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Reunion Page 13: Photograph

Reunion Page 13: Photograph published on 119 Comments on Reunion Page 13: Photograph

Today’s a big day for Skin Deep! We’re finally starting to get some answers for the age-old question of “What is Anthony’s Deal.”

My Paradox Space comic, Party Crashers, is still going up this week, so please check that out, if you haven’t already!


So she was in Some kind of govermint project?

Are you referring to her life as a harpy (where she might have lived in an Avalon, whose “government” of elders could be said to run an ongoing “project” of staying the heck out of sight), or to her change to human shape (which even those elders likely wouldn’t touch with a 20 ft mage’s staff)?

Knew it, she had a secret! (And I totally only just saw the replies to mine on last week’s comic!) BUT… This still leaves the issue of… ANTHONY IS A DUDE… And a HARPY, who are traditionally 100% female with 0% variation from that norm! Must be a side-effect of whatever magic was used to turn his mother human…!

It’s possible that spells used to make medallion-less species appear human were an attempt to give “monsters” the same opportunities medallion-possessing species had: a means to pass undetected amongst humans.

Unfortunately, this kind of magic may or may not be prone to creating people like Tony. People who are not “supposed” to exist, because of the way the species is supposed to work.

It could also explain why Ike exists in the first place. The spell that made his dad look human might have leaked into him.


I see other (less likely) possibilities here as well:

* Some harpies can be XY (designated male) and, well, harpies, due to super rare mutations.
* Tony is intersex to some extent? Surgery is often used to assign a sex to the baby right after birth in these cases.

I dunno, I just thought those were kind of neat…

(Oh boy, does that spell more Ike in the future? I’m willing to bet his manticore dad did something similar to Ophelia…)

My running theory about harpies since I read way back when Tony first changed was that, perhaps, male harpies are actually fairly rare, or the species is simply a naturally female-dominated species(Such as with hyenas). Females dictated that males stayed home to care for the children, so only females ever got seen to the point that outside certain collectives of harpies, the males were simply assumed to not exist.

We will see next week how this pans out, though, and I can’t wait! :)

There’s such a thing as XX phenotypic male, where people tend not to find out they’re intersex until they try to have kids and can’t. They do tend to have feminine traits, but not always enough to raise alarm bells. (he looks shorter than his mom- normally guys are taller, that may be related)

He doesn’t necessarily have to have gotten surgery as a baby to be intersex, or even to have any outward traits of it. The question is what “harpies are always female” defines as female. Vulva, vagina, uterus, ovaries, XX chromosomes, specific hormone levels- all of those are mixed into what we call “female” and not everyone has this specific combination. If it means “born with XX chromosomes”, then someone with XX male syndrome would qualify despite outwardly having every appearance of being male.

I hope that’s not the way they’re going, though, in part because he’s going through enough. Finding out he’s intersex and also very likely sterile on top of all this would be awful.

It was established a while back in Q&A that, as a general rule, myth-folk with part-human forms can mate with each other, or with humans, unassisted by medallions. So, Ophelia didn’t *need* to “pull a ‘little mermaid'” in order to be with Tony’s dad. It just made things easier, especially if he didn’t know what she was. And, it’s one hell of a commitment to make.

I’m guessing that, in the usual way of things, harpy offspring gender presents a flip-side of the rule for werewolves in Kelley Armstrong’s “Women of the Otherworld” series. In those books (and the recent cable-TV series named for the first book, “Bitten”), when werewolf men mate with human women, their sons will always be born werewolves and their daughters will always be humans. (The book’s heroine is the first known exception to the rule that women don’t survive the transformation after being bitten.)

If I’m right, the daughters of a harpy are, or at least can be, harpies, while the sons are human or whatever. (Abby may have brothers who are satyrs like her father.)

But, the usual way of things doesn’t include sorcerer spells that transform monsters into humans. Suddenly, there’s a new set of dice in the game. . .

I’m confused, I didn’t think a harpy could hide/transform.

i suspect that she was subject to the same sort of form alterning magic that Ike’s manticore father was under.

which explains how tony can be a male harpy.. he’s a harpy-human hybrid. :) when that magic gets involved, the normal rules get bent.

More like the rules get thrown out of the window.

I just love how in panel 2, he’s just bracing himself for her freaking out, and then all she does is comment about his feathers. I think at this point, she’s more nervous than Tony is.

This should help Tony a lot. He now knows what he’s supposed to be, and he doesn’t have to worry about his mom anymore. I’m expecting there’ll be more explanations in the following pages. Really looking forward to it.

Problem with that ‘what he is supposed to be’ thinking, Hikari.
First off, what he is supposed to be, isn’t supposed to exist. At all.
Second, what Anthony was raised to Believe he is, is what he thinks he is supposed to be.

Doesn’t have to worry about his mother any more…. Headdesk Error!
After this, how long will it take for him to trust her again?

Well, I didn’t say it would help him completely, but getting at least answers as to WTF is going on will probably do wonders to help him accept what’s happened. I’m more going down a checklist in my head of all the issues Tony was stressing out about in Exchanges going “Okay, so that’s resolved now, and that…” cause it’s one less thing for him to stress over, at least. Things are still gonna need a ton of work though.

His mom might not have told him because she was trying to hide what she was, and since Tony’s a male, she probably didn’t think her being a Harpy would have any consequences. Unfortunately, in the last story arc, we found out that spells to turn monsters to humans can have some rather undesirable effects on the offspring. Still, if Tony at least can understand and accept her reasoning for her doing whatever she did (since we don’t know the details yet), I don’t think he’ll hold it against her too much. Plus, even if Tony can’t become a human again, at least his mom could tell him more about how to be a harpy, and help him adjust. He’d have to REALLY go off the angsty-teen end to cut her off completely. Obviously though, his mom’s still worried about the fallout from the reveal, given her nervous expressions on this page. Considering he still speaks to the friend who he blamed for all this, I don’t think he’s the type to cut ties with his mother. Personally, if I was in Tony’s situation, I’d just be relieved to be able to speak to my parent about everything without them freaking out or potentially disowning me.

Buuuut, we don’t know for sure, it’s all just a guess. That’s why I said…the next few pages are gonna be interesting.


That’s why I come back every week.

This just gets better and better.

And I guess we’ll find out how turn-me-human spells work very soon? Including unintended side-effects?

Or more likely, how they don’t last.
Looks like Tim was right. Spells interacting, with the one keeping Anthony human, being slowly erased by the one in the Nokk Medallion.

Wow. This is big! Utterly worldshaking.

Harpies don’t have medallions. They can’t normally become human, and no one knows how to make new medallions. If Ophilia found a way around that which works for all “monsters”, things are going to shake up.

Also, I’d like to point out how brilliantly this reveal was. Madame U’s first hunch was right all along, but nobody believed it to be true, even her.

I’m now wondering who came up with this spell.
We now have 2 known Monster species turned human by such a spell.
Ike’s unnamed father (a manticore), and now Ophelia Gillis (an allelean harpy).

… and once Tony realizes that his mother did the very “turn normal (= human) again” he desires, he’ll go “TellMeTellMeTellMeTELLME” all over her and she’ll be no less unavailable for interrogation by Tim, the elders, or whoever than Ike’s dad is. :-}

Oh dear lord, Ophilia, what did you do?

Also, how was that picture staying in her sleeve? They look really baggy.

probably pockets. wen you have baggy clothes liek that you can easly sew in pockets to hold stuff.
the chinese royal court functionaries ages back used to have similar in their formal robes, because it was handier than ones on their pants or outside of the robe, and pulling items from sleeve pockets fit into court protocol better.

I’m now wondering just who took that photo.

I’m wondering the same thing. Evidently she had another friend who was a rule breaker. Or possibly a camera with a delay and a tripod?

How would a harpy get a camera with delay and a tripod? Then get the negatives quietly developed?
Having another member of their rule breaking band, being the one who did take the photo, is what does seem to make sense.

> How would a harpy get a camera with delay and a tripod?

“Hey! Someone stole our camera!”
“What? HOW!? Unless he has wings, he would’ve had to carry it and the whole f-ing tripod right past us … !”

> Then get the negatives quietly developed?

That CAN be done the DIY way …

… still, *someone* from the merry bunch being sufficiently close to human shape to pass as one with a bit of disguise is still the simpler explanation for both, *if* available.

Maybe they took a picture in Avalon, but weren’t suposed to keep it after they transformed?

Because she specifically says, “We weren’t supposed to take photographs at all”.

Hence, the statement: “We weren’t supposed to take photographs at all, but Uh… I never liked rules very much.”

Meaning that it didn’t matter what the rules state. Just because there’s a rule doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to break them any way.

And so um… (and with all due respect) ehem… “The Existence of a law or rule does not constitute Absolute Evidence towards and/or for the lack of activity objectively to said law or rule. DUH.” Just look at a similar law that existed at nearly the same time period. Prohibition. Exactly how many people followed that (at the time) Constitutional Law? The answer Not even close to zero.

Hippie Harpies are still hippies, who are nothing more than pacifistic peace loving rebels at heart.

Oh man, now I have to wait to find out what Tony’s mom’s story is! GAAAAAAAH SUSPENSE!!! D:

DARNIT! That I was close with the siren, yet it was the simple answer. Well played Kory.

I’m on Patreon, so I’ve had a few days to adjust, but I’m still kinda bummed that my carefully thought-out siren theory was wrong. The harpy angle is interesting, though. I look forward to seeing where this is going.

Okay then I was all aboard the siren train too. But I can roll with this. So here is some new head canon. Sirens ARE harpies. Perhaps some merfolk types too like nixies. More like a group. Or commune? I can’t think of the right word… Gang? Instead of a species. A group of monsters who would terrorize ancient humans because they could. Perhaps they’re one of the reasons the elders set up the avalons and the rules for hiding themselves from humans came into practice…

What I’d like to know is if the person that made Ophelia human was the same person that made Ike’s dad human…If there is a connection I am eagerly awaiting its reveal. :)

My brain went there too. I would imagine that monster-to-human is not an easy spell to learn to pull off. There only being one sorcerer anywhere near England in the 70s and 80s who was willing and able to do it isn’t too much of a stretch to believe.

I do believe sphinx are supposed to be pretty handy with magic, no? A certain Michael Jocasta used to make jewelry and would have been alive at the time Ike’s father and Anthony’s mother had this change occur. I am suspicious of a connective thread somewhere in here!

Poor Tony, at least now he sort of has answers, but that begs the question, why hasnt his mum said something and more to the point, probably knew that Tony’s best mate for all his life is a white stag from the Avalon, was it some kind of deal that had been set up before hand?

What is the girl on the left? She has no medallion. Is she a spinx or a harpy? Anthony’s mother is and was beautiful.

A harpy like Abbie, I suppose.

This damn wonderful comic is gonna end with us finding out there’s no such thing as humans and literally everyone is just an unturned monster

“You’re a magic person! YOU’RE a magic person! I’M a magic person! Is there any magical people I’ve forgotten?!”

Realistically speaking, if what Jim said in Orientations is true, that all descendants of a medallion-disguised non-human will be Unturned no matter how thin the bloodline gets, Unturned probably would have out-bred humans, those of European decent anyway, after a few centuries.

I read somewhere that roughly a third of the population of Europe can trace their ancestry back to Charlemagne. That’s one man. Now consider that the medallions allowed something like a few thousand non-humans to have children with humans and have those children almost always be non-humans with a flawless human disguise, who would then have children with humans with the same results. Those descendents then proceeded to disperse over several continents, keeping the process going the whole time.

Either something disrupts the inheritance process on a semi-regular basis, or there’s a couple billion Unturned in the Skin Deep universe.

That’s a good theory, but you gotta remember Punnet Squares. If someone is a medallion-wearing non human and the other is a human, there is a chance that one side is dominant and the other is recessive; ie one gene will always trump the other. This means that it’s possible that some kids will be non human and some human. That still doesn’t mean they don’t have the inhuman gene and they can pass it on to their children. Take a look at Sam, for example. Everyone suspects him to be human because his mummy was human. Punnet Square stuff.

Does anybody else wonder why Anthony’s mom thinks it’s bad that Anthony had his wings clipped?

I’m curious, unless it was just a means of starting a conversation. unless of course she is referring to the fact it would take a long time for the feathers to grow back, which they will. Perhaps she is also thinking that he will miss the oppertunity to take flight, for a while at least.

I tought about it some more, she says HE cut his feathers…so she might not be talking about the clipping, Blanche’s mom did that.

That woud mean that what she sees might be a small injury left from when Anthony DID cut his feathers off (pretty badly), the spot she touches is the same too…

Indeed she does touch the same spot that Tony cut his feathers, it is likely he may have some injury, but from looking at the page when he did cut them, he cut the feathers much further up the stalks. However since Ophelia was with Adelle for at least a little while she cold have told Ophelia what Tony had done, and she is just commenting on that it probably wasnt the smartest thing to have done either, just finding it hard putting that into words.
Think also that Ophelia is now appearing to be human, and so might also be missing being a harpy as well, especially seeing Tony like that.

Good point, it’s true that Adelle cod have told her, they can’t have talked very long, but i can see why it would pop up in a conversation.

As for Ophelia…I just can’t imagine how she must be feeling right now. In her picture, she seemed quite happy as a harpy(no pun intended), she had friends and everything, for some reason she gave that up, and now it comes back, quite a few years later…it’s kind of sad even.

Yeah its sad, your right!
Ophelia gave all of that up to start a life as a human, but for what end? she was obviously human when she and Tony’s father where together hence Tony being born. Having said that he was a sailor too and left them both son included, but we dont know why. He may have been a sailor, but he also could have been in the Navy and may have been KIA, perhaps something to do with a war or something so was KIA, or MIA hence his no return.

Well…whatever happens, it’ll probably cause quite the turmoil for all parties involved.

I can’t wait for the next couple pages to know more, but at the same time i’m not looking forward to the grief/angst/anger/etc that is likely to happen.

You and me both.
It will be hard for both Tony and his mother.
I guess it would be even worse if they bump into Abie as well another Harpy in the Avalon, although Tony already met her and for some reason they gave him booze, yet he is underage, I guess laws dont have the same meaning in Avalons as they do outside them.

No Turboshed.
What you missed is whether or not The Underground is an actual Licensed Premises, and whether or not either Tim and/or Abbie have Personal Licenses to sell alcohol.
Odds on, considering what the LA is and how secretive it is, I’d think they did not have such licenses, and so the Laws as such simply don’t apply.

A naval sailor KIA or MIA, I don’t think so.
Heartaches Exchanges page 24
When Anthony was asked by Tim about his father, he didn’t say that his father was dead, merely that “He left a long time ago.”, very likely whilst Anthony was still an infant, else he’d have had some memories of his father, rather than only knowing what he’s been told his father was.

I wholeheartedly agree with that, Tim’s dialog in this page now makes total sense actually, humans/humanity entering the equation can cause some pretty unusual stuff.

As for Anthony’s father, maybe he found out the truth and just could not deal with it, heck, anthony had a lot of trouble dealing with it for a while…he ended up being kinda forced to.

I really don’t want Anthony trying to just run away from this either.

The normal literary narrative imperative way of managing what Anthony is going through, is that no matter ho much he tries to deny what he is, something WILL happen which ends up making him accept and like what he now is.
I hope Kory does not do this.

yeah, i kinda knew i had it wrong…and it’s very true that what would normally happen in a story in such a situation wouldn’t happen the same in real life, a lot of things are like that.

Whatever ends up happening, i think i’d rather find out than guess until i have it right

I wonder if they’re a bit less worried about taking photos in this modern age. If somebody saw one who wasn’t supposed to?

“Holy catfish, what’s THAT?”

“Photoshop, dude.”

“Oh. Yeah. Cool!”

Think they’ll have to invent a name for a “male harpy?” Maybe a “Harpo?” Tony could carry a little bike horn around…

Not just the photoshopping, but also all of the people out there for are or have fursonas or are furries in some what and make the suits etc, or like to do other photoshoots dressed as creatures,Halloween costumes.

Tony would be a prretty available bachelor if he is the only one or a rare oddity, but we shall see what Kory says about male Harpy.

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