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Smithson Thus Far... ·

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Yes! By all means let us find a plot machination that allows me to draw the gender-swapped versions of both Helen and Dave!

I like the arm hair on Helen. I always dig drawing arm hair.

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's, had died recently at the time I drew this. Dave Gorman wrote an awesome book called Are You Dave Gorman? in which he tracked down other people with his name. This is the sort of thing English people do to amuse themselves and be more entertaining than Americans.

Gosh, the Dave Patrol. How can you not dig the Dave Patrol?

That's got to be my friend Drave in the foreground of the second panel. I'm not sure if he should be allowed in the convention, since he doesn't call himself Dave. Usually they're pretty strict about that.

Okay, yes, this one's just silly. The hamster on the treat package is a character from the anime Hamtaro. I believe we gave her the name Bijou.

Artie's single throwaway line in the last panel inspired one Jeffrey Channing Wells to write a Narbonic fanfic of epic proportions, which I serialized on Sundays until the end of the strip. This in turn led to a long and delightful correspondence with Jeffrey, which ultimately resulted in the two of us collaborating on another daily webcomic. So this ended up being one of the most important Narbonic strips I drew. Go figure.

This is pretty dumb, especially since I'm pretty sure "Baywatch" had already been cancelled by the time this ran, but the Dave silhouettes do kind of crack me up.

Check out the 3.5" diskette in panel two! (The one in panel one looks larger, but maybe it's just my inconsistent artwork.) People really did use such primitive artifacts in 2002. I still have a stack from college with documents I can no longer access, including the original outlines for Smithson. Ah well.

The Powers That Be was the official title for the council members of the Nonhuman Students Organization, my college sci-fi club. As mentioned in previous notes, I was First Minister of the NSO in senior year. Dave Barker was the first First Minister, so he was one of the Powers That Be in real life as well as in Narbonic.

The current "Sesame Street" just has way too much Elmo.

57 comments:
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

This may be a suspiciously rapid excuse for the reintroduction of our stout smoking sweetheart, but it is completely logical. I venture to suggest that it is the most logical chain of causation in this entire storyline.

Rest assured, also, that your arm hair fixation has not gone unnoticed.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Doesn't the Second Amendment support the right to haired arms?  Since I like to kibitz while I watch football, does that make me an arm hair quarterback?

Man-Helen walks into a convention of Daves.  The security guard asks him, "Have you seen a woman named Narbon around?"  Helen replies "Seen her?  I'm wearing hirsute!"

(putting on hardhat and nomex long johns)

David Toboz (professor_zobot) says:

The phrase "Would you like a mint" reminds me to plug "The Mad Sci Wars", the fanfiction-ish freeform Roleplaying thing currently occuring in the forums. Come join in on the fun!

I like seeing how Dave's loyalties are divided, even now. He's really starting to relate to Helen, isn't he?

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Doesn't the Second Amendment support the right to haired arms?

No, no, that's right to bear arms. Which reminds me, I've got some Skin Horse fanart to draw... 

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: The major problem with "Everything-I-need-to-know-I-learned-in-Kindergarten"-type life lessons is that they teach you not to take candy from strangers -- but they *don't* teach you not to eat mints offered by cute Mad Scientists...
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

I like Helen's arm hair too - noticed it before - but would maintain that you don't need to be male to have arm hair. *looks at arms, sighs gently*

Helen is so subtle. That's the kind of subterfuge which will DEFINITELY prevent anyone finding the interloper!

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: Anyone want a mint?
Monty Ashley (montykins) says: Would you like to buy some soup? (MST3K: The Wild World of Batwoman)
Rachel (admiralshazbot) says: He could be an undercover Dave.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

The smurf returns!

I don't really know what to think about Dave's moment of transition passing completely unnoticed by herself and others. I suppose it's par for the course - how often do transformed characters proceed as normal only to scream in fright at their own reflection? (It would make Dave tremendously paranoid, though, by how silently his own body can betray him.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Dave Patrol!  Dave Patrol!
They're so awesome, they're on a roll!
They're intense; tough but fair;
Keeping non-Daves out of there!
Hey man!
There goes the Dave Patrol!

(sung to the tune of "Spider-Man", in case ya couldn't tell)

 

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: Would Dave truly ever consider breasts to be "in the way"?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Uh-oh.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says: Sleepyjohn: I don't see why not. She wasn't terribly impressed with them last time. (And her underwires chafed. But presumably she is currently bra-less, which is probably even worse.)
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: To paraphrase another, slightly more famous, comic: "Scientific progress goes 'SPLORT!'"
Nicholas (drakesden) says: The radio host Joe Frank once interviewed a bunch of other Joe Franks across the nation and broadcast them on national radio. So, yes, Americans (like a Ms. Shaenon Garrity) can be very original and entertaining as well, especially if it's their job.
Joe Charneskie (mutant-sentry) says:

Clearly the other Dave's failed to notice Mr. Davenport's tranformation due to Sunnydale Syndrome (which effects non-slayers, non-demons, non-Mad Scientists, non-anthropamorphic bears in trenchcoats and fedoras, Mundanes and Muggles the worlds over).  This Syndrome is what keeps normal people from noticing the abnormals and anything they can't cope with.  Closely related to the "Somebody Else's Problem Feild".

 As for Mr./Ms. Davenport... being comedically slow on the uptake is par for the course (re: Artie explaing Helen's clone nature to Dave and Mel...)

Metal Fatigue (metalfatigue) says: The really interesting aspect of Dave's transformation here is that it also turns the two Daves immediately behind him/her into Dave Patrol members.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh. Heh. Heh.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Something peculiar about this episode is that it invokes the Trademark Favourite Food trope (complete with the Glomp) even though Dried Corn and Carrot Treetz never appear in this capacity ever again. You'd think Artie's primal, irresistible weakness would be a bit more intellectually stimulating.

Helen's line about the little guy "stowing away" is one that must be suitably bent to accomodate the official Narbonic fanfic "A Brief Moment of Culture" into continuity. Did Artie really travel to D-Con via express post, as the aforementioned so claims? And if so, how on Earth did he find Helen's room?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

The "Brief Moment of Culture" fanfic takes place when Dave and Helen go to her high school reunion.  No bending of continuity is necessary.

OK, to shamelessly steal a line from Pratchett ... "Do you have problems with continuity?"  "Yeah, but I'm taking pills for it."

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Simple - he mailed himself to Dave Praetorius
Sor Cyress (sorcyress) says: I know I'm a day late, but eeee, someone else who has heard of 'Are You Dave Gorman?'! Me and my mom stumbled across one of Danny Wallis's books entirely by accident, and bought all the ones we could lay our hands on, including that one.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

Sorcyress: I've _met_ Dave Gorman. (At his "Googlewhack Adventure" live show, not just randomly. My name is not Dave Gorman.)

And speaking as a former gerbil-owner, I love today's strip. (Our guinea pigs exhibit exactly that sort of behaviour, too.)

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

*Does the Hamptaro Dance* I memorized the theme song when I was thirteen. And I'm aware I'm dating myself... no one else will!

*dodges tomato*

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Straaange.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

That last line does seem a tad contradictory, though. If Artie stowed away in their luggage, does it mean that Mell blow up the gerbil pens before they left? 'Tis better, it seems, to write a fanfic solely to explain away that discrepancy.

Also: Helen needs to watch his gendered pronouns!
Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

In retrospect, I think that the implication is that Mell did in fact blow up the gerbil pens some time ago, simply because Artie's final line is in the present tense, suggesting he is informing Helen of a situation both of them should consider current.  Had he used the word "was", the Fanfic would have been more supportable.  I like to think that Artie is in fact saying "was" but is merely being sloppy in his elocution.  Sure, it stretches credibility, but it makes me feel good and that's really the ultimate goal of the entire universe, right?

The other thing I couldn't figure out is how Artie apparently teleported from Mell's shoulder into the luggage in the back of the running Gremlin.  I opted for the "overnight post" gambit as a partial way of explaining this, well aware of the fact that live animals would be terribly uncomfortable in an unpressurized cargo bay, presuming airmail.  When I thought of this, I had the urge to specifically write a gerbil-sized isobaric breathing mask into the story but then I thought, y'know, screw it.  This is the sort of philosophy that dominates most of my work, creative or otherwise: neurotic obsession followed by heavy slack.

Anyway.  Good times. 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

... a gerbil-sized isobaric breathing mask ...

... yet another fan art to add to the backlog.

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Eh, I'm just always solidly impressed with how much Fan-Work is a big part of the narbonic community- The Haiku, the Fan-Art, Alterna-Dave, The Sunday Bits (which lead to an infamous Rivalry), and the Fanfiction- which, as we have noted, lead to Skinhorse.

 

... Oh, and a rather silly series of back and forth that lead to something-or other over in the Narbonic Forums called The Mad Wars. The Vorpal Wingd Rabbit (who due to eating a magic Disco book, is humanoid now) just went insane, by the way.

Joshua Holden (doctorhook) says:

...magic Disco book...

At my school, DISCO means "Discrete and Combinatorial Algebra".  But I'm guessing that's not what the Rabbit ate.  Is it?

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Nowadays, the Circle of Five would be planning new reality TV shows.  "So ... another season of 'Dancing With The Stars', or should we start up 'Extreme Makeover: Colonoscopy Edition'?"

Metal Fatigue (metalfatigue) says: You know, Sarge, there are USB 3.5" diskette drives. You could buy or borrow one to recover your files. Then you'd have them ready for when you decided to start writing more Smithson.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ah, the truth.

Oh, and if the C5 is interested, I have this great new idea for a reality show...
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

"Pretty dumb"? This is the entire punchline of the Dave Conspiracy condensed into a single strip.

I suppose the pretty dumb bit is that Dave Barker has been promoted from MIT Student to Grand Dragon. Creative nepotism, cartoonist? But then, we need something to motivate Helen toward the Circle of Five, her beloved doctor and the awful secret betwixt the two.

Instances of the word "dude": 9.
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: Of course, what's silly about the Baywatch thing is that it involves the Daves furthering the career of a mere David
Rachel S. (masamage) says:

What do colonoscopies have to do with makeovers??

No, wait. Don't tell me.  

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: "Pretty dumb"? This is the entire punchline of the Dave Conspiracy condensed into a single strip.

Philistines, the lot of you.
Paul Gadzikowski (pgadzikowski) says: I still use 3.5" floppies. Because when I want to draw on the computer in the break area where I work, it's the only kind of disk the thing takes.
Bill Livingston (billfl) says: I've got you all beat.  I've still got some data on 5.25 disks, and no one - NO one - makes drives for that anymore!
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: I still have Mac OS 7.something on *20* 3.5 floppies from the days when my harddrive would crash every 10 months or so. Luckily, OS X seems to be a helluva lot more reliable...
Dave Rood (surrdave) says:

Sorry, Bill, but I do have you beat--8" floppys.  Of course, the files necessarily are pretty small, but quality over quantity, that's what I say.

(Also, I was a child when I put the stuff on there.  It's a program written in APL, and it does... well, doing something isn't really the point of APL.)

Gary Ehrlich (gorgeousgary) says:

In the immortal words of Frank Hayes: 

o/~And we walked 20 miles to the schoolhouse
Barefoot, and uphill, both ways
Through blizzards in summer and winter
Back in the good old days
Back when Fortran was not even Three-tran
And the PC was only a toy
And we did our computing by gaslight
When I...was a boy...o/~

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: Frighteningly, we (myself and my Dave) have a Vic 20 that ran on tape cassettes, which still works. I play text-based adventure games on it when I want to exercise my ability to curse.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: I just got a MacBook Air, which means I have finally advanced to the Platonic level of no diskettes at all.
Daniel Dwiggins (dand) says: A bit of quick research shows that Baywatch (Hawaii, at that point) did end in May 2001.  There was a 2003 made for television movie, however, so that's obviously what they're discussing.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

There are better ways to get a disketteless system than a macbook air- made by apple or otherwise.

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says:

Plus a cookie-less cookie monster. It's Dave says in the one extra comic, "We took beauty and goodness and light, and mutated it into something horrible and wrong" 

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

The cookie-less cookie monster is a fiction.

Just like cookie monster's rap song "Healthy food" in the 90s- he had to give a message once, and then he was done.

That said, I hate elmo with a firey passion. As a child, I went to Sesame Place once, and I had to be restrained from attacking the person in the Elmo costume.

Jason (hactar) says:

What I've heard is that Elmo (who is surely a beast from the pits of hell) has become popular because sesame street is aimed at younger kids than it was when we watched it.  Grover and Big Bird are effectively 6.  Elmo is 3 or 4.

 On the other hand, I heard the guy who does Elmo's voice on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and he was great.  He can almost overlap his normal voice with Elmo's, freaking out the host.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: ...too mellow, huh?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

You know, this is actually a pretty clever twist of the Ancient Conspiracy trope. Why not apply Hanlon's razor to the secret omnipotent world rulers? Even they are only human.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

What's all this fuss I hear about "Elmo kids" these days?  It makes no sense!  I've watch Sesame Street with the grandkids, and Elmo is bright and cheerful!  These so-called "Elmo kids" dress in dark colors and moan about how miserable they are!  And aren't they a little old to be watching a show aimed at pre-schoolers?  They're ruining it for the rest of us!  It just makes me so mad that I -- what -- wait, what?

"Emo" kids?

Oh .......... that's very different.

Never mind.

 

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Elmo is the Scrappy Doo of Sesame Street.

'S' is for sniper;
It's good enough for me.
'S' is for shotgun;
It's good enough for me.

Paul Gadzikowski (pgadzikowski) says:

Is it me or is Sesame Street a lot more formulaic than it was thirty years ago? I've seen it with the neighbor kid once or twice and it's all, "Now it's time for the daily bit with Elmo," and, "Now it's time for the daily bit with Ernie" [who, by the way, was announced to be retired when Henson died]. Is that a function of being aimed at a younger audience now?

 (Full disclosure: I was a teenager in the 70s, but I watched it for the Muppets.)

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

... you guys are mean, you know that? Seriously. I know we all watched it when we were little, but it's for a different set of kids now. and just because It has a different foucus now dosn't mean that the od episodes are any less good.

Just do what i do- aknowledge that it's different in a way I don't really like as much, and move on. Besides, when I was little I *loved* Elmo, so maybe they have a okay reason.

seriously, people.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

"Five Guys Named Dave" would make a great band name, but they'd be stepping on the toes (not to mention the copyright) of "Five Guys Named Moe"...

http://www.fiveguysnamedmoe.com/ 

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