Shaenon K. Garrity's Comics   || Online Comics · RSS · Creator Profile · Join Mailing List ·
Smithson Thus Far... ·

Daily

Just in time for the holidays, we're getting into my least favorite run of Narbonic strips. In retrospect, I shouldn't have included Dave in the afterlife or any other supernatural stuff; it doesn't gel naturally with the rest of the Narbonic universe, which is all about Science, and most of this material is overdone anyway. The demon and angel stories in Narbonic are some of the weakest, in my opinion. The only good thing that came out of the whole mess was introducing Caliban into the cast. He ended up being a pretty good character.

I do like the utterly pathetic grave marker erected over Dave's hastily buried corpse.

I think I used a brush pen, the same one I used for the haiku art, for those swirly clouds in the last panel. A good cartoonist, of course, would be using brushes or dip pens all the time, to give the art some damn texture.

Okay, Caliban. Caliban is the oldest character in Narbonic; I wrote him into a lot of stories I worked on in high school and college, all unseen by human eyes. As such, he has a whole complicated backstory that I don't bother to get into for Narbonic. The monster in The Tempest is named after him, not the other way around. I was a little nervous about incorporating him into this comic, and maybe I shouldn't have, but I did enjoy writing him.

Caliban sounds British. He's not, of course; it's just where he learned to speak English. Actually, since he started hanging around London in the sixteenth century or so, he ought to have a very odd accent, but I didn't deal with that in Narbonic because it would get too complicated. It would probably sound sort of Scottish to modern ears.

Dagon is one of the rulers of Hell in Milton's Paradise Lost, my starting point for all things angelic and demonic. Like a lot of the demons in Paradise Lost, he was originally a deity in one of the many ancient religions competing with early Judaism. He also got to star in an H.P. Lovecraft story, so he keeps busy. Dagon is traditionally depicted as a sea creature/demon/god, so I thought he'd be a good match for Caliban, whose counterpart in Shakespeare is described as a fishy creature.

Dave's line about rocking the boat is an oblique reference to the song Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat, from Guys and Dolls: "And the devil will drag you under/By the sharp lapel of your checkered coat/Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down/Sit down you're rocking the boat." The song gets a mention in an issue of Sandman featuring Lucifer, which was how I knew it.

That's Andrew and my friend Hallie in the second panel. Andrew periodically cultivates facial hair. I don't know if the people visible in the first panel are supposed to be anyone in particular.

"Make that face." Ha ha. I got that pun from the only episode of The X-Files I have on tape, "Small Potatoes," the one where Darin Morgan plays a janitor with shapeshifting abilities which he uses to impersonate women's husbands. At the end of the episode, he offhandedly refers to his power as "making faces." Also, voice actress Christine Cavanaugh plays his nerdy ex-girlfriend who's seen Star Wars 368 times. Man, that was the best episode of The X-Files not actually written by Darin Morgan.

Dave, as usual, tends to forget about personal safety if he sees something really, really cool. Cool by Dave standards, anyway.

If I remember correctly, the part of this strip I agonized over the longest was the question of whether Caliban should wear sneakers or go barefoot. I don't know why I had the notion that demons should go barefoot, although I guess he doesn't especially need shoes if he sort of hovers everywhere. Anyway, I put shoes on him.

I can explain away Caliban's casual dress as indicative of his general lack of interest in his personal appearance, as dramatized in yesterday's strip, but really I can never think of outfits to draw on my characters besides T-shirts and jeans. It's what I'm wearing; why should they be any different?

I think that's me and my ex-boyfriend Kevin in the second panel. Also, that's some weird-looking hellfire.

Right there in the first panel is the stupidest pun in the entire run of Narbonic. Oni wa soto (Demon, get out) is a traditional chant made by Japanese children during Setsuban, the holiday marking the beginning of spring, when people throw beans to scare the wintertime demons away. (No, really. This happens. It was in a Tenchi Muyo comic.) When we see Caliban's supervisor, Mr. Wasoto, much later in the strip, he's an oni, a traditional Japanese demon or ogre. So, um, he's Oni Wasoto.

I'm sorry.

Gomory (one of a number of variant spellings) is a demon mentioned in the Lesser Key of Solomon, a seventeenth-century book on demonology. He is indeed described as a Duke of Hell who commands 26 legions. I had lists of this stuff left over from an abandoned story I was working on in college.

Caliban came out from behind his desk at the end of the previous strip, but here he's back behind the desk so I can do one more gag. This is the kind of little continuity glitch that crops up in a daily strip if you're not careful. Again, I'm sorry. I've got a lot to apologize for in this strip.

Bite me, I love this one. Apparently Sir Pounce really was an evil kitten. Who knew?

I also like the two demons carrying Sir Pounce, who really doesn't look too bothered by the situation. They look like they could have their own webcomic. The guy in the foreground of the first panel kind of looks like my dad, but he's totally not.

61 comments:
Rachel (admiralshazbot) says:

Personally,  I love the whole "Dave in Hell" storyline.  It's got such a literary feel, and it sort of fleshes out the fictional universe.  In a world where mad science is all around, it's comforting to know that evil beings will get their dues--no matter how adorable the widdle kitty is.

(I just noticed you signed your initials in the swirly clouds. That's awesome.)

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday's Comic: This upcoming story arc serves to illustrate a concept that I like to call The Webcomic Slippery Slope of Wackiness. At the top of the slope, you have shoulder-dwelling sprites - personifications of good and evil. A perfectly harmless and relatively played-out cartoon trope, but, in its typical form, it implies that the webcomic's world is a world of traditional angels and devils and absolute good and evil.

And the implication of such traditional notions of morality are that traditional consequences await the moral and immoral. Thus: when a character unexpectedly crosses into death, what better premade metaphysical system to turn to than good ol' Heaven and Hell? And, furthermore, what's a visit to either of those locales without meeting genuine angels and demons, and their employers God and Satan. Such deities are the worst guests a webcomic can admit: once they step inside, they'll be ruling the place in no time at all. It is, it seems, an antisocial aspect of omnipotence.

(Not all webcomics begin at the top of the slope, of course, but what is important is that entering the slope leads a webcomic naturally downward. Nor is it necessarily a bad thing, despite my hapless use of loaded visual imagery.)

Other things to love about this strip: the blowing leaves. There isn't even one tree near the highway meridian strip, but those leaves will always find a way.
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

well, mad Science pushes the boundries of reality as it is. Other dimensions, time travel, the quantum many worlds theory (in practice). heaven and hell existing (in some form) just seems natural when you take in everything else that happens.

 but mabye iam just conditioned from reading Casey and Andy. and being a Role-playing Geek.

I think dave's spirit just gravitated naturally towards those astral reigions that conform the the human minds perceptions of heaven and hell because he is, vaugley, christian. and it is so prevelant in popular culture, and even in games such as D&D, that he would unconsciously just head that way. but i am probley just over thinking this.

John Wells (johnwwells) says: Given the Bride of Frankenstein references, I think that some kind of diabolic involvement was called for eventually. In any case, these storyarcs gave us the line "You dipshit! Why'd you open up a portal to the Beyond?" So they can't be all bad.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Wow, well done Leon!  Good explanation.  I think I actually felt several neurons commit suicide when I read that!

Any day where your casual comments can cause brain damage in others is a good day.

Matthew Miller (mattdm) says: I like the afterlife stuff. Maybe mostly because of Caliban, but still.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

I like the idea that even "innocent" demons can be caught up in the havoc wreaked by Mad Science!

As I noted previously, Caliban's presence at the gate ties into a time-loop created by Helen and exploited by Dave.  Caliban's debts, however, are presumably his own "damned" fault....

 

Andy Holloway (garran) says:

I don't think that I agree with Leon that the afterlife stuff is on the same continuum as the shoulder-sprites. We get the strong impression that the sprites are a psychological phenomenon; they look like devil and angel, but really they're closer to id and superego. The advice they give arises from the host's beliefs, rather than any external access to moral truths, which is why it makes sense for Helen's angel, for example, to exort objectively immoral actions like breaking Dave's kneecaps.

The things we learn about the afterlife, on the other hand, are exactly about the existence of objective moral standards, and that's exactly what I think is interesting about them; they're a check on the cavalier way that the strip might otherwise encourage us to think about the characters' morality. The repeated claim that (most of) the characters are evil often seems like one of the metatextual flippancies of the strip -- they're 'evil' because traditional mad scientists are villains, and they acknowledge it because they're aware of their genre conventions, just like the way that they sometimes acknowledge the need for a punchline on account of their awareness of their medium -- but these storylines let us know that they are against the moral order of their universe in a way that has serious consequences. Dave and Sir Pounce have been relatively minor accomplices so far, but it's still enough to merit endless torment. Despite all the cues telling us to read Caliban's 'rescue' from his creditors in the later Valentine's Day storyline as a happy ending, the clear implication is that he is doomed by it. These are some of the things that got me to lend serious credence, when the strip was still running, to the possibility that it might turn out a tragedy in the end.

I should say that it's not that I think of morality as grounded in rewards and punishment. The fact that not being moral will get you sent to hell is, as reasons to behave morally go, one of the most confused and least effective, not least because 'behaviour that will get you sent to hell' does not map reliably onto 'immoral behaviour'. (Even if things really are set up such that all and only evildoers go to hell, there are still presumably things that one really shouldn't do that would not, if done, be enough to tip the scales.) So really this is about the characters' metatextually being villains, rather than about proving their evil as such; it's about the way that the villains always lose. Helen is cheerful and complacent about this when it comes to having ANTONIO SMITH blow up her lab, but our glimpses of hell, zany though they still are, show us how uncompromising this is -- how it's already set which side will be the losing one, and if you're on that side, as everyone at Narbonic Labs except perhaps Artie surely is, you will eventually be miserable and beaten forever.

This is, of course, also the message of the bleak future Dave is going to see. This is where being a villain gets you, bitter and estranged and hopeless, in a wasteland both real and metaphorical.

And I really like (nobody is shocked if these comments contain spoilers, right? Okay) the way that the characters avoid that particular fate -- they do it by choosing un-villainous ways to behave. Ways that are constructive, selfless, loving: Mell renouncing the political and destructive power that she would have attained, Dave refilling the swimming pool despite his anger. They're still coded as villains, in their trappings and manner, but by acting against they're archetype they are able to beat the system; the very traditional rampage of the mad scientist's creations, which ought traditionally to swallow her up, break her power, and leave her a pitiful and defeated warning to those who would emulate her hubris, is diffused by this choice to be good and decent people, at least in their relationships to one another.

I think it's this, and the way that it proves the possibility of other choices like it, that lets me read the ending as such a powerfully happy one despite the waiting certainty of the judgemental afterlife.

Zhou Fang (fhnuzoag) says: I like this arc solely because of Sir Pounce.
Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says: I think that this arc, and later angels/demons arcs even more, do a good job of allowing Mad Science to meddle with forces Mankind Was Not Meant To Know. Particularly because the afterlife can evidently be completely blindsided by somebody using time travel to get somebody killed off. It would be just annoying supernatural stuff if it were immune to the actions of the characters, but this way it's just something that regular science is insufficiently Mad to know about.
Rachel S. (masamage) says: Yay, Andy. Very well said.
Valerie Kaplan (shinyhappygoth) says: I knew that about the Shakespeare and the accent!  You told me that!  Yay!
Ken Mallott (kenm) says:

Ex-day school language nerd mode:

The thing about Dagon is, while he's often a fish god/demon/monster, he was probably actually more connected with wheat.  (That's what you get for ignoring the n . . .)

Also, in the bible God kicked his ass but good.  Knocked his hands off and afflicted his followers with a plague of mice and hemmorhoids.  There's a guy name of Rash"i who, in explaining the bible explained how those two things are actually related.  That was the hardest I ever laughed in class . . .

Rachel S. (masamage) says:

o/` And as I laughed at those passengers to heaven,

A great big wave came and washed me overboard!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Ah, Mr. Holloway, I'm significantly impressed by your ideas of the purpose of the Hell story arcs in this webcomic, but I would like to now make an overly florid and nominally comprehensible response to the conclusions reached by it.

Your final paragraph, if I have not failed to understand it, purports that our protagonists succeed in defeating not just Hell but the bleak future by breaking free of their roles as 'evil villains' and saving each other. However, what one would expect to follow such catharsis would be a realisation by all involved that their self-proclaimed 'evil' is a destructive folly, and abandon it altogether.

This doesn't happen, of course, because there are two conceptions of evil in the Narboniverse. There is Helen's pink-heart-evil, which is zany often to the point of being nonsensical, and brings forth comedy, and there is a more familiar variety which brings forth tragedy. The last word of the last episode is 'evil', but that word is delivered in the midst of bubbling pink hearts. Clearly, that 'evil' is not that which was about to consume them all.

The zany pink-heart-evil, as I said, predicates the zany punishment of cartoon Hell. For partaking in the merest whiff of villainy, Dave and Sir Pounce are sent down below to fry. That is part of the genre-mandated game of pink-heart-evil: villains never prosper, but 'tis better to go out with a bang.

The bleak future is not telling the same tale as Hell. The fates of the characters in the bleak future is not the fault of their pink-heart-evil, but their transformation into a sadder, more tragic evil. That evil isn't the zero-sum-game that pink-heart-evil is - the virtuous character, Artie, is dead, while the villainous Future Dave lives. It isn't fair, and that's why it is tragic. It is this transformation that the characters fight against in the penultimate arc. Rather than rescinding the 'evil' that is the foundation of their personality, they manage to prevent that joyous 'evil' from decomposing into a humourless evil. They defeat evil to save pink-heart-evil.

So, Narbonic's Hell isn't really concerned with fearful punishment - and how fearful can one be of anything that comes off the worse against Mell? And I suppose that the comics on the Slippery Slope aren't taking it that seriously either, instead adopting the traditions and tropes of Hell simply because that is what is implied by a comic with tiny angels and devils and other symbols.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday's Comic: I am curious as to how the Narboniverse counterpart to Mr. Farago was done in, only to reappear among the living in the next arc, but I shall politely decline from pressing further.

For your curiousity: the dialogue trope in the final panel is this one, despite the fact that the page in question is specifically concerned with character names.
Andy Holloway (garran) says:

Leon: I don't think you are reading me as I intend, actually. You say that 'what one would expect to follow such catharsis would be a realisation by all involved that their self-proclaimed 'evil' is a destructive folly', but in fact I meant to explain why it isn't necessary for there to be any such thing. My argument is that the characters have managed a subversion of genre expectations, so that they are able to retain their outward signifiers of being villains while no longer behaving as villains, and so escape the bleak consequences that actual moral villainy entails.

I disagree with your claim that the future we see is unfair (and that that's what's wrong with it) -- it's true that it isn't fair in the sense that the characters' fates were not what they deserve, but it is fair in the sense that it is the natural consequence of the decisions the characters have made. There's no cruel misfortune here; everyone in the future is where they are as a direct result of a series of wrong choices, made by people who were fairly cognizant that the choices they made were wrong. It holds in practise, as it turns out, that the future can be averted by going back and making better choices instead; if this isn't an example of the narrative universe playing fair, then it's hard to say what would be.

I agree that the ethos of going down with style is contained in what you call 'pink-heart' evil (though I'm not sure it's accurate to describe the situation as zero sum), but I think that the general sense that the villain is guaranteed to go down at all is rooted in what you call 'tragic' and I've been saying is 'genuine' evil. It's the long-term untenability of evil principles of behaviour that gets them again and again. Alliances of comic-book supervillains fall apart because the principals are relentlessly scheming and self-interested. The traditional mad scientist is destroyed by his own creation because he was heedless and arrogant past the point where any more prudent or conscientious man would have started some attempt at damage control. Except in the most self-aware cases, villains aren't sought out by the heroes who'll defeat them simply because of the hat that they're wearing; they come to the hero's attention because they are doing something wrong, something that causes harm to those around them. I happen to think that immoral behaviour really is not in the best interests of its practitioner, but in most comic book fictional milieux there can be no question that there is the added difficulty that the universe itself tends toward justice.

I'm not certain that Dave and Helen have escaped hell, at the end, in the same way that they've certainly escaped their future. We have discovered that it's possible for them to forgive and save and be selfless with one another, and probably to be pretty good parents, despite the fact that they remain true to their archetype as honest-to-goodness scary mad scientists, and haven't become the silly 'good' scientist archetype we briefly encounter at the symposium; I think that this provides hope that the archetype similarly doesn't have to prevent them from acting in ways that will ultimately balance things out in their favour, in the afterlife. (These actions, furthermore, have to be genuinely unvillainous, no matter how the characters performing them are coded, because evil acts are destructive, and will poison the core of any constructive endeavour.) I do think that a hope like this is necessary to retain the sense of a happy ending, because Dave's eventually, upon dying, spending most of eternity being dipped in boiling oil like Sir Pounce cannot really be credited as anything but tragic, no matter how zanily it's presented. (And there is, after all, something behind the zaniness in Narbonic, that compelling sense of real darkness the series exposes periodically in times of stress.)

I may have been no more compelling in this comment than before, but I hope that I've got across some clearer sense of what it is I mean.

Robin Zimmermann (packbat) says: On a completely different subject: Modern research has that Shakespeare's accent was actually much like today's North Carolina accent.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Dear Leon and Andy:

I'm posting this comment rather later in the day than I normally do, simply because I had to chase down my eyeballs when they actually jumped out of my skull and ran away after reading the first couple of paragraphs of your little essays.  And of course I couldn't *look* for them ... duh.

I had to grope my way downstairs and find my secret stash of Hustlers by touch.  Of course my eyeballs came running back for this; I was able to recapture them and secure them firmly in place (My wife gave me duct tape for Christmas!  She loves me!), so I could finish reading your transcendent monographs on the moralistic dichotomies of spiritual determinism.

Damn, this is good eggnog.

 

So It Begins (soitbegins) says:

I know Mell isn't in this comic, but...

 MELLY CLLISMAS!

Andy Wetmore (efogoto) says:

"I'm not certain that Dave and Helen have escaped hell, at the end, in the same way that they've certainly escaped their future."

*SPOILER*

 We know from the future that Dave will invent a time machine powered by consuming entire alternate universes that "probably don't want to exist as much."

They're going to Hell. 

Rachel S. (masamage) says: Ed: Are you being sarcastic? I totally can't tell.
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"They are able to retain their outward signifiers of being villains while no longer behaving as villains, and so escape the bleak consequences that actual moral villainy entails."

Ah! That's an interpretation I hadn't expected. But it seems to be a little bit awkward to say that they have become good on the inside but are still simply playing the part of villains. Helen and Dave's pink-heart-evil is, as I've been led to believe, a consequence of madness, not a consequence of being a character in a genre narrative. Playing to Genre's expectations of villainy is merely the manner in which such evil is manifested. The tragic evil of the bleak future doesn't naturally continue from Genre at all, as I shall now argue.

"I think that the general sense that the villain is guaranteed to go down at all is rooted in what you call 'tragic' and I've been saying is 'genuine' evil."

The villain's predestined disaster is, as it is usually depicted, an aspect of Genre. It is the necessity of the capitalised Happy Ending. 'Genuine' evil, on the other hand, isn't constrained by those rules. As you said:

"[The future] is fair in the sense that it is the natural consequence of the decisions the characters have made."

That may well be so, but it isn't fair in the aforementioned Genre sense, because nobody lives happily ever after. The villains' downfall in the bleak future isn't the heroes' gain, because there are no heroes. It is in this future that Genre's formula is broken.

But! Is eternal damnation really just another case of the mandated Happy Ending? (Well, why not? Can it not be said that theology is the grandest narrative of all?)

"Dave's eventually, upon dying, spending most of eternity being dipped in boiling oil like Sir Pounce cannot really be credited as anything but tragic, no matter how zanily it's presented."

I suppose this will just be a point of contention between us. But, I regard my stance as being the converse of Caliban's declaration about being alive at the end of 'Demons'. Just as life is as good as it gets, I feel that it stands to reason that, for exactly the same reasons, life is also as bad as it gets. Narbonic's Hell may be eternal torment, but even that isn't anywhere near as real as the pain of reality.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday's Comic: I sense that fright, being one of the more glandular emotions, no longer has much meaning to the disembodied Dave.

Then again, how seriously can you take a demon who goes "schloop" when transforming?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Leon:  I think I'm building up an immunity to diatribosis, I was actually able to read today's whole mini-essay without losing any major organs.

Your last paragraph implies that Hell is similar to what Terry Pratchett visualized in "Faust Eric" ... the damned souls quickly learn that they can't feel pain, so they go through the motions of screaming in agony, and the demons keep torturing them because they don't know any better.  (Also brings to mind the old joke about "Oh, we built that for the Catholics.  They insisted on it.")

As to your second shorter post, "Evil Goes Schloop" could have been a great title for a Narbonic print collection, like the Calvin & Hobbes "Scientific Progress Goes Boink!"

No eggnog today.  Work.  Bleck ptui.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: P.S. I love Caliban's expression in the last panel.
Andy Wetmore (efogoto) says: "Small Potatoes" is a great episode, but of the non-Darin Morgan written ones I like the Texas vampire episode with Luke Wilson the best. 'Course, all of the X-Files episodes pale in comparison to the awesomeness that is Narbonic.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Regarding the theological debate: Recall that, by the end of the story, there are no less than four characters who have already been to Hell, and returned, at least two of them under circumstances where they have good reasons to believe that Hell won't take them back.

Eternal damnation doesn't seem all that eternal in Narbonic, and the characters don't have to (and don't seem likely to) meekly submit to their final judgements.

Also, while I have to admit that Angels wasn't one of my favorite Narbonic storylines, the aftermath did give Mell some of the best lines in the strip. (Though my vote for the best has to go to, "We siphon it from other universes where they probably don't want to exist as much!", delivered with a big smile by a cute blonde girl.)

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Not many people get to send their ex to Hell.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday's Comic: The other reason that everybody draws characters in T-shirts and jeans is because all one needs is to add to a partially-drawn figure a few extra lines to denote sleeves and the neckhole. They are lazy clothes in many senses.

I wonder: is humanity made in the image of the angels? And if so, does it mean that our clothes are made in the image of the angels' clothes, and not vice versa?
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

now aient that i deep theological question. technically, going by christian lore, humanity is made in the image of god. not angels.

from reading this comic, the inverse is probley true: Angels (or more specifically, these fallen angels (the demons))  have made themselves into the image of man. the make themselves look human (when at ease) and they wear what humans wear.

Alex Jay Berman (alexjay) says:

Dave Van Domelen: "Not many people get to send their ex to Hell."

 ... Uh, what sort of circles of friends do YOU frequent? It's the number one sport of choice among my buds ...

Kathy Moon (flipkat) says:

Fire? I thought that was grass.

Re: clothing. As below, so...even below-er?

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: In my humble opinion, none of the characters can be sent to hell. Caliban escaped already, Artie's a good christian, Mell's been kicked out, and Dave and Helen are insane. Insanity is as good an excuse to get out of punishment theologically as it is in our court systems. You can't blame them for their actions when their synapses fire so randomly. The only reason Dave got sent to hell was because he was still hanging on to his last thread of sanity.
Benjamin McCracken (angafirith) says: Come on. You know as well as I do that Helen and Dave won't go to hell for a different reason. They'll invent some sort of immortality potion, then construct a very dangerous fountain out of sausages. The latter will be the more impressive acheivement.
Rachel S. (masamage) says: My favorite part is how bored Caliban looks.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Benjamin:  you've been reading "Girl Genius", I see.  As for the rest of the sentiments expressed in that episode, Helen and Dave have done most of them (although Dave only blew up a small part of the Moon).

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: I got the complete works of Shakespeare for Christmas and as I was looking through it I saw something interesting. One of the first characters mentioned in All's Well That Ends Well is Gerard de NARBON!!! I'm curious if Shaenon got the name from there or what? I know she read it, because she said so earlier.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

"Helen is named after Helena de Narbon, the heroine of All's Well That Ends Well, one of Shakespeare's worst plays." 

-- Shaenon Garrity, back in the commentary for the first Sunday strip

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday's Comic: You'd think demons would at least have the decency to set their ringtones to Lizst's Mephisto Waltz No. 1, or something.

"Was there ever any doubt?" Ah, that reminds me: one of the easiest varieties of joke that one can produce from a Hell setting is the one in which various objects of minor annoyance in daily life are held in high regard by the devils below. Nowadays audiences venturing into a comedic Hell cannot help but steel themselves in anticipation of a hurricane of such jokes.

I notice that, unlike the humanoid characters seen prior to now, Caliban's pupils seem to have an extra glimmer in them. Mmm-hmm.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: "Nowadays audiences venturing into a comedic Hell cannot help but steel themselves in anticipation of a hurricane of such jokes." This tradition is hardly limited to modern or comedic writings. Consider the archetypal written Hell: Dante's Inferno. On his little trip through hell, Dante meets, for example, archbishops, friars, and at least two popes, with the suggestion that two more popes are on their way. He also meets friends of his father, and figures that were historical or mythical even in the year 1300, such as Muhammed. He meets a statistically unlikely number of people he's never heard of for, you know, Hell. Most of the sinners encountered are there for no better narrative reason than because Dante-the-author had a great distaste for them prior to their deaths.

The idea is simply a part of human nature: 'What I don't like can go to Hell.' And if one of the greatest works of world literature uses the device- notably more spitefully than as we see here- can you really blame comedic authors for doing so?

Fun bonus fact!  Our dear friend Leon Arnott's webcomic can be found here: http://www.greyfire.org/~l/
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: If I were a demon, I'd always carry an Insta-Podium so I could stare down at my audience at the drop of a hat. Plus, they make a great place to store snacks!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

For the top ringtone in Hell, you can't beat "It's A Small World" ... I would imagine that's on a permanent loop on the Muzak system as well.  Come to think of it, the inventor of Muzak might be a Duke of Hell ...

James Redekop (jhgredekop) says:

The first time my mother ever saw a cell phone was in Rome, where it was being used by a nun scootering around town on a Vespa.

It seemed very appropriate somehow.

T Campbell (t) says: We have different definitions of "stupid puns," I guess. I think that pun shows a high degree of literacy. A stupid pun would be "is your refrigerator running? Well, you'd better go and catch it!"  
Matt Katinas (nidoking) says:

If you want bad puns that only make sense in Japanese, I wrote a story full of them some time ago.

http://www.anifics.com/hosted/nidoking/QEFEFZ.html

Watch for a familiar character to make a cameo in episode 2, if anyone gets that far. 

Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

T-Bone Burnett's "Hell to Pay" would be my choice.

 

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

"Leon Arnott says: Friday's Comic: You'd think demons would at least have the decency to set their ringtones to Lizst's Mephisto Waltz No. 1, or something."

How about "Pandaemonium" from Hector Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust? Or "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saëns? Or the Dies Irae from the Mass for the Dead of the Catholic Church? All good choices for the Demon inclined toward Classical music...

Rachel S. (masamage) says: Which Mass for the the Dead? :)
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

If I wanted to read bad puns that only make sense in Japanese, I'd be a manga editor. Wait, I am. Crap.

I like "It's a Small World." I have it on my iPod so I can listen to it all the time.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Of course Sir Pounce was evil. He's a cat.

Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

most cats are evil, if only mostly in the selfish, homicidal kinda way. i mean, there are worse evils. but they are mostly outlined, vaugley, in the Necronomicon.

anything that "plays" with its food before eating it, must be evil.

Rachel S. (masamage) says: Yay, I totally never noticed those demons! Those are amazing. I love the little guy's arms.
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"Fun bonus fact! Our dear friend Leon Arnott's webcomic can be found here:"

Aah! My secret shame!
Shoo! Scat! Avert thine eyes!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday's Comic: This episode answers another question about the post-life realms: it seems Hell does have a sky. Looking just at that first panel, I cannot help but be reminded of the opening landscape in Another World.

And, looking at those demons, I cannot help but be reminded of the Wild Things.

"It was an evil kitten." Much like the evil coffee and evil softball before it. And today such counterintuitive notions of evil reach their logical comedic conclusion!
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: The two demons could be the Willy and Joe of the Chick Tract Hell. (While home for the holidays, I rode past the Baptist church that used to pepper our school with those. It did my heart good to know that the primary perpetrator of pamphlet peppering is vacationing at Club Fed after they caught him running a Ponzi scam in Jesus' name.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"It was ... evil ... we can't give leniency for cuteness."  I would forward this strip to my ex, but she's miss the point.

"... primary perpetrator of pamphlet peppering."  I absolutely adore alliteration.  A tip o' the topper to Tiff!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Shaenon: 'I like "It's a Small World." I have it on my iPod so I can listen to it all the time. '

That explains so much.

Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says: It's an evil song.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

"(...)we can't give leniency for cuteness." 

What about stupidity? I can only wonder if some of the past and current denizens of this Administration will escape their just punishments by pleading "diminished capacity" during their respective terms of office...

Not Cool (notcool) says:

"And the devil will drag you under/By the sharp lapel of your checkered coat/Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down/Sit down you're rocking the boat."

 What you say here is exactly the reason why I do not usually sing unless the fate of the Free World hangs in the balance. Because from the moment the song came out, I heard the phrase "Like a shotgun held to a chicken coop"...which made a lot more sense to me, then being young, and spending an indordinate ammount of time around shotguns, chickens, and coops.

 

I still have not seen a real checkered jacket to this day.

Add a Comment:
Log In or Register to post a comment! It's free!





Tooncast this comic on your own website by copying and pasting this code snippet:
<script language="javascript" src="http://www.webcomicsnation.com/tooncast.php?series=narbonic_plus"></script>
Shaenon Garrity ||    Forum ·  External Homepage ·  Blog · 

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