Chapter 5, Page 16

Kalla u desperate bitch

Every once in a while I get a notification when people are talking about the comic on the internet somewhere; today there was a forum arguing about why certain popular/ higher-polish webcomics like this one are more boring than other types of comics. I thought it was amusing, and I have an easy answer: there’s no such thing as boring content. There’s just content that you relate to and content that you don’t relate to. Cape comics are ostensibly the most popular and lucrative comics in the US and I can’t stand a single one of them. The idea of superheroes doesn’t interest me at all, and that’s fine. Maybe my comic is boring and unrelatable as hell to some readers and that’s fine too, because on the other hand, I have managed to connect with a lot of readers who are engaged and understand everything I am going for. And that for me is the objective of making this comic.

A big part of being a creator is managing your expectations… it’s not a bad thing when people don’t overwhelmingly connect with your work, and frankly I would be shocked if one thing in history was 100% well received (I doubt it’s ever happened). People make stuff which connects with a specific target audience (size may vary) and if you like my comic you are probably closer to the center of my demo’s bullseye. If not, then that’s ok, and thankfully there’s a lot of stuff out there to enjoy in both the pop and niche zones.

If you’re like me, and ran out of enjoyable stuff to read, then maybe you’re going out of your way to make it for others XD If that’s so, remember that perfection has never been on the table, so make what you want and have fun doing it.

Anyhoo,  next page tomorrow, see you then~

The 2018 Hugo Award Nominations are open until 3/15! If you enjoyed my work in the previous year, I would be extremely grateful if you’d consider nominating “Mare Internum: Chapter 4” in the Best Graphic Story category (due to the voting process, only complete segments- such as a chapter- of a work are eligible for nomination. Next year the complete work will be eligible).

Thank you for putting up with my nervous forays into legitimacy, and of course for considering me~


  • Fawkes Rinzler

    I love Kalla so much, oh my gosh. XD I don’t have words for it~! I really want a plush version of her, that would make me so happy~! She looks different this time around. I think it’s the hairstyle?

    But I am so interested to see what happens next, oh my goodness! I’m loving the bright colors going on right now! :D

  • Trying to wrap my head around how your comics could be classified as ‘boring.’

    Nope, can’t do it. Does not compute. I suppose the pace might be slower than an action story, but I’d never call your comics boring. They’re full of mystery and suspense and make you think in order to understand the subtext.

    But I guess since I’m sitting in the bull’s-eye of your target audience and similarly don’t care for cape comics, I wouldn’t be bored. Been reading since The Meek had ten pages to its mame and have never stopped. I even checked back weekly during the massive years-long hiatus. :3

    • shingworks

      oh no XD Thank you for checking back though, I appreciate it

      And yeah I can see how this could be boring if you don’t like a lot of talking in comics or these kinds of characters, but personally I don’t find them boring so I can’t relate, haha

      • Becky

        Count me in on one who loves all your comics and I actually find cape comics boring. They are all kind of the same to me and I have never found any of it interesting in the least. I like 2 things in a comic, good art ( although I have found a very few with so-so art but great stories but that’s rare) and a good interesting storyline. You have both! I was also one who kept checking back during the hiatus too lol Hey if its something I like I have hope until the whole site is gone! I knew how life can get in the way of being creative as an artist myself. Keep up the great work I’m loving this comic. I do admit I like this over the meek though I like both!. The thought of living on Mars is fascinating to me and aliens makes it all the more interesting.

      • Shweta

        I only checked in about monthly myself XD

        & IIRC I squeaked loud enough to wake the neighbours when I found a *new page* was up.

    • Treesart

      Count me as another that has been here since early-Meek. I enjoy your work immensely, both the art and the story arcs, and I have maybe a handful of the hundreds of comics out there that interest me. And yes, comics CAN and do make you think :)

    • SergeiArmando

      Ha! Some people also calls “2001 A Space Odyssey” boring : /

    • evileeyore

      “Trying to wrap my head around how your comics could be classified as ‘boring.’”

      It’s because shing’s comics are low action. It’s mostly dialogue and character interaction and character arcs that are driving the plot, not explosions and fisticuffs and car chases.

  • Luces

    Well, what do you expect from a Sci-Fi without even one laser fight or flight chase? ;-)
    There had been some pretty tight situations, but this is a grown-up story, with deep undercurrrents everywhere. Much better than the usual boring battle and the unavoidable firewall!

    • David

      Firewall? What do you mean?

      • shingworks

        probably requires hacking the mainframe

        • Pylgrim

          Without inverting the polarity first??? Madness!

  • Stickman

    I’ve also tried getting into the super hero comics. Ive read a very select few, but none of them really hit me as quality. Many of the comics now days are just very bland (imo). I feel like the people writing them are not truly passionate or interested with what they’re making and it really reflects on the quality of the product they are trying to produce. It seems to be very much the opposite in the self publishing world.

    I’ve followed your artwork since I was in high school. I was very disappointing when the meek stopped updating, but was genuinely excited when it finally started making progress again. Then all of a sudden this new mare comic pops up. Fantastic! I couldn’t choose a favorite between the two if my life depended on it. Me and my girl friend have both been proud contributors to your kickstarter campaigns and are eagerly awaiting our printed copies of mare.

    When I hear that people disregard content such as this to be “no good” or “uninteresting”, “boring” even. Man, like, that person has poor taste and that’s really all there is too it. That guy sucks. As does the stuff he reads. lol

    • Android 21 3/7

      Eh, I’ve dismissed stuff as being “not for me” before, so I don’t feel inclined to criticize other people’s tastes. Just because it doesn’t resonate for me doesn’t mean it won’t resonate for someone else.

      Unless that thing is Twilight or 50 Shades… *shudder*

      • Stickman

        you’re absolutely right tho. It is unfair to criticize in that matter. I just admitted to not enjoying other forms of work myself, so I guess I would be open to criticism myself right? haha

        People just have very different interests.

  • MoonSight

    I have a bed feeling about the thing on Mike’s head being referred as ‘the Crown’ i have this feeling that Mike will end up being the one to try and stop Bex at the very end

    • HousePet

      I suspect the fungus is actually fixing his mental issues or medicating against those issues. He has appeared to be much more stable since it grew on him. Seems unlikely that its there by chance as nobody else is colonised and it isn’t spreading through the rest of Mike.

      • Kyle

        My thoughts exactly.

      • MoonSight

        That’s actually a pretty good theory
        But what i mean is as a sumbolism, as Mike seems to be one of if not The most intelligent and capable being in Mare-Internum besides Kalla, Bex and Levi
        However Kalla is somewhat weak willed
        Levi is well… a Thrip
        And Bex is attempting to leave

        Mike seems to find little to no worth in his life as a human in society, but here he can be in peace and in untouched bliss in some fashion.
        Assuming the Processor allows it Mike can do whatever he wants and really make his place in the inturnum, somewhat like a king

        ‘It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven’
        But Mike doesn’t belong in this particular ‘hell’ so to reign and remain here would mean to give up himself as a human and become something els, a martian in a true sense, and experience a life where nothing Hurts because nothing matters.
        And i think to Mike that is very much a tempting offer, he is bitter for the world and he considers himself a failure. Just being left alone, nobody judging, caring or hurting him might sound like a pretty good life.
        And i think that may lead him to try and stop Bex, maybe even try to kill her, because her getting out will mean that Mare-Internum is exposed, and that will destroy the peace he wanted

        Or he will reject the crown and chose to remain human despite being broken

        • awhorl

          Right now Mike has Kalla on the one hand, doing Martian traditional happy-flips because she cares for him, and Bex on the other hand–someone he sees in a new light because it dawns on him that she can care for others in a serious way. And the processor is not treating either of them well. Mike has another chance to protect somebody from abuse, since he feels like a horrible failure in protecting Levi.

          There’s a pattern to the effect of the processor: cutting individuals off from each other. When Levi received the “organic” body it wanted so much, in the process the ability to talk to Mike was lost, and the new friendship that relieved Kalla’s depression was torpedoed. Again, when Kalla was reincarnated, her memory was restarted before the bonding conversation with Mike.

          Some astute reader pointed out that the ability to understand and be understood was the gift that the processor offered to Bex, and sure enough, she understands the words of Thripp and other creatures already. If this is the processor’s gift, then the processor has missed the point–knowing a language isn’t the same as understanding a person’s emotional state, intent, or needs.

          Human or Wollarian, on Earth or on Mars, it seems that a creature needs contact, needs friendship. Mike and Kalla had dubbed each other honorary members of each other’s species in that pivotal conversation.

          But rather than deliberately and evilly trying to isolate individuals, the processor just doesn’t “get” the notion of community–that’s what I think. And Mike does need friendship–just like the other heroic figures in this comic (Thripp included, of course).

          I am still wondering about that pile of bones. Kalla said she came into MI by accident, and thinks it was some kind of bunker. That word suggests an ancient war; perhaps proto-Wallarians weren’t so peaceful. Perhaps those bones belonged to the first proto-Wallarians who retreated there and actually didn’t survive.

          Maybe Mike will let Kalla talk more about herself now.

          • hkmaly

            While it would sort of make sense to be deliberate, Kalla not remembering that conversation is simply because she didn’t synced her memories with water between that and her death.

        • Lilian

          It’s impressive that Kalla has a will at all.

        • HousePet

          I have a load of extra thoughts and theories about each characters motivations and how this will end, but the author has done a very good job in keeping everything vague, so there wasn’t much point in mentioning any of my other ideas as they have nothing concrete to be based on.

          The biggest issue is the Processor. I can’t work out if its behaviour is due to not being able to correctly process the situation, or whether it has correctly processed the situation and is acting out a very long game to resolve it.

    • Shweta

      I’m also unnerved by the word “crown”. Not, say, crest, or something else naturally growing from the head; not hat or wreath.

      Also… if that’s a crown, what’s the sunflower, a scepter?

      I guess if this comes down on the side of horror, Mike will choose wrong, and if it comes down on the side of hope, he’ll be *expected* to choose wrong but will choose right?

      (Whatever wrong and right are. I feel like escape’s right whatever the consequences, but I’m willing to be shown otherwise.)

  • Eden

    That bit about the forum discussion is pretty awful. I love your comic and wish people would stop feeling a need to put other peoples work down just to make there content seem smart or edgy.

    • shingworks

      It’s the internet XD And webcomics in general, you come to expect the full range of easily-searchable opinions of your work.

  • AGV

    “Kalla u desperate bitch”

    Geevus, give her a break :v

    • Shweta

      that’s alllmost never a writer’s job XD

  • Bradford Miller

    Nothing boring about your comic at all. It’s one of my favorites! Perhaps your
    work appeals more to the literati (or scientists anyway ;-)

    • awhorl

      I was a lurker for a long time because I was blown away by the comments posted by the scientists. What a comments section! Thanks–I learned a lot. Shout out here to CU Mars people–the most hilarious stuff I have ever encountered has come out of that astronomy building by denizens creating video in their spare time.

  • pauses

    Der-shing, I’ve been following your artwork and comics since the deviant art days. You’ve had an enduring influence on my own art and writing. Your art and story-telling is beautiful and sophisticated, as well as humorous. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t resonate with some people. Like you noted, you can’t cater to everyone. There are many of us here and at The Meek who enjoy your work. So thanks for sharing it!

    • shingworks

      Yeah, no problem! I’m glad you’re enjoying it, and I have no intention of stopping any time soon :]

  • Phoenix

    Some things are valued for certain characteristics. Take studio ghibli movies for example: they are long as hell! But ah, the stories. And the beautiful scenery! So keep up what you are doing. I love the narration of this imaginative world we are now in that you have created.

  • awhorl

    When I made that comment about Kalla not remembering a pivotal conversation with Mike–and how that is too similar to discovering that a loved one has dementia and doesn’t remember things you shared–well, I cried for a while. And that isn’t the same as getting vicarious exhilaration from a fight scene in a comic, is it? But it hits deeper, really deep, and it helps me get nearer to issues I am not seeing so clearly. It helps in a very gentle, compassionate, and intelligent way.

    And that’s just one tiny example.

    Hey, thanks.

  • brokenidealist

    Can we make the “Mare Internum Demographic” a thing? I am very much a member of the MI demo, and so many of the narratives in mass media I can’t relate to or I just don’t find that interesting or creative. I found MI through Hiveworks, and I’m grateful for Hiveworks and similar sites for collecting some very diverse works — all the comics I read now are done by independent creators on the web. Actually, 95% of my fiction reading is web comics now, and I cut my teeth on printed sci fi and fantasy before the internet came along. Sure, not everything on the web is my cup o’ tea, but amazing art, original stories, and even just a fresh take on familiar concepts makes me really appreciate all of the creators out there and thankful that we now have ways to connect creators directly to their audiences, without obnoxious media gatekeepers deciding what is good or bad, interesting or boring, smart or stupid.

    • shingworks

      lol, I suspect this demo is melancholy introverts who read a lot XD my favorite, tbh

      • rimmeh

        1. How dare you.
        2. That’s incredibly accurate.

        • Pylgrim

          Another account of unmitigated accuracy.

        • Meran

          I laugh at the accuracy… I can, since I’m part of those melancholy introverts

        • Sheridan

          Siri how do I like a comment?

      • Shweta

        Nuh-uh, I’m an only-sometimes-melancholy introvert who can’t read as much as I’d like to.

      • Lilian

        Lol, shut up. I uh, I write more than I read at this stage of my life? Therefore, your argument is invalid?

        • Shweta

          Yeah melancholy introverts who write are totally different :nods earnestly:

          • awhorl

            Where do melancholy editors fit in? Please don’t leave me out. I’m freelance as it is.

      • Vert

        That’s a vile accuracy.

    • Rana

      I would definitely consume more stuff like this. It’s rare to find this sort of combination of heart, intelligence, and beauty, and I want more of it.

  • Lucas

    Kalla, you adorable cinnamon roll.

    The only hero comic I managed to get into was Hellboy, because I love Mignola’s art very much, and because he poured a lot of time over making his characters interesting and human.

    I think there’s space for everyone to write their stuff, and for people to enjoy them in their own way.

  • fox-orian

    It’s almost as if these comics with a high amount of polish but with ‘boring content’ are… **works of passion?** Imagine that, the creator working very hard on something very deeply meaningful and personal to them. Instead of on, say, something born out of focus groups and analytics, trying to appeal to the widest audiences possible in exchange for total creative and intellectual bankruptcy.

    Would you rather have 1000 readers that would carry your creation with them for the rest of their lives?
    Or 1,000,000 that consume your creation today and forget it tomorrow like all the other background noise out there?

  • NateSaint

    You ran out of enjoyable stuff to read, so you started making it XD. That’s the true creative spirit, and I applaud you for it! It reminds me of how C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien got started with their sci-fi: they came to realize that none of the science fiction stories then on the market were the kind they wanted to read, so they agreed to write those kinds of stories!

    I’m following this comic to the end. Tally ho!

  • Pylgrim

    There’s another answer: Comics with less polish, or with lots of hands on the dough and/or lots of stakeholders have to rely on “spectacle” to artificially garner interest and, hopefully, put bread on the table for everybody involved (and yet another solid-gold comb for the stakeholders). (This is not inherently bad or anything.)

    On the other hand, independent artists that have managed to raise a following can tell far more personal stories, where the point is the character development or the message, rather than a continuous succession of cliffhangers and raised stakes. I can see how people who are attracted by spectacle and big stakes (precisely the demographic that those other comics hope to attract) would find that boring and non-eventful.

    • shingworks

      The level of polish doesn’t seem to matter much in comics tbh… some very big (independent) comics like OOTS or XKCD do just fine by letting the art take a backseat to clever writing. And a lot of high-polish comics can be all flash and no substance. I think it really comes down to content and audience.

      • hkmaly

        Not sure how big is XKCD audience but I’m sure Randall wouldn’t add anything he wouldn’t like no matter how much it would expand his readership.

  • Shweta

    Any work I really like, someone on the internet is saying it’s boring, has nothing to it, is unrelateable, or all three.

    Not just “I wasn’t interested/engaged, I didn’t get it, I didn’t relate”, but the Statement of Fact versions, cause the speaker’s perspective is obviously Objective Truth.

    Reminds me of this:

    “The whole is so dry and airless, so lacking in pace, that whatever drama and excitement the novel might have had is entirely dissipated by what does seem, a great deal of the time, to be extraneous material. My thanks nonetheless for having thought of us. The manuscript of _The Left Hand of Darkness_ is returned herewith.”

    • shingworks

      We can be honest, when “the internet” says these things it’s usually a bunch of younger dudes, lol. I think there’s some anger there when content isn’t made to cater to specific spoiled demographics (see: recent popular films starring women or POC), and a lot of bizarre statements like “this is bad content” instead of “I think this is bad content.”

      • Shweta

        Also many many older dudes, and Lois Tilton.

        I think this *particular* type of whining is specifically about whether they understand that multiple perspectives even exist, let alone being valid. When they don’t get that, they simply won’t get work that’s premised on it.

        I figure “boring”/”unrelateable/dry and airless” from them is a badge of honor. The really cringesome comment is “exotic” :D

  • Minh-Khoa

    I love your content, the day I found it I binge read the whole thing up to the end of what was available. Your art is fantastic and expressive without being exaggerated and slapstick and your characters feel like people. I hope you love what you do as much as we all love reading and following along as you unfold your story for us.

  • You’d think the gift would help the Processor manipulate Mike’s brain, but it doesn’t seems to work like that, does it.

  • Heyaheya

    Jane stay with Tarzan!!!

    Also “accepted” seems to imply that the fungi has taken such strong root on Mike since he, at some level, wants to be integrated into the Mare Internum, as opposed to Bex who has motivation to escape and is far more resistant to the environment

  • Diana

    If the MI demo includes grandmothers of a certain age, I’m right where I need to be.

    My son glommed me on to the Meek years ago and then on to MI a while back. He knows what I like to read and thought I would enjoy both strips. He was right. I do.

    Thank you.

  • tawny

    Mike hasn’t said anything about how Kalla died. I wonder if that means he’s forgiven Bex at all?

    Also very very interesting that he doesn’t seem to know what she means about “accepting” the processor’s gift. Did he accept it without thinking about it, does he not really know what his gift is, was it forced on him unwillingly? Maybe he doesn’t remember it?

    Also also, thank you for a very cool very neat very thought provoking comic, it may not be danger and excitement all the time but it’s always been worth reading and I love it.

  • hkmaly

    You don’t like superheroe stories? Damn. I was soo looking forward to that green-haired girl in Meek (Oh, she’s on cast list: Angora) becoming sort of superhero and you actually examining her psychology as it’s happening instead of the usual “hey look I’m superhero cool let’s blast enemies” or “I don’t want to be superhero … but the world needs me so I must accept that responsibility” so many superhero origin stories have.

    • shingworks

      Haha, I guess I mean traditional American cape comics, they’re just not my deal. I don’t really understand the obsession with a handful of characters for like, decades. Isn’t it boring? At the point you have to destroy and recreate whole universes just to continue telling stories with them it seems like maybe that’s a natural end point and it’s best to come up with some new stuff.

      • hkmaly

        Oh. Yes. The amount of resets really doesn’t encourage me to read THAT kind of comics. And it’s not like they couldn’t add more characters.

  • Sheridan

    The only ‘cape comic’ that I’m interested in would be Batman, because he’s a normal Human who’s trained his body so he can go toe-to-toe with superhumans. But not the modern richer-than-god Batman who can afford anything he wants/needs but can’t seem to spare a dime for some social programs that would actually have a measurable impact on crime rates. Also maybe paint some building bright colours, ffs; the whole city is depressing. No wonder everyone’s on the take.

    But while on the subject of cape comics, people should check out Turncoat for a subversion of them.

  • Bellz

    “Once you get a proper crest, I will consider you an honorary Wollaria” The crown… ;_; Awe Mike…

  • “Cape comics.” Well, I like superheroes, or I did back in the 70s when they weren’t so dark, grim, and gritty. But that’s the point. They’re not just telling the same stories over and over again; the stories have changed dramatically over the years. A Batman story from the 1940s is different from a Batman story from the 1970s is different from a Batman story from the 1990s. Better? Not necessarily. Like the movies, modern comics benefit from better production values, but the quality of the stories vary greatly and still depend on how good the writers and artists actually are at their jobs.

    • As for interesting and relatable content, that seems to be a moving target for me. I like hard sf that is thoughtful and smart, but I also like to sit back and enjoy the ride of an action-oriented space opera adventure. I like puzzling detective stories where the protagonist has to think and figure out what really happened from the clues that are found. But I also like to enjoy the wild ride of a hard-boiled detective who thinks with his fists, or the ridiculously improbable spy story, a la James Bond. It all really depends on my mood.

      As for Mare Internum, I have to admit that the character studies have at times puzzled, bored, and infuriated me, because they haven’t always acted like I think they’re supposed to act. But what really drew me in was the great artwork and the interesting concepts behind Mare Internum. And the martian interaction with the human characters has been interesting, as well, so there’s that–alien thought processes interacting with human psyche.

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