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The woman on the left is Sarah, Dave's college girlfriend, briefly glimpsed in this ancient week of strips. She's a microbiologist. Way early on, I planned a storyline in which she featured prominently, but I ended up cutting it, so this is her only in-person appearance.

The woman on the right is based on Wednesday White of Websnark. I don't know if Wednesday ever knew that.

"Arthur" is, of course, not especially excited one way or the other about hanging out with lovely ladies.

It may seem weird for Artie to express surprise that there aren't any mad scientists around, but you have to remember that he's always been surrounded by them. He's not accustomed to a mad-scienceless environment.

Huh. My spellcheck recognizes "mad-scienceless."

My gayest strip that doesn't have dudes kissing in it! I was worried about using language this frank, but I thought that was the way Zeta would talk.

By "types," Artie was thinking more of the age and gender makeup of the island, and also the lack of mad geniuses (which, again, Artie thinks of as a weird thing, even though it's really not).

I was seriously drawing hands way too big at this point.

This strip came out looking pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Those extreme close-ups of Zeta's face are hard to do well in my not-especially-detailed style. Artie climbing out the window is also good. He is very mysterious!

Artie's little house was ridiculously hard to draw. In fact, this entire strip was hard to draw, and I know that's pathetic. I'm not good at backgrounds.

I always get kind of worried when I draw strips like this, which feature something completely made-up, because what if people can't tell what it is? Maybe it just looks like visual gibberish. But looking at it now, I believe I drew the best hamster-constructed cryonic storage unit/power source/doomsday device I could possibly draw.

35 comments:
Eric Burns (ericburns) says: DUDE. I don't know if Weds knew, but I sure as anything didn't! Yay! She made the floating island!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

It's perfectly reasonable for any fictional character to assume a female-dominant gender ratio among guests at a mysterious function is a red flag for serial-killer-level malevolence. Which, in this case, turns out to be a drastic underestimate.

Another red flag, might I add, is pointy arched doors. A good sign of the sort of raging megalomania that would abandon the tried-and-true rectangle for an attention-seeking future-gothic design that doesn't even have good hinges. (At least, that's what my familiarity with mad-science architecture leads me to believe.)
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Best pointy doors:  "Oh, my poor Krell!"

 

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

@Leon: Except, maybe, a seminar on breast cancer or something like that. Then a female-dominant gender ratio among guests does make sense.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

That flashback highlights an ironic twist:  Sarah goes from fighting the misuse of science by evil geneticists to joining the products of evil geneticists and becoming part of their misuse of science.

That's clever of Artie to change the subject and evade the question.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: "But I don't want to go among mad scientists." "We're all mad scientists here."
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@DVD: How spoileriffic!

(TUNE: "Lucretia MacEvil", Blood Sweat & Tears)

That genius is evil!
It's in her genetic code!
That genius is evil!
Made those gerbils that explode!

Half-genius, half-meanness,
Hamsters reject!
Though Artie's so smart, he
Didn't expect
Dissing those brains she had,
Just because she's bad!

Mark Chapman (aardvark86) says:

Huh. My spellcheck recognizes "mad-scienceless."

... and this surprises you why, precisely?

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Given the hamsters' objective, one would think that the evil would give Dana's device an extra jolt.  The real reason for not having mad scientists there must be that they consider it competition and are good at spotting plots.  Artie, of course, considers mad science an achievement rather than a scourge.

It seems likely that Sarah would be thinking of Dr. Narbon.  She would be more familiar with the latter's work.

@Shaenon:  Your spellchecker is the product of mad computer science.

Jon W. (kd7sov) says:

I dunno, Dr. Narbon never seemed as gerbil-focused as Beta. Which isn't to say she couldn't do swarms of exploding gerbils, but they don't seem like her style - whereas they do seem like the style of Artie's creator.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

"Shoulda locked your window, chief."

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Yesterday", The Beatles)

Just one gay ...
Artie's just now finding out today
There is no one here with whom to play ...
There's lots of straights, but just one gay!

Girls and guys,
One of each go off and fraternize!
On this million-dollar rock that flies,
There's just one gay ...
That's some surprise!

    All ... the ...
    Folks you see,
    Put Tab "B"
    Into Slot "A"!
    Ar-tie ...
    Can't get dates!
    Lots of straights,
    But just one gay!

Q. Pheevr (q-pheevr) says:

I, for one, would welcome a scathingly wry essay by David Sedaris on our rodent overlords.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Ed, that's as good as a scathingly wry essay by David Sedaris on our rodent overlords.  Also, if you're going to have just one gay, Artie is the one to have.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Artie is terribly mysterious.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Comic strips don't often have spare moments to dedicate to closeups of faces, which is a bit of a shame.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

I always, always liked Zeta's double-take in this one.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: And she's already noticed an odd sense of connection with Artie.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Now if he'd said "...the same things from us..." that would have really given things away.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I don't think the hamsters wanted Zeta at all, actually. She (and Foot) just came as a package deal with ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST.

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

@John: Had they known she was a rodent, however, I think they would have invited her to join.

Ebony Sable (ebonysable) says:

The backgrounds look good to me, but then again, I'm really terrible at backgrounds.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

It could have been worse, you could have put checkered wallpaper in the room.  Nobody likes background checks.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

I blame the hamsters and their strange architecture that doesn't involve straight lines.   You're drawing some pretty good backgrounds for Skin Horse.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Don't be silly, Artie. Your birthday is in January.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

For a superintelligent gerbil who could anticipate exactly what Dave and Helen were going to say and who knew punchlines a week in advance, it sure took Artie long enough to figure out what the hamsters were up to.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Panel 4 is the most adorable drawing of Artie—gerbil or human—in all ofNarbonic.  It's the perfectly rueful face, but also the squee-inducing feet.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

VMMM works decently as a classic overwrought scare chord, but I nonetheless feel that this sweet full-panel reveal deserves to be entirely unobstructed.

This kind of sci-fi imagery is so ubiquitous as to have a TVT page, so you needn't have doubted the clarity of your work.

The woman silhouette in the front-right jar looks unintentionally like a furry. I say that only with the utmost approval.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Oh, it's very good. The human silhouettes in the jars really make it - they provide a cue to the scale.

Sean Kinlin (seaking) says:

Leon: Hmm, I hadn't thought of that as a scare chord, but as a sound effect - the hum of the machinery. 

John Ames (commodorejohn) says:

@Leon Arnott: Glad I'm not the only one who saw the kemonomimi there. I suppose she could be another non-mad-genius genius product of mad genius, but one would think Artie would notice that sort of thing.

@Sean Kinlin: No reason it can't be both! 's long as it's got a nice minor third harmonic in that hum...

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

@Leon:  Catwoman adds a lot of energy to the device.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I've gotta say, it's by far the best-looking hamster-constructed cryonic storage unit/power source/doomsday device I've ever seen.

Curse you, Leon. I hadn't seen a catgirl before, and now I can't stop seeing it.

I think there's a dwarf in the jar on the right.

Matthew Mather (madtinkerer) says:

"because what if people can't tell what it is"

Well let's see:

1) Lots and lots of people in People Jars

2) A huge MacGuffin in the center of the room.

3) Said MacGuffin is made by hamsters which we know are up to no good.

We don't need to know what the machine actually does. Just that third panel by itself is one of the biggest "shit just got real" moments in Narbonic.

Chris (khade) says:

And it leads to the highly amusing 'naked lauriats and other assorted intellectuals' scene.

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