With a little help from your friends.
With a little help from your friends.
News: Posted June 18th, 2019 by Alina

^ 54 Comments to “With a little help from your friends.”

  1. Zorglubis Says:

    Congrats, you got me to cry.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 2:15 pm
  2. Areon Says:

    Good for them for not writing him off at the first sign of trouble. He’s chosen his people well.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 2:16 pm
  3. Hammer_Man Says:

    Oh god this stripe broke my little heart, especially the look on marks face when he looks up. So beautiful done.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 2:17 pm
  4. Daniel S. Mountain Says:

    There we go. Once you’ve burned off the worst of the mad, that’s the best cure to a bad evening.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 2:27 pm
  5. Orange Lantern Says:

    Friendship: You’re doing it right.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 2:41 pm
  6. Leon Mercury Says:

    Yup, friendship done right. Love it.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 3:28 pm
  7. Chad Says:

    And this strip confirms that he is talking to a therapist. Good move, Mark. I wonder if one of his friends talked him in to it?

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 3:48 pm
  8. SaphDragon Says:

    What I like is the range of expression on the gang.
    Abbie is very cautious ‘Hello? so *that* happened’
    Joel looks very “I’m dissapointed in you, there’s gonna be some talking mister, but we’ll see how it shakes out.”
    Sarah seems upset but ready to listen.
    Dustin looks understandably hurt, but also shocked, and knowing him, worries a *lot* about his friend.
    These are friends, there here for you, but they *are* gonna call you on your bullfeathers. Very much what he needs.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 4:22 pm
  9. Rikunda Says:

    The end of the relationship, but at least he still has his friends. Going to miss seeing changeling tho.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 5:02 pm
  10. Velgar Says:

    Simply superb. Kudos.
    Of course we’re not even nearly done here, but this is really writing well here. Very well done thus far. Keep up, keep up!

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 5:31 pm
  11. filkin Says:

    I’ve been on both sides of this door before. Simply being there made a lot of difference. You have chosen your friends wisely, Mark.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 5:33 pm
  12. DocMcConvoy Says:

    Ok, now thats what I want to see from friends. Beeing there for you, when the time is right and you are in need.

    And they are showing the right faces. For me, Abbies read like: ‘Sorry, seems I didn’t read the situation right, I should not have left you alone.’ Joel looks like: ‘Seems like we all have to pick up the shards… again.’ And from Sarah and Dustin I primarily read: ‘We were really worried about you. Good you came back in one piece.’

    Just to remember: Clearly Mark broke the most glass this evening, and seeing a professional about his issues is the best step he can take now. But let us not forget, that Abbie and Dustin also made at least some minor mistakes they should ponder about. At least it is a great opportunity to grow for them all, and thats something really great imho.

    And again, kudos to Alina, this time my heart felt a squeeze when that last panel came in sight.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 6:11 pm
  13. Adaon Says:

    Thank you. That was beautiful.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 6:20 pm
  14. Sun Yu Says:

    This is why Dustin is my favorite character. He just saw Mark rip apart his significant other to shreds. He saw Mark toss everything he tried to tell him out the window. If Dustin had washed if hands of Mark the very second he started yelling at Ravinia he would have been completely justified. I know I would. But Dustin is still there! Dustin has been hurt tremendously by Mark’s dickish action tonight but Dustin still waited for him to help him out in his time of need!! This man is the best friends the Mark needs but, due to his recent actions, doesn’t deserve.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 6:53 pm
  15. werefrog Says:

    It is a bit distressing, though, that his friends went into his place without him there. Joel used to be his roommate, but Mark moved out on his own.

    It’s nice for friends to be there, but The Werefrog tend to take issue with going into someone else’s home without that someone there.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 7:00 pm
  16. Cyrus Says:

    Wait, doesn’t Mark live alone? Did these guys *break into his apartment*? I’d be pretty pissed if someone invaded my space like this. Meeting me outside my place? Sure. Entering my home when I’m not even there? Hell no.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 7:52 pm
  17. Pax Says:

    To everyone saying that Mark was going to lose his friends, that he’d turned into a total jerk, etc?

    He hasn’t. His behaviors are not “showing what a jerkwad he really is” … they are SYMPTOMS of a mental illness.

    Symptoms I’ve lived with all my life, since early childhood at least.

    Symptoms of depression, and low self-esteem.

    In essence, he has not yet properly processed his breakup with what’s-her-name. He may even have invested too much of his self-worth into “being in a relationship with her”. So when it ended, it’s like the whole universe suddenly fell apart, and he’s been trying desperately to juggle all those pieces ever since.

    People feeling that way, usually don’t LOOK like they’re coming apart. They … no, WE … try to project a facade of “everything’s fine”; sometimes, we even project it at ourselves.

    Sudden bouts of anger, even rage, are not uncommon in men suffering from depression.

    MARK IS A NORMAL GUY. He’s in pain, he’s lashing out. He’s not a jerk.

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 10:56 pm
  18. Scia Says:

    D’aww. =’3 There to help and support him no matter what. (And to help get him back on track if he needs it. XD; )

    Judging by Abby’s expression, I’m guessing she told the others about at least *some* of what Mark told her and such. ^_^;

    (I also don’t blame Joel for still being unhappy with him. ^_^;; )

    Posted June 18th, 2019 at 11:52 pm
  19. Retcon Says:

    Yes, Joel is, in fact, my patronus.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 12:13 am
  20. Jade Gryphion Says:

    @Pax, I could kiss you for saying that so well.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 12:29 am
  21. Deltarno Says:

    Well done, your friends are here to help.
    Also, they got into your locked apartment, slightly worrying.
    Also they seem to have knicked all of your furniture for gaming supplies, might need to talk to them about that.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 1:10 am
  22. Sable Says:

    Interested to see what happens with Dustin and Ravenia now. I’m glad Mark has his friends still and I’m glad one of them is Dustin, but in this specific instance Dustin is on the wrong side.

    Mark verbally abused and made nonconsensual physical contact with Ravenia, then assaulted, however lacking in significant injury, Damien. Either Dustin doesn’t know all that (unlikely) or has chosen to ignore it.

    Hmm. Got my eye on Dustin as much as Mark now!

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 1:31 am
  23. Lonly_Mark Says:

    Nothing says ‘we’re your friends and there for you’ like a good old orgy anymore.
    I love this plot. You really did it perfectly!

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 4:48 am
  24. Pete Says:

    MVP: Dustin!

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 4:49 am
  25. Oneironaut Says:

    @Pax – THIS! Definitely this!
    As someone else with the same (or similar) mindset, I can recognise this.

    As for the other comments here.
    Maybe Mark had a spare key hidden and mentioned it to one of the others, in case of emergency, or maybe gave someone else a copy of the key (probably Ravenia since they were in a relationship for a while, probably she then gave the key to Dustin telling him to pass it on to Mark after everything went down).
    Who knows? Maybe Abbie has had ninja training, and a mere locked door is no obstacle to her…

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 5:29 am
  26. Vasteel Says:

    OK, now I’m curious… who is he talking with? Could it be… Jess?!

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 8:57 am
  27. Aita Says:

    I know that door. I once spent seven hours waiting for a friend to come home because I knew he would and I knew he’d need me. And he did.

    I didn’t expect this… but I love it.

    Just… thanks. I guess I needed this this week.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 9:05 am
  28. Charlotte Says:

    Oh, good. Maybe it’d be easier if he didn’t have to talk to the whole group at once, but this is much better than him being alone.

    @Sable: I don’t think “Dustin chose the wrong side” — he doesn’t have to choose a side. He can be together with Ravenia and friends with Mark, and I’m pretty sure that Ravenia will be entirely OK with that, too. (We also don’t know Mark verbally abused Ravenia. He was angry and shouted stuff, but we don’t know what he said.)

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 9:33 am
  29. doLst Says:

    Payoff delivered beautifully. Well done. Like some people here, I get the feeling that Mark is going to be called out for his BS and held accountable, but his friends are still going to make sure he’s okay and not just throw him under the bus. Such a relief seeing their faces. Beautiful.

    Surf Wisely.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 9:44 am
  30. Fabfunk von Cronenberg Says:

    @Cyrus – it’s certainly possible at least one of them has an emergency key. Clearly they’re close enough friends that they could be trusted with one.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 9:58 am
  31. Wanderer Says:

    Sable: Dustin isn’t picking sides. He’s got a friend in so much pain he’s acting stupid, and that’s important. Being worried about his friend doesn’t mean he’s against Ravenia, though, any more than being part of the polycule meant he was in love with Mark. Separate people, separate feelings.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 10:27 am
  32. Joe Says:

    Prolly there will be gaming and pretty much ignoring the whole thing, at least for the night. They finally saw Mark it his (hopefully) worst.

    Sarah and Justin really care about him, that’s a fact. Specially with Justin there’s got to be a lot to rebuild.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 10:40 am
  33. Joe Says:

    @Sable-

    Not sure. You don’t know how much time actually passed here, so who’s to say that Dustin hasn’t had more than enough time to talk to Ravenia and Damien? Or maybe R&D just booked it out of there when Mark was kicked out and wanted to spend a little time apart from everyone with texts to/from Dustin to make sure she’s doing well?

    Hell, maybe Ravenia told Dustin to make sure Mark didn’t continue to do anything stupid, so there can be a discussion/reckoning later.

    Those three points alone are why jumping to conclusions that Dustin just abandoned Rav for Mark is not the best way to go.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 11:15 am
  34. Richard Weatherfield Says:

    I was really afraid for Mark for a bit, there. Seeing that last panel hit me right in the feels.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 11:48 am
  35. Nespa Says:

    Cyrus maybe Abby and Sarah or Dustin have keys in case he forgets his and closes the door behind him. I did the same thing when I moved into my own place.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 12:01 pm
  36. jukehero461 Says:

    Alina used SYMPATHETIC CHARACTERS!

    CRITICAL HIT TO THE FEELS!

    It’s Super Effective!

    Quadruple damage to cynicism! Faith in humanity restored!

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 12:04 pm
  37. Jovial Roger Says:

    I’ve been pretty skeptical about this arc. I thought Mark’s behavior didn’t fit his character, and his outburst was more about the cheap hook of romance drama than anything else. I’m reconsidering that view, and I now think that the comic has been building toward this situation (or at least one very much like it) since day one.

    Mark has been shown to have depressive and anxious tendencies. He tends to turn to escapism from his problems rather than overcoming them. I tend to do the same thing, though not to the same extremes. The biggest challenge to Mark’s previous relationship was his inability to be vulnerable and open with his partner about his geek life enough for her to really understand what his hobbies entailed. In his current relationship, which is definitely a rebound, he was applying his own flawed beliefs about social standing (popular > geeky). It’s a shitty thing, but he frankly didn’t see Dustin as a romantic threat, and so was comfortable in a polyamorous relationship with him. This is made clear by how quickly he goes from general anxiety and discomfort to jealousy and defensiveness. He can’t escape from those feelings into his game, because part of his anxiety comes from feeling socially inferior by participating. So, he turns to one of the other escapes available to the anxious and depressed. Anger. It is toxically empowering to be angry instead of anxious or vulnerable. I’m hoping Mark is finally getting professional help for his mental challenges, and that the second voice is a therapist.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 12:33 pm
  38. Lasse Says:

    I. Yeah. Words.

    It’s been a while since a webcomic made me pause like that. That little feeling of your entire emotional system seizing up for a moment, then happiness. So. Well. Done.

    Like so many others, I’ve been there. Sure, I hadn’t pushed anyone, but due to stress and depression I’d gotten way in over my head, said some pretty fucking hurtful stuff and stormed off. And when I got home… my friends were there.

    That’s what real friends do. They’re there. Sure, they’ll call you on your shit AFTER the fact. After you’ve had time to calm down, and to realise you didn’t just burn every bridge you ever built..

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 1:12 pm
  39. Frankie D. Says:

    @Pax But it’s not low self-esteem. If it was, he wouldn’t be angry that Ravenia had someone “better looking”, he’d just not be suprised by it. It’s, as Dustin says a few strips back in more delicate terms, Mark is an entitled arsehole.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 1:16 pm
  40. Doug Says:

    Morning,

    I wanted to say thank you. I have the feeling were not quite done with this arc yet; because there still are some things that are left unresolved such as the Vampire LARP/ Mark and Ravenia / ETC that will probably be dealt with in a similar fashion. But the way that you are using the third person psychologist perspective allows us to experience it in a way that makes it hit as hard as it needs to without feeling so over the top it doesn’t feel real.

    Thank you.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 3:16 pm
  41. Cyrus Says:

    Regardless of whether his friends had a spare key, it was still a massive violation of privacy. Maybe I’m just more protective of my personal space than other folks, but finding my friends there like that would only upset me further.

    @Charlotte: We do know Mark was verbally abusive to Ravenia because, in his own words, he was shouting “insults and threats” at her. We don’t need a transcript to recognize that as abusive.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 4:58 pm
  42. Weatherheight Says:

    Hell yeah – those are the friends he needs.

    I especially like that each of them has a different expression. Abby’s says to me “You Okay, buddy?” Sarah looks relieved that he’s home safe, Dustin is happy to see him and a little apologetic…
    And Joel is a little uncomfortable with how worried he’s been. 😀

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 5:08 pm
  43. AceJayce Says:

    This reminded me of a time when a friend got into some really bad situation, long story made short is – everyone was there to support him

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 6:39 pm
  44. lovefleetadmiral Says:

    So this is great, he’s got therapy, his friends didn’t abandoned him and with Dustin there means not ALL bridges connected to her are burnt.
    How I read the faces are
    Abby: Concerned for her friend
    Sarah: Glad that he’s okay and wants to help.
    Joel: Probably not sure WHAT to do, just knows his presence could help.
    Dustin: Seems like he’s kind of forgiven things, he knows things were going wrong and while he could not STOP the mess he is willing to try and piece things together.

    Honestly I REALLY like Dustin being here, to me it says a LOT while I disagree with his view on the relationship (it sort of seemed like he was putting himself down, and to me I think he made things WORST but he did not mean it). While Raven (whatever her name was I never liked her much) probably is upset (sort of rightfully) she likely is not wanting to be around him…and he really shouldn’t be around HER I think she was bad for him, and I do not like her Poly relationship (not Poly relationships just HERS it did not seem like a healthy one to me).
    I could see future drama with dustin and her, and I HOPE thats a while aways…this has been a HEAVY ARC and I hope we can avoid IRL drama for them for a bit.
    I hope for the best, and pretty sure my thoughts are turning to rambles.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 7:16 pm
  45. Pax Says:

    @Frankie D.

    Totally disagree with you.

    Keep in mind, in many ways I _am_ Mark. I know those symptoms, and I know the irrational and mis-directed anger. First-hand. For over forty years!

    Yes, it is low self-esteem. And no, he is not an entitled arsehole.

    He’s damaged; wounded; _hurting_. It just hasn’t been very visible for a while now.

    Posted June 19th, 2019 at 10:51 pm
  46. Vivectius Says:

    @Cyrus, I’m guessing your friends know how protective you are about your space, and in a situation like this, would wait for you outside. I’m also guessing Mark’s friends know that he’d be ok with them waiting inside (I’m guessing at least one of them has a spare key). I see it as them knowing he’d be ok with it, so they did it, not just they barged in and hung about until he got there, not caring about how he’d fell about it. Also, I bet they brought food.
    How I read them:
    Abby-Hi, I’m still your friend, I should have forced you to talk to me more about what was bothering you, but it’s not too late to talk now.
    Sarah-Hi, I’m still your friend, and if you’ll let me, I’ll hug you.
    Dustin-Hey buddy, I’m still your friend, and hopefully you’re not mad at me too.
    Joel-You’re a dumbass. I’m not qualified to deal with this, so I’m going to sit and listen until exactly the right moment to say exactly the right thing, because that’s what I do. And obviously if I wasn’t still your friend I wouldn’t be here, so I don’t need to say I’m still your friend.

    Also, I blame Joel for how it ended. If he hadn’t stopped Sarah from going to Mark, things would have gone differently. (Note that I’m not saying it would have been better, just different).

    I wonder if Mark hurting his hand will improve his dice rolls?

    Posted June 20th, 2019 at 1:55 am
  47. Frankie D. Says:

    @Vivectius

    What do you think would have happened if Sarah had gone? I’ll tell you. Mark would have attacked her for going out with someone else. That’s what.

    Posted June 20th, 2019 at 8:43 am
  48. akemi Says:

    Seriously though. For all of you who are saying Mark is a an irredeemable ass. Fork you. Keep in mind that there are only two things we know for sure happened – he grabbed Ravina to try to stop her from leaving, and he pushed whats-his-name. The “insults and threats” .. We don’t know what he said. All this is from marks point of view, So for all we know it might not have been nearly as bad as we think because this is told from the perspective of a very injured and guilt ridden person. Not only that but we saw from the beginning that mark was not dealing with the whole poly thing well. Rule 1 of poly relationships: Under no circumstances do you bring a non poly into a poly relationship because the power dynamic there isn’t equal. Ravina knew mark wasn’t poly and wasn’t dealing with it and SHE USED HIM anyway. That doesn’t make what Mark did correct, but, Ravina was pretty abusive in manipulating Mark’s loneliness when she saw from the get go he was uncomfortable with the whole situation.

    Posted June 20th, 2019 at 11:21 am
  49. Pax Says:

    Everything Akemi says.

    Also .. as a non-Poly guy who was in a poly relationship for a while … it is NOT an easy adjustment. It’s possible, for some of us, but not all.

    And, during that game? Was NOT, absolutely 100% f__king NOT, the time place or manner in which to introduce Mark to anyone else in a relationship with her.

    And that’s why I consider Ravenia to be the villain here.

    Rule #1 of bringing a new person into a poly relationship, especially someone two whom Poly is a new thing: NO SURPRISES. They need to be led into it with both eyes open, or they are GOING to trip and stumble, and that will always make things uncomfortable, if not outright ugly.

    Rule #2 of bringing someone new into a poly relationship: never intrude on the new person’s safe spaces. Find somewhere neutral, that gives the newcomer (or honestly, everyone) an easy exit, without having to worry about what people will think.

    Ravenia did neither of these. She failed to notify Mark beforehand, and, she chose Mark’s safe place to do this in.

    If anyone should be banned from the LARP, it’s Ravenia and what’s-his-name. Not Mark. Their presence disrupted the game. Dustin, I think, needs to sit down with the GM and explain what happened (nto that it’s his responsibility, just, he’s the only one that knows _all_ of what was going on between Mark and Ravenia, and what’s-his-name, that night).

    Ravenia did this all and completely wrong, and this sort of an outcome was almost inevitable. Honestly, she should have seen that Mark was troubled, and excused herself (and what’s-his-name) from the game ASAP.

    Also, as an aside: she apparently spent some time talking about Mark, to the other guy. But it doesn’t seem like she told Mark very much about that other guy at all. Like, even that he EXISTED, I think. That’s another black mark against Ravenia, in my book.

    Posted June 20th, 2019 at 10:46 pm
  50. Eric Says:

    Art to be art needs to move you. I cried so much you’re definitely the best artist of the year. (Now I need to send cash to show my appreciation, too)

    Posted June 21st, 2019 at 12:57 pm
  51. Lux Says:

    I would like to point out that LARP is not a “safe space” (unless it is a very small, closed, heavily vetted LARP).

    I play in LARPs where there are people whose company I would not choose in any other circumstance. People you LARP with are not automatically your friends, you do not have any inherent expectation that they are people you can trust not to judge you – this is a misconception that has caused a lot of drama IRL. Geeks can be just as condescending and judgmental about other geeks, even in the same venue.

    Ravenia did not “violate Mark’s safe space” by bringing Damien. Damien was 100% on board with the idea and it piqued Damien’s interest – Damien even says he was excited to see what LARP was all about and was engaged and interested with everyone in a friendly way. He tried very hard to relate to everyone, to genuinely compliment them, and put them at ease. He was the opposite of condescending and judgey.

    And Ravenia mentioned she was bringing Damien to Mark A WEEK BEFORE the event. Mark had plenty of time to realize he wasn’t comfortable with it and ask her not to – but he didn’t, because of his issues. He conveniently “forgot”, which is him avoiding complicated feelings (which has blown up in his face before with Jess/Sarah). His feelings, which, as an adult, ARE HIS RESPONSIBILITY.

    I think Mark was projecting onto Damien what Mark might have done, before realizing his own geeky tendencies – which is to view geeky people as being uncool. Because Mark is still insecure about being a geek and struggling with having once thought geeks were uncool. The whole thing with the Geek Hunters (more so after the retcon) illustrates his lingering cognitive dissonance.

    Posted June 22nd, 2019 at 12:42 pm
  52. Stephen Nagy Says:

    I know, to a degree, how Mark felt about it. When I was younger I tried a poly relationship, and it was a disaster for me. I know some people are able to make one work, but in my case looking back I find myself wondering why on earth I thought it was a good idea.

    The guy I was with, well, we were already on rocky ground. We didn’t share a lot of interests outside of gaming and being in the poly thing was the idea of him and one of his friends, so I agreed to it mostly because he wanted it.

    Upon moving in with the other two in the relationship (who were a couple themselves at the start) I could tell almost immediately that one of them was clearly the one who wanted it and totally in control of the relationship (we’ll call him guy #2) and the other one just went along with it because it was what the first one wanted too. Like he didn’t really want to, but he was afraid of upsetting him if he said no (guy #3.)

    It lasted all of six months, and when I finally left and moved back home at the end I wound up breaking contact with all but the last guy I mentioned, then with him too sometime later.

    Poly relationships aren’t easy to do for most people, jealousy will creep in here and there and if you let it then it will fester and cause just what happened to Mark up there. In my case it was because Guy #2 was judgemental about almost every aspect of my life, Guy #3 clearly was uncomfortable with the idea of poly himself, and my boyfriend of the time and I were already drifting apart.

    If you ever feel like you have to “fix” a relationship, that there’s something “wrong” with it… don’t be shocked if you find it can’t be fixed. Sometimes, its best to admit that the person your with isn’t good for you and walk away, or you wind up in a strange town with people you barely know who you’re trying to be a thing with.

    I got lucky, I had a place to come back to. Not everyone does.

    Posted June 22nd, 2019 at 5:00 pm
  53. Lorkonius Says:

    OMG I am so touched! I am LITERALLY CRYING right now. This is the most beautiful thing I have seen since communion!

    Posted June 23rd, 2019 at 4:12 pm
  54. A. Guy Says:

    I’m not crying, you’re crying!!! …along with me

    Posted June 24th, 2019 at 10:00 am