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Smithson Thus Far... ·


Hey! Today's my birthday!

Today begins the longest single storyline in Narbonic, running from December 2002 to July 2003. Some claim "Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit" is too long, but these people are haters. It is awesome and contains everything a Narbonic storyline requires: mad science, romantic angst, shape-shifting, explosions, and humiliating things happening to Dave.

The art in this week is pretty bad, though. It's all over the place. Dave looks cute in the first panel, though.

I don't like this strip very much, but I do enjoy the uniform Madblood has apparently devised for himself. Mell steals his jacket later on.

Again, the art is all over the place in this week of strips. I was trying to do some new stuff and only sporadically succeeding. Also, I was getting tired of drawing Dave with the full beard.

Dave's probably right about the island, although I cannot even begin to guess what kind of move he thinks he should've made.

This is a really doofy strip; I only did it to fill out the week. I had Andrew do the lettering on Madblood's signs so they wouldn't have my handwriting, but he had trouble doing all the teeny-tiny lettering. Lettering is hard.

I do like Madblood's continued efforts to get Helen's attention. He and Helen both have a pull-your-pigtails-and-run approach to dating. Also, Dave is clearly fed up with the whole thing, as well he should be.

I watched "Birds of Prey," which was a bad, bad idea. Gail Simone's run on the comic is really good, though.

Even though the punchline isn't great, I like this strip. Helen's flounce, and Mell giving Artie that doofy Star Trek line, and whatever the hell sci-fi pen Dave is writing with... it's all good.

The only problem with doing the shoulder sprites is that they tend to really clutter up a panel. Beyond that, I always enjoyed writing these, and this one has Dave's Steve Dallas-like social life.

It's probably too small to tell, but Social Life smokes a joint rather than a cigarette.

Diane Castle (deecee) says: Best. Headline. Ever.
Chris Reed (animeraider) says: You and my daughter have the same birthday? She turns 10. Evil 10. She's going to love this.
Kenneth Raymond (nerrin) says:

Happy birthday!

 Also: agreement. Best headline ever. If I knew how, I'd make up a fake newspaper and print that front page out to hang on my wall.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Hah! Funny thing... right now, in the forum story [The Mad Scientist Wars], we just started a new chapter. It's titled:

"Jane Narbon and the Doppelganger Gambit".
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

I will say of today: it is the best start to a storyline that this webcomic ever had. (The lift door isn't even fully open!)

The girth of this storyline is a tad appropriate for the number of motifs it covers: space travel, AI, impersonation transformation, and animal-to-human transformation. The question is, did it really need all four of these motifs? Especially, one might argue, since animal-to-human is already going to be covered by Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil? ...I'll reserve my judgment on this matter for eight months.
Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: Happy birthday! Also, this is one of my favorite storylines, so not too long. Although to be fair I first read it in book form, not doled out over 8 months.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Oh, come on, Dave. "Can't compete"? It isn't Madblood that Helen's just asked to conquer the solar system at her side.

Happy birthday, Shaenon! 

Mike Kozar (mikekozar) says: Don't forget the singing robots.  This is classic.
Joel Brackenbury (mockferret) says: That's an interesting point, really. Helen is now thinking of herself and Dave as a team to the point that she's saying "We must challenge him" instead of "I must"
chic geek (onechicgeek) says:

There's no such thing as a narbonic story that's too long. More, more, I say! And that one was particularly awesome.

And happy birthday!  

Bill Livingston (billfl) says: Happy Birthday, Shaennon/Norb/Sarge!
Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says:

This was the storyline that was going on when I found this comic.  Sure, I went back and read the archives eventually, (and bought the books when I could) but this is the one that hooked me in.  So I can't say that it was in any way "too long"!

It was commented re the previous storyline that, for all the talk about it, nobody ever actually gets turned into a gerbil.  It might also be pointed out that, despite the talk (and her own high hopes) I don't recall Mell ever actually shooting anyone.  (Wait; I seem to remember a throw-away bit where she shoots up a computer lab full of geeks who want to play Doom.)

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: Happy Birthday, Shaenon!
Mark H- (eyeharvester) says: I agree with our Evil Birthday Overlord - "Professor Madblood & the Doppelganger Gambit" is pretty much the perfect Narbonic storyline. Yayy! Go Team!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Sorry for the late update, very busy today.  Happy birthday, Shaenon!  Also, the Big Freakin' (tm) Gun count goes to 26!  (Mell, background of panel 3)

(TUNE: "The Army Goes Rolling Along")

Give a shout!  Give a cheer!
Shaenon's made another year!
The cartoonist of Narbonic fame!

She draws blood!  She draws gore!
She draws gerbils by the score!
The cartoonist of Narbonic fame!

For it's draw!  Scan!  Post!
Then we'll raise a glass and toast!
Count off the candles on the cake!
(DON'T ... ASK!)
And in twenty-ten,
We'll sing this filk again!
The cartoonist of Narbonic fame!


Barbara Courter (bjexcou) says:

(Tune: Volga Boatman's song - sort of)

Happy Birth-day (uh!) 

Happy Birth-day (uh!)

Misery & Despair

People dying ev'rywhere, but

Happy Birth-day (uh!)

Happy Birth-day (uh!)

May the candles on your cake,

Burn like cities in their wake, so

Happy Birth-day (uh!)

Happy Birth-day (uh!)


Courtesy of Megan & Cameron Courter who never miss

an opportunity to sing it (or in this case, type it) 

Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says: Happy B-Day Shaenon. And The Doppelnganger Gambit IS too long, but it's when the cool stuff begin to happen and introduces the Madblood bots, so it's Ok (Also is the best Madblood story, aside from the Everlasting Ices of the North of course)
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: I like the scan lines in panel 3.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Joel Brackenbury (mockferret) says:

Look at him. He looks so pleased in the first panel. Maybe even he wasn't sure his moonbase plan was going to work until now.

And in the second panel, the M flag seems to be coming out of the top of his head. Brilliant!

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I like the final line. It's classic Madblood that he'd end up beaming out his ultimatum on the Food Network instead of CNN or BBC. I suppose he should just be glad it didn't end up on the Shopping Channel instead.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: And tonight's secret ingredient is...WORLD DOMINATION!
Mark H- (eyeharvester) says:


Myrddin ap Taliesin (myrddhin) says: I think the impressive part is an air tight uniform like that. Take *that* you Pillsbury dough boy astronauts!
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Myrddin- Honestly, given Madblood's tiny frame, there's plenty of room for a relatively bulky spacesuit under there.
Laura Chapple (ironychan) says: That's a bit sad, really... I mean even the Phantom Dictator of Krankor managed to overwhelm every channel, and he didn't even wear underwear.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Day Tripper", The Beatles)

I'm Lupin Madblood!
Ruler Supreme of the Earth!
Lupin "Wolf" Madblood!
Laughing with psychotic mirth!

'Cause I'm the world tyrant!
God-like Em-per-or!
No one can sto-op my
Deadly ray!
Make my day!

ribbles (ribbles) says: I like this strip.  Anything where everybody gets a final-panel punchline that just so in-character you can't stand it.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker*
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Rocket telescope. (Actually, that makes a not inconsiderable amount of quite mad sense. But still - rocket telescope. And as soon as the same afternoon?!)

Helen doesn't misunderstand the moral value of that lunar base - it is very, nay, profoundly evil. Its mere existence on the face of creation is, to rephrase a certain in-joke, well over 1.6 kilodogkicks.

The reason she doesn't have any beast-men is because Helen's mastery of physics and biology already elevates her above Dave's level, and having bona fide loyal minions plural would only unbalance the interpersonal dynamics in this comic even further.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Rocket Man", Elton John)

And I think I'm gonna see out into space
To spy on Madblood at his lunar base!
Got a surprise or two for him, I hope ...
(Yeah, I'm no dope!)
Got a rocket scope!
Scopin' out my rival on the Moon!
(And I think that Dave will take a trip quite soon...)

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Admit it, Dave... this is better than whatever lame idea you had for a second date.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Beast-men are expensive to keep clean.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

And, of course, there's the expense of those Frontline® flea-and-tick control treatments...

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Not gonna ask HOW Shaenon knows that.
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

Bjexcou: YOu left out the stanza in the HAppy Birthay song that could have been written expressly forMell:

There's a lesson you must learn...

FIRST you pillage, THEN you burn!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker* I see he's planned ahead.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

This strip isn't all that bad, despite its silliness, and also despite being the second cable TV joke in three days. For one thing, Helen's jumping up and down in childish impatience.

Madblood grinning with closed lips: 4. It's springtime on the moon, where the sun shines on Madblood every day!
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Believe it or not, Leon, the WB actually was on non-cable airwave-style TV in a few places. :)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Fly Me To The Moon", by Bart Howard)

Madblood's on the Moon,
He's smug and smiling like a jerk!
He will find out soon
His dark and evil scheme won't work!
His plan I'll scotch,
Wait and see!
He made me watch
The W.B.!

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: @Leon: I'm pretty sure the WB was not in fact a cable TV channel, especially as we didn't have cable at the time, but I was still able to made the mistake of watching Birds of Prey.
Paul Gadzikowski (pgadzikowski) says: As my wife said at the time, the draw for Birds of Prey is it's a buddy story about grown women. Turn it into teen angst and you lose what makes it special. No wonder the tv show failed.
Bill Livingston (billfl) says:

The WB and UPN merged and became the CW.  Still unsure what "CW" signifies.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker*
Michael Martin (mcmartin) says: This is one of my favorite strips in the entire run, mainly due to panel 3.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

And that's the end of the story. Next week: Mell skateboards down the Golden Gate Bridge arches.

Helen's hair billows in a very cape-like fashion, I've just noticed. If this were in colour, I'd be making comparisons to a deific aura about now.

Hey! Don't get your grubby fingers on the panel gutter!
Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I like Mell's pose and expression in the final panel. It's at such contrast to her usual maniacal look.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "What Do You Get When You Fall In Love", Bacharach & David)

What do you get when you fight Madblood?
You build rocket scopes to probe his moon base,
And get your scheme thrown in your own face!
I'll ... perpetrate my own in-ge-ni-ous schemes!
I'll perpetrate my evil schemes!

Oh, what a harsh insult this is!
An un-ex-pec-ted result this is!
Anyway, he can keep his luney base,
I got plans ... more evil than goonie-face!

What do you feel when he foils your plot?
He's not worth your time, he's just annoying ...
Give me a day, I'll start destroying!
I'm ... gonna infiltrate your base, Madblood!
I'm getting in your face, Madblood!

Myrddin ap Taliesin (myrddhin) says: I'm thinking the pen's got a Obligatory Fiddly Bit from Schlock Mercenary.
Kevin Peckham (detailbear) says:

Maybe Dave is holding the precursor to this:

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: I think Dave's shoulder devil has been hanging out with Mell's.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Personality sprites: 9. As they're supposed to represent the subject's internal conflict with a weighty moral dilemma, I'm not sure why they've manifested in this episode if the only competition to Good's argument is just "Kill! Kill!". It seems unlikely that Dave would be particularly compelled by that.

You know, it's a wonder this webcomic never employs any floating advisors representing the subject's imagined conception of another character.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Hollywood Nights", Bob Seger)

I got an evil side, says "You should kill and kill and kill!"
I got a good side that says "Let her go!"
I got a social life, says "If you go out, then you will
Get us shot down by a hot-looking ho!"

I got personal sprites!
Both the good and the bad,
And my social life gripes
'Bout the fun I ain't had!
Yeah my personal sprites
They keep bothering me!
On those Saturday nights
When I play with my Wii ...

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

The only problem with doing the shoulder sprites is that they tend to really clutter up a panel.

Which is much of their charm!  "See, this is why I try not to think".


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