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PLOT POINT! PLOT POINT! PLOT POINT!

...What can I say? I needed to get in some information about the forcefield. This will all be on the final test.

I like the strips where Lovelace is just floating around like this. I had to bring her down to earth for a lot of panels so she could talk face-to-face with the other characters.

Dave really doesn't need to apologize; he did the best he could, under the circumstances. He's a good guy to a fault sometimes. And other times not.

Lovelace's little digital fuzz effect is just a Photoshop job. I thought of it at the last minute as I was scanning these strips, because I worried that she looked too solid to be a hologram.

Her waist is crazy tiny in these panels, but she's based on Bettie Page, and Bettie Page had a teeny waist. Round hips, narrow waist, chest that's more ribcage than boobs; that's the Bettie Page silhouette. My bigger concern, when I was drawing her, was that her bangs hide her eyebrows, making it hard for her to emote. Yinz know I like to draw crazy eyebrows.

Lovelace's software can't leave the Arctic base. At least not at the moment. THIS WILL BE ON THE TEST.

Seriously, it was tricky setting all these little plot details up in a non-intrusive way. This whole final arc has a lot more plotting than most Narbonic storylines, which, for all the clever foreshadowing and whatnot, generally boil down to everyone running around until stuff gets blowed up real good. Admittedly SPOILERS, this storyline isn't all that different, but there's more attention to detail.

Also check out my fairly lazy exterior shot in the first panel. Sometimes the dialogue balloons are too big, and also drawing is hard. I like the little greenhouse area, though.

The backgrounds in Madblood's base are based on Ozymandias's Arctic base in Watchmen. Hence stuff like the greenhouse and, in tomorrow's strip, the giant bank of TV screens. Even by the standards of Narbonic, this storyline is heavy on the oblique pop-cultural references.

Dave's line in the second panel is the biggest understatement in the history of all understatement. He has no idea.

I wrote this strip pretty early on. As soon as I had the idea of Dave and Madblood working together, I had to make them have conversations like this. Madblood is secretly very insecure, which is cute in the brief moments between bombastic self-aggrandizement.

Okay, so sometimes I just don't feel like drawing steps properly.

I wrote this strip super early. It was in my big folder of thumbnails for years. Dave describing a woman as tasting "kind of like a Slim Jim" may be the most perfectly Dave line in all of Narbonic.

The idea of Helen smelling like strawberries is a very small, very oblique tribute to Stephen Ratliff's classic "Star Trek" fanfics featuring courageous yet psychopathic tween heroine Marissa Amber Flores Picard. Marissa is really into strawberries.

33 comments:
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: "My eyes are WAY up here."
(confusador) says:

Dave's panicked expression in the last panel really sells this one.  Also, one day I'm going to build a viewscreen that looks just like that.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

I like that those wireframes have some coincidental similarity with Dave's plaid attire.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Too bad I just used "And I Love Her" ... I could have filked "And I Hover ..."   (also, I'm late for work right now).

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: I like Floaty Lovelace, too. Reminds me of Lum from Urusei Yatsura.
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Ed, I'm not late for work
tune: "And I Love Her," The Beatles

Dave, won't you talk to me?
Why be so shy?
There's no more mystery
I'm an AI
And I hover

Our online chats were blind
No face-to-face
Now you are here, and I'm
Still your Lovelace
And I hover

Oh, please accept
Me as I am
A hologram
Based on Connelly

At the Symposium
Meet you I could not
But look what I've become!
I'm totally hot
And I hover

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Okay, I'm going to try to fill in for Ed here, and I don't care what song he's just used.  (This'll teach him to take the day off....)


I show my hologram
That's all I do
And if you saw my gam
You'd ogle too.
I hover.

He looks at everything
And eagerly.
The look my henchman makes
He makes at me
As I hover.

A look like his
Would never fly
As long as I
Hover near him.

If I'm high in the air
This skirt does rise.
I want this guy to stare
Into my eyes
As I hover.

So I can talk to Dave
Just face to face
My hologram's light wave
Stays low in space
As I hover.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Unforgettable", Nat King Cole)

So insensitve ... that's what I was!
No defense I'll give ... simply because,
With a girl that's skilled at killin' you,
Empathy she will instill in you!
You will learn fast,
Else you won't last!

You're a hologram, pure CGI ...
Dumb is what I am, 'cause I'm a guy!
Now together we've been sent to live ...
All this pain, I never meant to give ...
Just 'cause I am so insensitive, too!

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

At least Lovelace doesn't actually need to be able to fit internal organs in there.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Your Scully eyeroll is great, but your Lovelace eyeroll is up there, too, and I can't say I blame her.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: The explosions are also more detailed. And the details are more explody.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

The greenhouse feels very Watchmen-esque. It's funny - for all Madblood's aspirations, his bases aren't particularly replete with the trappings of wealth and kingliness. Maybe that's more to do with the limits of our author's hands rather than his budget or sense of taste.

Even Lovelace's "only the one projector" line turns out to be somewhat portentious.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

So if Lovelace had a twin, she'd be named Grace Hopper and look like Sigourney Weaver from "Galaxy Quest"?

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

My parakeet is named Grace Hopper.

That is all.
Wayne (wayne) says:

I had an opportunity to attend a talk by Admiral Hopper, unfortunately I got sick and could not attend.  I am one of those incredibly strange people who still advocate that COBOL is a great language, even though I've only written one production program post-school.

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: Has your parakeet ever pulled a moth out of a relay and introduced a whole new term to the lexicon?
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

You have a parakeet and a cat?  Well, no wonder Andrew wrote a book on Looney Toons!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Shaenon:  I knew that, I read your blog.  Your parakeet is cuter than Sigourney Weaver.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Having a hot woman lust after one's body changes a man forever. 

By "all around", Dave means, "of both sexes".

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Grease", written by Barry Gibb, sung by Frankie Valli)

Now Dave is saying to the hologram,
"Back then, I couldn't see
How great a lover I am!"
Now he's relaxed around a woman, because
He knows exactly how
To best describe what he does ...
"Beast" is the word!

With women, Dave was such a total bust ...
Then he and Helen kissed,
And they fell quickly in lust!
They did the nasty fifty different ways!
Now Dave is searchng for
The one most accurate phrase ...
"Beast" is the word!

    "Beast" is the word that the nerd has inferred,
    He's a stud, he's a madman!
    Beast of the type, that's the best, without hype,
    So much sex he has had, man!


    Beast as a man or a woman,
    Bottom or top,
    Pausing, resuming,
    Crazy, they wouldn't stop!

Now after having intercourse and such,
Our Dave has confidence!
(Perhaps a little too much!)
Now he can say, without hyperbole,
"There is no other nerd
Who's quite as manly as me!"
"Beast" is the word!
    ("Beast" is the word, is the word, is the word ...)

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Dave still being completely bewildered by his own unearthed sexuality is always cute.
Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

Regarding the first sentence in the second panel: you have no idea, man.

Will Knight (waknight) says:

This is a rather comic (and more specific) manifestation of my favorite thing about Dave's arc in Narbonic -- his maturation from put-upon nerd to self-confident, assertive nerd, a change that began long before in goinked Helen.  Dave's development into a more well-rounded (he is no longer the sum of his fandoms), better spoken and in general more -adult- person mirrors what I suspect a lot of geeks/nerds/whathaveyous go through after (or sometimes during) college.  It's refreshing to see it mirrored faithfully (if much more entertainingly) here, rather than just seeing more lazy jokes and tropes recycled from 80's movies.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Poor Lovelace and her lack of non-evil options to place her trust in.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

The phrase, "ickiest pit of Hades" is so totally Helen.  I would have said, "$#%&@ piece of ^%#@^*  *#*#*-gargling *@##$", but that's just me.

chic geek (chicgeek1) says:

Okay, Madblood is just adorable here.

But it's probably a good thing that Dave didn't get a reference from Helen for this job.

Helen:"Competent programmer, can handle evil coffee, budding mad scientist, and great in the sack."

Madblood: "......"

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: "Secretly"?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

I didn't expect Dave's fourth-wall-break (#73) to crack me up as much as it did. The best thing is, this is basically him privately lording it over his past self's mindset of Helen. It's a personal victory.
Thomas Levy (ergonomytch) says:

Sorry madblood, your "romance" was an excellent attempt, but your diction will never be as fabulous as Mustachio's.

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

I always thought that was a conveyor belt, rather than stairs.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "You Don't Mess Around With Jim", Jim Croce)

Classrooms have professors ...
Trees have birds and squirrels ...
North Pole hideout has Lupin Madblood
Who's a failure at getting girls!

You hear him saying to his brand-new henchman,
"You know nothing of romance1"
And when they talk of Helen,
Betcha Dave is never tellin'
How they went and did the "Dance
With No Pants"!

   REFRAIN:
      So just smell her strawberry hair!
      Run your hands over her limbs!
      Then her cry seraphic is like rush-hour traffic,
      And she tastes just like Slim Jims!

Glen (snelg) says:

Ah, Stephen Ratlliff. I have fond(?) memories of MSTed versions of his oeuvre. Google was able to dig up my favorite short mashup from that bygone era:

http://home.ix.netcom.com/~mblackwl/fanfic.txt

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

All these years, I've been trying to figure out how those stairs worked, what kind of object they could possibly represent in a three-dimensional universe, and now I find out that it's just the artist being lazy.

It had never occurred to me that the strawberries might be a reference to Marissa or anything. I just kind of figured it was obvious that Helen would use strawberry shampoo. The pink and all, y'know.

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