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SPQR Blues et cetera
Fish-pickle Sauce for the Comic Lover's Soul
SPQR Blues part XCV 
10th-Mar-2009 02:15 pm
Blues 4 fingers
...is no good without a bucketGuess the secret word.

It is not "Well," "Uhm," or "Oops."

Some mild (okay, not so mild) but probably suggestive panels redacted with big grey boxes possibly rendering the conversation incomprehensible. Does this need a content warning? Now that I know the occasional schoolteacher has been sending students around for a look at the story, I should be careful about local sensibilities.




Guess the secret word

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inscriptions 
10th-Mar-2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
I rather like how (comparatively) honest Iusta is when she's alone with Mus. It could be naivete, or an attempt at familiarity with a new husband... it's refreshing to see a character who interacts differently with different people, but in a manner that's still 'them'. It's one of the reasons I love reading your comic (and avidly take notes like the kid in the first row of the lecture auditorium, lol).

Oh and the panel backgrounds going from black to white? Nice touch!
10th-Mar-2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
Whew, maybe I'll stop being nervous about posting this publicly. Well, I'll more likely wait until this evening and a few more comments before I stop being nervous :D

I think I've gotten to know Iusta over the years(! I've been at this longer than I thought). But I still have trouble drawing her perky nose--a lot of white cover-up ink is involved :^P
10th-Mar-2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
Your last point made me laugh with relief. I hate drawing noses for just that reason, even if (especially if) it's a character I've been doing for a long time. I don't know what it is...

Whoever invented tip-ex deserves a spot on the household shrine!
10th-Mar-2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
That just prompted me to draw the noses, and only the noses, of a bunch of different characters. I got a bit stuck on Domitian's imperial schnozz--it's hard for me to get it right without also including the imperial pout. I wonder if the noses would be identifiable on their own :)
11th-Mar-2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
That'd be really interesting to see! ("SPQR Blues pop quiz: How much attention do you pay to details?")

I've just realised how much this webcomic has been updated recently... and how I've systematically failed to compliment it properly. So, here I go (prepare for a long rant and lots of drooling over your art):

XCI: Everybody seems to have already said so, but still, that child is gorgeously drawn. I also love Domitian's chin over his hand for some reason. The posture compliments his semi-disdainful look beautifully. As always, half of my drool is caused by the clothes.

XCII: Cynthia's pissed face is something I'm looking forward to seeing more often! Also, Mus-Iusta interaction is always between "aww", "*smirk*" and "lol"

XCIII: Iusta's hair seems to get lovelier every time I see it n.n Also, plot-wise, that's... really something Iusta would say. I love how your characters show different sides of them, but always responding to their personalities (which is something that's sometimes very difficult to achieve and maintain through the whole story)

XCIV: Reaction for this is definitely *smirk*

XCV: Wonderfully tasteful. Don't worry about how you do "those" scenes, you seem to have a nice gift; you turn a situation that could be potentially disastrous for the overall quality of the webcomic (some great ones just seem to overindulge in such scenes less tastefully rendered) into an awkward-cute-suggestive strip, without having to reveal too much to give us just the right idea about what happened, and how it'd go. Also, I love Mus's shoulder and arm. Hard posture to draw.

OK, I think I've covered it all. Sorry for the long, long rant. To compensate for it and still show my appreciation, I have virtual huggles and stuff!! =D *sends them*

Nemo
10th-Mar-2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
Whew. Finally. Mind you, I'm not trying to convert Mus from "one side" to the "other side", just trying to get him to meet his husbandly obligations for both their sakes.

Overall, this has been handled beautifully -- and it didn't go in the direction I thought it would, because our lovely newlyweds are just so darn innocent. And cute. (grin)

Dr. Phil
10th-Mar-2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
Hm... now I'm curious as to what other expectations people might have had for how it would all turn out.

Tears, recriminations, and the destruction of their new set of silk-covered down-stuffed pillows?
10th-Mar-2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
I thought Mus was more knowledgable about how things worked and was just resisting on principles. Being innocent made the whole thing much more... interesting and allowed you to have a lot of fun introducing the topic. If I'm making myself clear here. Prob'ly not.

Dr. Phil
10th-Mar-2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see. I'll have to say the intent was a little of both: lack of knowledge about how things work, partially due to holding his hands over his ears and going "La la la" when Felix tried to explain the finer points, but also a large amount of "I really don't think I can do this." Not sure if I made that clear in the actual story :)

Ah well. I reckon they do at least like each other and can coexist well, and maybe they can produce a couple of equally petite children.

Oh, wait. The boom-thing. Right. Never mind. (I don't know what I'll snicker over when I don't have Vesuvius to push people around with anymore.)
11th-Mar-2009 05:12 am (UTC)
We await your boom terror with feelings of anticipation and dread. The former because I can't wait to see your art and plots -- the latter because, well, things will get ugly. (wry grin)

Dr. Phil
11th-Mar-2009 12:53 am (UTC)
The "heh" panel is the CUTEST PANEL EVER. Look at them all congratulating themselves and relieved!
11th-Mar-2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
Even the most complicated and unpleasant task just needs the application of a little good old-fashioned Roman determination :)
11th-Mar-2009 12:54 am (UTC)
said something over and over

....someone else's name, perchance?

Ah, Iusta, some marriages are not about love and mutual attraction, but about necessity and obligation... one can still be friends, though, even good friends.
11th-Mar-2009 02:09 am (UTC)
In those days marriages were usually about business or family obligations. So a married couple although not being in love with each other may have tried instead to be at least friends.

I believe that Iusta does not love Mus nor she expects Mus to love her. For both of them this is a marriage of convenience.
11th-Mar-2009 03:28 am (UTC)
OK, I could have left out the "love" part, but I'm not sure Iusta is expecting a man to be not attracted in that way to girls at all. Certainly most of the others who dabble in that direction seem generally quite capable of going both ways.
11th-Mar-2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
Her father did make an effort to steer her away from any girly ideas about passionate emotional affairs between headstrong, brilliant Egyptian queens and smart, brave Roman generals; but even the most dutiful wife wouldn't want to have to know about her husband's passionate emotional love affair with one of the help. But, this part: I'm not sure Iusta is expecting a man to be not attracted in that way to girls at all--yeah, that probably would be very baffling to her.
11th-Mar-2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Anonymous
Okay--just have to say I love your drawings! Much sexier than Mark Trail could ever have been, and your Felix! OH MY!!! I feel so warm all of a sudden--he was gorgeous and suggestive--yum. Draw it like you feel it girl and those who don't like it don't have to look at it! Frankly, Frazetta's drawings are pretty darn suggestive with all the nearly or totally nekkid women and barbarians and etc. Your work is very good and quite comparable to his, different style, but really good anatomically. Well drawn and well thought out.
11th-Mar-2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
I'm putting the finishing touches on the inked version of that Felix-meets-Frazetta piece today. I hope it all turns out right--I have special plans for it.

I'll just float back now into the happy fluffy fog from being compared to Frazetta... :)
11th-Mar-2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
I'd much rather look at your art than Frazetta's any day. Quite seriously. :)
11th-Mar-2009 04:55 am (UTC)
I read this and think to myself that if a certain volcano were out of the picture, Mus and Iusta could end up celebrating their fiftieth anniversary in good, friendly spirits, content with themselves and their marriage.

And then I think of all the things that could happen and realize it could also be a complete wreck by Year 10, children or no children.

**sigh** Tolstoy wasn't entirely correct. Happy families and unhappy families have their own degrees of feeling, and it sometimes just takes one event to tilt the scales for one or the other.
11th-Mar-2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
If she gets a chance to grow up and become more worldly, she could bring home her own special Menander-type, and it could all be happy families.

I have to agree with you... Tolstoy wasn't entirely correct.
11th-Mar-2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
I read an interesting book that posited that the whole concept of a 'couple' simply didn't feature in Roman thought. I wasn't sure if I believed it or not...
12th-Mar-2009 03:20 am (UTC)
It was discussed in another thread that the concept of the "couple" as in a romantic relationship was not invented well into the european medieval age (the high middle age I believe).

Even in the beginning, romantic love was not meant to be inside a married a couple (as in a husband in love with his wife and viceversa) but outside the marriage. Marriage for love was not invented until the 18th century. Before that time marriage was a business arrangement between two families, the couple getting married was incidental and probably didn't knew each other that well. This is also why a woman's virginity was of high importance, this way the grooms family could be sure that the first child was actually the groom's.

In the case of Mus and Iusta, this is quite clear. Iusta needs a proper husband so she can claim her inheritance, and Mus needs a wife. Mus's father didn't oppose the marriage because of Iusta's inheritance which will increase the family's fortune. Iusta have nobody to oppose her choice (Calatoria's opposition is about Iusta's status as a free woman than on her marriage). So it's a win-win situation for all parties involved. Neither Mus nor Iusta love each other nor they expect to fall in love with each other. What they hope is to become at least friends, but even that is not a requirement for remaining married.
12th-Mar-2009 07:43 am (UTC)
Global statement alert... romantic love was not meant to be inside a married a couple

It depends on the culture. :) There are cultures that believe properly selected compatible mates in an arranged marriage should indeed then grow to love each other romantically. (Of course, the couple is not necessarily considered as being the best judges of their own character; "older and wiser" heads are better to make the decision.)
12th-Mar-2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
I should have read this before I blathered on and on below :P
12th-Mar-2009 11:15 am (UTC)
Anonymous
Did you ever read Apuleius' The Golden Ass? Or any Roman comedies? The Romans understood 'romantic' love in a marriage.

Anyone who says different isn't familiar with the sources.
12th-Mar-2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
It'd be mistaken to think the answer is all or nothing one way or the other, as much as to say that any arranged marriage nowadays can't also involve the expectation of love entering the picture. Whether love is fluttery adolescent pitter-pattering hearts, or warm feelings and devotion, or respect and trust, or combinations and permutations of all the above.

But I'd agree that the idea of "falling in love" as the first requirement for choosing a spouse, waiting around to find your one true pairing, testing out different people to see who makes you swoon most and who swoons back, was not the general course for selecting a spouse in a family of any means. Which doesn't mean that loving each other wasn't desirable, or hoped for, or aimed for. And in marriages that weren't arranged, or marriages later in life, or marriages among the lower classes or pairings among slaves or between soldiers and their "wives" there could be as many different emotional reasons for choosing each other back then as at any other time. "Falling in love" might be considered a laughable (comedic) reason for going to pater and mater holding your sweetheart's hand and asking for permission to wed, depending on the families' circumstances. zeus67 mentioned a few entries ago that the marriage between Domitian and Domitia Longina--a marriage in spite of impediments and family objections--seems to have been based on strong mutual feelings, on falling in love. But had she come from an unsuitable class or family, the marriage never would have happened--neither Vespasian nor Titus could marry their sweethearts during their imperial years. And... okay, I'll stop before wandering off into speculations about how much of Vespasian's relationship was love and how much long, long family connections.

It might be significant that stories about falling in love are found more in comedies and mythology--an acknowledgement that this is not really how the world works, that life is much less interesting than all that--but I am completely talking off the top of my head. I haven't done any sort of real survey on the topic of romantic love in marriage in Roman fiction. That would be interesting to see.

(I hope the above is coherent--I'll have to look at it again later when my laptop batteries aren't running out.)
12th-Mar-2009 04:40 am (UTC) - Magic Word?
"Please" show us the smut? Oh. That's probably not what you meant. La la la.
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