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And here we see Mr. Wasoto, mentioned several months ago. As you can see, he's a Japanese oni. He looks a lot like Lum's dad in Urusei Yatsura, actually.

I have no idea what janitorial services in Hell involve. It's probably best not to speculate.

This strip is awesome, I don't care what you say. The last line is a nod to General Protection Fault, which unfortunately doesn't have so much of the cheerful ogling anymore. If this strip had been drawn many years later, the hand in the jar could've been a Doctor Who reference.

I love Mr. Wasoto's combover.

Eh, this strip is kinda lame. Sometimes you just need a sixth strip to fill out the week, y'know? The one good part is the unidentified organ in a jar Mell is toting around for no particular reason. Also, Mell seems to be aware of Dave's man-crush on Bruce Willis from the Sunday strips. It's always weird when Sunday Narbonic crosses over with regular Narbonic.

Ah, visual gags. So rare in Narbonic, and therefore so precious. Dave's head really ought to be facing the other way in the last panel, but his expression came out so perfectly that I didn't want to change it. And he still has his cigarette!

I've gotta admit, I like it when Dave is a disembodied zombie head. It's a nadir for him. In the last panel, you have to picture Helen holding his head like a bowling ball, probably with a finger stuck in his ear or up his nose.

The guy in the last panel is supposed to be my genius friend Jason Shiga, who had recently drawn a comic strip called "Bus Stop." It doesn't look much like him, though, because I was such a cruddy artist. You can see better cartoon renditions of Shiga in Derek Kirk Kim's Same Difference and Other Stories (in the story about Korean toilets, he's the one saying, "The Rubik's Cube?") and in Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm's Good as Lily (running from the food fight; Andrew and I are on the same page).

Jason Shiga: muse to Bay Area cartoonists.

As you may recall, in a previous strip Artie mentioned being unable to lift Helen's EEG monitor. Now we learn that Helen has remedied the situation. This was in response to online discussion about why Helen would have some huge primitive EEG monitor too big for a gerbil to lift. I can be easily swayed by criticism sometimes. Other times, I'm just too lazy to fix stuff.

63 comments:
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: But speculate we will!
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

Clean up in pit six!

 

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

Well... going by the latest 'Old Familiar Faces' storyline in Something Positive, it's probably sweeping up piles of spontaneously appearing Bibles. Sweeping them up a mountain. With a toothbrush.

 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

How does tinkering with one's emotions not impact on one's free will? Emotion is pretty much all the will we've got.

Let's recap: Helen didn't want to scrap her fleshy patchwork doll because of how fittingly horrific a creation it is. But now that wish-granting chap has apparantly poked her guilt lobe enough that she's realised that, scientist or not, she really ought to return Dave to a sane, warm-blooded corpus. (...Is this perhaps a metaphor for the cartoonist's own creative process?)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Janitorial services must include cleaning up any flammable materials around the furnaces.  After all, you don't want to violate OSHA safety standards.

And yes, there are OSHA inspectors everywhere.  What part of "Hell" don't you understand?

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: Kitten wrangling is the only worse job, really. 
Rachel S. (masamage) says: This strip IS awesome. It makes me go OH MAN.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Clearly, Doctor Who made a Narbonic reference.
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

"what could go wrong with that!"

 ... put that on the list of things never, ever, to say.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday's Comic: Ah, I remember this episode well. I never did figure out if Helen was literally enticed by a dead insect, or if said insect was a strange metaphor for Dave. O'well. Works both ways. (And if the last line is meant to call forth a memory, one would think that memory would be Dr. Narbon.)

The other unresolved question is, of course, why a demon would have want of glasses in the first place.

On a recent holiday I had the fortune to see an etymological display of colourful pinned beetles arranged, as per the chart behind Helen's head, in enticing circular patterns, as if they were precious stones in a necklace. It occurs to me that an evil biologist as pink-hearted as Helen would arrange her... less socially acceptable specimens in much the same manner.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

I'm pretty sure the 'bugs' are probably a printout of Dave's chromosomes... and if Mr. Arnott is making a joke, I still don't actually see it.

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: Definitely chromosomes on the wall, and I'm fairly certain she's holding gel electrophoresis
results in her hand.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Indeed, Helen can tell Dave has a cute butt just by looking at the DNA sequence. And she can discern anything else she wants to know.

Half-moon reading glasses are a must for anyone with administrative responsibilities. Looking over the top of the glasses at a wayward subordinate is one of the few superpowers available to the combover set. I'm sure Mr. Screwtape keeps a pair in his desk. And Mr. Wasoto is channeling Rupert Giles in the third panel. ("No one takes off his glasses like Tony Head.")

With the time machine, maybe the hand still *is* a Doctor Who reference. And if Jack comes for it.... hmmmm... 

Jack and Artie...

Jack and Artie and Mell...

Jack and Arite and Mell and Helen and Dave...

Jack and Mr. Masoto and Sir Pounce... 

Jack and Mr. Masoto and Sir Pounce and Mama Helen... and Mongor!

 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: By looking at the gel electrophoresis, Helen can tell how Dave would look in tight genes.  (Yes, I have no shame.)
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

WARNING: INCREDIBLY DATED REFERENCE BELOW

 "I don't even see chromosomes anymore.  Just cute butt, tight butt, saggy butt. . ."

And before anyone else can groan and post this link, I will groan and post it:

http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Image:Bullet_time.jpg 

 

Also, I love how Mr. Wasoto comfortingly places his hand on Caliban's shoulder and reassures him, almost paternally, that he's incompetent and has almost certainly screwed up anyway. 

 

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:
Oh, Tiff. Why couldn't you have stopped at the first one? Jack would've been happier, Artie would've been happier, I would've been much happier.

Actually, I guess Jack would be happy no matter what.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

The 21st century is when people write horrible, horrible slash, and you gotta be ready.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Jack and Artie??! *faint*

DON'T TEASE ME PEOPLE! Now I needta find a tissue for my nosebleed. . . (Cheesy anime refference)

By the way, just for the record? Helen reminds me of my mom just there. No further explanation. 

Evan Kennedy (kneefers) says:

"The 21st century is when people write horrible, horrible slash, and you gotta be ready."

I think that's the most appropriate and hysterical Torchwood reference I've ever heard. I laughed very, very hard.

Reese Dorrycott (kenoscope) says:

The absolutly most frightening words I have heard on television...

"How hard could it be?"

Top Gear. 

 

 

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Shaenon,

Stopping at "Jack and Artie" would have yaoi cool, but not evil. I was compelled to reach deeper into the blackness, but...

I think the most shocking of all the "Jack and..." references is nowhere near as mind-shatteringly-horrible as Mama Helen's first shot at Mell - "Picture Ernest Borgnine and Ralph Nader naked with a bottle of baby oil." Artie, like Ianto, is going to have to learn that having Jack in your life means learning to share. 

At the Torchwood forum at Comicon last year, one of the attendees asked "Given the complex state of relationships between all the characters, when can we expect the orgy?" The Torchwood folks decided to tell us that the word "orgy" would indeed appear in the first episode. But they didn't <SPOILER> say it would be James Marsters - OMFG Jack snogging Spike!!!!!</SPOILER> 

Oh, and here's one too horrible to contemplate...

Jack and Artie and *hic* Artie!!!

My work is done here. 

 

NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says: Shaenon, I can't BELIEVE you forgot the "Bruce Willis is the Hottest Man Alive" calender Dave keeps at his desk. ^-~
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

This is why I miss the old Hollywood habit of actors using stage names ... "Bakula" sounds like something I'd have to apply an ointment to. 

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

I kinda like the re-affirming of Dave's. . . well, Dave-ness.

The poor man was out of the loop! *tisk tisk* 

Rachel (admiralshazbot) says: But Ed, without Scott Bakula, what would we use to rhyme with "Dracula" in bad poetry?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Oh well.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Huzzah for Count Bakula
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

"...my stupid car and not THIS?" - aw man, Dave is just incurable.

What is more interesting is how they instananeously take Dave being able to possess David Duchovny right in their stride, especially since it makes not a whit of sense out of context. (The context, of course, being Dave's little floating British friend that only he can see.) Those heartless fools probably aren't even listening to him.
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"I'm pretty sure the 'bugs' are probably a printout of Dave's chromosomes... and if Mr. Arnott is making a joke, I still don't actually see it."

Really? I had no idea, actually, that Helen would print Dave' chromosomes on a transparent sheet with slightly rounded edges. It is, I suppose, a necessity of the format itself to allow the readers to identify what Helen is reading. But in my mind that material has always signified mounted insects, postage stamps and pressed flowers. And might I add that the prominent poster on the back wall, without purposeful examination, looks very dearly like a chart identifying badly-drawn stick insects, or butterflies.
...I'm so embarassed.
NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says:

@Leon:

Maybe it's the half-semester in University Biological Science and the obsession with CSI, but I immediately assumed she was holding a DNA readout, to the exclusion of all else.

I DID miss the chromosomes on the back wall, however, although in retrospect that IS what they are... 

Andrew Perron (ununnilium) says: Leon: As we'll see later, Dave is, in fact, completely curable.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Andrew, Leon:  As we'll see later, Dave is, in fact, completely curable.

Not quite -- "The Cure" will take much research, not to mention ongoing treatment.  But yes: Later, Dave will be curable, (after a fashion).

(I'd give you the wordgeek rant about "curable" vs. "treatable", but heck, reality in the N-verse is kinda mushy anyway.  So just get a spoon....) 

 

Rachel (admiralshazbot) says: Dave IS curable. It was curable before Helen found a way to completely remove the mad scientist traits, it's just that no one knew what the cure was.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Eh, don't get all excited, Dave. It's only Enterprise.
Michael Suttkus, II (the_mess) says:

Am I the only geek on the planet that *liked* Enterprise?

<>Oh, well, at least I hated Voyager.
Rachel (admiralshazbot) says: Dave always lands cigarette-side up, the way toast always lands butter-side down.
Hardy Sharla (yllaria) says:

He has neck bolts!  I hadn't noticed those before.  Cool.

 

(You'd have thought they'd keep his head screwed on, but no such luck.) 

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Severed heads don't really roll straight, anyway.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Depends on how they're severed, doesn't it? In my experience, they'll roll more-or-less straight, if you leave as little neck as possiblee and are rolling along an axis that keeps the nose from touching the ground.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

Aw, now you're asking us to believe that Dave can speak without lungs? ...I mean, his Charlie Brown-esque gaze pretty much says it all: apart from the indignity of being exiled from living humanity, he's now a foot-tall quadruplegic.

(The next person to correct my 'foot-tall' into 'football' wins a free eye-roll!)
Leon Arnott (l) says:
Leon: As we'll see later, Dave is, in fact, completely curable.

But, I ask you, is there a cure for gross hypertrophy of the Star Trek lobe?
ribbles (ribbles) says: What I like about the next part of the story is how much fun everyone besides Dave has.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Sharla:  Too bad those neck bolts didn't actually work, that is, keep his head attached to his body!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

And once again, we see the "evil-with-a-heart" t-shirt.  Kind of appropriate, because Helen decided to grow a new body for Dave after she felt sorry for him.  So she does have a heart, while still being evil.

Now, if you want something *really* evil, Mell could have inserted a plastic tube into Dave's trachea and played him like a kazoo.

Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

The real visual gag here is the pitch-perfect, honestly inquiring expression on Helen's face in panel one as she asks Dave if he's in a hurry to have a brand new body instead of being a putrefying, disintegrating corpse that can't even enjoy the cigarettes it's hooked on.  She may have been made to be somewhat nicer to Dave, but she has only just set out on the long road from seeing him as a lab rat to the goinkage.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ahhh, so clever.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says:

Ummm, I'm not referring to Helen here.

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Good 'ole Dave. . . . Good old, good old Dave. . .

 

 

 

 

 

How I loath him. 

Bauke Schildt (tephlon) says: @Leon: Quadraplegic.    See, no mention of footballs at all... :-)
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Or feet.
Rachel S. (masamage) says: "Binder clips" cracks me up. Also, yes, the mental image of her grip on Dave's head.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Aeegad.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

It should be mentioned that there is a terrible joke apparant in today's and forthcoming episodes, which can be found by completing today's Consonant Hangman: A_a_ _oo_ _o_i__.

The scientist thinks that A) she can turn the Genius on and off like a tap, and B) that her strain of Genius is capable of MacGyvering. (Incidentally, Helen: embed thumb tacks in nape of neck and base of skull, then thread rubber band between them. Genius!)

Furthermore, Dave is still gripping a cigarette in his lips - now the only opposable organs left.

"We used it up to stick his leg back on." Continuity preserved... presumably.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Well Dave, don't worry... you will get that fresh new body... eventually.  In the meantime, you've got old friends (and enemies) to meet, and several chances to embarrass yourself....  Bwahahaha!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"...probably with a finger stuck in his ear or up his nose"

You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but ... oh come on, you remember this one, right?

 

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: I'm glad Ed said that, so I didn't have to.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: This, to me, is the second-greatest moment of pathos in Daves history. Second only to later, where he gets *drunk* on it.
Kathy Moon (flipkat) says: I'm kind of concerned that the thumbtacks were in the first-aid kit to begin with.
James Rice (jhrice) says:

The original of this strip is hanging next to an original Winsor McKay Gertie.  On the mat around the artwork is written roughly the same description above. 

This was the first Narbonic strip I bought.  I think I have more than 10 now. 

 

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Y'know, if I were Dave, I think that the first Saturday panel would force me to re-evaluate the potential perks of being a disembodied zombie head. Perhaps that's why he looks so disappointed at being turned around.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ay, yi, yi.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Why do they have to bring Dave? Why couldn't they just leave him lying face-up in front of a Mandelbrot screensaver or something?

"Dr. Frankenstein would be ashamed." Evidence that he was indeed one of the Narboniverse's great mad scientists!

"You crushed it with the death ray." Gosh, it seems as if every past throwaway joke has actively conspired towards Dave's prolonged indignity.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

See, that was/is why I love this comic so much. Most of the throwaway jokes actually come back up!

It's the little things. <3 

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