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Argh, do I ever hate these grey fills. I did enjoy making Caliban float around, though. His hair doesn't flop around when he moves like this because he's not a physical entity and isn't really affected by gravity. He can make it move more naturally if he pays attention, but he usually doesn't.

Look, if you don't want to look at the occasional demon crotch shot, why are you reading Narbonic? Seriously.

There's this whole chunk of space around Caliban's head in the third panel that I didn't fill in with grey. EPIC FAIL.

Despite the crummy art, I do kind of like this strip. Caliban's such an entertainingly irritable little guy.

And in this strip I just stopped doing the grey background fills for no particular reason. Okay, whatever.

This week of strips gets into some weird territory, is all I can say. I like to think that Dave wants to possess David Duchovny so he can keep his sweet Dave Conspiracy privileges.

Nothing gets you up in the morning like a heapin' helping of dated geek-culture references, huh?

This week of strips really gets away from the mad-science center of Narbonic, which is always a risk when Caliban is involved, but it's kind of fun on its own. I like how Dave thinks he can reason his way out of this increasingly ridiculous situation.

I remember some readers around this time, all straight men, identifying Caliban as being sort of generically good-looking, as opposed to Dave's nerdcore style. I got the impression that some guys were a little annoyed at me for drawing a traditionally attractive man (the same thing happened much later with women and Lovelace). My art at this point was so crude, though, that I'm not sure how you can tell who's supposed to be physically attractive. Later I did make Caliban a lot cuter.

Yes, a semi-dirty joke! Every once in a while, I work one in. Caliban can read Dave's mind, apparently. He probably finds it an annoying chore.

These are some of my all-time worst word balloons. They're so distracting! I like all of Helen's dialogue here, though. It's so Helen.

More on the long-term ramifications of Caliban's quick fix next week...

55 comments:
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday's Episode:

A literal Deal with the Devil! Another evilness trope checked off. But, funnily enough, this weighty twist in Dave's tale isn't directly responsible for even half of the horrors that are unleashed upon him in the future - which are themselves responsible for the past and the present. Wouldn't it be awful if this moment in the present was the sole reason why he was killed in the past?

Y'know, Mr. C definitely has a marvellous nose. It seems to my eye to be very reminiscent of Mell's. Furthermore, if you copy this strip to your favourite image editor and Flip Vertical so that Caliban is right-way-up, the word "Mell" malefariously appears in Dave's speech bubble. Coincidence?
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

Coincidence? Yes, quite likely. I'd argue that, once inverted, the 'e' looks more like an 'a.'

So, I guess, a Mall turns Caliban upside down. 

Cameron Nielsen (cameroncn) says: One of the ways you can tell Caliban speaks with a British accent: he says 'solicitors' for 'lawyers.'
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Yep. Personally, I'm a fan of the mark Twain style of accents (just writing the pronunciation hou et eet sounds), but Caliban's pretty easy to recodnise as a Brit accenter.

Especially funny to this Faithfull Fan, seeing as how my mother had a bad run in with england, so a British demon seems oddly appropriate.

 

Chris Gleason (bkitu42) says: Put down the 4chan and rejoin humanity, Norb!
Andy Wetmore (efogoto) says: Caliban's last line is a sexist generalization. That it's true hardly lessens the offense. ;-)
Leon Arnott (l) says: First you used 'win' as a noun back six weeks ago... um, I mean, Tuesday's Comic:

In this episode, we receive further confirmation that the supernatural, despite its inflated self-esteem, is in many instances quite outclassed by the living world. Both of Dave's wishes, being beyond the powers of demons, are subsequently realised by our Helen. Score another one for Team Prime Material!

That back wall keeps flickering in and out of existence. I blame this on the nighttime variation of Campos Fog. Say, is it even legal to establish a private edifice on a highway meridian strip?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Caliban and social commentary. Two things that I never thought would meet, but just did.
Noah Singman (nsingman) says: Money and large-breasted women. You ARE a perceptive analyst of the human condition.  :-)
Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

"Say, is it even legal to establish a private edifice on a highway meridian strip?"

No, but for the sake of argument, are you going to throw the book at them for THAT?  I mean, considering?

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

Also:

Shaenon, perhaps that's just Caliban's inconsistent halo residue. 

Eric (erichamion) says:

I took that white space to be his elbow, since he still has his hands behind his head.  Now that you point it out, though, I see it isn't outlined.

Who cares about a few little paradoxes?  Dave, Helen, and Mell don't worry about them later on, and they don't destroy the universe, or anything.  Ahem... they don't destroy any important universes.  Ahem... Dave and Helen don't destroy any important universes.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:
Caliban usually only handles the Singman account.
Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says: I thought that empty spot was the moon rising/falling behind Caliban. Didn't really occur to me that it was a problem.
Mike Batcok (batcok) says:

I'm glad my problems are not as complex as Dave's are.

Unmarked bills and larg breasted women would take care of me just fine. ;)

LoL

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Speak for yourself! 

I want unmarked bills and *Pretty Boys*. Not all men are alike. 

 

Kaesa Aurelia (kaesa) says: Clearly, Hell is a far more responsible bastion of evil than Helen and co.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Silly demon! You never just tell the supplicant what the catch is! I mean, really. Every character in this webcomic is a klutz.

As 'Dave Duchovny' is neither the main article nor a redirect to the main article about David Duchovny, I must conclude that Mr. D is, with regards to the Narboniverse, a Lapsed Dave. Thus, he is unable to properly reap the advantages of Davehood.

"Davenport, Davenport".
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says: well. dave did already get one do over. tore up the coopin. so mabye hell has a really good "return" policy. prolly only get 6 tries, before your stuck with whatever.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Just what could poor Mr.Duchovny have done to deserve THAT?! Leaving the X-Files?

. . . Well, thank god the Society of Benevolent Aarons (AKA the A Society) is more forgiving. And there's nachos. 

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says:

Anybody read Artemis Fowl? :)

I remember in book six two demons reside in the same body. Eventually a warlock sorts out the mess, but the good demon's consciousness doesn't quite fit the brain and he forever suffers a lack of bowel control at public functions.

The evil demon's consciousness is placed in a guinea pig. Scientists would amuse themselves by placing miniature swords in his pen and watching him try to pick them up.

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says:

Anybody read Artemis Fowl? :)

I remember in book six two demons reside in the same body. Eventually a warlock sorts out the mess, but the good demon's consciousness doesn't quite fit the brain and he forever suffers a lack of bowel control at public functions.

The evil demon's consciousness is placed in a guinea pig. Scientists would amuse themselves by placing miniature swords in his pen and watching him try to pick them up.

Rachel (admiralshazbot) says:

He's got very delicate features for a Narboniverse character. The upturned nose(smaller than Dave's) and well-proportioned chin on a somewhat girly body make him cute. He's also got litle horns and bat wings, which naturally make him even cuter. I think he looks more...well, impish in these early strips than in the later ones.

Did you turn the strips upside down when drawing the upside down Caliban? 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

For those of you who were just about to consult WP about who this Yeoh lady is, the salient detail is that she starred in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

What the heck is that thick, bulging object between Dave's right fingers in panel 1? Goodness me.

Dave isn't trying hard enough to weasel out of the boundaries. All he needs to do is wish to be implanted in someone whose mind was recently extracted. There's bound to be loads of innocent citizens who forget to lock their inner doors when having out-of-body experiences.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: "Shut up, Rachel.  He's bishy."
Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says:

It's all in the hair.

Caliban's "Yeeees?" makes me happy every time I see it.

Tina (pandapounce) says: Of course, Caliban chose this form, so it only makes that it would be generically attractive. And Lovelace's hologram was created by a man bereft of female companionship. Really, it wouldn't make much sense for either of them to NOT be attractive.
Rachel S. (masamage) says: Tina's got it right. Anyway, if having a physically diverse cast is what you're aiming at, it turns out that hot people /do exist/. Representing them, especially as the minority (as opposed to how chubby and homely folks are usually token characters) is entirely appropriate.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:
Did you turn the strips upside down when drawing the upside down Caliban? 

Yes, definitely.

Part of my original concept for Caliban, way back before Narbonic, was that he had a talent for being very forgettable; humans tended to gloss over him and forget that they'd dealt with him. His appearance is just my generic way of drawing a guy, which is why he looks pretty much the same as the Dave in the wheelchair in the Dave Conspiracy.

Ah, Caliban. You have such a needlessly complicated backstory...
Eric Williamson (nytefyre) says:

Michelle Yeoh was also in one of the Bond movies: Tomorrow Never Dies, and was in Memoirs of a Geisha, and will be in the new Mummy movie.  Of course, she starred opposite Jackie Chan in a lot of the Hong Kong Police Story movies.

More info:  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000706/ 

Valerie Kaplan (shinyhappygoth) says: Leon - I think that's his cigarette.  It is rather overlarge, isn't it?
Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says: Leon: sometimes a cigar is just a close-up of a cigarette.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Leon, It's whatever you need it to be.

So how do you feel about your mother? 

 

And for the record, prettyish guys exist just fine. It would make sense for Caliban to be lazy and just go for 'vaugely good-looking'. 

Michael Suttkus, II (the_mess) says:

You may have run into a documented scientific phenomena, Shaenon.  In the 1800's, a man named Francis Galton took a bunch of photographs of criminals and, using the then newfangled technique of composite photography, blended them together.  His goal was to find the look of the "criminal type" as an aide to police officers, since criminal tendencies were clearly genetic...

<> His scheme failed, though.  Instead of finding the look of the archetypal criminal, he found that blending the photographs just resulted in attractive faces.

This has been done repeatedly, averaging a large number of photographs doesn't produce a generic face, it produces an attractive one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averageness

 

<>
Rockphed (rockphed) says: Wait, so attraction is found in averages?
Rachel (admiralshazbot) says: Well, unattractive people have distinctive features like big noses or squinty eyes. I find Angelina Jolie's lips quite unattractive because they're huge. A few notable features can make a face beautiful, but if they stray to far from the normal range they become unattractive very quickly.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

This comic's conclusion leaves me quite appalled. You drew a left hand on Dave's right arm again! How vulgar.

I'm really becoming quite endeared to Caliban's preternatural floaty tricks. I'm sure he'd look great animated.
Kevin (notsteve) says: From what I understand, having a symmetric face is usually highly attractive.  So averaging tends to removes asymmetrical features.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: The symmetry model no longer seems to be holding a the only source of attractiveness...averaging features can get you to "fairly attractive," but the major beauties depart from averaging. And as for the hand, blame Mell. She thought it would be funny.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: (singing) Young ghoul, get outta my mind ...
Brianna Smith (bsmith) says: Dave's hand is on backwards. Was this intentional to show that Helen wasn't really trying anymore, or did you just forget?
Mike Batcok (batcok) says:

Probably the latter at the time but I'm sure Shaenon will claim the former now. ;)

RetCon FTW! LOL

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: OUT OF MY HEAD, FIEND!!
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: NEVER!!
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Even when 'not evil,' Helen is still mad. And frankly, adorable.
Michael Brazier (michaelbrazier) says:

Saturday: Traditionally, dealing with the Devil gets you what you asked for, and then you discover you didn't want it.  Caliban really screwed up, because Dave's gotten what he wanted ... and, as we learn next week, not at all what he asked for.  No wonder he got demoted again.

By the way, today's strip implies that, up to the Madness arc, Dave's brain remains in its present dead-and-regalvanized state, though the rest of him is alive.  I've always wondered if Helen actually used the brain scanning technology to move Dave's mind into the new clone's living brain.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

"She could've done this weeks ago". Goodness gracious bo-bacious, not this again. Dave's been zombified for weeks now? Even though only a few days' worth of events have transpired between then and now? I wish for an explanation!

A brainless clone... on the first occasion that cloning was mentioned in this netloadcomic, I cheered the fact that the younger Dr. N's clonery was realistically limited to fetuses, unlike most other fictional clones. But now we've got Helen making an artificially adulterated* clone for Dave? That has always struck my ears as slightly too much of a science-fiction-authorial cheat, much like unidirectional artifical gravity. ...But, I'm willing to buy into the notion that Mad Bio has marched on in the twenty-seven years since another Helen came into being.

* I love using this word in this context.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Well, either the rest of the time passed uneventfully, or Dave is referring to not just the time he's spent as a zombie, but also to the time that he was dead and buried, during which Helen could have just as easily used the cloning solution and skipped the whole zombie business. 

And there's evidence that Helen Beta has not, to this point, been entirely truthful about the whys and wherefores of her genesis. It's possible that Doc Narbon could, even then, have produced an anencephalic adult clone, but didn't in Beta's case, for reasons yet to be revealed. And if Doc Narbon can do it now, it'd help explain even more things, like her looking awfully spry for someone who was incinerated, diced, and hopped upon by villagers.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Certainy Dr. N could have made an "artificially adulterated" clone of herself (and that might well explain how she escaped death), but when creating Beta, she had a different Nefarious Purpose.

Dave's upcoming revivification, however, falls squarely under "Mad Science is Magic", just as his current zombieism does. (And Dave still has another couple of humiliations to go though before he gets there....)

 

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Oh, my... I just discovered Risus.  Trust me, this is what you want to do Narbonic roleplaying with!  (Open source narrative RPG).

James Rice (jhrice) says:

Leon Arnott (l) said
"...I cheered the fact that the younger Dr. N's clonery was..."

There is no younger Dr. Narbon.  Helen Beta isn't a doctor, much to her shame. 

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: Helen is truly adorable when she'd trying to be benevolent. And the way she's tugging on his arm like a exited six-year-old makes me smile.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I believe Leon meant "Dr. Narbon, when she was younger", not "the younger Narbon, who is a doctor".

(Of course, the elder Narbon was not yet a doctor at the time in question, either. She was still Master Narbon when Helen Beta was nine.)

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: She's pretty cute.
Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Hey, I'd still be tempted by Caliban's offer. Michelle Yeoh - the only woman in Hollywood who could break your heart *and* your legs.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile