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This one turned out pretty well, all things considered. The expressions are good, and at one point Dave gets kneed in the groin, and that's a full day's comedy as far as I'm concerned.

Also, what's with the nerdy guy in the last panel? I have no idea.

I just think this strip is romantic as hell. Also, my lettering is awesome.

Something like this happened in a recent episode of "30 Rock," where Liz Lemon goes to her high-school reunion and discovers that everyone thought she was a bully because she was forever muttering snappy comebacks under her breath. Also, this happens to me in real life.

Dave is depicted here as more even ruthless than Helen when it comes to blind vengeance against one's peers, which will turn out to be the case later in Narbonic as well.

My high-school mascot was the bulldog. The school was not run by imaginative people.

Ah, Helen's pose in the third panel is perfect. Good work, Shaenon of Late 2002!

In an earlier storyline, Dave compares Helen unfavorably to Dr. Frankenstein. It's nice that he has such a high opinion of her work, really.

Again, it's pretty surprising nobody ever gets turned into a gerbil in Narbonic. I probably figured I was drawing more than enough gerbils as it was.

Despite her initial disappointment, Helen looks pretty great in this dress. As countless evil overlords know, you can't go wrong with basic black.

I still love this strip, and of course I wrote most of the storyline just to build up to it. Even when I drew it, though, I had to wonder where the hell Helen and Dave are walking. How far away did they park the car? Also, the grey fills here are unforgivable.

From this point on, Dave is officially Interested in Helen. He makes the first stab at asking her out in the next daily strip, although he immediately gives up at the first sign of difficulty. It's his way.

Majel Mappelthorpe is destined to appear in a future storyline, although she's involved with someone other than the mysterious Brad Romaine.

40 comments:
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "What Is Love", Haddaway)

This is love!
Before the slaughter,
We'll be fox-trotters
Once more ...

This is love!
Helen, I need you!
And then you kneed me!
I'm sore ...

Doug Wykstra (dougthehead) says: Oh, that third one is Dave getting kneed in the groin?  That's much funnier and less cringe-inducing than what I interpreted it to be.  I'm not going to say any more, except that you could read Dave's expression to be one of extreme mortification, rather than excrutiating pain.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: It must be!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

This is actually quite sweet - they may be putting on their affection for each other, but they're also genuinely making up for their youth here - giving away to each other their dancefloor virginity. Such displays are as awkward as they are earnest.

Impossible occurence: Someone's glasses falling off by accident.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Doug:  Especially compared to the second one, which is a really good reason not to smoke while dancing!  They do seem to come out close to even, which I suppose is the point...

Has Artie moved from the punchbowl to the crudites?

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Hey, it's less life-threatening than their usual interactions....
Vlad Taltos (flyingfish) says: Thanks to Ed, I'm now imagining the entire Narbonic cast doing the head-bob.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Uh. When you slip on the dance floor and your face bounces off of her cleavage... your glasses may well go flying. Dave's glasses leaving his face is no impossible occurance.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Awwwww.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says: Hey, Ed, foxtrotting is _really hard_. No wonder it's going so wrong...
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Those foolish fools! How could they think she'd show them mercy after all these years? She's mad! Mad!! And soon they'll be her little gerbil pets!!! (Not because their past wrongs had anything to do with gerbils in particular but because she really liked gerbils when she was a girl and it sort of makes sense if you think about it for a little bit!!!!)

This whole strip is very much like a 2000 strip in reverse. The traditional punchline (the stage-frightened megalomaniac) is in the first panel, and the setup's in panel 4. I wonder what this signifies with regards to the evolution of this webcomic.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Laughter In The Rain", Neil Sedaka)

Sharing a dance at the high school reunion,
Burning and bruising each other now ...
"Cower and quake, fools!  You all laughed at me,
Now you will see, bwa-ha-ha!" she cried!
(While Dave, her date, simply smiles with pride ...)

Ooo, I hear laughter that's insane,
Coming from the gal that I'm crushing on!
Ooo, they all thought you were so strange!
Now you've got revenge, Helen Nar-bon!

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: This is the strip where I finally fell in love with Dave, so apparently I also find his pride in his date incredibly romantic. That, and I can completely see my husband (also a Dave) making the same declaration if I decided to go mad.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: You know, we all dream of telling people off at our reunions, saying thos things we've held inside for so long.  It's a good thing to finally  be able to deliver.
Christopher Heiny (clheiny) says: "Now I shall be the master, and you shall be gerbils!" is even better than "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die."
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: Embrace your inner gerbil! Because, whether you like it or not, your outer gerbil is soon to emerge...
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Errrrr....
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Happens, plural?

Of course, it's only natural that the sane Helen would be preternaturally blind to the social ramifications of surprise tail implantation. To mix a good metaphor: the other side of the penny has dropped!

Poor old Larry's sister. There's no dignity in being the first victim. By the way: what is up with the noses of these ladies?
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: All goes to show that madness is relative. Namely, one gets it from one's mother in this case. Even before her breakout, Helen was still the (literal) product of mad science, and that colored her behavior in ways that she never noticed.
Matt Buchwald (themysticalone) says:

I love 30 Rock.

 

You know what this means though, right?  Tina Fey reads your comic.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Help Me, Rhonda", by the Beach Boys)

Well, Helen got a letter for the high school reunion dance!
"Oh, nothing could be better now!" she thought, "This is my chance!"
And now she's come so far
To turn the high school gym into an ... abbatoir!
(So help us!)
Help us, Helen Narbon made me ru-in my pants!
(Eew eew eew eew eew eew eew eew!)

Helen Narbon!  Help!  Helen Narbon!
Helen Narbon!  Help!  Helen Narbon!
Helen Narbon!  Help!  Helen Narbon!
Helen Narbon!  Help!  Helen Narbon!
Helen Narbon!  Help!  Helen Narbon!
Helen Narbon!  Help!  Helen Narbon!
Hel-en Nar-bon!  HELP!
(Gonna hide in the john!)

Jacob Haller (jwgh) says: I like the tail gag in panel 3.  (I guess Larry and his sister are fraternal twins if they're at the same high school reunion -- or I suppose one of them could have been held back.)
EvilMid nightLurker (emlurker) says:

In World of Warcraft, a mage can turn a sheep into a sheep.  You'd think they wouldn't notice or care, but once the effect wears off and the sheep has turned from a sheep back into a sheep, it gets angry and tries to attack you.

 The thought of a bunch of gerbils getting mad about being turned into gerbils amuses me greatly. :)

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Blue Bayou", by Ray Orbison)

I planned to make them cry
At my high-
School reunion ...
But to find that they'd
Always been afraid
Won't be too fun ...
I endured their taunts,
But my face still haunts
Their nightmares and their fears ...
Well, it's been a ball --
I'll see you all
Again in five years!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Oh well. See ya!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Awwwwww(wwwwwwww). Those eyebrows say everything.

The first line's kind of hokey, but there isn't much of an alternative to this particular ending. Either Helen realises that she never really needed to Show Them All, or she finds turning them into gerbils ultimately unsatisfying (which would probably be even more hokey), or some sort of explosion happens and nobody learns anything (which is basically what the ANTONIO SMITH: FORENSIC LINGUIST storyline was already).
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: But ... but ... no remorseful gerbils?  Now what's Artie going to use for focus groups?
fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: When I saw that episode of 30 Rock I actually thought of this Narbonic storyline.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I didn't notice until just now the tiny lines that indicate that Helen's pose in panel 3 is her taking a huge step out of the panel. That plus her trying to casually conceal a transmogrification ray that probably outweighs her behind her back is excellent.

Helen is great in panel 2, as well... how do you wring that much expression out of a mouth made up of a grand total of about six pixels? 

And panel 4 with the cheerful, "See you at the fifteenth!"... okay, Helen's just made out of win in this strip.

Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says: Leon; Another possability would be that she turns everyone into gerbils, and thus learns an important lesson about the value of facing and conquering your fears.  (I suppose there could be debate, but I'd say that turning someone into a gerbil counts as "conquering" them!)
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Awww.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

As I quite possibly mentioned last year, at this point the amount of plot-relevant gerbil-based science perpetuated by Helen Narbon drops down to all short of zero. This is, of course, due to the fact that nearly all of her gerbil applications were megalomaniacal in nature (with the exceptions including RT-5478 and Girl Artie), and, from this point, her lust for ruling the world shrinks away entirely, as her lust for ruling Dave('s brain) rises ever more.

And, for what it's worth, even the gerbil motif was in danger of overexposure, given that it is already represented in the mere presence of Artie and his step-siblings.

Speaking of overexposure, this seems to be the second evil coffee punchline in this storyline. I wonder if there aren't any more office fixtures that Dave ought to be watching. Contact poison on the lift buttons? Or the old syringe-in-the-cigarette trick?
Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I'm guessing the gerbils (and sheep) would get mad about it for the same reason that in the upcoming plotline humans get upset about getting turned into humans. They're all still the same species, but the devil's in the details, isn't it?
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: Lettuce be grateful that she wasn't left drifting on an Iceberg.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Awwww.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

One has to wonder about a mad woman worrying about being emotionally stunted. What I like most is how this storyline is most indicative of Helen's gradual (and somewhat downplayed) return to maturity. Then in the next thrilling adventure we get a different kind of character development.

Her hair's untied. No point pretending any longer.



(...nuke gun.)
W o o d (wood) says: Oh yes, Majel Mappelthorpe, she of the pireced navel...
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Somewhere", from "West Side Story" by Bernstein & Sondheim)

We don't have a place ...
The world laughs in our face ...
Take my hand and we'll walk away ...
We'll destroy them another day ...
Those fools ... they'll pay ... someday ...

ribbles (ribbles) says: It is hard to imagine anything better than the next storyline.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

This Narbonic moment really touched me deeply and still means a lot to me. Thank you again, Shaenon, for telling such a wonderful story.

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