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Okay, this is a very silly and self-indulgent week of strips, but I kind of like it. I designed it specifically in honor of the one-year anniversary of Narbonic, as a way of recapping the events of the previous year and catching everyone up on the status quo. Having done this at the one-year mark, of course, I proceeded to never do it again.

Those are some tasty-looking milkshakes.

In other, non-milkshake-related news, I started a new daily webstrip! It's called Skin Horse, and it's located, logically enough, at Skin-Horse.com. It's cowritten by Jeffrey Wells and myself and drawn by me. I hope you like it. And Happy New Year!

Madblood is doing his mother's grocery shopping. In the background, I can make out Cyna Bon Cereal, featuring a character from a comic Andrew was working on at the time; Presidential Puffs, a cereal featured in an episode of the old Nickelodeon series "The Adventures of Pete and Pete"; and a box labeled simply MY SPOON IS TOO BIG!, a line from the Don Hertzfeldt short "Rejected." Good lord, I must have been going mad.

I do like the New Yorker panel, though. Please note the proofreader's marks along the edge of the Eye of Horus altar.

Dana looks totally wasted in the third panel. Poor Dana.

The Haight-Ashbury Gap actually went out of business a few months ago. Go figure.

For the curious, Dana and her hippie are outside the Hahn's Hibachi that used to be on lower Haight, across from Memphis Minnie's. This particular branch of Hahn's (there are several throughout San Francisco) had, in addition to the usual menu of Korean barbecue, a soul food menu, courtesy of its resident soul food cook, Chef René. I don't know why this Hahn's Hibachi had a soul food cook, but Andrew and I were extremely fond of Chef René's food and his amazing menu descriptions (only quote I can remember: "With my fried chicken and my fried shrimp, the two greatest forces of the universe combine on your plate"). One evening we went into Hahn's and both Chef René and the soul food menu were gone. A while later, that branch of Hahn's went out of business and became a Naan 'n Curry, and we started going across the street to Memphis Minnie's for our barbecue fix, like everyone else in the city. Chef René, wherever you are, God bless.

You can see both Chef René and Andrew inside the restaurant.

The ur-gerbils have ferry tickets. Like Don Rickles says, don't ask, just buy it.

In the ensuing months, the ur-gerbils will somehow make their way from San Francisco to a remote island off the coast of Brazil, possibly by commandeering the ferry. This is the last we'll see of them for a while.

First appearance of this particular top-secret shadow conspiracy. Note the "D"s on the delivery Dave's uniform.

As this strip establishes, Dr. Narbon didn't invent the teleporter, but simply borrowed it from the Conspiracy. Her credentials as a mad scientist really are pretty shaky sometimes. Much, much, much later it will be revealed that Dr. Narbon assembled the teleporter for the Conspiracy from blueprints the Conspiracy received from the future. It all kind of roughly makes sense.

Since we cut from the Conspiracy speculating about God to me, apparently I'm the god of the Narboniverse. This doesn't jibe with Mell's claim, many years later, to have kicked God in the nuts, although if anyone can find a way to kick a woman in the nuts, it's probably Mell.

As you can see, my divine duties at this time included hauling boxes around the Viz offices. That's my reception desk in the background, complete with the ginormous stuffed Doraemon that used to sit there. I'm wearing a T-shirt with one of those little white forest spirits from "Princess Mononoke." In the third panel, I'm holding a copy of Revolutionary Girl Utena, an anime I was very fond of at the time.

The photo of Dave Barker is lifted, of course, from Dave and the Magic Shirt.

Note that I manage to continue the chain: I wonder how Dave's doing, and Monday's strip cuts back to Dave.

46 comments:
Matthew Miller (mattdm) says: Maybe I am a sucker for self-indulgence. Oh well -- these are awesome.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday's Comic: Oh my goodness, it's the week of Ironic Meanwhiles, probably the silliest incarnation of the Where Are They Now montage ever devised.

That reminds me: I wonder what happened to Narbonic Podcast numbers 3 to 50. We at N:DC never got any closure on that subplot, did we? Either that or I was away that day.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Neat.
John Wells (johnwwells) says: Hoorah! SKIN HORSE!
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: I wonder what happened to Narbonic Podcast numbers 3 to 50.

Joey got distracted by his big-business wheelings and dealings.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: A stet-son hat on the New Yorker high priest? ;)
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

"Why the devil do we need yams?" this is the most inteligent question asked by any Narbonic character.

Alas I can't think of a reason either.

 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday's Comic: This week is so loopy that the punchlines are at the start of the comics.

I wonder what happened to the Virgin Sacrifice after this episode. Is it wrong for me to have wished for her appearance in the background of at least one forthcoming Hell strip?
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"While I am unable to read the complete cereal brands, other than a few "puffs" and "spoon", I can assure you that these are not pokeballs. As the one on the far right (our right, not theirs), has a small nose poking out, I'm guessing the Draconian Priesthood wear some sort of turban, decorated with a large gem or similar, right in the middle of their forehead.

I am also entertained by the Mystic Paragraph Markings on the altar.

This background rivals my favorite, Mell With Chair fending off gerbils (sometime late last summer...)
"
--Christopher Ellmann, 1 Aug. 2001.
Mike B. (epenthesis) says:

I went to high school with Mike Marrona, the older of the Petes.

 Who wants to fuckin' touch me?

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: I went to high school with Mike Marrona, the older of the Petes.

Who wants to fuckin' touch me?


I do! And have!
Michael Brazier (michaelbrazier) says: It's a good question in the last panel: why doesn't ANTONIO SMITH ever try to stop Madblood's evildoing?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Answer: he hasn't gotten around to it yet.
Michael Martin (mcmartin) says:

My theory is that he is, in fact, not good enough.  A plausible alternate theory would be that he tends to not leave writings for ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST to properly analyze. When you project a hundred-foot hologram of yourself on the ionosphere, it's pretty clear who did it.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Mike B. says:  Who wants to fuckin' touch me?

That question makes me uncomfortable on so many levels.

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: Plus, how can ANTONIO SMITH track him when everything he does he does on a computer? No handwriting involved!
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

Leon Arnott (l) says: I wonder what happened to the Virgin Sacrifice after this episode. Is it wrong for me to have wished for her appearance in the background of at least one forthcoming Hell strip?

'Tis wrong indeed sir, for surely the fair damsel was rescued by ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST before she could met her untimely end.

Zhou Fang (fhnuzoag) says:

Justin Grubbs:

ANTONIO SMITH is a linguist, not a graphologist. Madblood could write telegrams, and still be stopped. 

Pete (westrider) says:

Why do they need Yams? Well, according to J. Grant, Yams are in fact, pure, undiluted Evil.

 http://flemcomics.com/d/20030106.html

 Note that this is a link to Flem Comics. Stray beyond the linked comic at your peril.

James Rice (jhrice) says:

Wednesday's comic:

Hey, is this the first time we see Artie drinking from inside the glass?

 

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Well, arguably the strip where he's dunked in evil coffee.
Michael Brazier (michaelbrazier) says: And now I wonder how Dana followed a scheme to steal credit card numbers.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday's Comic: Ah, poor Dana. Like I said earlier, she'd have made a fine villain in her own right. Well, at least she's 'living the dream'.

It's a bit of a continuity error that Helen only refers to one of the escaped gerbils. Recall briefly that one more rodent by the name of Jaye also saw the outer world for a few fleeting, yet joyous hours.

It seems that Narboniverse Andrew was dishonourably expelled from the post-life realms prior to his appearance in today's strip. Let's quietly hope that his girlfriend wasn't detained for very long, either.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

No, Leon, since one Andrew is enjoying some heavenly soul food, it's obvious that the one in Hell is the Evil Twin.  Or at least the Pink-Heart-Evil Twin.

Can a man be Pink-Heart-Evil, or is that ..?  Wait, this is San Francisco, of course he ... But wait again, this is Andrew "I Draw Manly-Man Characters" Farago ... but ... AAAARRRGGGHHH, this is why I normally don't post comments until I've had coffee ...

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

The Haight-Ashbury Gap actually went out of business a few months ago.

Yay!  back in college days, I was horrified to see a Gap on that corner when I made my pilgrimage to SF.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: Yay!  back in college days, I was horrified to see a Gap on that corner when I made my pilgrimage to SF.

The thing is, I think it might have been the original Gap store. The Gap started on Haight as a store selling denim stuff to hippies. No joke.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: Shouldn't that be "Korean *Seoul* food"? ;-)
Jason Summerlott (melkarion) says: Or possibly, in a connection with the ongoing theme of this story arc, "Sheoul Food?"
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday's Comic: We couldn't have gone too long without our author subverting this whole silly enterprise by revealing the subject of Dana's wonderings to be three feet away.

Even at this stage of the game, one has to wonder just how far gone that bearded fellow is.

Slightly important continuity error: San Francisco faces the Pacific, whereas Brazil's coastline faces the Atlantic.
Michael Brazier (michaelbrazier) says:

I don't see why these two ur-gerbils couldn't sail a commandeered ferry from San Francisco down to the Panama Canal, get through it without alarming anyone, and work their way along the South American coast until they reached the island.  After all, they've already managed to get to California and buy ferry tickets.  Clearly these are ur-gerbils to be reckoned with. 

And Mell calling, well, anybody else a deranged killing machine is in itself comedy gold. 

Metal Fatigue (metalfatigue) says: You'd think Mell would smile approvingly in Panel Three instead of shrugging. Perhaps she's thinking something like "Get a grip, dude. I don't wonder about you; why should they?"
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Well, Lupin (characteristically) almost fumbled his loop....

 

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Panama Canal? I doubt the tale of such majestic, deranged gerbils is so pedestrian. I'm sure there lies untold the story of two ur-gerbils, cast out by their unhinged creator into a world they never made, struggling heroically to navigate the Straits of Magellan in the midst of a stormy Antarctic winter on a clumsy, unseaworthy, commandeered ferry, which, pushed beyond its capabilities, sank in shark-infested waters east of Argentina, leaving them to drift in the ocean currents for days, with not a drop to drink and nothing to eat but the occasional incautious shark, until they were finally washed up on the shore of a remote, almost deserted island, where they could begin to make a life for themselves...
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday's Comic: For those wondering, it was here.

What's this? An all-male world-controlling cabal... of laid-back California teens? ...It's not exactly a radical* subversion, but I'll let it slide.

Instances of the D word: 4.
Fourth wall perforations: 16. Everyone brace themselves for loud groans when tomorrow's first panel shows up.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Say, do you think the members of the Dave conspiracy would care for a mint? (sweet, innocent grin)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Shadow conspiracies invented control-C and control-V.  Soon they will control the entire alphabet.

I wonder what's happening to someone somewhere ...

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday's Comic: Frankly, the idea that God has reproductive organs is one that has unsettling implications in our society's monotheistic paradigm.

Non-canon weekday strips: 3.
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"Shaenon, why do your glasses get so much bigger when seen from the front? Are they fancy imports from Japan?"
--Ed Wells, 6 Aug. 2001
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: It took me a while to realize that, in the first panel, the top box reads, "Lots o' Ranma", not "Lots o' Ramen".  Then again, both need hot water.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Leon:  On the contrary, the implications are entirely traditional... ask any fundagelical preacher, he'll tell you God's a MAN, dangnabbit, it was Adam who was made in HIS image, Eve was just an afterthought, and look how that turned out!   And then he'll be so riled he just has to pop out to the local tea-room for some man-stuff....  ;-)

if anyone can find a way to kick a woman in the nuts, it's probably Mell.  Just a few inches higher, Sarge -- trust me, it'll hurt just as much. 

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: The original of the "I kicked God in the nuts" strip hangs over the main worktable in my studio, and inspires me in many ways. It's right next to the equally-inspiring strip featuring Helen wearing nothing but Dave's shirt and a cell phone.

Seminarians learn early on that the Holy Trinity is so complex a topic that it's easy to accidentally commit some minor heresy, like this one: God must have nuts because he knocked up his mother to produce himself.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: Just a few inches higher, Sarge -- trust me, it'll hurt just as much. 

Don't I know it.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: Pardon my impertinence, but I can't help but wonder if the Real World Shaenon is as pretty/cute as her webcomic version is.
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

"God must have nuts because he knocked up his mother to produce himself. "

yeah. thats why i can't see how the catholic's buy that whole "the trinity is one, literal, being" thing. so crazy. but hell, its all very confuseing in any case, thanks to the multiple interpitations the bible has gone through before being mass-produced, as oposed to trans-scribed by hand.

vote Cthulhu For president! food for all, all for food.

Matt Katinas (nidoking) says:

Pardon my impertinence, but I can't help but wonder if the Real World Shaenon is as pretty/cute as her webcomic version is.

I'd say they're equal, but in different ways. Sort of the way a chibi-Tomoyo Daidouji would be cute, but not in the same way as the normal one.

Jason Summerlott (melkarion) says:

The interesting thing to me is that, having read the entire strip after the first commentary in which Shaenon says she based Helen's body type on her own (a thought reiterated several times on her part, with what strikes me as varying amounts of pleasure at the notion), I have to say that...

Well, I really don't see the similarity between the two characters that I'd expect.  Sure, they're both adorably cute, but quite distinct. 

Except in the second panel in the ComicCon 2001 report.  The first time I saw that, I almost thought it *was* Helen, somehow.  Cognitive dissonance ensued.

 

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