#595 – the 90s

I admit I kind of forgot about this one! But isn't it good?? Haha. Hanna and Marek's dissolution is sort of contentious with readers, where it makes sense to some and no sense at all to others. I think this double page is a testament to their real love and empathy for one another - and isn't that enough? Aren't career and a vision for life distractions from a rare love like this? Couldn't they grow and find themselves together if they really tried? I never wanted a single event to cause a rift with them, it just felt too cheap to treat it that way. But ultimately timing is the issue. All the issues at hand can be interrogated from different stages of life, and produce different results. What they chose to do in this stage of life can't be held to the standard of any other stage. But it's tempting to have an opinion about it, and I'm glad people do. I think serials are a uniquely powerful way to create characters we feel like we know: people whose lives and principles - as opposed to their role in a story - are familiar to us. I still feel I know these characters, that they are still living, and replaying the timeline of their lives enforces that.

17 thoughts on “#595 – the 90s

  1. It's an upsetting break for me because I feel like if I had a fraction of this, I'd be much happier than I am. Nearly every Hanna x Marek page was #relationshipgoals

  2. Panels 4-10 are gorgeous.

    You’ve backgrounded these two so well that nothing is missing in pantomime.

  3. People don't want to believe that twoo wuv on its own isn't sufficient, and all media keeps telling you that twoo wuv conquers anything (including intergalactic empires invading the earth, so your pissant little problems are nothing in comparison!).

    But in the uncaring real world, s@#$ happens, people drift, and I think you're totally right that bad timing is a big part of it. I'm ready for this next phase of my life now and you're not.

    1. I think it was constructive to depict two people this loving and caring, ending their relationship. It's like, not every fictional breakup ought to be punctuated by people turning into jerks or something.

  4. jesus, meredith, are you smoking? i can't tell "being an artist" from "being high" though i am drunk af atm. but hannah is at her most identifiable here. i don't like hannah at all but empathize with her sharply, like marek more than any of your other characters but can't empathize with him one bit.

    nice work. <robin williams> i love ya ya little fucker, i love ya </robin williams>

    1. Not smoking so much as raising a child – a significant amount of memory loss has occurred.

  5. "Couldn’t they grow and find themselves together if they really tried?"

    The answer is always "yes", but that requires huge amounts of compromise. Not everybody can live with compromise. In the case of these two, the dealbreaker was too much, especially at their age. For Hanna's compromise would mean to have kids and eventually resent their imposition on her time and freedoms. It wouldn't be a nice life either for her or for whatever kids they had. They may make it work in the end, but "make work" and be content with the result isn't the same as happiness.

    On the other hand, for Marek compromising would mean not having kids. An eternal lack of realisation of something that is important to him. (This strip perfectly illustrates it: for Hannah, her childhood is represented by the fun things she experienced while for Marek, family was the most important thing). He may eventually make peace with it but again, that's not happiness.

    Whoever of them who ended making the compromise would have to work very hard every day of their lives not to resent the other, who got what they wanted. Love can do all of that and triumph, finding true happiness on the happiness of the other. But it is hard work, riddled with external unaccountable variables and the full participation of the other person, which while you can hope for, cannot really take for granted. I'd say that not even trying is wise even if it doesn't seem as courageous or inspiring as the alternative.

    1. Spot on. My relationship (and break up) with my ex looked a lot like Hanna and Marek's. I wanted to get married and have kids, he didn't see the point of marriage and didn't want children. There were other differences in worldview and values, but those were the big ones. When we finally parted ways, we still had very strong feelings for each other. It was hard. I'm married to someone else now, and my ex is still deeply resentful of that. I don't think he's dated anyone long term since me.

      Here's the thing, though. At some point I realized I was the one making all the compromises. I kept setting aside my values for his, expecting that at some point he'd do the same for me in return. He never did. Once I understood that, I felt a lot less conflicted about our separation.

      Even having gone through something similar to Marek and Hanna, I always hope that things work out for them in the end. Maybe part of me just wants to know that in some cases, both parties can make compromises and figure it out.

      1. Good on you for realising that it was you the one making (and likely, going to keep making) all the sacrifices. You could have kept trying very hard to reach that happy middle ground but it was never going to happen if he was not trying as well.

        And you know what? Sometimes it's ok not making compromises. Compromises are sacrifices one does to attain something that is even worthier, but when one is the middle of it all, there's a lack of perspective, coupled with certain amount of societal pressure to "be brave" and/or "be selfless" and "work harder!" that may make difficult to see that the thing being attained is in fact, not worth of all that sacrifice.

        In Hannah and Marek's case in particular, I'd say that by the end, it was proven that they made the right decision. Although we don't see much of Marek, it's easy to presume that, like you, he found somebody who shared his dream of family. On the other hand, the independence and a renewed sense of self and purpose that Hannah finally started to find at the end of the tunnel is more beneficial for her as an adult than the indulgent childlike carefreeness she was enjoying with Marek and which she could only keep enjoying at the cost of Marek's own dreams.

        I too, once very hard wished that I could extend even further my already well past its prime adolescence. However, I can see, in hindsight, how destructive it would have been for me in the long term had I made–as I considered–the choices that would have stayed the necessary end of my juvenile insouciance.

  6. Maybe THIS TIME they won't break up!

  7. Man, I long for "throw her on the bed" kind of fun. Just not real life. Never really was.

  8. I really liked this page because it was rare to see Hannah just sort of genuinely enjoy herself. Her blushing when he takes his shirt off is a nice moment,especially since they're obviously so familiar to each other- nice to know the spark is still there. I guess the whole chapter is her unable to enjoy herself or even scoffing at those who seem sincerely emotional (the woman crying at a painting) so its a relief to see this letting down of her defenses.

  9. I was in the camp of being super sad that they broke up (mostly because I loved Marek – Hanna always sorta got on my nerves because she was kind of selfish – but that is her character and that's okay – not every character has to be likeable to be a good character) but I also understood it. Marek wanted kids – Hanna didn't. That's not something you can really just agree to disagree on in the long run. Maybe Marek could have settled for a life without kids in exchange for a life with Hanna – but I think he would have been sadder, in the end.

  10. Theirs was a relationship where they were both very pre-disposed to put in the type of work they needed for it to work for the other. Naturally, this made them seem like relationship superheroes. That doesn't mean it wasn't work, nor that there weren't obstacles that ultimately proved too strong to overcome.

    After the end of the comic, I imagined that they probably got back together for a while after Eve's party but were more cognizant of the flaws in their relationship and their mutually different goals. This would lead them to break up again but in a less black-and-white sort of way: maybe they hook up now and again, they're still able to hang out like normal, but they understand that they're searching for different people to be with, whatever that looks like for them and support each other toward that end. In short, a very meaningful friendship with true love behind it.

  11. Maybe my favorite page(s) in all of octopie. Marek's speech in the last two panels is achingly sweet, I love it to death. I'm a huge sap

    1. And Hanna's rapt expression as she listens!

  12. really sad. Hanna and Marek are very compatible and their love had a palpable ease to it. Maybe they could’ve negotiated on kids if they had been willing to have a lot of tough conversations, maybe Marek would’ve been able to pitch stay at home dad-ing or some compromise that would let Hanna feel safe in her own goals, but having those conversations wouldve compromised the ease and popped a certain illusory bubble. Those conversations wouldve required Hanna and Marek to have been different people. As it stands the only question is, did they knowingly enter this arrangement with an expiration date? Or did that slowly creep up as the end of Marek’s degree signaled real life seeping in? Is it worth it to have a few great years with someone you love knowing it will end? Is it a waste to sacrifice your early twenties to a relationship you know won’t last, paying the opportunity cost of cutting off the chance to find something that will? Does the ending make the time sweeter or does it make that could-have-been scenario just haunt you? How much of Hanna and Marek’s almost saccharine, manic moments were motivated by knowledge of the finiteness of the situation? I’ve seen some folks in the comments being pretty harsh on the decision to keep the relationship up when the deadline looms, but when you find someone you really click with that time together is a precious thing. I can’t fault them for doing it this way, and ultimately there is no avoiding the pain in this situation no matter how you slice it

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