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Smithson Thus Far... ·

Yes, it's guest strips this week! The above is by Drew Weing, who draws a daily autobiographical strip, The Journal Comic.

Aaand another guest week. As with the series of guest strips after Dave's death, the idea was to give the impression of time passing before I cut back to the gang on the island. There's another Zeta and Dana storyline coming up, too.

Anyway, at the time I posted this, Drew Weing was primarily known for his journal comic, but he's now best known as the creator of the late, lamented infinite-canvas comic "Pup." He's currently working on a comic called "Set to Sea," which I've been following on his LiveJournal. Also, you totally have to click on the link above, because the front page of his website is unbelievably awesome.

On another note, how much do I love that robot in the first panel?

This strip is by Dorothy Gambrell, creator of The New Adventures of Death and Cat and Girl.

The very idea that Dorothy Gambrell knows who I am makes me go all fangirly. I admire the hell out of Cat and Girl and her other comics. The New Adventures of Death was her comic on Modern Tales, now sadly no longer updating.

The top of Dave's head is always a puzzle to draw.

This strip is by Joe Zabel, who draws Return of the Green Skull. Yes, that's me.

I'm really left-handed, but that's okay. Joe Zabel is a great guy who drew comics for Harvey Pekar and was on Modern Tales for a long time. He did one of the panels in the last Narbonic strip, which made me very happy. I like the gerbil in the last panel here.

This one's by Tom Hart, genius creator of Hutch Owen and other genius comics.

Tom Hart is a great cartoonist and student of comics. I've been a fan of his work since I was in high school, so it was awesome when we got to know each other through Modern Tales. We ended up collaborating on a comic, Trunktown, which we did for about a year. Now he teaches cartooning and inspires new generations of nerds like me.

Don't you wish "Apartment 3-G" actually used that kind of language? How much more fun would that make The Comics Curmudgeon?

This strip is by Chris Shadoian, who draws Streets of Northampton.

This strip is both adorable and deeply creepy, which is probably what you want out of a Narbonic strip. I like the many varieties of concerned expressions on Dave's face. Also note the Kirby krackle coming out of Helen's test tube.

Chris Shadoian is a great guy who ended up doing a lot of stuff for me, including the bonus story in Narbonic Volume 2 and a panel in the final Narbonic strip. He was on Modern Tales at launch, drawing a collection of short comics called Streets of Northampton. Later, he drew Popcorn Picnic, which was about movies. He's got a successful career doing stuff for the Disney magazines now, but I'd love to see more comics from him. His art is super cute.

This strip is by Jason Thompson, stunning cartoonist and editor of SHONEN JUMP magazine.

Jason Thompson is one of my best friends, and I was always very happy whenever he drew stuff for Narbonic. This strip reflects our shared irritation with unscientific depictions of "de-evolution" in science fiction, like the time it happened to the crew of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Sure, it was awesome that Barclay turned into a giant spider, but what was the cost to science? I will allow the Jonathan Coulton song "De-Evolving," but only because it's a great song.

Honestly, though, my favorite part of this strip is that in the first panel Helen and Dave are shooting each other with squirt guns for no reason.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Wowwww. Nice.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

36 hours?! So much for so-called genius.

If Helen is usually left-handed, does that mean that the mouse should be on the other side?
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

No. I'm left-handed and I mouse with my right hand.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says: Oh dear. It's funny because it's TRUE. (closes Solitaire window)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Hair", from the musical of the same name)

Gimme some solitaire!
Klondike solitaire!
Moving, stacking jacks, confusing, losing!
Move the king right there! (Where?)
Turn the top card over!
No showers, spend hours,
All my mental powers on solitaaaaaaaaaaaire ...
Eyes weep!  Oh [BLEEP]!
Who needs sleep when there's solitaire!

