I check the webpage out of habit, but Meredith Gran’s comic work Octopus Pie is over. I feel like this is how sports fans feel when a jersey is retired and lifted to the rafters, forever in its untouchable place, time divided between when it was active and whatever comes after.
That might sound grandiose, but in my mind, nothing tops the ten year run of Octopus Pie. And in the lifespan of what we call Webcomics, 2007-2017 is a granddaddy of a run, worthy of names like “pioneering,” “influential” and “groundbreaking” because in the space of those years, in this new medium, there was room to be those things without any hyperbole. The comics landscape of the past decade needed filling out and Meredith carved her space out with precision, showing a polish and drive and a talent from the beginning that set a high standard.
I’m guessing that I started Hark a Vagrant about six months after Octopus Pie began, but Meredith’s was already a name to be reckoned with, due to the solid reputation of her previous comic Skirting Danger and because she was an honest to god trained animator in a sea of stickmen comics or two-dudes-on-a-couch comics (RIP forever *kisses fingers, holds them to the sky*). I was intimidated by her sheer capability. But inspired too. I did not need to be intimidated, she was one of the first people I met in comics, and easily one of the best.
Meredith and I briefly shared an apartment and a studio, and I can tell you, she can draw circles around everyone you know. I later shared a studio with Mike Holmes, who could also draw circles around everyone, and now the two of them are married in some sort of talent supernova. I am happy for them, even though I feel like I make grade three crayon pictures next to them. But the other thing that being friends with Meredith for a long time has shown is the cutting wit, the care for stories done right, the love for a medium that will take you through highs and lows that come with comics, and lately through her job as a comics professor, the nurturing of upcoming talent. I see all of this in Octopus Pie, a comic where character was paramount, where plots were expertly moved, a fine balance was found between the messiness of people and the fun you can have with stories, where subtle emotional movements where rendered with room to breathe, where I felt like I could reach deep into the hearts and minds of the characters on the page because they had been fleshed out so well over the years that they seemed as real people, people that I loved.
I don’t really like that phrase “comics will break your heart,” commonly attributed to Schultz, or Kirby, it doesn’t really matter. You see it all the time, mostly when people are reckoning with the fact that they work in an unforgiving medium. I don’t even know what it is about the saying that I don’t like. Maybe it’s because we all know that comics are hard work, we all know that you might put your life and blood and heart into something and you might get nothing back. There are no surprises to be found there - it’s not a bad day you had, it’s a life you’re well aware of living, if you do. But we love the perserverers in comics. The people who live the phrase are the ones who inspire us the most.
I’m saying all this, and pardon the segue, because I have seen Octopus Pie, some of the finest story work of my generation, passed for recognition time and again and it confuses the hell out of me, truly. I don’t want to turn a tribute to a work I hold dear into sour grapes, that’s not the intention here, but lord above, if I can’t point this out now, then when can I? We all know that there are no guarantees in this life (comics will break your heart) but I’ll say this once and then leave it: this is a comic of quality that was miles ahead of so many of its peers, and it deserved better, industry wise. To wrap up the earlier point, maybe I don’t like CWBYH because it implies that you should shrug your shoulders and not ask for better every time, that a short end of some kind of stick is expected even. That’s easy when it’s yourself, but speaking as a fan now, I say to heck with shrugging, I want to put Meredith on my shoulders and parade her around and dump her into a Scrooge McDuck thing full of awards.
Actually that sounds pointy and bad and the Ignatz awards are bricks to begin with so maybe forget that analogy but you get the idea.
I hope you read Octopus Pie, I hope you buy the books. I hope the legacy of it is long and full, because it always will be for me. And I think readers will agree, because I know this devoted fan base pretty well. I read the comments, I’ve sat next to Mer at comic shows, I’ve listened to some of the emails that touched her. I know this is a comic that meant a lot, to a lot of us. In this world of work we put our hearts and souls into to begin with, that is a wonderfully worthy thing.
I do not know what Meredith will do next, but whatever it is, I am here for it, seat pulled close to the stage. The retired jersey is in the rafters, the game is still being played by the people who dreamed better because it was there. Aw what can I say, I’m sentimental!
I think one of the hardest things to accept about love is that just like they love you one day, they can wake up the next and just leave. You don’t get no note, you don’t see it coming, but one day they’re there kissing every inch of you, making promises, holding you when you’re down, belonging to every part of your life, then they leave without regret, just like they arrived. It takes one second. Everything comes crushing to the ground and you try so hard to escape the big pieces falling down from the roof. Accepting that the love you swear they once felt for you is gone, is the most difficult thing you will ever do in your life.
Summary: Archie and you have just gotten into a massive fight which leaves the both of you very heartbroken. You see each other in the halls of the school but have never had the guts to confront one another since that night.
Word Count: 1420
Warnings: Quite a bit of angst
A/N: I’ll probably end up doing a part two to this but like only if anybody wants me to lmao. Anyways, this is super duper angsty and I don’t know why I enjoyed writing this so much woops.
You would see him from across the hall every now and then, his eyes flickering everywhere but the spot against the wall where you always stood and waited for him after class. He knew you still waited there for your other friends and he also knew that he wouldn’t be able to hold himself away if he even glanced at you for a simple second.
It wasn’t something that you didn’t see. You knew he was ignoring you ever since that night together in your bedroom. He lied to you and crushed your heart to pieces but you still couldn’t stand that he had the nerve to ignore you after the things that he had said to you.
None of the things he had said were completely true. He spoke his mind yet he managed to still say the wrong thing. As soon as he had arrived home alone and frustrated, his throat hurting from the argument that he had sparked between the two of you, he realized just how much he didn’t know about himself.
He didn’t know that he does love you and that he does need you. He finally noticed that he let himself go too far with the lies that he had told you. It took him too long to realize that he loves you. More than anything and anyone else in this world which the both of you live in.
But by the time he had finally come to his senses, it was too late.
Archie was too scared to confront you about what had happened between the two of you. He knew better than anything that he really screwed up and he really just wanted to fix things and go back to how it was before that retched argument.
“Okay, Arch,” you say, a devious smirk gracing your lips. Your head rested on his lap and he sat with his back against the head of your bed. You were playing an impossibly childish game of truth or truth while stuffing your faces with Oreos. Locks of his red hair fell over his forehead, almost covering his eyes and his lips were locked into a lazy smile. You were happier than ever and more content than you had ever felt before. “What was the worst lie you ever told?”
“I-uh-” Archie knew that technically, he didn’t have to spill what his worst fib was, but he knew it had to come out sooner or later. It wasn’t a small thing; it was important. His blood runs cold as he contemplates whether or not he should just say the truth. He didn’t blame himself until now–until it was time for him to give up on a lie that he had been telling for several months. A lie that he didn’t have the guts to come clean about.
He had been lying to you about something bigger than he thought up until then. He knew that it would hurt you and that’s why he never told. He never told because he was scared to. Because, you were the least deserving person and you were nothing but the kindest most golden hearted person that he had ever met in his life and he didn’t want to be the one to break your heart. Archie couldn’t recall why he had lied to you in the first place–he couldn’t remember why even when he tried his hardest to do so.
“Archie,” You whine, your eyelids lifting to meet his own. You repeat your question, “What was the worst lie you ever told?”
“I love you.”
“Oh,” You mutter, pushing yourself up onto your elbows. Your voice was smaller than he had ever heard and you were now by his side instead of on his lap. “To who? If you don’t mind me asking.”
His heart dropped at the look on your face. You were oblivious. Innocent. And he instantly regretting letting the words leave his mouth. But he knew that it was time for him to come clean. It was certain that he did feel something for you–it just wasn’t what he led you to think.
“I’m sorry, Y/N,” Archie mumbles, “but it was you.”
“I did not fall in love with you. I fell in love with the people we could be, the conversations we could have had, the desire of everything that could happen between us. I fell in love with the idea that someone like me would fall in love with someone like you. But I did not fall in love with you.”
“Why didn’t you tell me then?” You were getting angrier and flustered and more confused by the second. It was as if your heart was a glass and you could feel every crack and vibration as it shatters against the hard truth. “Why did you lie and tell me you love me? Why didn’t you just stop and tell me instead of lying to my face every single day?!”
Archie winced at the tone of your voice mixed with the tears that were beginning to fall down your cheeks. He took a deep breath.
“Don’t lie, Archie,” You mutter, “please, no more of it.”
You’re stood up when he’s finally able to say something.
“I’m sorry, Y/N, I didn’t mean to-”
“Oh, don’t give me that, Archie,” You interrupt him, running a hand through your hair. He frowns, pushing himself off of the bed so that he’s standing in front of you.
“I made a mistake! I didn’t mean any of it any of the times I said it and I’m sorry but none of it was real! Like I said, I wasn’t in love with you, I was in love with the idea of us–”
“You didn’t have to lie!” You almost scream, thankful that your parents were out of the house.
“Can you just let me speak?!” Archie breaks, his voice rising and his breaths becoming quick and short. He was flustered and angry and guilty and pissed off at the same time. “God, you’re so annoying!”
“Bloody hell, Archie!” You yell, resisting the urge to reach up and just slap him. You were shaking as you stared at him with a look more broken than describable. Of course, Archie didn’t mean it. It was only a spur of the moment sentence, just like the one that leaves your own mouth, “You–you can’t be serious Archie! I wish you could just stop being such an asshole!”
Neither of you say anything for the next couple of minutes, the tension between the two of you was enough to be sliced into quarters. Archie didn’t know what was happening and neither did you. He loved you, he really did. He just didn’t know how much. Archie had lied at the start, yes, but he didn’t realise that the more he said those three words to you, the more he meant it.
Curses and insults flew out of both of your mouths once more, the both of you almost drenched in tears. Archie had never cried like this in his life nor has he ever felt so much pain. He was pretty much convinced that he didn’t love you, so why was he hurting so much?
The temperature in the room had risen soon before the two of you had found yourselves in front of your front door. Archie stood stubbornly in the doorway, his hands in fists by his side. He didn’t want to lose you because even if he thought he didn’t love you, he cared about you more than he’d even admit to himself.
“Do you remember when you promised me we’d always be together–when you promised me that I was the one you loved most?” You murmur, your voice suddenly calm. It was filled with pain and hurt and it tore at Archie’s chest. “Because I remember when I thought you meant it.”
And with that, you pushed him backwards with gentle force and slammed the door shut.
Archie didn’t fail to notice you watching him. In fact, his mind was running wild because of it. He stopped short of his tracks, mumbling a quick excuse to get away from the people surrounding him. With long strides, he made his way towards you, desperately trying not to get offended by the panicked expression on your face.
He was going to fix things, for the sake of the love and passion that his heart held. For the love and passion that he could only feel for you.