December 22nd, 2017

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Syconium page #225:

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52 . by: Zack December 23, 2017, 4:33 pm


I obscured the boyfriend's features in the first panel. When I first made this page, I was too tired to remember that they should have been obscured.
51 . by: December 23, 2017, 2:33 am

what got changed?
50 . by: Furrama December 22, 2017, 8:09 pm

I spy a minor art edit.
49 . by: Botany December 9, 2017, 1:51 am


Almost all of what I ever wanted from either my rapist, my father, or the system that tied it all together, was for them to reconcile it as best they could. $17 thousand in disability for myself was at least enough for me to move away from my family ranch, but it wasn't enough. You could've tacked on digit after digit to five others and it still wouldn't be enough because... It's just not about money. Even with me being $14K in credit card debt right now and having another $800 in a tab I gotta pay back, it's not enough.

Because all I ever really needed was for everyone to be better to everyone else than they were to me.

I can't blame most of them. The system, sure, but my father? My rapist?

The difference between you and them, is that if you reconciled whatever you did, you understood your duty to be better. You understood the Syconium you became entangled in and you got yourself out of it.

That's not taking blame in my book. Fixating on yourself and your actions can only become it's own pit. I feel so strongly against the word sorry, not because it never quelled my father's temper. But because it taught me to focus on myself. What I did. Not what I put others through, not what I could do to make it right.

What you want, is the courage, the sisu, in your weakness.

Brave are the weak. Cowardly are the strong. Enslaved by the Subjective Definition that is the most logical, easy to rationalize course of action.

Take your weakness as Eckhart's Hell. Allow yourself to burn towards your liberation.

There was nothing excusable that you did or Streaks has done.

But I may intentionally butcher that full metal jacket quote:

Inside of every Vader is an Anakin trying to get out.

Whether or not that ever happens is another matter.

Everyone deserves their own peace. However they get it, whatever they did.

I never said I wanted Streaks "Off The Hook."

I just hope everyone gets what I still haven't.
48 . by: December 8, 2017, 8:31 am

Now it is time for dissolving.
47 . by: Kai December 8, 2017, 2:13 am

Also, one last thing : none of this means I want him to get off the hook. He just murdered someone. Or at least severely maimed them. Regardless of if he tries to change, he needs to answer for that crime.
46 . by: Kai December 8, 2017, 2:02 am

I'm sorry to hear that you're currently going through some difficulties. I hope you can make it through it all ok, good luck!

I don't think so, but maybe that's because I was just as bad as him at the lowest point of my life. I was a manipulative person. I controlled people to get what I wanted. My abusers hurt and controlled me to get the results they desired, all I did was continue that destructive path. Sounds familiar, right?

Every time I think back on my actions, I'm always ashamed to even admit to it. There's no excuse for how I behaved, but I'm actively trying to be better every single day. So, I hate to think of Streaks as irredeemable, but it may only be because of my own personal experiences.

With that said, I fully acknowledge he's the antagonist. There is nothing even remotely OK with his actions, or how he treats others. Even if he does eventually try to atone, he has a lot to take responsibility for. And sometimes it's impossible to repair the damage done. Sometimes all you can do is accept that your actions have consequences, and that you may never receive forgiveness. At least in doing so, you acknowledge you were wrong.

Sorry for my rambling, anyway, I'll stop now.
45 . by: December 8, 2017, 1:35 am

@Kai, I think Green is a little beyond saving, unfortunately.
44 . by: Dani December 7, 2017, 11:41 pm

@Kai: since my last message here, some shit has gone down in my own life, and your message about everyone's actions being their own responsibility is really inspiring right now. We can always be better and do better for ourselves: we need to. Thanks for writing that.
43 . by: Furrama December 7, 2017, 9:59 pm

"It's whatcha do with whatcha got that counts."
42 . by: Kai December 7, 2017, 9:47 pm

It *is* a pity that Streaks got buried in so much anger. I personally know it's not easy to come out of that.

I don't like speaking about my experiences in detail, but I've experienced a lot of physical and verbal abuse in childhood and adolescence. I was a very angry person. It took me a long time to realize I turned into the people I hated. Even longer to break out of the terrible mold I fit so snugly into. Even with medication, it took years of therapy to help me better myself. I know it's a desperate struggle. I know how easy it is to give into anger. And I know not everyone has the strength to pull themself out of that pit.

But your actions are still your own. Everything I did when I was in my terrible mental state was my own responsibility, not my abusers. I was not able to recover a lot of the relationships I destroyed over those years, and I regret it still.

Tl;dr, Regardless of his experiences, Streak's actions are his own. Just as mine were. Whether or not he is able to better himself, we have yet to see. Part of me does hope he is able to break free of the vicious cycle.
41 . by: Botany December 7, 2017, 5:42 am

Of course not... I just wasn't in a good enough state of mind when I tried to convey what I wanted to.
40 . by: December 7, 2017, 2:22 am

Nobody's trying to turn Green into a symbol of all evil, we're just criticising his words and actions. What are we supposed to do, just never speak up when we think someone's doing something wrong?
39 . by: Botany December 6, 2017, 11:03 pm

Maybe it's less about judging anyone period.

Maybe it's more that you can punish someone all you want, but that they'll never become that sacrifice you want them to be. In place of the very thing you're trying to end their destruction in the first place.

That maybe a person is just not, and can never be, that perfectly distilled representation of what you have to stop through them.

There's no such thing as complete and absolute free will to become as we wish to be (Hopefully better than this).

The thing to take away from people like Streaks, is that it's a miracle some of us have more control over instinctual anger than they did. Maybe even pity, that they could not dig themselves out of what they were buried into.

If nothing else, you can hope that much for Fig.

I want her safe and out of this, do not mistake me for being any less invested in her.

It's just that, because of the things I've been subjected to, I can feel that all the same, if not a little less, for Streaks too. The same as I did for SV.
38 . by: Dani December 6, 2017, 11:02 pm

@Turret and @Silkworm:

I'm glad to know that I am not far off :). Thanks for sharing your experiences of it.
37 . by: Silkworm December 6, 2017, 9:36 pm

Here's another agreement that Fig seems hella depressed and your description to is accurate. Apathy is a much overlooked element of depression, yet one of the most challenging syptoms in my opinion and experience. I've been at that point several times were I was just going through the motions of my day to day life feeling much like a passenger in my own life and silently prayed that I could have any excuse not to put up the facade of effort and just stop. It was difficult and incredibly frustrating.

However from an audience viewpoint the apathy of depression is not fun to observe in a character. It's fustrating to watch them stagnate when there's clearly so much going on in the story around them, if only they would just 'take the initiative' and do something. It's 'boring' and hard to understand.

But in being true to Fig, as her own 'person', her own character that has developed it is also important not to shy away from this struggle she's experiencing. It might seem passive or boring to watch but it real and consuming for her. An invisible concept that's hard to communicate without the recipient having a point of reference. I'm glad Zack decided to depict Fig this way instead of whatever other options he might have had.

@Turret Hear, hear! We are not our depression or anxiety!
36 . by: Turret December 6, 2017, 8:25 pm

@Dani as someone who's recovering from depression, your description is fairly accurate. It's like nothing matters, you're tired all the time and if nothing matters why make the effort which only makes you feel more tired as you still feel you have you do some things cause life demands sh-t.

Plus anything you enjoyed starts to fail to evoke any emotion from you despite knowing that at some point that you liked it and it all adds to this growing feeling of hopelessness and wondering why you're even around.

All of that just creates a feedback loop of feeling worse and worse until you muster up the strength to get help/ change things or do whatever it takes to recover and even that takes a while. You don't start off feeling bad either. It took me years to get to my lowest point and it's been a year of treatment and changes so far to recover to a point that I'm motivated an enjoying my classes again with a love of science. Depression sucks.

If anyone wants to ask me stuff about depression go ahead. That and anxiety It's not personal to me since I'm not my depression. Fig comes off as really depressed at this point so her indifference isn't a surprise to me at all.
35 . by: Dani December 6, 2017, 5:56 pm

I think XX is disconnected from the brothel goings-on for a couple of reasons.

Fig strikes me as a very independent character, the type of person who would probably have to go out of their way to make time to see friends. When she first started out at Fig Trees, she socialized with the other courtesans, as well as RG, and even the clients. Greenie was still visiting her too. But she encountered these people out of necessity; they came to her, not her to them. But at least she was getting some socialization in, whether she knew she needed that to be healthy or not.

And as some of the other girls left/disappeared/died, and the customers stopped coming, and Greenie too, her social circle dwindled to essentially just Smoothie and RG. Her internal struggle was also intensifying. Smoothie was now a big part of her life, one of the only people checking in on her. And he was technically just a customer.

And now Smoothie is "gone" too (at least for now), and he was the person she became closest to, esp. since her boyfriend is not an intimate part of her life anymore. RG has always been there for her, probably why we like him so much as readers, but there is a limit to how close their relationship is, as sentry-and-courtesan.

And anecdotally from others, I have heard that when you are depressed you don't have much energy for others, if any for yourself. Let alone basic functions like eating and looking after yourself. Disclaimer: I have not experienced serious depression.

Bottom line, I think that the structure of the brothel, XX's personality, and her internal struggle are all contributing to her current depression and disconnect.
34 . by: KaliVasquez December 6, 2017, 12:56 pm

@13 & @33 i feel the same way about her, that passiveness makes her kiiinda dull as a character now...
33 . by: Kanya December 6, 2017, 11:19 am

Man, that first panel. I know she is depressed, but it bothers me so much how indifferent Fig is to her surroundings. Like no one else matters. I hope she makes it through this story alive though.

32 . by: December 6, 2017, 10:02 am

@26 Gee, wow, funny how I've lived through a ton of nasty life experiences, and here I sit, not oppressing people through pain and misery.

Green is in control of his own behavior, bottom line.
31 . by: December 6, 2017, 9:14 am

sorry double post
30 . by: December 6, 2017, 9:13 am

The dream: Lemon and Plum come to Fig and together they hatch a plan to defeat the labyrinth. Female camaraderie wins the day!

The more likely dream: Lemon and Plum try to do something and Fig refuses to participate. Fig manages to save herself at some point probably, maybe. Smoothie probably is involved. acai can come too

The even more likely dream?: The other courtesans were a story-telling device that have run their course and don't really show up again as characters? They represented the various ways Fig's life could go and now she's on her own? They'll probably show up again as people to be Extra Oppressed with the changing of the guard? i miss them
29 . by: December 6, 2017, 9:13 am

The dream: Lemon and Plum come to Fig and together they hatch a plan to defeat the labyrinth. Female camaraderie wins the day!

The more likely dream: Lemon and Plum try to do something and Fig refuses to participate. Fig manages to save herself at some point probably, maybe. Smoothie probably is involved. acai can come too

The even more likely dream?: The other courtesans were a story-telling device that have run their course and don't really show up again as characters? They represented the various ways Fig's life could go and now she's on her own? They'll probably show up again as people to be Extra Oppressed with the changing of the guard? i miss them
28 . by: 9times December 6, 2017, 3:36 am

@15: The VD had some connection with the government.

I'm still betting that Cherry 2 was with him. It's impossible to believe that XY somehow scouted her out from obscurity while running this place. Only a real "connoisseur" would know where to find a whore of her calibre.
27 . by: December 6, 2017, 3:24 am

If we can't judge someone on their character what the heck can we judge them on??
26 . by: December 6, 2017, 3:15 am

I don't see the need to judge. His perspective is shaped by his experiences just like everyone else's. It's obvious, specifically, that his perspective on control was shaped by his experiences in this place.
25 . by: December 6, 2017, 2:36 am

Ehh, his very first page set me off against him. "Its about control." It was pretty clear he was a douchebag from the start just for that.
24 . by: December 6, 2017, 1:28 am

I kinda liked Green at the beginning of the comic. As the story developed, I still liked him, though I could admit to his terrible behaviors. He's descended really far, though. I can't say I like him much anymore.. He's a fantastically written antagonist, however.
23 . by: Botany December 5, 2017, 10:21 pm

Bluefan, I'm pretty sure it's from the shock of almost being hit, combined with static electricity in the air.
22 . by: December 5, 2017, 9:26 pm

@18 I remember! Still a classic.

21 . by: 15 December 5, 2017, 9:21 pm

@20 That's true, it was a redirect! So the fact that the bystander marten is alive means that Battery's shot was NOT lethal.
20 . by: December 5, 2017, 9:02 pm

Actually, I think the bystander marten guard was hit by a shock from Battery? A couple pages ago, I think he tried to shock Greenie again, but Green redirected it to go the opposite direction, where it hit the other guard.
19 . by: Magenta December 5, 2017, 8:28 pm

Evil and twisted as Greenie has become, that first panel IS quite a sight.
18 . by: December 5, 2017, 7:20 pm

zack is a master of explosions. i still remember how his explosion tutorial got a daily deviation, lol
17 . by: 9times December 5, 2017, 6:42 pm

Is it my imagination or did the artist really enjoy making that first panel?
16 . by: Bluefan December 5, 2017, 9:12 am

She'll come around.
Is it just me or is Fig's tail even bigger than usual? Could also be optical illusion, but it seems appropriate. The realization of the shift of power that just happened (i think she knows perfectly ewell what hapoened) gave "Fig" even more power over her body?
15 . by: December 5, 2017, 9:10 am

I wonder how Greenie stands here, legally. Was THAT murder? There were a bunch of witnesses. It was technically a fight but he did goad Battery into starting the fight, and I don't think Battery had the capacity to nor intended to KILL Greenie? Just punch him really hard and posture about it. You can kinda read that page both ways though, but we've seen Battery use his shocks very casually before (like on the guy waiting outside Fig's old house when he shot off the tip of his tail.)

HOWEVER Zack did say "In this story, such alembics are used as a stand-in for guns." which, guns being what they are, means that Battery could absolutely have been "aiming to kill" on the last shot, and the strength of Greenie's attack was justified. He doesn't seem to have killed the bystander marten back there, even though he hit him earlier, too. So I guess this isn't "murder".

It's easier to parse everyone's personalities and actions if you imagine the whole b-plot as a mafia movie. A different society with different laws that only interacts with real society occasionally. MAN I HOPE ONE OF THE CHARACTERS IS A GOVERNMENT MOLE how fun would that be!

link is to the page where Zack explains adulterated alembics and telenoias which is a Very Good Comment.

14 . by: December 5, 2017, 8:24 am

Learned helplessness is a hell of a drug.
13 . by: December 5, 2017, 6:58 am

Will Fig ever care about anything beyond herself, inside the brothel? I know she's hurting but it's always been this way and it's making it difficult to like her.
12 . by: Kaidona December 5, 2017, 12:30 am

I think Battery's face is craned away from us in the second panel. All we see is the side of his head and frayed bits of shopping bag.

Also: Insouciance.

11 . by: Teenage Mutant Sarpah December 5, 2017, 12:29 am

Looking at the recent comment for page 5 of this arc I suddenly realized...This is basically the Animal Version of Spring Awakening
10 . by: December 4, 2017, 11:04 pm

What is the opposite of hate?
9 . by: Starry December 4, 2017, 11:01 pm


I'm also super reminded of Rule and 10%, love it!
8 . by: December 4, 2017, 10:54 pm

Apathy? Resistence to change? Inability to change? Fear? Hurt?
7 . by: Crescent December 4, 2017, 10:38 pm

That's not someone you'd want as your boss. He rules with fear. Anyone who rules with fear is not fit to rule.
6 . by: Mutt December 4, 2017, 10:22 pm

Also, waiting for that sweet moment when XX finally begins to give a hoot about what's going on around her.
5 . by: Mutt December 4, 2017, 10:20 pm

Oh wow,this guy is starting to give Rule a run for his money. That first panel is frighteningly beautiful, and takes me back to the 10%+ days. I'm trying to make sense of Battery's face in panel 2 but what's the point? He is very, very dead.
4 . by: Furrama December 4, 2017, 9:59 pm

@Muse Yes, but the exact word is on page 17.

3 . by: Furrama December 4, 2017, 9:54 pm

"So if you got a personal problem, I can personally take your nose clean offa your face." - Page 130
2 . by: Botany December 4, 2017, 9:34 pm


You damned fool.

1 . by: Muse. December 4, 2017, 9:10 pm