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You can imagine the complexity of the workings of Narbonics Labs by the Pong game going on in the background.

Okay, so the first episode of "H.R. Pufnstuf" I ever saw was the flashback episode where Jimmy hits his head and gets amnesia and the terrifying puppets try to job his memory by reminiscing about musical numbers from their past episodes. So it's like five or six bad acid trips inside the initial bad acid trip. The best flashback is Witchiepoo singing a song called "There Ain't No Rhyme for Oranges" at the Living Island talent show. Watching all these scenes as three-minute, context-free segments adds a valuable extra level of disorientation. I've since learned from Netflix that the amnesia episode was the last episode of "H.R. Pufnstuf," so presumably even Sid and Marty Krofft knew better than to try to top it.

Bloom County did a storyline where Opus gets amnesia, but I think I was more directly influenced by a Sunday Bloom County where the characters stop mid-strip to criticize the own soap-opera plot twists of their own comic. It ends with Opus asking, "Do you think Terry and the Pirates was a bad comic strip?", a line that stuck with me and which I've probably accidentally stolen at some point.

It felt weird to draw old-style, old-haircut Dave without a cigarette, so I put pencils in his mouth. Which is strange, because Dave never smoked.

This is one of my all-time favorite Narbonic strips. The last panel came up just the way I wanted it to, and for some reason Mell saying, "Wonder Twin powers activate, dude," still cracks me up. So good work, me!

It's true! The employee brain scans were in one of the very first storylines. Originally I didn't plan to do anything with them in the long run, but then I had this clone idea, and I remembered the brain-scan storyline, and it was kismet.

I liked the idea of bringing back Dave as he was at the beginning of Narbonic to illustrate how he'd developed since then. I've said before that one of the ongoing threads of the strip is exploring, mad science-style, what it means to be Dave, and this is the most literal iteration.

I added Mell's final line at the last minute and I really shouldn't have. It's pretty dumb. I apologize to everyone who has suffered due to exposure to my weaker final-beat lines over the years.

Dave as a steamy hunk, on the other hand, is excellent.

Pah! I don't like this strip! I only drew it to fill out the week; I had things pretty tightly planned at this point, and I needed another strip to make my schedule for the next several weeks work out. I should have cut it. Oh well.

I was listening to a lot of Air America Radio around this time, though. It was good to listen to while scanning artwork. Nowadays I put on Netflix Instant.

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

There are plenty of people in the IT profession for whom the irony in panel 4 hits very close to home.

Pong games: 3. A background joke I always relish.
Matthew Mather (madtinkerer) says:

"You can imagine the complexity of the workings of Narbonics Labs by the Pong game going on in the background"

Indeed, especially when you consider that the original Pong machine didn't even use a microprocessor. It was 100% hard-wired electronics with, if I remember correctly, relays used to store the score. Not to mention the fact that Tennis For Two used an oscilloscope for a display.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

If you played Pong against a remote opponent over ARPANet back in the '80's, you'd ask not for whom the Pong pings.

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: That Pong game decides whether people live or die.
Thomas Levy (ergonomytch) says:

This is why you always comment your code.

I never comment my code.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Way We Were", Barbara Streisand)

Memories ...
Dave ain't got 'em anymore!
Painful, silly, sexy memories
Of Narbonic Labs ...

It's amnesia!
He cannot recall before!
Thinks that he just started working
At Narbonic Labs!

    Doesn't he remember going to the Moon?
    Or when he jumped back and forth through Time?
    He acts just like he was born this afternoon!
    Plain and geeky ...
    It's freaky!

Mell thinks
That he must have hit his head!
Can't remember goinking Helen,
Or when he was death-rayed dead!
But he seems normal,
Not broken-hearted!
He thinks that he just started
At Narbonic Labs!

Rachel S. (masamage) says:

My main association with head-blow amnesia is the Muppets Take Manhattan.

Alexander Cherry (lxndr) says: I've never smoked, but I tend to chew on pens and pencils and other similar things as though I were an ex-smoker. Or so I'm told. Maybe the non-smoker Dave still has/had some sort of oral fixation.
John Ames (commodorejohn) says: I think Mell's punchline is my favorite single punchline out of the entire strip's run. (Artie's is pretty good, too.)
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

There's always the illustrious Sra. Campos's theory that it's Helen's pencil and he considers it a kind of remote kissing. Except that [SPOILER] isn't [SPOILER] Helen.

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

I still remember the "Oranges Poranges" chorus and the opening credits scene of Jimmy crawling up on the "beach", but nothing else. I think in syndication, they used a clip of the "Oranges Poranges" chorus as a "we'll be right back" clip at the commercial break.

 

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

"Form of... a very large human being!"

"Shape of... a dangerous sociopath!"

Davia Ditmeyer (zerosd) says:

Really a great one- you don't see Artie and Mel on the same side much.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

"You must obey me!": 2. Funny, I'd have thought we'd have seen that chestnut a lot more by now.

I like the implication that Helen expected this horrifying transgression to just slide past them.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

And if you remember, Helen's shocking lack of regular on-site backups of Dave Davenport is, fittingly, Dave's fault. Also I'm rereading that linked strip and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I miss the zany eyebrows.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I never saw Wednesday's strip until I hit the "back" button ... seems to be out of order in the archive.

(TUNE: "Jingle Bells", James L. Pierpont)

Talking to our boss
In our evil secret lair ...
There's a brand-new Dave
Who's got the same old hair!
Vi-o-lence is crude,
Making Helen frown!
The henchmen want to know what's up,
And Helen's upside-down!

   Jiggle her!  Jiggle her!  Jiggle her a bit!
   Artie's hands, like iron bands,
   And rebellion we'll commit!
   Jiggle her!  Jiggle her!  Jiggle her a bit!
   Such remorse from using force,
   Making Helen have a fit!

Pete (westrider) says:

The last panel in Thursday's Strip is a strong candidate for my favorite in the whole series. I've used Helen's line there a few times myself :)

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: I'm honestly not sure whether the best part is Mell's Wonder Twins line, Artie once again being ridiculously apologetic for any benefit he gains from being a strapping hulk, or Helen trying and failing to retain her madscientist's dignity. They're all awesome.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", The Animals)

Artie, she's not gonna keep the clone!
She'll put him back when he is done!
But some night, when she's in the lab alone,
She might decant him for some fun!

    [CHORUS]
    I thawed him out, just to get back the power!
    I swear, I'll re-freeze him, maybe in an hour!

In the steam-filled tunnels of Red Sector,
He needs an extra pair of hands ...
Helen's friends will try to protect her,
But she's a slave now to her glands!
   [repeat CHORUS]

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