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Smithson Thus Far... ·


Two one-panel strips in a row! Hooray for laziness!

Here we segue into a new storyline, "Dave's Dead, Dave." The title is, of course, a play on the famous line from 2001, a movie that would come up again much later in Narbonic. As I've mentioned before, "Smart Gerbils," "Dr. Narbon," and "Dave's Dead, Dave" all flow into each other; if you take them together as a single storyline, it's six months long, pretty long but still not the longest Narbonic storyline.

I like the sneakers Dr. Narbon wears with her skirt and lab coat. Also, once again we're looking at Dave's butt.

I really think this strip represents one of Dr. Narbon's shining moments. Comforting Helen over the death of the man she herself killed, recommending that Helen try kicking him...she's a class act all over, that lady. My crude early art aside, the facial expressions are pretty good in this strip, too. It was a good choice to have Helen look bewildered in the last panel, rather than disgusted or angry. Helen's perspective isn't quite as warped as her mother's, but it should still be a little abnormal. She's only particularly upset in the first place because she liked Dave.

This strip's pretty good, too. Man, murder is comedy gold.

Later it turns out that Dr. Narbon did have a reason for killing Dave, but it still wasn't a very good one. She probably would have done it anyway.

The bodies are way too small for the heads in the last panel. Sigh... At this point, I was getting better about keeping the characters on model, but I still screwed up a lot.

Yes. Ice cubes in the wine. As mentioned before, this is a detail taken directly from my own home life. It was pretty messed up over there.

Some good expressions here, but I don't know why I kept drawing everyone with such enormous ears.

If "Killin' guys is thirsty work" doesn't make you crack half a smile, I give up.

I don't know how old Dr. Narbon thought Dave was, but I think this is the first specific reference to Dave's age. Helen's age has already been mentioned in the Sunday strip where Dave Barker first pisses her off.

Dave was 23 when the strip started, so he's had a birthday sometime since July 31, 2000. I tried to remember to turn the characters' ages over each year on my birthday, May 4. At this point, Dave is 24, Helen is 27, Mell is 19, and Artie is about six months old.

The more you repeat a gag, the funnier it gets! I swear!

Monty Ashley (montykins) says: Huh. I thought "Dave's Dead, Dave" was a Red Dwarf reference ("They're all dead, Dave. Dave, everybody's dead. Dead, Dave, everybody is. etc."
Vlad Taltos (flyingfish) says: "I never should have let him out in the first place..."
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"He made a point of drawing Dave's plaid that way, and eventually I started doing the same thing in the regular strip."

Monday's Comic: quote fulfilled!

Today's "indoor horizon line" is interesting - despite being architectural, it's more iconographic than representational, serving merely to mark the boundary between floor and wall with neither floor or wall actually being present.

Today's Lesson Learned: if you were wondering how to draw the correct pose for someone quietly discovering a corpse (or other icky unpleasant objects), Mell serves as a fitting example.
Leon Arnott (l) says:
""It was a mercy killing... he had a certain naive charm, but..."

Okay, okay... how 'bout...

"I did it for your own good, Beta... you were getting too attached... getting sloppy... had to stave off potential rumors..."
--Dennis Bergendorf, 28 May 2001.
Dave III (dave_iii) says: I find sneakers-and-skirts to be insanely cute, though I can't explain why.
Josh Burson (schreibergasse) says: *I* always assumed the title was a Star Trek reference...
Troy Smith (scandalista1) says: I guess "Dave's not here, man..." doesn't QUITE work.
Matt Katinas (nidoking) says: The unchanging plaid pattern is, of course, well-known to any fans of the Monkey Island games.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: (weeps)
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday's Comic: He was her personal death ray and weather machine builder, too. Don't forget that. Not to mention her greatest ongoing experiment...
Metal Fatigue (metalfatigue) says: The facial expressions are great, Sarge, and the dialogue zings, too.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I love the motherly touch in the last panel ... "I'll buy you a new one."  Is there a local HenchMart?  Abercrombie & Hench?  Or do they just hit the drive-thru at Henchies?

