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In general, Mell is more concerned than the other characters about the possibility of Dave becoming destructive. I guess she takes him seriously after all. Speaking of which, nice work passing the buck, Artie.

The important part of this strip is that I think I drew a pretty darn good bowling bag. I'd been worried about that.

Isn't it great how I managed to keep about 90% of the action off-panel in this storyline? (Including the, ahem, action back at the lab. Sorry.)

This punchline is not so good, but I do like the first panel. Because I'm juvenile.

Mell has a surprisingly high opinion of Artie, all things considered.

Argh, I'm so happy with the way this one came out. The fuzzy teleporter effect in the first panel, Helen's inside-out-and-backwards shirt, the sock... Good work, me.

Mell catches on immediately that there have been shenanigans. She's mostly just annoyed.

Helen and Dave get an amazing amount done in their time alone. Because it's funny, that's why.

I didn't mean for Artie to look as suspicious as he does in the first panel, but I guess it works okay. He doesn't have much patience for shenanigans, either. In fact, neither Mell nor Artie particularly approves of the Helen/Dave relationship; this becomes more of an issue later on.

You know, Dave did make off really well in this storyline. Good one, Dave!

I think the key to this whole scene is that Mell is not even remotely surprised.

37 comments:
Daibhid Ceannaideach (daibhidc) says:

Has it not been previously established that Mel doesn't have a conscience? Or, at least, doesn't have a personality-sprite with wings and a halo?

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

If Mell normally listens to her lower urges, would that be her sub-conscience?

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Let's be fair here: Artie may be the only individual in the entire world capable of actually *guilting* Mell. I suspect that not using that power would be akin to Superman walking around all the time.
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

The bowling bag is peculiarly appropriate, since Dr. Narbon seems to have scored a spare.
tune: "I've got no strings," Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, Pinocchio, 1940

I've got no nose upon my head
But still, it's proof that I am dead
Show the Dave Conspiracy
I've got no nose on me

Bwa-ha-ha, that's my song
Tumblin' o'er the falls so high
I'll just be moving on
To that big lab in the sky

My head is in a bowling bag
So you can raise your victory flag
While I sip a pink chablis
Because, at last, I'm free!

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Shaenon, unlike Artie, I am not perfectly happy not hearing the explanation for this.

Where did Dr. Narbon get a spare head from?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

People in this storyline seem to have a habit of leaning horizontally across a panel border for altogether too many seconds. Is this perchance our author's self-aware lampooning of those off-panel head inserts that have occured 25 times prior??
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Adam: From the bus station lost-and-found, same as anyone else.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: And it's certainly not the first time she's faked her death....
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Adam: ... or maybe she got it from the local head shop.

(TUNE: "Fixing A Hole", The Beatles)

I'm find a head in a bowling bag
That Dr. Narbon left for me ...
It's got no nose ...

I'm reading the note by that crazy hag,
And then I'm letting Artie see ...
There his lunch goes!

And it really doesn't matter how she got this head!
Looks like I shot this head
Right in the ear!
And when this bloody proof they see,
The good ol' Dave Conspiracy
Will pay my school tuition for next year!

I'm find a head in a bowling bag
That Dr. Narbon left for me ...
She is so cool!
She is so cool!

Daibhid Ceannaideach (daibhidc) says:

It was Spare Head Three. She didn't want it, because it had galloping droid clone rot.

Matthew Mather (madtinkerer) says:

When I read this strip, I assumed that somewhere down the line the Daves would figure out Narbon Alpha isn't dead and Mell would get in trouble over this. It's not like both Narbons aren't experts in cloning, and the Daves would somehow overlook this fact.

And Artie, do I need to point out to a "superintelligent" gerbil that both Narbons are experts in cloning and making a fake/duplicate head is probably easier than making a shapeshifting superintelligent gerbil? Or maybe I'm just more wonderfully clever than I thought.

Mason Kramer (masonlk) says:

Oh, like this is the first time she's had to lop the head off one of her clones.

Jon W. (kd7sov) says:

What I like is that she either had the note ready in advance - thus implying she knew exactly what would go down - or she came back afterward, wrote the note, and then left again.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Adam: She's a known expert on cloning.  Where do you think she got a copy of her own head from?

Rodford Smith (stickmaker) says:

 

Let's try this again (after WebComics Nation repeatedly screwed up my log-in):

 

The trick is not having a spare head. The trick is having a spare of *your* head.

 

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

The missing nose is a brilliant touch. Dr. Narbon being able to make a copy of her own head isn't particularly strange or surprising, given who she is and what she does. There is, after all, yet another copy of her head going around attached to the neck of one of the main characters of this comic. The missing nose adds just the right degree of, "Wait, what? Why?" to the thing.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "You Gotta Be", Des'ree)

In the far Brazilian lair,
Artie perched atop Mell's hair,
Artie wants to tell her, get this off his chest ...
Mell, she gives an upward glance,
Says, "It's fine, we found your pants,
But you should be so much better than the rest!"
You gotta be ...

CHORUS:
     You gotta be good, you gotta be true, you gotta be better,
     You gotta be nice, you gotta be kind, you gotta be kinder,
     You gotta do right, so we can do wrong, you gotta be stronger,
     You must be, you must be good to keep us bad!

All the good guys I have found
Keep the moral higher ground,
"Don't betray your principles," is Mell's advice!
If he had the chance again,
He'd tell those Republicans!
Hey!  I said, "Be ni-ice!"
      (repeat CHORUS)

Pete (westrider) says:

The first panel here is yet another of my favorites.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Mell is most definitely not in the mood for Helen unconsciously slipping boasts into her sentences for the rest of the night.

(Artie, on the other hand, might well appreciate a distraction from the fact that he seemingly failed miserably.)
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Woah, Helen and Dave got... adventurous.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

If her glasses are in the nutrient-bath tank, will they grow into some sort of giant glasses kaiju?  'Cause that would be quite a spectacle.

Sean Kinlin (seaking) says:

To produce effects like that in the first panel, do you draw a normal Mell and Artie, then do something in photoshop, or do you draw the effect?

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Sean: I drew it with my own two hands. I was very proud.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Well, you know what they say— "Accidents will happen." ^^
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

They both had a lot... of making up for lost time. Such as between their late teens and the present.

Mell's choice of word says a lot about how little she thinks of their monumentous life-changing achievement.
Daibhid Ceannaideach (daibhidc) says:

Wait ... the gender-swap tablets? Did they...?

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Yes, well, gerbil!Artie would need to wait for a gerbil in heat, and man!Artie has his own issues (manipulating brains is a tricky business, after all).
Sean McLane (zodo) says:

Considering how Artie ends up, it's interesting that he's annoyed by shenanigans.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says: To the tune of "Old MacDonald had a Farm" (Traditional) Dave and Helen had some fun! EE-I-EE-I-OH! And in the Lab they got "It" done! EE-I-EE-I-OH! With a "Goink-Goink" here, and a "Goink-Goink" there! Here a "Goink", there a "Goink", everywhere a "Goink-Goink"! Dave and Helen had lots of sex! That's Too Much Infoooooooooooo!
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

@Daibhid Ceannaideach: think of it as lesbian sex mano-a-mano

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

In my experience, it's really not uncommon for third parties to see things like this coming way, way farther off than the people involved.

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: It occurs to me that this is the (first? One of the first) time Dave's in a lab coat. Foreshadowing, or coincidence? IS THERE REALLY A DIFFERENCE, I ASK YOU!?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

It's kind of uncharacteristically generous of Mell to bother bringing that priceless artifact of counter-temporal causation back to Dave at all. But maybe she interprets this as not just a favour for Dave, but an extra insult to Dr. N - robbing her of her leverage over Dave, and an instrument in his assassination. Mell in any time period doesn't need Dr. N for that now.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: John Ames: But then, wouldn't Helen wearing his Flannel Of Power warrant more than the "usual" comment?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Oh, Happy Day", Edwin Hawkins)

CHORUS:
Oh, perfect night!
Oh, perfect night!
We did the deed ...
Though Mell was peeved ...
Yak-Face was retreived!
Now everything's all right!
(Oh perfect night ... oh perfect night ...)

    Somehow Mell knows
    That we goinked!
    All the night ... all the night!
    She's got her nose
    Out of joint!
    Gets uptight ... "This ain't right!"
(repeat CHORUS)

Bob Alexander (rea5245) says:

It's not a doll, it's an action figure.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Dave's worn a lab coat at least twice before, that I can recall... briefly in "Doppleganger Gambit", and again in "Mad Science is Decadent and Depraved". Both times it was to make him look more like Madblood. This time it's Helen's lab coat, and I think, under the circumstances, the Signamancy of that has less to do with his mental condition than with other articles of her clothing he's also gotten into recently. Kevlar articles.

Mell recovering Dave's doll for him has nothing to do with generosity, and everything to do with proving her superiority over him in every way. "Dr. Narbon killed you and took your action figure, which is important to you but which I will dismissively refer to as a 'doll'. I killed her and took it back, and I'll give it back to you because I don't care; it is a pathetic thing that has value only to dorks like you."

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