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Smithson Thus Far... ·


I always thought "I am the good cop" was a pretty great line, if unusually badass for the Narbonic characters. As discussed elsewhere, I had a whole backstory for the New Journal of Malology where the editors were all cannibalistic zombies created by the editors of the previous Journal of Malology.

I really love Dave playing "good cop."

These are strips I wrote really early on. Caliban's eyes look funny to me now, but I used to draw eyes that way all the time. He kind of looks like a grown-up version of a Peanuts character.

Originally Caliban's line was, "It's hot and it hurts and stuff!" which was a line from an old commercial frequently used on "Mystery Science Theater 3000." I didn't have room and had to cut it down to "burny."

Yeah, this stuff is overly complicated and not all that fun. Not my favorite Narbonic strips. Drawing Caliban was always enjoyable, though.

Dave doesn't really get how religion works. He's kind of like my husband that way. Andrew was raised without any particular religion or interest in religion, so he's some kind of casual enlightened secular humanist, like Star Trek people. We used to have conversations where I would try to explain who this Jesus person he kept hearing about was. I don't think I did a very good job.

As mentioned way early in Narbonic, Dave is a very disinterested Unitarian. Originally this storyline included a sequence where it was discovered that Dave's vague belief that God is in everything gave him the power to declare any object holy, and he could chase off demons with his flannel shirt. I can't remember why I cut that. It was probably too similar to something in a Terry Pratchett novel.

Well, it is hard to tell.

In the third panel, Caliban, for no particular reason, quotes from "Easter, 1916" by William Butler Yeats, the poem that ran through my head over and over on September 11, 2001 and has run through my head, with growing sadness and cynicism, on each September 11 since then. I don't know why I had Caliban speak in lines from old poems so much. It seemed appropriate to him.

This is where I acknowledge that that plot of this storyline is indeed very similar to that of the episode of "Star Trek" where Q becomes human, quite possibly my favorite single "Star Trek" episode. Remember when Whoopi Goldberg stuck a fork in John de Lancie's hand? That was awesome.

Everything Dave says in this strip is 100% true.

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

There's something sort of adorably pathetic in Helen having given up her interrogation without having employed pain. What kind of duress had she already exhausted? Internet shock sites? Vogon poetry? Temptations of worldly wealth?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

"You just fell for the oldest act in the book. 'Bad Cop. Worse Cop.'"

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

There are a couple of other strips where Helen says, "Mell!  The electrodes!"  Now that's a good science-fiction-y line.

(TUNE: "Have You Ever Seen The Rain", Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Dave, if you're the good-guy cop,
Could you ask her please to stop?
I've got ... neural pain receptors!
At the moment, though it seems
I'm afraid of mortal schemes
I'm not!  I fear none (except hers!)

Don't wanna know, if this body feels the pain ...
Don't wanna know, if this body feels the pain ...
In the way other mortals do!
Don't wanna know, if this body feels the pain!
Don't wanna know, if this body feels the pain!
It's unfair!  Call the A.C.L.U.!

Daffyd Wagstaff (lord_killerfish) says:

Dave looks particularly cheerfull at the fact that he's as good as he can be. And great callback to the ealrier comic when Caliban was only just discovering what pain felt like.

Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says:

Dave's good cop is great! More than you could spect from Evil Mad Scientists.

Rob (rrreed) says: I think this is more along the lines of, "Bad Cop, Evil Cop"…
Damien Neil (damien) says:

I like how Dave is cheerfully accepting of the fact that his boss is evil.  Compared to her, he'll always be the good guy.  The bar is comfortably low.

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

Calaban has indeed felt pain before.... He came in for a very hard landing not that long ago in the Narbonic timline.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

"It was burny!" is the heart of this episode. Poor poor infantile Cal.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Oh dear.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Maybe Helen could create two new Muppets called "Hurt & Burny".

Or a radio show called "Burns & Helen"?  (Say goodnight, crazy.)

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

I like the conflict between Helen's intentions and her natural sympathy.  Or maybe just her sense of precision....

Daffyd Wagstaff (lord_killerfish) says:

Maybe she should have just forced the medicinal alchohol down Caliban's throat to get him talking. His tolerance should be lower than Dave's ...

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I love how indifferent Dave's "begging" is.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Who what now?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Undoubtedly, news from the distant, beautiful mortal world would be incredibly valuable for those eternal prisoners of the punitive plane. Even knowing which TV shows have passed muster for another quarter would be solace enough to quench the spikes and flames and the adamantium chains. Supposedly.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "ABC", The Jackson 5)

Now Helen guessed his secret!
And tweaked his nose as well!
'Cause it's plain to see
That for currency,
Information's used in Hell!

Now Caliban is talking,
And he says he took a loan ...
Now the Malebrache,
Gotta pay 'em back
Or his sorry butt they'll own!

Changing to channel three!
Tell 'em, what will they see
Demons want what's on TV!

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Hell needs that information.  If you want to set up your torture protocol for the damned, you have to know when the sitcoms are on.  Simple.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh. Flannel shirt! Flannel shirt!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

So he could potentially make a Holy Hand Grenade?  Was Dave trained by Burt Ward?

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Also, it would be having Dave out-holy Artie, who's actually Good.

Joe Glow (joe_glow) says:

Ah, to think of the "holy shirt" puns we might have enjoyed.

Chab Guthrie (chab) says:

Isn't everything similiar to something in a Terry Pratchett novel?

His are the only series of books -I know of - where one waits with EAGER ANTICIPATION for Death to make his appearance.

This [like, perhaps, rereading Narbonic strips] cannot be healthy.

Kathy Moon (flipkat) says:

Yeah, Death gets all the good lines.

John Weiss (cheshirecat) says:

"It was probably too similar to something in a Terry Pratchett novel."


_Carpe Jugulam_, where the broadly educated vampires see holy objects everywhere?

Maricruz Villalobos-Zamora (maki_p) says:

awwww... a Holy Flanel would have been so great.... oh well.

I believe I have a nice understanding of religion, being raised in a country with catholicism and oficial realion and that, I've even read parts of the Bible! Still I don't know this demons stuff, we where more concerned with the rituals

Vlad Taltos (flyingfish) says:

@Chab: There's also Sandman.

Rob (rrreed) says:

BROTHER MAYNARD: "Armaments, chapter two, verses nine through twenty-one."

CLERIC: "…And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, 'O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.' And the Lord did grin and the people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and large chu…"

BROTHER MAYNARD: "Skip a bit, brother."

CLERIC: "…And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."


KNIGHTS: "Amen."
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Thanks, i didn't know that poem.  It reminds me of a favorite song from high-school chorus, called Sine Nomine.  It's about three French teen soldiers who die at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.  Their last act is to shout their names as loud as possible (which we did at the end of the song), to make their only mark on the world.  You know Glee?  A show about our high-school chorus would have been called Morose.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Cal could probably explain this in terms Dave could understand: image file formats. Some are pure lossless bytestreams, and others are a big old mass of moist viscera and churning microbial slurries. But to the human viewer not in touch with the fundamental structure of the universe, an image in one format appears just as British in any other.

4WR: 53.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "He Is An Englishman", Gilbert & Sullivan)

When Caliban starts speaking,
With culture he is reeking,
Like a proud and proper Brit!
Like a bloody limey git!

He sounds just like a Tommy!
A proper poncy pommie!
Like a BBC 2 skit!
Like a bloody limey git!

And when to Hell he's back sent,
He'll scream with proper accent!
He'll complain and have a fit,
Like a bloody limey git!

In red-hot chains he's writhin',
And he'll quote from Monty Python!
Like an upper-class Brit twit!
Like a blo-o-dy-y li-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-mey git!

Jonathan Page (jdpage) says:

The english lurker finds this highly amusing.

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

@Jonathan: wow, it works in the forum, too.

Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says:

"They're flying into the World Trade Center," muttered an old man.  "What for, I wonder.  It can't be to buy postage stamps!"

I dunno; I don't really see much of a connection.  (Beyond both being the triumphs of bloody-handed terrorists, anyway.)

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: Roger Ramjet theme (Yankee Doodle, if you're a stickler.  Hey, a filk of a filk!)

Helen Narbon is Picard
David thinks he's Data
Mell is Worf, that one's not hard
She'll prove it to you later

Caliban is Q this time
A demon who's now human
Artie's fast and sharp, like Data
David's Number Two, man

Dave is Riker, it's so clear
His own ship declining
Not a leader 'til the day when
He'll turn into Khan Singh

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

" we all die at midnight." is one of the more hilarious staff meeting summations in this webcomic's run. (But then, this is actually only the 6th meeting strip so far.)

Helen just can't get any of her human workers to take any bit of this story arc seriously.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I know it's been used a lot, but we seem to be on a cartoon theme song kick here ...

(TUNE: Theme to "Underdog")

This demon who became a man,
He owed a debt, so turned and ran!
'Most any fiend is better than
This wimp, so we must make a plan
For Caliban!  Caliban!
Caliban!  Caliban!

Data's Dave and Worf is Mell now!
Hope we don't end up in Hell now!
Caliban ... (oo-oo-oo-oo ...)
Caliban, Caliban!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

BTW, nice job Kay (hey, that could be a song lyric itself)

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Artie could have been Data, except that Artie *doesn't* want to be human.


Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Ed: You can't go wrong when you stick with the classics.  Like Narbonic itself.  By the way, if Artie is Data, then Dana gets to be Lore.  See, it works.

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