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Drawing chairs is, in fact, so hard that I drew one chair and pasted Artie into it for the first three panels. It came out a lot better than I thought it would, so good work, me. Also, Artie looks pretty hot here. It took me a while to figure out how to make Artie consistently hot.

Helen is too low in the third panel. This bugs me every time I look at this strip. I know I'm probably the only person who has ever noticed or cared, but it still bugs me.

On the plus side, check out that boss scanning tunneling microscope. It was always nice when I took the time to actually draw machinery and science-type equipment.

I wrote this during the previous storyline and just waited for a random opportunity to insert it somewhere. And here it is! Wasn't it all worthwhile?

Artie is too small in the first panel. Well, he's about the right size for a real gerbil, but small compared to the way I usually draw him.

Shut up, my technobabble is awesome.

The scenario described here occurred to me as something that might happen if somebody actually had Artie's weird genetic problem. Of course, it would not happen to Artie, as I am a kind creator, and also I like drawing him like this.

Around this time I started drawing characters with big hands, on the logic that it was better, in cartooning, to make the hands too big than too small. This is true, but it would've been even better to have drawn the hands the right size.

Dave and Helen are on their way out of Holding Cell 2B, as mentioned in the previous strip. Why do they need all these holding cells, anyway? They never seem to have any prisoners. They must be for the containment of things Helen makes.

And yes, based on her last comment, Helen probably knows a thing about Artie. Not that Dave is his type.

30 comments:
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

I'm a sucker for dialogue callbacks like this. (It's probably one of the reasons I like MS Paint Adventures a lot.)

This strip gives the impression that Artie's transformations are instantaneous, in the tradition of countless old TV shows. What this means in-comic is that Helen's species-swap technology is a tad tidier than Artie's own gender-swap technology ("splort"), even though it is, as demonstrated, a tad less curable.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Unforgettable", Nat King Cole)

It's incurable,
Mell says, "I hope!"
Artie's durable,
But can he cope?
Rodent to a homo sapien,
He goes changing back and forth again!
Dreads in his hair,
Stuck in his chair!

He cannot predict
When he will change ...
Ev'ry time he's "hic"-ed
It feels so strange!
His condition's uninsurable!
Mental anguish, unendurable!
Mell sure hopes that it's incurable
Too!

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

A paradigm shift? Come on, Artie... it's not like you turned into a wolf.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "Baubles, Bangles and Beads," Robert Wright and George Forrest (riffing on Alexander Borodin), Kismet, 1953

Scanning tunneling microscope, that's so cute now
Full size, my prize Artie
Molecules dance under your lens, that's a hoot now
How precious could you be?

My sweet, helpless critter
You just make me titter, so

When you're man-sized, I'll pinch your cheeks
I adore you
You make such a cute boy!
You're my scanning tunneling toy

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

It may seem to an outside observer that Artie is many things to Helen - close friend, beloved pet, noble creation, pseudo-son - but these are, in reality, just one relationship with many indivisible aspects.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

If it's a Paradigm Shift, WHAR IS SEXY WULFS?

vicka corey (drbrain) says:

i figured helen was just all folded up with adoration and glee :)

Marni Rachmiel (marniferous) says:

To the tune of "Against All Odds" (Phil Collins, 1984)

How can i let you leave me like this - in the body of an anthropod?
Don’t you know how weird this is for me? I feel really, really odd.
You’re the only one who can fix my genes at all

Helen Narbon, you created me, in a way you’re like my god -
But now you and Mell (shh, even Dave) are ogling my bod.
You’re the only one who can fix my genes at all

So Helen, lookit me now - i’m just a big strong man
I see you and Mell enjoying this - but i don’t think i can
Helen, lookit me now - I was adorable -
And non-human - now i’ve lost my cred, even though i’ve gained these hands

Wish i could just make you turn me back - turn me back to what i was
Meriones unguiculatus - I really miss my paws
You’re the only one who can fix my genes at all

So Helen, lookit me now - soon i’ll have empty clothes
I will hiccup and be small again, but for how long heaven knows
Helen, lookit me now - and please bring me some pants
and some aspirin - can you blame me - for going on these rants?
Helen, lookit me now. You broke my paradigm
How long will i have to live like this? I still think i haven’t time

Helen, lookit me now.

Rodford Smith (stickmaker) says:

I thought Helen was semi-crouching as part of boucing up and down, which fits what we can see of her pose.

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: I'm with Rodford. I just figured she was hunched over, like she was leaning down towards a baby or something.
Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

@drbrain and stickmaker: I figured she was crouching to put herself at eye level with her adorable creation who's, you know, being all adorable and stuff.

(Well, OK, truth be told, I didn't notice Artie was sitting until Shaenon mentioned the height thing in her note. But Artie's sitting makes Dave's relative height in the first panel a little perplexing, unless maybe he kneeling to get a better look at the screen or something.)

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

There isn't really, from the point of view of an evil genius, such a thing as "too evil" - there's just evil working against the interests of other evil. Helen is dearly concerned that she's somehow been manipulated by her dear alpha.

It may seem to an outside observer that Helen is many things to Dr. N - test subject, rebellious organ-farm, abandoned daughter, heiress of her legacy - but these are, in reality, just one relationship with many indivisible aspects. It's thus completely natural for Helen to assume nefarious intent from what seems on face value to be mere parental affirmation (and possibly actually is).
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "God Save The King", unknown)

Artie avowed to me
My mother's proud of me,
Said she was glad!
I live perniciously,
Do things maliciously!
Mom's pround?  My goodness me,
I'm much too bad!

Wayne (wayne) says:

@Marni: Excellent job!  Personally I can't stand Phil Collins, but still an excellent use of a song.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Leon said: "Helen is dearly concerned that she's somehow been manipulated by her dear alpha."

I'd say the 'proud' remark is manipulation enough!
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Odds that Doc Narbon said that specifically to get this reaction from Beta...?

Marni Rachmiel (marniferous) says:

Aw, thanks Wayne! :)

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

WHY was that the first thing to pop into Dave's head?
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Artie is in mental anguish because, when Helen said "grotesque human-rodent hybrid", the first image that popped into his mind was George W. Bush.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Actually, yeah, your technobabble <i>is</i> pretty good!  Certainly, you managed to avoid "teching the tech"!

But my favorite bit is Helen's casual "Exactly".

Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

Perhaps the big hands show the homuncular perspective.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Help Me, Rhonda", The Beach Boys)

Now ev'ry time I hiccup, my body keeps changing shape!
One minute I'm a rodent and the next I'm a big plains ape!
I'm feeling a great unease,
And now I'm begging on my fuzzy knees!
You've got to ... help me, Helen!
Stabilize my phenotype, please!

CHORUS:
(*hic*hic*hic*hic*hic*hic*hic*)
Help me, Helen!  Help, help me Helen!
Help me, Helen!  Help, help me Helen!
Artie's yellin', "Help, help me Helen!
Body's swellin'!  Help, help me Helen!
Feel unwell, an' help!  Help me, Helen!
Stuck with Mell, an' help!  Help me, Helen!
Help me, Helen, please,
'Cause I'm stuck in a chair!"

Now Helen says, "I understand, just leave it all to me!
I'm go discuss it now with Dave in Cell 2B!
It's the one with the padded walls ...
And by the way, Mell, hold all calls!
I'm gonna ... help you, Artie,
Help you in an hour or three!"
    (repeat CHORUS)

Rachel S. (masamage) says:

Dave's face is perfect.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Dave still has to be reminded that he's knee-deep in unbridled euphoria. He's that sort of person.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE:  "Save The Last Dance For Me", The Drifters)

He's upset!
Artie's feeling so odd,
As the shape of his bod
Back and forth it goes!

You can bet
That he's feeling dismay,
'Cause his junk's on display!
He'll be needing clothes!

When Helen's lips are pressed
Against yours, it's best
To have humanity!
So go and ... buy some pants for Ar-tie!

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Did *you* know, at this point in the strip?

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

David: Oh, sure. I'll go into this later, but SPOILERS Artie was always going to be gay or bi.
John Ames (commodorejohn) says: Mothers know these things.
Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: So... wait. Does that mean helen *engineered* artie to be gay?
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile