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Smithson Thus Far... ·


Man, I gave this really weird Photoshop finish to the car wreckage. I should have just colored it in black. Black makes everything better. As it is, it looks like the car passed through another dimension at some point, a really bad one with tentacles and things.

In a rare moment of strip-to-strip continuity, Helen is still wearing her Elastic Snaps T-shirt from last week.

You're right. It should be more spam. Actually, I didn't get much spam on my one email address for years and years, and then some bot somewhere picked up on it and the deluge began. I've got 2,275 emails in my junk folder right now, and I cleaned it out pretty recently. Stupid low-rent world of the future.

You know who doesn't need penis enlargement? I think it's me.

I like the way the deely-bopper guy's eyes keep moving around. In a static strip like this one, I've got to do something to keep myself interested while drawing.

I had this whole backstory invented for The New Journal of Malology, the foremost American mad-scientific journal. This is about the only time that history gets mentioned. Yes, the editors of The Journal of Malology were eaten by zombies of their own creation, which then went on to edit The New Journal of Malology. This kind of thing goes on all the time in mad academia.

In "Demons," Helen comments that the editors of The New Journal of Malology are usually literally frothing at the mouth. I honestly don't know if that mean they're still zombies or not.

There are probably sturdier zombies out there in the Narboniverse, but Helen did pretty well for a first-time, solo effort.

The last panel would be a lot more effective if I'd drawn Mell more clearly. And given her more guns. Mell always needs more guns.

Aw, poor Dave. I have nothing more to say about this strip, so everyone in the comments is free to nitpick the shape of the moon.

Ugh, why did I do all these gray fills? Not cool, Shaenon of the Past. Not cool. Also, Caliban looks different every damn time I draw him. I ended up changing his whole design in later appearances, no doubt confusing people even further.

I like Dave's continued insistence that zombies eat brains. A world where zombies don't eat brains is simply not a world he wants to live in.

More cheap shots at Dave. Dude gets insulted a lot in this storyline. Caliban is just annoyed by the whole thing; he thought he had the Dave issue taken care of, and he doesn't appreciate being dragged away from his busy, if boring, job to run additional interference. His first line is my favorite moment in this week of strips.

Also, more horrible gray fills. I'm so sorry.

Rockphed (rockphed) says: That car DIDN'T Pass through another dimention, it is currently in the act of crossing over.  Hence that wavyness.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday's Comic: Is this another moment where Dave's sanity is being deliberately manhandled for the alterior purposes of science? Probably not, but it seems that Helen would rather take credit for deliberate property destruction than admit to being clumsy with satellites.

"You've missed over three months." Oh, I must've forgotten about this line. If not June, then this arc could also be set in April. Possibly May. But then the end of "Wetware Interface" is almost certainly in Winter of 2001... (Gasp, splutter.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Dave's car had a TV antenna?

Hmmm ... if Dave were more mechanically minded at this point, could he reanimate his vehicle into a zombie auto?  That might work ... the "Zombile" sounds like something an undead superhero would drive.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Ed:  I assume the antenna was from the death-ray satellite which fell on the car.  Now that could have been an interesting mix of spare parts to try Dave's nascent mad-science powers on!


Nick Tryon (dhraakellian) says: Well, this is mad science, after all, so who's to say that the car *didn't* go through another dimension?
Andrew Farago (andrew) says:

Real-life reference for this strip:  I was recovering from strep throat around the time this was written, and during the two weeks or so that I was out of commission and not checking email (yes, it's physically impossible to do that now, but keep in mind this was over six years ago), I racked up several hundred junk messages and about three actual emails.  <br><br>

And now you know...the rest of the story. 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday's Comic: You know who doesn't need penis enlargement? I think it's me.

Why does that wisp of smoke in panel 4 look like it was hastily penned in after the fact? It's not so much wispy as sluggy.

Did you just invent the phrase "low-rent world of the future"? I'm quite taken by it.
Ray Dillinger (bear) says: Man, I want to live in your low-rent world of the future. I get 600 spams a day.
Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I want to live in a low-rent world of the future where my spam filter actually works as well as Dave's!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: In the low-rent world of the future, you yell at your kids "How can you listen to that crap!" when their phone rings.
Dennis Bergendorf (wildcard365) says: Fascinating, working in the Fibonacci Sequence in the first panel.
Joshua Kronengold (mneme) says:

Yay, spam! is another image that has transparentcy set on the white, making it nigh-unreadable on the rss feed unless your reader has a white background.


Valerie Kaplan (shinyhappygoth) says: Andrew: Good day!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday's Comic: Poor Dave. He's gone too far into the earth for the light of law and justice to reach him. All around him, he is beseiged by monsters.

Is that book supposed to be behind Dave in panel 1? And what is that they're standing in front of? It looks almost like the elevator.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Well, Unity doesn't seem too terribly sturdy either, what with the whole "can't stick her head out the window of the car or it'll fall off" thing....
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: I almost didn't notice Mell's Big Freakin' (tm) Gun in the last panel.  Official BFG count: 13
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

In addition to the already excellent humor of Mell's definition of "cross-examine" (plus the joke about showing promise for stapling someone to a chair), I love how, much like Dave's perpetual cigarette, Mell can instantly dress in full battle gear, as signified by the opaque goggles and BFG.


Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: Mell Kelly: Poster Child for Tort reform...
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

Mell does realize that cross-examining doesn't involve nailing the person to an actual cross, and that testimony obtained through crucifixion would be Constitutionally barred and lose her her case, right?

... Right?

Eric (erichamion) says:

Dov, what does losing the case have to do with anything, as long as she has a chance to use information gathering techniques?  If it's really important, she can just persuade any witnesses (probably using similar techniques) that she did nothing wrong.

As a last resort, she could probably claim she hasn't been briefed on whether shooting people, slicing them open, and hitting them until they pass out (repeatedly) is considered torture. 

Incog Neato (ghede) says:

Grrrr! That moon! It makes me so mad!

... Ok. I'm done.

NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says:

*hugs sad zombie Dave in twilight*

*picks up head where it was thrown from the force of the squeezing, and offers to sew it back on* 

Adam Burr (wolery) says: The shape doesn't bother me nearly so much as the fact that it appears to be rising in the west. But I wouldn't have noticed it if Shaenon hadn't pointed it out. :)
Bo Lindbergh (blgl) says: The moon rises in the west? Innnteresting...
Rachel S. (masamage) says: ...Apparently "installing air fresheners" means "shooting the wall full of holes".
Melissa Trible (tamtrible) says: Such a sad little expression on his face.
Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says: The expressions came out well, although I'm not sure why Mell is so excited about installing air fresheners.  With Helen.  Hmm
Ray Dillinger (bear) says: Odd. I noticed instantly that the moon was rising in the west, but only when I went back and looked that it's the wrong shape relative to the sun. In the narboniverse the moon is much smaller, much closer, and has a retrograde orbit.
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says: well, by "installing air fresheners" mell really means that she wants to try out the new "pine Fresh" aresol grenade launcher. or something.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday's Comic: It doesn't matter what kind of transformation it has undergone - a brain cannot help but miss its true home.

Things Dave misses: sleep.
Also: dreams.

I approve of those silhouette clouds in panel 2. I might even go as far as liking them.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Awww.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

This is your brain ... this is your brain on brains.  Any questions?


Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I never realized how much pathos could be expressed by the word "Brains?" before this strip.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Yeah, poor Dave.  Maybe that last frame could make a poster.... "Dave Davenport Wants Your Brains!  Please?"


Frith Ra (capplor) says: Forget the moon; the sun is oblong.
Chris Anthony (etherjammer) says: Clearly the moon isn't rising in the west; Shaenon's just representing two different nights. The sun sets; the moon rises in front of Dave, and we see it setting behind him; the sun rises and sets invisibly; and the moon rises in front of Dave again, and sets behind him. The fourth panel, in other words, is a little less than 24 hours after the third. Its size and shape, though, I can't explain. ;)
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:


Thank you and good night. Tip your cyborg waitressess.  

Monty Ashley (montykins) says:

That's no moon...


That's a space station! 

Rachel (admiralshazbot) says:

Actually, it's Dave's Sad Moon personality sprite. It shows up to remind him how sad and alone he is in the world. That's why the bottom end is so pointy--it can give him stabs of loneliness.

Pete (westrider) says: This is one of the two things I've ever seen that made me feel sad for a Zombie. The other was some really old Penny Arcade.
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

The ange is wrong for that theory to work, Chris Anthony. In panel 3 the moon is descending from the southwest, and in panel 4 it appears to be rising toward the northwest. I think Dave must simly have turned around between panel 2 and 3, and then there are two possible explanations:

1. The moon was tilted in between Panels 3 and 4 , possibly the work of Dr. Pim. Dave senses that something is amiss, hence his worried "Brains?"

2. There are two moons in the sky, and that is what has Dave so concerned.

Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

To erichamion: if you lose too many cases, you don't get hired and you don't get to crucify others in the name of the law. Also, if you lose too many cases for mad scientists, your mental map of your body parts and your actual set of body parts begin to diverge from each other.

Michael Brazier (michaelbrazier) says: It's only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea ...
Kevin (notsteve) says: Fortunately, he's not living in one, whether he eats brains or not.
Eliezer Berlin (terrafire123) says: I never noticed he was drawn differently. :o
Brian Rogers (billionsix) says: Um, she... used a different pencil?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday's Comic: Now how did the Wendy's coupon transport itself from the immaterial state of Dave's soul's inventory, and end up on Dave's corporeal person? ...Unless the coupon is an incorporeal entity that only he can see, which would make it even harder to redeem. Hah.

Today's trope: dramatically tearing up or burning the contract with God, initiating a great conflict between mortal and immortal.

Aah! Now the elevator arrow is pointing UP?! ...W-w-why?
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: What, are you kidding? Here he's clearly pure aether, and in later appearances, he's obviously made of meat. I don't know how he could get much different than that.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Next-to-last panel reminds me of an old "Far Side" cartoon, where the Devil's secretary is on the phone with him: "Another salesman, sir.  Should I tell him to go to Heaven?"
Jaye Brown (illogicalv) says: I agree with Dave; I wouldn't want to live in a world where zombies don't eat brains.
Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says: Darn you, Michael, I have now had that song stuck in my head ALL DAY.  It's going on 7 hours now of my humming "Paper Moon" (with a brief interlude of Adam Sandler's Hannukah song around 12 because I was in a meeting with a woman named Monica.)
Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says:

My first thought is always, "What women?"

Lovelace? A computer

Helen? A Mad Scientist

Frankly Dave, you probably couldn't be sexier to them. 

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:
It's true. Dave underestimates his own sex appeal. He's right that he's probably more appealing when not a walking corpse, however.
Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says: Ya, zombies might be the least sexy of the classic monsters.  Vampires being the most sexy.  Werewolf in London and Jack Nicholson's werewolf movie had it.  Brendan Frasier's The Mummy salvaged a pretty unappealing monster.  Even Jaws and Herman Munster probably beat out zombie.  Poor, poor zombie Dave.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: I think zombies would still rank slightly above "The Blob".  Then again, just being in the same movie as Steve McQueen might give The Blob some coolness by proximity. 
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Ironically, the European vampire and werewolf legends come from a common root -- which has a fair bit in common with the Romero zombies (rather than the Haitian ones).
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Personally, I think that the sexyness of the zombie depends on how well it was constructed, and how soon after death. I always figure that if you got 'em just a few minutes after death, were good with the stitching, and made sure to apply a dood preserving agent they could come out fine.

 . . . . Unfortunately, this is not the case for Dave.

Besides, who's caliban to talk? At this point, all Humans literaly look the same to him.

Chris Anthony (etherjammer) says: Dov: I was choosing to ignore the apparent angles, since they're entirely wrong anyway. ;) (The "horns" of the crescent moon always point away from the sun, so unless we're actually sighting to the north or south and Narbonic takes place much farther from the equator than /I'd/ assumed...)
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: "Aaron Shades says:

Personally, I think that the sexyness of the zombie depends on how well it was constructed, and how soon after death. I always figure that if you got 'em just a few minutes after death, were good with the stitching, and made sure to apply a dood preserving agent they could come out fine."

Necrophilia: The overwhelming urge to crack open a cold one... 

Derek Burrow (bard) says:

However, there have been movies like "Fido" which have stressed the rather...err...odd...romance that is the zombie without the need for necrophilia.  A zombie's lurching speed is apparently conducive to ballroom dancing.  Dave just needs to find the right postapocalyptic community in which to be accepted.

Martha Mintz (muffinthamighty) says: Booo, Edwin.  Boooo.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile