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Guest commentary by Aaron Neathery:

Bleak, even for me.  Dave's modest longings in the face of such unimaginable carnage are very, very human.  In the original Albert outline, Al was to attempt to hold together his bland, predictable daily routine despite the fact that the population of the city he lived in was more than half dead...trying in vain to pay for gasoline as the cashier lays dead behind the counter or resorting to making his own Big Macs in a deserted McDonald's.

Shaenon comments:

Shortly after this strip ran, a friend of Aaron's contacted me to point out that nearly every storyline Aaron writes ends up more or less like this.

Guest commentary by Aaron Neathery:

I don't believe for a second that any such "peaceful agrarian society" would truly result from the loss of four billion (billion!) people and the collapse of our infrastructure even if the only survivors were peace-loving hippies...but it does here just to spite Helen.  My personal favorite of this sequence.  I love the image of Helen wandering alone across North America, unarmed, trying in vain to convince the random people she meets that she should be allowed to rule them.  Her plan worked too well; she's made herself irrelevant. HA!

Guest commentary by Aaron Neathery:

General rule of thumb for just about everything I've ever written: the results of any character's grand scheme is the complete opposite of what they'd intended.  Naturally, a character setting out to brutally conquer the planet would inadvertently create a peaceful paradise they'd be incapable of ruling. The soundtrack for this strip would have to be the Talking Heads'  (Nothing but) Flowers.

Don't leave me stranded here
I can't get used to this lifestyle...




And I scramble to set right what Aaron has left so gloriously wrong. The "we're all really just clones" line is a direct reference to the much-reviled "Clone Saga" storyline that ran in Spider-Man comics in the 1990s. The Clone Saga strangely fascinates me, as do many other bad Marvel plots of decades past (ask me about the Superia Strategem!), and I refer to it more than once over the course of Narbonic.

When something goes awry, it's almost always safe to blame John Byrne.

29 comments:
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Neeeat. I think I'll become a mad scientist when I grow up. Oh, wait, too late now... the entire world population's kicked the bucket due to Helen's fantastic supercola!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday's Comic: "The smell of death hangs heavily." All throughout this storyline, I and possibly a few other people have been thinking about the ramifications of death by freezing. Since, even post-life, the miraculous Narbonicola molecules continue to maintain refrigerated coldness in their hosts, the onset of decomposition ought to be slowed at least somewhat, right?

Furthermore! An enticing possibility is that a significantly voluminous intake of Narbonicola and a comically swift death just might be enough to cryogenically freeze the victim solid, stopping decomposition in its tracks. And all one would need to do to awaken these Sleeping Beauties would be to feed each of them "Narbonicoffee - the coffee that keeps itself hot." Final scene is a small army of the reawakened, led by Dave, all holding steaming mugs of coffee, advancing out into the world as the sun appears over the horizon and the words "Good morning" appear onscreen as the music reaches its crescendo. Roll credits.

(Not to say that the current Day of the Triffids-esque ending doesn't work as well, might I add.)
Joseph Garvin (dapper_anarchist) says: It says the scent of death, not of decomposition - presumably, being around a mad scientist gives one a really sense of smell.
Matt Katinas (nidoking) says: "I love the smell of death in the morning. It smells like week-old socks, turpentine, melting plastic, and coffee. No, wait, that's my breakfast."
doug ryan (dryan) says:

You can't be a mad scientist once you've grown up, because mad scientists never grow up.  

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Awww... now you've hurt my feelings... prepare to feel the wrath of the BREAKER BEAM!! ;D
Leon Arnott (l) says: For mad biologists, growing up need not be something that happens but once! Take that as you will.

Tuesday's Comic: Conclusively demonstrating that Helen just doesn't have a full grip on this world domination business. Alas, it seems that far too many would-be overlords are so addled with psychopathy that they regard complete subjugation of humanity as something that will just fall into their open hands sooner or later - which is why they oftentimes omit the "During the chaos, I step in and take over" step altogether.
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

Rulling is Hard boring work.

That's why every mad scientist knows enough to KILL THEM ALL.

Dave III (dave_iii) says: This, right here, is why I love this sequence... so rarely do the mad scientiists actually get to this point in their plans, it actually seems perfectly logical that someone like Helen would have neglected to actually have any idea of what to do next.
Matt Katinas (nidoking) says:

"Ruler? We don't have a ruler!"

"Bloody civilian!"

"Help, help! I'm being repressed!"

Am I the only one who's thinking it? 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

For those who love to quote Monty Python ... look at

http://xkcd.com/16/

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ruler? We have lots of rulers! (pause) .....umm, inches or centimeters?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Hoo-yeah! Imaginarity, rEditing, and Crecreation combine to make one heck of a Dea Ex Machina (DXM)!! P.S: First.
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

Without taking any blame from Johh Byrne I usually blame Tom De Falco.

I've always felt Byrne peaked with  ROG2000.

b

 

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: To Basil Jelly: Ok, we can't understand each other's comments... how 'bout we just try to destroy one another?
Rachel S. (masamage) says:

This ending reminds me intensely of  YKK.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yokohama_Kaidashi_Kikou)

John Wells (johnwwells) says: The what stratagem?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday's Comics: Ah, yes, the best place to end any story as gloomy as this one is under the spreading chestnut tree.

And y'know, methinks it ought to be the cartoonist herself running into frame to preserve continuity, instead of delegating that responsibility to one of the characters. Except, of course, that would probably break the Other Fourth Wall, one that not even our good host would dare launch herself through. Presumably for fear of receiving much-deserved retribution from the characters within. (But hey, apparantly Hell on Wheels is fair game.)

Finally: "We're all just clones & the real Helen is stranded on an island somewhere"?
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"Sorry, a little late with my perspective on our guest artist and the current storyline, but after reading the last newsletter, I thought I should make my first e-mail to the newsgroup:

I likewise assume the comics are canonical--as observed by Kevin Mowery, Sarge is endorsing the guest artist.

However, given the considerable jumps in time required for the narration of the story (from the initial product roll-out to the "killing-cola wars" to the non-soda-drinking agrarian society), I'd like to make my prediction: we're reading a dream sequence dreamt by Dave Davenport.

Why not? First, he's the only one of the triumvirate who still has a nagging conscience of sorts about what they do. Second, as observed by several artists on the doughy/non-doughy appearances of characters, it seems perfectly in line with Dave's subconscious that he--after four years of being a couch-potato-like-CompSci student--wouldn't mind losing a few pounds. Third, jumping the timeframe forward raises questions about the previous storyline about Helen Narbon's mother and the gerbils... would Sarge just let that one go, and follow Neathery's version?

I dunno. That's my working hypothesis, for what it's worth. BTW, as for the doughy/non-doughy issue, I must admit I like Sarge's characterisations myself, but in defence of Aaron Neathery's style, I find it is remarkably clean and precise: I wish I could draw like that myself.
"
--Hiroshi Nakazato, 4 March, 2001.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Leon:  And y'know, methinks it ought to be the cartoonist herself running into frame to preserve continuity.

I think she does that later on, when she brings out the RetCon Squad.

OT:  Every time I cook with jalapeno peppers (like last night) I get reminded why I wouldn't last long as a mad scientist.  Every effing time, I manage to Mace myself...  

Re: art styles:  among other talents Aaron has clearly mastered Photoshop grayfills.  Sarge, you should send your monstrous henchmen to infiltrate his studio and steal his secrets!

 

Eric Fretheim (ericthefred) says:

Personally, I prefer to blame David Byrne. Think about it; he's a Dave, right?

 

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: And y'know, methinks it ought to be the cartoonist herself running into frame to preserve continuity, instead of delegating that responsibility to one of the characters.

I don't think I ever drew myself into a panel with my characters. I was too afraid of what they'd do to me.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: Personally, I prefer to blame David Byrne. Think about it; he's a Dave, right?

Very true!

David Byrne visited the Cartoon Art Museum bookstore one time. I caught a glimpse of him as he was riding away on his bike. It was awesome.
James Wolf (wolfmanjames) says: I kinda liked the Superia Strategem.  It was wonderful goofy fun!
rob McCarthy (roblewmac) says:

1  OF couse hell on wheels likes the cartoonist Dave likes being Dave and frankly loves Norb she does'nt beat him.

2 Rog 200 Basil? showing your age there lad!

Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

Rob

I'm half showing my age. I'm even older.

b

 

rob McCarthy (roblewmac) says:

The only reason I EVEN know that name is becuse my brother's roomate made a champions charcter out of him.

Byrne's real power is in writting though that issue where Sue Richads A misscarge made throw at age 8 and frankly makes me a litle ill at 34

Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says: New technology by Coca Cola allows ice-cubes to form in bottles of Sprite

 

Read the story of Sprite Super Chilled here:

 

http://techdigest.tv/2007/09/new_technology_1.html

Jim Baerg (jimbaerg) says:

Hi: After getting up to date I'll make my 1st comment: 

That peaceful agrarian society doesn't need the windmill shown in Tuesday's comic. They just need a supply of leftover Narbonicola cans & they can run heat engines off the temperature difference. Narbonicola does seem to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile