Well well well

To be honest, I have a hard time pitching The Meek to new readers because the content is fairly unrelatable. What do I say? it’s adventure? there’s monsters? politics? idk. Now suddenly resistance against authoritarians is all the rage and I totally regret ever wishing my content had a more relatable selling point.

Today’s bonus file has an animated process gif in addition to the behind-the-scenes talk. Patrons of that tier can access that now~ I also opened up an older side comic up to the $2 Patrons, and another one is on the way for $5 guys. And the tutorial which I’ve been majorly procrastinating on despite having it fully written, haha [scream]

We also have a great fanart of your favorite despot today by Shnikkles, who is generally a cool person who knows her way around some colors.

And last, for anyone who has lingering questions about certain things in the comic, like… what does such-n-such jargon mean? Who is this guy again? Where are we? Is my life a simulation? you can check out the Meekipedia for the answers to those questions (except the last one). Here’s the link to all the stuff in Chapter 5 to make it extra easy on  you (note: the wiki doesn’t contain any plot spoilers, but may list people/ places/ things that show up in future chapters).

I probably have something else to say but forgot it, so you’re off the hook.


  • Gathe

    Man, me and my sister have this exact same argument all the freaking time.

  • TimesNewLogan

    And THIS is why the people like Suda more.

  • Wisknort

    Regarding selling the comic: Eh, you had me at ‘jungle girl’. This promises funny social situations, and so far has had a nice balance of teasing and delivering that. Is this actually a niche interest?

  • Roo

    :[ Well this is why we haven’t seen Rana with any friends.

  • Darcy

    Interesting to see if Rana changes her mind in the future. Very easy to say it was justified when you weren’t there.

  • that guy

    in b4 Luca decides to screw male-only succession

    • MiniMoose

      This is one thing I find so interesting about the family dynamics here. Luca favors Suda, being the first born (and only) son and all, and Suda therefore gets to see and do more than his sister does, but he’s never going to be the solider his dad wants him to be. Growing up the tough way Luca did may have helped, but it’s not in Suda’s nature to be okay with the wrongs of the world. He’s more like his mom.

      Rana, on the other hand, doesn’t get along with dad at all. At the end of chapter 2 she seemed pretty well convinced he’s responsible for Phe’s death, and that doesn’t exactly inspire warm and fuzzy dad/daughter bonding. Luca isn’t crazy about her either so I can’t imagine him realizing they have so much in common and that Rana would probably make a better successor than Suda ever could (in terms of following Luca policies/sharing similar lines of thinking).

      This is fascinating and full of the horror of becoming your parents, and I really enjoy how Shing works this stuff into the personalities and dialogue as well as their physical features. If Luca had paid more attention to who his kids are as individuals, perhaps he would have seen more of himself in Rana from the start. But he’s very steeped in tradition and that was never going to happen. I can’t wait to see how this story turns out and where the kids fall into place for the long haul. There’s so much potential for them to help and hinder Luca’s war efforts. Just because we see how Rana and Suda’s minds work in this exchange doesn’t mean those opinions will last. Aah, I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

      • J E

        I love that Rana doesn’t get along with her dad despite them being very similar. When you have a lot in common with a parent it isn’t always a bonding opportunity and if you have mixed feelings about how hard a person you are seeing your parent like that can remind you of the parts of yourself you tolerate more than like (of course this goes both ways and Luca may not like seeing his determination and callousness in his daughter).

        I feel like I’ve said this before many months ago too… regardless I agree with you that I love these family dynamics they feel interesting and realistic and are just fantastic.

        • J E

          Oh crap, did no mean to use my real name here. X|

        • DrunkenNordmann

          Them not getting along is probably not despite of, but because how similar they are.

          Having a child/parent that’s very similar to you character-wise can cause a lot of friction – speaking from experience there. :/

          • Asterai

            My little sister, my family jokes, is “my twin born eight years apart”. Not just in looks (which are uncannily similar), but in personality. We even talk the same way.

            She drives me insane. She is everything that I was eight years ago. Every flaw I saw in myself and decided to change, every habit I now find cringeworthy.

            Yeah, the similarity doesn’t really help.

  • two rich white kids argue about ethical behavior and treatment,,, tbh tho i love suda and rana anywayss

    • You are so correct, lol. These two are disconnected as hell.

      • (They are definitely not white/ caucasian tho)

    • memory

      Fantasy, fairy tales and myths often center around royal protagonists. Instead of pointing out how ill-equipped rich white kids are to argue about ethical behavior (they’re not), the more interesting question is why we all want to read and/or create stories where the protagonists are princes and princesses. Why is it more interesting to think about their conflicts than to think about the problems of regular people. Personally, I can’t wait to catch up with Soli.

      • mmmk

        Mmm, I don’t think that this particular arc is pointing out how ill-equipped rich white kids are with arguing about ethical behavior. I mean, some rich white kids probably aren’t equipped to deal with this situation, but honestly, who is? This is pretty complicated/tragic stuff.

        I mean, Suda just watched a dude (someone he knew) get executed in a very inhumane and derogatory way…by his own father.

        I’m guessing that pretty much *everyone*, whether they be “regular people” or “rich white kids” would have problems coping with that.

    • Lilian

      Rich, white kids can’t have valid discussions and opinions about ethics?

      Seeing that I’m both white and a member of the *global* one percent (over $32,400/year), what does this mean for me?

      • spen cyrrh

        That you should speak less and listen more. And keep your salary to yourself.

        • Keep it civil~ thanks

        • Lilian

          I prefer addressing inequality by lifting people up than by tearing others down.

          Fine if you want me to talk less – it is your right to tell me so. Listening is always something in which I can improve. Just don’t use the arm of the state to silence me.

        • Lilian

          I can see why you didn’t appreciate the money statement. I’m sorry if that just came across as bragging – not really my intent.

      • Ilmari

        Aye, given that rich white folks make most of the governing decisions in this world – and will continue to for the forseeable future – the more of them to have ethical discussions the better!

        It’s exactly through people like these kids that this nation’s regime may change for the better. The same applies in the real world. Unfortunately much of our media (especially the entertainment area) has poisoned us to believe that only rebels outside the system can bring about positive change, when the reverse is usually true.

    • Keith

      So much fail and misinformation in that, all I can say is “Kid you ain’t be more than a mile from home for longer than a week”. When I see people like you it’s like watching virgins tell hookers how to do their job.

  • Colin

    What I like about this is how you pretty much drew (intentionally or not) rather stark aesthetic parallels between Rana and Suda and Luca and Phe, in their faces. It’s right there on the upper right corner with Rana’s thicker eyebrows and rather smug but serious demeanor that you’ve seen the Emprah with as of late and then Suda’s look of indignation that harkens back to the first time you see her with Luca.

    Well done.

  • David

    I think someone’s been talking to Dagre…

    Also, Shing- I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you say the comic is unrelatable. Can you clarify?

    ALSO also- sorry for asking dumb questions you’ve already answered. I’ve avoided the Meekipedia because I was concerned about spoilers, but if you *promise* there aren’t any, I’ll give it a go.

    • Ah, I mean it’s a tough pitch… It can’t be easily summarized like “love story in space” or “paranormal detective,” and it isn’t quite what people think of when you say “fantasy” either (no dragons, no elves, whatever). I think people tend to like it when they read it, but it’s really difficult to write blurbs and press releases in a way that makes sense but isn’t spoilery XD

      • Dogma

        What about something like “Interbellum…plus a little magic.”?

        • Oh haha I have plenty of copy written (the comic has been around for years), my statement above is that it’s tough to write. But I’ve got it figured out, thanks.

          • David

            “World overrun by death potatoes. A hero shall rise… also, plants.”

          • >:[ TIME TO REBRAND

      • Andreas

        I am new to comics, and I don’t fall into the ‘pitch/type’ crowd…. (not a snob, more of an outsider to comics). I like that your comic has mature themes with a little humor and likeable characters. There are no obvious villains, and there is a bit of mystery and fantasy under it all.

  • Jack

    My first comment here! Wooo!

    In all seriousness though – Shing, I really like how you’re dealing with the racial (ethnic?) issues in this.
    The contrast between Rana and Suda’s attitudes is so big, but it’s also so realistic. They’ve both been raised in a culture that teaches them to despise the Carissi, but it seems like Suda – perhaps, ironically, because of his being in the military – has gone around more, seen the world more and because of that met Carissi sympathizers and, who knows, even some Carissi themselves.

    It’s the contrast between living isolated in a racist culture, and pushing out of that culture’s boundaries, looking at the world like it truly is and coming to form a new opinion. I really like that, because often so many liberal-minded people forget that racism isn’t always something people choose to be, but rather a result of lack of knowledge + toxic ideology + distance from other ethnicities (after all, it’s easier to dehumanize a people you’ve never been face-to-face with and have only heard terrible stories about)…

    Often when fantasy authors try to deal with racism they either botch it and make it stupid (like “we hate elves because this ONE legendary villain was an elf) or they write every single racist character as being 100% racist near-sociopaths who *know* they’re being unfair but don’t give a f*ck… but in here, we have SIBLINGS with this big a difference in attitude.
    And I doubt even Suda himself is free of Carissi prejudice since his sympathy seemed to be more towards the captain than to the captain’s Carissi friends, but still, i feel like Suda’s probably the one with more chances of abandoning the whole racial ideology in this comic’s future.

    TL;DR: this is a really well-done and realistic portrayal of racism in fantasy. Props to you, Shing, this stuff is really easy to botch but you did it masterfully well!

    • Keith

      Ladies and gentlemen…we have THE WINNER!

  • Corbie

    I bet that Suda will, for his opinion, be deemed weak in his people’s common terms, while Rana is perceived as strong … which would happen just the same in our world, while in fact, Suda is the strong one with an own mind, who also dares to speak his mind.
    That’s dangerous, Suda, try to stay alive and thinking. :o

  • nrfherder

    The Meek: A sweeping tale set in a fully imagined war-torn world where powerful beings set events in motion, viewed and experienced through the eyes of characters from very different social and political backgrounds.

    • Yeah, that’s an option XD I try to imagine myself at a video rental, like in the old days, reading the back cover and wondering if I would bother spending my entertainment dollars on that film or not. I mostly stick with an Angora-centric tack, since most people who are pulled in are often pulled in by her imagery. You can see examples of that approach (which has been successful so far) in the KS copy and on the site.

      • Corbie

        You would totally get me with nrfherder’s approach, because I’m into that kind of story. :D
        I experienced though (through a couple game pitches and books / helping folks with their blurbs for the back of the book or amazon) that character-centric approaches work best, because they support identification, even if they don’t paint the whole picture. Angora is perfect for the first point of view.

      • Baby M

        When I tell people about the comic, I tell them it’s the best bit of world-building I’ve seen since Lord of the Rings. You’ve created distinct cultures and subcultures and ethnicities that are completely organic and believable, but aren’t obviously directly modeled on real-world cultures. (So many SF writers fall into that trap, and it ends up being obvious that the Nargonians are the USSR with cooler facial hair and better electronics, the Ragurnians are the Hapsburg empire with green skin, the people of the cloud city on Altair IV are Brooklyn hipsters without the iPhones, and so on.) Your characters and their interactions are complex and believable, and the plot flows organically from their behavior. Oh, and unlike Game of Thrones or Dune, your story doesn’t bog down.

        Whether this is a pitch that will appeal to anyone other than me, I have no idea.

      • David

        To be really honest, I first clicked on the link because there was a naked lady sitting among jungle plants. :-/

  • Jay

    I guess it’s no wonder he looks more like his mother, and she more like her father.

    Maybe I am wrong, because Der-Shing always seems to surprise me with plot twists, but it sure seems like Suda isn’t really built to survive in this world. He will have to change, or it seems like he’ll be going the way of his poor mother.

  • JJ

    Oh my, Empress Rana in the making.

  • Jaclyn

    I guess it says “BOOM” but the word in the bg of the last panel look like they’re booing Rana.

  • Ambs!

    I didn’t think I’d end up liking Suda as much as I do.

    Of course now that makes me extra afraid for him ; ;

  • larry putnam

    Her Father’s daughter, his mother’s son. Hummm, sounds about right, so where does the little one fit in?

  • DukeBG

    The updated meekipedia is totally shissi

    • Hehe :] I was locked out for a year so it was nice to finally get that fixed and polish up a few things.

      I’m also finally going back and updating all the archive pages to their “final form,” which might be of interest to you. The finished ones have black page number circles instead of the old white ones (keeping the art changes pretty light… the book is just gonna forever look different than the web version I guess).

      • DukeBG

        Oh, okay, I’ll have a look.

  • DeCombys

    Well, seeing as some white guy with extreme right-wing nationalist views just went crazy and opened fire in a mosque a couple streets from where I live just a couple days ago, killing 6 men who had wife and kids and injuring more, this kind of hits home.

    I like Suda more. Lol.

  • R.J.

    Lets be honest here. What you have is an interesting, funny, depressing, emotional roller coaster of a series with deep, meaningful characters and stories. You have political intrigue, magical creatures and (despite the lack of titillation involved) topless girls. It also has beautiful art. Selling The Meek isn’t hard. Game of Thrones is huge right now for a reason.

    Selling a comic that rarely updates and has an author with a sporadic schedule for updating (as well as a history of breaks or lapses in updates without explanation) is the bigger hurdle. The fact is that while the internet and your free web comic are much easier to get into then other things that cost money, you wasted your first impression nearly a decade ago and since the impression for a lot of people has been ‘oh this is pretty and intriguing but it rarely updates’.

    The reason I am being critical here is because you’re talking about selling The Meek. The fact is that after nearly ten years of sporadic updating, you’d have to go ten years to get any sort of reputation for a consistent and regular update schedule to have people check back on your site regularly. You’ve been doing pretty good and I am a fan of your work but even I check back maybe once a month if I see a link to your comic on another comic because that is my expectation for this comic.

    Finally, if your patreon is at all accurate, you are by and far ‘selling’ The Meek at a far higher price then most internet works could ever hope for. There are people struggling and dreaming to reach the level your at. For 1/6th of it, I could pay all my bills and by food.

    • Haha, when I spoke of selling I meant less the economics side and more of the sales pitch. On both, I think I’m doing fine, was commenting on how difficult in general it is to sell a product that deals with a bunch of different topics that aren’t always relevant to today’s world (until recently at least). Not impossible though, as I’ve been selling this comic in that capacity for about 10 years just fine… in some ways the feeling of “just read it, it’s weird but interesting” that most people fall back on when recommending my stuff via word-of-mouth is more enticing to someone who hasn’t heard of the work before.

      But, irt the other stuff you mentioned, you have to keep in mind also 1) I’m not “selling” it at a high price; up until the Kickstarter I didn’t have any sort of merchandise whatsoever. The Patreon is funded by people who 100% voluntarily want to support it at any level, and are free to stop at any time. I’ve never put the main work behind any sort of paywall and even the side content can be fished out of the wiki, for free, by determined readers. 2) My audience has been carefully and purposefully built up in an organic way, and I’ve been doing it for over a decade. I have personal quotas and goals that I am for as far as acquisitions are concerned, it is all a very directed process that requires long-term planning (I am in year 3/5 of the relaunch plan). 3) The hiatus stuff was due to blockers that were out of my control. I’m out of that situation now though, so I can finally comment that it was a legal issue that I wasn’t able to comment on due to the way the issue had been settled. I was dealing with that for about 4 years, and if I hadn’t handled it the way I did, the comic would definitely have had to end permanently. Another two comics that were in my situation at the time (we all got screwed over) have not recovered. I can talk about it now since my last lingering contract expired on Dec 2016 (the issue started in 2011) so this has been a very long struggle. Of course, I couldn’t tell anyone about it due to a privacy clause, so I had to put up with a lot of abuse about the hiatus for 4 years without being able to say anything. That was fun. Last, 4) I am working on 2 complex webcomics at the same time, as well as maintaining my business, side projects, and etc. So, yeah, you are totally allowed to be critical, but it helps to know what goes into making a free comic that seems, to you, to update sporadically. On my end it’s a never-ending waterfall of work and challenges, learning random shit like accounting, printing specs, fighting for con tables, etc. Even with the success of my Patreon (which again required months of planning to execute successfully), I took a massive paycut dedicating myself to this line of work rather than staying in the industry that I’d been in prior leaving it. I suppose you could be resentful of my income but if that’s the case, keep in mind I was making over 3x as much doing the most boring pointless art ever, getting free food and reliable health insurance and vacation and WEEKENDS, haha, and is that actually better? Easier for me, certainly, but I’d rather be doing this. I also want to point out, all of my methods I used to build my audience and Patreon are available as tutorials which are also being released, for free, to the public on a regular basis. I have no need to hide my methods or try to deprive other people who have dedicated themselves to independent comics to the kind of practices that will bring them the most success and financial security. On the contrary I would love if all quality comics could be fully supported by their readers the way that mine is.

      Anyhow. I’m glad you enjoy reading and will continue bringing you the comic of course, and you’re not obligated to support it financially in any way, but I also don’t want to undermine the years of work that it’s taken for me to get to a place where I’m making a salary for my free-to-read projects, nor the passion and dedication of my fans who have been around as long as you have and without whom I would not be able to update at all.

      Oh, and if you want to know when updates come out more easily, you can sign up for free for email updates that will drop the update notification in your inbox as soon as it goes up, so you don’t have to check back randomly if you prefer not to~

      • One of the more impressive recent textwalls…

        • I’ve been reading since before the hiatus. I totally remember thinking “Oh, here’s another beautiful comic that has fallen by the side.”

          I’ve been reading webcomics for 15 years, seen tons of those I love go away forever. The Meek (and Mare Internum) are some fine, high quality shit that (IMO) are very rare, both for the planning that it seems went into the story (as opposed to make it up as we go along) AND the beautiful art.

          I always find it amazing that people can complain about getting something free. I’m incredibly inspired by the fact that you make so much on Patreon, mostly because I left the art world to go into science…partly because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to make money doing it. There are other comics…many others, who make you pay for 1) the entire comic, and 2) previous issues of a comic. I’ve always appreciated that you kept these amazing comics free. I don’t know, but it seems like you could have published legit and taken things offline and made money that way as well.

          Anyone who has actually paid any attention to the progress since you came back from hiatus will know that you seem to always be working, always be interacting with fans, always thinking about your craft. The updates are “sporadic” (in that they are not MWF or one day a week updates), but “regular” in that I never feel like I’m wondering where you are or if you’ve given up on MI or the Meek.

          Anyway, thanks, shing, for giving your art for free (even though that’s crazy) and your Patreon alone tells you how many people disagree with some of the statements in the comment above.

          • Thanks! I didn’t think the person up there being that bad, commentwise (that or my skin has grown thicker). It was just difficult having to disappear for a while and unable to explain why, realistically I understand that it also pissed readers off. It really pissed me off too. And yeah, I’ve had a few offers to publish at larger publishers (and even some people interested in film rights) but I’m very happy limiting the scope it reaches as long as I can make a living from it. I think it makes the story feel a bit more personal that way, and preserves the community too :] You guys really make it worth it.

  • Javi

    Look I love the art of this comic with all my heart but am I being obtuse or there’s something weird about Suda’s hand/arm in panel 4?
    Also Jesus Rana you really don’t know what your talking about.

    • Yeah it’s a little stretched XD Maybe I’ll hate it later but I was drawing while feeling angry (and am still angry) so I’ll keep it for now.

  • Anon3000


    It’s good stuff! We’ll be back to Angora and (smaller-)Pitchfork’d Pinter soon enough.

    Gotta say, Suda “more right” than his sis, though I think both end up on the side more right eventually. Their little sister, tho…

  • Gobi

    So, I’ve been wondering if you are going to do a Stevenbomb-like thing where you upload a page a day for a week or something. I know it takes a lot of time to create something of this quality, and you are working on other things. It’s a thought I thought I should share anyway.

    Ps. The brother sister fighting is very realistic!

    • I do those sometimes when I’ve got nothing else on my plate + am feeling super motivated… I’m actually SUPER motivated right now and have the next page nearly finished, but have all this other stuff to do as well XD But we’ll be doing 2x a week at the very least on Meek until I reach a good point in the other comic and will switch it off again. Anyways, next page will probably be up a little early, tomorrow, instead of Friday.

  • Felis Leo

    Well, I must admit Ms. Helmer, you certainly do know how to pull an emotional reaction out of me. Rana is a horrible, self-absorbed, solipsistic little witch. I thought SHE was going to be the one whose jaw would drop and be conscientiously horrified by her father’s actions, not laugh at the thought of Suda throwing up after watching their father pitilessly order a man to his death and his image of his father being irreparably shattered. And here I thought Suda was going to be the cloudcuckoolander. Instead he is a fundamentally kindhearted young man who takes after his mother and relies on humor and jokes to hide his pain and anxieties, and Rana de Sadar is more like Rana Hussein.

    Oh and this?

    “So you don’t think torture and murder are worse than treason?”

    “No! Not when it’s justified.”

    Murder is literally an unjustified killing. That is what makes it MURDER, as as opposed to justified homicide. It makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

    • Had to look up “cloudcuckoolander,” XD And yeah, they’ve both got some flawed viewpoints I think, but then again they are both very isolated from real life as well.

      • Lilian

        Suda has emotional intelligence and an artistic temperament. Rana has a more order-based and administrative intelligence.

        Like all personality types, they come with their strengths and weaknesses. Rana seems to have potential to be an excellent commander and tactician, but she would be prone to rigidity and forgetting that people are not projects or game pieces. Suda, however, is creative and caring. But he’s prone to passivity and disregarding details.

    • DukeBG

      Same – about expecting Rana to be more *understanding* than Suda, since that time that her parents had a public fight and she went to check up on mom. But, I guess, there’s a huge difference between mom and some random deChampon.

  • JJ

    I also adore Rana’s chelonaface in the last panel xD

  • TorgueRND

    I don’t care what Rana don’t allow, I commit treason anyhow.

  • Fawnet

    I wonder how “not thrilled” Luca was–and if Suda verbally protested afterward, or just gave his father an appalled look, or tried not to look at him at all. And I wonder how seriously Luca took his son’s attitude. Did he make a note of it, like “Oh, Suda didn’t approve of my actions; is this a problem that needs to be disciplined?”

    • From Chapter 2, Luca was already very worried about Suda and his lack of “enthusiasm” for responsibility. Not sure he really knows how to solve it tho, haha.

  • Nat

    Ugh. This displeases me.

    …Ranas opinions, not your webcomic :P

  • whatagrump

    Love the story, as always, but I just wanted to comment to say how much I adore your art (also reading Mare Internum, so this comment applies to both comics). Like, I was a big fan back in the LiveJournal days, but your use of color and line, and the nuance of the poses and facial expressions, are on another level at this point. I read a lot (probably too many) comics and webcomics, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that yours is the best art out there right now. Okay. Anyway, this comment was prompted by panel 2, which is just a masterful 3/4 rear view. Ahhhh

  • SabrielN7

    I’ve been thinking about how I’d describe this comic to a friend, and I think I’d say it was “like Game of Thrones crossed with Princess Mononoke.”

    I know some authors hate comparisons, so I’m sorry if that gets under your skin!

    A low fantasy epic following three very different groups of people as their lives are turned upside down by the outbreak of war. Royals, refugees, outlaws, and a magical girl on a quest don’t seem to have much in common, but all must struggle with the choice between doing what is right and doing what is safe.

  • Ilmari

    Huh, it’s interesting that you find it hard to sell this story to new readers… its exactly the political nature of this that most excites me. Then again I’m not exactly of a “rebellion against authority” persuasion, per se.

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