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Smithson Thus Far... ·


I don't remember when I decided Dave should have a brother, but he appears a couple of times in Narbonic. Bill is a year older than
Dave. He's named after Bill Paxton, who plays bullying older brother Chet in the movie "Weird Science."

In the background of the first panel is a picture of a pear, a nod to my mom and aunt, who both collect pears.

What the hell. Why do Pudding Pops not exist anymore? This is nonsense.

The letters on the fridge spell A.W.F., Andrew's initials. The picture of Spider-Man is based on a drawing he did as a kid.

Bill's lounging-on-the-couch pose came out well. I was very happy with it at the time.

Man, Dave has all three of the flavors in the standard box, including chocolate-vanilla swirl. I WANT A PUDDING POP SO BAD.

I always thought this joke was stupid, but for some reason Andrew loved it. It's one of the few Narbonic strips that made him laugh out
loud. Go figure.

Once again, Dave tells everybody in the damn world that he's unstuck in time. Think of how many incest-related problems Marty
McFly could've avoided with this approach.

I really have a thing for mole men. The first story I wrote for Marvel was called "Mole Man's Christmas." I dunno, I just think living in
secret tunnels beneath the earth is cool.

You'll note that we never actually see either of Dave's parents. Somehow I got through this story without needing them. The backstory
in my head is that they divorced when Dave was little, and by the time he's a teenager he almost never sees his dad. The only time I
ever drew his mom was for this spoileriffic commission drawing. She's in the front row next to Bill.

This strip is very "Calvin and Hobbes." Dave's room really is pretty boss. Look, he's got a lightsaber! My brother had that dinosaur
wallpaper. I had the ceiling stars.

I hope you can tell that the snarling and gnashing is not very terrifying at all. And that the monster isn't really into it. Sometimes these
things are hard to convey in a static medium.

This reveal would probably be better if I'd drawn Caliban consistently from appearance to appearance. I swear he looks different
every time I draw him. Oh well.

I had this bit planned from early on, so I was able to insert some dialogue way, way previously about Dave having a three-eyed
purple monster under his bed as a kid. You can't tell that Caliban is purple as a monster, though. It's a black-and-white comic.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Fourth-wall dialogue: 43. But it's so much more adorable when kids do it, don't you think?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Yay for Pudding!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Alternatively, Dave's enacting a cunning plan to induce a brainfreeze so strong that his mind literally frosts onto this time period.
Steven Ehrbar (see) says:

Actually, Pudding Pops are back, just not nationwide. ; Jell-O Pudding Pops are on the drop-down list.

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

This is, coincidentally, when all of Dave's best shirts stopped fitting.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "At The Hop", Danny & The Juniors)

Brother Bill is such a loafer,
See him lounging on the sofa
Where he flops!
Dave's anxiety is climbin',
Jumping back and forth thru time in
Random hops!
But he swears he won't be beaten!
Now he's in the kitchen, eatin'
Pudding pops!

Jell-o pudding pops!
Gorging 'til he drops!
Hope he never stops!
Man, these things are tops!
Yumm yumm ...
I want pudding pops!

Matt Buchwald (themysticalone) says:

Step 1: Buy Pudding

Step 2: Freeze it on a stick.


That Guy (jsw) says:

Bill Cosby, why have you forsaken me?

Derek Burrow (derekthebard) says: the heck *is* a pudding pop?  Is it literally just frozen pudding on a stick?

kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

Were there TV remote controls in 1983? I don't think there was one for the TV my parents had then, but it might not have been very new. Also, we weren't a very technical household... we didn't have a VCR until 1987 or a CD player until 1992.

Also, did we know Dave had a brother previously to this strip?

Bill Livingston (billfl) says:

There were remotes in 1983, but they were very primitive on/off up/down channel changers.  They were also extra, and not many people (including my folks) wanted to pay extra for something you could get up off the couch and do for yourself, young man, do you hear me?!?

fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: There are no pudding pops within 100 miles of San Francisco :( :( :(

@derekthebard: Calling a pudding pop "just frozen pudding on a stick" is like calling the Garnd Canyon "just a gorge carved out by a river."

Jennifer Rutherford (jenfullmoon) says:

Shaenon, I hate to say it, but all these secret references to Andrew in the strip is reminding me of Thomas Kincade putting his wife's initials all over the place in every painting....

The Auld Grump (theauldgrump) says: Frozen Pudding Pops:

25 min 25 min prep
6 servings

1 (1 ounce) package instant pudding mix (any flavor)
1 3/4 cups cold milk
wooden popsicle sticks
3-4 ounces paper cups

1. Mix pudding and milk in deep bowl until mixture begins to thicken.
2. Pour into paper cups, then insert a popsicle stick upright in each cup.
3. Place cups on cookie sheet and put into freezer until firm.
4. Wrap frozen pudding treats in plastic wrap, placing a piece of tape on each end to make pop airtight.
5. To serve, tear cup from frozen pudding and use popsicle stick as a handle. Source(s): The Auld Grump, so messy, so disgusting, yet so good....
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Profundity and insight is again denied to our protagonist. But at least he's trying.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@jenfullmoon: As for Shaenon hiding Andrew's initials in the artwork, I was reminded of Al Hirschfeld's practice of hiding his daughter's name (Nina) in his drawings.  He even started putting a number next to his signature so people would know how many "Nina"s were hidden.

Jennifer Rutherford (jenfullmoon) says:

Ironically, Kincade'es wife is named Nannette and he hides a lot of "N's" himself.

So, Kincade's ripping off that too? Good to know.

Jennifer Rutherford (jenfullmoon) says:

Oh, yeah, even the number thing is ripped off. Kincade does that too.

Yes, it's sad that I know such things, but my parents were fans. I got dragged to a Kincade event once and dude is a pompous ass IRL. And calls his kids "cottages."

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *sigh*
Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says:

my only complain is that I never got to see Dave's Mom

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

And calls his kids "cottages."

I... I have no words.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Kitsch.

'Nuff said

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says:

I thought this was pretty funny myself, even if I didn't laugh out loud. I think it just strikes me as something that might actually happen in this situation, which is why I find it humerous.

James Rice (jhrice) says:

Wow, I recognize nearly every character in that commission drawing.  That's Shaenon and Andrew in the far back left.  Is that Tip sitting next to the Ur-gerbils?  Is that sweetheart sitting on the right?  Where's Dr. Narbon?  watching via spy satellite?

Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

"Think of how many incest-related problems Marty
McFly could've avoided with this approach."


Bo Lindbergh (blgl) says: Going by the clothes, the small white animal is Krosp. That would make the sandwich in the back row Tarvek, Agatha, and Gil.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

This might be a new record for an innocent childhood lie coming back to bite the fibber as an adult. Then again, given the breadth of untruths uttered by most gap-toothed tykes, it probably isn't.
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says:

Dave's mum has shiny glasses. Does that mean that he gets his mad-scientist genes from her side of the family?

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Rose", written by Amanda McBroom, performed by Bette Midler)

Some say Time, it is an hourglass,
A game we're doomed to lose!
Some say Time, it is a tree branch
That splits each time we choose!
Some say Time, it is a channel;
No choice, a rigid track ...
I say Time's a ping-pong table;
I'm bouncing forth and back!

Jon W. (kd7sov) says:



It really says something that I can recognize the Foglios' characters more easily when you draw them than when they do.

James Rice (jhrice) says:

You're right, that's Krosp.  I recognized Agatha in the back row, but didn't prpperly connect the two. 

Amy Fiori (amy82986) says:

I finally got them all, I think.  The only ones I couldn't identify were the two in the back between Tip and Andrew.  Are they the couple Artie met at that awards dinner toward the end of the strip?

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: I like the drawing!
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

Love the wedding drawing! The Hapax Legomenon crying in the background makes me smile. (No, I'm not a sadist; I just think it's hilarious...)

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

That's Dave's gaming group in the back.

Groom's side: Shaenon, Andrew, Eric (the GM), Freddy, Iris, three ur-gerbils, Titus, Madbloods (the only thing I'm not sure about is whether one of those is the real deal or if they're both Madbots), Lovelace, Seth, Zürrr, Bill, and Dave's Mom.

Bride's side: Tarvek, Agatha, Gil, Krosp, Mongor the Iguanaman (I'm somehow not surprised that he cries at weddings), Zeta, Caliban, hamsters (I hadn't noticed before that they'd showed up... but I guess Helen is, in some sense, their great-grandmother), Mell.

And, of course, Artie presiding, though he must have... misplaced his teeny widdle robe.

You suppose Bill has any idea what's going on here?

Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says:

John Campbel, thanks for the outline, I don't read Girl Genius (I should, everybody likes it).

And no I don't think Bill understand what's going on, maybe that Dave is getting married, but not much more

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

It makes me think of Jim Henson's "The Bunny Picnic," where the farmdog says "Growl, Snarl, snap snap!" Anyone with me here?

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Truth be told, if I were to peek into the room I had when I was six, I'd probably regard all those plastic nicknacks and branded paraphernalia to be more tawdry than anything. Except for the Lego, of course. That stuff never stops being the height of sophistication.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Adam:  Actually, it reminds me more of Gaspode from the Discworld novels.  "Woof bloody woof.  Growl growl, in tones of low menace."

(TUNE: "My Favorite Things", Rodgers & Hammerstein)

Bedsheets with He-Man, and stars on the ceiling!
Dinosaur wallpaper gives me good feeling!
"Look at my old room!  It's perfect," I said,
"Save for the monster that's under my bed!"

There in the night-time the evil voice calls me!
Threatening creature, oh how it appalls me!
Growling and gnashing that fills me with dread,
Made by the monster that's under my bed!

In the dark night, filled with stark fright!
Will I see the dawn?
It's kinda like something from "Calvin and Hobbes"!
"So dangle a limb!
Go on!"

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

As we shall see, that monster is indeed, <i>not</i> perfect!  Actually, he's not very good at this monster business, not at all....



Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

@eddurd:  Another tiny masterpiece....

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

"This strip is very 'Calvin and Hobbes.'"

Or "Bloom County". i.e. Binkley and his "Closet of Anxieties".

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh. The perfect kids' room.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

What Caliban doesn't really get, among an assortment of things, is that successful bedroom monsters tend not to use the words "cower" or "mortal".

Two years ago I stated that Caliban being a bedroom monster was the most logical explanation for his amiciable demeanour. However, it seems I overlooked analysing this comic's conflation of demons and devils with childhood monsters in the first place. It isn't altogether intuitive, as most regard demons as sinister, sly and potent forces, whereas monsters are typically seen as fanciful, unreasoning beasts. But insofar as they are both, in a sense, immaterial creatures of fear and torment, it makes sense. Even though it does bring to mind a discordant diabolical spectrum with bed monsters on one end and Satan on the other.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

The set of strips foreshadowing these events are in the section "Get a Life: August 6-11, 2001."

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "California Dreamin' ", The Mamas And The Papas)

"Cower, mortal, now!"  So the monster said
In an eerie voice ... that inspired dread!
I remember him ... from when I was dead ...
Caliban's a demon ... underneath my bed!

Not a scary guy ... now his chance has fled ...
He should terrify ... but he whines instead!
He needs to improve ... or they'll have his head ...
Caliban's a demon ... underneath my bed!

Crystal Jacobs (plane) says: He may look slightly different, but he retains his essential Caliban-ness.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

See also the FRP "Monsters and other Childish things":

Notice that Caliban does not ask how Dave knows his name... this and the other dialog make it clear that even before being possessed by his future self, this kid must have been a handful!


So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Wouldn't that make him a 3-eyed black-and-white monster?
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I suspect, from next week's context, that there's an off-screen, "Wait, how do you know my name?" between now and Monday.

Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says:

He looks to me much like he had subsequently, except that more of him is cut off by the edges of the panels. Oh, and he doesn't look quite like that in steady-state monster form; this is the sudden-reveal image. On the other hand, as far as we (or Dave) knows, all monsters-under-the-bed might look like that.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

Shaenon: "This reveal would probably be better if I'd drawn Caliban consistently from appearance to appearance. I swear he looks different every time I draw him. Oh well."

He's a Demon, right? Maybe he can change specific aspects of his appearance (hair color, eye color. etc) at will; but, as Crystal states, his general appearance and, of course, personality ("Essential Caliban-ness". I like that! Great term, Crystal!) remain the same. 

Linda Shaver-Gleason (forty-two) says:

Oh, the Calibanity!

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