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Ugh...terrible gray fills in the first panel. I do like Helen's hand-rubbing pose in the last panel, though. Helen's just so darn perky. Being lost in a dungeon on the run from an international shadow conspiracy while trapped in the wrong gender doesn't faze her at all. Or him. Whatever.

Dave, meanwhile, is becoming aware of the pull Helen has on him, even when she's a man, and is understandably troubled. It only gets worse from here on out, Dave.

That weird face in the foreground of the first panel cracks me up. And, yes, it's very sad how I can't draw perspective at all. Or figure out where the ceilings should go. Drawing is really, really hard, guys.

At least Artie questions why there's a dungeon in the basement of a hotel. The real reason is, of course, that I wanted a dungeon.

I guess I could've made the Dave Patrol guy look bigger and more intimidating, but keep in mind that Dave is 6'1", man-Helen is taller than him, and the Patrol guy is taller than both of them. So he really is quite a large Dave. He's about as big as Artie will be eventually. I drew some pretty good Arties in this strip, incidentally, but Artie's really easy to draw, unlike ceilings.

This was one of the last strips I wrote for this sequence, dashed off to get Dave and Helen out of the dungeon. I actually still think it's pretty funny. Helen's weird logic generally makes for decent material.

Another nod to San Francisco street character Frank Chu in the last panel. I still see him downtown a lot.

And this was one of the first strips I wrote for "D-Con." The whole thing was designed to build up to this moment. But wasn't it all worthwhile?

I tend to draw fingers either too fat or too thin. And no, I don't know why the Daves are carrying shotguns.

Holy crud, the dialogue in the second panel totally disappeared in the version that originally ran! What the heck? I've replaced it here. Sigh...

I do like that the shock of discovering that his car can turn into a giant robot causes Dave's beard to fuzz up.

You know, sometimes this strip is a little bit silly.

46 comments:
David Shaw (trazoi) says: It's always a sad sight to see a Dave's conflicted emotions cause him to betray his own.
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

well. think about it. What has the conspiracy done for dave? not much. yeah, he is a part of a powerfull secret conspiracy, but he is merely a cog in a vast machine. if he is 1/1,000,000th the conspiracy, i'll be surprised.

at Narbonic labs, he is doing what he dreamed of doing as a kid, and is not a cog. he is 1/20th of narbonic labs. going by evilness of course. helen being a 8. mel being an 8. Artie being a 1 as well. and Helen's mom being a 2, even though she isnt part of narbonic labs. why?

heh heh heh.

Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: Here in the UK, the conspiracy now has its own TV channel. Mostly shows reruns of old comedy shows.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

I ask you: how could Dave possibly refuse an overgrown schoolboy with an uplifting grin and a pair of rose-tinted lenses? That's the allure of Helen's childlike wickedness.

Why does Artie associate basic decency with the side of the conspiracy? ...Actually, I think I have some idea. Even if Dave is a 1,000,000th of a conspiracy, he's at least in the employ of the common man. Perhaps the Dave Conspiracy represents Dave's remaining loyalty to greater humanity?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Dave: "I'm a complicated man."

Helen:  "I'm a genius, and insane, and fighting an international shadow conspiracy, and want to rule the world, and have issues with my mother, and I'm currently the wrong gender and saturated with artificial pheromones!  I'm a complicated man AND a complicated woman!  Hah!  Got you beat!"

David Shaw (trazoi) says:

@Martin: Yes, but the Daves are our kin, and it's a painful act to be separated from the Brotherhood. I speak from personal experience.

Although I still hold that the incident with the guacamole at D-Con '05 was not entirely my fault.

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: I'd saythis is probably the first signs of Artie and Daves's later friendship- which mostly consists of Artie counseling a increasingly conflicted Dave.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Given that the conspiracy has already had Dave killed, I'm thinking loyalty owed is pretty low. Though Dave doesn't know that yet.

Come to think of it, that incident seems to get translated to Beta killing him in Dave's mind, even though she carries none of the blame for it, except insofar as it was criminally irresponsible for her to leave her mother alone in a room with her henchman and a death ray. Is this a sign of Dave subconsciously editing his own memory of events due to inability to mentally deal with the Daves being out to get him, or just that it's funnier that way?

I'm guessing the latter.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Darn ... why didn't I think of these parody lyrics this morning?  Now no one will see them ... oh well, sung to the tune of "Nowhere Man"

He's a complicated man
In a complicated land,
Making complicated plans
For who knows who?

Has conflicted loyalty,
Slowly losing sanity;
Isn't he a lot like me
And you?

Under stress, it's tellin'...
Got a thing for Helen ...
Listen, Dave ...
The girl/man you love, you're going to save ...

(I had more verses, but they were full of spoilers for future story arcs.  It's OK to rhyme "You're called to save" and "You're bald, poor Dave", right?)

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Shaenon,

If you don't like the gray fills, you can always do like George Lucas did when he went back and reworked Star Wars and added MORE gray ... fills...uuhhh...wait...uhhh...never mind. They look great just as they are.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Uh0h.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

It turns out that, contrary to what I initially assumed, "Best Western" is a hotel chain and not an Oscar. Some of us just aren't familiar with specific brands of things!

Dave is six foot? That's... unexpected. I suppose his natural downtrodden demeanour has some kind of refracting effect.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: It's call the nerdiger's hump.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@ Leon:  Yes, Dave is 6'1", and slouches a lot.  (SPOILER ALERT) He mentioned it when Madblood took him prisoner in the "Doppelganger Gambit" storyline.

Now, everybody sing ...

Welcome to the Hotel With A Dungeon!
Such a gloomy place,
With a weird, sad face ...
Booking a Best Western Hotel with a dungeon!
What a charming pit;
Now it's time to split ...

(Sung to the tune of "Hotel California", duh)

kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

If you slouch, height doesn't count.

I am beginning to miss Mell. She's about the only character who doesn't make me feel very short (and even she's slightly taller than me). This doesn't usually happen with cartoon characters.

I suppose there's always Artie. For a while.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: ....eep.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

At this point, Mr. Chu's placard slogans have become a pleasant in-joke all of your own - more a part of the Narboniverse than our pale reality.

Dave, Dave, Dave. You don't want this blonde madman to carry you back into the Circle instead of the nearest ground-floor exit, do you?

It occurs to me that "the blue-haired man" wouldn't work in the print collection - to which I am unfamiliar - unless this episode was reproduced in full colour especially for the occasion!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

If I weren't so rushed, today's song parody would have been "Blue-Haired Man" to the tune of Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl".  (Now I'm going to be thinking about that all day at work.)

What's the difference between an ordinary psycho and a mad genius?  Call it "style points".

David Given (dg) says:

Wait. Blue-haired man...

Gav?

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Yieee!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

"We're not about to get 20% killed"? I dunno... it seems a little limp for a punch-line. How about "But we're about to get 100% killed"? (Don't worry; if you change it quickly, none will be the wiser.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Well, I like the punch line.  In fact, I'll even go so far as to make "20% Killed" today's band name.

Plus, shotguns are badass.  So much more intimidating than a plain ol' pistol.  A shotgun says, "This is a phallic symbol, and you're f*cked."

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Shotguns say "Adrian Veidt can't catch me!!"

Shotguns say "Don't run. You'll only die tired."

But those are some freakkin huge barrels. I figured they launched Evil Dave Rabid Space Chipmunks or something.

Rachel S. (masamage) says: I think it's an awesome punchline.
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says: Not to start something, but I too totally love the punchline.
Bill Livingston (billfl) says:

And no, I don't know why the Daves are carrying shotguns.

 

Because using Uzis would be overkill.  At least without Mel around.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

"We're not about to get 20% killed!"

 

Yeah, too bad death is so all-or-nothing... 

Vlad Taltos (flyingfish) says: Ah, but what about MOSTLY dead?
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

Is it me, or does Helen's goatee look distinctly shaggier since he got locked in the dungeon?

Maybe it's me.

Daniel Baye (pooga) says: I hate to mention it (especially after all this time), but I just noticed the percent sign is backwards. I didn't catch it originally, or the multiple times I've read the book, but today it just jumped out at me for some reason. It's still a good punchline, though...
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

This is intended to b to the tune of Yellow Submarine. HOpefully it manages to be passable (and legible).

 

We all escaped from the dungeons of the Daves, the dungeons of the Daves, the dungeons of the Daves...

 

A patrol stands on guard --

Fooling them isn't hard;

You walk up to one and rave

In the dungeons of the Daves.

 

We all escaped from the dungeons of the Daves, the dungeons of the Daves, the dungeons of the Daves...

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: "20% killed" is 35% funnier than "100% killed." I determined it with comedy computers.

I always draw percent signs backwards. Dunno why. Maybe it's a left-handed thing.
Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says: Ya, shotguns are badass.  You just can't whip out a yelling,"this is my boomstick!", popstick maybe.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

+ Heh. Heh.

Come on, SIB, you know better than to single-heh.

 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Poor poor Dave. From his point of view, this is nothing but a big blatant and highly dubious deus ex machina. Here's more than a sufficient reason for him to curl up and weep at the sheer fecundity of trying to comprehend such an illogical world.

Fortunately, we know this is merely another loose thread, finally consummated. But is it really worthwhile to sic a giant robot on a few guys with guns? The Power Rangers' Law states that a giant robot should only be deployed in instances where it can partake in Giant Fisticuffs or Giant Gun-Fu.

Internal consistency check: passed!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Now I'm disappointed.  Shaenon, as an editor of manga, should know the law of anime which requires the re-use of the same two-and-a-half-minute-long transformation sequence at every farking opportunity, in order to save time and expense.

Just take the extended middle panel from the strip that Leon linked to, put a flannel shirt and whiskers on Mell, and voila!  Activate code X-P-D-N-C!

Steve Ford (fordsfords) says:

Shotgun?  Good for one reason only: the nice loud "shik-shok" sound it makes when cycling the pump action.  A must for parking lot scenes where there's a lot of ambient noise, making it hard to hear the little clicks that revolvers make when the hammers are pulled back.

Don't believe me? Maybe you'll believe ... WIKIPEDIA!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pump_action_shotgun quote:

"It is popularly believed that the distinctive sound of a pump action being cycled carries an inherent deterrent effect." (There are TWO external links in support of this assertion, each more scary than the next.)

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Sometimes?
Rachel S. (masamage) says: :DDD
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Yeeeow!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Narbonic? Silly? I have no idea what you're talking about.

No, there's much more important things to worry about. Such as why the bullets in panel 4 are apparantly being fired horizontally at nipple-height despite being sprayed by a three-metre-tall robot.

It occurs to me that Dave can now conclude that Helen made a heavily armed transforming robot just for him, in recompense for that 'murder' thing, and disguised it as a crummy car for some reason. If he only had enough time and safety to realise this - then he could be deeply, tearfully grateful. (And what's Helen gonna do - tell the truth?)
Paul Anderson (pmanderson) says: Leon wonders "Why the bullets in panel 4 are apparently being fired horizontally at nipple-height despite being sprayed by a three-metre-tall robot." Think like Mell: Ankle-guns rule!
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says: Since the robot was a different height every damn time I drew it, the bullets could conceivably come from anywhere.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Codpiece Cannon!
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: Knee-Rockets?
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile