not so much like a jellyfish, but because the sunflower is actually made of hundreds to thousands of individual tiny flowers (florets), each of which serves different purposes. The dark central flowers produces the seeds, while the flowers along the edges produce petals to attract pollinating insects.

    This strikes me as being very, very relevant to the inner sea and the processor… Even if it contains myriad sub-organisms, in order for the ecology to function correctly everything has to balance out, everything has to do its part. Mike has sort of been accepted into the ecosystem and actively bound to pieces of it, while Bex has consistently fought, destroyed, and resisted being a part of it.

    There’s also possibly some further personal symbolism which could be drawn out of their behaviors. Mike suborns himself to external demands to the point of external abuse and self-destruction, while Bex has resisted external (familial, social) pressures to become independent.

    …Or maybe Shing just really likes sunflowers, but with the use of coral-like structures here and there (including Thighfriend, who looks a lot like a zooanthid)(corals being another colony organism), I’m more inclined to bet that it’s deliberate.

    • Jynxi

      I just wanted to say this was a really lovely thought-out comment and it made me ponder! If its on purpose that is quite cool, and if not it is still a really cool coincidence. Today I learned about sunflowers :) Thanks!

  • TheSilverTopHat

    Mike, you ARE the flower.

    • CharlesW81

      He got a Thighfriend!

      • R C


      • Joel

        This is what I thought, too…

    • Toastwpickledherring


  • Lilian

    I want a flower too. A daisy, I think.

  • Purplefelix

    C’mon Mike, don’t look a gift symbiote in the…stalk? Also, like SF Bay Area?! I grew up there and the one time I didn’t sleep through an earthquake, my mom thought I was just bouncing my knee in the kitchen. She was quite disappointed when I was behind the couch she was sitting on and realized she hadn’t gotten to savor the quake. I’m so excited to see what the processor has to say as we run full steam ahead into the meta

  • Android 21 3/7

    Sunflower! Not a magic wand, but I was close!

    So where are Bexie-Boo’s growing Facefriends?

    • Joel

      She hasn’t been, uh, infected? She’s been avoiding the glowy water and killing the thingies trying to get in contact with her.

      • Android 21 3/7

        Yeah, but she had spots on her face before that. Starting about when she woke up in the cave with Kalla, if I’m correct?

    • shingworks

      Sorry Joel, just commenting because I forgot them and am reuploading the page and because I don’t want future readers to read your comment and think you’ve got selective blindness.

      • Joel

        To be fair, me being selectively blind when I’m concentrating more on the dialogue in a comic on first read wouldn’t be too far from the truth. :P

  • I’ve put Mare Internum on at least my last two Hugo nomination ballots, and will certainly be doing so again this year, so there’s that.

  • Arianwen

    you got a face mushroom. stop complaining, can’t have everything you want

  • Ponyhome

    Dude… your face is a flower.

  • You got mushrooms, close enough, Michael.

  • anameer

    I’m tripping out over the passage of time here… like I know it can’t have been months because their hair would be really long otherwise but… comparing their faces to the first chapter, they look so much older! (or maybe they’re just tired lol).

    Or it’s just natural art evolution over the course of three years who knows.

    • JJ

      Another chronology question I keep mulling over: The people at Devotion should have become aware of their disappearance after no more than 4 hours. Less, if they tried to check in with them sometime during the afternoon via radio. Much less, if they have sensors or webcams which recorded the cave-in.

      It’s possible to explain a long time-frame in the Mare if Bex and Mike were ‘resetted’ by the processor, maybe multiple times. But if they have been down there days, weeks or months – what have the crew on the surface done? Had one look at the hole and declared them dead? Or is the “self-sealing mechanism” Levi mentioned able to cope even with such a huge breach?

      In any case, I suspect the story is designed to make you forget about this question for a couple of chapters – which, for me, worked pretty well ^^

      • shingworks

        They were probably immediately aware but honestly, what could 3 people do to help? Even if they called for help it’s not like they could necessarily do anything, get an earth mover into the hole, etc. In my head they probably tried to get a signal from their comms and weren’t able to, and closed off the area due to instability.

        AND on the inside, yes, there’s a self-sealing mechanism as well, but Devotion wouldn’t recognize it as such of course~

        • JJ

          Ah thanks, I see. And the self-sealing-thing sounds intriguing.

      • Artie O'Dactyl

        Regarding chronology: I still think it’s possible that the events that we’ve seen have occurred a long since the cave-in. This might not be the first time around for Bex and Mike.

    • JJ

      Oh yeah, I forgot Bex sent an emergency signal just before the cave-in. That means the search should have started a couple minutes later …

      • Ben

        Devotion would have mobilised to the location, assessed the situation as they saw it, and decided against sending further personnel into an unstable cave system. That’s how it works.

        There will, undoubtedly, be clearly defined protocols allowing this, or even dictating it depending on the circumstances

  • CosmicStresshead

    The sunflower just reminded me of that picture of yours over on DeviantArt:

    It made me smile. I needed that :)

  • Luces

    What will come after MI? Will you concentrate on the “Meek”, or do you need the twofold-challenge?

    • shingworks

      After MI is just The Meek (publicly) for the rest of the year! And an anthology I’m making, and another side horror comic I’m doing with another artist lol. People have been extremely patient with me and my slow Meek updates for the past 3 years, I think it would be nice to get back to 2-3x updates there before rushing into my next public project… for 2019 though I can’t say~

      • Ben

        I will be sorry to see MI finish. Despite the artwork, The Meek has never really “clicked” for me… another Ruritanian Slice Of Life comic, basically. MI is something genuinely original and the artwork is very striking throughout

        • shingworks

          Yeah, I haven’t even reached the primary plot of The Meek; the negative side of doing an epic comic while trying to make a living. If it helps, it’s technically a fairly hard science-with-fantasy story like Mare is, but right now it looks more fantasy. I have a feeling more MI readers would enjoy it if I could spoil the premise to them, but then it’d be no fun XD

  • Shweta

    Eeeeeeeeee *bounce bounce* now for revelations! I hope…

    Also hi from 2 miles from the epicenter or so. I was like oh yeah we get these too not just wildfire smoke… Though speaking of which, happy rain day the air isn’t toxic just now yay

  • Beautiful lighting, panel 3 especially.

  • Barry M Hatchel

    Will there be a print run of MI?

    • shingworks

      Yep! Right now I’m aiming for a March campaign.

  • JJ

    I like the pacing of these chapter starts!

  • Lar

    Michael Fisher has is priorities straight.

  • Socks

    Mike, you have a flower, of sorts. It’s attached to your thigh, and it’s your friend.

    P.S. I can’t believe I’ve been following this webcomic for THREE YEARS! Seriously, how is that even possible?

  • ikabubu

    I’d really like to see the logical progression of how Mike turned.

    Yes, Mike hated people, but he wanted to get OUT of the inner sea. He would rather be in charge of his own life, regardless of what people told him. Even if escaping means facing them all again.

    Now, Mike still hates people, but he’s been convinced to STAY. He seems to have “bought-in” into the promise of paradise in the internal sea. The irony, in my eyes, is: it seems that life in the inner sea is defined and determined (within parameters) for you.

    We start a story with Mike rejecting life and the presence of others. Then he holds onto life, long enough, to fuel the determination of escaping; rejecting the inner sea and what it offers. Now he’s convinced that staying here is better for him.

    Amongst all this, when and where did we lose “Mike”? Where did Mike “die”?

    I’m a big believer of “less is more” narrative approach; letting imagination fill the gaps, to give the audience a grander fiction with less words. However, I feel, personally, that this needs addressing. The logical turn needs to be shown to me, even if it is slight or in-passing.

    This Processor better have had one hell of an argument.

    • Joel

      +1 to this, I too want some reasoning from Mike as to why he decided that staying in the crazy place was what he wanted to do and that he was ok with slowly turning into an alien.

  • Jojo

    Oh Mike

  • awhorl

    It took a heck of a long time to say “Welcome!” to Rebekah, that’s all I can say. Is it really necessary to knock the socks off a person before you decide that you are ready to greet her? And honestly, I would have preferred a sandwich. No, not a Kalla-wich, something appropriate, but . . .

  • Joel

    I was randomly leafing through DeviantArt just now and ran into a picture that immediately made me think of this comic… XD

    • Lar

      Mike’s final form.

  • “Shut up Mike” were my exact thoughts too. XD

    Happy anniversary Dershing!! 3 years, wow!!

  • awhorl

    This page is beautiful and hilarious. Forgot to mention.

  • egg

    huh. i think this is the only webcomic i read where going from the latest page to the first page isn’t Massively Jarring

  • Spark

    Does it know her though? Does it *really*? It didn’t know her Bex nickname.

  • I really can’t get over the lighting in this page, truly beautiful!! The little details like the shadow of the sunflower on Bex’s face is probably my favorite thing.

    (Guessing that you use adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to draw, correct me otherwise! I haven’t been around for the live drawing haha)
    Did you use multiple opacity and masking layers to give it a more glowing effect in the water? Or just normal layers and playing with the light levels?

  • Minando

    Yeah, that’s how first contact should be.
    You give them something nice and symbolic.
    And then hope like hell the germs on it will kill them.

  • Sheridan

    Apart from anything else, this reveals that the processor (and by definition the Wollaria who built it) can manipulate gravity to an extent.
    Which shouldn’t be surprising, as they’ve built a System that’s apparently worked flawlessly for about four billion years.

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