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Okay, I really have nothing to say about this strip except that I like Madblood's casual rolled-up-shirtsleeves look. It was a lot of fun to draw.

I think Andrew pointed out that Madblood would have trouble checking Lovelace onto a commercial airplane, so I spent a long time trying to think of a way for them to get to the Symposium that would not require me to draw cars. I'm very happy with my solution, although it turned out I wasn't very good at drawing suborbital cannons either.

When I started this storyline I asked readers to give me ideas for webcomic mad scientists I could include in cameos, since I didn't read all that many webcomics. I ended up using like three suggestions. Anyway, the girl and dinosaur in the first panel are Phoebe and Buddy from Jeff Wells's prose serial Mundementia One. The ponytailed guy barely visible in the first panel is Riff from Sluggy Freelance. In the second panel are Gwen of Build Your Own Boyfriend and Gav of Nukees. The villain in the third panel is Artemis Nightmare, a character in a comic Andrew was drawing a long time ago. He appears to have captured Hector from Planet Earth (And Other Tourist Traps), which had recently done a Narbonic cameo.

The guy with the eyes is just a guy with a bunch of eyes. I just realized that it would be funnier if he were the one screaming, "MY EYES! MY EYYYES!" Oh well.

I've finally learned that it's "wreak havoc" and not "wreck havoc." However, I'm still misspelling "havoc." Life is hard.

This was one of the first strips I wrote for this storyline, way back when the plot was entirely different. It has:

a) Babes.

b) A three-eyed cat.

c) A totally genius last line.

Therefore, this strip is mathematically proven to be awesome.

Comic-book conventions don't have lots of booth babes the way they used to, what with all the women and families attending now. They never had enough three-eyed cats.

Man, there's a lot of cheesecake in this week of strips. Actually, my favorite part of this strip is the back-and-forth between Helen and Dave in the first two panels. It wasn't often I had room for casual, non-gag-directed conversation like that, and also I think they're cute as a bickering couple. I'm a dork.

The hardest part of this strip was deciding what tool Madblood would order from room service. In the end I went with the humble mallet. Madblood does a lot of hands-on construction in this sequence, which I like. It's not all lasers and sonic screwdrivers and whatnot, at least for a mad scientist who is apparently perpetually unemployed and living with his mother.

This came up in yesterday's comments, but through some freakish synchronicity, this storyline is rerunning at the same time that a convention storyline has just begun over at Skin Horse. I guess I just do a lot of stories set at conventions.

57 comments:
Mark Chapman (aardvark86) says:

Poor Lovelace, one of the most likeable characters in the strip, and the <a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheWoobie">hardest done by</a>

Doug Wykstra (dougthehead) says:

Woo!  A correctly-deployed whom!

You are awesome, Shaenon.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

I was just thinking that holding nails in one's mouth was a lost tradition from the previous century, much like sticking one's tongue through the corner of one's mouth while writing or drawing.

And, much like Dave, Madblood has mastered the ability to talk through firmly clenched lips.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: If only he knew.
Sean Duggan (duggansc) says: I wonder... is being turned off and crated up like sleeping or like dying?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Waitwaitwait ... Madblood is using an actual pound-the-nails-in-by-hand hammer?  I know a pneumatic nail gun would be a bit too mundane, but couldn't he have some sort of nuclear-powered railgun?  (A railgun nail gun ... hey, that rhymes!)

Or maybe the hammer has an A.I. and infrared targeting built in that allows Madblood to avoid smashing his thumb?

Eric Burns (ericburns) says: He had a railgun for nail punching. And a dozen other even more incredibly well designed robotic systems that could drive nails or whatever else you want! Unfortunately, they all take 220v power, and his Mom is doing laundry. Hammer it is!
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Leon Arnott: Certainly not! I've still been seeing people put pencils behind their ear, too. Sean Duggan: A clean shutdown would be like suspended animation, unless there's some perpetually-powered core, which would make it more like sleep. Unexpected loss of power might be like being knocked out by a head blow, complete with concussion and memory loss. Ed Gedeon: Considering previous adventures, his Mom has likely forbidden robots in the basement, along with nuclear power and Von Neumann systems.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

Line break, Mr. Harmon. Line breaks.

I don't think Lovelace is a Woobie. I'm sure Your Milage May Vary, but it just doesn't click. Maybe if she had eyes at this point...

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

As with all mad scientist one-ways... how is he gonna get home? Maybe he's planning to use is Von Boom rampage/fame to "procure" someone else's arrangements.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

The only problem is, if Mrs. Madblood does talk him out of it, he'll have wasted that giant parachute shaped like his head.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "On Top Of Old Smokey", traditional)

Sub-orbital cannon
With hydrogen power!
Yes, that's how I'm plannin'
To leave at this hour!

