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Smithson Thus Far... ·


Keen-eyed readers of the "Rejected Narbonic Plots" Sunday features may recall that Dave asking when he became evil was originally the punchline to an entirely different strip in an entirely different storyline. It's been kind of a gradual process for him.

I still find the idea of shooting Artie at the demons amusing and am kind of surprised Mell didn't try to shoot Artie at things more often.

SPOILERS: Later it turns out that demons are repelled by cute things, so it probably really would have been useful for the lab pajamas to have matching slippers. Helen's loonier comments often turn out to have some basis in reality. Fortunately for her, she lives in a pretty ridiculous universe.

I think that's an Aarnio ball chair in the background of panel 1. At the time I was researching modernist chair designs for my comic Smithson. Smithson required research into a lot of odd things like that.

Because sometimes you don't feel like drawing a whole new panel, that's why.

Helen looks all upset and fretful in this strip because she knows she really shouldn't even be considering a romantic relationship with Dave, given certain details of their situation that will come up down the line. It's a fraught issue for her. Sometimes it's easier to be Dave and just freak out over the possibility of a relationship, period.

On the plus side, I like Helen's sultry expression, not in the least because she so seldom tries to look sultry. On the minus side, I think this was about the point where I started drawing people's hands too big. For the record, I didn't start drawing knuckles on hands until Skin Horse.

Writing romantic-tension stuff was always so much fun. It's great that this story ended up being set on Valentine's Day rather than Christmas; it's much more appropriate.

That's a pretty good monsterish thing. I mean, it's got a striped tongue! I'm generally good at drawing creatures like that, as long as I don't have to make them actually scary.

Back when I was drawing this storyline I contributed a tutorial to a book on webcomics, and this was the week of strips I used for it. I put extra effort into the artwork, so this week probably looks better than a lot of other weeks from this period. This strip in particular came out nicely.

That's an especially weird firearm Mell's got there. I drew in some Kirby Krackle to class it up.

Grant McCormick (grantcmccormick) says:

Probably just as well that she didn't . . . .

If Mell had tried to shoot Artie at someone or something, the poor gerbil would likely have gone ballistic.


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

To be fair on Mell, she's probably the only person at Narbonics Labs who can reliably operate those weapons without any risk of accidentally injuring herself.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Égad.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Daisy Bell" (aka "Bicycle Built For Two"), Harry Dacre)

Crazy, crazy,
Facing impending doom!
They don't faze me,
Demons in ladies' room!

I just handed Mell some weapons,
So I don't care what happens!
It's no concern
That we might burn ...
Just prepare for a big kaboom!

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Would that be the chair from "The Prisoner?"

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

The second-best part of this strip is Helen's guilty, blushing "oh dear..."

For most of this week I've been wondering why Dave hasn't been overly trepidacious about having somehow wound up staying overnight with both his boss and his secret crush, in sleepwear, singing songs and having pillow-fights. But of course I should remember what the base level of casual companionship Dave and Helen are at. This isn't the first time they've spent a night in each other's company.

4WD: 55.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: My
_ my.
Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

It's nice to see two people look so completely dejected when they discover they have feelings for each other.

Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

@Leon:  But that's one of the ambiguities of this strip, no?  Is Dave's line in the fifth panel directed at the fourth wall or at Helen?  Whose job is it to come up with a punchline, now that Dave's brain is out of order?  Or are you saying that the mere mention of a "punchline," showing as it does Dave's consciousness of being in a comic strip, is itself sufficient to constitute a fourth wall break?

Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

I was never sure myself whom he was addressing there, is what I'm saying.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

For what it's worth, Dave, even I'm finding it hard to believe. (Helen, meanwhile, finds it hard to believe that it's hard to believe.)

Those glasses leaped back onto her nose pretty quick. There's no fighting the fundamental laws of spectacles.

Did I mention I really like those little hand-lettered flourishes? I assume I did. Possibly years ago. Yes.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Oooooh.
Evan Kennedy (kneefers) says:

Romantic tension = best thing ever.

Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says:

So, is his suspicion that she's a virtual reality hologram related to having heard in the future from Mell that his last girlfriend was one (Sep 30, 2003)?

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

How very Beetlejuiceian! :)

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

But just as they were about to kiss, the clock struck midnight, and Cinderella ran away from the ball.

For an underground laboratory refurbished from a length of sewer lines, Narbonics Labs has awfully high ceilings.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Égad.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: How considerate of Helen, though.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

How can you be terrified of something with candy-cane horns on its nose?  I mean, really?

daniel demski (dranorter) says:

I just discovered this comic and read through the whole thing (going to the full archive when I ran out of commentated strips). I'm going to enjoy following the strip as it is republished.

It's interesting how much the romance managed to take over given the length of time during which it was barely even hinted at.

I wanted to point out, a bit ago in the july 7-12 pages it was speculated that one strip was the only strip to show the lab meathooks. I can't find it, but I know there is a much earlier one, I think with a gerbil (Artie?) hanging on it.

Also, thanks for doing the Narbonic music suggestions in the commentary! I put them all in a Pandora station and listen to it while I read the comic.

A Cosper (queenofzan) says:

Wow.  That book is actually the reason I started reading the strip.  I have it in a box next to my desk right now.

I guess I should tell my father that his spur-of-the-moment book buying at drug stores worked out well for the overall quality of my reading.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Va-BOOM!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

That is probably the most artfully rendered sound effect in this webcomic so far. But I'm suddenly wondering about the efficiency of dedicating an entire panel of a four-panel strip to a blinding explosion, 'specially in between a shift in position from Mell to Dave.

Say, did Artie just get recoiled straight up into what used to be the ceiling boards? Golly.

4WD: 56.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Big Freakin' (tm) Gun count: 40

And how freakin' it truly is.  If I ever had to be vaporized, that's the gun I'd wish to be used on me.

Miranda L (mirablu) says:

I remember that book! I saw it at my library. It made me ridiculously excited.

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

And her BFG even has an ominous vmmmm.  Sergeant Schlock would want one.

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