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Smithson Thus Far... ·


And a new storyline officially begins! The title "Everlasting Ices of the North" comes from the final chapter of Frankenstein:

What his feelings were whom I pursued I cannot know. Sometimes, indeed, he left marks in writing on the barks of the trees, or cut in stone, that guided me and instigated my fury. "My reign is not yet over" (these words were legible in one of these inscriptions); "you live, and my power is complete. Follow me; I seek the everlasting ices of the north, where you will feel the misery of cold and frost to which I am impassive. You will find near this place, if you follow not too tardily, a dead hare; eat and be refreshed. Come on, enemy; we have yet to wrestle for our lives; but many hard and miserable hours must you endure until that period shall arrive."

Scoffing devil! Again do I vow vengeance; again do I devote thee, miserable fiend, to torture and death. Never will I give up my search until he or I perish; and then with what ecstasy shall I join my Elizabeth and my departed friends, who even now prepare for me the reward of my tedious toil and horrible pilgrimage!


Dave is wearing an Achewood Great Outdoor Fight T-shirt. I know it looks like his mug is cussing you out, but it's actually trying to advertise Jeff Wells's Tales of the Starbuck Avenger!!!

Just so we're all on the same page, this is a callback to the first Sunday strip (and one of the very few Sunday strips that's in continuity). I forget when I wrote this strip, but it was fairly early. I always liked the idea of Dave and Madblood teaming up.

I came up with "my refrigerator's running and I need help catching it" at the last minute, and it's still one of my favorite things I ever did. Jeff eventually wrote the refrigerator into Skin Horse as a character, which, now that I think about it, is kind of insane.

I wrote this one really early and tweaked the dialogue over the years to match changes in the plot. Remember, Dave still thinks Lovelace was Madblood pretending to be a girl, as opposed to Madblood's computer pretending to be a girl. Which is obviously very different.

SPOILERS: And he does!

This was the last strip I wrote for this week, and I basically wrote it just to fill out the week and add some exposition. That said, Madblood's self-aggrandizing dialogue is never unwelcome. He's such an easy character to write it almost feels like cheating, but what the heck, he's fun.

MORE SPOILERS: On the wall in the first panel is a diagram of the Arctic lair where most of this story arc will take place. Madblood's been working on it for a while. I don't know what the little device under the diagram is, but it's kind of adorable.

Yeah, I draw people drinking out of mugs all wrong. I know.

Apparently Dave joined the henchmen's union represented by Titus Misanthropie back in "Lovelace Affair," because now he's got a card and everything. It's all very professional.

Strangely, this is not the last time Madblood's coffeemaker will figure in the plot.

I'm glad I decided to put a dramatic spotlight between Dave and Madblood in the last panel. It looks very final. Also, Dave is kind of giant compared to Madblood.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "Paperback Writer," The Beatles

Dear Sir or Madam, I just saw your ad
It was in the section for the very bad
I've worked for six years in an evil lab
Now I'm unemployed, but I wanna find a
Job that is evil
Job that is evil!

Was the IT guy for a mad scientist
We were hot and heavy, 'til a clue I missed
I will never find another Helen, true
But I'll work for you, 'cause I need to find a
Job that is evil
Job that is evil!

Evil job want ads!  Want ads!  Want ads!
[Insert evil guitar break]

I can build a death ray or a time machine
I can even keep the workers' lunchroom clean
With microwaves that open Heav'n and Hell
Give a call to Mell, she will say I'd fit a
Job that is evil
Job that is evil!

Classified evil! (Classified evil!)
Classified evil! (Classified evil!)

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

This is the third-last named storyline. Much like Artie, and in a different sense Madblood, we're on top of the world. Everything from now to the end is a long, giddying toboggan ride. Steady our hearts.

Fourth-wall-breaking dialogue sentence speech word text lines: 72.
Rachel S. (masamage) says:

I had no idea where this chapter title came from. Now I am filled with glee and love and delight.

Pete (westrider) says:

I've always thought that "Professor Madblood and the Everlasting Ices of the North" would make an excellent song title. Tried my hand at writing it myself once or twice, but I don't seem to have it yet.

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

Who's that with Artie in the first panel? Looks like... Mell, actually. But that can't be, right?

James Mirkle (jmzlost) says:

I thought Dave's mug was a reference to the old AD&D cartoon.  Wasn't the big bad named "Venger"?  -JMZ

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: Oh. I thought the mug was some kind of boast about his sexual prowess, held over from his relationship with Helen. But that'd be silly. It's not like he was prone to be obnoxious about the fact that he had a girlfriend then, or anything.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Madblood cannot be entirely oblivious as to how utterly humilating this is. Finally, after all these years, his life is literally a joke.

I'm impressed that you managed to take Helen's desperate introduction line and make it work for a proud mad machinist.
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

This strip is absolutely brilliant.  The joke in panel 4 ends up being a perfectly straight line.

Dave, things have changed a lot - you're not backing away slowly.

Pete (westrider) says:

Madblood's last line is one of my favorites in all of Narbonic, too. That's a pretty large collection, tho, you wrote a lot of good ones :)

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "Money for Nothing," Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms, 1985

This is working
This is how you do it
You go to Madblood and you fill his needs
This is working
This is how you do it
Get your money for IT
And no kisses, please

Yeah, this is working
No more poisoned coffee
No swapping genders and no more cosplay
No more "Bye, Dave"
"I am setting you free"
No more sweet lovin', but what the hey

I gotta hack those microwave ovens
Open a port to infini-fini-ty
I gotta catch them refrigerators
I gotta do some evil IT

(confusador) says:

"Jeff eventually [anything at all here], which, now that I think about it, is kind of insane."

I mean, it's hardly the craziest thing he's made you draw, and we love him for it!  I hadn't realized that's the same refrigerator, though.  It just seems like it would be one of the more commonly tinkered with appliances; I'll bet there's more out there.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Given subsequent developments between Dave and Helen, it kind of disturbs me that Madblood greets Dave the same way Helen did.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "I've Just Seen a Face," The Beatles

I once had your face
I can't forget the time or place
It was your moon-base, and I sang along—
Your Battle Anthem—with a throng of you

Before that you took my head,
Removed it from the nutrient bed
Your robot suit was pretty cool
But all that alcohol just made me drool

Yes, you are crazy
And somewhat hazy
It's "Davenport"

But I'm not lazy
So hire me, please, you're
My last resort

Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

ok, so this is evidence of writing genius. But there are counterexamples..

Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

Well done, Kay, well done. There aren't many filks that lodge in my brain for longer than it takes me to read them, but you've written one today.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Dave is careful to keep his business professional. After all, he isn't letting her continue to control his life. And he definitely isn't the sort who is driven to enact insane and terrible retribution, is he?
Pete (westrider) says:

The dialogue in this whole sequence is just great. I always love Dave and Madblood interacting together!

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "Cool," Gwen Stefani

I think that we would be a natural fit
We're both engineers, of a type
I have a gift for evil henching
That's the best fit for my life

And as a tiny part of it
I might enjoy a smidge of sweet revenge
So if I could suddenly loom up before her, cracking wise,
On a gigantic viewscreen . . .
That would be cool, that would be cool

William Tracy (afishionado) says:

"Henching work." Love it.

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

I do like Madblood as a character. Too bad he did nothing else that required an anthem like on Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit, it felt like he made everything obsessively to the last detail, and that mixed with his personality very well.

Ok, now I need to hear the sung version of the anthem again. Where was that mp3?

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "Look for the Union Label," Paula Green and Malcolm Dodds, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union theme, 1975 (I'm a proud former Teamster.)

National Henchman's Union
Your go-to source for the evil and smart
Give us paid death leave
Shop stewards will grieve
If we don't receive
Replacement limbs
And other parts

We work hard
To make you look good
Because without us you clearly would not
So show respect for the Henchman's Union
Because we know how to sabotage your evil plots

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Dave's just trying that thing where you hold the mug onto your face with just suction. Yes, while having a conversation.

Now that I think about it, paid death leave is a pretty swell deal. What if death sticks? Is it paid as a lump sum on return to life, or doled out just often enough to keep the hench's apartment refrigerator on?
David Johnson (authorx) says:

Maybe there's a tiny straw in that mug?

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

@Leon: That suction thing is a neat trick for someone with a full beard.

Dave is talking into his mug to create a dramatic echo effect to his voice.  Also to hide his smirk.  "Sure, I can handle it.  I can blow it up just like I did your moon base.  And yes, I'm familiar with your work.  I've BEEN your work."

Rogue kitchen appliances are indeed a common theme here and in Skin Horse.  Shaenon, how often are you attacked by yours?

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "Shuffle off to Buffalo," Al Dubin and Harry Warren, 42nd Street, 1933

I'll go home and pack my panties

You go home and get your scanties

And we're outta there (Oooooh ooh ooh)
Of we're gonna go now
Building you and Arctic lair

With an AI, name of Lovelace
We will build an evil pow'rbase
In the cold North air (Oooooh ooh ooh)
Of we're gonna go now
Building you and Arctic lair

Someday I will surprise my ex, when
My face pops up out of the blue
Say so cool, "Oh, hi there, Helen,
We rule the world. What's new by you?"

Though I've never smoked an instant
I've the right to light an Winston
Flannel shirts I'll wear (Oooooh ooh ooh)
Of we're gonna go now
Building you and Arctic lair

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Dave telling Madblood "No, never" is a very subtle and poetic shedding of his final vestige of Narbonics Labs. I'm quite impressed.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Madblood trying to look down his nose at a guy several inches taller than him kind of cracks me up.

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