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Aw, poor Madblood. And he was so cool in his first appearance, at least by the usual standards of little beardy scientist guys. Why did I have to indulge in the easy stereotype of the nerdy guy who lives in his mom's basement? Because it's funny, that's why. And because I'm really shallow and lazy.

Even though Madblood's arm in the second panel is all kinds of wrong, my art's getting slightly better. I'm drawing backgrounds, for one thing. And the one-quarter view of Madblood's head in the third panel is okay, although I should've moved his ear and hairline forward and repositioned his body.

Drunken Robot Dave is totally boss.

I wrote this strip in part to answer my own concerns over how Narbonics Labs finds the budget to stay operational, when it doesn't seem to accomplish anything beyond torturing Dave and producing amusing but useless scientific curiosities like Artie. So here's an answer. Much, much later in the strip, Helen also mentions that she sold Mell's DNA to a government bioweapons project.

Still, for a continuity-wank strip, this one's pretty good. I still enjoy the second panel, and I like the way Helen and Mell immediately abandon their long-awaited confrontation with Madblood when they find something more interesting to talk about. Poor, poor Madblood. He doesn't even merit a panel wide enough to accommodate his dialogue, the schmuck.

I used the word "mutagen" last week, too. Don't know what's up with that. Although most people of my generation know the word from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," it's just a catchall term for any mutation-causing agent, so it probably comes up a lot at the lab.

This strip is actually pretty decent-looking, especially the first panel. I also like the exchange in the second panel, although Madblood's fist is HUGE.

The idea that mad scientists have "women troubles" comes largely from the Frankenstein movies, especially Bride of Frankenstein, which is basically about how life rocks harder if you just give up on heterosexuality and make monster babies with your gay BFF. Later in the strip, it's suggested that all of Madblood's mother's friends think he's gay. He's not; he just has a lot of problems with girls.

I'm not totally happy with Madblood's expressions here--they could be funnier--but at least I managed to keep his eyebrows under control.

The robots in Armored Trooper Votoms really do have wheels in their feet, like retractable roller skates. This brilliant innovation allows the animators to move them back and forth across the screen without having to animate their legs. "Vvvvvvvp" is a pretty fair approximation of the sound of the wheels descending or retracting.

I don't know why Madblood wrote an instruction manual for his own giant killer robot of doom. He's got a lot of time to himself down there in the basement.

Man, the robot's even changing size from panel to panel. This is unacceptable.

The specs Mell lists are actual features available for the 1976 AMC Gremlin. My favorite touch is the AM radio. I also like the way Mell is leaning on the panel border in the last panel, like she can't even be bothered to pretend she's not just a character in a comic strip.

"N-D" is, amazingly enough, not a tribute to Andrew, but to a totally different person named Andy I knew in high school. We were on the Academic Challenge team together, and he was really into AMC vehicles and homemade explosives. If he'd gone to high school five years later, he probably would've gotten locked up somewhere and spent the rest of his life on an FBI watch list.

I had this idea that, since my drawings of cars always turned out ugly anyway, I should draw only ugly cars. You can judge for yourself how well that worked out. I have to say, though, that at least the real Gremlin wasn't colored with a Photoshop fill.

This week of strips has some pretty good sound effects, which is something.

64 comments:
Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: I like how Madblood gave up on the "I own you" idea and has moved on to the "We work together" one.
N La Teer (zapatos) says: "Sober up, you clod" is quite possibly the best line ever.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Yes, I agree, very cliché. Though I find it hard to imagine Madblood without these easy humiliations. He's the Incompetent Rival, after all. Speaking of which, if only Narbonics Labs had an actual competent rival for once...
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: N: I think "Don't get up. Your mom let us in." trumps "Sober up..." So proper...so polite...so soul-crushing.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Madblood's neck looks uncomfortable in panel 3.  Is that because he's peering owlishly at his visitors, or is he just spineless?

Also in panel 3, what is on the wall just above one-eyed Mell's head?  Looks like one of those wall clocks shaped like a cat, with the eyes and tail that swing back and forth.  Those are just plain creepy.

 

Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says: "XMAS DECORATIONS 1983" makes me really, really happy.
Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says:

<<And because I'm really shallow and lazy. >>

Hey, it's like you always said - it's funnier to see him miserable.

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I think an arch-rival who lives in his mom's basement in a house of ticky-tacky is loads funnier than one in a castle with armies of henchmen to do his bidding. I also love how he keeps ending up back there after successive bases are destroyed by Narbonics Lab.
Metal Fatigue (metalfatigue) says:
Leon: Dr. Narbon doesn't count?
Eric Burns (ericburns) says:

Yes, I agree, very cliché. Though I find it hard to imagine Madblood without these easy humiliations. He's the Incompetent Rival, after all. Speaking of which, if only Narbonics Labs had an actual competent rival for once...

They did.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: So much for that brilliant plan.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Well, there has to be something to make up for helen for the fact that *he*  actually got his degree. I mean, really.

 Besides, he gets gets his @#$! moonbase later. 

 

Eric Burns (ericburns) says:

That's the thing.  Madblood gets tons of cool and amazing things. And he turns into... well, vaguely cool evil when he gets them.

And then Narbonics Labs shows up and reduces him back to a nerd in his mother's basement.

CURSES! 

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: Mell's just glad to know that there are some things money can't buy because people area fraid to mess with it.
Brian Rogers (billionsix) says:

Nice of you to help us with the continuity. But honestly? We didn't care.

It was an evil lab. That's all we needed to know.

Besides, wasn't there a joke in an early strip about government funding?

Cameron Nielsen (cameroncn) says: Wait...she sold Mell's DNA to "a government bioweapons project?" UNITY! o_0
Rachel S. (masamage) says: Dude, Cameron is right.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Back oars... oh, so that's how Unity was created!
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

. . . . So disturbing. This means there's a freaking MUTANT DAVE out there.

Yeeeeeuugghhhhh. 

ribbles (ribbles) says: Ooh... now I really want to use the term "continuity-wank" in a sentence.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: P.S: FOR SCIENCE!!!
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"This means there's a freaking MUTANT DAVE out there." Only the recipe for a Mutant Dave, Mr. Shades.

As for Meesrs. Burns and Fatigue: I hardly consider Dr. N a rival considering how little mad science she undertakes in the strip itself. A sibling rival, or a rival for Dave's affections, perhaps, but not much of a threat to Narbonics Labs itself.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Personally, insofar as I can doubt a minor detail in a fictional work, I doubt this is the full story behind Helen's income. What fruit was born of those government grants, I wonder?

"Not all of us survived the tech crash, you know!" Awwwwww.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

No, not Unity.  Unity is put together from people parts, not mutant parts.  Parts ain't just parts.  Actually, Unity was probably built from pieces of unsuccessful professional bowlers.

Get it?  "Spare" parts!  BWAAhahahahahahahahahaha!

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: I love Helen and Mell actually taking Madblood up on his invitation to laugh at him. You should be more careful what you ask for, Lupin!
Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: OMG. I think this is the first and only time Madblood breaks the fourth wall.
NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says: So... Dave gets MORE self preservation instincts when drunk? Ironically, this makes sense.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: I like Helen's grin, in the third panel.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

I concur that panel 1 is one of the best panels in a long while. Although it does call into question the actual height of the basement ceiling. Are there really only three (3) steps up to the ground floor?

I can only attribute Dave's reluctance to rocket-punch his thoughtless employer to his having forgotten that he no longer occupies his standard body.

Fourth wall dialogue: 18.
Today's Wally Wood panel: One big object.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Leon:  You mean, besides remembering that Helen's already gone up against Madblood's robots and shredded them?

 

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I like how Madblood corrects Helen. Dave's not just a robot, he's A GIANT KILLER ROBOT OF DOOOM!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Considering the fact that normally Dave goes to work inside a sewer ... of course he's sewersidal.
Steve Mollmann (steve) says: I don't see it!
Chris Shabsin (cshabsin) says: His fist isn't huge, it's just close to the camera!
Valerie Kaplan (shinyhappygoth) says: Not all of them think he's gay; if that were the case, they wouldn't have a bet going on it.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:
Not all of them think he's gay; if that were the case, they wouldn't have a bet going on it.

The bet is over whether he's kind of gay or really super gay.
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says: I love "Hey!  I know you!  You're my evil overlord!"
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

.. . . . 50$ on Bi, Ma'am! 

It would take Tim Curry, Sherlock Holmse, and the holy trinity of Beakman, Phoebe, and Lester to convince me that he's never had at *least* a minor crush on a guy. 

I mean, really. 

Adam Burr (wolery) says: I'm pretty sure this isn't the only time Madblood breaks the fourth wall, but the other time I can think of is on the same subject- when he is holding the Van Boom award and fairly casually informs us that unfortunately the award is useless for picking up normal women.
Metal Fatigue (metalfatigue) says:
Leon: I think that's a landing, not the ground floor.
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

Super gay... is that the result of gay exposed to mutagen?

 

The last panel of Tuesday is just brilliant. Mell's punchlne is expected, but Helen's coupled with the happy smile on her face is wonderful.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

It's Werner Von Braun's postulate:  The project is not complete until the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the device being built.  He was talking about moon rockets, but the principle is the same.

Leon Arnott (l) says:
"Leon: You mean, besides remembering that Helen's already gone up against Madblood's robots and shredded them?"
Hey, Dave never paid that much attention throughout the Marinia storyline.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Whenever I see stick-ups like these, I cannot help but wonder "Come on, Madblood doesn't really think that Mell's gonna commit cold-blooded mu-" and then I remember that a mad biologist's arsenal doesn't consist entirely of lethal weapons.

Dear me, isn't Madblood concerned about the blatant comedic property damage?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says:

What, the manual too? Awwww....
Jim Noonan (tsuki) says:

Oh I disagree with you Mrs. Shaenon.  Madblood's expressions are funny as is.  The subtle self-satisfied smirk and raised eyebrow in the third panel as he observes Helen's attempt to play the cool trying to get Dave Mega-Robot up the steps is truly priceless.

 

 

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

<i>I don't know why Madblood wrote an instruction manual for his own giant killer robot of doom.</i>

He probably built the thing from a kit...  I like his expressions too -- they're not as campy as elsewhere, but then he did lose the initiative. 

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Ah, Madblood. Clawing a sneer out of humiliating defeat.

And you ALWAYS make an instruction manual. Why? Because there is NOTHING EVILER THAN ONE.

You buy a nice shelf unit, open the handy pamphlet. . . two hours later your hand is glued to your face, your living room is pink, and the cat is missing. 

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: Are all three of those holes on Dave's head eyes, or is one a mouth?
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

Thursday: Mell has two arms in Panel 1 -- you can see the top of her left arm behind her right -- but she seems to have only one in panel 4... 

Justin, robots don't eat and clearly have no need of a mouth. Obviously that is a nose.

Rachel (admiralshazbot) says: Dov, what? Mell's got two arms in panel 4. Her right one is resting on her hip, and her left one is leaning on the panel.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

I think this is the first (or second, mayve) time Mell demonstrates her ablitity to out-think the people who can make reality shift.

Via common sense. And lazyness. And guns.

 Mell 2008: Because she says so. 

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: So now instead of having a car, Dave becomes a car... Huh.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

"It's not just a robot, it's a Transformer!"
I refuse to believe that this revelation makes even the merest modicum of sense for anybody but Dave and the cartoonist. Now I suppose some live T-rexes are going to storm the neighbourhood by tomorrow.

Characters leaning on the panel frame: 5.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: And this time, Dave's "car" is already wrecked before he even turns into it!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Rachel: Dov was talking about Thursday's comic, where Mell is threatening Madblood with the pistol to the nose.

Mell 2008: If I don't get elected, I'll have lots of free time and a map of precincts that went against me.  Your call.

Her running mate would be Al Gore, because there's no one named Bloodshed.  Of course, if she's elected, she'd paint the White House red and call it the Blood Shed.

That Guy (jsw) says: Well, seeing as how he's a Transformer the inconsistencies in scale make perfect sense. I mean, Astrotrain was barely able to fit regular-sized Decepticons in one shot but in the next Devastator was able to stand up inside without a problem. And let's not even get started on guys like Soundwave and Megatron.
Vlad Taltos (flyingfish) says: I can't remember. Does Dave get pulled over for drunk driving later in this arc?
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: A while back, I actually designed a Gremlin Transformer: http://www.dvandom.com/drawings/detonatorsk.JPG Named "Detonator". Later was reminded that the Pintos were the ones that exploded, Gremlins were merely hotboxes.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

I am utterly infatuated in the manner In which Mell and Hellens faces go from overjoyed and exited. . . to somewhat horrified . . .  to, well, disbeleiving in a *bad* way. 

It gives the impression that it is a painful looking process. 

So, any guesses, dear fellow fans, as to what Miss Melody's 'Other Name' for a Gremlin is?

Monty Ashley (montykins) says: I quite like Mell's expression in the exact middle of this strip.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I actually drove my cousin's Pinto for one summer while I was in college.  I survived, amazingly.

Actually, this strip reminds me of the Marvel "Damage Control" mini-series, about the guys who repair the damage caused by superhero fights.  Spider-Man had gone into a giant killer robot and pulled the plug inside its head, but got stuck.  The D.C. rep used an RC controller (the type used for model planes) to get control of the robot and turn it into a Volkswagen Beetle.  Spider-Man was in the trunk (which was in the front of the old VW bugs).  Actual line: "Hey, Spider-Man, you're lucky we didn't quit while it was a head."

 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

The chest-high car is all well and good, but where'd the rest of the robot go?

This transformation might reveal something about Madblood's primary source of giant robot building materials. Perhaps he was given permission to dismantle his mother's car, on the one condition that he must completely reassemble the car on the days that she has to get the groceries?
(P.S: This is now canon.)
Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I love the series of expression in the center panel, which speak volumes without any dialog at all. Nothing like having the hypothetical coolness of a transforming car destroyed by the reality that it's a Gremlin.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile