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This is the kind of material in this storyline I dislike: everything relating to the plot. Anyway, the Malebrache come from Dante's Inferno. They punish swindlers by dunking them in pitch. In Caliban's version of Hell, they're apparently kind of like repo men.

The Helen-demon's costume came out especially well in the second panel. Capes are great.

I used "____ owes me a dollar" a couple of times. I'm sorry. I do like Seth's line in the last panel. Poor Seth. It's only going to get worse for him from here on out.

That really is a pretty disturbing image. That might be the freakiest thing I ever drew in Narbonic. It came out just the way I wanted it to.

I wrote a lot of this storyline as I went along, and I don't think I originally intended to sacrifice Seth to demons. In retrospect, though, it was inevitable. He's so obviously expendable.

SPOILERS: I don't remember when I decided to bring Seth back as a totally badass (but still dorky) axe-weilding demon slayer. Probably right away. I do love angry little nerdy guys.

I think this is the only time we see the inside of Storage Room C, the only storage room that ever gets used at Narbonics Labs. This is a pretty well-drawn strip, now that I look at it, especially Helen's pose in the first panel and all the weird gizmos in the storage room. (Label on the box in the last panel: "Hamster Parts.") Still, the best part about this strip is easily that Caliban is still eating the sandwich he ran off with two weeks ago.

The best part of this strip is obviously the first panel. Also, what's with the little round Seussian window or light fixture or whatever it is? How come I never drew a thing like that again?

The only really good part of this strip is that Dave, based on personal experience, thinks that life does typically involve lots of painful blackouts.

Wait, no. It's also good that Dave has the short-sleeves-and-tie thing going on, because I think it's cute.

43 comments:
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Artie has absonded from panel 4 entirely because of how badly this once-in-a-century inter-planar conversation has turned.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Random thought ... why do evil things always show up at midnight?  If they're choosing the darkest hour of the night, (when that point on Earth is in opposition to the Sun), then their idea of midnight could differ from ours by over an hour, due to standardized time zones, Daylight Savings Time, and the equation of time (adjusting for eccentricity in the Earth's orbit).

I would guess that they choose to appear at local midnight simply because it allows them to stagger their soul-collecting schedule across all the hours of the day.  Which brings up the question, how do they keep time in Hell itself?  Is there an Infernal Standard Time?  Do they bother with daylight savings?  Or is it like Death's Domain in Pratchett's Diskworld, where it's always the same time, and that time is "Too Late"?

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

@Ed: because that's when the rates are lowest.  They come for your soul on peak hours, they'll hear about it from the auditors.  And Hell itself trembles before the Auditing Department.

Daffyd Wagstaff (lord_killerfish) says:

Slight typo on the Author's Comments Shaenon "... by dunking then in pitch..."

Facepalming is universal and uniplanear.

Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says:

No capes!

John Weiss (cheshirecat) says:

Ed: they use Arizona-time, the most evil time there is.

Mike Kozar (mikekozar) says:

John:  Not Greenwich mean time? 

Tyler Wright (tylgar) says:

I like how Dave's concerns have gone from a demonic invasion to a demonic invasion that WON'T be dressed like Emma Frost.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Shouldn't that have been "Malebranche?"

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

...He does indeed 'go out' on Valentine's Day, doesn't he?

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Of course he'd get threatened by hellfiends on a day named after a saint. Obviously.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Old Time Rock And Roll", Bob Seger)

We're facing off with the hordes of Hell!
It's not as scary as a date with Mell!
My friends are doomed, and I can't console ...
But I at least know I got a soul!

I gotta tell Mell I won our bet!
Oh man, how lucky can a gerbil get?
I'll add a dollar to my tiny bankroll!
Which I just won, 'cause I got a soul!

The demons say that you're all evil!
Now on your butts they'll get medieval!
Soon you'll be toasting in that brimstone-y hole,
But I'll escape, 'cause I got a soul!

Daffyd Wagstaff (lord_killerfish) says:

This is why you never have anything to do with demons. Guilt by association is heavily apparent.

Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

Shaenon, don't be sorry. "_____ owes me a dollar" is a great line. You use it just frequently enough to establish that the staff of Narbonic Labs have now spent enough time around one another that they routinely bet small amounts of money on things like whether one or another of them has a soul or can get a date or what have you.

"Shaenon apologized for something in this storyline besides the demons.  [Name withheld] owes me a dollar."  You know, that sort of thing.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

How could you not expect that a fellow named after the Egyptian chaos-god would end up fulfilling some hideous demonic interplanar destiny? It's like you've never done a gag-a-day webcomic before.

This is all Dave's fault, of course - insofar as a hideous demonic interplanar destiny, foretold in Hell's eternal annals, can be someone's 'fault'. But still, he at least had the foresight to not let Mell in here.
Daffyd Wagstaff (lord_killerfish) says:

You know, if Seth had been carrying Artie, she probably would have gone for Dave instead, what with Artie being the only Good Soul around, and Hell's strict hands off policy on Good Souls.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Hmmm ... there must some sort of line about being in the ladies' "head" (i.e. restroom), or demon!Helen quitting while she's a head, or Seth getting some ..... nnnnnnooooooo, no, no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

Just no.

 

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Hey, Shaenon, the Cartoon Art Museum got a (dubious) namecheck in Salon's review of The Great Typo Hunt.

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Yeah, Helen's neck doing a loop-the-loop like that is definitely disturbing.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

David: That dick got a book? There is no God.
Justin Kane (avatarjk137) says:

Because nobody has commented this yet:

OM NOM NOM

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Justin:  Would that make her a LOLolth?

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Man, "yipe" is a terrible last word.
Joseph Abbott (faxpaladin) says:

Why is this not taking my comments? (Watch it take this one.)

Joseph Abbott (faxpaladin) says:

OK, now that it's taking my comments:

Shaenon: As a copy editor I might have been more inclined to defend him, but I stopped reading the Salon link when he started down the "whole-word teaching has made us dumber" road. I trust your judgment.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Honky Cat", Elton John)

When he hides out, in Storage Room C,
Tryin' to dodge the demons, eatin' B.L.T.
In the darkest hour, when things are looking grim,
Helen promises she'll ... go to bat for him!

Look out, Helen's ... got a bat!
(I think it's metal, not wood)
Oh, poor ... Ca-li-ban
Should have ... turned and ran!
How can Helen be evil ... when she's looking so good?

Daffyd Wagstaff (lord_killerfish) says:

You know you're in Narbonic Labs if the danger signs have little hearts and smiley faces on them.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Good old baseball club. That's what you get for daring to smirk, Cal.
Daibhid Ceannaideach (daibhidc) says:

Caliban don't know Helen very well, do he?

Paul Anderson (pmanderson) says: So why should he know Helen? She's never been to Hell. Making Hell for others is not the same thing....
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

He's been to Helen Back... you think he'd've met a Narbon or two.

Also, that's a different sandwich. Has a lighter filling.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Something about Helen in the last panel has me thinking "Muppet Narbonics." :)

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: "Wait...which sort of grilling did you have in mind?"
E.T. the Eccentric Type (et_the_eccentric_type) says:

Seussian window? They're underground!

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

I think that's a light fixture.  A protrusion, not a dent.

Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

How come I never installed a thing like that? Curse your unimaginative selection, Home Depot!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "409", The Beach Boys)

He just ran, that Caliban!
Had no plan, that Caliban!
That Ca-li-ban!

Well, he incarnated and became a man!
Then demons followed, and made demands!
Though he seems nice, we'll sacrifice Caliban!

Demons want, demons want, demons want Caliban!
Out of the fire he ran,
Into the frying pan!
Demons all want to ...
Make him their damned bitch!
Eating a sandwich!
Caliban!  Caliban!

How much discomfort can a body stand,
From rusty needles and a red-hot brand?
Though Helen's disdainful, it's painful for Caliban!

Question him, question him, question this Caliban!
High time that we began,
Simply because we can!
We're gonna question ...
We're gonna grill him!
Maybe not kill him!
Caliban!  Caliban!

Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says:

I thought the thing on the wall was a smoke detector or fire alarm.  The units in my building look like that.

Daffyd Wagstaff (lord_killerfish) says:

I wager it's actually an emergency cheese, by the looks of it a nice robust swiss, or perhaps an Edam. You never can tell when you need an emergency cheese.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: What, and shirtless-and-tie wouldn't be cuter? ;)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@SIB:  No, Helen shirtless-and-tie would be cuter.

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

There are other ways a date with Mell could end, but they involve automatic weapons and a lot of burn jelly.

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