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I have to agree with Mell's logic here. Also, I like how affronted she is by the idea that she has to be honest with Dave. She looks liable to lie to him just to show him who's boss. Dave and Mell generally play well off each other, which was why, over the years, I engineered so many excuses to get them alone together.

Man, I wish I'd had more excuses to draw her in that jungle outfit.

And there are times Dave and Helen play off each other well, too. Helen has a theatrical bent that Dave utterly lacks. I like that she's somehow gotten an ur-gerbil to do her hair.

Also, it's nice that I bothered to draw some backgrounds for these strips. The weird flowers growing all over the trees in the second panel are good.

That last exchange between Helen and Dave is an old gag, but still good as far as I'm concerned. I think the longer you work on gag stuff like this, the more you come to appreciate the classics. Anyway, I love it when Helen's plans boil down to just creating as much chaos as she possibly can to no immediately obvious end, which is most of the time.

Also, her braided hair tails are just lovely.

Happy New Year!

As I'm sure many geeks who were active in geekery in the '90s will recognize, Helen's speech is lifted from a speech made by Delenn on "Babylon 5," a show that was surprisingly influential on Narbonic. (Originally Narbonic was planned with a five-year arc just like "Babylon 5"'s, but it ended up running for six and a half years.) That was basically the last time on the show Delenn was cool. Sigh...A great moment, though.

Helen's pose in the first panel is pretty good. Very Frank Frazetta, which I think is what I was going for throughout this storyline.

It's a shame I almost never messed around with panel shapes like this. It looks pretty cool. In the last panel, Helen and Dave are supposed to be up in a tree. I'm not sure if you can tell because I'm not very good at drawing trees, which is sad because trees are pretty much the easiest thing to draw after hand turkeys.

Wheelchair Dave's comment in the third panel indicates that he has no feeling in his legs, although the real-life person on whom the character is vaguely based, my friend Rob McCarthy, has cerebral palsy and can totally feel his legs. I will sometimes bend reality painfully for the sake of a throwaway gag.

"Negative vibe merchants" is a line used by Neil in "The Young Ones," another TV show that influenced Narbonic in significant if not-immediately-discernible ways.

47 comments:
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

"Excuses"? A storyteller does not "make excuses" for events - one arranges for events to become logically necessary.

Mell speaks the truth in panel 4: A certain Mell was* with the Daves, and he never does know. And the Mell in front of him is, as discussed last week, arguably totally innocent.

*To be precise, she "formerly will be". Temporally appropriate grammatical tenses aren't that hard.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"The lack of evidence is the surest proof that the conspiracy is working."

P.S. YOU wish she had been in that outfit more?!?

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Of course she does. Mell is awesome.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

The words "Mell" and "totally innocent" don't fit together well.

Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says: Mell is never "totally innocent". Mell is always "totally not guilty". And, more than anything else, "arguably".
Rick Shott (not_home) says: I think Artie is being prophetic in the last panel.  It should be noted as good foreshadowing.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Where's my acoustic?
Is that my acoustic?
It goes "Don't look yet! et! et! et!"
It is an unwanted echo!
No, that is not my acoustic!

Jennifer McGaffey (jjmcgaffey) says: Y'know, given that they're about to enter battle with the Daves, if I were Artie I'd be hoping for the former, not the latter!
Jennifer McGaffey (jjmcgaffey) says: ...though of course he's right in the long term.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: I think it's both.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Let's analyse today's episode. In panel 2, David's genre awareness leads him to predict Helen's intention for a dramatic entrance. In panel 3, David's prediction is not only confirmed, but the dramatic entrance itself is subverted by David arriving slightly too early. This itself emphasises Helen's vanity and high regard for what is ultimately a purely theatrical gesture. Result: a compact, nimble level 2 joke, the kind that every cartoonist hopes to tell at least twice a week.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Hey! That's the first time I've noticed Dave drawing a cig from his pack instead of magically poit-ing a new one.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I'd never noticed the hair things before.

Helen seems so pleased at the thought of whipping everyone into a murderous rage. 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday (gosh, it's only Wednesday?):

Had Dave not smoked, then he could've wished for super-titanium armour or rocket pants of whatever with the magic cave.

Where did she get that elegant curly wire bracer?

("gura gur gbzngbf jrer hcba uvz"? Tbbq ybeq, abobql qrfreirf gung!)
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Wire Bracer: Hypothesis: The Ur-Gerbils ate all the Daves, not all the Daves' electrical wiring.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Wonderful World" by Bob Thiele, recorded by Louis Armstrong)

I see hordes of Daves, coming our way;
I see my ur-gerbils, ready to slay;
And I say to myself,
"What a Murderous Rage!"

I see skies of blue, and blood of red!
How I love life when my foes all are dead!
And I say to myself,
"What a Murderous Rage!"