Dave III (dave_iii) says: Ed: Are we sure she meant the hencman? Maybe she meant a new death ray, I fully see Dr. Narbon putting more importance on that than on someone's life.
Eric Fretheim (ericthefred) says: "He's gone to a better place..." Given where he's about to find himself, that's a remarkably ironic statement, isn't it?
Angela Fortin (aren3) says: I must find a way to work "I know. I've shot lots of people with death rays." into casual conversation.
Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: Question. I don't ever remember the death ray being broken, yet in strips yet to come Dave is seen fixing it. Helen even talks to him about it. How did it break? Did it commit suicide after realizing what it had done? To me that seems the most logical explanation, recalling how much computers love Dave in "Professor Madblood and the Doppleganger Gambit"
David Cunnius (capnq) says: Don't confuse "fixing" with "tinkering". Someone working on something doesn't necessarily imply it was ever broken.
David Given (dg) says: I just wonder what Helen was going to say before she corrected herself to "my computer guy"...
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

I just wonder what Helen was going to say

As we will later learn, he was also her guinea pig -- though she might have found a politer term.

It occurs to me suddenly, that she might well know Dave will come back, and not only because of the time-travel hints we've seen.  I don't think Shaenon ever covered what sorts of notes or other hints Helen might have left for herself, while she was displaced....

Andy Wetmore (efogoto) says:

"her guinea pig -- though she might have found a politer term."

A boss of mine always preferred "cavy".

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday's Comic: "Small-business owner" - ah, yes. Even "pink-heart evil" individuals are able to lift themselves above such petty qualms as the right to life. In the end, it's all just business.

Dr. N's appeal to what some call the "Rule of Cool" for justifying Dave's doing-in, in conjunction with several other such Rule of Cool invocations earlier in the series, leads me to the following conclusion: Mad scientists are descended from nerds.
Dave III (dave_iii) says: Helen's right, it is bad business. Dave was a resource, and as long as he wasn't actively working against her he would remain so... even as spare parts. Now Helen has to go through all that nonsense of finding a new tech guy, interviewing him, training him, housebreaking him... yeah, easier just to revivify Dave.
Brian Moore (brianmooredraws) says: When your henchman is killed, you're supposed to do something about it.  It doesn't matter what you thought of him, you're supposed to do something about it.  It's bad business to let the killer get away ... bad all around ... bad for mad scientists everywhere ...  Unless, of course, you did it yourself; then it's business as usual.
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

"Mad scientists are descended from nerds."

Well yeah.  They're scientists.

I love Dr. Narbon's "I had a death ray" answer.  It's like asking a cat why they ate the food that you left unattended for two seconds.  "Dude, it wasn't defended by an entire legion of cybenetic yak warriors.  Obviously you were O.K. with my making whatever use of it I wanted!" 

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: (weeps)
Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: It has just now occurred to me that Dr. Narbon's shirt looks awfully weird. I mean, it's like it was knitted maybe? I don't know. Could anyone explain what exactly it is? And I'm still curious as to how the death ray gets broken
Metal Fatigue (metalfatigue) says: I think it's either a wool knit or a cotton jacquard weave (depending on what season it is at the moment—darn webcomic time).

Or perhaps it's just cross-hatched. A cross-hatched mock turtleneck. Maybe Dr. Narbon is trying for thrift-store chic?

Crap, I'm starting to sound like Leon.

Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

" I don't know why I kept drawing everyone with such enormous ears."

 So their glasses don't fall off?


Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday's Comic: Killin' guys is thirsty work, and a nice cold murder deserves an ice-cold glass o' wine.

Somehow, that previous sentence conjured the mental image of Dr. Narbon reclining with glass in hand next to a Dave-skin rug.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

The irony of the last two panels is that Dr, N's lines for the last couple of days have been demonstrating her own drastic lack of respect for Helen.

Kind of a shame that Ultimate Dave never got a crack at Dr. N  (IIRC, after Helen's other henchmen started coming after her, she exercised discretion and stayed "disappeared" until the photo-album wrapup. )


Chris Gleason (bkitu42) says:

"Ice cubes in the wine. As mentioned before, this is a detail taken directly from my own home life."

 Riuniti on ice: is nice!

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

 So their glasses don't fall off?

You know, that makes sense. I was drawing the glasses so ridiculously huge that of course the characters need huge, powerful ears to hold them in place.
Pete (westrider) says:

I need to find more ways to work the phrase "huge, powerful ears" into conversation.


Also, one of the things I really like about Narbonic is the fact that pretty much everyone in the strip wears glasses. As someone who's been wearing 'glasses in a world of contact lense wearers since 2nd grade or so, it just gives it a nice, comfortable feeling.

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: Oh My GOSH! I know what Dr. Narbon is wearing!!! I saw a lecture today on the middle ages and I realize that it could only be one thing. IT'S FREAKING CHAINMAIL!!!!!!!!!! Dr. Narbon is so cool. I should walk around in chainmail and a lab coat. I mean, I'm sexy enough as it is, but with chainmail? No female within a hundred miles could resist me.
Matt Katinas (nidoking) says: Killin' gals, on the other hand, creates a strange hankering for purchasing large amounts of Ikea furniture.
Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says:

Justin: I assume the events depicted on June 25th, 2001 were in some way bad for the death ray.

Ed Wells (andieswell) says:

Not "Lying there." "Laying there." Dave always tells the truth, even when he is dead.

Dr, Narbon risks the wrath of ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST.

Michael Brazier (michaelbrazier) says: ... unless you believe Dave Barker's story in the preface to volume 2.  Admittedly, the statment that she's 39 at this point is the least plausible thing in it.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday's Comic: "...I've met up with this Davenport character all over time..." Very shrewd phrasing, Dr. Narbon. Very shrewd.

" he's had a birthday sometime since July 31, 2000."
...and before the day in which this comic is set. That rules out February through July, then. Ehehehe.

Also: I cannot help but reckon that each year Artie and Dana would be more likely to celebrate their sapience day (January 3 and sometime afterward, respectively) than their date of birth (which is unlikely to have ever been noted down).
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: (weeps)
Eric (erichamion) says:

Not "Lying there." "Laying there." Dave always tells the truth, even when he is dead.

Dr, Narbon risks the wrath of ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST.

He is lying there.  She would be risking his wrath to say, "laying there."  He could be "laying himself there" or "laying his glasses down there;" but if he were, he wouldn't be dead.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Heh heh heh....
Chris Shabsin (cshabsin) says: The key to comedy is repetition.  It's been said a thousand times among my friends, and every time it's truer.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

The key to comedy is repetition.  It's been said a thousand times among my friends, and every time it's @#$% this, I'm going out for a beer.


Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

First it's funny then it's not funny then it's funny again.



So It Begins (soitbegins) says: In that case...

...want a mint? (innocent grin)
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday's Comic: The "just one more thing" question is usually reserved until after various character tensions have (seemingly) been resolved. It seems a little odd for such placid banter to occur amid a character conflict concerning murder...

"Heh. Heh. Heh.": 12.3.
Characters leaning on the panel frame: 4.
kate simpson (kateri) says: Wait. Dr Narbon put her wine glass in her pocket???
Sean Kinlin (seaking) says: She not only has deep pockets, but stable ones with flat surfaces.  Truly, mad science is wonderous...
Troy Smith (scandalista1) says: No, Dr. Narbon's pockets are ordinary; that's a glass from Helen's Singularity Stemware set.  Each glass has a microscopic black hole at the base of the bowl, which warps local gravitation enough to keep the contents from spilling out if the glass tips over.  Of course, it also keeps you from drinking any of the wine, but as Helen keeps telling us, she's a MAD scientist.
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

"It seems a little odd for such placid banter to occur amid a character conflict concerning murder..."

Well, it is Mell.  Especially old-school Mell.  She's way more interested in how cool Dr. Narbon is than Dave being dead.

Incidentally, I recall Helen's tirade about how Madblood's degree only shows he's a wuss, and the fact that her mom apparently is a PhD. . .mmm. . .parental issues expressing elsewhere in life. . .

Steve Mollmann (steve) says: "Repetition without variation is comic," as my Shakespeare prof used to say.
Metal Fatigue (metalfatigue) says: I love the dynamicity (?) of Mell's pose in the last panel. She's like a puppy wriggling in ecstasy.

On the other hand, Helen's leaning way too hard on that panel frame; standing up straight will require some effort.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Helen leaning against the frame of the last panel like that makes me imagine her toppling over a fraction of a second after the strip ends because, between strips, there are no panel-frames for her to lean against.
Rachel S. (masamage) says:

Mel's vocabulary is adorable.

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