For July 2009
July 20th 2009
Begun: July 9th, 2005
Finally, the story is concluded.
A little background and information about the ending, both in how it was made, and what it means (for those who may need more information)
First, let's get the meaning out of the way, for those not familiar with the 'Unicorn Jelly' part of 'A Unicorn Jelly Story'.
"Paybacks are a bitch" - in the original Unicorn Jelly, the only way that the Jellese natives of Tryslmaistan can adapt to the existence of change - a change such as the presence of human beings invading their Worldplates - is if they are mutated by factors from the human universe, Mundis. Commonly, the source of this adaptive mutation is the ingestion of flowers, specifically derivatives of earthly dandelions.
However, the mutation normally can only occur to the unborn, and so Chou - the same Chou in the tank in To Save Her, and the Ascended, post-singularity version at the end of To Save Her - did the only thing she could at the time to save adults; she chopped up little Kay-Wai, the original mutant Jelly, and used her essences to manufacture 'Kay-Makers', a biological conversion weapon capable of saving the adult Jellese species, if not their native identity. Chou could not abide genocide, so she found a way to prevent it; a drastic method, but it worked.
It is true that the original Kay-Wai of Unicorn Jelly agreed to sacrifice herself to save her people - Chou didn't just jump her in an alley - but she did so only because of dire necessity, and very regretfully even so. The sacrifice of Kay-Wai always bothered Chou, and it clearly bothered the Kaye Haychold version of Kay-Wai within To Save Her. The sacrifice made by her counterparts in Stormfall splays basically drove her insane. Kaye felt the situation was horrible, and it is and was, and she couldn't handle knowing about it - unavoidable, for a professor of multiversal archeology.
The terrible knowledge of what Chou did to Kay-Wai, and by extension, what all humans have done to some Kay-Wai somewhere merely to make it possible for the Jellese to cope with alien invaders (who really shouldn't even be there), only made Kaye Haychold even more angry when added to the constant and many insults of her own life. She basically blew a fuse, and went pants-on-head insane, in her own way.
This is then why Kaye Haychold hates Chou so much, and why Chou feels so responsible for Kaye; they both have unfinished business with each other.
In Unicorn Jelly, Chou secretly loved her version of Lymcit Pho, but she could never admit it, and that hurt them both very deeply. This explains some of her words at the end.
So, to pay Kay-Wai back, Ascended Chou -living outside of time and space as we know them- has arranged everything that has happened so that in the end all rogue versions of Kaye Haychold (billions of them!) and her versions of Lymcit Pho all end up together. The one thing every rogue Kay-Wai truly wants is to be loved, finally, thanks to Chou, they all gain that. Plus, no doubt, the endless benefits of post-singularity existence, once they work their personality problems out. Happy ending, after a fashion.
Not that there were not some hefty price tags associated with this matter (sorry, Vola, Other Vola, Wailan, Virtue, Other Texto, and many others as well).
This should fill in the most important details for those unfamiliar with Unicorn Jelly.
To Save Her Stats:
(374 strips), not counting supplimentary materials.
About the making of the ending:
The original story had been written down in 2005, but right at the end I had some kind of a brain-fart and lost confidence, so I started drawing panels of bullshit about Pho knowing all kinds of things and being in league with the Ascended and that sort of crap. It sucked donkey dicks. With a straw. A bendy straw.
So, after a few days I woke up from my brief insanity, deleted the crappy work, and went back to the script. I posted a big "I'm Sorry" poster and just sat down and drew the last pages correctly. That is the version that now exists, referencing the original script, as it should. I don't know what fuse blew up in me. I guess I just lost, as I said, confidence.
Perhaps the only good thing in this aborted effort was one panel, where it is revealed that the Ascended have no belief in the existence of creatures such as Only (and Uni), and consider such things to be fables and wild stories; even they don't know such things.
There are all kinds of supplimentary materials available in the archive, near the bottom, which you might enjoy - biographies of the actors who played the characters (!) as well as cutaway diagrams of the Mover, and character trait posters and more.
To Save Her took the longest of any comic I have ever done; from July 9th of 2005 to July 20th of 2009 - a four year haul. At this point I have been doing webcomics since September 5th, 2000 (the start of Unicorn Jelly), so that is nine years of work. Goodness!
To Save Her started as a filler comic during the run of Pastel Defender Heliotrope, which is why it shares the same website, and does not have a unique URL of its own. The original plan was that To Save Her should be an easy-to-draw, "quicky" kind of work, which is why it was started in black-and-white; B&W is significantly faster to draw in than color. Or so I thought.
In actuality, the story kept growing more dear to me, and that growth inspired me to up my game in terms of drawing, and in the end served to teach me a vast number of things more than even Pastel did. To Save Her ran longer too - four years to Pastel's mere three. In perhaps every way, To Save Her eclipses the comic that spawned it as a filler long ago; I definately feel more satisfaction with the work than I ever did with Pastel.
The reason for that is the focus on the characters. Pastel is an idea-story, where the notions are superior to the characters. To Save Her is strictly focused on the characters and their feelings; there is none of the worldbuilding explanations that were standard for both Unicorn Jelly and Pastel. I love, love, LOVE ideas, but characters are what move people the most... even, it seems, me.
I often saw To Save Her as an old Black-And-White television series in my mind, say circa 1958 or so. Perhaps earlier. I thought of Ernie Kovacks and Playhouse 90 and the first season of the Twilight Zone. The strong, moody lighting contrasts, the simple yet striking sets, the focus on story and acting. I early on imagined the Mover as a set on a stage, and the characters as actors.
To Save Her was intended to flirt with noir, to have a dark edge to it, but in the end it seems I am compelled to give my characters -what is left of them- a happy ending. I just don't like downer endings. I can't make myself do them. I don't see the appeal; life itself has the ultimate downer ending, and since we are all scheduled for that without escape, I want my fantasy to always have a happy ending. Doom is real, physical, physiological life, so at least let fiction have the protagonists win in the end, in some fashion! Realistic endings suck.
So perhaps I failed at noir. Then again, a lot of characters filled a good-sized body count.
To Save Her basic story outline, finished version.
0-37 Introduction of Kaye Haychold, her immediate goal, and her transformation to humanoid form.
38-96 Introduction of Lymcit Pho and Only, establishment of Only as threat, beginnings of romantic friendship between Pho and Kaye.
[66-67 subset] The end of the story of Vola Eretse, first indication that time travel will be part of the story.
97-119 Introduction of Virtue/Texto Kazemahou and backstory, reveal of backstory for Pho, further bonding between Kaye and Pho.
120-145 First inkling of the profundity of alternate universes and alternate selves, the second Mover is taken, an alternate(?) Only recovers from injuries and develops horn, Pho demonstrates his exceptional intelligence, first indication of a more sinister purpose behind Kaye's actions.
146-195 Introduction of Wailan Ngo and backstory, Kaye clearly shown to have hidden, sinister agenda, Virtue/Texto split defined, Virtue begins path to heroism rather than villainy.
196-201 The temporal crossover; our first vision of a tragic outcome to the story.
202-245 The proper introduction of Vola Eretse, the Krawlni is finally shown and explained in full, the third version of the Mover is taken with brief glimpse of crew that owned it, the Krawlni deliberately permits the crew to escape - first indication that Kaye may be the pawn of higher powers.
246-256 We finally see the scope of the rogue Kaye's cascade phenomena as thousands of alternate Kaye and crews arrive mysteriously at a common space to meet and greet, this event confirms some higher power at work. Our Kaye, alone, rejects the chance to turn from her dark path. Kaye reveals both her own bigotry, as well as hidden feelings for Pho.
257-276 Acquisition of the decapitated head of Chou Yaru, first indication of the true anger and darkness within Kaye, backstory from Unicorn Jelly referenced in detail.
277-278 The Alternate Kaye Convention collectively realizes that all they really wanted was to be loved, and all decide to go home and give up their insane vengeance on the universe.
279-332 The far future museum and Kaye's plan finally revealed, dissension among the crew, first evidence of how strongly Pho cares for Kaye in his repeated defense of her, regenerated Chou finds the secret of post-human ascension while linked to museum systems and Ascends, Kaye's plan rumbled, Kaye finally turns on everyone, Kaye's true backstory finally revealed.
333-346 Kaye demonstrates her unwillingness to kill by choosing to maroon her crew in the past, Vola leaves, Virtue, Wailan and Pho choose paths back to the Mover to confront and stop Kaye.
347-357 The temporal crossover from the other side of time, everything plunges into hell rapidly, all but Pho and Kaye are killed, the control sphere is ejected to an uncertain future.
358-365 In the brief time before attempting recosmersion, Kaye and Pho develop an uneasy truce, and display some of their original chemistry despite what has happened.
366-374 In the far, far, far, far future, Pho awakes from certain death to a dark room where a being faces him. We learn that the entity is Ascended Chou, or at least some part of her. We have strong indication that this Chou, once liberated from time and space, has been (more or less) guiding everything that has happened so far. The Ascended Chou entity still remembers having loved a version of Lymcit Pho from when it was an organic being. The being indulges that love enough to remind Pho of where his heart truly lives, and in the end Pho follows Kaye so that she might have some hope of one day being rehabilitated enough to be free. The End.
List of 7 Unicorn Jelly / Pastel Defender Heliotrope loose ends tied up by To Save Her:
1. How OoO, the Ascended entity came to be / whatever happened to Chou after she blew herself up / the much demanded 'happy ending for Chou'.
2. Justice for the Kay-Wai's of the universe / what was the price of Chou's easy way out regarding the Jellese species.
3. Some resolution of the romance between the original Mr. Pho and Chou; either Ascended Chou will look him up, or by helping an alternate Pho her feelings are resolved.
4. A general, a-temporal explanation for all the 'fate' in all three stories; Ascended Chou is outside of time, therefore can meddle as much as is required, even in her own past acting as a causal loop.
5. Moral / ethical redemption for the remarkably popular Texto character.
6. Answers longstanding question of 'what would an evil Kay-Wai be like?'.
7. Expands Uni / Only as traditional unicorn; potentially noble and good, but also highly fierce and dangerous.
In any case, exhausted, writing this, I want to thank you very, very much for reading my story. To Save Her was very much a labor of love, and if you got any joy out of it then that just makes me beyond happy. Thank you for following Kaye, and Pho, and Vola, Virtue, Wailan and Only on a strange trip around the wilder side of a fairly alien universe. But above all, thank you for your support, both emotional and financial, over the years. Any time I was too weary or too filled with self doubt to continue, you came through and set me back to work.
Four years, 374 strips, this tale has been told. A side story to Unicorn Jelly, in some ways the longest "Happy Fun With Kay-Wai" sidebar ever drawn. I learned so very much doing this (just check the difference between the first strips and the last!), and I feel happy to have created it.
My next project is scheduled to be, like Pastel, an expansion of one of my Kamishibai tales, The Legend Of Ika Takozushi. I expect it to be a relaxing effort, after Pastel and then To Save Her, with a much more simple and relaxed art style.
We'll see. I've said that before.
original 2005 outline for the story of To Save Her.
To Save Her
Draw panels in Alias Sketchbook Pro
Text and balloons in Paint Shop Pro 7
set colors to top black, bottom white in selector
place filled rounded-square shapes for speech balloons on seperate raster layer Linewidth 6
place filled vector triangle shapes as speech balloon arrows Linewidth 6
melt all layers down
use selector to drag white over arrow bases to make them nice
add text: comic sans ms, at size 26, leading-10 in all BOLD caps.
For online, shrink 33% and greyscale all images.
Character, Character, CHARACTER: this is to be a people story NOT an
idea story!!! Remember this!!!
KayWai, AKA Miss Kaye Haychold, claims she is out to get Chou Kazemahou, in order to grant her a just reward. In actuality, Kaye is angry at Chou and wants to torture her to death, to make her pay for her act of genocide against the Jellese. But Kaye's ultimate goal is to save herself, or rather all the alternate versions of herself, by preventing Chou from ever inventing the KayMakers - an act that required the self-sacrifice of every KayWai in every Stormfall universe.
In order to accomplish this, she must use the temporal system in her Multiversal Mover, a system that must be part of the device since time and space are linked...but from which no device or ship has ever returned. All have been lost in time...but time probes, and individuals, have sent back images and records, up to the point they were lost, which is how Kaye's people know the history of Tryslmaistan. Kaye is willing to do this, to sacrifice herself (and all on board) to change history in all the splays. This will of course mean the doom of humanity, and the end of the godlike Tryslmaistans of the far future.
********** Maybe should explain or allude to this at some point (lightly, no need for super-detail):
Why the percentages of Stormfall and splayports are changing from 80% Stormfall and 20% Splayport:
As Kaye's plan succeeds, fewer splays have humans alive in them, thus they never make Tratonic devices thus no Stormfall. Also the Movers are never built. This is good for the Krawli - less Stormfall means he can get his ship back easier, those decks are not being lost to Stormfall. Doesn't need the humans after all. Krawlni would probably want to help Kaye in some way. The result is that the Stormfall percentage decreases, the non-Stormfall portion increases, and the splayports vanish as the Krawlni is able to access more of his ship (in Stormfall splays) and fly away from his crash landing in Tryslmaistan. Ultimately, as more of Kaye suceeds, the whole of Tryslmaistan increasingly becomes a place where the Multiversal Rain is blocked (end of time if Kaye uses museum; causality on the margin) before the humans are dumped into the cosmos, thus erasing all history, and making it pure Jellese with no KayWais to suffer and be sacrificed to make Kaymakers. Margin causality is not absolute; Kaye fails, normal causality restored.
Kaye is that disgusted with humans, she is like an angry member of a conquered people, blaming all wrong on the conquests of the past, and taking no responsibility for her present whatever the situation. Rather than accepting things as they are and moving forward, she is driven to 'Ghost Dance', to find a wishful way to make all the humans and others just go away, idealizing the native experience as a perfection ruined by invaders. She does not even care that all of her other selves not extemporalized inside Movers will cease to exist. This is a price she is willing for her other selves to pay.
***Notion: it might be interesting to show other Kayes at some point. Maybe a convention of them or something.
At this point, 'Only', the Unicorn Jelly like mutant slime pet of Pho (which does not show up on her scanner) has never liked Kaye, and at the last moment, and finally shows it's true powers. Only becomes, in shadows on the wall, a full unicorn and prepares to attack Kaye. At the same moment, the H-Hold finally succeeds in repairing itself, and Kaye changes into a perfect human form for a few minutes. During this distraction, as Kaye puzzles as to what to do - eject from the H-Hold or remain, the H-Hold breaks again, and Kaye is tortured as before. This is the moment Only attacks (since Kaye cannot call for Only's destruction) but Kaye is thrashing from the pain, and Only fails to destroy her. Instead, Kaye loses the top of her 'head', the upper part of the H-Hold skull and her ribbon clattering to the ground.
Kaye retreats to the mover, along the way finding a weapon to defend herself with in the Museum. In a tense situation, she vaporizes Only.
****All unicorn jellies follow standard rules: must never be explained, must never be proven, must always pull a tinkerbell before the end and vanish somehow, must always straddle science/mystic boundary/ must evolve through wounding (horn, then tail) over course of story, must be both feirce and noble, kind and dangerous, be safe to the innocent (unicorn tapestry).
She herds all of her remaining crew into the Mover (she cannot find Wai-Wai), and travels back in time to dump them off. They end up on the original splay where she picked up Pho.
Alone, she struggles to deal with her injured H-Hold, in preparation to return to the museum and finish the job. Virtue sulks, realizing that the thrill of killing of all humankind is not going to be no fun afterward, when the cosmos is purely Jellese.
Outside the Mover, her former crew decides what to do. Pho decides to work to stop her, Vola is afraid and refuses.
Pho manages to crawl into the Mover's probe launching silo before the Mover Leaves. Vola regrets her decision, and runs to find the original Mover before it also leaves. She fails, full circle.
Inside the mover in transit, Pho finds that he is trapped. Wai-Wai opens the access door to the silo and lets him out - Wai-Wai ran and hid in the Mover, figuring he might be able to stop Kaye from leaving without them. Instead, he saves Pho's life.
Inside the Mover proper, the tableu we saw in time is repeated. Virtue tries to help Pho, but is shot for his effort. Kaye cannot bring herself to shoot Pho (because she likes him, deep down). She tries to shoot Wai-Wai when he attempts to sneak around and jump her, but she misses, and the ancient future weapon cuts a hole in the side of the mover. The Outside begins to turn the Mover inside out, and Wai-Wai again saves Pho's life, but gets sucked outside to death.
Pho and Kaye use the dais to escape into the control sphere, which can detach as a life boat, which will crash into the last coordinates set.
They end up in future tryslmaistan, just as they were leaving.
Kaye has her chance to alter history, and points the gun a pho. This time there is no pity between them.
At this point the Floaty Buttcover Tryslmaistanese show up and collect everyone. They knew that of all the loving KayWai's, there had to be one, out of infinity, that was twisted, and this was that one.
not dead, but is severely damaged, cut in half. The Floaties intend
to imprison her forever in a comfortable
Pho still demands to go, claiming that he is the only one who can reach her, that all she needs is to learn that her anger is unfounded, since every Kay willingly sacrificed themselves, just as she was willing to sacrifice herself for her other selves. It is part of the Kay nature, and she needs to see the nobility of that. Pho argues that he wants to be with her....TO SAVE HER. (thus the real meaning of the title!)
The Floaties agree, but as they sort everyone out and turn to leave, one tells Pho that while Kaye truly does loath him despite her behaviors in the past, it will not always be so and that they were hoping that he would make this choice, because one day the two of them, at last together, will....
Virtue Uzbochs? Uzboks? Possible orphan?
Vola as Bill the Cat - dead a lot. Must be snarky (small text?)
By Jennifer Diane Reitz
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