Stephen Granade (sgranade) says: I know others who are left-handed but mouse right-handed.
William Tracy (afishionado) says: The solitaire screen in the last panel is backward. So, I propose that Helen is not actually using her right hand at all--the negative just got flipped accidentally!
Q. Pheevr (q-pheevr) says: I'm right-handed, and mouse with my left hand. (This is because on the first computer I used that <i>had</i> a mouse, the mouse plugged in on the left-hand side and had a fairly short cord. So that's what I became used to.)
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: I'm ambidextrous and so am forced to mouse with both hands.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: There ought to be a fast-food place called "Crap-In-A-Box" ... oh wait, we already have White Castle.
chic geek (onechicgeek) says: Aww-Artie in a little lab coat-cuuute!
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: Why doesn't anyone ever make a discovery and shout "Sacramento!" or "Redding!"  It's hide-bound thinking like that which retards the progress of Mad Science.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

While I like Cat-and-Girl-esque Artie a lot - especially the little hands around the dropper* - I think he's much cuter when drawn by Shaenon.

I once had a necklace and earrings with bells on. Drove everyone nuts, including (after a while) me.

*Clearly too small to be a pipette.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

It's about the right size to be a micropipette. I seem to recall that Dorothy worked in medicine at some point, but my memory is vague.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: In warm weather when I wear sandals or go barefoot I like to wear several sets of dangly and jangly anklets on both feet. The guys generally either try not to stare, or give me disapproving looks (not that I give a flying f**k, of course); but the girls tend to like them and sometimes want to know where they can get some.
Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says: Ed: You're thinking of Jack In The Box.
Dave Rood (surrdave) says: Johnn: I've had success with Schenectady!  Allentown, of course, would have more irony.
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: I stubbed my toe once and shouted, "Azusa!"
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Nice.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

This is just my intuition, but I don't think your hands are quite as frightening in reality.

It's a rare beast, the 3D modeled webcomic. Apart from Mr. Zabel's, I've only ever seen it in Patrick Farley's Delta Thrives, and, um, what was it again? Crimson Dark?
Bauke Schildt (tephlon) says:

Leon: There's also "Dreamland Chronicles":

 I think it's really hard to make it work though. For some reason the added realism of 3D makes you notice the fact that the characters aren't real even more.

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Crimson Dark rocks!! There's also

The Challenges of Zona (,
Too Much Information (,
Sunset Grill (, and
Tales Of Thistledown (

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: This is the time-and-parity-reversed Shaenon. Right-handed AND drawing the strip from right to left!
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

This is just my intuition, but I don't think your hands are quite as frightening in reality.

If you were Dave, you would think her hands are indeed frightening in reality.

fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: Is "draws" really the right verb for the creation Return of the Green Skull?

On the topic of other 3D-rendered comics, Dragon Tails spent its first several years 3D-rendered (with a toon-shaded technique), then switched to hand-drawn, and then switched back to 3D, but now made to look purposefully like crappy PSX-era graphics.

I've seen several other 3D comics, but most of them are done in Poser and look absolutely terrible (basically it's just Poser done as a shortcut for the inability to actually draw and be willing to work with someone else, which usually also correlates with the inability to design characters, lay out a panel, tell a compelling story, form coherent sentences, etc.)

(BTW, I really wish WCN's comment form had preview and edit buttons.)

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

This is the time-and-parity-reversed Shaenon. Right-handed AND drawing the strip from right to left!

I think I had this exact same conversation on the message board the first time the strip ran, but I actually do ink the strip from right to left. As I said, I'm left-handed, so I ink it backwards to keep myself from smearing the ink as I go.

I think Zabel does his CG comics in Poser, but he's good at it.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Now I have the phrase, "Let's draw Shaenon in CGI" running through my head, to the tune of "867-5309 / Jenny" over and over and over and over ...
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Hah!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

I have just about no idea how Mr. Hart thought of this idea for a punchline.

And, who, I wonder, is in the other picture frame - the one in panel 1?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: The best task on Apartment 3-G still has to be the parody in the Dacron Republican-Democrat back in 1978. (Look it up, youngsters!)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Oh, please please PLEASE, give some of that potion to Mell so she can end up in "Dondi".

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

severe topic delta:


"Over the Hedge" for 11/13/08

it's a relief to know that Artie and the ur-gerbils will still survive.

The Blue Ladies (blueladies) says: Ah, that's the Margo we wish we saw more often in Apartment 3-G.  The guy's all wrong, though, he's not nearly non-descript enough.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Arrrrrrgh. Who couldn't have seen that coming?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

I am certain that Dave is less concerned about his paternity than about his entire life transforming into an overdone pop culture reference. Though, Helen suddenly becoming a blood relative must be a blow to his romantic opportunities.

Mild congratulations are due to Mr. Shadoian, though, for quoting the quote word-perfectly.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I love Mell's line in the last panel.  As for quoting quotes, how about, "Teach us your wisdom, oh bare-shouldered one."

The odd thing is, (if the final strip is in continuity), Dave *does* give Helen his first-born child.

Benjamin McCracken (angafirith) says: For the DNA to match exactly, wouldn't that mean that Helen also had to be his monther?
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Howard Tayler's working title for his next  book is  Schlock Mercenary: Mad Science Means Never Having To Ask ‘What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen?  Dave should buy the first copy.

 Artie-2-D-2?  He is the one who manages to fix problems.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: I enjoy the idea that "wacky-looking squiggle" is a technical term to Helen.
chic geek (onechicgeek) says:

You know the line that follows "I am your father" don't you?

Darth-"I brought you into this world, bwah, and I cahn take you out of it!'

And I love the Kirby crackle. Hmm, Kirby Krackles! Fortified with 9 different vitamins! Part of this nutritious breakfast!  

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: For no reason? I'd guess it was because Helen and Dave are both wearing white shirts. And Mell as well, but that's beside the point.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Yeah, but it's less interesting if everyone (at least the humans) turn into 3-foot tall ur-apes (think Lucy), and thence into squirreloids. 

It might be nice to see what the alien crewmembers evolved from, but IIRC Star Trek already invoked a seeder-race to explain their Humanoid Universe.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

PS:  Tardigrades don't have claws either, but I suppose that could be an adjustment to the "giant" part.  (See Haldane's  "On Being the Right Size",

Also, Helen's "fins" are remarkably dextrous for something that barely learned to pull itself across dry land....  ;-)

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

The seeder race thing explains nothing. Because evolution is not a predefined pathway with clearly labelled directions, but an adaptive process where random changes have differential survival rates depending on their suitabilty to their environment, it's astonishingly unlikely that the process will end up in the same place twice, even given the same starting point and conditions... and the seeder race thing only gives the starting point, not the conditions. Positing a seeder race is an explanation of how all these planets ended up with life on them; it's not an explanation of how it all ended up looking like humans with rubber ears.

And even the bad logic of the predetermined pathway breaks when faced with Spock, who has a radically different biochemistry (green blood!) than a human. Even if Vulcan evolution started in the same place as human evolution, it clearly went in a totally different direction somewhere before the evolution of vertebrates, so it makes no sense for it to have ended up in the same place.

And don't even get me started on the idea that Spock is the result of interbreeding between one of those green-blooded Vulcans and a human. It makes about as much sense as expecting offspring from gettin' it on with a lobster.

Also, I'd argue that Dave isn't de-evolving at all. Given his habits, shifting his metabolism from oxygen-based to cigarette smoke-based may actually be making him more suited to survive in his environment.

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Jason's drawings of things prehistoric are always awesome! (

And his artwork for The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is just incredible!! (

Last year I tweaked my art teacher by reviewing Jason's work instead of the assigned inferior scribblings of some dead French alcoholic who drew like a stoned chimp.

Kaesa Aurelia (kaesa) says:

I once dressed up as a giant tardigrade for Halloween.  ...well, okay, I was meant to be a regular tardigrade but, being visible by the naked eye, I was a giant tardigrade by default.  I won first prize in an invertebrate costume contest!  And now I own what appears, to the uninitiated, to be a really spiky eight-legged fursuit made of brown felt.  <>

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: That is an awesome costume, Kaesa.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile