Fight Off Millennial Malaise with “Octopus Pie”
Written and drawn by Meredith Gran (who you might know from the Adventure Time spin-off Marceline and the Scream Queens) Octopus Pie centers on the misadventures of curmudgeonly Brooklyn twenty-something Eve Ning (pun totally intended). Burdened with an overbearing boss, a deep reservoir of emotional dissatisfaction, and a near constant loathing for pretty much everyone she meets, Eve tries to navigate the muddy waters between post-college adolescence and “full blown adulthood.” She is aided (though more often hindered) by her roommate Hannah, a seemingly carefree stoner with a home baking business and idealistic live-in boyfriend, whose antics usually thrust Eve into all manner of awkward situations, not that Eve has any trouble finding those on her own.
Joining Eve and Hannah is a wonderfully strange cast of friends, family, exes, archenemies, hipsters, anthropomorphic lobsters, Ren Fair nerds, and Secret Coffee Societies. Each chapter is usually framed as a self-contained story, ranging widely in plots but usually focusing on topics that most young people will be familiar with: apartment hunting, watching your parents grow older, breakups, the nostalgia for childhood. While the humor sometimes hinges on the bizarre (Eve catapults herself out of a window at least twice), underneath all the absurdity lies a very real undercurrent of emotion, which taps into the frustrations, fears, desires, loss, and at times disillusionment of young people as they attempt to figure out who they are and what they really want.
Accompanied by a cute yet poignant art style, Octopus Pie manages to be both a love letter to the urban Young Adult and a scathing satire of that same demographic. While I loathe to actually use the word “Millennial,” the humor and narrative targets exactly those of us who grew up in the 90′s who are now longing for some semblance of control or stability. Eve’s real struggles, extreme laser tag battles aside, are largely internal, as she is torn between what is comfortable and what is fulfilling. Through her eyes we see rictus-grinning caricatures of Internet celebrities, post-grad slackers, overzealous baristas, and more, all of whom, when developed through Gran’s deft hand and careful pacing, are revealed to all be simply people, searching for identity in a city that will not wait for them to catch up.
Octopus Pie is great for a laugh and sometimes a cry, though much like life, things are never bleak for very long. If you’re like me, what this comic will give you is a sense of clarity, and a reminder that despite all your self-doubt, emotional turmoil, romantic regrets, and occasional growing-pains, there’s always room for optimism (no matter how hesitant), friendship (no matter how weird), and love (no matter how many times your cat throws up on you).
Octopus Pie is currently 43 chapters long, with two collected volumes available for purchase.