Page 193

Page 193

That’s it. The end.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this twisty little story of mine, and its deliberately oblique ending.

Thanks for all your time and attention, and your patience during the lengthy hiatus in chapter 25. I hope you’ll come along on my next projects. I promise their endings will be more… explained.

There will be a Kickstarter to publish book 3 somewhere in the next few months. Unless a Real Publisher with bookstore/comic shop distribution stuff sorted steps in to publish a single volume. I’m not holding my breath on that though.

Also,  thanks to Kim Kosamp for letting me borrow the many forms of NeoGeen for Kimℵ. Kim is an awesome artist who I am honored to be acquainted with. ???

And of course many, many thanks to Nick Brienza, who has been the unofficial editor and sounding board for this project. I’ll be resuming our shared project Five Glasses of Absinthe in the next few months.

And I can never thank Marie-Jeanne Trauth enough for all the time and energy she spent raising her weird-ass child to be whatever the heck she wanted to be. RIP, Mom.

-Margaret Trauth

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15 thoughts on “Page 193

  1. Congrats on finishing Rita! I’ll be looking forward to the book 3 Kickstarter if it comes to that.

    Not a huge fan on the vague ending but we’ve had that discussion before via Twitter. :)

    Super excited for more Absinthe! It’s been a really long time.

    • Yeah, there’ll be one. First I have to recover from four cons in as many weekends. Today’s the last of those, at least. Note to self: Don’t do this again.

      I’m pretty excited for Absinthe as well. Nick and I sat down and went over the various versions of chapter 2 and merged them into one, and we’re pretty happy with how it looks.

  2. …it seems that Barrett’s plan did not work as expected.

    Interesting ending! I think I’ll have to reread the whole thing to quite get it – I may comment more then.

  3. What was the name of the ship she leapt off again to join with the Goddess? The Queen’s Sanity? I mean, wtf was Barret thinking anyway? :D

  4. Thanks, Peggy. This is been a helluva ride.

    To those who have no idea what the heck just happened, read the chapters in a linear order. It helps us simple-minded bios a bit more. LOL

    • Glad you enjoyed it!

      If it helps, I had to outline the chapters in linear order, then decide how to best shuffle them for maximum impact – it felt very important both for them to be out of order, and for Mattie’s gift to happen right before the climax, instead of at the beginning of the final volume. I suspect there is at least one minor continuity error caused by me drawing them in the published order and not completely sticking to my outline, too.

  5. Congratulations on finishing this. I do kind of feel like the whole “only the beginning” type of ending is a bit played out, but you handled it well nonetheless. I’ll need to reread the whole series at some point to see if I feel differently about it as a single cohesive unit though.

    • I was aiming more for “stop right at the climax, leave the denouement to the reader” but I can definitely see how it could be read as “THE END…? OR ONLY THE BEGINNING?”.

      I’m just glad to be able to finally stop holding the whole thing in my head. So much swap space is now freed up.

  6. So, the number of initial eggs was the configuration space of non-cosmos-specific identities, and they hatch when someone becomes sufficiently aware of the full spread of cosmii?

  7. First off, congratulations on completing Decrypting Rita! I hadn’t realized as I’ve been working through the archive that it was being completed as I read… :-) Kind of lucky timing.

    Second: In the chapter view, you have a link to “” which I suspect is supposed to actually go to your actual store, right? I guess this shows up at the end of some but maybe not all chapters?

    Third: Do you know when will your start your kickstarter? Or how I could get notified when you do? (I use for tracking comics, but if you won’t update here anymore, it won’t inform me.) I have an RSS reader, but I don’t really check it often enough to catch stuff like month long kickstarters with certainty… :-)

    Next, some questions: Is it fair to conclude that the following is one intended interpretation of the comic? In chapter 14, Rita1 chose to link with Mattie1 and get the upgrade? And that Carol1 got taken over by the superhive just prior to or during the infiltration? And then, Rita1 linked with the super-hive (possibly was forced to?) and the last panel is showing them waking up post-shattering?

    Lastly, a stab at an interpretation. You said that it was your intention that there be three or more interpretations which could all hold. The only one I have (so far) which seems fully consistent is that everything we’ve seen, the whole comic, is all happening in the few instants while the superhive is trying to assimilate Rita1. They’re going through all her memories (or she is as she’s recovering from the attack, maybe) and piecing everything together. There’s corruption and false memories and a whole bunch of stuff which is the consequence of Mattie’s turning Rita into a weapon. And so, we end up at the end with the superhive falling apart and Rita recovering memories and such, but triumphant. Since Rita’s an unreliable narrator in this interpretation, we can kind of brush away the things which this theory does not fully explain. I’m not sure it really explains the panopticon and I’m not sure it really explains Rita-Aleph’s wake up and such. It also doesn’t explain why Rita’s dragon chassis would crash during the run since in theory, the corruption all happened later, but maybe the memories were corrupted or modified to make it make sense?

    Anyway, I think that theory *can* explain everything just because of corruption and intentional obfuscation, but I’m definitely more interested in an interpretation where those other worlds are real. I’m not sure that I really understand what such an interpretation (or interpretations) would really look like yet, though. The corruption/encryption in chapter 14, the HUD displays in non-Rita1 worlds, and the console logs (“### ” like here: ) strongly suggest that we’re seeing things through a computer even if some of those things are not things that Rita1 is aware of (consciously, at least). I’m pretty sure I’ll have to reread the whole thing again… aw shucks… :-)

    Again, thanks for the awesome comic.

    • 1. Thank you!

      2. Oooh thanks yeah that’s a mistake, that’s me screwing up when shifting to a more genericized version of the theme I built for this comic. Fixed that.

      3. I can’t give a time frame beyond “probably in the next couple months” right now. Follow my twitter or the comic’s twitter; I’m sure I won’t shut up about the KS for a while on either one when it happens. If Comic Rocket picks up blog posts then there should be a few of those here too. Also there’s a LJ and Facebook link in the upper bar of the site, and a tumblr as well that doesn’t seem to be properly updating, I should fix that sometime…

      Questions: Yes, your reading of what’s going on is an intended interpretation. If you assume that everything in chapter א is a literal, true thing rather than a metaphor for assimilation and hacking, you’ll find another one that supports all the worlds being real. Or at least you will if I told the story properly, and the guesses that involves are actually guesses someone who is not me would ever make.

      Also I am delighted that you want to read it again; that’s one of the things I was trying to achieve with this weird twist ending!

      And finally: You’re welcome, and thank you for reading it closely enough to have questions to ask.

  8. I’m 4 and a half years late to the party but I think I figured out some more of the puzzle. First off, I think all the logs
    The Panopticon is outside all universes, in a space that includes the Rookery, or looking out from that space via the “background”. They are quite likely the others that reside there aside from Rita-Aleph and Kim-Aleph(you can barely make out the last dialogue box referencing the others).
    The Sunrisers were an attempt to become like it and possibly take control of reality itself via the power. The Vesupuline hivemind is aware of the multiverse, and is able to influence the other universes in some ways or is able to convince the panopticon to do so. The modification they did to Rita enabled them to reach through and alter one other universe to sever the attempted connection of the Sunrisers. Or perhaps it not so much altering the other universe as altering universe1’s timeline sync with it(or having a sync at all). The break happens in Chapter 10, where Kim3 slashes the black tentacles(those are the Sunrisers or maybe Barrett in particular since he’s referred to as a squid). Note the very visible blue cable in the background that gets broken at that very moment. This is also when the chapters start being read out of order! Aside from the aleph chapter, you could think of the comic as how the Sunrisers are viewing events during decryption. They get a critical error and then attempt to salvage the process but it keeps crashing or getting corrupted data because the hivemind is injured; eventually it just all collapses on its own or Rita1 is able to finish it off. Chapters 15 through 18 are suspiciously missing(aside from chapter 16 but that’s a different universe, so short probably because the Sunrisers stop looking, they’re only interested in universe1’s timeline), because of course Vespuline doesn’t want them to know the secret so overtly.
    As for the modification itself… a couple of the textboxes in chapter $0E have hidden text behind them, most of them mirror part of the text in the boxes but the two at the end do not. The first one says “REMEMBER ME REMEMBERING YOU” and I can’t make out the second one. There’s a similarly garbled text thing going on at the start of chapter 19 but I can’t make that out either. So going by that, it’s possible that Vespuline layers Rita’s memories over themselves in order to reinforce her identity. This could have had the side effect of awakening her hatchling. Or maybe that’s the intended effect, in order to gain access to the Panopticon?
    You can see the panopticon occasionally shift in the background: the sleepy purple eye is Rita’s. She’s even purple-themed in aleph to match. Rita’s face outright appears in the background too.

    Anyway even if I’m wrong about the exact process, I’m pretty sure that Vespuline eventually becomes the Panopticon. This is why Straylight (Vespuline’s base in universe 1) is directly adjacent to the Goddess in universe 4. Rita seems to become a very important part of it, since she’s the face. Maybe the Goddess is representative of Rita’s eventual awakening, and universes just kindof sync up with that kind of symbolism whenever there’s a new hatchling. There was probably some convergence when Kim-aleph woke up as well, though that was apparently a long long time ago considering Kim4’s behavior. Kim4 seems to be directly responsible for Rita4’s after-death experience, even, and was manipulating events throughout that storyline.
    I can read most of his writing in chapter 25 but I’m stuck on “W*** of the Goddess”… Wives? Whims? Speaking of, there’s a lot going on in that page! It must’ve taken forever to draw, since it’s like 100 pages in one. Wow, even a Dark Souls reference. Rita dies in most of these, I imagine that has something to do with the hatching. Note, they didn’t stop the ritual in universe3, and it looks like they summoned part of the Panopticon. Rita’s purple eye is awakening there as well, visible as a reflection in Rita3’s eye. What happened next must have been very very interesting. I’m sure Barrett3 did it in order to try to get Kim3 back, I wonder if it worked? I wish I could make out more of the smallest panels, oh well…

    I feel like the console text is from the Sunrisers, but it could also be from Rita or Vespuline. Maybe all three? There are different colors… As for the HUD in the fantasy universes, I think that’s just magic that happens to correspond with the technology in universe 1.

    • Aargh how did this comment manage to sit in unapproved limbo for an entire year? It’s been a pretty complex year for me, that’s all the excuse I got – moving cross-country tends to leave some things forgotten.

      The general rule is that anything in a illegibly-garbled or smaller-than-usual typeface is not required to make sense of any level of the story. It’s solely there for flavor. The other big glitched text in $0E is just the first few words of each dialogue balloon!

      The missing chapters are quite deliberate, there is a document in my Evernote folder titled “BOOK 3 HAZ A CHAPTER ORDER” in which I worked out exactly what needs to happen and then shuffled it into the order that felt right. 15, 17, 18, 22, and 24 are all simply described as *** SCENE MISSING *** though at some point during the creation of book 3 I seem to have decided that the events of 24 were important after all; there’s a few other differences from that document as well.

      In 25, Kim is writing about the Whims of the Goddess, which is something left over from the worldbuilding ideas for a sequel to ‘Five Glasses of Absinthe’ that never happened, what with that comic never even getting finished yet.

      That spread in 25 took six goddamn months to draw and I am never doing that again.

      And as to your reading of the events of this story, I’ll just say that when I was putting this together, I tried to make sure everything fit three different interpretations of What Is Really Happening, and have vowed to never come down on the side of any particular reading, because I feel like the place where realityfuck stories are most likely to fall apart is when they collapse the whole “is any of this objectively real or has Rita just been sitting and twitching since the end of chapter 1 while the Sunrisers hack the heck out of her” waveform.

      Kim4, however, is definitely working in the interests of KimAleph. :)

      Thank you for taking the time to read this cryptic, oblique comic and try to tease out its secrets!

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