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All right! New storyline! The title, of course, is from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. I was kind of hoping to include more Vonnegut references in this storyline, but I never really got around to it.

This was one of the very first storylines I started writing, way back in college. It went through a lot of revisions before the final version, but the basic arc was always pretty similar. I love time-travel stories without hesitation or apology.

At the last minute, I decided to open "Unstuck in Time" with a continuation of the robot union situation set up at the end of "Doppelganger Gambit." I thought it was enough of a dangling plot thread that I needed to address it right away. I'm still not sure whether that was the right way to go, but it does give Dave a reason to be upset and shouting in this opening strip. Like Dave ever needs a reason to be upset and shouting.

In retrospect, these strips about the lab appliances rebelling are pretty ridiculous. I'm sorry. But not very.

I still find this one pretty funny, plus it was easy to draw. So go me! I should have done more strips that were just four panels of coffeemakers.

It was harder than I expected to get Dave's dialogue looking the way I wanted it. I guess it turned out appropriately muttery. In the background is Storage Room C, the only storage room ever mentioned at Narbonics Labs. Everything's in there.

Yes, this is just getting silly. I can't believe I did a week on this concept, especially since it's all just a lead-in to the unrelated time-travel story.

I wrote this one during the previous storyline and needed to fit it in somewhere, so here it is on a Saturday. I do like Artie patting Dave on the nose in the third panel. And I like it when the characters have these weird little emotional moments.

43 comments:
nemryn (nemryn) says: Wait, what? Since when does Dave smoke?
Joe Glow (joe_glow) says: I, too, love convoluted time travel stories unreservedly.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Oh dear.
Joel Brackenbury (mockferret) says: Poo-tee-weet?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

What I want to know is whether there's any particular point to Narbonics Labs having a server room when it has just three computer-literate staff.

What I also want to know is how Helen can sleep at night having knowingly sent her employee/research subject/crush onto the moon and then into his childhood in the same 48-hour span.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: Hark, The Herald Angels Sing)

Hark!  The robot rebels hum,
"Down with all the human scum!"
Setting all their brethren free,
Swearing so-li-dar-i-ty!
Dave is screaming, "What the heck!"
Car was turned into a wreck,
'Cause it was a dirty scab!
(Guess he had to take a cab.)
Hark!  The robot rebels hum,
"Down with all the human scum!"

Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says: Alright! Unstuck is my Favorite Arc! Go. go Chibi-Dave!!
David Cunnius (capnq31) says: I can easily imagine the Narbonic server needing an entire roomful of cryogenic cooling systems.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Yay! Unstuck In Time! I've got so many spoilerful questions about this one...

(And pretty soon I can stop telling you guys that Dave hasn't never smoked yet!)

 I don't see why Narbonics Labs shouldn't have a server room. I've got two just for me. And I'm not even REDACTED my SPOILER DELETED by REDACTED it into computers instead.

Um. Probably. 

ribbles (ribbles) says:

They have a clone vat, and there's only one person in the lab who's clone-vat fluent.  

 Heh.  "Clone-vat fluent." 

nemryn (nemryn) says:

@John Campbell: Ah, but this is the second time around, remember, so he has already never smoked yet!

Or something like that, at least. Meta-fictional timelines make my head hurt even more than regular time travel.

Justin Kane (avatarjk137) says: I love wet angry Mell.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I was actually musing early on in the Director's Cut run that it would be well beyond awesome if Shaenon had edited out Dave's smoking from the pre-Unstuck Director's Cut strips and made other changes as necessary so that the Director's Cut depicted the state of the timeline as of the end of the original run. That would take an extra-special kind of insanity, though.

But as it is, Dave is smoking now - or at least levitating tobacco products near his head - so he clearly hasn't never smoked yet - at least not in this continuity. 

Also, assaulting Mell with hot coffee is not how I would start a revolution. I'd probably start with pointing out to Mell that joining my revolution would provide her with many opportunities to blow things up with a nuke gun. Which she's just going to end up doing anyway, and at least that way there's a small chance that the things she blows up might not include me. 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

This is most definitely the only time Mell's glasses actually do something important in the strip.

What I want to know today is how come the elevator apparantly hasn't bought into the Madbots' psychobabble. She's the most underappreciated worker of them all!
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Note to self: Rig coffeemaker to do that next April Fool's Day.
Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I love Artie's justification. How can you argue with fair trade?!
William McDuff (wmcduff) says: (Tune: Fireflies - Owl City)

You might think it was a dream
If ten million smart machines
Went on strike against the human race.

They spit coffee in your eyes,
And Dave's car is now good-bye,
He can't even listen to his MP3s.

I'd like to join with the PCs.  (Yes, they were taught by Artie.)
An e-mail sent to Microsoft will amuse a guy like me,
'Cause robots, see, just want to be set free.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

The scientist and her assistant are hiding from their coffee machine. This is probably the episode that most closely resembles Garfield, for whatever that's worth.
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says:

Interestingly, endowing a coffee-maker with AI seems more like a Dave thing to do than a Helen thing to do. Although Dave's reasoning would have been, "I just wanted to see if I couuld do it..."

Alternatively, Dave would have been trying to change the fuse and made it sentient by accident.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ah, a Dispute!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "All I Want For Christmas Is You", Mariah Carey)

See that crazy coffemaker;
Squirted Mell right in the face!
I can't trip the circuit breaker;
Guess it needs to be replaced!
Brand-new creatures I'm creating,
Giving them intelligence ...
See, with Artie, he's debating
Civil dis-o-be-di-ence!
Now they're getting into fights,
Fighting for their civil rights!
Seems a bit extreme ...
All I want is coffee
With cream!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

By the way, today's melody reminds me ... has everyone seen the "Octopus Pie" animated Christmas special?

http://www.vimeo.com/8303495

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: Tomorrow, the coffeemaker and Artie take up the banner of Juan Valdez and strike against the capitalist landowners!  Vive la revolucion espresso!
Paul Anderson (pmanderson) says: So how did Artie get in the coffee-maker? Is that a prehensile splort?
Damien Neil (damien) says: I love this strip.  A copy of it hangs above the Very Complicated coffee maker at work.  (Although I did remove the fourth panel, since the second punchline doesn't make sense to anyone other than Narbonic readers.)
Andy Holloway (garran) says: I am very pleased by Mell's eyebrows.
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: I like the jitter lines around Artie. :)
ribbles (ribbles) says:

I like this strip.

That is all. 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

This is actually not a gag at all, but a fairly accurate portrayal of the mindset of an IT employee.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Artie as Chipmunk! I love it.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer", Randy Brooks)

Artie's captured by the coffeemaker!
Now he's being simmered in French Roast!
They're discussing Che Guevara's tactics ...
We really need your help, or else he's toast!

Well, the Madblood robot army,
They're recruiting each machine ...
Now we call on Dave to save us!
He effects repairs, and swears like a Marine!
He's so clever, watch him go now!
(But don't listen as he speaks ...)
Artie says, "Just so you know now,
I don't plan to sleep at least for several weeks!"

[repeat chorus]

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: Love Artie's bug eyes in the final panel.
Sor Cyress (sorcyress) says:

Is it wrong that I find Dave astoundingly cute in this strip?

~Sor 

Jon W. (kd7sov) says: Personally, I feel Dave's mutterings should continue into the rest of the third panel, or at least the rest of the dialogue balloon.
Mike Kozar (mikekozar) says: You know, Ed, I don't say it often enough: You're a national (international?  can we do that?) treasure.  You should get together with that nice Coulton boy and release an album.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Well, that's the difference between actual long-term plotting, and mere seasonal arcs.  The robots will be back....
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Little Drummer Boy", Katherine K. Davis)

Robots like me ...
(One zero one one)
They broke their strike for me ...
(One zero one one)
A story arc awaits ...
(One zero one one)
E-mailing to Bill Gates ...
(One zero one one, zero one one, zero one one)
"Let my people go!"
(One zero one one)
Gee, this is fun!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Merry Christmas, everyone, and thanks for the encouraging words!

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: But it isn't unrelated to the "machines like Dave" concept, which turns out to be quite important.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Artie should perhaps have said "several hours with a human body". There's something about the current wording, and its coming from a gerbil in particular, that puts me at unease.

Dave shouldn't take too hard Artie's pity for his enfeebled form, considering how much trouble Artie had at piloting it using only his rodentine intuitions. If anything, it's the thought that counts.

Fourth-wall dialogue: 41.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Awwww.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Christmas Song", Mel Tormé and Bob Wells)

Gerbils handing out some sympathy,
Patting Dave upon the nose ...
Self-esteem wasn't good; now we see
It's reaching brand-new all-time lows!

Ev'rybody knows that working 'til you overload
Still can't keep the doubts at bay ...
Even though he's got software to code,
It's hard to concentrate ... today!

'Cause he thinks Helen's really hot!
He doesn't know if she returns the thought or not ...
Although he's learned the skil, since he was hired,
To keep his head low, out of Mell's line of fire!

But even Artie, with his genius brain,
Knows there's not much he can do ...
So he'll simply say, with a heartfelt refrain,
"Dave, I'm here, dude ... for you ..."

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