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Smithson Thus Far... ·


Way back when Dana introduced her idea for the doomsday device, in her first week of strips, it was just an off-the-cuff idea on my part. Not until afterwards did I realize it fit nicely into the climactic story arc. The whole concept of a genius-powered doomsday device went through a lot of permutations. At one point this storyline was set in the Arizona desert for some reason, and Dave's mind set off the device thanks to a brainpower-enhancing formula Helen had developed. This was before I decided Dave should be a latent mad genius. There were a lot of rough drafts on this thing.

It's kind of sad that Artie has finally left his evil laboratory, only to shack up with some folks who are even worse. He has the worst luck sometimes.

That's Andrew and me in the first panel. It's nice that we made the cull, anyway.

Okay, this one still cracks me up. Anything involving Artie's excitement at joining a nonpartisan think tank is hilarious to me, and probably no one else. The truth is, I would be just like Artie here.

Also good: this is an entire week where I didn't have to draw anything but hamsters and gerbils.

I wrote this one early on, probably right after I had the idea of the flying hamster island. I remember it being in my Big Folder of Notebook-Paper Thumbnails for ages. I never thought it was all that funny, but the dialogue is very, very in-character for Artie, especially the annoyed little aside about not being born. I love writing that guy.

I needed to reiterate that ANTONIO SMITH was among the humans on the island, hence the throwaway lines in the first panel. And yes, Artie is getting a look at a naked ANTONIO SMITH, and it isn't even fun.

My main objection to the hamsters' plan is that I'd hate to ruin Madagascar like that. I'm pretty sure I picked Madagascar at least partly to entertain my future collaborator Jeff Wells and his lemur fixation.

I wanted to make it clear that the hamsters are not themselves mad scientists. They're just making ingenious use of mad scientific findings. For whatever reason, it was important to me to establish who was a mad genius and who wasn't. (Mell: not a mad genius. She's just...Mell.)

Also, I just liked Artie's horrified line in the last panel.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

The hamsters' doomsday device is an excellent way of upping the stakes in the forthcoming conflict, and especially of completing Dana's narrative arc, but I feel as if it distracts from the threat Dave himself poses. For the next month, one could assume that this is what causes the near-extinction of humanity in the bad future timeline. When Dave's power finally shows itself, the twist that it is HE who is the perpetrator is a bit easy to lose amidst the ensuing mayhem, especially since the hamsters' island is still well in play at that point.

I shall interpret panel 4 as an indisputable Peanuts reference, for what else to express his anguish. This was his grant money! Those maniacs!
Mark Chapman (aardvark86) says:

I love Hamster #2's goofy grin in the last panel :-)

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Secret Agent Man", Barri & Sloan)

Dear ol' Dana, there was no one mad as ...
Invented a machine, totally badass!
All the world it will devour!
Super-brains provide the power!
We'll rule the world by half-past-ten tomorrow!

Dana's ... Secret Plan!
Dana's ... Secret Plan!
Make a world for genius hamsters,
'Cause we're gonna wipe out Man!

Wayne (wayne) says:

HEY!  There's nothing wrong with the Arizona desert!  I was born in Phoenix, lived there for over four decades, and a good doomesday device test might be exactly what's needed to restore a bit of sanity to their f*ing legislature!  I left and the whole state went to hell.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

That raises the obvious question: When *did* you decide that Dave was a latent mad genius?  The idea is so important to the overall narrative that I thought it - along with what happens to his glasses at the moment be breaks down - was one of the ideas present from the start.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Too bad you chose to make Artie Unitarian, otherwise you could have thrown in something about a "Christian Science Breeding Room".

Q. Pheevr (q-pheevr) says:

If that's Shaenon and Andrew in the first panel, then doesn't that totally contradict Artie's line about "no mad geniuses"? 

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

@Q: No people with the specific condition known as Mad Genius, not geniuses who, y'know, happen to be mad.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Artie is realising to his utmost agony that the "think tank" was actually a gigantic pun all along. The horror... the horror!

The "nonpartisan" line is grand - not only is he discovering that the hamsters really know nothing about politics, but that he deluded himself into believing they did.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

I always, always, always liked the hamsters' explanation for why it IS nonpartisan.


Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

To quote Prof. Tom Lehrer:

"Universal bereavement,
What an inspiring achievement!"

Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says:

I tend to side with the hamsters; their project isn't morally neutral (it's evil) but it is non-partisan.  The thing is, what Artie meant by "non-partisan" was an outfit that didn't use any political labels, but which had outlook, attitudes and goals that coincided with those of the left wing of the Democratic Party.  So, to my way of thinking, he's more deluded (if far less evil) than the hamsters.

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: This is one of the two or three most quintessentially Artie lines in all of Narbonic, and it is excellent.
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Artie has been involved in several human-vs-genetic-modification political activities, so from his viewpoint this really is partisan.

JP Chabot (speedball) says:

Y'know, the hamsters really tick me off way more than any other villain in this entire comic's history.

Reuben Phillips (psychohippie) says:

Second panel: Artie's ears droop as the realization of what he's become a part of hits him.  Subtle but effective touch.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Ed's comment is spot on, and Tom Lehrer's song is so filk-ready that it doesn't even need much tweaking:
tune: "We Will All Go Together When We Go," Tom Lehrer, An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer, 1959

When you win lots of Knipl dough
It is sad to think that sooner or
Later you will give it to a hamster crew
And someday you'll find it tragic
Not to mention other adjec-
Tives, to think of all the evil they will do

But don't you worry
We saved human ripe for breeding
Geniuses we'll be needing
They could not get laid any other way
This handful, we'll allow to live
Such help with doorknobs they will give
In Madagascar they will romp all day

And they will all go together when they go
A nonpartisan fact you need to know
Universal bereavement
An inspiring achievement
Yes, they all will go together when they go

Sandy C. (sabresandy) says:

Bravo! The world needs more Tom Lehrer love. But it's not a proper rendition of We Will All Go Together When We Go without six or seven Limerick-ish verses.


They will all croak together when they croak

Cricetidae will come striding through the smoke

Homo Sapiens be headin'

For a furry Armageddon

Yes, they all will croak together when they croak!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Artie is thoroughly miffed; he says he isn't playing semantic games in panel 2, yet corrects the use of the word 'birth' in panel 3.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I like seeing Artie interacting with people his own scale. He gets a lot of expressiveness this way that's often lost when he's a rodent in human-scale panels and sometimes I only figure out that it isn't Mell's hair talking because the dialogue would be completely out of character for Mell.

Also, looking at panel 1... gerbils are cooler than hamsters because of the tail.

(And because of the Objectivism.)

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

If a craft piloted by gerbils crashes to the ground in flames, will the radio announcer cry out, "Oh, the gerbiliousness!"?

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

"Our creator may have been an evil lunatic, but she was OUR evil lunatic, dammit!"

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

She was Artie's evil lunatic, actually. He should pull rank on the hamsters. He's not very good at the whole, "I am your creator's creator, with Helen's help! YOU MUST OBEY ME! And take suggestions from Helen!" thing, though. (Not that it ever works anyway.)

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

@John: Artie tried exactly that back in the Aug 31, 2005 strip.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Frink frink, ptang, woo!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

These hamsters' goofy insipid smiling only cements the foolishness of their plot.
Chloe Cresswell (chloeraccoon) says:

Davndom: Really? Did you get to see the photographer's photos afterwards too?

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Dr. Smith?  Your dangling modifier is showing.

Jon W. (kd7sov) says:

So... do the hampsters legitimately expect this preserve to stay non-encroaching for long? I mean, I get that they've got weapons and stuff, but when have humans ever stayed where they're put?

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Any idea what's going on over at Skin Horse?  Since Thursday, I keep getting "internal server error," and, even if I can load the strip, I can't load the comments.  Wit is going unappreciated!

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

"There is always an easy solution to every human problem -- neat, plausible, and wrong."  -- H. L. Mencken

joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

I've got this nagging feeling a hamster survived the endgame and either founded or joined and significantly influenced Anasigma.

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Wait, wait... What is the "problem," exactly?
Jon W. (kd7sov) says:

I still disagree that it is, in fact, sanity.

Oh, I'll certainly grant that it's logical, for certain feasible definitions of the term. But it is very excessive and... I'm not sure if this makes sense in words, but it feels like OCD.

Also it has its roots firmly in madness, and the apple can't fall very far from the tree.

chic geek (chicgeek1) says:

I keep getting the internal srver error on skinhorse, too. And I'm with you, dreyfud-a hamster or hamsters have got tro be in anasigma. Perhaps riding in an old Madblood bot in lieu of paper plate and trenchciat.

chic geek (chicgeek1) says:

...could I have any more misspelled words in that? teach me to type with a cat on my lap.

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