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And here we are! The awesomest week of strips! I waited and planned so long to get to this point. Anyway... yes, I hate onions. They're awful. Andrew and I have adopted a special onion-free lifestyle so we don't have to deal with the problems Helen faces in this strip.

The passageway in which Helen and Dave are sitting in this week of strips is based on the interior of the Fermilab particle accelerator, enlarged. Much later in Narbonic, Helen refers to this area as the Orgone Accelerator, orgone being the orgasmic life force theorized by pleasantly looney psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich. So if anything untoward happens this week, blame it on all the orgone.

The sentient meme is a nod to the excellent Warren Ellis and Colleen Doran webcomic Superidol. I was a regular on Warren Ellis's message board around this time.

This is the third time Helen has this conversation with Dave, and each time he comes down a little more firmly on the hanging-with-the-evil-mad-geniuses side. Moving on, I did some good drawings this week of people eating Chinese food. It's just a little thing, but I'm happy with it. I wish I'd started drawing knuckles on people's hands, though.

...and this is the first time Dave turns the question back on Helen. This is meaningful!

When this strip first ran, people questioned whether Helen would have electric bills, since she apparently has a nuclear reactor and stuff in the lab. It's true she probably just steals truckloads of electricity from the city in the dead of night, like Enron. That was what Enron did, right?

The bonus story in Narbonic Volume 3, drawn by Phil Foglio, includes the bad clams. Because I'm a completist that way.

I wonder what's on the cookie fortune Dave's reading in the first panel. Presumably something encouraging.

And here it is: one of the three Narbonic strips I will never sell, along with the first and last. Frankly, that kiss came out pretty darn well, considering that kisses are hard to draw. And that's all I have to say before opening this to the floor.

56 comments:
Chris Brunner (cjbrunner) says: Yes! Down with onions! Viva la revolucion!
Rachel S. (masamage) says:

I'm so excited. :D

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
(I love onions.)
Steven Ehrbar (see) says:

More onions for me!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Helen again invokes mystical narrative laws to justify her extremely tenuous plan. Such laws of heroic survival conspicuously don't apply to Dave - his ability to consistently escape tight scrapes is his alone. And furthermore, Helen's consistently putting him in tight scrapes seemingly transcends the 'hero/villain' laws that pervade the Narboniverse, except insofar as it points toward a Frankensteinian petard hoist for herself (as foretold by both pre-existing narrative tropes and by a literal glimpse into the future). She's playing with a very bright kind of fire here.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

You know, an evil botanist who didn't hate onions could create some genetically modified scallions who could knock people out with their odor ... just think what one could do with a horde of onion minions.

If they were armed, they'd be the onion minion gunmen.

If they talked like New York street hoods from the 1940's, they'd be Damon Runyon onion minion gunmen.

Of course, walking all day in those pointy wing-tip shoes would give them Damon Runyon onion minion gunmen bunions.

I also hate onions.

Justin Kane (avatarjk137) says:

Onions are my favorite vegetable, and I will happily accept those that you all cast off.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

@ Ed: And if those bunions hatched into tiny edible fish, *they* would be Damon Runyon onion minion gunmen bunion grunions. (Damn, I love Dr. Seuss!)

Dominic Corbin (lnick) says: Vive le onion! I've been waiting for this week ever since Shaenon started the director's cut run. Actually this is about where I came to Narbonic. Eric Burns-White hyped Narbonic as the best four-panel comic, and Modern Tales had a free week or weekend, I inhaled the archives, and was hooked.
Jeff Klein (jeffklein) says:

What *is* that in the tank behind them in the last panel? It looks suspiciously similar to the silverfish... but with giant eyeballs.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

It occurs to me to wonder why the lab even has an orgone accelerator, say nothing about one large enough that Helen can lure Dave into it for Chinese takeout for two after finally getting the other henchbeings out of the lab...

One might almost think she had ulterior motives.

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

The sentient meme was routed to ForChan /b and all the other memes there and... I don't know, the situation was resolved somehow.

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

If I had to rate all of the single-episode mad-science asides in this webcomic, I think the sentient meme would be right near the top, even possibly outstripping the dental rainforest. It's probably just the way 'sentient meme' rolls off the tongue. Sentient meme. Sentientmeme.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Fame", Irene Cara)

Here with Helen, she ...
She wants to talk with me!
I know what she's gonna say, too ...
It's that thing that took over Sector Blue!

Well, I wrote it, see,
Based on "Serenity"!
First, a personality quiz ...
Now it's grown, and it is ...

It's more than it seems!
MEME!
It's gonna threaten to kill us,
Using a spy satellite!
RIGHT!
Just like the kill-bots in Jersey,
Vaporize all with a beam!
MEME!
It's gonna show us no mercy!
Suffers from low self-esteem ...
MEME!
It has achieved self-awareness,
Now it's a sentient meme!
(Awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness,
    awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness ...)

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Dave is very good at distracting Helen from whatever she's currently raving about. I assume this will serve him well in their post-strip life.
Diane Castle (deecee) says:

@Ed: awesome, as always.  But after reading Shenon's comments, I was expecting a filk of "Blame it on the Alcohol" (a song I really hate.)

"Blame it on the Orgone All"

Blame it on my mom,

We know she's the bomb,

Blame it all on Mell,

Blasting things to hell,

Blame it on the o-o-o-o-o-orgone all,

Blame it on the o-o-o-o-o-orgone all...

Blame it all on Artie,

Just 'cause he's a smarty,

Blame it on the battle,

Mongor speaking prattle,

Blame it on the o-o-o-o-o-orgone all,

Blame it on the o-o-o-o-o-orgone all...

Will Knight (waknight) says:

To my shame, I never noticed the (rather funny) juxtaposition of Helen nearly spilling the beans about Tinasky and Dave changing the subject to the sentient meme, an excellent illustration of his mad genius.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

...I was going to ask if all of those things had happened to him, but then I remembered: yeah, even the decapitation and explosive decompression are on the list. o.O;

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "9 To 5", Dolly Parton)

Spending my days down in this sewer,
Would I leave for something newer?
I'd not get killed or turned into a blob!
When my coffee's radioactive,
I'll admit, it's sounding attractive
To leave this place and get a normal job!

Get a normal job
Where I wouldn't get exploded!
Get a normal job
Where my brain waves aren't decoded!
I'd prefer my face
Stay connected to my body!
I'd leave this place
If she weren't such a hottie!

Normal job
With insurance and a pension!
Get a normal job,
But did I forget to mention
That my boss is hot?
I'm not certain, but my guess is
I'll stay and see just how this ... week progresses!

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: "So, is this morning's coffee chemical, biological, or radioactive?"
Bernard Sheehan (smilodon) says:

Pretty much except Enron liked to do it in broad daylight and then laugh over it.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Electric Avenue", Eddy Grant)

Helen is normally jolly,
But there are times that I find
She seems a bit melancholy ...
It goes with losing your mind!
Al-so,

CHORUS:
     It really makes me ill!
     Our huge electric bill ...
     Machines are never idle!
     I must admit that, still,
     Our huge electric bill
     Would make me suicidal!

It's all a part of mad genius ...
There's lots of stuff her head!
She's keeping something between us ...
I don't mean Kevlar and lead!
No, no ...
     (repeat CHORUS)

Wayne (wayne) says:

Well, as Fukushima demonstrated, nuke plants do require utility power for control systems prior to the the water/steam/turbine generation step, so exorbitant electrical bills, like Phoenix air-conditioning, would not be unexpected.

Wayne (wayne) says:

You know, all they need is a white-list system.  If a post relates to the subject, the site operators flag it as white, spam posts never get approved, board is clean.  Stiff initial up-front effort for moderators that goes down radically.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

I apologize for the moderation, but we got spammed all to heck yesterday, so it's probably the best way to do things for now.
Diane Castle (deecee) says:

@Bernard: Umm, no.  Enron ALSO stole extra electricity and then sold it back to the city.

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Well, obviously, Helen's nuclear reactor isn't for power. It's for *irradiating* things. Anything else would just be silly. :)
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

She should apply to the D of I for Federal irradiation assistance.

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

You will experience jo

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

The fortune cookie?  The real question is what did he ad on to the end of the fortune?  'in bed' or 'between the sheets' or 'with this fully functional Death Star'?

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

For possibly the first time since its titular arc, the island is recognised as a symbol of freedom, of release from the endless cycle of temporal causation, self-inflicted narrative doom, and madness begetting madness. And, most importantly, of release from a romance founded in deception into a relationship of equals.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: The clams he, er, didn't get, perhaps?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Dave's not trying to be shellfish, he just likes to show off his mussels.

Bernard Sheehan (smilodon) says:

He's actually reading off the fortune in the first panel, it really does say "Really? I think I was, too." It was put in the cookie by an alternate reality future self who wanted to be encouraging. ... or maybe not.

Wayne (wayne) says:

Wasn't it "fully functional battle station"?  It's been a long time since I've seen Ep 4.

Rachel S. (masamage) says:

This whole week is so happy. <3 <3 <3

Daniel Johnson (argus) says:

Bad clams ... did they have axes?

Pete (westrider) says:

@deecee: Why limit yourself? In my friends group, the usual has become "In bed with this fully operatonal DeathStar."

One of my friends even illustrated a couple of them.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

@ Ed: LOL! You gill me!

"Think I had a wet dream...movin' through the data stream..."

Cat Bascle (mage_cat) says:

@argus: That's what I thought too. I always did love that line.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: All together now: AWWWW.
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Why, Shaenon, you big softie!  Yes, it is indeed a magical moment, and quite a delightful surprise (at least, it was to me).

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

AWWWW.

 

And YAY!

W o o d (wood) says:

Aw, I remember when I first read this, I was completely baffled. It was the last thing I expected.

 

I'm not very good at getting hints, I guess.

 

Bu t seriously, that strip turned my world around.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

All is silent, save for a single gentle clink of colliding glasses. A toast to a new beginning! You may now drink from each other's cup.
Leon Arnott (l) says:

"From the front page of Modern Tales today (if you refresh and get the Narbonic graphic up), it says, "Read it now. There’s less than 90 weeks remaining.""
--Jennifer Rutherford, 23 April 2005.
Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

Sometimes things DO go right! And this is the best kind of friends.

Brian Pickering (dapic) says:

I've recently re-read the whole series on the PDF (anxiously awaiting the Perfect Collection!), and when I got to this strip, I STILL give my internal Squeee! and Hooray!

Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says:

I think my immediate reaction was, "About damn time."

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "This Could Be The Start Of Something Big", Steve Allen)

We're here in the lab alone, I'm talking to Helen ...
We're speaking of feelings deep, and issues complex!
And then, with a sudden shock,
We're getting our lips to lock!
And this could be the start of some hot sex!

Confessing our friendship now, we smile at each other,
And then we start leaning close, and craning our necks!
I never expected this!
I know from this steamy kiss,
That this could be the start of some hot sex!

    When we suck face, my heart will race, my stomach's in a knot!
    I never knew that this could be for us!
    There's so much passion in the mashin' of our lips so hot,
    I bet we'll soon engage in co-i-tus!

While Artie and Mell are gone, we're gonna get biz-zay!
And soon we will shed our shoes, our clothes, and our specs!
We're making our hearts go thump!
We're making our uglies bump!
And this could be the start of some hot --
Can't believe how lucky I got --
This could be the start of some hot sex!

Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

 Intamacy is always hard to portray, because it's ..intimate. It's not intended for the wider audience.

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: I remember Scott mccloud linking to this strip from his site the day it happened. I still find that fairly impressive.
W o o d (wood) says:

@ Jon Stout : I remember that too ! He said "Holy Moly they kissed !"

Jed Blue (froborr) says:

Hi Shaenon, it's the guy who fanboyed over you at Intervention and made you sign his Little Nemo collection.

Just caught up, and what an episode to catch up on! I love the way the distance between them is less in each successive panel without any actual movement, and the way their closed eyes are curved in the last panel. I don't know what that curve means, but it feels right.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Orgone accelerator: The effects of irradiating things with orgone energy could easily power another such comic strip by itself. Which would probably be X-rated....
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile