CONTENT WARNING: this comic depicts medical abuse and psychiatric institutionalization.

98

27th Apr 2021, 1:50 AM
98
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Save my Place Load my Place

Author Notes:

Nobody 27th Apr 2021, 1:50 AM
Nobody
well. that's it. the comic's over. thanks for reading. :)

Comments:

kitsune-rokko 27th Apr 2021, 2:00 AM
kitsune-rokko
first!
Nobody 27th Apr 2021, 2:01 AM
Nobody
second
carmilla gang prez <3 27th Apr 2021, 2:06 AM
gray. gray gray gray gray gray. from the bottom of my heart thank you so so so so much for this comic, its been an absolute joy reading it since the very beginning
also i think it goes without saying, but kim breaking the wrist band and breaking out of the frame of the comic too is absolutely fucking incredible and i dont know how you thought of it
she really did win!
7 27th Apr 2021, 2:10 AM
that last sequence is absolutely masterful... the stretch and break of the panelling with her tearing off the bracelet... the fade to white with the raindrops...
not enough words in the english language to fully describe the feeling. very powerful and beautifully done. bravo!
mata 27th Apr 2021, 2:15 AM
this simulates the feeling of freedom so perfectly.

stepping out of the doors myself also had this same feeling. it was like it wasn't even real.

regardless of what she does now, i'm glad she's out of this hellhole.
mx. andrews 27th Apr 2021, 2:43 AM
BEAUTIFUL FINISH!!!! Kim wins!!

Everything on this page looks fantastic. I can tell I’m going to keep coming back to it for a long time
big fan 27th Apr 2021, 3:00 AM
hi there gray. thank you for another beautiful and heart-wrenching comic. i've been following since page 1 and i'm so glad i was able to go on this journey with sugar, kim, and the rest of the gang. this comic has helped me through my own depression, first therapist, and first hospitalization back in february. it might be a small detail, but the fact that Kim might be going to an outpatient program (i hope i understood that correctly. that's also something i did recently) gives me hope for her future.

i'm usually quiet, but felt the need to comment this time. thanks again gray and i look forward to your next work! :) <3
crumpleham 27th Apr 2021, 3:16 AM
this page is so fucking beautiful holy shit aaaaaaaaaaaa
CJ 27th Apr 2021, 3:23 AM
thank you for your work, it is very beautiful and unique and i feel you always have powerful things to say

i’ve been following your comics since about 1/3 of the way through drop-out, it has accompanied me through so much and your art has given me a space to reflect on my mental health and enjoy a wonderful story.

again, thank you, and you should be proud of finishing your SECOND full comic!!!! best wishes to your future endeavours :)
Elizabeth 27th Apr 2021, 4:05 AM
Thank you so much for this story, gray. It's hard to believe it's all over now. This comic has opened my eyes to a lot of the horrors that go on behind closed doors under the guise of mental rehabilitation, as someone who hasn't been institutionalized before. Not only do I think this is a wonderful story with gorgeous art, but I think it's a very important story to have out there.

I hope you have a good hiatus!
Duskitty 27th Apr 2021, 4:17 AM
AUUGGHH SHE DID IT!!! SHE WON!!! GOD the catharsis of that wristband snapping panel and the panel borders dissolving after that, LOVE IT *chef's kiss*

the colours of the following panels after she signs the release form are a really nice contrast to the pitch blackness of the same environment when she was admitted - i really like your use of colour to make even a dreary, rainy day seem bright

thank you so much for creating this comic :') it's been a long journey!
ThatOneDude 27th Apr 2021, 4:21 AM
GRAAAYY 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺 WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!
kendall 27th Apr 2021, 4:34 AM
audibly said "YES!" out loud at the tearing of the wristband and the panel. what a beautiful, beautiful ending to the comic. the way the panels start spilling into each other feels like a breath of fresh air and it looks SO gorgeous. the soft, muted colors and the way you drew the rain... i CANNOT get over it. i keep just scrolling back up to stare at the way that everything swirls together so nicely, at the angles of the raindrops, at the spillover of water on the welcome sign, at the puddles in the parking lot, at the way the clouds spill into kim. everything being so loose and free and undefined once she gets rid of the bracelet is just so so good.

i loved this comic. big congratulations on finishing it; i think it came out beautifully. definitely going to be re-reading it and thinking about it for years to come.
fghjk 27th Apr 2021, 4:38 AM
dang it i wanted to see what her grandma looked like
crow 27th Apr 2021, 7:35 AM
same!!!!
ray 27th Apr 2021, 5:57 AM
what a powerful way to end the comic, thank you for putting this out here, and all the streams, and so on. this was a really good comic that had me think about things i hadnt considered with the time they deserved, and as always, left me wondering about your ocs and eager to see more of them all
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 6:29 AM
I'm legitimately going INSANE about how beautiful these ladt panels are like...the way the watery effect starts blending the panels together, nvm the choice to remove them when Kim tesrs off her bracelet, the fucking rendering and the decisions you've made with perspective and what shapes to blend together like...I'm legit in awe of how fucking beautiful this is like your art had always been insanely technically intelligent but it's legit so beautiful and evocative like??? HELLO??? The way you understand how to weave meaning and mood into images is so...dare I say...chef's kiss...also I love Kim and I'm so glad she's finally free from this hell ride
mascot 27th Apr 2021, 6:31 AM
WHEN SHE RIPS OFF HER BAND.... i really felt that feeling of release..... so good

god this ending page is so so so wonderful, thank you SO much for this comic gray. i hope you have a nice break, im excited to see what youll make in the future!!
EveryCaptain 27th Apr 2021, 6:49 AM
Kim ripping open the comics borders while tearing off her wristband??? Immaculate. The little "I win" got me. This comic has done a lot to inspire me to do my own research and look more closely at psychiatry as an entity. Kim reminds me a lot of a very close friend of mine from junior high who ended up somewhere like this for a little bit. We never talked about what it was like for her but it makes me wonder. Everything you write contains a lot of depth and characters that feel very tangible. It's easy to see yourself or your own experiences there, and then it expands on them.

How exciting that you're done, too!! Congratulations on the big finish! I can't wait to sit down with breakfast and read the whole thing start to finish.
ret 27th Apr 2021, 6:50 AM
i thought i had more time ahhh, this was great though thank you
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 6:51 AM
i wonder if kim saying "i win" is a callback to when dr. fink said "is this a game where, when you leave just as worse for wear, you win?" ...

i smiled really big when kim was able to rip off her wristband :') <3
Nobody 27th Apr 2021, 10:05 AM
Nobody

hi, guest. it actually is a petty little callback to dr. fink's comment that kim is making here -- not just on a narrative symbolism level, but the motivation for why i thought kim would say it, like muttering something under your breath after an argument's over.
jay 27th Apr 2021, 7:30 AM
wow. fucking epic gamer moment
jay 27th Apr 2021, 7:40 PM
i just wanna add, i feel like it means Something that the sign in the last “panel” is so reminiscent of a headstone - but im too autistic to know What, lol. or maybe the meaning is for me to decide
G 27th Apr 2021, 7:37 AM
OMFG I LOVE THIS PAGE AAA.. Esp the blending on the rainy final sequence!! Kim breaking free!!! She won.
Andrea Nolastname 27th Apr 2021, 7:40 AM
While it still bothers me on some level, I love the fact that I feel ambiguous that the story leaves so many unanswered questions. While I love the whole page and the cathartic feeling of escaping, survival and winning, I can't help but think about the ambiguity of the last thing she said to sugar two pages back. It's uncomfortable, but that makes me feel respected as an audience member.

Also, I personally find rainy days especially calming.
ro 27th Apr 2021, 7:44 AM
she's free, she's free aaah!! free from this place at least!
wow oh wow the panels of her breaking free from those borders, and the meshing of colors between the last panels. all the little details too! the water pooling and pouring over one spot on the overhang, the entirety of the outdoors - so good! i really couldn't imagine a more solid ending. having followed this comic since the very beginning, it's been such a journey watching kim spend a few days here over the course of these almost 3 years! i've seen the word bittersweet used a bit and atm i can't think of a better word. this kind of story is so so important, and it means a lot to a lot of people. thank you so much gray for your amazing comic storytelling!
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 7:45 AM
God, the fact that it ends not only with Kim ripping off that wristband, but also with her back in her own clothes instead of those same old scrubs they made her wear...incredible

Thank you so much for this comic. This was truly amazing and impactful.
Sularu 27th Apr 2021, 7:53 AM
hoooooooooly shit!!!!! it's here and it hits every possible emotion I can feel rn.

It looks stunning, the level of detail absolutely blows me away. It's so vivid and there's so much depth to it!!! wow!

I started reading not long after the comic started and man, what a ride this has been. Absolutely incredible to see it draw to a close. I think it hits the final notes incredibly well, the questions left in mind about what happens next are all so real for the experience of the characters involved.


Fresh Meat was a comic that really left me thinking and wondering but never unsatisfied with the story it presented. Super excited to see what you do next and thanks for making such a phenomenal comic!
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 8:18 AM
I had to make a comment here. I have been following since the first five pages and this comic was something to look forward to in some of my darkest months. Gray you are an incredible artist and a master story teller. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 8:35 AM
Wow, oh my god, that was an incredible read.

I wish to come back with a cohesive formulated take on reading this comic and will do so, i just needed to put my amazement at how phenomenal this project turned out to be right now. Thank you thank you thank you for making this. I feel as though my silenced voice in these facilities got at least heard a bit through kim. God, thank you for making this.
Indie 27th Apr 2021, 8:52 AM
You survived this kim, and you will keep on suriving.
bebla 27th Apr 2021, 9:23 AM
BRO.......................................MY HEART
OH WOW...............oHHH WOOWOOOW....................
I will be rereading this so much, what a gorgeous and powerful comic, thank you so much for all the work you put on it, all worth it!
Can't wait to see what you'll be up to next!!!
kibokey 27th Apr 2021, 9:30 AM
thank you so much for making this gray, im so glad i was able to follow it since the beginning and that im still here to see it through to its end. your visual storytelling prowess really shows with this last page too.
my words cant come close to doing justice to your work, so i will just thank you again for working so hard on this comic, im glad you got to finish it and i'll be forever thankful you did.
JQ 27th Apr 2021, 10:31 AM
When the bracelet and the panel ripped, OOHHH the physical and visceral satisfaction!!!! That moment was perfectly paced and perfectly drawn, ooooaahhh!!

Thank you So Much for all the time and effort you put into this incredible story. I'm going to push it into the faces of everyone I know, not only because it's a fantastic piece of art but because it feels very meaningful to me as a disability advocate who's spent so long trying to tell people about medical neglect and mistreatment, the problems with many of our healthcare systems, and how so many are failed by structures that aren't built to actually help.

I feel like this really humanizes what the experience can be like in a very accessible and engaging way, and I hope a lot of people read this. Again, thank you So Much for all the work you put into making this story come to be, and I'm extremely excited to keep supporting your work.
blip 27th Apr 2021, 10:35 AM
holy shit this ending is amazing!!! kim ripping off her wristband while literally breaking out the panel is so so impactful, she's finally free. thank you so much for yet another beautiful comic and for sharing these stories with us, you make such important work gray
Shanbo 27th Apr 2021, 11:30 AM
you did it T~T
pin 27th Apr 2021, 11:31 AM
did kim mean she wins like, pretending shes fine? is she still oging to hurt herself?
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 11:43 AM
I actually started following your work through drop-out, i think at page... I want to say in the 50s bc it was when sugar was having the brain zaps and had to pull over?

Your comic updates ever since then have been such a comfort to look forward to throughout my week. Literally how I'm able to recall that page i first found your work with is the substantial comfort your work has consistently brought me for several years now. Your ability to story tell and illustrate has astounded me ever since that page I just happened upon randomly: i am SO, so grateful such a coincidence led me to consistently following your works.

I still plan to come back with thoughts formulated but again, thank you. I dont think I can say it enough. I hope your break away from making a comic serves you well, thank you for all that you have done!
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 11:53 AM
there is so much i can say about this last page. the rendering of the wet pavement. the background changing as she pulls the wristband with her hand, giving me a tactile feeling. kim ripping out of the panel as she rips off her armband. the immediate dreamy look of the background afterwards (one of my favorite "panels" honestly). the way the scene gets darker because more elements come into view, and the way the raindrops also start coming into view as she looks down, and the cark rainclouds are slowly rising up as the moment of euphoria passes for her. and the dynamic perspective and enormity of the last panel, having us see the thundering rainclouds and the feeling of pounding rain to contrast what felt like a gentle rain during a previous look at the street before, giving us a feeling of her getting out of an unforgiving ward into a big, unforgiving world. there is so much. i cannot capture it all and my feelings into words.

i think about when you mentioned you wanted to achieve something with comics that could not be done in any other medium, and this is not to say you've never done that before but the way you pulled this off is nothing short of absolutely incredible, and you perfected it here. from someone thats followed you for a while, i think this might be one of my most favorite comics from you ever. thank you so, so much for all of this throughout these years.
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 4:25 PM
the same commenter here but after rereading this page for the 50th time taking it all in again and again, i only just now noticed that kim is stepping onto the very wet sidewalk with bare feet in panel 12. my god.
kitsune-rokko 27th Apr 2021, 12:03 PM
kitsune-rokko
So for my serious comment, seriously big congratulations on finishing Fresh Meat! It's an incredible accomplishment, and I know throughout you poured so much care and consideration into it.

Consideration for your audience, your artistic sense, for doing right by past you/the people you met from your experiences, and it's like... it's resonated a lot. And I can tell by a lot of the comments your work here has gripped people, and for many, helped them feel seen in a way most rare.

The ending sequence of this page is outright gorgeous and you do rain so well, you really capture both what it does to like, outside lighting and then all the water puddles rendering!! It sets what I think is a mood that can mean meaningful things (words... i'm not as good with those)

Like, Kim saying earlier how the ward hasn't really "cured" her suicidality in the slightest, largely in part to how shitty the world is and like, here on this page, the rain being heavy rain in particular and the glowing "WELCOME" sign, it's like, I get a "Kim! Welcome back to the shitty outside world! A stormy, slippery place that will leave you sopping wet again!" vibe.

BUT, also a vibe from another potential meaning in rain. It's like a shower, and cleaning the world underneath, so it could also be seen, I feel as "Welcome to your future! We've cleaned the slate for you, so how it goes from here, you get to decide!" which combined with her biting off the neoprene bracelet (at least iirc that's what that material is, chosen because it's really difficult to tear) there's that feeling of "even if it's not wholly your choice, you have more choice again now, that you're no longer inside the ward and all the unrelenting control exerted on you there!"

I feel like even the panel borders being torn away echoes this like, it could either be Kim already planning an un-careful blaze of glory to go out on, fully exposed and throwing herself into the tempest of the stormy world, OR her asserting how she's ready to face the world, to meet both its challenge and its renewed clean slate, tying into she hopes she never sees Sugar again

And the ambiguity is powerful and important because it's like, with a subject like suicidality i know you'd been thinking a lot about definitively-ness in an ending. Very obviously you didn't want to go for a "the sad, gutwrenching ending" that communicates "just give up, there's no hope ever" to the audience, but also not "you just have to believe and you will prevail always", with it's own pitfall of a reader going "but i tried to believe... but stuff still went wrong... maybe i'm not as deserving of the triumphant ending..."

I know myself I my preference of how to take the ambiguity is the more hopeful, clean slate, way, out of my own preference and how my heart leans when it comes to hope for the world, and people overall, but I hope I did at least like, not botch too badly, talking about how the ending, you've put the effort into it to be considerate to your audience and yourself as an artist and person, and that is to be commended.

I am sorry I'd really fallen off the commenting horse during most of the comic's final stretch... I often don't think I'm smart enough to really give your work the intelligent-analytical-enough comments it deserves, and especially the big depressions leave me very frozen. I know one at the very end can't exactly make up for this.

I do hope this and the many other comments help you enjoy your accomplishment!
gaybirdmoment 27th Apr 2021, 12:20 PM
gaybirdmoment
I love the rain!! the rendering and Kim being greeted by it as she leaves, from her reaction and her nickname it feels comforting even though it's gloomy and uncertain... also LAST PAGE congrats!!!!! it's been such a treat to watch this comic develop
s 27th Apr 2021, 12:28 PM
GRAY this page RULES!!!!!!!!!!!! what a powerful note to end the comic on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thanks so much for this comic, and congratulations on completing your second major work!!!!
prettypinkpansy 27th Apr 2021, 12:30 PM
alright so first off: congratulations again. what a monumental achievement. fresh meat in its whole is a beautiful piece of work, and i really do mean that. pages like this make that clear - the amount of time and care spent rendering every page, even shorter, less visually stunning pages, really shows. i'm an artist who takes a lot of shortcuts and gets impatient easily, so having had the privilege to watch your process via streams has increased my respect of the work tenfold.

the puddles on the last panel are especially gorgeous. i love the watercolor blending from panel to panel after kim rips the gutters. also her fucking >:3 face after she rips it lol. in general the rain effects and the sense of catharsis are just really well done here.

that all said, i do find it surprising that a lot of people seem to be taking this as a happier ending or cheering. this isn't a criticism of anyone else, don't get me wrong, different people will get different things out of it. but to me this clearly reads as a somber ending

i've spoken on previous pages about this, but kim has - i struggle to say she has learned nothing, but she has learned very little. the entire comic is a critique of the institution-based mental health system and goes to great lengths to show that it ultimately does little more than dehumanize and possibly traumatize its "inhabitants" (prisoners, really), and this is amplified if you are a marginalized person.

even the classes, the place where you'll ostensibly learn something about actual symptom management, are usually spent being treated like you're a silly crazy person and your feelings don't matter, such as the art therapy scene where kim actually expresses herself and the therapist immediately dismisses her concerns (and everyone else's, really). she leaves unhappy and frustrated.

the only real growth and support that kim receives is through brief interactions with her peers, because they are the only ones with true compassion for her, which is ironic because the staff makes constant attempts to aggressively stomp out actual human interaction (you can see this with her hugging sugar). and through them she sees a kaleidoscope of people who the system has failed to help. people who are like her, in many ways, often older, bitterer. who cycle through the ward multiple times, thereby proving its lack of efficacy (because if people got better from the techniques within, why the hell would they be on their 5th visit).

despite this, she does not receive their "wisdom" - unsolicited advice - either because their ideas make no sense to her or because her opinions take priority over theirs (a normal teenager thing). it doesn't help that they're often condescending because of her life position. just another set of adults who look down on her. but she sees, through them, that all of this will continue. to her, there is no future where she isn't depressed, because she has seen that this isn't just a chemical problem in her head, but a broken system. sugar, the closest thing to a true peer in age and mentality, is especially painful for kim to see because of this.

so kim is taught, by both her unsuccessful interactions with a cold and uncaring system as well as outright told by her peers, that the ward is a game. not a place of recovery or growth, but a game of play-pretend. because the people within do not want to really hear what you feel, or provide support - again, kim's few attempts to open up have been interrupted or stifled. they just want to get you "stable" - their idea of stable - and out. stable enough to pretend, to show that you can jump through their hoops.

it's kind of a microcosm of society in that regard. play along, be nice, smile, and stifle all the questions and feelings that are inconvenient in that regard, even if they'll find some other, uglier outlet eventually. pretend to be normal, you round peg in a square hole. she has been ground down enough, her pride, that she will do anything to simply get out. even if it means lying, even if it means gritting your teeth through everything.

the fact that she says "i win" just betrays how much of this was ultimately pointless for her. that any of it was a game to win in the first place. she has won nothing. a system ostensibly built to help her is flawed, and she has escaped it, but where does she go now? to the exact same problems at home that caused her to attempt to begin with.

none of kim's problems have been resolved. if anything, she has received new ones. she is told by another patient that she doesn't have to attend outpatient, foreshadowing she may not do so, that the nurse's threats are empty ones. and why would she want to attend an extension of the hell she just escaped?

and we are outright, textually told she will probably attempt suicide again after this. sugar tries her best to attempt a compelling counter-argument, but ends up admitting her rationales are flawed (and we understand from the existence of drop-out that this rationale was none too compelling for sugar, so we can imagine it's hardly compelling for kim). what is to stop her from doing it again aside from a vague fear that she will end up here once more?

so yeah, i don't know. i find it hard to derive like, "YEAH! SHE DID IT!" from the ending lmfao. this is pretty much what i expected based on what i saw in the previous pages, but it's still heartwrenching to get there. and to be clear, it's not saying this is a bad ending, extremely the opposite, it's a great ending and i love it. but i feel to say "oh my god she won" is a little bit missing the overall point, in the same way kim did.
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 12:50 PM
this is well said and i definitely agree with your comment. many people probably had a gut reaction to the euphoria kim felt when she tore off that wristband, but the way she looks down as the rain and the world comes into view and she says the tiniest "i win" while closing her eyes, its not meant to be a happy statement i feel.

i am not too surprised people had this as a gut reaction through, considering how deeply emotional and cathartic this last page is in terms of delivery, so a lot of people probably rode on that and the initial euphoria before really analyzing the amount of heaviness of what came before and after, along with the feeling of the comic ending.
x 27th Apr 2021, 1:12 PM
I’m vibing with this comment, like. This page is utterly gorgeous, the panels bleeding together at the end for the fade out really made me want to hold my phone away so I could really just take the artistry of it all in, and then I saw that Kim *said* something, and I had to zoom back in for my bad eyes and saw what the bubble said, and my heart clenched. I also didn’t expect much different from this ending, I think it’s really fitting, but, yeah, not cheering so much myself. Adore how you captured the rainy feel, though, it’s sunny here but while I’m reading this page I’m like ah yes. I can feel the rain, it has returned. Haha. Congrats on finishing another comic!!
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 1:36 PM
Yes i couldnt agree more with your interpretation!! I dont have any analysis about it but just LOOK at the way it’s depicted, the tininess of the “i win” and the dreariness of the surroundings, the fact that kim’s one act of power is ripping a symbolic piece of paper and how she’s sort of swallowed up by the world in the last panel- like contrast this to drop-out’s ending visually, with its bright colors and tight focus on the characters- like i said i dont have any real analysis but its just a really amazing page in terms of conveying this complex and bittersweet mood artistically
Ben 27th Apr 2021, 12:40 PM
This is absolutely fantastic thank YOU for sharing this story with us... her breaking her panel walls finally using her teeth is simply the best visual storytelling I've seen in a long time
stinky 27th Apr 2021, 12:43 PM
as always i’m bad with words but... i loved this comic. i’m genuinely excited to sit and read it start to finish now.
i can only imagine how free she feels to sit outside completely on her own before she’s picked up. after constant indoor supervision, being able to breath the fresh air without having to be near anyone...

ripping off the wristband is always such a liberating feeling to me, too. and the boarder breaking with it is beautiful.
sshshshsnd 27th Apr 2021, 12:45 PM
this was so beautiful. despite the gloomy atmosphere, I feel hopeful for Kim. She’s still depressed, but the feeling of relief is palpable I think. I hope she can hold on to that feeling and maybe have the chance to break out of her situation. Thank you for all the stories you write.
Neptune 27th Apr 2021, 12:48 PM
Ohhh it's here!!

What a ride this story was, from the characters to the setting and how we along with Kim get to see a glimpse into their lives within this one awful place.

It's ultimately satisfying in how real that is, you really don't get all the answers but the ones presented are fulfilling in their own way.


Congratulations on working so hard and seeing it through!
ceri 27th Apr 2021, 12:58 PM
thank you for making this comic, the contents of which i cant properly appreciate with well-articulated thoughts yet.... well. it is just so fucking good.

as for this page: immaculate rain, immaculate pavement, immaculate kim. the shot of the parking lot is divine... i love the lighting change from inside the facility to the outside, really pointedly describes the confusing passage of time within (reminds me of coming out of a movie theatre to be surprised it's "suddenly" nighttime.)

also, of course, kim TEETH!! RIPP!!!

alsooo also the "i win," i can relate to the feeling of positioning yourself in control of a perceived uncontrollable situation (whether that is natural or, as it is here, forcibly imposed on,) by conceptualizing your actions as intentional (a game which you can win, consisting of carefully considered plays which are technically your own doing, but still have to exist within the premade structure of Da Game Rulez....) especially when you're a teen

and, the smallness of that statement among the deluge. bruh
Drew 27th Apr 2021, 1:40 PM
I wish I had the eloquence of the other commenters on this page or comic. Just incredible. Bravo.
ambrose 27th Apr 2021, 2:25 PM
*loud sobbing* this was so good!! another banger comic from you! cant wait to see what you do next. your art style is beautiful, your story telling and characters are even better!
jack 27th Apr 2021, 2:55 PM
many things to consider and reread and think about, thank you gray. hope kim'll be alright
(the last shot being a welcome sign does not feel good though)
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 4:31 PM
I’ve never commented before but I had to say, what a beautiful final page to end a great comic.
beet 27th Apr 2021, 5:18 PM
i dont really have the words or thoughts to say how amazing this comic has been! your work is a whole league of its own, absolutely. people have already commented a lot about her tearing off the ward band but the heavy bittersweetness of the panel where kim mutters “i win” really blew me away, followed by the panel below...the skill you have in your craft is immense, and so inspiring!!
i think people have already summarised it better than i could so i just want to say thank you for sharing fresh meat, and thank you for giving us such a powerful story. so excited to see what’s next!
maphym 27th Apr 2021, 5:24 PM
i'm sure i'll have more to say about this/the comic as a whole later as i go over it again but for now i want to say: thank you. i'm so grateful for a comic like this one - especially since it resonates, in many ways, with my own experiences - and i'm glad that i was able to follow it from start to finish.
tabithafan2000 27th Apr 2021, 5:25 PM
thank you for an incredible comic.
dannyspoons 27th Apr 2021, 5:26 PM
dannyspoons
this was such a beautiful experience. thank you.
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 7:03 PM
Aa..I kinda wish there was more but this is a great page. Mostly I want to know if Kim ends up being ok or if she attempts again/succeeds. Really enjoyed this comic
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 7:27 PM
thank you so much for creating yet another wonderful comic. it hit close to home as usual. I love the ending. I loved Kim so much. I'm excited to see your next projects from here on.

It was awesome. Thank you!
gay 27th Apr 2021, 7:44 PM
i have too many thoughts about this to jot down right now, but i do want to point out the symbolism behind the white lilies, which can mean purity, death, rebirth, innocence, and transformation, among other things. lining the stone sign how they are also makes it double as a tombstone. again, very bittersweet to me
Drysherbert 27th Apr 2021, 7:49 PM
I’ve had a heavy night. Reading this broke something in me. I mean that in a positive way. When I was inpatient three times in 2019, the feelings were opposite to what I’m seeing here. Being inpatient made me feel free. And now I understand why. I appreciate all the effort you put into your comics. Have a wonderful night gray.
LD 27th Apr 2021, 8:06 PM
Great work on this comic, thanks for making it
g 27th Apr 2021, 8:10 PM
This ending sequence is gorgeous. I especially love the panel borders ripping as Kim tears off the bracelet and her being no longer walled in for the rest of the page. I don't have words for how much this comic has meant to me. Thank you.
Remi 27th Apr 2021, 8:33 PM
I know you’re expressed anxiety about how the ending would be received + self-described as “bad at endings”, but I want to let you know that I thought this was a beautiful send-off for a well-crafted story. I definitely want to go back and reread everything later now that it’s done.

The colour design of these rooms is so good. Going from the ugly green hallway into that bright, beautiful front-facing waiting room? And then seeing how she’d still rather be outside in the grey dreary rain, rather than locked in that room? Superb. I also liked the call-back to the misunderstanding about the meaning of 'release form'.

The scene where she actually steps outside is so potent. I can just feel it. Embodied. Love love love how you drew the ripples. And breaking the panel borders… visceral.

The ‘department of psychiatry’ sign is very evocative of a gravestone with flowers. I have no idea if that was intentional, since that’s just what those kinds of signs often look like, but it was very striking and eerie to me as a reader. There are so many ways you could take it as a piece of symbolism. The end of the story. Kim's expressed intent to attempt again. The experience of being institutionalized as being separated from the rest of "real life". Idk. Very cool.

Bravo!
Guest 27th Apr 2021, 9:34 PM
loved it. i love that you focused on the interpersonal relationships between patients more than anything else. i related it a lot to my own experience in inpatient- i gained essentially nothing from the group therapies or activities (in fact my experience with the therapists/staff was somewhat traumatic), and yet i've never been back and i feel like i owe that to the people (the patients, not the staff) that I met while i was there. i don't remember any of the staff but i remember the people like me that i met and what i learned from them. really changed my perspective on a lot of things. i never talk about this and nobody in my life now knows i was ever inpatient, so this comic was really cathartic for me to read and be able to identify with so strongly. thanks for another great comic.
snail 27th Apr 2021, 10:38 PM
Wow.... Amazing. Thank you so much for this story. I love it so so so much. The hard work you've put in is so evident, both visual and story-wise. I hope you feel accomplished. ❤️
Peach 27th Apr 2021, 11:39 PM
Wow, it's done! There were so many neat details, like the panel border bulging and then ripping as Kim tears the wristband off with her teeth (which is also a symbol of her new freedom considering how they were about teeth/claws/etc.!), the way the colours move from artificially bright to soft and almost melancholy... and I love how you drew the rain! The sort of funerary vibe from the sign out front and its flowers does add a bit to the sadness, but as some other people said, it's not necessarily over for Kim - she might still struggle in the future, but she has hope now too.

Can't wait to see what you come up with next, but for now, I hope you take a well-deserved rest! Thank you for giving us another fantastic comic, gray.
Mae 28th Apr 2021, 2:02 AM
This was -really- good.
Ransom 28th Apr 2021, 6:28 AM
I let this one simmer before I came to comment, and looking at it again I am still struck by so many things. I love the way the panelling bursts and then slowly more and more of the outside seeps in, like awareness of what's happening and has been happening while Kim has been here is returning after so many of the scenes have felt out of time due to the rigid routine of the ward. She's free, whatever that means and whatever happens after her time here.

The flowers in front of the sign- I believe lilies for sure and daisies (botanically so many flowers have similar structure and can usually only be told apart by other distinguishing features) are interesting because I know lilies are often funeral flowers, but in flower language they can both represent new beginnings. They're also both early perennials which means they come back year after year around rhe same time.

I think that says a lot about cycles- things that we can control and things we can't and how that feeds into everything. There are cycles we cannot break ourselves because society and systemic issues prevent that, because of circumstances that keep us trapped despite wanting to be free of them, and then there are cycles we can- we can try to change behaviors, we can work towards understanding. And it's never a sure thing. Things like meds and therapy and interaction with psychiatric institutions are wildly varied and personal in their ability to help. But sometimes we get a chance to begin again, to get to try and make different choices.

Rain is starting to fall here, and I'm recalling leaving the ER after it started to rain while I had been inside and how the world was so fresh but also so alien when I stepped outside, the smell hitting me like a wave, mineral and green with the wash of damp concrete and blacktop. This last page is a wonderful wrap up. I like the idea of not knowing exactly what happens after this. There's potential for so many outcomes. Kim has learned things here, and what she does with those things are her choice now.


Fallingfeather 28th Apr 2021, 7:44 AM
The power in those last few panels is AMAZING, but to point out something else I really liked on this final page- the bittersweet amusement of having a sign that says "we apologize for the inconvenience" on the exit door of the ward. Like oh, do you now?
Guest of Wind/Raleigh 28th Apr 2021, 9:20 AM
I don't really have anything super profound to say like I did when Drop-Out ended, but this comic as a whole reminds me of how I spent my highschool years repressing and hiding my poor mental health from everyone so I didn't get sent into the psychiatric system, stonewalling/fighting with my therapists so I'd get kicked out of appointments before they decided to institutionalize me, and how not everyone is as lucky to have avoided it. I know this is a bittersweet ending (esp. with how Kim said she's probably going to attempt again) but the headstone-like "Department of Psychiatry" marker makes me look forward to a far future where psychiatry is dead and someone like Kim will never have to go through all of this stuff ever again. I'm actually pretty glad this comic was coming out when I was in uni as opposed to still in highschool (when Drop-Out was airing) because boy howdy was this comic a lot of my worst fears put to "paper" -- but that's a good thing, because besides the fur and feathers on these characters, I think it's good that people are aware of how psychiatry under capitalism, colonialism, and everything else terrible will always hurt lots of people even if it helps/"helps" others.

I also know you've said that some people aren't a fan of how your comics' endings are ambiguous or leave questions about what happens next, but I like it IMO. From what I've seen your comics are very much about specific periods or events in your characters' lives and I think it's good to focus on that! I think this is a perfect ending point for a comic about a teen's first institutionalization.

[cw discussion of suicidal ideation/attempts]
One tiny detail I haven't seen pointed out: I think Kim's wristband says she was admitted on June 17th/19th? IDK when American high school lets out for the year, but in Canada we usually end in mid-June and have exams up until the end of the month. The date on her wristband makes me feel she was concretely ideating throughout the school year and then attempted as soon as school let out because then she had the time/energy to do so. That makes sense to me at least -- when I was in high school, the idea of another year being gone and nothing appearing to be getting better (or getting even worse) made me feel the way Kim did in this comic, like "I'm not supposed to be here, I'm supposed to be dead" from page 39. In Drop-Out there's a page where Sugar talks about people who attempt suicide on impulse ("5 minutes, an hour", page 100 of Drop-out) but honestly? In my personal experience I don't think "impulse" suicide as Sugar defines it is the majority of suicide attempts -- a lot of people have suicidal ideation for a while, and it sounded like that's the case for Kim here too. That's just my personal theory though (*game theory guy voice* A COOOOMIC THEORY-), I know others have their own interpretations.
[/end cw]

Thank you for this gorgeous final page, this entire comic, and I look forwards to your next comic! (iirc the one with Felix? which makes me super excited because CATS CATS CTATS CATSC ATS CATS CAAAAAAAAAAAAA-)
Guest 28th Apr 2021, 1:29 PM
Fuck.
anon 28th Apr 2021, 2:44 PM
This is so unbelievably beautiful and such a perfect end to a perfect story. This entire comic resonated with me in ways I can't even explain. This is one of those things that I will constantly think back on for the rest of my life. It's had such a positive impact on me and I will recommend it to everyone I know. I hope you're doing well and thank you so so much for sharing something so special with us and with the world.
Talon 28th Apr 2021, 7:24 PM
Thank you so much for this comic. I didn't comment on the pages, mostly because for some reason it simply doesn't occur to me to, but also because I feel I often don't have anything particularly inspiring to say. That said, I really enjoyed seeing every update, and watching you work on pages has also been really nice. This page in particular is gorgeous; the lighting on the outdoor panels and the background when there is no panel border - amazing. Thank you again. :)
vhs 28th Apr 2021, 8:59 PM
another very beautiful comic from start to finish. i'm glad to have followed it from the beginning.... thank you very much
Lutzbug 28th Apr 2021, 10:34 PM
Lutzbug
I happened to be reading this page while my spouse and I were playing thunderstorm audio as white noise. Little serendipitous moment that enhanced the mood of the page!

I don't have much to add that other people haven't already said, but thank you for making this comic. Someone close to me was strong-armed into being hospitalized for about a week and it actively made things worse for them. This comic helped me gain a deeper perspective on what they went through, since the bureaucratic rigmarole outlined in the story is accurate to what they described. Same uncaring doctors, rigid procedures, inaccurate diagnoses, excessive medication, and overall bleak atmosphere.

The camera zooming away from Kim to show the hospital and the storm clouds is phenomenal. It gives a strong feeling of stepping out of a grim, stuffy building with recirculated air into the big world that's being cleansed by rain--I can practically smell the ozone and wet earth in the panel where Kim is sniffing the air.

I greatly enjoy the style your work has morphed into over the years. It's very clear, expressive, and almost...bouncy, for lack of a better word? I also like the way you've been rendering form and shadow, it has an almost crystalline effect in places.

Thanks for making this great comic and I'm really looking forward to what you make next.
Guest 29th Apr 2021, 10:01 AM
this comic has been extremely validating, especially after having my repeat visit to the ward sometime during its progression.
reading drop-out gave me me life.
reading this gave me new purpose.
mallory 29th Apr 2021, 12:45 PM
fresh meat has been a rich and thoughtful experience and i and im sure many others would not be the same without it. it has consistently been thought and emotion provoking in really meaningful ways, and provided me a sense of being seen and understood. it's amazing the care you put into it and i can't wait to read it front-to-back fully completed.
i found it while i was waiting for an ambulance at a hospital overnight when only a few pages were out a couple of years ago. i had read drop-out before then but didn't think to check on any new projects until that night. it's made it feel like an intensely personal experience and you have fully displayed your impressive writing capabilities throughout every single page of this comic.

i loved this ending, it was really profound and touching. kim's comment about "winning" on this last page has cemented that... she did play the game and left worse than when she came in, and the hospital did nothing to help her. i really appreciate an ending where kim is not magically getting better, or where we don't see a future where she is suddenly happy and okay. while it's a small triumph to get out of the hospital, she has not won anything or gained any sense of stability or purpose. she has many, many things to experience and learn still. she might not ever get out of the cycle of mental illness and these hospitals will be as hostile and punitive as ever. it's a really down-to-earth ending that feels realistic and meaningful to me, because it reflects experiences that are real for me without putting a spin on them that frames them in a story that is only desirable to tell when there is a storybook ending. there isn't a storybook ending for many of us. there might not be for kim. but we live on and experience the depth of human life anyway.

i'm very excited to see your next comic, and i hope you have a restful break and an easy surgery. thank you for sharing your work.
connor 29th Apr 2021, 5:07 PM
idk if this is intentional or not, but the way kim is holding her arms reminds me of how tabby was gripping her arm when kim was yelling at her in their last conversation. like kim might be mirroring that here to support and comfort herself? idk i don't really know what the implications are if i'm right that they're related, i just thought it was interesting
rexalicious 29th Apr 2021, 8:40 PM
rexalicious
“for the safety of [...] patients, we apologize for any inconvenience” one of my fav parts of your visual symbolism is the recontextualization of commonplace signs or text ...

ur writing fills this perfect niche i haven’t seen anybody else manage to capture or satisfy. its so meticulously crafted, intent dripping from every single line. whenever i reread your work i come away with an entirely fresh understanding of the text. its left a lasting impact on me and i figure so many other people can relate to that. i recommend Drop Out + this comic to every person i can trust - and their reactions are always akin to “WOW INCREDIBLE ALSO THIS IS GOING TO BE FOREVER IMPRINTED ON MY BRAIN”

Thank you so much for creating your art :)
Old Scratch 30th Apr 2021, 8:54 PM
another beautiful comic, I caught up and finished it just after doing a reread of drop out, which made me cry again. they always fill me with great emotion. the quality of art and storytelling are aspirational.
snake 2nd May 2021, 2:35 AM
god... this was a ride....

on the last few pages, especially the suddenness of the release, and then the release getting choked by the neck because of course it isn't over, that's just like real life and of course it's true, it isn't over, there's still outpatient and there's still smashing the bits of you left into the ground to make you remember that you're still there

and that sniff-- the rain-- the rain has such a smell and after being stuck inside so long, it must've been amazing. taking the wristband off, seeing the scars that are still under because, yeah, it was punishment and the damn asylum was punishment, and all that danger of claws and teeth and predators and not just pulling it off but biting it off-- fuck, what an ending.
snake 2nd May 2021, 2:43 AM
forget if i mentioned this but... the griffin saying sign this to begin with kim saying no, and then kim agreeing to sign it in the end... being broken down, that's one of the things that happens and how kim gets released, too, not unchanged... the symmetry is really nice and also teeth-grinding.

kim's "i win" as an answer to owlhead's stupid, terrible, cruel dialogue, and all the dialogue moments where someone says something and she takes a moment to process, yeah. it's all there of what it's a ghost of and in the end it is.
snake 2nd May 2021, 2:48 AM
oh! one more thing: the soft lighting feels like the most natural lighting of the whole comic, no intense shades that look jarring and colorful, sickly green hues and artificial lights that make kim look pink... which is the opposite of how these things usually are i think. there's a 'sane' palette where we're introduced to the world and then an 'insane' one when we get into weird shit in most things, but this... this was dissonant when we entered and a little bit of peace and calm and normalcy in the end. oh... and the breaking of the comic borders as the band breaks, to go into the rough-edged brush strokes of watercolor (i think?) that extend outwards.
snake 2nd May 2021, 2:51 AM
one more thing... the euphoria of leaving, i had that, and then i went back in because life outside hadn't gone any better, and that next time i was forced in a different way. so... this kind of ending scene is both beautiful because obviously, in-no-other-terms is leaving better, it isn't safety, not quite, because if we hadn't heard anything else from the last few pages "safety" isn't what it's going to be, but... peace. yeah.
getcitywater 2nd May 2021, 10:41 AM
alright. i’m...there’s no obligation to read any of this. i’m gonna reread from start to finish and just comment on various things. this’ll probably take course over a few days, so bear with me. and it’ll definitely get less wordy as i continue, as to not sound redundant but it’s still gonna be LOOONG

but i want to say beforehand, this entire story is so incredibly important to me as someone who’s been involuntarily hospitalized, someone with an overbearing east asian parent, and also as someone who just... wanted a way out.

i started reading drop-out round the uh, abandoned house scene; will toledo dropped a link on his twitter around the time that scene dropped and i just. saw that page and immediately started from the top and followed through. so this is my first of your works that i’ve seen start to finish.
i hope, you realize what you do for so many people. that’s not meant to put pressure on you, i’m just saying that the work you put forth, out of passion and creativity, is something so special and so worth beholding.
anyway. here’s my uh, start to finish commentary, starting now.
-


right before the title page, kim looking back at the closed and locked door with... panic and worry. Boy does that hit harder. it’s like she immediately realized “wait. wait. am i... wait what’s happening.”

deeper into the belly of the beast as it were. fascinating.
i love the “you’re lucky you’re not going to jail” comment when... almost immediately after kim is presented with a form that states that she doesn’t have the same basic rights as someone NOT institutionalized.

i wish i was as brave and outspoken as kim is as a teenager. i think that’s part of why i didn’t... relate to her as much is just bc i was very... “well behaved” and not outspoken like she is. it’s admirable. i like her a lot more than i did at first.

i try to understand the reasonings of any character in any media but. wow. the hyena/raven nurse is just... purely sadistic. i cannot excuse her behavior at all. i know often the answer to “well why would you go into this field then if you’re this callous” is just bc they... want the power over emotionally compromised people, but i just. gosh.

also outdoor access when reasonable lmaoooo when was that. like once? on “camera” anyway.

fuck the wolf nurse too btw. “only following orders” ass bitch. she’s like the kinda person who went into this field bc she’s “compassionate” but completely ignores the human rights violations going on right before her eyes because... what. because it’s “just the way things go”?? spineless.

you’ve gotten several comments about how well executed the sequence is with kim being... fucking drugged and then officially moved to inpatient but just WOW. yeah. yeah.

i kept thinking about “well you must be a very gentle soul... Do not take that off.” during the last page. that was like... everyone in this facility so far has just been INSISTING that Kim do something. wake up. come over here. sign this form. take your clothes off. do not take that off.
and when you’re 17 and have overbearing shitty parents, it’s like. can i just fucking. have. something. can i just stop getting told what to do for FIVE MINUTES—

it must be so weird for her like... being an actively suicidal person, who just wanted to fucking die, now being forcefully institutionalized and having absolutely NO idea what’s going on or when she’s getting out or what she even has to DO to get out...
hm. that makes me wonder how she got into the hospital at all. i imagine... one of her parents found her overdosed or something and called the ambulance? didn’t even come with her.
it’s so sad.

oh my GODDDD i just realized the “try not to think with ‘what if’” judy says and how sugar mentions that towards the end of drop-out i’m gonna scream. how on earth do you manage to maintain all of these parallels, it’s astounding.

going back to my previous comment about how kim ended up here, she mentions that her parents don’t know she’s there yet. maybe i was mistaken, or maybe... well kim probably wouldn’t remember what happened between her overdosing and ending up at the hospital period so she might not think that’s how she got there. she’s just focused on getting out. i just think it’s interesting that she seems to miss them considering they’re arguably a huge chunk of the reason she OD’d in the first place, but maybe it’s the sense of familiarity she’s after.

the entire sequence on pages 29 and 30 is just. hysterical and i love it so much

“you know you don’t actually have to go to those, right?” 👀 wonder if kim will remember that later.

i know it’s unfortunately quite common but how do you just not care about your own fucking kid like this hsjdjsGRHRHRHFEG

LOVE how fink blatantly ignores the obvious “my parents are emotionally manipulative and neglectful” part of kim talking and immediately opts for making fun of having “big emotions” as a, ahem, fucking teenager

i’m just realizing that kim mentions she has a psychiatrist (before fink) but not a therapist. same as me. my psych is cool... he just kinda tosses pills my way as i need them. but. as for intensive, meaningful therapy... kim’s SOL.

“then you can do whatever you want.” hhhhhhhhHHH.

ugh gosh. the fucking, snow leopard lynx or whatever he is ass; sorry i’m not meaning to, discount your efforts to illustrate a certain species but i just. hate this guy lol i don’t give a fuck about humanizing him. get a job at a warehouse or something if you hate people this bad.

garbage asshole. reminds me so much of the psych i saw towards the end of my commitment. punchable face. sorry.

mm, i just noticed the uh, bumpers? on the corners of the desks and such. that’s interesting. at my facility everything was uh, kind of automatically rounded. i didn’t notice at first but in retrospect... yeah. it’s like. baby proofing. i get why it’s done but... doesn’t make it any less humiliating.

carmilla... what is your problem girl. she’s 17. that’s uh. that’s all i’ll say for now.
i don’t remember sleeper lockout being a thing at my ward but it may as well have been.

when sugar says “most people here aren’t like me” i wonder if kim remembers when she was talking about her big emotions with fink, and how no one understands. if she thinks HER brain is broken, and looks at sugar who is going through a pretty intense treatment for it, i wonder how it makes kim feel about her own brain now.

i.... STILL don’t understand why the newt cat thought carmilla would draw a penis. like it’s hilarious but also?????? what. then again the therapist is clearly uh. How do I put this... an airhead.

it’s very fascinating see kim utilize things she’s learned both from the therapy and the patients here. all of this information and different experiences of everyone and... fairly incompetent staff must be confusing as hell for her, but she’s trying. her mentioning “i can control myself” WRT her nails, after speaking with lupe and carmilla about control, is very nice. she CAN control herself, her actions... but is that the point? she still wants to die. nothing has helped her with that; quite the opposite.

interesting also to see her mention she needed a break from her mom and dad, after supposedly not understanding why miss whittacker and lou have sort of done the same for their spouses. even though her intention was to die, and she really wants to go home... many suicide attempts are rash decisions. i imagine that’s even more true for teenagers, let alone teenagers in abusive or neglectful households.

skajdjsiwjsdnndn the shaggy face was SUCH a good touch it absolutely floors me

man. i really love kim and sugar’s relationship in this story. it took a full reread to really appreciate how close they got and how much sugar had an impact on kim and vice versa. kim’s last comment about “if it was about help and trying hard then you wouldn’t be here” is really sweet because she recognizes that sugar IS trying hard. i wonder if anyone else has told her that before, even if it was sort of indirect.

ugh the last page is so good. so so so so so good. everyone’s probably already said it but, the borders breaking, the symbolism of kim using her teeth to “free herself” from the facility’s grasp on her, not being able to use her claws, the fucking flowers and the giant WELCOME sign, the LAST LINE!!!!!!!!!

good. very good. absolutely brilliant. thank you again.
Al E. Gator 2nd May 2021, 2:18 PM
I loved your story. Fresh Meat captures feelings and mind sets to a beautiful and terrifying degree in a way that feels so unique and more relatable than ive personally ever seen elsewhere. Thank you for giving me something to think about.
trueouchys 2nd May 2021, 6:13 PM
trueouchys
this is indescribable. thank you so so so much 💛
pidge 3rd May 2021, 12:12 AM
I haven't had to go to a mental hospital in a long time and I'd sort of repressed some of the memories of the experience, but this comic really resonated with me and helped me process some stuff.
It'll be 12 years this June since my last stay in a place so very much like the wing you depicted here. I hope I never have to go back and neither do you. Healing is possible, I think.

Thank you for sharing this with us.
gabe 5th May 2021, 9:41 AM
i've been following this comic since day #1 & it's so bittersweet to see it end, but i'm so excited to reread it-- i had the same experience with dropout, the difference between reading pages with weeks in between versus rereading it all in a night... i think it kinda mirrors how kim must've felt irt time, both it stretching endlessly but also the comic encapsulates such a small moment in time!

when i first read this page, what caught me were the LILIES. major tombstone vibes, but it felt less like kim's & more like the death of the psych dept. as if kim is standing victorious over the body of a monster... but, it's not entirely a joyful moment. there's relief i think, but it feels somber. i'm thinking of all the people who end up 'buried' in the psych system like some kind of limbo...

the stark color difference between this page & the artificial lighting within the ward/hospital reminds me of something folkloric too, with the main character being welcomed back to the "Real World." (altho the welcome sign technically faces away from kim, welcoming those entering the microcosm of the ward). kim has escaped yet still has the mundane cruelty of the Real World ahead of her. at least it's familiar?

the way she literally rips herself out of the constraints of the story she's in, back into the world, makes me hopeful. i'm not so focused on if kim attempts again--the point to me, in this moment, is that she finally regained some part of autonomy. her story is hers to tell again, & she no longer just becomes a Suicidal Teen Case Study in the eyes of the psych system. in order to leave she had to give up autonomy, & it's nice to see her first action to reclaim it. i hope her & every other patient in the comic manage to find peace & happiness in whatever way they can!


i absolutely love your work & your stories, & wish you luck on your next piece & in your life in general!!
hope 5th May 2021, 2:16 PM
WAAAAAAAAAH. ill have to come back with real thoughts later. pure emotion for my first impression.
Kim2 9th May 2021, 10:03 AM
Sorry I have barely commented while reading this (I'm not great at wording stuff) this might be kind of long because of that!
I found Fresh Meat after binge reading Drop Out, and it was nice to read this week by week, really had time to breath and properly appreciate each page (as opposed to the frantic O_O what's gonna happen?! Click click Of Drop-Out haha.) It really makes Kim's whole ordeal feel like it stretched on forever for me as well as Kim.
I like how Kim's leaving feels so abrupt - even though so much in the comic has been leading up to that. When the gloomy corridor suddenly opens up and everythings flooded with natural light. It's so cheerful looking it's jarring.
I dunno...I have no experience of being in hospital but it really captures that specific feeling of.. being in this place and meeting all these people you will (probably) never meet again, suddenly leaving and realising "oh, it's over." The sudden ending of an important part of your life I guess?

The panel wear Kim rips off her wristband is maybe my favourite of the whole comic...(Bisexual Kim is close). I feel like the whole comic was building up for that emotional climax in ripping the damn thing off. It's really good. Love her triumphant smile too.
Actually the last 2 panels are my favourites too... just really beautiful...I like how the puddles reflections merge into the sky (rainclouds?).

Don't know how to interpret the ending...it's beautifully done and I can't imagine a better line to end it on.
I like to think there is hope in Kim's future, despite the hospital probably damaging her worldview further. I believe some of the other patients helped mitigate that though.

Also just have to say I'm so impressed by how real and relatable your characters feel, and your storytelling in general. So many characters in this I resonate with so strongly. Except the staff. They suck. (But also in a very unfortunately realistic way.)
You can really see how much thought and care you put into Fresh Meat.
Also congrats Kim on not being pregnant twice.
Vampiric 11th May 2021, 9:29 AM
That destruction of the border was brilliant. I’m growing to love these open-ended stories, how the characters reach an important resolution, yet there is clearly so much more to go. You could keep telling the story, but leaving it open reflects its contents pretty well, I feel. Mental health is a constant thing, it doesn’t really have a defined ‘end’.
Anyway. I was introduced to your stuff through drop-out and immediately after finishing it (in one night), I found this, at about page... 30, I want to say. This has been cool. I just check in on the progress in an open tab on my phone every now and then, and it’s a casual reading experience, somehow, despite the somewhat heavy content. It’s an interesting feeling, and I like it. Excited to see where you go next.
sid 14th May 2021, 12:56 PM
finished comics are difficult to find, let alone comics that were planned from the beginning that are narratively complete - even then, they tend towards years and years of updates, often interspersed with long hiatuses. this is why im always so, so impressed by both drop-out and fresh meat. time and time again this artist manages to organize something and see it through to create a gorgeous piece of art; a story with meaning told through a medium that the artist clearly knows well. the amount of self-discipline and planning that it takes to create an entire comic start to end is an incredible feat on its own. super professional, a great display of a large amount of skills and mastery of the medium.

this all being said, im also so glad that this artist KNOWS what theyre doing with the level of literacy that their work requires readers to have. as someone with minimal experience with anything that fresh meat depicts, there were certainly parts that went over my head - and thats okay! what i did understand and learn i fucking loved. the character and environment designs were delicious, and the lighting was always a visual treat that i looked forward to every week.

what you get out of fresh meat is directly related to what you put in - BUT, and this is important to me, you are not punished for not understanding! you can obtain context through lots of means, but if you don't have those skills or simply don't want to, the option to enjoy at face value is still there. and what you are given at face value is a very gorgeous comic with wonderful, interesting characters. even if you cant put words to what youre feeling, fresh meat is a visually stunning comic that stands as a thoughtful piece of art.

thank you so much for this comic!
enistoja 20th May 2021, 7:11 PM
thank you for sharing this comic
a random person named Kit 23rd May 2021, 10:07 AM
I needed this comic.
csepp 27th May 2021, 12:57 PM
wow. thank you for creating this. i don't have the words to describe how this made me feel, other than maybe "wow, mood". it really resonated with how i experienced school, which i realize isn't quite the same as these institutes, but damn, i recognized a lot of parallels with things people said to me back then. i also had a friend in elementary school who almost bragged about having been sent to a "youth correctional facility" (in Hungary, not sure what the US equivalent is), and... wow, i mean, they were not exactly nice, but now i empathize with them a lot more. i wish i gave them a proper chance at being friends.

(ps.: maybe i missed it, but was there an official reason why transcripts were dropped? i very enthusiastically recommended it as "finally an excellent (web)comic that has transcipts". is there any chance they'll be added later?)
Nobody 27th May 2021, 7:34 PM
Nobody
they weren't dropped. the latest transcript was added 5 days ago. finishing the transcripts is on my to-do list before ending my hiatus and moving on to the next comic.
SquishyCorgi 28th May 2021, 9:11 AM
Lovely story, I enjoyed reading it and watching how you carefully illustrated each scene to make the most impact on the reader. I could definitely sympathize with Kim, as I have been in and out of psych wards sense my early teenage years. It seems once you go to one, it always draws its way back into your life.
Though I do have a question, is it different across other mental facilities to let them out without someone being present to pick them up, or was this just for the sake of rapping up the comic? I only ask because even in my adult years I had to have someone present to "collect" me before they would let me out. They would always require them to sign papers of release of my care into their custody. I am sure it might be different at other hospitals, but this has been my experience with the past 5.
Regardless, thank you for sharing the story, I was a pleasure to read!
Nobody 28th May 2021, 12:11 PM
Nobody
hasn't been my experience. it's probably different per facility, but sounds like a really unfortunate practice, as it means that anyone without the support network to have someone pick them up has to just stay there indefinitely? either way, it wasn't something i intentionally left out. my experience may simply not be the norm.
quiet 31st May 2021, 9:37 PM
in my experience, it differs from place to place. i was able to go free without anyone present to pick me up on a few occasions at a few places, after i told them that i lived far from anyone who could and that i'm completely on my own. i think it really depends on your case, too.
Guest 30th May 2021, 8:03 AM
Hi gray,

On another site, you comment that this ending was intentionally left ambiguous in relation to post-fresh meat kim, and I just wanted to come here to say thank you for the level of consideration to do so.

This feels like the most respectful ending for the topics present, in relation to both my own personal struggles with mental illness, and in relation to others I know. It's comforting, it's authentic, it's real, and it's beautifully handled. May your comic hiatus be plenty restful, I cannot again thank you enough for sharing this creation with all of us
Moya 17th Jun 2021, 1:43 AM
I found this comic about 2/3 weeks ago through drop out, have already read through it twice ! thinking of reading again already too... though ive never been in a ward like kim's, something about the character's struggles hits really close to home for me (maybe sanitary environments with control issues, hopelessnees, etc) this, paired with your amazing story-telling ability through the way you set scenes and the interesting shots you use make this a really really good read! thank you, gray, for a comic I didn't know I needed
sam 20th Jun 2021, 6:46 PM
hi gray, i've been reading this comic since the beginning when my friend showed it to me but i've been too shy to comment. i really love the stories you tell and the care and deliberation with which you tell them. your color choices are breathtaking and the way you use panels to expand on the characters' emotions has taught me a lot about using more than just the characters' expressions to convey moods. thank you so much for sticking with this comic and seeing it through to the end. i know life isn't always great and it gets in the way of art a lot so like... i know it was a huge task to get through this whole story, and it's really wonderful to see kim finally get out (even if it's unclear what choices she makes after that). i want to hope that maybe she has a journey similar to sugar and lola's, and that things will be okay for her someday.
Guest 26th Jun 2021, 8:25 PM
This is such a powerful comic. Reading it kept my spirits up when I was considering institutionalization. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.