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Octopus Pie Redux

It was more than three years ago that Octopus Pie ended, a little more than ten years after it started.

For the past three and a half years, Octopie has been rerunning all 1026 strips, close enough to one a day as makes no matter, with Meredith Gran’s commentary about where she was emotionally and professionally as each strip was done. It’s fascinating to see not only how they reflected her own outlook on life, but also her critiques of her own past work, and what she reveals about the craft of putting the strip together.

And now it’s done for a second time; the archives are there, both the original and the commentary track versions, in case you want to read them again, but you’ll be going solo this time.

Here’s part of what I wrote when Gran finished the strip:

Because what Meredith Gran accomplished over ten years and 1026 pages of pure magic was a master class in comics, their ability to tell any damn kind of story you want to, and especially to provide a playground for your characters. Eve Ning isn’t who she was back in strip one; neither is Hanna, or Marek, or Will. Jane and Marigold, Julie and Park, Larry and Puget Sean and America frickin’ Jones, all of them — they didn’t exist in a timeless, changeless story setting. By fits and starts, on camera and off, they lived and breathed, cried and loved and hated and indifferented.

And that is why future comics creators will have to look back on Octopus Pie as a work to be studied, understood, its lessons incorporated. Meredith Gran showed what it’s like to do a better strip every single damn day, to imbue characters with personality and growth (especially off camera), and to show what an ever-changing whirlwind life is as people come and go, grow and wane in their presence.

There have been other projects along the way, of course — for pretty much all of the time since the reruns began, she’s been working on her videogame and also raising her son; for a period of time, she did quick comics to document her gardening (on occasion, the two intersected). Valerie Halla’s colors made significant contributions the the mood of damn near every strip in the last quarter of the comic’s run¹.

Goodbye, Everest Ning. I wonder how much you’ve changed in the three years that we haven’t seen your life chronicled, or how it may change in the remaining forever that we’ll be apart. But we’ll always have that ten years (plus three) that you let us in. And whatever Meredith Gran makes next, and next after that, I’m sure we’ll love just as much.

Spam of the day:

[Gov’t Plans] Why Preppers are Now Enemy #1 Food stockpiles banned! At a time like this!?!

None of what you just said is real. I get that you gotta hustle, and gotta have a scam, but you are indulging paranoid fantasies in fragile people, many of whom are armed and will act on those fantasies in an outward fashion on those that you tell them are the enemy. Kindly fuck off until there is no further off to fuck, then fuck off some more.

¹ Following on Sloan Leong’s establishment of a color palette some dozens of strips prior. Not to mention the color and animation lent by Lacey Micallef a little more than halfway through the run and Gran’s own early contribution to color: Sparkle Butt².

² Having, as I do, copies of the self-published first three collections of Octopus Pie — slim 70-90 page, Creative Commons-sporting floppy books — I get to look at hand-colored-and-glittered Sparkle Butt whenever I like. You can get the remaining non-Image books here, and the Image editions can be ordered wherever you buy books or comics.

I think I stopped with about 15 comics left to go in re-reading Octopus Pie this time. I will finish, but I kind of dread that it has to end all over again!

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