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Smithson Thus Far... ·


The strips this week with Dave's gaming group were some of the first strips I wrote for this storyline. In this strip, I tweaked some of Eric's dialogue in the first two panels to match the events of the D-Con arc, but everything else was pretty much as I wrote it in 2001.

Freddy is wearing a Shonen Jump T-shirt. My friend Jason Thompson, on whom Freddy is loosely based, had recently become editor-in-chief of the American Shonen Jump magazine, which launched in November 2002. Jason eventually quit his Shonen Jump position to focus on his own comics (and, eventually, write Manga: The Complete Guide).

Naturally, there's a bottle of Ellmann's Own soda on the gaming table.

ETA: I don't remember this, but it looks to me like Andrew inked this strip. I have no idea why we did that. Maybe I was falling behind schedule. That would also explain why I didn't sign it.

Andrew totally inked the first three strips this week. I'd recognize his style anywhere. I don't know why we did this, and neither of us can remember doing it.

I like Seth sitting on the table in the first panel, drinking from a two-liter. As mentioned before, I generally drew the gaming group lined up along one side of the table Knights of the Dinner Table-style, but I was never really happy with that. This panel represents an admittedly feeble effort to mix things up visually.

I played a lot of "Leisure Suit Larry" on my Uncle Harold's PC back in the day. And yes, that actually is the ending to the second "Leisure Suit Larry" game. "Contra" was one of my favorite NES games, and "Maniac Mansion" is, of course, my all-time favorite video game, to the point that a central plot point in Narbonic is lifted from one of the few ways to die in "Maniac Mansion." Oh, LucasArts...gaming lost its luster for me once there were no more "Maniac Mansion"s or "Monkey Island"s or "Loom"s.

The best line in this strip is, obviously, the first one.

Seth is wearing a PvP "I Spent My Reward on Ale and Whores" T-shirt. I got more mail for making a PvP reference than I'd received in response to anything else in Narbonic to date.

This is really hard to tell, but Freddy has a miniature of a Mock Man, a generic character Jason Thompson used to draw into his comics all the time. I didn't get any mail about that.

Early on, I wrote several strips involving Dave's relationship with his computer. This was the only one I found a place for. It's a generic gag that can be tweaked to fit any number of storylines.

Dave's expressions are pretty good, though. I'm clearly under the impression that it's impossible to make a smile too broad.

In general, it's better to show than tell, but I like having one strip where the characters discuss their subtly altered group dynamic. Dave does become a more active and less hapless member of the Narbonics Labs staff from this point, while continuing to be more or less everyone's buttmonkey.

The little note on the wall reads, "Please recycle bottles and cans. -Artie." Not funny, but in character.

Dave's expression in the last panel is good, even if his ear is way too big. I had no idea ears were such a problem with me.

Obviously, I just wrote this strip so I could go on having the central characters refer to Dave as "Dave," even though he'd been kicked out of the Conspiracy. However, it's very in character for Helen and Mell to offer a show of solidarity against Dave's will, possibly endangering his life in the process. [SPOILERS] I always planned to have Dave rejoin the Conspiracy, but I knew it wouldn't be for a while.

I tried to be consistent about having characters outside the lab staff refer to Dave as "David," which frankly just sounds wrong.

In the first panel, that's a bunch of gerbil tails hanging out of the recycling bin.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker*
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"I think Dave's friends are slowly becoming acclimated to the understanding that their buddy's life has come to resemble a very bad GURPS campaign. By now, they've almost gotten over that time he turned into a woman.

Not really."

--Shaenon K. Garrity, 5 June, 2002.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Dave's coping mechanism is mentally filing all of those horrible events he just experienced under "work" and living out what's left of his life. This is in comparison to Helen, who can no longer perceive horror, and Mell, who is more an elemental force than a psychologically fragile flower. It's still unknown how Artie deals with it all. (...Probably through his writing.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "One Week", Barenaked Ladies)

It's been six months since you made your plans,
Turned into a guy and tried to infiltrate D-Con;
Then came running after me
On a flying robot and blew up the boat that we were on!
One month since the Daves came back;
Ur-gerbils ate 'em while I fixed the teleporter!
One week since I got back home,
But it'll still be four years 'fore I go insane now ...

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Artie's coping methods are complicated by the fact that he was born in the lab and has no clear concept of normal life. It's probably pretty weird for him when he goes off to college, but isn't that true of most people?
Gabe McCarthy (decker) says:


It was for me. 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

I for one approve of these nods to continuity. Dave did have a pooka character and Seth did visit Dave's workplace.

It suddenly occurs to me that Dave's literal death and rebirth have provided more than their fair share of punchlines for subsequent strips, even a year in after the fact.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I'm reminded of a line from R.K. Milholland's "Super Stupor", where a minor superhero gets killed, and Death complains that, "You costumed freaks come back from the dead so often that I don't even get to count you towards my quota."

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: My subconscious told me something was different about the strips, but I didn't realize it was the inker.
Lawrence Delaney (ohtar) says:

I have signed up specifically to say that I'm glad someone else remembers loom. It was my first real computer game- my dad bought it when I was three.

 Figuring out how to pirate and run all those old adventure games on my computer now is one of the biggest factors in my sucky gpa.

fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: I like how Seth has already polished off the 2-liter by the last panel and is drinking from a can at that point. His thirst is unquenchable!
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: This one is sooo realistic.
Gabe McCarthy (decker) says:

Jeeze. Come back from the dead one time and all of a sudden you have a reputation.

I like the little dice toss in the first panel. I'm a details guy. 

Daniel Baye (pooga) says:

Now I'm trying to figure out which death  is a central Narbonic plot point. There we're a couple involving the pool, but neither involved falling into it. If I recall correctly, one was having person A refill it while person B was inside, and the other was kind of an entire game-ender by just leaving the pool empty for too long. I'm pretty sure Ed had a hamster you could microwave, not a gerbil...

Okay, I'll bite. Which one are you referring to?

Also, if you like the old LucasArts/Sierra style Graphic Adventures, I heartily recommend Telltale Games. They're very much like the later LucasArts GAs. They've already got a Bone game, two "seasons" of Sam & Max, and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People. And coming soon, Wallace and Grommit! Not since the early days of Blizzard has so much win been concentrated in one game company.

Andy Holloway (garran) says:

just leaving the pool empty for too long

If I had to guess, I'd say that one.

Carl Muckenhoupt (baf) says:

Wait.  Jason Thompson is the guy who did the art for the Feddyg arc in Fans!, and Mock Man is the name of the imprint that published that comic adaptation of Lovecraft's Dream-Ques of Unknown Kadath.

And I did not know until this moment that those two things were done by the same person.  Cool!

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

Now this punchline is pretty good! And once again we're reminded of the sort of company that Dave keeps.

Incidentally... none of them really care that Dave invented an all-new form of teleportation despite the fact that, based on his prior gender transformation escapade, the likelihood of him telling the truth this time is quite good.

"All summer"? Well, we're still in March, and following the inverted seasons theory I invented as a joke one time, March is in Autumn. (I'm getting a bit worried about how well that theory is working so far.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Today's strip reminds me of the old joke that had the punch line, "But **** just ONE goat ..."
Gabe McCarthy (decker) says: I kind of feel for Seth in this strip. In other ones, not so much.
John Goard (darthmiho) says:

I can't help but notice the "jhonen" on the blonde friend's shirt.


Ref to Mr. Vasquez? 

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

John: As mentioned the other day, Freddy is wearing a Shonen Jump T-shirt.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Incidentally, it's completely irrational for Seth to hate Dave for this situation, since Seth's the one who asked Dave out in the first place, but logic has little place in affairs of the heart.
Gabe McCarthy (decker) says: Yeah, but after someone is hapring on you for the same thing for three months, you tend to hate everyone.
Gabe McCarthy (decker) says:



Is there an edit function that I'm not aware of?

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: If you want, you can delete and re-submit a post. I've done it more than once... *hangs head in shame*
Kevin (ofscience) says: It's times like these I'd be tempted to offer everyone a tasty mint. You know, just to show that there are no hard feelings.
NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says: The question, of course, is: Would he have cheated, if it had been possible? Heh, heh, heh.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

OK, today let's play "Guess The Tune". 

Here's a gift, dear!  How I missed you!
How I managed, I can't guess ...
Please talk to me, don't look through me!
I did not cheat
With Mac OS!

(TUNE: "Mack The Knife" by Bobby Darin)

Rachel S. (masamage) says: Haha! I forgot about this. It works as foreshadowing, too!
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

I love the logo-bug on top of the screen.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Actually Rachel, everyone of Dave's persuasion has this sort of relationship with their compy. That Dave later has some romantic entanglements with a 'puter that can answer back is mostly incidental.

Helen as the voice of reason: n + 2.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: You computer knows what you do and where you are.  That's why they have monitors.
Gabe McCarthy (decker) says: Memory. The gift that keeps on giving.
chic geek (onechicgeek) says:

That's not a logo bug, it's a deely-bopper! God, that's a fun word. 

Yeah, I like it too. And Helen should know, sending a computer geek outside is useless. They'll just sit under a tree, surrounded by nature-obliviously typing on their laptops... 

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snickr*
Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says: We all do realize, don't we, that Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill wrote that wonderfully nasty little song "Mack the Knife", and Bobby Darrin just blanderized, Disnified and popularized it?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

What's this? The return of that old in-joke, "evil coffee"? Well, it's a subtle reprise.

Base slander: Dave never actually plotted against Narbonics Labs at all. If anything, the exact opposite happened.

"Helen isn't in yet-" Hey, does she live in the lab complex or what? Does she walk to work as well? Questions, questions...
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Remember, back near the beginning, Dave had to give her and Mell a ride to the lab?


Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: OK, Helen may be evil, and kill her henchman, and flip his gender at the drop of a cup of Maxwell House,  and engage in murderous shadowy global conspiracies, but she lets him smoke in the break room!  That's gotta count for something!
Eric Burns (ericburns) says:

Dave plotted against everyone with a secret conspiracy. That set implicitly includes Narbonics Labs. Ergo, Dave conspired against Helen and Mell.

Logically, anyway.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: YES! Turning point.
neal birch (nealbirch) says: mell's ears are cute... arrr.
nathaniel miller (skavensrule) says: What do you mean Helen is letting Dave smoke in the break room?  Dave never smoked! 
fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: How does one go about recycling a gerbil?
Rick Shott (not_home) says:

"How does one go about recycling a gerbil?"

FrankenGerbil, obviously, it is mad science after all.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Friday: I like the Mell-art throughout this strip. Poses and expressions are all very fitting.

I also have this feeling that she didn't really hear anything Dave said between, "Call me crazy," and, "What are you doing?" 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me", Billy Joel)

I'm rejected by the Dave Conspiracy
Who cares what the other Daves think?
If they find out then I know they'll come for me!
We'll hit 'em with the kitchen sink!

Yeah, it's crazy but it gives us a chortle;
We love putting you in danger mortal!
Exiled, blackballed, doesn't matter what you're called,
You're still just a Dave to us!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Joshua Macy (jamused) says: For what it's worth, Lucas Arts has announced a new Monkey Island is coming, scheduled for release this month:
Sean Riedinger (ariamaki) says:

You know, it's funny-- My gaming group actually DOES sit KotDT style around my pool table-- And none of us have read so much as a single page of said comic-- I merely take Shaenon's word that it is like it there.

Admittedly, I rarely sit at the head of the table-- Too easy for our 6'6" member to take a swing at me when more horrible things happen to his rather innocent-outlook-on-life Promethean...

Mitchell Lord (mitchelltf) says: Good news! Monkey Island is being remade by Telltale Games, and it is GOOD!
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile