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Smithson Thus Far... ·


Man, it's been a long time since we saw ANTONIO SMITH. Writing hardboiled dialogue for him was always fun. He's a hard character to draw well, though. I got stuck drawing him in my early, blocky style and never really got out of it. Still, I love him and devoting a whole week to him was awesome.

Also, he's got a totally cute little bust of Shakespeare on his desk.

Right, so in Two Gentlemen of Verona, the clown Launce has a smelly, troublemaking dog.

He thrusts me himself into the company of three or four gentleman-like dogs under the Duke's table. He had not been there -- bless the mark -- a pissing-while but all the chamber smelt him. 'Out with the dog,' says one. 'What cur is that?' says another. 'Whip him out,' says the third. 'Hang him up,' says the Duke. I, having been acquainted with the smell before, knew it was Crab, and goes me to the fellow that whips the dogs. 'Friend,' quoth I, 'you mean to whip the dog?' 'Ay, marry, do I,' quoth he. 'You do him the more wrong,' quoth I; ''twas I did the thing you wot of.' He makes me no more ado, but whips me out of the chamber. How many masters would do this for his servant? Nay, I'll be sworn, I have sat in the stocks for puddings he hath stol'n, otherwise he had been executed. I have stood in the pillory for geese he hath killed, otherwise he had suffered for't. Thou think'st not of this now. Nay, I remember the trick you served me when I took my leave of Madam Silvia. Did not I bid thee still mark me and do as I do? When didst thou see me heave up my leg and make water against a gentlewoman's farthingale? Didst thou ever see me do such a trick?

Now that you know that, this strip is hilarious!

On the shelf in the first panel are authors sometimes believed to be Shakespeare, by people who think Shakespeare was a pseudonym: Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere, and Sir Francis Bacon. The name on the last spine, the one mostly concealed by the mad scientists, is Foster; as I've mentioned before ANTONIO SMITH was inspired by my college professor Don Foster.

Dr. Foster swears by the Riverside edition of Shakespeare, not in the least because it includes "A Funeral Elegy by W.S.," which Dr. Foster attributed to Shakespeare with his forensic linguistics techniques.

This may be the most Shakespeare-nerdy comic strip ever drawn, plus I drew a pretty good guy getting clocked with the Riverside, ergo this strip is awesome.

Mell's dialogue is from Lex Luthor in the Superman movie. Andrew quotes that movie a lot. Incidentally, who likes Mell's action outfit with the tank top and the khakis? I always enjoyed drawing it.

This is practically the only time I bother to draw belts on people. Also, that gun of Mell's is pretty good. It's some kind of oversized handgun, I guess. I just made these things up.

The lines on the board behind Mell in the second panel are "Shall I die? Shall I fly?", the opening lines of a not very good poem possibly by Shakespeare.

SPOILERS: Yes, Helen sent Mell to do this. It's the secret mission thingy she was talking about at the beginning of the storyline. It was a mission for Narbonics Labs all along. Helen gave Mell several options to assuage her guilt when Mell inevitably chose the most violent one, I guess.

A rare Narbonic action scene! Actually, this turned out pretty nicely. Doing special effects lettering is always fun. And then there's Mell all flipping over ANTONIO SMITH in the first panel, and hanging from who the hell knows what at the end, and yeah, that's pretty good. Mell gets some more action scenes in the next storyline, but overall I should've done more of these.

Mell quotes Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest, respectively. See, she put a lot of work into this! I like her crazy pose and expression in the first panel. It would actually be pretty scary to have Mell coming at you like this, even if you were a hardened forensic linguist.

Man, this week is fun. Any storyline where I can fit ANTONIO SMITH is a good storyline.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: If he tilts the bust back, it reveals a button that will...start his car remotely on those cold days when he wants to come out to a warm car.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: DUN DUN DUN.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

You need some way to add an echo to the ALL CAPS.  Echo and a musical sting.  (wait, SIB, just did the musical sting ...)

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

It's kind of interesting that ANTONIO SMITH is simultaneously an Indiana Jones adventurer spoof and a film noir detective spoof. They seem like disparite genres - the latter dealing with long shadows, moral gray areas and man's inhumanity to man, the former with rope-swinging, cliffhanging and overelaborate chases - but nonetheless seem to have some stylistic overlap, especially regarding their protagonists.
Rob (acoustic_rob) says:


It's the hat, I think.  That hat crosses genres.

Mike B. (epenthesis) says:

I have ANTONIO SMITH's bio strip tacked over my desk at work. This, this is why I swear by the Riverside edition in hardcover.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

And Helen deftly avoids protesting too much.

Joel Brackenbury (mockferret) says:

Leon: I think it's all just part of an overlapping 1930s pulp adventure style. Philip Marlowe, The Shadow, Doc Savage, Indiana Jones et al are all more or less on the same spectrum. ANTONIO SMITH falls somewhere in the middle.

Thomas Levy (ergonomytch) says:

@Ed That kind of entrance has been perfected by the inestimable and inimitable OTHAR TRYGGVASSEN: GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER!

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

All we need now is the Mythbusters episode where we measure the force necessary to hurl a Riverside Ed. hard enough to knock a man backwards 10' if said man has a 100 lb mechanical arm.

James Rice (jhrice) says:

Apparently Don Foster has changed his mind about "A Funeral Elegy" being written by Shakespeare'

After considerable debate, Foster's theory was eventually rejected by other Shakespeare scholars. In 2002, Gilles Monsarrat, a translator of Shakespeare into French, published an article arguing that the poem's true author was John Ford, a younger writer whose works Monsarrat had also edited. Foster conceded that Monsarrat had the better case in a post on the SHAKSPER listserver saying, "No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his own mistakes deserves to be called a scholar." Foster said he had not previously analyzed Ford's works closely enough and had erroneously dismissed him as a possibility.

(confusador) says:

"plus I drew a pretty good guy with a drill for a hand getting clocked with the Riverside"

FTFY.  To call this strip awesome awesome is a travesty.  After this strip, the entire medium of comics may as well have been retired.  And yet it's a good thing it wasn't, because you went on to draw BETTER things.  Please don't ever stop.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Down By The Riverside", traditional)

See the guy with the cyber-arm
Clocked by the Riverside!
Clocked by the Riverside!
Clocked by the Riverside!
See the guy with the cyber-arm
Clocked by the Riverside!
He'll bug ANTONIO SMITH no more!

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

To totally debase the erudite tone of today's discourse:
tune: "California gurls," Katy Perry

I know a man
Who will fight for right and justice
Hat over eyes
A trench-coated science hero
His Riverside
Is a literary weapon
We tried
To persuade
But he flattened us like a
First folio

Quoting Two Gentlemen
Of Verona
he strikes
And we're yelling, "Yikes!"
With us he won't concur
Our quest smells like a cur
Oh-wo-oh-oh oh-wo-oh-oh

He's your man when mystery calls
Found Helen based on her manifesto
Oh-wo-oh-oh oh-wo-oh-oh

Quoting Shakespeare, cracking his whip
He's the one to find Milo Tinasky
Oh-wo-oh-oh oh-wo-oh-oh

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I like that ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST appears to have thrown the Riverside edition in hardcover such that it decked the mad scientist with the drill for an arm and then bounced back so that he could catch it for re-use, like a nerdier version of Xena's chakram.

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Hee. I had a Riverside at some point during college, I think.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Personally I think ol' whats-her-name tends to look better cradling an oversized handgun than the six-foot chrome cannons she more commonly totes. The handgun's size still extols her perchant for overly showy and flashy weaponry, but its portability frees up her other arm and upper body for more expressive gestures and poses (and grenades - let's not forget grenades).
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Still The One", Orleans)

Guess who's gonna cash in your chips,
With khaki cargo pants that hide her Hartman Hips?
You didn't spot this dame, and it's costly now!
You can't recall my name?  That is so not frosty now!

I've got a gun!
And it's well-designed!
Got a gun
That'll blow your mind!
Kelly, Mell's the one
With a big damn gun!

Joel Brackenbury (mockferret) says:

Shakeapeare-related news today, ANTONIO SMITH would probably be intrigued.

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

Mel looks best in the mini-skirt, regardless of her choice of weapon....

Eric Burns (ericburns) says: Actually, I prefer the action outfit. It makes her look more... I don't know. Dangerous.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Mell isn't a big fan of arson. Fire is just an explosion that isn't trying hard enough.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Leon, that's brilliant.  Today I shall blow something up in your honor.

(TUNE: "I Am Woman", Helen Reddy)

This persuasion's such a bore!
I think I tried it once before ...
Had to talk and talk, it nearly took all day!
But although I really tried,
They just wouldn't see my side,
So my M-16 just blew them clean away!

Oh, no!  Hate to talk!
It's a buzzkill, I confess ...
Yes, explosions rock!
But they make such a mess ...
If I have to, I can debate with you ...
It's polite ...
And it is civilized ...
And it's BORING!

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

@Ed:  Looks more like a Desert Eagle than an M-16....

Grant McCormick (grantcmccormick) says:

I entered the University of Louisville in 1973, and graduated in 1977.  During that time, I never took any English classes.¹

My High School English teacher (Junior & Senior years both) was married to the UofL English Department Chairman, and taught us all to UofL standards.  Everyone in those classes who went to UofL (about a third of us) tested out of Freshman English.  All save myself took Freshman Honors English (and did well).

I took Chemistry.  I was a Physics major.

They changed the rules at UofL my last year, effective the next, that anyone graduating had to have a minimum number of English credits to graduate.  But I managed to get through without ever experiencing the joys of Freshman Composition.

¹ I did have 2½ years of German, but thats not the same thing at all, as Mark Twain could tell you.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Superstition", Stevie Wonder)

Freshman composition,
Such a waste of time!
Man in his position
Should be solving crime!
Fighting with his whip!
See assassin swing, twist,
Giving him the slip!

Has to do battle with
Such a hot dame ....
Composition's rather lame!

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Mell could teach Freshman Decomposition...

Angela Fortin (fortangel) says: Heck, I unintentionally minored in English at University of North Texas without ever taking any actual English classes. I started university with 12 hours of English test credit and took a bunch of linguistics courses as electives. I realized shortly before graduating that my alma mater counts undergrad linguistics courses as English credits. That, plus my test credit gave me an English minor. So yeah, I never took Freshman Composition either. Also, Mell looks really great in this strip.
Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

@sleepyjohn: I would think Dave would be better suited to that task, what with having been a zombie and all.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

I had a boss Freshman Composition class. It was called "Hypermedia and Phanopoeia" and was taught by hypertext novelist Michael Joyce. All the students were either computer science majors or people who thought it would be fun to take a class called "Hypermedia and Phanopoeia," and I made lots of lifelong nerdy friends.
Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Wait... did ANTONIO SMITH just hit himself with his own whip?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

This is essentially insult swordfighting from Monkey Island, multiplied by culture. The only way this episode could be improved is if Mell magically stayed in character in panel 4. I'll let someone else find an appropriate quote to match.
Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

"Insult swordfighting from Monkey Island, multiplied by culture"... I'd love to have a game like that.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I'm thinking of Mell saying "Lay on, MacDuff, and damned be he that first cries 'Hold, enough!'" ... except she'd be saying that to Caliban.

Yes, in bed.  (#dontexplainthejoke)

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

The Tempest, Act I, Scene 2: "I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated to closeness and the bettering of my mind."

Drave Cochems (doctoravenue) says:

I think the world is almost ready for an Antonio Smith, Forensic Linguist comedic adventure film. Can somebody get on that?

This guy I know (thisguy) says:

Making the film or preparing the world for it?

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: One can only hope that ANTONIO SMITH appreciates the level of effort that mell has put into this. You don't often find that kind of work ethic in a mook.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile