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Smithson Thus Far... ·


This one's filler-y but cute. I remember when I was drawing it I knew I should cut down Mell's dialogue in Panel 1 to make more room for the art, but I couldn't do it because I loved it so much.

Where does Mell get grenades? It's an eternal mystery.

All I can say is that sometimes lettering is really hard. That second panel was a total mess, and it still looks pretty sketchy after extensive Photoshop cleanup.

"Blueberry" is (or at least was) a secret code word between my friend Laura and me. It comes up a few times in Narbonic.

Blue Corridor is sometimes referred to as Blue Sector. This comic has very lax continuity standards.

I find Dave's pajamas-and-robe combination very cute for some reason. At home, as seen in various other strips, he sleeps in T-shirts and boxers.

There's another Sea Monkeys Ocean Zoo in the third panel. Helen does a lot of Sea Monkey-related research, evidently.

I know there's a TV Tropes entry for the trope where a plan (usually kept offscreen) requires a long list of improbable and wacky implements. I don't know if there's one for the trope where the plan is shown and all the implements actually do turn out to be essential. At any rate, Narbonic does both variations multiple times. This is the kind of gag you end up doing if you grow up reading too much Bloom County.

Mell is, of course, an entire hit squad on her own.

Man, this would be a weird plotline to explain to anyone who wasn't familiar with the strip. Did anybody start reading Narbonic with this storyline? Was it just totally confusing?

I was getting better at drawing Caliban by this point. Eventually I gave him less limp-looking hair.

It's nice when I give Mell protective gear for firing her ridiculously oversized weapons. It adds a little something.

As often happens in Narbonic, the best gag is in the first panel, and the rest is downhill from there.

Chris Brunner (cjbrunner) says: I assume she gets them from some form of "Hammerspace", or in this case, "Grenadespace".
E.T. the Eccentric Type (et_the_eccentric_type) says:

Has anyone kept up the Big Freakin' Gun (tm) count?

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: I love Helen's expression in panel 4.

Also, what does the 'W' stand for?
Naomi H (starbright) says:

Wildflower, believe it or not. It was revealed in "Li'l Mell".

Daibhid Ceannaideach (daibhidc) says:

Yep. Melody Wildflower Kelly. Which always reminds me of that line in Good Omens.

"There were two ways to get through life with the name Pippin Galadriel Moonchild, and Pepper had chosen the other one."

Eric Burns (ericburns) says: What do you mean? Grenades just happen.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@E.T. : Yes, matterofactIhave ... Big Freakin' (tm) Gun count now stands at 41 (assuming today's gun is a different one than what Mell had three Saturdays ago -- the muzzle looks different, so I would think so).

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: See - ten to one, if they'd just gone with the blueberry plan, ten to one we'd have just Gilligan Cut to Mell sitting on the throne of Hell*, with Helen the secret power behind her. (* maybe she renames it Mell-Hell? Or renames herself Mehell? THE WORLD WILL NEVER KNOW.)
Derek Burrow (derekthebard) says:

I do love that Mad Science results in Pinky-esque lines.  "Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?" "I think so, Brain, but if Pippy Longstocking and I were to get married, what would the children look like?"

"Do you have a plan, Helen?" "Yes!  First, we need to acquire some organic wild blueberries..."

Mel looks particularly badass in the first panel.  Narbonic as a whole has also established "ginchy" as one of my favourite phrases.

Cat Bascle (mage_cat) says:

See, I've never noticed anything off about the second panel because I love Helen's line in it so much.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: They're organic blueberries, right?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

On the other hand, if you're fighting supernatural agents from beyond the material realm, surely the disembodied voices in your head would make ideal advisors? Madness is often regarded as a backhanded blessing from the gods, after all, and who's to say that the lilting babblings of your gibbering mind are not the Delphic dictates of holy will, to be pitted against unholy might?
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: In City of Heroes (MMO), the supertech-equipped police of the "seeming utopia with a dark underbelly" dimension of Praetorian Earth are called "blueberries" by the Resistance. So a lot of blueberries might indeed be helpful, even if they're more equipped against super-science threats than mystical ones. :) (The other nickname for them is "badgers". But we don't need know the rest.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Strawberry Fields Forever", The Beatles)

     Now we need a plan,
     So we'll have to make
     Blueberry pie ...
     Or else we might die,
     So Mell and Helen dwell in Hell!
     Blueberry pie for evil!

Living with madness is tough, now ...
Behind my eyes float random words!
And I can't tell if what I think
Is a brilliant plan,
Or if it's Dadaist absurd!

(repeat CHORUS)

Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

"Blueberries," huh?  Well, this is no time to waffle.  Besides, wouldn't Mell be kind of useless in this situation if Helen suspended her aggression patterns?

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: I'd imagine that Helen would very much want to call things "Sector" that otherwise wouldn't deserve the word, if only to make the lab sound more impressive. "Red Sector" for the break room, "Omega Sector" for the men's bathroom, that sort of thing. Wonder what "Pink Sector" would be?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh. And, @Jon: Helen's room.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

In case it wasn't clear, Dave is again yelling at the heartless gods above, who apparantly think now is an excellent time to game his prayers.

Presumably either Dave or Artie informed Helen that you can't properly call an area a 'sector' unless it is a pie-slice shape comprising part of a circular region.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:


Blue -- lunchroom & break area
Orange -- tech support
Green -- biology labs
Yellow -- storage room C
Brown -- teleporters, transmogrifiers, interdimensional rifts, and cleaning supplies
Pink -- ladies' room

... which just goes to show that a career at Narbonic Labs is, in fact, a trivial pursuit.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Dave yells at the gods more than once in this storyline, which, considering the nature of the threat, makes sense, I guess. Not that the gods care.
Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: @Leon - ah, but wouldn't she just respond "I'm mad. Who cares?"
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: [snicker]
Joel Brackenbury (mockferret) says:

"But Kenan! Where am I going to get inside information from the bowels of hell? And I don't have a, here it goes!"

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Hmm... to actually use all of the seemingly disconnected implements would constitute a 'subversion' of the trope. This episode is most deliberately subversive as Dave's dialog calls back to when said trope was 'played straight' just two days ago.

"Bowels of hell" is kind of a funny phrase. It invokes some particularly unique imagery for the nether regions.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: "What are you thinking, tying him into a causality loop?"
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

If you look closely, Mell has a Big Freakin' (tm) Gun in each hand.  Assuming one of these is the same one as earlier this week, BF(tm)G count = 42 ... ah, that explains how Helen figured out the answer!!  And for Mell, of course, guns are the answer to everything!

mickey F (mickeyjf) says:

And a Wheelbarrow and a Holocaust cloak.

Vlad Taltos (flyingfish) says:

And some kind of remote link to the hologram disk projection system, a hexagonal power transfer adapter capable of holding spikes of up to 5 million volts, and a B47/7RF resistor.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Mmm.
Diane Castle (deecee) says:

Nonsense, Shaenon!  That last line is great!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
E.T. the Eccentric Type (et_the_eccentric_type) says:

These are agents of the underworld. Don't call them "friends".

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I agree with Deecee ... the last line is the epitome of Mellness.

(TUNE: "Hell's Bells", AC/DC)

She's a college student, she works part-time ...
She's got a penchant for violent crime!
Her lab pajamas instilling fear ...
You better run if she's coming near!

Between Daves and demons, no dif-fer-ence ...
Blow 'em into small seg-ments!
With plasma rifle, they're gonna get a surprise!
She's gonna get her some exorcise!

Mell's swell!
Yeah, Mell's swell!
Her guns will blaze, Mell's swell!
The temperature raise, Mell's swell!

mickey F (mickeyjf) says:

Mell is wearing ear protection when on the firing range? I'm relieved to see that she's so safety conscious. A person might have gotten worried.

Justin Kane (avatarjk137) says:

Mel appears to be watering at the mouth, which is even better.

Evan Kennedy (kneefers) says:

I dunno. I'm partial to the "best sleepover ever" line. I love how a lot of Narbonic strips have subtly funny bits up until the end, where there's the big absurd punchline that just ties it all together and makes it hilarious.

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