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Should be "viruses" in the last panel. Also, I was really running out of space for text in the second panel there. If it weren't for Helen's smile in the third panel, this entire strip would be made of fail.

The cabinet in the background contains a bunch of bones, a flask, and yet another Sea Monkey Seaquarium. Man, I liked drawing those things.

I still really like this strip. Helen's logic is impeccable. Also, "poisonous exploding acid" is one of my favorite things I wrote in the entirety of Narbonic.

With the clone tanks in the background, you'd think Helen would try to make a date from scratch, but instead she ill-advisedly tries to recruit an actual living man for the job.

Dave is so cute when he's blasé.

I like this strip because Helen and Madblood are both so totally inept at dating. The surprising thing is that Madblood really is working on a secret evil fortress, and it's totally boss. It'll feature in the next storyline.

Yes, Madblood's mother's friends think he's gay. He's got that single-thin-and-neat thing going on. And, yes, Madblood has a horrible teenage moustache in his graduation photo there on the wall. Madblood went mad as a teenager, so it's actually pretty impressive that he managed to graduate from high school and go on to some kind of academic career.

In the third panel you can see a pear on the shelf. For reasons to complicated to go into here, my mother collects pears.

Unsurprisingly, this was one of the first strips I wrote for this storyline. Most of the storyline is written around it, after all.

And of course Helen dots her "i"s with little hearts. Never any question there.

The punchline here still makes me laugh. Nothing beats an arresting visual I don't have to actually draw. And no, I don't know what's up with the wiggly tube things in the first panel, although they're kind of cool.

Helen is being honest here; she really didn't want to take Dave to the reunion. It's not that she thinks Dave is that un-dateable. Quite the contrary. It's just that this situation has the potential to make things really awkward around the lab, and even Helen understands enough about romance to see that forcing Dave to go to her reunion with her is not the best imaginable first date. Oh, well. You have to take what you can get.

Some people were disappointed that I never did a follow-up storyline in which Helen went to Dave's reunion. It would have been in 2004, around the time of the road trip and the Mad Science Symposium. Let's assume that it went about the same as Helen's reunion, the characters having learned exactly jack and squat from their previous experience.

For the record, Dave and Helen actually do arrive at Helen's reunion the Friday after this strip. Go continuity.

Artie looks good in the third panel. I'm pretty good at drawing him by this point.

50 comments:
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Isn't it "virii"?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

When was the last time she decided to kill someone? ...THAT time? ...Maybe Dave means some other time in the multi-month gap between "The Geek" and this storyline.

I find it a tad perverse of Helen that she appears to be relishing her received humiliation - indeed, to the extent that she doesn't consciously feel humiliated at all! - simply because each stinging rejoinder provides increasingly greater justification for her revenge rampage (or "revangepage").
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Actually, it's de rigueur to make them call you by that humliating nickname one last time before they die. It reinforces the knowledge that they signed their own warrants.

The flower and heart floating around Helen in the first panel are utterly cute and fail-less.

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says:

I agree with Tiff; I love Helen and her floating mood indicators in the first panel!

 And yeah, Helen, why didn't you think of that years ago? What kind of mad scientist are you, anyway? ;)

NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says:

Simple, Elaine. She WASN'T a mad scientist in high school.

She didn't go mad until her mother's "death", in college.

Valerie Kaplan (shinyhappygoth) says:

So It Begins: No, it is not.  Think about it.  That would be the plural of "virius", were there any such word.


The original Latin word virus, meaning "poison" or "venom", was a mass noun, like, say, "air", and so did not have any plural.  Thus, when used in English, it should be pluralized like any other English word.  (See Wikipedia for more info.)

Ruben Krasnopolsky (ruben) says:

Ah, I see Valerie was faster.  I was going to send this:

If I remember right without checking... Latin VIRUS was a singular without a plural meaning "poison".  An irregular *neuter* noun of the 2nd declension.  So if it *had* a plural in Latin (which it didn't) it would've been something not unlike VIRA (ending in -A like the other neuter nouns of the second declension) or (maybe) something like VIRI (like the regular nouns of the 2nd declension ending in -US).

The word having no plural in Latin, the correctly pedantic thing is to use an English plural in -es and so... viruses.

Now I've looked into Wikipedia (Plural_of_virus) who agrees with me - my memory wasn't so flaky this time!

However, all of this does not account for MAD SCIENCE.  Time travel being available, someone (perhaps Dr. Narbon) has sent surely to get direct information on ancient Latin, probably from some hapless kidnapped ancient Roman man or woman.  That Roman, as a native speaker of Latin, can be suitably "convinced" to inform reliably about the (otherwise unattested) plural form of VIRUS.  Pity that the poor Roman may have to suffer at least a bit in the process if the plural form really did not exist after all...

Helen B. should know better than any dictionary on this!  MAD SCIENCE has better sources!

The impressed linguistic informant screamed thus: "VIRI...(gasp for difficult breath) VIRI!!" during the very intense interview.

(So, that's how low-quality fanfic starts??)

 ---

Well, I sent it anyway.  Double info, double nerdiness.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off", by Ira & George Gershwin)

Oh, I say viruses, you say virii ...
            You say corpuses, I say corpi ...
Viruses!
            Virii!
Corpuses!
            Corpi!
Let's kill the whole class off!

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Viri is the plural of vir, "man". I'm not sure how Helen's planning on using a vial of Latin men to kill off her graduating class (sounds like a plan Artie could appreciate, though), but she is, after all, Mad.
Ruben Krasnopolsky (ruben) says: Narbonic Labs feed on infodumps, pure source of Nerdish blood.  The zombies need it to lurch.  I think of the poor zombie children, needing their daily gobbledygook to fill their little, cute pseudopods... well, and then I realize I'd better stop.  At least for now.
Rachel (admiralshazbot) says:

With the clone tanks in the background, you'd think Helen would try to make a date from scratch...

She tried. The ones that didn't melt simply ate each other.

Cat Bascle (mage_cat) says:

Wait, SPOILER didn't her trying to make a date from scratch lead to the punchline of a strip later this week?

*checks the archives*

Yes it did.  As for why it isn't her Plan A, I would think it's because she wants to seem as socially competant as possible.  That would mean bringing a man whose reason is "I like to spend time with her" rather than "She is my creator" if someone asks him why he's there with Helen.

Rockphed (rockphed) says: Since she ends up with a man who says, "She is my boss," I don't know if she actually ends up with something better or worse than, "She grew me from scratch."
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Poisonous exploding acid! Yaaaay!! ^^

OK, jokes aside, you have to admit that is a pretty good line.
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: "Do I have this right?" Genesis of the Daleks reference perchance?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Is Dave, even at this point, daring to consider the possible future resolution of this problem of Helen's? Or is the idea of him and her pretending to be lovers just too hideous to postulate? Even though they've both kissed at least twice, "gone out" once, and once cohabited in the same island for a month?

What is up with that eyebrow in panel 1? Is it really curling in on itself?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Onward Christian Soldiers")

Poisonous ex-plo-o-o-ding
Acid, yes of course!
Kill them with mad sci-ence
And without remorse!

With my super so-oak-er,
I will cause such pain!
Troubles, just like Roto-Rooter,
Going down the drain!

Poisonous ex-plo-o-o-ding
Acid makes them die!
Then we'll go to Denny's,
And we'll have some pie!

kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

Ed, clearly it has to be some kind of rousing hymn - my brain skipped ahead and tried to sing it to "At the name of Jesus / Every knee shall bow".

Or maybe it ought to be at the name of Helen. After all, the lower down you are, the less likely you'll be to be hit by acid or shrapnel.

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I have to say that I love the interaction between Helen and Dave in this strip. We also see that Dave's finally wised up to the point to ask the pertinent questions about Helen's schemes.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: And, of course, Dave's "poisonous exploding acid" is a bit of foreshadowing for the strip's climax, when he comes up with something even nastier!
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: "Will your date also be killed?"  Dave has figured out that whatever Helen plots, he should expect at least a supporting role, and probably a painful death due to poisonous exploding acid.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: There's a great Tshirt in this one. The front says "Poison? Explosives? Acid?" and the back says "Poisonous Exploding Acid!"
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: @ Tiff: Just don't try to get onto an airplane wearing it...
EvilMid nightLurker (emlurker) says:

Collects pears?

Pear tchotchkes, right?  Because collecting actual pears strikes me as...  therapy-worthy. :)

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE:  "I've Been Working On The Railroad", traditional)

Madblood's working on his fortress!
Secret evil lair!
He's been moving all his stuff out,
But I won't tell where!
'Cause it's secret and it's evil,
And you can't get there!
Now I've got to go on E-Bay,
And bid on a pear!

Grant McCormick (grantcmccormick) says:

What happened to the 'the' in Helen's last word-balloon?

 

Did it go all pear-shaped?

 

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Maybe she's the the right gender.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

All I have to ask is how is it that Madblood's mother is so on track with the importance of an evil... wait, hang on, you talked about her earlier, didn't you? Question withdrawn.

Off-panel head inserts: 14.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN!!!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Though it doesn't arise in the strip itself too often - at least, outside that shirt she always wears - her tendency to dot i's with hearts is one of Helen's defining idiosyncracies!

(It's funny because - get this - she's also evil.)

Say, how long did it take her to draw and shade in that tick using a pencil?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "You Gotta Have Heart" from "Damn Yankees" by Adler & Ross)

I'm dotting with hearts!
Little itty-bitty hearts!
Though at first it may seem cutesy as hell,
That's how you can tell
When madness starts ...
You're dotting with hearts!

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Leon, you imply that dotting i's with hearts isn't normally considered an evil trait....
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

I used to dot my i's with little hearts, and I turned out all right (and no longer do this).

Mind you, my mother collects teapots and hedgehogs, so I don't know who I'm trying to fool.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"Date me, Dave-Luc Picard!  You're my only hope!"

(Let's play "count the geeky references" in that one line...)

Naomi H (starbright) says:

Personally, I think she just wanted someone more impressive to parade in front of her high-school nemeses.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

The real genius in this punchline is the paradoxical implication that all of the clones were devoured.

Wait, this will be Helen's first date? Good gracious, you're right! To think that a social shut-in like her went and gave away the chance to be Dave Davenport! At least he gets some downtime sometimes.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: You might as well change your mind, Dave, Helen's probably going to change everything else about you.
Melissa Trible (tamtrible) says: Leon: not necessarily.  It could be that the one which survived the devouring died from his injuries.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh. Heh. Heh.
Scott R (nekura) says: Those are the ant tracks for the supercomputer Dave's building.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Giant Hamsters on TV
Bryce Utting (butting) says:

It could be that the one which survived the devouring died from his injuries.

OR, all Ben Afflecks are poisonous.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: I like Helen's grin.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

It feels like Dave is getting easier and easier to placate as this webcomic goes on.

What is Dave in front of in panel 2?
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Helen's grin is OK... Dave's beard-splitting grin is more than a little disturbing in context -- especially as he almost looks... smitten?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: I always figured that they learned enough from Helen's reunion that Dave no longer felt the need to attend his.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "We Can Work It Out", by The Beatles)

Back in school I trembled;
Other kids were popular and treated me so mean!
Now they're all assembled,
There's the football captain and that cute Homecoming queen!
We can wipe 'em out!
We can wipe 'em out!

Life is sometimes short;
For those who ra-a-agged on me,
It's gonna get shorter quite soon ...
I will hunt for sport,
And I will smi-i-ile with glee
And laugh like a psychotic loon ...

Got 'em in my cross-hairs!
But I'm running low on ammo, and I'm quite annoyed!
But it's no great loss, there's
Plenty more of those who get their kicks from schadenfreude!
We can wipe 'em out!
We can wipe 'wm out!

Mike Kozar (mikekozar) says: Seriously, Ed, this is like your mutant power or something.  It is *uncanny*.
fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: Obviously, Helen served as an inspiration to Sarah Palin.
BlackWolfe Coyoten (blackwolfe_coyoten) says: "We're going to destroy the popular kids," is one of my favorite blase lines.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile