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Archive Binge:Octopus Pie

G D Penman By G D Penman Published on January 4, 2016

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Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran is a comic about twenty-somethings in New York trying to find meaning in their lives. Which sounds like the most dull, self indulgent tripe that you have ever heard of, like every trite sitcom from “Friends” onwards.

The significant difference that makes Octopus Pie shine is that while every other story about “coming of age” and “finding yourself” tidily resolves itself Octopus Pie just keeps on rolling on. The characters change in response to the world around them and internal pressures. Where every other story focuses on a short term or an idealisation of that time period written after the fact from a safe distance, Eve and her friends are as much a foundation of the world they occupy as they are victims of it. The real triumphs of the story aren't reflected in material gains but in the way that characters cling to each other for comfort in a clearly hostile world. The real tragedies are in the unintentional harm that the characters do to each other as they stumble forward.

Eve and Hanna are the main characters of the story, each going off on their own adventures but supporting each other often against their own best interests given that many of their goals are diametrically opposed. Eve is riddled with anxiety, obsessed with finding meaning in her life to the point of spoiling everything positive that happens to her. Hanna is fixated on her own comfort and enjoyment to the point of alienating any of her friends that want more out of life. Their unlikely friendship is often fraught but it perfectly represents the comic as a whole, they rarely get along but they care about each other enough that they are willing to compromise.

The emotional world of each character is just as relevant as the events going on around them, emphasised by the surreal elements that creep into the story. Whether it is a drug dealer having to duel for the hand of a fair lady at a renaissance fair or a giant crustacean emerging from the river with a keytar to set up a rock lobster joke, strange things happen in Octopus Pie and the significance of them isn't always clear until you start to immerse yourself in the characters and start to go with the flow.

The high points of the story are the clever, realistic dialogue, its willingness to seek its own value and question the value that others would assign to it and the incredible emotional poignancy of those choice few moments when the characters let down their guard.

Octopus Pie can be found online at http://www.octopuspie.com/

G.D. Penman writes about queer monsters for a living. He is the author of Call Your Steel, The Year of the Knife, Heart of Winter, Apocrypha and many other books. He is also a full-time freelance ... Show More

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