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Smithson Thus Far... ·


Seriously, why didn't I just write "Cal" on Caliban's name tag? That said, this is an excellent strip.

So this week represents a rare appearance of Mell out of uniform. I always put Caliban in these hipster button-down shirts. He's the only character in Narbonic with any kind of fashion sense.

My backgrounds in yesterday's strip were pretty good, but in this strip I kind of gave up and just drew, like, half a fence. Drawing is hard.

Any strip where Mell describes events, from her very special point of view, still has the power to crack me up a little.

This is a silly strip. I just wrote it to fill out the week. Sorry, everyone. I do like the idea of Satan sitting around sulking between evil schemes, though. So there's that.

This whole week of strips was T Campbell's idea. Much earlier in this storyline, he emailed me to say that he felt I hadn't done enough to develop the idea that Helen would be unstable (well, more so than usual) without Dave around, and I needed to dramatize it instead of just having Mell talk about it. He was right! Hence this week.

Also, I drew a great pile of...stuff. Whatever that is that Helen's tearing apart.

The flying pickle people aren't a reference to anything in particular, but they kind of recall the potato people Rimmer rambles about in the episode of "Red Dwarf" where he goes insane and starts wearing a gingham dress and a penguin puppet. That is an excellent episode.

On the night of my first date with Andrew, when he was waiting at a curb for me to show up, a man with a parrot on his shoulder walked up to him and asked him if he knew any good bars. Ever since then, Andrew has wondered how his life would have gone if he'd gone off with that guy instead of waiting for me. This strip is a tribute to the life Andrew never led.

The other good thing about doing this week of strips is that I was able to end it with Helen and Mell rededicating themselves to evil. They needed to get pumped up for the rapidly-approaching dénouement.

The Tick: "This is what we call the dénouement. That's French for 'when we beat up the supervillain.'"

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

To be honest, when I hit panel 3 I was kind of hoping that the ant head dude wouldn't actually be explained in panel 4, and would instead merely imply that breaking up the core characters has undermined the stability of the strip's reality. But this works too.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

And of course, they all became computer programmers, which is how the town got its name.


David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Helen and Mell probably turned the townsfolk into ant-head dudes whether or not they were previously dudes....
joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

See, you all probably think he wants extra sugar because he has an ant head, but what you don't know is he still has his human digestive system and just likes his mochas extra sweet.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

It's always prudent to remain respectfully formal with someone who can summon the Malebrache into *your* bathroom.

@Ed: Careful, or they'll reprogram *your* microwave.  Antdorf, Germany, is more likely, but not many of the residents would wander into a Midwestern coffee shop.  This must be Antigo, Wisconsin.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Mell's baggy white thing has lately been hiding her now substantial arms. That Mell military arc paid off in more ways than just the shirt.

I really hope killing synth-Dave was Mell's idea.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

" ... leaving coffee cups in the sink"?  You mean my wife's been killing me and bringing me back for ten years?  Sheesh, no wonder I can't get any repairs done around the house.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

It's funny because women are evil.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

What shouldn't be missed in this episode is the reveal that Satan works in "evil schemes", as if she's just an extra large version of Helen.

(You know what this means, don't you? That means God, the divine apogee of good, can only be a cosmic simulacrum of ANTONIO SMITH.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Angel Of The Morning", Juice Newton)

When Caliban was down in Hell,
His evil boss would cope with stress ...
Now to his girlfriend, he will tell
The Prince of Darkness was "Princess"!

   A member of the fairer sex ...
   Or could it be, that she's God's ex?

      She's just the devil with the hormones raging ...
      With PMS, she needs some chocolate, pronto!
      She's just the devil with the hormones raging ...
      She didn't meet with Mell ...
      She would have thought she's swell ...

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Wasn't THE evil boss several levels above Caliban?  We never saw the whole org chart.  And yeah, "Duh", indeed.

Matthew Mather (madtinkerer) says:

I originally thought this to be a Casey & Andy reference, though I suppose it could be referring to any number of other webcomics.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

In the story Caliban originally came from, before I put him in Narbonic, Lucifer is a charismatic, hands-on kind of leader, and all the demons in Hell have met her at some point. That said, Caliban has only actually spoken to her once. He's really low on the org chart.
John Ames (commodorejohn) says: What are you talking about, Shaenon, this is a great strip. Particularly because it allows me to posit Satan as God's rebellious teenage daughter.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Aww, Mell went to Hell and didn't even get to meet the Boss? But then, given how she treated God, the Devil had some reason for caution.
Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

@John: I never got why people are so sure rebellion has anything to do with it. I mean, isn't the whole "sinners are punished in hell" absolutely vital to make sure people avoid sinning, and thus making the whole religion work? Sounds like Satan is working to God's favor after all.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Purple People Eater", Sheb Wooley)

Who's there, in her lair, in a pile of junk?
Helen's got the blues, she's in a funk!
"No fun, ev'ryone is abandoning me,
There's just you and the flying pickle people I see!"

You see the
Weird thing, pink-wing, flying little pickle people?
(Weird thing, pink-wing, flying little pickle people)
Weird thing, pink-wing, flying little pickle people
Play harmonicas!

"Why does everybody leave me in the end?
'Cept for Mell, you're swell, you're my only friend!"
Gotta take her arm, get her out of there,
Because I'm saying, time for a little fresh air!

It's time for
Fresh-air, out of there, no more little pickle people!
(Fresh-air, out of there, no more little pickle people)
Fresh-air, out of there, no more little pickle people,
Leave them, just because!

Chris Brunner (cjbrunner) says: If I recall correctly, there were some giant pickle people in a Bloom County strip once.
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

There are many depictions of Helen as psychopathic and evil.  This is the best of the delightful few that show her stark, raving bonkers.

Yesterday Shaenon kindly clarified Caliban's position on the org chart of Hell.  I see in the archives that, several times, she has mentioned Caliban's backstory and the earlier stories which featured him.  [They don't appear to be on the 'Net.  I got lost in the Branch Library of Babel for a while last night.  Said stories may have disappeared with that.]  Now that he's done with his appearances in Narbonic (as drawn by Shaenon, at least), it clearly is high time to make use of all that material!  I would really enjoy an Elizabethan spinoff, but perhaps that's too much work until Skin Horse has finished.  Until then, perhaps we'll simply see one Skin Horse story arc set in Caliban and Seth's apartment?

Rachel (admiralshazbot) says:

I love every word of today's commentary to death.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Helen's prognostications aren't really unique to the mad.

I just love looking at the fantastically drawn parrot-man - the way his eyes line up with the parrot's, and that tiny filament of a line marking the parrot's spot.

Unrelatedly, I'm trying to figure out how to interpret Helen's mouth in panel 2. Is that white inner portion her upper teeth, or what? (Flashbacks to comments threads circa 2008...)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Holding Out For A Hero", Bonnie Tyler)

I was doomed to go insane, I had no choice in that ...
We will see a parrot and a guy in cowboy hat!
I have got a mad brain, gorillas in my skin!
How can I be not insane?  Well, how do I begin?

I need mojitos!  I need another mojito, pickle people demand!
Why is service so slow?  Because I need to know
Why there isn't a drink in my hand?!
I need mojitos!  I need another mojito, pickle people insist!
And my sorrows I'll drown, make my neurons shut down,
'Cause I want to get totally p*ssed!
Royally p*ssed ...

Wayne (wayne) says:

A guy wearing a beret with a parrot on his shoulder walks in to a bar.  Bartender asks, "Where did you get that?"  Parrot replies "France, they're all over the place."

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: And in panel 3, I translate Mel's "Um." as "Do not ask to see the gorillas!"
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Helen temporarily forgetting what dart guns are is a pretty good punchline, albeit a bit easy to miss.

I wonder what sort of world Helen would usher in if she actually created a gun that permanently removes geniuses' brain-powers. Would this gradually lead to mad genius's eradication at the hands of a secret cabal of do-gooders? Would such a hypothetical storyline necessitate a banding-together of perfect enemies in the madsci community to combat this mutual threat in an extremely marketable all-star battle? The sky's the limit on this one.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Mame", Jerry Herman)

What do the madmen not want to be?
What will they be when fighting with me?

I'm feeling full of meanness, and
Inspiration, alcohol, and spite!
I will destroy their genius, and
Make a gun for Mell, to her delight!

A special serum sends all my peers
I've been inspired by eight or nine beers!

I will destroy mad scientists!
I'm the only one that will remain!
I will declare, with fancy "No!"
Back to the lab I'm gonna go,
And make some juice to drive my foe

chic geek (chicgeek1) says:


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