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Mell is just saying what I was thinking while writing this storyline. It got harder and harder to keep things funny as the plot got darker and the stakes got higher. That said, I really like this particular strip and its glimpse into Helen's character. And I like getting the story to a point where the characters giving up evil and insanity would definitely not be a happy ending.

I wrote this strip around the time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out, and the otherwise wonderuful Bill Mudron went around the Internet telling all of us what happens to Dumbledore. That was unconscionable.

The eyeball corridor apparently now contains tentacles.

This is one of my all-time favorite Narbonic strips. Especially Helen's pensive face and Mell's thumbs-up. Mell kind of has life figured out.

Helen says here that Dave is smarter than she is, but later on Dave complains that Helen is still smarter than him. So the question of who's smarter is left up in the air, which is for the best. Mell can get them both to do whatever she wants anyway.

I wrote Madblood's speech pretty early on and got attached to it, so this ended up being another strip where the dialogue crowds out the art. What the hell, might as well give Madblood one more chance to be cool. Also, excellent gun with excellent sound effects.

This is a grim strip, but on the plus side, Helen and Mell's polar outfits are adorable. In the first panel, Dave is quoting from Urusei Yatsura's "Slain by Elf," an extremely geeky song by an extremely geeky Scottish indie rock band. Manga editor Carl Horn introduced me to Yatsura.

At the time, I didn't think this strip was funny enough, but I guess it turned out pretty well. Also, Helen has a heart patch on her snowsuit that matches her mittens, which is awesomely ridiculous. I like the idea that she has themed outfits in reserve for any eventuality.

48 comments:
Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

I love the.. downside of sanity.
And the punchline is pretty good, too.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Yeah, Helen, but *that* Dave would not be much fun.  He doesn't want you, period.

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

Those at the edge of the human umbrella feel the rainstorm the most. Who hasn't wanted to shirk from their duty? All that happens in the scenario where Helen takes the Cure though is her creation Dave goes on a nuclear rampage and still converts everything into the Dark World. Only now instead of one last Bwa ha ha she just finds it confusing and sad, if she even survives. If we believe in timeline adaptivity (fate), she still ends up a brain in a jar- which maybe drives her Mad again.

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: 4-v too-Sane!Dave doesn't want Mad!Helen. too-Sane!Dave and too-sane!Helen could have a chance together.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Sane Helen and Sane Dave run off together ... leaving Mell with a base full of weaponry to take on Dave.  Yeah, we're doomed.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Adam: I got the impression, especially from the 4/12/06 strip, that Helen's insanity was only part of the reason for this Dave's lack of interest. Then, of course, there's the issue of his impotence, a side effect that Helen would have to work on were she to go that route.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

A side effect that Helen would probably lose the ability to work on if she gave herself the cure.

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

Ultimately Dave would probably agree he was better off for Helen's meddling. But it's awfully humiliating to be FORCIBLY "embettered" against one's will by another. Bonus points for the Mad + Angry wordplay.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

I find it interesting that the Internet Half-Blood Prince Spoilathon of Aught-Five was split into two groups: people spoiling that "Dumbledore dies", and people spoiling that a specific character kills him. The former may be despicable, but at least, still possessing a single shred of humanity, they held off on that one key detail.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Bad Bad Leroy Brown", Jim Croce)

In the Everlasting Ices
Way up in the Frozen North,
Our buddy Dave has had
A revelation mad,
And his mind is bursting forth!

Yeah, he's totally insane now,
And he's slightly miffed, as well!
And now it's plain to see
He's gonna come for me,
He wants to stomp my butt to hell!

    Yeah, he's mad!  Mad!  Angry too!
    Think of what he will do to you!
    Angry with you and me,
    Like the time we spoiled "Serenity"!

Mason Kramer (masonlk) says:

Are we sure it's the eyeball corridor? Maybe it's the tentacle corridor and the eyeball corridor is down another hall.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

That's a tentacle? I thought Helen's hair was just demonstrating "angry".

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

I wonder if Helen is finally releasing Mell from her internship because she believes on some level that this time she, Helen, really is going to die.

(And why not? Dave is her greatest monster, after all.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

That's the problem with having an Arctic lair ... when it comes to the final showdown, you don't have a mob of villagers with torches and pitchforks storming the place.

I suppose you could have a mob of Inuit storming the base waving snowshoes and electric hand-warmers, but it's just not the same.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Also Mell gets her "coming of age" sorted out before the big showdown... nice pacing!
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

The one who threatens the most mayhem is indeed usually the one who carries the day.

Wayne (wayne) says:

These days I think the Inuits would need Jet Skis.  I don't think it'd be too difficult to configure scabbards for them for the pitch fork, but you might have to substitute tiki torches for the hand-held variety.

I like the visuals forming in my mind...

David Blake (vivavi) says:

Aw, Helen's just getting pre-climactic showdown jitters.  Deep down, she's probably psyched.  Her creation is about to rise up and destory her!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Suspicious Minds", Elvis Presley)

You're lost in your mind!
You won't get out!
You've broken through now to insanity!

You're sensing, somehow,
I must kill you now!
I know you'd do the same for me ...

    You will be lost forever,
    There within your head!
    You may be very clever,
    But you'll soon be dead!

You know that I can't
Skip a chance to rant!
I just can't miss one, it's tradition!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Madblood, again, the only character with a poetic bone in him. His talk of minds "open to the sky", admitting lightning and rain, is only intensified in this episode. Even though this is a very dense arc, this is one of the standout moments.

That being said, the mandatory punchline is actually pretty touching: He's doing this not as an enemy (though Dave is most assuredly his enemy at the moment) but as a colleague. For the first time, he respects Dave as an equal.
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

"Besides, my genre savviness requires me to delay to give him time to finish uploading himself."

Madblood would not make a good Evil Overlord.

Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

I was going to write something but it turns out Leon Arnott already said what I wanted to say.  These final stories are really something.

joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

Madblood is being surprisingly compassionate here. While I believe he is genuinely sympathetic to Dave's condition, I don't think he would be this sincere about it if he had, in his mind, any other choice.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Madblood's got to fill the time it takes for his blaster-flintlock to go through its unnecessarily complicated and lengthy power-up sequence with something. Might as well be florid and bombastic monologuing.

All of which is an indication that he didn't learn a damn thing from his last run-in with Mell.

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Ditto Jacob, but actually it's 4-valent that's said what I wanted to say.
Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

@tetra: After he finished saying "buffering" it was too late, anyway.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

@Rex: But that just meant that the transfer had started.  I'm thinking that it doesn't complete until this strip or possibly panel 1 tomorrow.  (Certainly not past panel 2....)

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

And Mell has missed her big chance.  Way to killsteal, Madblood.

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

Except for that he loses every time, Madblood lives in awesome super-comfy lairs and isn't afraid to take care of business. He's reasonably powerful in his own right- he just doesn't... win proprotionately to that.

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

OH! OH! "If you strike him down, he shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." I can't BELIEVE I almost missed that!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

It makes perfect sense for an energy pistol to have a smoking nozzle. Thinking otherwise would be the epitome of foolishness.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Echoing Madblood's line from a few weeks ago, now Dave's mind is open to the sky as well.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Hep, Helen missed something... but then, so did Madblood. Madblood might have built Lovelace, but then he was physically carrying her CPU around to conventions, He clearly never grasped the true potential of IT -- especially in the throes of madness.
Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

@Shane: You did miss it. You said it after he struck him down.

joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

@Shane: That's pretty much the definition of an ineffective recurring villain, isn't it? I wouldn't mind being a guy who's one of the successful in my field, lives in comfort, and is a pain in my rival's ass, even if I never or rarely actually defeat him.

Joe Glow (joe_glow) says:

@Leon Arnott

It makes perfect sense for an energy pistol to smoke, go "blam blam blam," and never at any point be referred to as an energy pistol?

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

It's drastic enough to kill off such a major character, but has any other work ever done it twice?  (Not that Dave ever really goes away either time.)

@David: Having the CPU present as a stand-alone device was important to the demo.  And the hardware itself was part of the presentation.

Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

Tetra: I make it three times (spoiler alert).

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

@Rex I typed it while you were still reading Panel 1 so it still counts.

il biggo (biggo) says:

"Kinda" .°D

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

This is a tidy explanation: that Dave could build a brain uploader because he had Helen, a biologist, as a subconscious protege.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Helen's stepping in Dave's brain ... well, she's always on his mind.

Sean Kinlin (seaking) says:

Ed, how long have you waited to make that joke?     :)

Mason Kramer (masonlk) says:

"Squik" is the perfect onomatopoeia for this strip.

Derek Burrow (derekthebard) says:

Oh Helen.  You're all heart.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Not funny enough??  Panel 2 has one of the best lines of the entire run.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

@ Ed: Does this mean that the bottom of her boot is the sole of a new machine?

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Poor Madblood. He actually musters the common sense to Just Shoot Him Already, and it's not good enough.

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