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This is a silly joke. Obviously, Dave would be able to see something without his glasses, although if he's like me it might not be much. He must be disoriented on account of having been dead for so long.

I hadn't drawn Dave without his glasses much at this point. I opted to give him simple dot eyes. Later, I would usually draw his eyes more like in panel three, mostly just because it's easier to do a greater range of expressions that way. I've never been particularly consistent on the eye-shape issue.

Moving on, Artie's surgical mask is just precious.

The great thing about this strip is that both parties' reactions to the situation are ridiculous. Dave's weakness for finding things cool when he should find them terrifying is his undoing on many, many occasions.

In a much, much later strip, Dave makes reference to taking both sick days and dead days off work, so Helen probably tries to pull this stuff all the time.

Hey, hey, if Dave has no nose, how does he smell?

I like that "poing" is apparently the sound of a nose bouncing off the floor of an evil laboratory. Dave looks really freaky without a nose, though. I forgot to draw his facial stitches in the last panel, but they probably just would have made things worse.

P.S. Terrible!

I like Helen biting off the thread in the second panel. That's real good surgical procedure there, Helen.

In the previous strip, Dave said he could feel, but I have to suspect that his nerves are severely deadened if he can respond to these shenanigans with no more than moderate annoyance. Zombies never seem too upset about losing body parts, though. Mostly they just lumber on.

Holy crud, Helen still has a dot matrix printer! Of course, in 2001, so did I.

Ah, more cheap shots at Dave. I still like this strip, even if I lazily let the typed text cover Dave's word balloons in the second and third panels. I fixed it in the print version.

Transthanatology Today is one of several mad-science periodicals mentioned over the course of Narbonic. In the eternally unfinished Narbonic roleplaying game, I wrote that TT is more of a Popular Mechanics-style practical magazine than a serious scientific journal like The New Journal of Malology. It's full of useful tips for resurrecting the dead in your home or office.

Totally obscure, illegible detail: Helen's coffee cup in the first panel bears the image of Kieron Dwyer's Consumer Whore Starbucks parody logo, the legality of which was being disputed at around the time I drew this. Eventually Starbucks made him stop using it. Whatever, Starbucks.

It's a good thing I started drawing word balloons around this time, or this stuff would be even less legible than it is. But I still enjoy Dave's surprisingly complacent attitude toward being undead. It's just another thing that's too cool to get really upset by, at least at first.

50 comments:
Rachel (admiralshazbot) says: Speaking as another person with ultrabad vision(the kind where, when people try on your glasses, they all say "Wow, you're BLIND"), he could be looking at objects blurred so far beyond recognition that he thinks his eyes are just feeding him badly scrambled data it invented.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Given that it's established over the next couple weeks that Dave's biology really isn't biologing anymore, I have to wonder what Helen's listening for in the third panel. Is she checking to make sure his heart isn't beating?
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Oh, and Zombie Woof is probably my own favorite storyline... besides giving Dave a chance to show his character, it introduces the Mad Journals!  ("Brains?")
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"Unbeating Zombie Heart" -- another great band name.  I gotta start writing these down, man ...

Pete (westrider) says: Reinforcing AdmiralShazbot's comment here, it really might not be that unbelievable for Dave to not be able to see anything, especially since for the most part he's probably looking at a fairly undifferentiated ceiling for a while there. Especially for someone with glasses as big as his.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Ed, I've got you beat. 'Does a Zombie Heart Still Break' will be releasing their album next fall.

 And yeah, Dave's probably pretty close to blind without his glasses. And Helen's in surgical gear, which if blurry enough looks like greenish nothingness. 

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Helen must have an extradimensional space inside her surgical cap for her hair.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: You'd think so, but never underestimate the power of poofy hair to unpoofy for silly hats- especially with the help of ponytails.
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

Ed, I've got you beat. 'Does a Zombie Heart Still Break' will be releasing their album next fall.

No, I'm pretty sure 'Does a Zombie Heart Still Break' is the album. It's being released by The Neck Romancers.
Leon Arnott (l) says:

Moesday's Comic: "Surely most of my brain tissue is damaged!" My thoughts exactly. Whether or not this was a wasted opportunity to use Comedy Hallucinations, or even Non-Sequitur Comedy Aphasia, is a sneaker depending on your Percival tastes.


Panel two, two: Dave's fantastic recap story should perhaps have included a couple of outlandish events that seemingly happened in the time gulf between these arcs. It's not like placing the ghosts of three Narbonic characters on a psychic cable show soundstage isn't ripe with countless unexplored possibilities.

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

TARDIS Surgical Wear: It's bigger on the inside!

 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"Astral Blunderbuss" -- yet another cool band name.

Soon to be releasing their first album, "To Hell And Back", with the hit single, "I Shot The Ghostly Doppelganger Of My Former Statistician".

Jim Noonan (tsuki) says: Astral Blunderbuss - that is just beautiful imagination.  Kudos!
Jim Noonan (tsuki) says:

Oh, and I really love the expression on Dave's face in the third panel.

 

Brian Rogers (billionsix) says: Are you sure it's bouncing off the floor? It looks like it could be bouncing off his shoe. Sneakers seem like they may be more poingy than a floor.
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

Finally the reason for those big powerful ears.

 

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: Nah, it's like a rubber ball. The harder the surface, the better noise it makes. 

 I love how Helen's so subtly creepy about all of this. Something about the phrase 'More or less. Are your faculties working?" just seems spooky to me.

Melissa Trible (tamtrible) says:

By the by... I know there's a story (at least in theory) in the filenames of the pictures, but I don't know how to access it... is it written down anywhere, or whatever? 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday's Comic: In all honesty, I was expecting Dave's hand to drop off when his glasses were put into it. The obvious resulting puns will now remain unsaid.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"Hey Helen, I could use a hand here!"

There, I un-unsaid it.  Bwahahahaha and all that.

Rachel (admiralshazbot) says: Are we sure that's actually Dave's nose falling off his face? It doesn't look like the nose we've all grown to recognize as Dave's. Maybe Helen tried to improve it, and that's why it was the first to go.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: o/~ She walks by...and I...fall to pieces... o/~
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Oh, and uh by the way? Shaenon?

TERRIBLE! *rimshot* 

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: I think I would honestly have been saddened if someone didn't make the pun. Thank you, Aaron.
James Rice (jhrice) says: I still have, and use, a dot matrix, tracter feed printer.  It can be set to a paper length of less than an inch, and thus print lines of data as they occure, without wasteing a page of paper per entry. 
Leon Arnott (l) says:

Thursday's Comic: Let's be honest, "galvanic infusions" are really just a polite euphemism for "500,000 all-natural volts". (But how that was managed from an, aha, underground lair is probably where the genius comes in.)

There are quite a few people who would protest your habitual conflation of the "Frankensteinean artificial monster" and "Romero-esque zombie" archetypes, despite their obvious necrotic similarities. Most of those people would be D&D players, though.

Also: "brains" in this context is typically spelled with at least three A's. Speaking of which: I'm not particularly enamoured with this punchline, but I choose to interpret it as a set-up to the "Obi-Wan" punch-line several years later, which is memorably preposterous.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

There are quite a few people who would protest your habitual conflation...

And then there's the folks like me, who liked the ending of Shaun Of The Dead....  Also, the Foglios in GG have been making some decent hay out of a similar "conflation" -- yielding his "constructs".  (With a competing concept producing "revenants".)

 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Holy cow, I just realized ... Dave has neck bolts!  I've re-read these strips I don't know how many times, and this is the first time I've noticed.  Yer a genyus, Sarge!

One of my sister's souvenirs from her brief visit to Ireland is a beer mat with an ad for -- no lie -- Brains Ale.  Their slogan: "It's Brains You Want".

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I always felt that the last line was Dave's version of making the best of the situation. You gotta respect that.
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

There are quite a few people who would protest your habitual conflation...

Funnily enough, I was just talking zombies with a co-worker yesterday, and she said that, in the original voodoo tradition, zombies aren't even dead- they're immobilized and rendered under the control of others by a kind of magic dust.  This sometimes leads to them being mistaken for dead, which leads to them getting buried.  Due to the properties of the dust, they can survive the process, and be dug up and used, which is probably where the whole "zombies are dead bodies" thing started.  So in that case, all pop culture zombies are variations on the original.  So conflate away!

And I too, love Dave's going "brains. . ." when he figures out he's a zombie.  G-d bless the geek heart, it is truly unstoppbale.  Even if it's not actually beating. 

 

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

If you like Zombie Dave, You might like these other Zombie-themed webcomics:

The Zombie Hunters: http://thezombiehunters.com/tzh/index.php

deadwinter: http://www.deadwinter.cc/

Quick Zombie joke: How do you starve a Zombie?

Put it on a diet of Neo-cons. (Or whichever other political Party/entity you happen to dislike at the moment...)

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Yeah, I'd have to call Dave a sem-construct, with Zombie traits. He's not a 'Flesh Construct' as he obviously can think, and feel, which denotes sentience (Constructs don't even get wisdom scores), but a true Zombie isn;t much better, and he obviously had to be stiched together.

Now, later when Madblood puts him in the robot? *Then* he's a construct. 

So. . . yeah. (DM speaking) 

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

If Skin Horse is any guide, the technical term for Dave's current state is "revenant". Though he's made of parts all from one person, unlike Dr. Frankenstein's groundbreaking work, or everyone's favorite piecemeal sniper.

D&D categories are not to be trusted. Not only have their flesh golems apparently missed the entire point of Frankenstein,  their zombies are so pathetic that there's no way they could even scrape together a decent apocalypse.

Leon Arnott (l) says:

Friday's Comic: I honestly can't decide which is sillier - the punch-line, or "I was hoping undeath would make him more sprightly."

(Hmm... shouldn't that be 'spritely'?)

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: In the first panel ... Dave looks like he's goose-stepping?  Well, he hasn't been a zombie very long, he hasn't mastered the proper traditional stagger-shuffle yet.
Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

Leon:  Nope!

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sprightly 

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Ah, this is possibly my favorite of all the
strips, at least before the final story arcs.  And where a lot of the best final-arc strips depend heavily on context, this one is funny, and revealing, all on its own.

Poor Poor Dave -- Helen's mom sent him to hell, Helen hauled him back, now he just wants to be a proper zombie, and Helen's all busy and stuff.  Heck, if anyone could supply him with fresh brains, Helen could!  But his plaintive appeal falls on deaf ears....

 

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Well, clearly at this stage in their relationship, Dave loves Helen for her mind.
N La Teer (zapatos) says: This is one of those strips that gets quoted all the time amongst my friends and I.
Pixel (pixel) says: This is my favorite Narbonic punchline. I have been known to utter Dave's lines from this many a time.
Damien Neil (damien) says: This is one of my favorite Narbonics, and the one that most perfectly captures the strip for me.  "I was hoping undeath would make him more sprightly" indeed.
Rachel S. (masamage) says: Adding to the sound-off: Dave's behavior here is basically the funniest thing ever. I too have fond memories of falling irrevocably in love with Narbonic, and this contributed.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ha, ha, h--BRAINNNNS...
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

This makes me think of later, when Dave is sent into space when he pleads with Helen to humor him like he always does for her.

This is definitely the start of that. 'Aw, common helen, Brains.' 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday's Comic: Something that has ruined the zombie archetype for me forever was the realisation that a rotting corpse would probably have decaying muscles, tendons, ligaments, and motor neurons. Thus, for all but the freshest zombies, locomotion would not just be painfully slow but nearly impossible. ...I think.

It occurs to me that this is the second undead form taken by Dave, after Ghost. One can only assume that Mummy Dave will appear shortly, complete with glasses worn over a fully bandaged face. (But of course, Narbonic has too many places to go to stick with one trend for that long!)

...You know what's unintentionally hilarious about all this? Dave is a zombie that smokes.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Leon:  The Zombie archetype dates back to the days of "animal spirits" and beyond.  And if our own motion is driven by the spirits within us, might not some evil spirit animate an unblest corpse?  (Indeed, at Mary Shelley's time, scientists had recently shown that "galvanic currents" could indeed induce motion, even in dissected limbs....)

Oh, and Dave's cigarette has been missing all week.  It only reappeared today, after Helen denies him the "traditional" means for restoring his decayed intellect.

(As I puff on my own morning cigs... ;->  Remember that Algernon riff, back when Artie was new? ) 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

David:  Didn't you catch the last panel of yesterday's strip?  Dave was taking a cigarette out of his pack, just as he was saying "Aw, come on Helen.  Brains ..."

Somehow I thought when Dave said to Mell, "Brains", Mell would strike a pose and say, "Damn right, and dynamite body too!"

 

Liza Furr (liza) says: I think Dave's casual greeting "Hey, Mell.  Brains."  may be my favorite line in the strip.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Somehow, I feel that Mell was the 8first* person he started bothering with this. us geeks. . . we don't let go of good jokes easily. even if they're bad jokes.

On that note: Trogdor.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Ed: Oh, is that what that rectangle was?  Hmm, Dave smokes fancy cigarettes, that isn't any mass-market pack.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile