Supporting the webcomic artists I love always felt like a nice thing that I should do one of these days but I didn’t really have the means do to it. That’s why getting a print edition of Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie was a little important to me.
Unfortunately for me, the opportunity to meet Meredith Gran and buy her book fell on a day when I had other obligations. This story has a happy ending, however, since my loving boyfriend went and got the book for me! Thanks, honey!
Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars in Brooklyn is the collected stories of Eve Ning, a disgruntled organic grocery store clerk in NYC who has just been dumped and winds up living with an old classmate who is more than a little weird. That’s because Hanna Thompson, the aforementioned old classmate, runs a small baking business and her customers are the kind who prefer their pastries to be made by people who are also totally baked. Unsurprisingly, Eve isn’t terribly happy with this arrangement, but Eve, Hanna and Hanna’s boyfriend Marek still manage to get along and have more than a few odd adventures together while Eve tries to find stable footing in her life again.
This sounds like a pretty boring description, I know, but Octopus Pie is one of those webcomics that’s like chicken noodle soup: everyone has a different recipe with a different ingredients. It doesn’t matter because the end product is still delicious, even if it’s the most common soup out there. Thus, Gran’s characters are the delicious noodles, chicken and broth that make every spoonful of laid-back storytelling more exciting because they bring their own flavor. This is slice-of-life at it’s best: the relative normalcy of events, but with people interesting enough to capture your attention over and over. Every once in awhile, Gran gives us something completely ridiculous, but then everyone just goes home to their beds. That’s certainly more real than a lot of other slice-of-life comics I’ve read.
The art is decidedly cartoon-y with football heads, super-deformed bodies and large, bugged out eyes, but this caricature only makes it easy for the reader to recognize separate characters. This quality also lends itself to the humor of the strip, as a stare from Eve, Hanna or any other character always looks a little funny. There is a point in the book where Gran switches from completely digital inking to hand-inking the comic, which makes the art a little sketchier than it previously was. It personally didn’t bother me, but it should be noted that it goes from smooth to a little rough with no warning in the actual book. (The website, however, did warn readers about this switch when it happened.)
But why, do you ask, should I spend 17 bucks on a print edition when I could just read it online for free? For starter’s, you’ll be protecting your own interests, DUH. If you read and love Octopus Pie, then supporting Gran with your cash means you’ll more likely to see future Octopus Pie content on the website and/or other future projects from her. I’m sure this is already obvious to most of my readers, so I won’t go on. Second, it’s actually quite a lovely book. It’s pretty thick, the cover is nice and it’s packed with two full years of comics, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth page-count wise. There are a few extras included, so you’re not getting the EXACT same thing as your online experience.
If you’re a little on the fence about this one, I don’t think there are quite enough extras to totally justify a purchase. I wish something like nore extra illustrations or Gran talking about her inspirations behind the characters were included to spice up the extras a little. The book is also printed in an odd shade of green which reminded me a little of how manga magazines are printed in different colors for reasons that I don’t know. The problem I had with this is that the color green was a little bit yellow-y and yellow is pretty hard on the eyes. Did this make it totally uncomfortable for me to read? No, but I did feel a little eye strain after awhile. Those are the only bad things I have to say about the print edition and if you still want to support Gran’s endeavors financially, she has a wonderful line of products in her part-Topatoco, but mostly her own online store, including fun glassware (meant for alcohol consumption), t-shirts and other fairly standard wares.
I feel like Octopus Pie is worth reading (and buying), especially if you’re a fan of oddball slice-of-life. It isn’t autobiographical, which is a road many similar webcomics like to take, but it’s certainly a lot of fun and will make you wish you had these kinds of oddballs around.
And if Gran is reading this, thank you for the little doodle of Victor in my copy. Little did you know he was my favorite.