#877 – we were both there

Nothing can replace a shared history. This is always painful.

I wanted to pull back the curtain on how things were with them. We always knew Hanna did all the talking, and in some ways that suited Marek. Even now, she knows him so well. But knowing him and being right isn't enough. It might even be the opposite of what he needs. Marek has his own mistakes to make and his own successes to enjoy, and Hanna, by necessity, isn't part of that.

14 thoughts on “#877 – we were both there

  1. Poor Marek…

  2. I think it's partly as a function of Hanna's proximity to Eve but it's kinda said the Hanna gets the readers in the divorce. That's no knock on her I just miss Marek.

    That's the way though I guess. People just leave sometimes. No one is necessarily the villain, they just no longer have a place in your story anymore.

  3. Blargh, this one stings. I always loved the strip but hated the story-telling of the Marek/Hanna break-up because we, the audience, never got to see the cracks BEFORE the break-up (one mention in the story right before it that they feel different about kids) which had no catalyst event other than Marek just graduating (not that he needed to move away or anything). It struck me as really out of character then (and again rereading) because it was just so…. arbitrary? It felt/feels like a twist introduced just to be able to tell this Single-Hanna story (which is itself well done), not like a choice that came organically from the characters or their lives

    1. I agree that the break up was not as organic and forewarned as we'd have liked, but I don't think its sole purpose was to give us a "single Hannah" story, but rather, to cast a grenade to the core foundation of what had been OP's social edifice and so, lead everybody's lives down their own path.

      We may criticize Hannah for being secretly a control freak, but in truth, she had achieved her subjectively positive goal of creating a safe and unchangeable bubble for herself and her friends. They were a happy little family of which she was the well-intending matron, keeping everybody else in child-like stasis. Once she lost her own bastion in Marek, the whole thing crumbled down and the children had to get from underneath her ample skirts to create new social circles and figure out how to be adults on their own.

      In other words, unpredictable and anticlimactic as it was, their breakup was absolutely instrumental in taking OP from an episodic "hijinks of the week" comic to this, what it ultimately was meant to become.

      1. It's cool reading people's feelings on this! There's no arguing that it caught some people off guard, and Rahim's criticism is fair. I never wanted anyone to be surprised or confused by the breakup, even though as suggested above, I wasn't interested in an "inciting" incident either. When the webcomic was updating live, I thought the revelation that they'd eventually part ways – at the end of the Occupy story – was more impactful than it may have actually been. I thought this set the stage for the next inevitable chapter. But then I took 2 years to actually get to that chapter, plenty of time for people to forget about it, for its importance to fade. It was a limitation of my own productivity and the momentum of a webcomic, but maybe also a fumble in my storytelling. I would do it a little differently in hindsight. All that said, it was always more important to me to show the aftermath of the breakup than the breakup itself, that's where my energy went, and I'm still happy with the results. It's only possible to regret so much!

    2. Another thing (sorry, I'm realizing many things by writing this). I can see now how it absolutely makes sense that Marek graduating was the catalyst! It was always going to be the thing to break the spell, as he was the only one from the main cast to have a defined and almost unavoidable paradigm shift coming up: he had been working towards something and the moment it reached its culmination, his life as he had known it would end and a new chapter would begin. It was not his fault that Hannah had made his presence in the group a foundational element.

      That's why Mar's story was also fundamental to OP's shift in dynamics; she also underwent a massive change, even if hers, unlike Marek's was impromptu and reactive. They both pulled at separated threads in different directions and OP's original patchwork quilt entirely unraveled.

      1. Haha, very familiar with the "realizing while typing" phenomena!

        I agree that it was an important shift for the strip/story and helped bring to the forefront elements that were essential to the later themes of growth and coming to peace with (or even embracing) not having total control

        To me though, this one part of HOW that change was introduced, breaking up just because Marek graduated, has never rung true. In my own experience and observation, even when it "makes sense" for a couple to break up because they want different things in the longterm, it just doesn't happen without an inciting conflict (even just a normal argument after one or both people have realized the relationship is doomed) or something forcing the issue/discussion. THIS break-up, from what we get to see as the audience, looked like Marek simply declared that this milestone of graduating meant they were just done being together.

        I mean, yes, it fits the themes of not having control and is real-to-life in that, from the viewpoint of Eve, it makes sense not to see the details of a friend's breakup. BUT its not like Eve was the only viewpoint character at that point in the strip and real-to-life is not always good storytelling

        In an otherwise GREAT AND WELL TOLD STORY this one (very important) event has always stuck in my craw as a poorly executed plot point

        1. I just wanted to add my two cents here… I don't believe a breakup requires a fight or a conflict in the background at all.

          To me, how I sense this change in Marek and Hannah's relationship is that both of them had known for a long time that come his graduation, a decision about where to go from there had to be made, had to ALREADY have been made… Yet neither seems to have had the courage or personal investment in this relationship as a true future together, as the people they could be in the future rather than the people they had already been, to actually talk. To negotiate, to fight to the point of a resolution.

          Me and my partner, now spouse, have had comfortable times long-distancing, best-friends-ing, but at several points at least one of us at a time, sometimes both, needed to act, to make a hard choice, to commit to something throughout changes and challenges. It would have been so easy to just… let change come over us, and shrug out shoulders in this shou ga nai/it can't be helped fashion, to just kinda give up on the struggle of pulling a relationship forward.

          To me their breakup wasn't the result of discord, it was the result of a lack of resolve to change together, or to even honestly try to tackle the future-puzzle at all. They waited and waited and suddenly the time came where they should have known how to respond to the changing circumstances, but they hadn't come up with anything better than a 'well… this is it, I guess. Bye?'.

          Me and my partner had to actively decide to stick through things, to put in effort of changing our life circumstances, facing family questions, coordinating international moves, and knowing full well that the two of us would eventually have lives that would be very different from what we started like. Even if you love someone, it still takes a leap of faith to know that when you jump the other person is gonna come through and hold on just as tightly.

          I get the feeling that Marek and Hannah could feel of each other that On That Fateful Day neither would be committed enough to cling on and weather the fuss required to remain a pair, and so they barely tried to come up with a compromise that could let them stay together.

          I could be wrong, mind, but this is how I read the core failing of their bond. Love in predictable, comfortable times, ultimately still separate creatures seeking ways of being happy more independently than was required.

        2. I agree with you here, that Hannah and Marek never gonna make it.
          The breakup didn't need a bump in the road, one day they woke up and realised they wanted different things out of life, than what they had together.
          I think also this resonated a lot with me because it reminds me of my first adult relationship.
          Me and my then partner separated after 6 years, for no other reason than that the relationship had run its course and we had reached the end of it.
          In some ways it was also because we were more interested in our own separate journeys than in our relationship.
          Now that I am older (10 years has passed since this breakup) and in a different relationship, I appreciate the work it takes for a relationship to work, and the sacrifices you make.
          It even feels like it is a completely other thing, being committed not only to myself but to this unit that we have become.
          I really love the familiarity and awkwardness though of Hannah and Marek in this re-union, of seeing someone who used to be more familiar to yourself than yourself, suddenly a stranger.

        3. I don't disagree with that but I feel that maybe Meredith made it sudden and anticlimactic because she wanted to intentionally downplay it? There are thousands and thousands of break up stories, we know all the familiar beats already. Maybe by treating it as an afterthought she was trying to clue us in that such little climactic conflict was ultimately irrelevant. It makes no difference to know (other than personal closure and satisfaction) whether they broke up because of the disagreement about kids, because they had agreed that theirs was a temporary arrangement or for other never-seen cracks in their relationship. All that was needed was for it to happen, in order to enter the aftermaths phase which is clearly what Meredith wanted to explore.

  4. I've never understood the goal of exes doing the kiss on the cheek thing. It always felt like a very deliberate insult, a calculated way of maximizing power display without any vulnerability.

    1. He still loves her.

  5. First the breakup; then the fight.

  6. Man, these reruns are great not only for Gran's commentary but for these comments too. Y'all are some thoughtful ass muthafuckas!

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