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Smithson Thus Far... ·


The stretchy Photoshop effect to indicate time travel is pretty cool, actually, but it makes the strips annoying to scroll through in the archives. I'm sorry.

That's my husband Andrew pushing Dave off the swing in the first panel. I should say it's a kid version of Andrew, but people keep telling me Andrew looks like a kid version of himself already.
Comics keep you young.

Teenage Dave's T-shirt indicates that he goes to Two Willows High School. I've mentioned this before, but Two Willows is my default Midwestern fictional setting. I used it in "North of Space,"
my old high-school strip, too. The gym coach has a real "Bloom County" look to him. My high school had a coach who looked a lot like that, but doesn't every high school?

The two younger versions of Dave have transparent glasses. This may not seem like a big deal now, but the transparency of Dave's glasses ended up becoming a plot point much later in the
strip. At the time, however, I hadn't really worked that part out, and I drew the younger Daves with visible eyes because it made him look younger. Later I did come up with an explanation for why
Dave developed opaque lenses, because I'm anal that way, but I decided it was too angsty so I never used it.

This was one of the first strips I wrote for this storyline. Dave looks wonderfully dorky in the third panel.

In the foreground of the first panel you can see Andrew with a bad teenage mustache. I draw Andrew into the strip a lot.

And there's another portrait of Andrew in the first panel. He modeled for this one.

A lot of this strip was drawn at one of Jason Shiga's legendary art nights in Oakland, and most of the guys in the locker room are
cartoonists who were hanging out there. In the second panel we have Shiga and Matt Holdaway. In the third panel, left to right, are
Eric Nebel, Thien Pham, and Trevor Alixopulos. I totally couldn't figure out that was supposed to be Alixopulos until a minute ago
when I looked up Eric online and happened across a photo of the two of them together. That's actually a good likeness of Thien.

Most of these people live in Portland now. It's really sad.

I think all the characters have the initials of guys I had crushes on in the past.

I managed to include 33 and 42, two of my favorite numbers, into the locker numbers in the background.

I tried to stick to T-shirts I remembered from my 1990s high-school days. Dave is wearing an Odyssey of the Mind shirt. Like many
Midwestern nerds, Andrew and I were both in OM as kids. Andrew continues to lord it over me that he won a Renatra Fusca medal for
his spectacular answers in Spontaneous.

Most of the characters in the first panel are from webcomics of the time. The girl in the extreme foreground is Colette from Vera
Brosgol's Return to Sender. You can also see two characters from Derek Kirk Kim's Same Difference, which eventually became a
print comic and won a ton of awards.

Majel Mappelthorpe was mentioned in a previous storyline as the girl Dave had a crush on in high school. Her name doesn't have
any particular meaning. I just thought it sounded like the name of someone you'd have known in high school. And yes, she is smoking
clove cigarettes at school, because she is a Rebel.

New Cooley is another place name I used to use a lot. It's typically the next town over from Two Willows.

Zeno's Cafe was going to be a location in my long-on-hiatus comic Smithson, which I was just about to launch around this time. The
original idea was that it was a coffeehouse that kept discounting its old muffins by half, always approaching but never quite reaching
free. I never got around to setting a scene in Smithson at Zeno's (it got replaced by the Parthenon Diner), much less explaining the
whole muffin thing, so here's the cafe's big moment in the spotlight.

Dave's friend Todd is based on high-school photos of my ex-boyfriend Kevin, who was also the model for Eric, the GM in Dave's
gaming group. I like his Nosferatu shirt. Justin was the name of a guy I knew in high school who was into Magic: The Gathering.

I know the lettering in the third panel is ridiculously cramped, but it's not like I could cut a phrase like "Grand Magus of Shoggoth."

Valerie Kaplan (shinyhappygoth) says: Huh.  I had thought the gym coach was a woman.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "I Saw Her Standing There", The Beatles)

Well, I've been six years old ...
It just leaves me cold!
But then all at once, I am aware that I'm ...
Re-living my adolescence!
'Cause I've come unstuck in time!

There's parallel bars ...
That left painful scars,
And the frickin' rope ... that I could never climb!
It's just like a bad prison sentence ...
'Cause I've come unstuck in time!

From my childhood fears
To my teenage years,
Changing mental gears
Is hard ...

Somehow I'll find my way
To my own present day!
(While the filker makes some convoluted rhyme!)
Re-living life's painful lessons,
'Cause I've come unstuck in time!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

For the first time in history, this particular day's episode fits exactly into my screen. Truly, we have all come so far.

I think I never really regarded Dave's extra-shiny glasses as a legitimate aspect of the world that required a literal explanation (and, let's face it, the only time the audience ever needs to pay attention to it is when a strip explicitly draws attention to it), so I shall trust your judgment with regards to this explanation.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: I had a gym coach who looked just like that who was a woman.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: ZER-WHOOSH!
ben mcgraw (egometry) says: He became blind to the world around him, eh?  In college?
V S (vishanth) says: So angsty that you never used it? Will we get to hear it now, then?
Jon W. (kd7sov) says: What I find curious about glasses and this arc hasn't even come up yet: Dave in old!Dave's body has opaque lenses, but holographic!old!Dave doesn't.
Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says:

Can you tell us now? Please?

Wait a moment, the coach is a Guy?! All this time I thought it was a woman!
Brian Fallstrom (alfador) says: It's not so bad for me this time around, since I have a wider monitor, so even this strip displays without scrolling.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Poor poor Dave.

Silent penultimate panels: 20.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Andrew is the reserve you can always draw on.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: U-oh.
Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says: Looks like Andrew is sporting a wonderfully bad teenage beard, too.
Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says: So Andrew went to school with Dave. That's actually cool, where were you then?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Piano Man", Billy Joel)

I'm back in the high school locker room,
Seeing Nick, who now works for his dad;
And poor Ben's unemployed,
And Ron's mom is annoyed,
That her basement's a bachelor pad!

And there's Trent, who will end up in prison soon,
And there's Ken, who is following Phish!
And with one or two tries,
I'll convince all these guys,
That I'm not a loser!  (I wish.)

(oh, dee dee dee, D&D,
dee dee, D&D, dee dee ...)

Maybe I won't be a loser now!
There is no need to fear ...
I will get, after school,
A job that's so cool,
And only get killed once a year!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Very nice!
Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says: That's Matt Holdaway?  I thought it was Artie.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: I'm going to assume, on the strength of this commentary, that the L'il Mell Brain Wars storyline was entirely autobiographical.
fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: I was an OM kid too! I started doing it when it was still called "Olympics of the Mind" before they got sued by the actual Olympics. In fourth grade my team went to the international finals! Our skit was about a guy who got impatient with his coffee maker and tried to fix it and ended up accidentally traveling back in time to the dinosaur age.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

John: Entirely.
Vlad Taltos (flyingfish) says: Nick Stein resembles (SEMI-SPOILER!) a certain human-but-not.
Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says: Matt Holdaway looks like Artie. Is that intentional or just a coincidence?
Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says: Something I forgot. The thing about high school. Popularity is overrated, look how they all end up!
Sean McLane (zodo) says: You might want to look at your ad scripts. In the last week, I've gotten virus warnings when I looked at this page and the Skinhorse page. I think that you might have a trojan-loading ad in your rotation.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Michelle", The Beatles)

Majel ... you're swell!
Still in school, you're sex-i-er than hell!
Sweet Majel!

I like you, I like you, I like you!
I really like you lots!
For you, I got the hots!
And if I see that you like me,
Then I might rebel
With Majel!

K C (spotweld) says: If Majel Mappelthorpe were a high schooler today, she'd have her own blog and a small army of faithful smitten nerd-boys
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Given the nature of this storyline, that "yet" is very interesting.

Though it appears to be just a sign of Majel's faith in her ability to corrupt Dave. 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Dave seems uninterested in the mutability of the space-time continuum. I think she would be impressed by an explanation of the eternalist metaphysics that this trip has starkly revealed, along with the philosophical revelation that every moment lies frozen, etched in the pages of all reality, that it is in the power of science to turn back those pages, to bring back what was thought forever lost, and that the present is an infinitely, vanishingly miniscule portion of the vast ocean of space-time.
(But explained subtly, of course.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Yesterday", The Beatles)

It's today,
When my life began to go astray!
We skipped out on school and drove away;
I can't believe ... I'm here today ...

You asked me,
If I knew about biology ...
I misunderstood entirely,
It was today ... that you slapped me!

Now a-way she goes,
Off to old Zeno's Cafe ...
If I'm here a while,
I guess I'll
Relive today!

Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

When I visited this page this morning google warned me that it might have malware on it and directed me to this: 

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Ah, so Zeno's Cafe is a math joke. I'd wondered.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Yes, WebComicsNation seems to be having a virus problem.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Well, at least he's learned from his mistakes.
Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Man. I wish *my* friends were that understanding of *my* temporal paradoxes.
Justin Kane (avatarjk137) says: I run an all-black deck.  I should make people call me a Grand Magus of Shaggoth when I win with it.
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: I think everyone who reads this strip should have friends like that.
Rachel S. (masamage) says: "Shaggoth" makes less sense than "Shoggoth" but is inappropriately funnier.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

I didn't even notice that typo because my lettering is so bad. These guys wish they were the Grand Magus of Shaggoth.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

How long has it been since I last saw that circled A in panel 1?

If this strip is set in 1993, ten years prior to this strip's initial publication, then Magic: The Gathering has only been public for maybe two weeks. History is being written right beneath Dave's rectangular nose!
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

Nah, this probably isn't 1993. More like spring '94, based on the mix of short and long sleeves- thus, we're after Arabian Nights and Antiquities. And even if it is still 1993, this is probably a few weeks into the school year, though the presence of mixed sleeves likely precludes it being as late as when Limited Edition Beta came out.

Still, even September 1 would be a full four weeks from the public release of Alpha. Sorry, Leon.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

But does Dave have a copy of The Moody Blues' "Days Of Future Passed"?

Derek Burrow (derekthebard) says: Dating is easier if we figure on whether Todd's shirt is a fan shirt for the Murnau movie...or the Clan Nosferatu shirt for Vampire: The Masquerade.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Derek, I think being able to figure that out actually makes dating harder.
Sean McLane (zodo) says: This web page had the virus on it again. Avast caught it (twice, because it triggered again after I logged in to make this comment)
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says: I like the way he's fine with changing the past to get a better shot with Majel, but uses unwillingness to risk changing the past as an excuse to decline the gaming group in favor of meeting her.
Steven Ehrbar (see) says:

An all-black deck in that era? If it gets the Dark Rituals early, it can win fast.  Otherwise, it'll die against white.

(COP:Black neuters it, Karma kills it, Disenchant and Sword to Plowshares remove any complications along the way.  Pair with blue counterspells to really wreck Black's day.)

Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: Adam: HOLPDWF!
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: er. Gesundheit?
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile