5.43

On the plus side, she doesn’t have to live at home anymore…?

Apologies for falling a bit off schedule! That was because I got sick, which I had unfortunately not penciled in. Regardless, last week The Meek won an Ignatz for Outstanding Online Comic, which is still surreal to me, and I can’t quite believe it happened. Thank you all so much again for your support.

This past week I also launched a new comic anthology called ALLOY: Electrum, showcasing stories about complicated identities. This inaugural volume focuses on a topic that I definitely touch upon in The Meek, which is being mixed-race. I am one of those people who is constantly writing about my life through an entertaining veil of lies, because transparency is scary, but in the last year or two I realized that I could be working harder to clearly advance the agenda of things I really care about (comics, representation, and paying people). This anthology has been a dream project of mine for a long time, but I didn’t feel confident in trying to get it made until early this year. I’m happy to finally launch this, and to work with a bunch of artists to tell some authentic all-ages fiction and non-fiction stories about the mixed-race experience… maybe one of those artists will be you?

Pitch submissions open on Wednesday 9/27, I hope some of you will consider submitting :] if not, and if this volume goes well, there will be future opportunities to submit as well. If you’re more of a reader-type, you can follow the Twitter for updates, announcements, and a few previews of who and what’s to come.

Anyways, I’ve got a lot of updates to make on ye olde Patreon so those will be up soon too, sometime tomorrow after both my dentist appt and getting my car fixed, lol, the fun never ends. Lets wrap this thing up FOR REALS now

69 Comments

  • Android 21 3/7

    *opens mouth and raises finger* … *shuts mouth and lowers finger* … I know this is a common thing among royalty, but you legitimately struck me speechless.

    • Well, he’s been thinking about doing it for about 7 years now

      • Fridge_Logik

        Well, I just re-read chapter2. And now I’m crying. Again. Fuck it’s strange to remember crying at the exact same page seven years ago when it was first published. Even knowing what’s going to happen the way you characterize Phe, and the Emperor, and the children is so compelling.

        Well done, as always.

    • SC

      Same.

  • TimesNewLogan

    Well, look on the bright side, Rana… at least your last name isn’t Hapsburg!

    On a side note, it might be time for her to get the heck out of Dodge.

  • Kaunisenkeli

    Ugh. Arranged marriage. :(

  • okno

    Run away Rana!!! D:

  • Nandadevi

    That profile in the last panel, Rana looks really good there. It’s the first glimpse I’ve gotten that she is attractive!

    I’m hoping she gets a better wardrobe/hairstyle next chapter. Hopefully after she’s gone on the run from that marriage. Or post-wedding, depending on what direction the story goes.

    • mini

      Rana doesn’t deserve that kinda shade. She can wear what she wants :/

    • Jay

      She looks like her mother there.

      • Nandadevi

        You’re right! I think that’s what it is. She looks like a female version of her dad in most panels, but in the last one, Phe’s features are a little more noticeable. Poor girl. I hope she doesn’t go through with this marriage. She’s my favorite of the kids.

    • whatagrump

      Kind of a weird thing to say about a fictional teenager. She’s an interesting character with all sorts of positive and negative traits. Who cares if she’s attractive?

      • Nandadevi

        I’m not saying she’s ugly. Just that she’s been portrayed as kind of frumpy. I like characters that are drawn with unique features and that bottom panel really highlights her face as very pretty.
        That’s all.

        • whatagrump

          You’re talking about how you hope she gets a makeover.

          • Nandadevi

            So? She obviously feels self-concious about her looks (“always on a diet”) and there is a lot of strain between her and her father. She looks the most like him, and Suda says she acts like him too, which bothered her a lot. Sometimes makeovers are healthy ways to put distance between negative feelings/images. It’s also a way to push boundaries and create a new identity.

            Either way, I’m hoping the character escapes from her toxic situation. The arranged marriage blows.

      • Marion R.

        Oh God, no! Let us never have the bad taste to find somebody attractive!!! *clutches pearls*

        • nightsbridge

          There’s a world of difference between ‘I love your hair!’ And half-compliments like ‘I love your outfit, it really hides your weight.’

          It’s called a backhanded compliment and that shit is quite shitty. I’d really hope that no one in the comments here comments on appearance of the women in their life that way.

    • Indy

      Rana’s always been pretty. She’s portrayed like a teen girl with a lot on her mind. She has a very animated face, so she’s not often posed the way she is in the last panel. Not that the ‘prettiness’ of a fictional teenage girl (or a real teen girl for that matter) is of any consequence whatsoever.

  • DukeBG

    I’ve been thinking about the steamy food stuff Ulyer’s been holding for a while.

    • Indedipal

      At first I assumed he was bringing breakfast for Luca and himself, but now I’m wondering if perhaps it was supposed to be a ceremonial nuptial gift, to make the “engagement” all official…

  • Luces

    You are not interested? Very well. Ask your brother about some swimming experiences. Don’t even dream about fleeing. My arm reaches very, very wide. And after all, I still have another daughter to step into that marriage, haven’t I?

    • Android 21 3/7

      *doesn’t stop screaming*

  • Dew

    If I remember correctly, Ulyer’s last name was intended Depuler (spelling?).
    Thus Im guessing his full canon name is “Ulyer Derisima Depuler” or was the name changed mid development?

    • dePuller was the red-headed guy that was blamed for Hyla being out of bed a few pages ago. Ulyer’s name hasn’t been mentioned until now, but he was introduced as being a godfather.

  • Stulte

    I wonder if this came as a surprise to Ulyer as well. I’m guessing it did.

    I’m also guessing arranged marriages are a Pasori thing, and not just a royal sorta thing. Was Luca’s and Phe’s marriage arranged for them as well?

    • DukeBG

      No, and Phe was a northern Santri, not Pasori

  • JJ

    Too bad the snappy comebacks run in the family.

    Could she maybe borrow Dagre for a sec to fire-murder Ulyer? Or just grill him enough to turn him off?

    • Corbie

      Hmm, unless Ulyer knows about the marriage and agrees without ever asking Rana (which would be even more awful than the arrangement is anyways), let him have the time to answer first. Not that Rana would be interested in Stone Age Combover Guy, but he still is blank sheet enough to hopefully not be a complete fail as a human. Which would not excuse anything. On the other hand, he’s the owner of a company that produces killing devices.
      Either way, the one to be grilled by Dagre here is the one forcing Rana. I like Luca as a complex fictional character, but I would gladly be in that room with him for a while among four eyes … no worries, I despise torture.

      Got to add: Luca, you dumbass, a family is not kept, it’s cared for and about. And it’s shitty to tell your daughter, who is already forced into caring for what’s left of her family, to “keep” an “own” one. Please feel kicked in the backside.

  • theMarc

    Ah, yes. The best reason to get married.

  • zellgato

    Anyone else feel like.. this was in fact not planned.. just spur of the moment decision?
    Cause that guys’ face is goign “wait..what? Shit I better not speak about this either.” I mean he didn’t even move a bit then looked back af ew seconds later. as if shock

    • Mastiff

      My first thought was, I wonder if he’s even more surprised than Rana?

  • Patrick

    okay dad way to escalate

  • Jay

    Am I reading this right that Ulyer here is a good deal older than Rana? It seems like it, but he may just be premature thinning.

    This also explains Ulyer’s awkward sideways glance in the last page.

    • He’s in his early 60’s, yeah T__T

      • Sunflower

        I thought Ulyer was 50, not in his early 60s. The Meekipedia says he was born in the year 703 — and isn’t it 753 now?

      • SomeUnregPunk

        So he’s just being facetious to stop her thought process and realize what’s in her immediate future.

  • Lilian

    I’m curious as to how much of this arranged marriage is cultural/royal, and how much of it is Lucha being facetious.

  • Hyrule_Symbol

    I bet it’s TOTALLY NOT super freakin weird to – i dunno, Marry a guy that knew you since you were literally a baby?

    • Mastiff

      Except she hasn’t known him. Luca’s introduction of him and her reaction seem to indicate she’s never even heard of him before. He and Luca have obviously known each other a long time – Hyla’s godfather – but he’s not been around nor has Luca talked about him for her to recognise the name.

    • Mastiff

      But yeah, you’re right, there’d be nothing weird about that, nope not in the least bit. Nope, not at all.

      And it just registered that you said had known you, not the other way around. Can’t talk about hiw weird that would be because can’t keep the Nopetopus waiting.

  • Rei Addams

    I can see how this can keep Rana under his thumb—marrying her off to a much older man, whom happens to be loyal to him. I can also see how he wants her to become a responsible adult, yet doesn’t seem to care about her happiness. I can see the pros and cons to this, but for Rana….it’s like moving from one gilded cage to another. *sighs*

  • Brad

    Congratulations on your engagement Rana!

  • das-g

    Her *new* husband? How many husbands does she have, yet? :-P

    • Haha, true, anyways he’s more of an *old* husband

  • LostYooper

    Ulyer: Hey man, I was just going see if you wanted some Ramen noodles, not marry your daughter!

  • Roo

    Rana’s been climbing into the spot of my favorite character for a while now, but I’m super curious to see how her feisty nature handles this. Also maybe I’m just presuming, but the way Luca worded this makes me wonder if he hasn’t tried to pull this kind of thing with her before and one way or another (maybe with Phe’s help) she’s managed to avoid it until this point.

  • Elliot Schmidt

    If nothing else, he seems like a bang-up guy. Could be worse.

    • Mastiff

      Yes, so far he’s seemed a reasonable and personable man, but how much of that is because we’ve only seen him in contrast to Luca? We haven’t seen him *do* anything yet, nor do we know anything about his friendship with Luca.
      If he’d been standing behind a store counter when we met him, I’d be inclined to like him. But he’s longtime friends with a person who has one foot in violent psychosis, which raises questions about his character. I might cut him some slack – he’s trying to help his longtime friend- but now we learn he is an arms manufacturer, one who profits off war. That does not bode well.

      For the girls’ sake, I hope I’m wrong.

  • strannik

    “I am one of those people who is constantly writing about my life through an entertaining veil of lies”

    Wait, i hope you’re not saying us that you had to go through an arrange marriage ?

    • no, but you should check out my longcat sometime

  • Android 21 3/7

    Okay. Speechlessness has worn off and I got my thoughts in order.

    I think it’s pretty obvious to us that Rana takes quite a bit after her dad, but I don’t think Rana herself sees that, which was why she was so offended when Suda pointed it out. I’m not saying she’d be so callous as to tell a man with Carissi friends to go for a deadly swim (though given her response to the tale, who knows? She might be), but she seems as at a loss on how to handle small children as her father is. At the beginning of the chapter, when her little sister runs to her for comfort, her very first response is “Where is your caretaker? Why isn’t my room locked?” When Rana confronts her father over not being more of a fixture in Hyla’s life, it initially looks like Rana being a good big sister, but is she really? Given what we’ve seen in this chapter, it kinda reads like she has the same problem as her father with perhaps the slight improvement being that at least Rana remembers Hyla’s birthday. Looking back, it’s actually rather amusing the two blame each other of the same thing when it comes to Hyla. “You’re her father. You should act like one.” “You’re her older sister. You should act like one.” Not saying either one is wrong, but it does feel very much like they’re trying to foist responsibility over Hyla on the other. While I do think that Luca forcing Rana into a marriage with a 60+ year old man so suddenly is seriously wrong, I can get his justification to himself. But at the same time, it feels like it’s the same evasion of responsibility over his children. “She’s married now. Not my problem anymore. Her husband’s problem.” And by making DeRisma Hyla’s godfather, it sounds like he’s very ready to push his responsibility over Hyla onto Rana and DeRisma on a permanent basis as well. And I can see Rana trying to get Luca to take Hyla back because she doesn’t want to have to deal with her. In the end, it’s a very sad situation all around, especially for Hyla.

    • Oh, he was Hyla’s godfather for a while, it was just not really explained to the kids. And I like the rest of your assessment :]

    • Mastiff

      All very good points. Especially how much she is like her father. But I must continue to hope that she was being Caring Big Sister, when she came to see their father.

      I think you’re absolutely spot on that Luca is trying to get Rana out of his hair. If Luca does force this marriage through and then foists Hyla off on them, heartbreaking for both sisters.

  • SlugFiller

    I won’t comment about arranged marriages. For every place in the world where it would be considered backwards and primitive, there is a place where marrying at random regardless of the thoughts of the family is barbaric. Anyone under the illusion that they can discuss it without bias should first look at themselves and see if they aren’t just parroting something that was taught to them.

    What I WILL talk about is wife husbandry, though. This isn’t just some old guy, this is someone who knew her when she was a kid, and is very close to her father. It’s basically akin to marrying your uncle. Even in cultures where marrying your cousin is A-ok, this would be quite the bit of squeak.

    Like, does he not have any friends with children her age with whom he can hook her up instead?

    • Mastiff

      I don’t see how this would count as wife husbandry, as Ulyer didn’t raise her. They’ve only even met once, and Rana doesn’t even remember it. The way Luca introduces him and her reaction implies that Luca has not even talked about him enough that Rana would recognize his name.
      They are basically strangers to each other, although he might know more *about* her as she’s a princess and presumably in the public eye.

      I’m not even sure it would count as an “arranged” marriage, if it’s as spontaneous as some of us suspect.

  • I wonder what Ulyer thinks of all this. Right now it seems he has as little choice in the matter as Rana. After all, when your Emperor says “jump,” you say “how high?”

    Anyway, I hate all of this. Rana would be the successor more in tune with Luca’s goals, but he’s blinded by gender and mutual dislike. Love this comic, thank you for the feelings.

  • Edhelith

    So are age gaps this big common in Pasori arranged marriages or is it a matter of Ulyer is someone Luca trusts will provide for and treat Rana well?

    • ErictheTolle

      Do you honestly think Luca cares how Rana is treated? She’s chattel to him.

  • dkdzyn

    Interesting development and not at all surprising really. From a Monarchial/despotic leader perspective, if your preferred arms manufacturer/dealer is married to your daughter, what better way to get a responsible entrepreneur, provider-type husband to take care of her (and get her out of your hair while still keeping her close to hand)? If he is elderly and likely to pass away within a decade or so, the government now takes de-facto control of their arms provider.

    Quite a convenient arrangement…

  • tinwhistlings

    I am shooketh!!

  • Sandy Noname

    For the sake of justice and to be fair to Ulyer, I have to say in his credit I rather liked the way he tried to comfort Hyla when Luka almost had have a fit of murderous fury.

  • Ash

    BUT HE’S OLDE. Have mercy

  • Marion R.

    My view will be – as usual – the unpopular one, but while I frown upon arranged marriages in principle, I do think that when it comes to royalty, the rules are slightly different. As for Rana, she reaped all the rewards of being a Princess. She never had to scrub floors. She always had the best food and clothes, slept in goosedown instead of on a straw pallet and had the luxury of ordering people around. Well, she’s a Princess. A rude and ungracious one, but a Princess. And princesses marry for political reasons. So do Princes, by the way. Royalty has many priviliges, but not, alas, the privilige of choosing who to marry. Noblesse oblige and all that.

  • Marion R.

    Come to think of it, I feel rather sorry for Ulyer. He has to put up with a moody, badtempered girl for a wife. Poor man. But at least I understand the reasons why he has to marry her; the Emperor and Crown Prince are off to war. If the Emperor dies and the Prince survives, the Prince will become Emperor and will need a solid, experienced and trustworthy man at his back. If both Emperor and Prince were to die, the Empire would go to the Princess, or rather,to the Princesses’ husband. Because a) I haven’t seen much of Rana but of what I’ve seen of her I wouldn’t entrust Rana with the overseeing of the rising of bread, let alone the reign of an Empire an b) the people wouldn’t stand for it; there would be civil war within two days with generals and nobles fighting to get hold of Rana or Hyla, marry them, raping them until they concieved (it’s so much easier to claim you’re the rightful successor to the Emperor if you’re the father of his grandkid) and proclaiming themselves to be Emperor.

    So, by marrying Rana to the man he trusts most in all the world, he not only ensures her and her sister’s safety, being a good father, he also, as a good Emperor, ensures the safety of his Empire.

  • K

    The chapter opens with Rana dreaming about kissing a handsome young man by sunset. It ends with her learning that she’s engaged to a man her father’s age and is powerless to stop it.

    Ouch.

    Given that Suda was dealt his own loss of innocence by his father, it makes sense that it was only a matter of time before Rana was dealt hers as well.

  • Marion R.

    To expand a bit on my last post, it’s a cultural thing, apparantly, for Pasori girls to marry at Rana’s age (18?) since Luca said something like ‘it’s time for Rana to be married’ to Phe, before Phe was murdered. So this is not a ‘let’s get Rana out of the way because she’s bothering me’ kinda thing.

    It’s also, as I’ve mentioned above, a good dynastic thing. Okay, a couple of scenario’s:

    a) Luca and Suda go to war. They both return alive. During their absense, the girls are left with an imcompetent staff that apparantly can’t even keep a child in her bed at nights. If anyone (say, an enemy infiltrator) got their hands on one of the princesses, and they were unmarried, the princesses could be used to take over the country. Think what happened to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richtmond and mother of Henry VII. She was an heiress and when war broke off she was married as a 12 year old (and the marriage was consumated, which was heavily frowned upon, since dynastic ‘marriages’ were often arranged for toddlers, but to consumate with so young a childwas practically unheard of in the middleages – but then, it was the War of the Roses)
    So it’s important to leave Rana safe and well-looked after and married to he most trustworthy man in the realm.

    B) Luca lives but Suda dies. The next heir to the throne is Rana’s husband. Luca has to determine who to leave his realm to in case of disaster and the loss of his son.

    C) Luca dies but Suda lives. Suda is very young (what, 17?). He is the next emperor, but he will need a good and trustworthy man to help him. A brother in law who can be trusted will be invaluable.

    D) Both Luca and Suda die. See A)

    So, all in all, it’s really a good move. If Rana had any sense, she would try to find everything she could find about her future husband within the next day or two, then have a civil conversation with him and try to make the best of it. But from what i’ve seen of Rana, living in her ivory tower, obsessing over imagined slights and totally devoid of the realities of war (at least Suda has had a taste of that by now – wish that it wasn’t necessary, but treating war as if it’s a jolly game would be worse; it’s LIVES that you’re talking about), from what I’ve seen of Rana, she’ll just see it as the next Great Injustice against her.

    • Android 21 3/7

      I can understand your logic and it makes sense that people in dynastic positions of leadership do not have the liberty of choosing their spouse like the common people. And as disgusting as I find it to force a marriage between a woman and a man old enough to be her father, I can understand the societal need in cases of war and protecting the family. I really don’t like it, but I can understand it. But I am still convinced that Luca chose the absolute worst way to break the news to her: during a fit of temper. I have a feeling that Rana would have been able to accept it easier if Luca had started with a solemn, level discussion with her about the empire he built, his worries for their future, and the possibility that he and Suda will not survive, what she faces if they don’t, and how this should protect her. If Rana still doesn’t agree to the idea, at least she could offer suggestions and alternatives. They could debate this and would gain a better understanding of the other’s point of view.

      …Or it would descend into yelling, accusations, and insults, given the both of them have such tempers and how Luca behaved during arguments with his wife… :\ I guess Luca and Rana were doomed from the start…

      • Marion R.

        Oh yes, I agree, Luca is really, really BAD at communicating ideas and emotions. Before Phe’s death, he had Phe to ‘translate’ for him. In their marriage, he was the man of action, she was the one who dealt with the more delicate things. Now she’s gone, he not only lost his wife (and a large part of his sanity), but he also lost every way of communicating with his children and his people.

        From what we get hinted at about his backstory, he apparantly suffered from attrocities at concentrationcamp levels. He became a resistance leader and warleader, lost people he loved and several bits of his body, apparantly, and he became the Emperor (very demanding job). His marriage with Phe kept him grounded and sane. All the grief and anger he could not put under words, she understood. He could open up and be vulnerable around her, the way he couldn’t even towards his own children. Now she is gone.

        So yes, Luca is AWFUL at talking with anybody in general and AWFUL at talking with Rana in particular. She is the most like him, after all. Just as difficult. Just as easy to react with anger. And then he comes home during a war, finds his household is chaos (guilt! guilt!) and Rana full out accuses him of beating (if not exactly – yet – killing) his beloved Phe. Ouch!

        As for Rana… The first time we saw her, she tried to eavesdrop parent’s private conversation and she got the wrong impression: she ASSUMED that her father beat her mother. She was WRONG. After her mother dies in suspicious circumstances, we her brother crying but she looks murderous and says that she has a very good idea who exactly killed her mother: her father. She was WRONG. This chapter we see her again dreaming of her lover, and now (as we see in the next two pages) it turns out that she and her lover have been plotting since the death of her mother to kill her father. Why am I not surprised.

        Luca is, I agree, DISASTREOUS at talking to people. He’s hurt, angry and vengeful and with good reason. His pain, anger and vengefulness has him plotting war against the people he hates the most, the people who committed near genocide to his people. He assumes that those who nearly killed him and his people in the past are now plotting to kill everyone he loves. He is wrong about this.
        His daugther takes after him. She is hurt, angry and vengeful, with slightly lesser reason. She assumes that her father, a man she never liked, killed her mother and is now plotting to get her out of the way because he hates her. She is wrong about that. Nevertheless, she is now plotting to kill him.

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