The sound of the gunfire,
The screams of pain and fear,
The wails of the dying
Are music to my ears!
I hear enemies shouting,
"Fall back to the coast!"
They're really saying,
"F***!  We're toast!"

I watch my creations; I feel such joy!
They'll kill much more than I'll ever destroy!
And I think to myself,
As I take center sta-a-age ...
Yes, I think to myself,
"What a Murderous Rage!"

K C (spotweld) says: At this point I wonder, has anyone done any Frazetta-esque fanart of Helen "Queen of the feral Ur-gerbals"?
Paul Gadzikowski (pgadzikowski) says: You can't beat the classics.
chic geek (onechicgeek) says: I wonder if the ur-gerbil who was fixing her headpiece in yesterday's strip also did the braids. The perks of mad science-ur-gerbil hairdressers!
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Don't forget, the MST3K reference in the last panel.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Poor Helen. The henchbeings just will not cooperate with her finely honed sense of mad drama.
Mike B. (epenthesis) says: Delenn wasn't cool when she broke the Grey Council?
Mike B. (epenthesis) says: Oh crap. That's right, that was earlier in that same episode. Well, she was also cool when she survived the Starfire Wheel.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Once again, overly large gerbils aren't really that intimidating. The most they do in this episode is scowl a bit.

Pop culture quotations: ...um, 6?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker*

...by the way, what exactly is Babylon 5?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

...by the way, what exactly is Babylon 5?

"The last, best hope for some decent sci-fi on TV."

Alien or human,
A dreadful fate is loomin'
Here on Babylon 5!
Babylon 5!

Drama, love, and glory!
Straczynski wrote the story
Of Babylon 5!
Babylon 5!
Ba ... Ba ... Ba ... Ba ...
Babylon 5! Babylon 5!
Ba ... Ba ... Ba ... Ba ...
Babylon Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive ...

(TUNE: "Stayin' Alive" by The Bee Gees)

Andy Holloway (garran) says: Wait, so So It Begins' username isn't intended to be read in a Kosh voice?
Vlad Taltos (flyingfish) says:

"The last, best hope for some decent sci-fi on TV."

You forgot the Big Damn Heroes and the Frak-Ups.

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says: And People Acting with Their Hands.
Paul Gadzikowski (pgadzikowski) says: Was that before or after War Without End? War Without End was the episode that finally got us hooked, and I don't remember the speech.
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: Why do these panels seem to need an ABBA soundtrack?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

I love these frames - they're like a Flintstones photo album with each picture framed by sticks. And I think the tree in the last panel is pretty good. Plus I want a walking stick made from a tree that can hold Helen with a branch that small.

Almost-panty-shot count: 1

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: @halfelven:

Mamma mia... here we go again...
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Dave knows how to reason with that blond-haired monster. Speaking of which, where did she get a telescope? (Why not just go ahead and give her opera glasses while we're at it? It'd be funnier.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Personally, I love how Mell is just punching anything within arm's reach, friend and foe alike.  Does she have any Feegle ancestors?
Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says:

Does she have any Feegle ancestors?

Nah, she's just Irish 

Jon W. (kd7sov) says: I completely agree with Tiff Hudson about wanting a sample of that tree. Especially if that branch is also supporting some of the weight of the ladder, like it appears to be. (If not, that's going to be a very unstable ladder.)
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Once again, the Narbonic crew totally lets down the Daves' expectations. I get the feeling, though, that today's Description Cut could be even more pathetic. Maybe, rather than just losing their weapons, they could have previously set up a particularly pathetic trap (such as a bucket over the door) and, in retreating into the compound, fallen victim to it themselves.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles)

Helen Narbon!
She's trying hard to help her henchman!
Now they're far gone!
They're running from the Dave Patrol!

Mell hid the guns!
Mell hid the guns, so I ask
How we'll fight?
(insert guitar riff)

Jungle woman!
Mell had no weapons; oh, how painful!
Trouble's comin'!
Now all our hopes are up a tree!

Mell hid the guns!
But not her buns, so I'll say,
That's all right!
(insert sound of author being beaten)

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Oh, I always figured the "No" in panel 3 was a sarcastic version of "You seem to forget that I lost the use of my legs in a very painful accident."
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: I'm visualizing the annual "Best Thug" competition as an integral part of DaveCon.
Jon W. (kd7sov) says:

Mell: No. No, I don't. And I don't expect to, considering that I will probably never be either gun-mad or a wild jungle woman. Heck, a wild jungle man is only slightly more likely, and that because I don't know of any local makers of mints-with-unusual-qualities.

Also, it's been bugging me: If the Conspiracy thought Davenport was dead, why did they send him a convention invitation?

Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says: Jon W.: I figure the invite falls along the lines of how you keep getting mail for the last three people who lived in your apartment.
Mitchell Lord (mitchelltf) says:

For the record, Delenn was cool when she took over Minbar by setting herself on fire, and having a rival save her life so she could live through the certain-death ceremony.

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