Shaenon K. Garrity's Comics   || Online Comics · RSS · Creator Profile · Join Mailing List ·
Smithson Thus Far... ·

Daily

I remember having a really hard time drawing the panels of Mell at the fast-food place (you can tell it's a fast-food place because there's a picture of a burger on the side of the counter!), which is really pretty sad. That said, even though this strip is way too wordy, I really like the conversation between Dave and Helen. It's so perfectly appropriate to both characters.

The tracking beacon is a total McGuffin to get all the characters in the same place, but what the hell, it works. There's only so much complex plotting you can do in a comic strip.

I think I came up with this plot development because I hadn't given Artie enough to do in this storyline. "Someone has to be the superintelligent one" ended up being a recurring refrain of Artie's; he says it again near the very end of Narbonic. In fact, most of the people Artie works with are extremely intelligent. They're just a little short on common sense. In his future life Artie will no doubt constantly be frustrated by the limited intelligence and laughably illogical behavior of nearly everyone he meets. It's just part of being Artie.

Market Street is in downtown San Francisco, thus further confusing the issue of where any of this is taking place. At this point Skin Horse is more or less set in a home base in the Washington D.C. area, but I kind of like the more nebulous geography of Narbonic, where a sufficiently motivated college intern can travel by foot from wherever the hell Narbonics Labs is to wherever the hell D-Con is, even though it took Dave and Helen at least two days of driving. Oh, and a few hours later everyone can be lost at sea and well on their way to an island off the coast of Brazil.

The phone in the first panel is so messed up. It looks like a really big peanut.

You can see why Mell is upset here. Her entire function in the strip is being challenged. Incidentally, as crudely drawn as the rubble here is, it's still a leap forward from the end of "ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST" back in the 2000 strips.

The guy running from the robot in the third panel is supposed to be Dave Lister from "Red Dwarf," a show that was an enormous influence on Narbonic, by which I mean I stole all the good jokes. I thought of including other famous Daves in the D-Con storyline, but I didn't get in all that many.

Seriously, I have no idea where any of this is taking place.

I like the way the last panel turned out. Artie's pose is just about perfect, and for some reason Mell always looks good upside down with her hair flying around. She looks good in micro-gravity in the moon storyline, too.

Now everyone is very tiny indeed in comparison to the robot. Sigh. But at least Mell looks cool riding around on its head. Mell seems like the type who'd know cars, or at least cars that turn into giant robots with arm-mounted cannons.

I know it feels very much like I made this storyline up as I went along, but I swear I actually plotted it out in advance. That's kind of sad, come think.

I actually like the way the boat turned out in the first panel. The figures are totally out of proportion to it, but whatever. It looks like the Noah's Ark funhouse at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, which I visited every single summer until I moved to San Francisco at age 22, and that's all I could really ask.

I could write more, but frankly I'm drunk as a lord on cheap California wine in the aftermath of my boss debate watch party. USA! USA!

46 comments:
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: ........
(jaw drops)
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Not really the correct usage of "McGuffin". This storyline's McGuffin is Dave Barker. You mean "Deus Ex Machina". Dave thought the robot was one of those, but it was actually a Chekhov's Gun.

Now, let's talk about the bizarre hole of reasoning evident in summoning Mell from a laboratory underneath the Midwest to a hotel on the East (?) Coast, at a day's notice, and having already taken the only car owned by either of them. The only reasonable conclusion is that Mell has a hitherto unmentioned superhuman running speed on top of her rubber limbs and resistance to humiliation.

Also pertinent: why is Dave so emphatic that Helen has not, in fact, seen worse?
Mike B. (epenthesis) says: I just spent my ten minutes in the shower thinking about McGuffins from history. Get out of my head, witch.
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

Love the Starbucks=evil conspiracy connection.  A possible nod to this?

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28657 

 

Gary Ehrlich (gorgeousgary) says:

Oh, I get it now! D-Con is obviously taking place in suburban NY at the infamous Rye Town Hilton (aka "The Escher Hilton") of Lunacon fame.

That would explain *both* the secret dungeon in the basement and the presence of a nearby hyperdimensional passage to the Midwest.

Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

@Leon: I've pondered your question, and I think Dave is so sure because, having gotten to know Helen, he can now spot a knee-jerk mad scientist response when he hears one.

Plus, he knows by now that for all her talk of world conquest, she really spends most of her time counting RNA. 

 

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

Leon Arnott says: "Monday: Also pertinent: why is Dave so emphatic that Helen has not, in fact, seen worse?"

 

Because Helen has not died, gone to Hell and met The-Demon-who-will-become-Caliban yet.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

You should also take into account the fact that, not only does Brazil have a west coast, but the seasons in Narbonic are reversed, as postulated previously. To deny it is to deny reason itself!

I have to say that Mell is quite good at assuming dramatic statuesque poses. "Everyone under 30 assumes that they're invincible. Shortly before the comic began, Mell had it conclusively proven." - Narbonic TCG flavour text.

Also, let's pause momentarily to consider that Artie has access to a receiver for his own beacon, a complete map of the city, a commercial phone book, a working phone, and change for a phone call... in the middle of a massive gun battle!
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Maybe it's a peanut-themed burger joint?
Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says:

There's a Market Street in every town I've ever lived in, so it doesn't confuse the issue as much as you might think.  It's like Springfield or Madison County.

 

Wait, I just checked: Boone, NC has a New Market Street, but not a Market Street.  I wonder what happened to the Old Market Street.

kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

Couldn't Helen have activated the tracking beacon some time back (but only mention it now) thus allowing Mell to get a plane?

I mean, that would be sort of in character, to assume that some sort of disaster would have happened by this point.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Oh. Well then...
Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says: The hand grenade in panel 2 is very nicely done!
Bill Livingston (billfl) says: In the future, all communications will be done via very big peanuts.  Narbonics was simply ahead of the curve.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: I love this strip. Mell's immediate resort to threat of lethal force to accomplish something that just asking politely would do at least as well. The dramatic standing on the counter to hold the place up (for directions!). Artie calling her on their phone. The quick shift to casual talking-on-the-phone pose, with the grenade still at Mell's elbow. Mell checking out her vibrating shoe. (And why does the tracking beacon vibrate, anyway? I'm assuming just because it's funny.) The unexplained idea that Mell's shoe has a usual degree of vibration. Artie just assuming that Mell's using a gun. Imagining what this conversation sounds like to the people who can't hear Artie's end of it. (Not really any weirder than it actually is, come to think of it, but still...) Brilliance, all of it.
Rockphed (rockphed) says: I think that phone looks like a pair of potatoes, not a peanut.  Or one horribly mishapen potato.
Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says: I love Mell's teary eyes in the last panel.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: What did happen to Dave?
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"I also steal liberally from Shakespeare, Jules Verne, "Mystery Science Theater 3000," 1940s Fiction House comics, "Bloom County," Daniel Pinkwater, these two weird guys I knew in high school, Winsor McCay, and my boyfriend. It's hardly *entirely* stolen from the Marx Brothers, although it'd probably be a better comic if it were."
--Shaenon K. Garrity, 24 April 2002.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

The only thing wrong with the grim devastation in panel 3 is that it's a bit unlikely that the giant robot managed to wreck two brick buildings with only an arm-mounted minigun and possibly also a lot of punching.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: "Badly Drawn Rubble" - another band name.
Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says: Leon, did you increment the off-panel head insert count?
Q. Pheevr (q-pheevr) says: Leon -- Well, it wasn't just the giant robot; I assume Helen contributed significantly to the rubblification, too.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

How does Mell get to wherever she's needed so quickly?  By using her own personal freeway.  (Insert "Highway For Mell" song parody here to the tune of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell".)

Also note that there is a Market Street in Indianapolis.  Shorty before this strip appeared, Market Square Arena, on Market St., was demolished by explosives.  Obviously Mell was passing by, and Shaenon simply reported on events a few months after they occurred.

Sorry for my absence the past few days; I've been in the hospital.  At home now recovering.  Do not ask for details, you DO NOT want to know.  Trust me.

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

 

That looks like Lister's white flag lying on the ground there in panel 3, so I guess Helen never programmed the giant robot to take prisoners....

Jason (hactar) says: I would imagine that if you gave the robot big enough bullets, made of something like Depleted Uranium or something even cooler and more exotic, they'd punch right through brick. Or they could be something like the armor piercing discarding sabot exploding shells I remember from some giant mecha RPG I played when I was younger. Of course all this is my way of wanting to see a minigun make things go boom. Because rapid-fire explosions are cool, if impractical.
Rockphed (rockphed) says:

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

The only thing wrong with the grim devastation in panel 3 is that it's a bit unlikely that the giant robot managed to wreck two brick buildings with only an arm-mounted minigun and possibly also a lot of punching.

 

Two Words:  Return Fire.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: Ed Gedeon says:

"Also note that there is a Market Street in Indianapolis.  Shorty before this strip appeared, Market Square Arena, on Market St., was demolished by explosives.  Obviously Mell was passing by, and Shaenon simply reported on events a few months after they occurred."

Yep, I saw that with my own eyes. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building..." (Elvis's last live performance was at MSA.)

"Sorry for my absence the past few days; I've been in the hospital.  At home now recovering.  Do not ask for details, you DO NOT want to know.  Trust me."

Bris gone bad?

Never mind. Just get well soon...

Rockphed (rockphed) says: I think it is official that Mell always looks good.
Dave Rood (surrdave) says: It's not so much Mell's last line as her delivery that makes this a fave.  "The mission was a success, but nobody returned."
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says: It's Mell's deadpan, nothing-to-see-here vocal delivery and facial expression that do it for me, too.  Held upside down by a giant robot's claw and acting like she's completely in control of the situation.  Awesome.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: "It's got me right where I want it!"
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(Sung to the tune of Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot") 

Well, she's a real tough cutie with a real short fuse,
She takes on anyone, she don't like to lose,
Turn her loose, what's she gonna do?
Roll up her sleeves and yell, "Have at you!"

Mell, go fetch the robot!
Park it in a good spot ...
Lookee there what Mell got!
We'll drive it awaaaaaay!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: HEEEEELP!
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Mell read the owner's manual.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Those are some nice auroras in panel 1. But it still isn't entirely clear how Mell is controlling this colossus, this iron giant, directing its death-march toward the all-consuming sea.

It seems to me that the robot's onslaught has been portrayed a bit candidly. Surely we need some long-shots establishing exactly how large this parking lot is, where it is in relation to the hotel/dungeon that these hapless Daves are pouring forth from, and how widespread the devastation is.

"Dude": 11.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"Melt the parking lot, O, Mister Roboto!" (What other lyrics does that song have, none, am I right?)

I would totally buy a wallpaper of Mell in that pose in panel 3.  Or better still, just draw it myself.  (Shaenon is now screaming, "What the @#$%&* do you mean, BETTER?  I'm workin' here!!")

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

"I know it feels very much like I made this storyline up as I went along, but I swear I actually plotted it out in advance"  In any kind of live performance, the best kinds of improvisations are the ones that are thought out ahead of time.  Why should this be different?

 

And what is it with gerbils sticking their heads out the windows of giant robots, anyway?

Thomas Levy (ergonomytch) says: Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"Melt the parking lot, O, Mister Roboto!" (What other lyrics does that song have, none, am I right?)

It has plenty of lyrics! http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/styx/mr+roboto_10226029.html


And thank you very much, mr. roboto
For helping me escape just when i needed to

 

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Yup. Cool.

Oh, and did anyone see the presidential debate tonight, and who do you think won?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

At last, a mystery is solved. Bear witness in panel 1 to the Dave Conspiracy's Ominous Omnipresent Logo.

Significant point: the Daves have still not realised that this particular Dave is the one they have been ordered to keep dead. Hence the description of "a model Dave" and exile instead of execution. If only Dr. N was here instead of that place comics characters go when nobody's drawing them.

Just in case nobody noticed: the edge of the boat is ankle-high in panel 1 and armpit-high in panels 2-4.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

At last, a mystery is solved. Bear witness in panel 1 to the Dave Conspiracy corporate logo.

Significant point: the Daves have still not realised that this particular Dave is the one they have been ordered to keep dead. Hence the description of "a model Dave" and exile instead of execution. If only Dr. N was here instead of that place comics characters go when nobody's drawing them.

Just in case nobody noticed: the edge of the boat is ankle-high in panel 1 and armpit-high in panels 2-4.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Why are lords the only ones who get drunk?  Bums get drunk just as often, if not more.  Of course, getting really drunk makes you feel like less of a bum, which is where we get the phrase, "drunk off your ass". 

(In some English-speaking countries, bum = ass = backside.)

This song isn't mine, it's from the National Lampoon:

Thought I'd move out to Encino.
Get out where the trees are green.
But instead I'm hooked on vino,
I'm a wino at fourteen.

Oh, my favorite juice is Mother Goose's Sweet Potato Sparkling Wine!
Let's get juiced on Mother Goose's, Mother Goose's Sparkling Wine!

Nature dumps her sweet potatoes,
In Mother Goose's Sparkling Wine.
Apple cores and old tomatos,
and a dash of turpentine.

Oh, my favorite juice is Mother Goose's Sweet Potato Sparkling Wine!
Let's get juiced on Mother Goose's, Mother Goose's Sparkling Wine!

Paul Anderson (pmanderson) says: "the edge of the boat is ankle-high in panel 1 and armpit-high in panels 2-4." Yup; not difficult that: it's a floating dock.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Actually, I'm pretty sure the Daves do know who Dave is; they just don't understand why they're supposed to kill him, and are kind of confused about why he's alive now when he was reported killed by someone who I'd totally believe if she said she'd killed someone. Thus the monitoring - starting a few years back, presumably when they received the message from [redacted] - thus the confusion when it seems that this Dave they've been asked to kill is a model Dave, thus putting him on ice on the Island until they can sort things out instead of just killing him immediately.

They can always kill him later, after all, whereas if they kill him now and decide later that he didn't need killing, making him alive again is... well, apparently quite possible, but they probably don't subscribe to Transthanatology Today.

Sean Riedinger (ariamaki) says:

Just a humerous geographical mention

The Akron area (near where Shaenon grew up, referenced at least once throughout Narbonic) also sports a well-known to locals Market Street, divided into East and West segments and connecting Akron to nearby towns just as tightly as the I-76 already does.

 

I may be a great driver, but I am bad with roads, so knowing the above is kind of surprising even to my self.

Add a Comment:
Log In or Register to post a comment! It's free!





Tooncast this comic on your own website by copying and pasting this code snippet:
<script language="javascript" src="http://www.webcomicsnation.com/tooncast.php?series=narbonic_plus"></script>
Shaenon Garrity ||    Forum ·  External Homepage ·  Blog · 

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