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Smithson Thus Far... ·


This was one of the first strips I wrote for this storyline. Originally it included complicated ELIZA jokes, but, as you can see from the still-cramped final strip, I ran out of room for dialogue. I do that a lot.

This is another strip I wrote really early on. In fact, a lot of this storyline is built around this week of strips. I did the confrontation between Helen and Lovelace and wrote backward from there.

Dramatic closeups of Lovelace are kind of weird.

Yes, lots of goofy computer jokes this week. Lovelace's last line still amuses me, even though when this strip first ran it generated many deeply inappropriate suggestions on the message board. No wonder Lovelace was afraid to speak up.

In other news, depending on your computer, you may be unable to get onto I'm working on the issue. My domain registrar is not helpful.

This strip was inspired by people on the message board coming up with ideas for downloading Lovelace into some kind of android body so she could get it on with Dave. Out of all of Narbonic, "I think their pants are soldered on" is one of the lines I'm proudest of. This may be just because I think "soldered" is a funny word.

There is so much fanfiction you could write around this strip.

The two lovely lady scientists are based on my college friends Allison and Mee-Lise. The former already appeared on the Tinasky panel, where it was revealed that her name is Dr. Ellen Fowler.

I like the idea of social gatherings where everyone has to wear a lab coat. People should do that more often. Not just scientists. Everyone.

The last line of this strip still cracks me up. Also the women's expressions. I wish I could write 'em like this every day.

Titus's nigh-indestructibility was part of his character in the Narbonic roleplaying game. I brought it up here because it comes up as a minor plot point later in this storyline.

Grant McCormick (grantcmccormick) says:

And this way, someone else* gets to triage out the "Enlarge your Rolex" spam.


* Someone other that Helen herself.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I bet that after Dave got done with it, Narbonics Labs' SpamAssassin install really does assassinate spammers.

Viktor Dosk (hugin) says: John, Narbonic's an evil lab. I doubt they're allowed to preform community service like that.
Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

By 2011, the only surviving spammers ARE mad scientists.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Wait a second... Helen read Dave's private chats with his girlfriend? Sure, company loyalty was on the line, but that's...

"I couldn't believe that a human could out-hack Dave." Hmmm.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: I don't see why there's any surprise there, Leon. Helen is a Mad Scientist. Conventional morality can't really apply to her. For pity's sake, she used to read her employee's thoughts.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Brava, Helen!  ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST couldn't have done better himself!

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

Do evil biologists get cross-class bonuses into writing computer viruses? What about making interesting things in Conway's Game of Life?

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: "He thinks you're a woman." Ouch. Is it just me, or is Helen being a little bit catty there? Also, the last line of this is pure gold.
nathaniel miller (skavensrule) says:

Hey Shaenon, your page seems to be suffering a DOS or virus attack.  At least todays Spambot is less annoying than usual.

Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

I noticed that, too, @skavensrule. My "" bookmark brought up what looked like one of those pages you get when you type in a URL that's not registered anymore.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Thanks, guys. Looking into it.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Looks like the domain registration expired yesterday.

Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says:

Interesting dialogue between Lovelace, who thinks that Dave won't be attracted to her because she's a computer, and Helen, who thinks Dave won't be attracted to her because she isn't.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

True story: My sister once had a job selling parts for General Electric.  This included things like cables and plugs, which are listed as having "male" or "female" connectors on the ends.  (Yes, these are standard terms in the electronics industry.  Engineers don't get out much.)  Sis had to explain to her co-worker exactly WHY male and female connectors were called "male" and "female".

I'm just glad she didn't have to explain a p-junction.

Kathy Moon (flipkat) says:

As a side note, it may be more helpful to say "You may not be seeing Narbonic" on Skin Horse rather than Narbonic.

Brian Fallstrom (alfador) says: I had the problem yesterday but still managed to find the comic by typing the first few characters of "" into my address bar. works fine for me today!
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Looks like we're back in business now.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Oh, hey, Narbonic Kickstarter update: Anyone who pledges at any level gets a Narbonic print! Details here:
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Even when Helen tries to be a sister, evil wins out.  Next week, she opens in a revival of All About Eve at the local dinner theatre.

tune: "All the small things," Mark Hoppus & Tom DeLonge (Blink-182, Enema of the State, 2000)

Lupin's androids
Are for the boids
All look like him
Van Dyked and slim
Dave won't want me
In that kind of body
Worse than an AI?
A mad-science guy

Hopes for love life?
Hopelessly gone:
I think their pants
Are soldered on
Na na na na na na na na na-na-na
Na na na na na na na na na-na-na

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

Oh Shaenon, don't get me started on fanfic.  There's too much of it already.  I mean, it could be Lovelace/Data or Lovelace/Buffybot or Lovelace/Cameron or Lovelace/Yoyo or...

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Helen is trying very hard to keep her lips pursed in panel 4.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Onward Christian Soldiers", Baring-Gould and Sullivan)

Robot pants are soldered,
To their bodies fused!
You would be frustrated,
We would be amused!

Now her heart is empty,
Though her cache is full!
Poor Lovelace's interface is

Robot pants are soldered,
Now all hope is gone!
Robot pants won't come off!
They can't get it on!

Michael Suttkus (suttkus) says:

Yoyo?  You mention Yoyo but not Rhoda, who I swear 7 of 9 was named after.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

As it turns out, the rightmost scientist has just been repeating that phrase for the past ten minutes. Hers is an esoteric type of madness.
Kether Malkuth (kether) says:

The dark-haired one reminded me so much of one of the Taylors from Lil'mell that I was hoping for another secret crossover :P It was funny to think that someone like she could end as a mad scientist :P (perhaps a mad fashion scientist? xD)

Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says:

@Shaenon;  A lot of the people who do Old West historical re-enacting wear dusters.  And those dusters are basically indistinguishable from 19th Century lab coats.  And not all that different from modern ones.  (Though they have different sorts of stains.  More mud and less acid.)

Dan Bongard (danbongard) says:

I like "her evil whim".

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

It's seldom that we get to hear outside perspectives on the Narbonics Labs staff and get insight into their... professional renown.

To Dave's credit, he didn't just die for Helen so much as 'die at the hands of someone named Helen'. It seems Helen has been taking more credit than she's due?
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Leon:  I'm not so sure the women actually know about Dave's travails, or if that's just a stock incident for henchmen....

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"...'til death do us disintegrate, resurrection notwithstanding ..."


(confusador) says:

I like how they going from chiding Helen in the first panel to contemplating it in the last.  There's a reason it's called Mad Science... "What, just because it's wrong doesn't mean we wouldn't do it!"

Pete (westrider) says:

I've always found the dialoge in this one pretty hot. That probably says something about me.

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

Madblood's award seems pretty useless for picking up these two women as well....

david zink (ignatzium) says:

Ellen & Mee-Lise are slashing Dave & Titus! Hurt/Comfort? RPF? s there a word for RPF inside a fictional universe?

Paul Gadzikowski (pgadzikowski) says:

I wish I could write 'em like this every day.

I know that feeling.

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