Sypmosium's waiting,
I cannot delay!
So I'm detonating,
My cannon today!

It's going ka-powie,
As loud as it can!
(Unless you allow me
To borrow the van ...)

Sub-orbital cannon,
Trajectory plot
Is seven states spannin' ...
Let's give it a shot!

Grant McCormick (grantcmccormick) says:

@Shane:  I'm sure Madblood is figuring that's where the 'Boom' in 'Von Boom' comes in.  All he has to do is make sure that he and Lovelace are pointed on the correct trajectory.

Rachel S. (masamage) says:

Bahahahahaha! I forgot about this!

This is a really good example of how this comic is beautiful and insane.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

FIRE ME, BOY!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

This is a beautiful strip, and possibly my favourite in this storyline. I almost wish it was longer - a lingering gaze at this wondrously silly and sillywondrous world - even though the three panels plus Dave's reaction is probably the most optimal rhythm that this strip could have.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I'm only slightly shocked at the absence of Zodon (from PS 238), but seriously, not one character from Girl Genius?  For shame ...

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

@Ed: The characters in Girl Genius are un-conventional mad scientists.

Sor Cyress (sorcyress) says:

"To the CON SUITE!" is a pretty excellent line, and I'm probably going to start using it. 

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Ed, I'm pretty sure this strip is from years before PS 238 got started! But yeah, a mad-science convention is great for crowd scenes!
Jon W. (kd7sov) says:

@Johnn: Oh, well, played, sir.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

This strip was drawn before Girl Genius became a webcomic. Yes, there was such a time.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Maybe, "Wreck Havok"? Because with this much mad science in one place, the X-Men are sure to be showing up to try to stop something.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Shaenon: Not that I doubt you, you know the Foglios and I've never met them ... but the date on the first online page of GG is November 4, 2002.  You drew this strip two years in advance??

Norman Thallheimer (normanrt) says:

@Dave:  This turns out not to be the case.  According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS_238), Issue 0 was published in 2002, and I'm fairly sure this convention is in 2003.

Thomas Levy (ergonomytch) says:

@Ed Geddeon: Those strips are backdated. They began posting their comic online on April 18th, 2005, posting one page of the old comics and one new page every update day. Once they ran out of old comics they backdated them all to make the two archives link up.

Hilary Bruce (cameoflage) says: Between the fact that I started going to cons in 2008 and the fact that all my cons so far have been ANIME conventions, I can't really say I've seen any of these fabled booth babes. I have no interest in ogling them but it's a little disappointing to miss out on what is apparently some sort of con cultural phenomenon.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

You're right - that last line is pretty genius. But only because it puts the silly accessible pun after the mild subatomic physics reference - if this were xkcd, I suspect the author would make the mistake of reversing that order.

But this strip has plenty more to praise about it - the ladies' names, the silly decorated dots in their dialog, and wait a minute, is that a topless furry-chested woman?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: As of now, it is official. There are waaaay too many innuendo-y puns to be made using "recombinant DNA technologies", "cybernetics", and especially "high-energy weaponry".
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "I Got You, Babe", Sonny & Cher)

There's cybernetics, weaponry,
Or DNA advanced technology ...
It makes no diff, what field they're in,
'Cause all we see is cleavage, curves, and skin!
Babes ...
They got booth-babes!
They got booth-babes!

    Flimsy shirt
    That reveals!
    Micro-skirt!
    Four-inch heels!
    They'll catch your eye!
    They'll cast their spell!
    They'll make you buy
    The crap they sell!

So, ladies, smile and bat your eyes
And then recite the spiel you memorize!
So get your glu-on costume on!
And to your booth the nerd boys will be drawn!
Babes ...
They got booth-babes!
They got booth-babes!

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

I went to a computer show when 'Enterprise' was the new business buzzword.  One vendor arranged with Paramount to have a ST:TNG themed booth, with the sales taff in starfleet uniform.

Sounds awesome, right?  Geeky Star Trek Booth Babes!

Most of their sales staff  were older men, at least somewhat overweight, and ST:TNG uniforms do not help either condition.  If there had been an eye-bleach booth next door, it would have made a fortune.

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Not even a three-eyed cat would have helped.

N B (daveclone7) says:

Should've gone with the red numbers from the movies with built-in girdles.

Pete (westrider) says: My favorite little touch in this one is how each of the booth babes has her 'i's dotted differently. Not sure why, but that just amuses me
Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

I think this is my favorite punch line in all of Narbonic, but I'm going to have to go back and read the entire archives again just to be sure....

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

So if Brandie is a robot, and Renee is transgenic... what does that say about Tiffani? o.O;

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

So if Brandie is a robot, and Renee is transgenic... what does that say about Tiffani?

Well, she's selling weapons, so ... she's a real bombshell!  *rimshot*

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Well played, Ed.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

All I have to say is that Helen should've thought ahead and brought a bathrobe. And a proper one, not the cheap kind with a flimsy belt that falls open at the merest of abdominal twitchings.
Justin Grubbs (jjgrubbs) says:

Helen and Dave always play well off each other.They're one of my favorite couples in all of fiction. I just think that they're relationship builds so perfectly.

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

<Smiles at the original on his studio wall. Tiff likes Helen cheesecake.>

 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "In My Room", The Beach Boys)

Though I'm dwellin'
Close to Helen,
I'll show that I can
Share a room ... share a room!

Didn't weaken
Back at D-Con,
When she was a man!
Shared a room ... shared a room!

Helen's dreamy, wet and steamy,
Coming from the shower ...
Towel is too small, almost shows all,
Straining my will power!

Though I'm lusting,
Helen's trusting
Me to watch my hands!
Share a room ... share a room!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Cheesecake!
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

I'm not usually attracted to Helen, but rowrrr!!  Even her side-noodles are hot.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Is it meant to be significant that we see his eyes just when he's talking with Helen? I like how in panel 4 he somehow manages to look poleaxed... despite having most of his face hidden with glasses and beard.
Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says:

Argh, missed a couple days and therefore am late to Wednesday's commentary.  (Stupid job.)  Maybe you can find out from Andrew why everyone always wants to use Artemis as a male name?  We named our daughter Artemis...everyone seems to miss the mythological reference and wonder why we gave her a boy's name.

OTOH I am soooo happy to know the sources of the characters in Wednesday's strip...I thought it was awesome enough with them just coming out of your head, but knowing they're really crossover characters is even better!

 

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

@Leon: It's entirely possible, given Helen's feelings, that she did think ahead and still didn't bring a robe. She already knew that she and Dave were sharing a room....

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

The word "zaftig" was invented for women like Helen....

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

@Lenore: The male name is 'Artemus', like Artemus Gordon.  Far more people probably know him and James West than the mythological reference. 

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

I like remembering that Helen is hyper-intelligent. She's been carefully inputting novel information into Dave: information what it's like to be dead, information what it's like to be female, motivating to fix a teleporter in a time critical way. More exposure to leading, and being, a robot. Sending him up to the Moon to tangle with Madblood... Helen likes to continuously sharpen her tools against Madblood, he's useful like that.

NOW she has decided it's almost time to give some _other_ more interesting input to Dave- awe-inspiring steamy shower sights. She's priming his sexual side which she'll activate later. Bonus points that she likes him and thinks he's cute while she's doing it. Who SAYS you can't combine business and pleasure? Like all humans, she might be a little bit irrationally concerned that she doesn't look like some kind of shower goddess through that door. (Which is silly since she looks exactly like one.)

She's got her "cute" personality filter out front right now. Maybe to be not too intimidating. Maybe to protect herself a little bit. She is mad, and maybe it helps the ruse that she's just mad and scatterbrained and couldn't possibly be expected to remember ALL the little details like standing nearly-naked in front of her henchmen.

She's giving Dave an eyeful on purpose though. "Here's what's waiting for you when you're ready."

Plus I think she likes to remind Dave on some level of what he would be giving up by even THINKING that Lovelace, or any other mad scientist's henchman or any other woman, could ever compete with her. "Oh, careless me! The towel slipped! But of course you don't care about that, because Lovelace is your snuggle-boo now! Well then, I guess there's no need to bend over and pick it up then, since you have eyes only for Lovelace from here on out...But I guess I will anyway. Tum tee tum tum... <3"

I choose to believe the above happened and is canon and the cartoonist just never got around to rendering it. But I'll never know since the mirrors my hidden cameras were behind (and Dave's glasses) steamed over right about this point.

Rachel S. (masamage) says:

Helen isn't a genius about EVERYTHING.

Jennifer McGaffey (jjmcgaffey) says:

mental_mouse - in the first panel Dave just got out of the shower (his hair is wet) and he doesn't have his glasses on. He puts them on in the second panel. So...no, no significance to the eyes.

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

Synchronicity indeed. Now you just need to make sure that your next webcomic epic does a convention arc at the same time that Skin Horse is in its re-runs, and you'll complete the trio and be sent back to your body, and the present.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Well, it's understandable ... after getting beaten by Madblood, no wonder Lovelace is malletjusted.

D. Connolly (theogrin) says:

Ed: And, of course, Madblood is terminally overconfi-dent.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: And notice the first shoe dropping here... Dave of all people should be aware of the possibilities!
Diane Castle (deecee) says:

@David: I assumed the shoes were for Tip, over in Skin Horse.

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