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Smithson Thus Far... ·


That last panel there would be a pretty good time for Dave to get into his convenient backup body.

I wrote this strip fairly early and I've always loved it. This is the spirit I wanted Narbonic to convey. Presumably Mell got the board with a nail in it from the same place she gets mallets.

Helen's right. Making problems is much easier than fixing them. The base probably should've started collapsing sooner than this, but what the hell.

Mell's right. Taking normal precautions is definitely against the mad-science rules.

Also, drawing a half-submerged submarine? HARD.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't tend to draw a lot of dynamic action scenes. But this exploding Arctic base is still pretty darn good. Please enjoy the Walt Simonson/John Workman-inspired KRAKKADOOM sound effect. I was going for something with this level of impact

and frankly, I nailed it.

Helen thinks of Artie as her child, but Artie doesn't return the sentiment. Not at this point, anyway.

Finally tracking down and meeting Helen ends Zeta's arc in this strip. Farewell, Zeta. I never planned for you to be a semi-major character, but you did an admirable job.

Helen still carries the pocket watch she was seen using in the very early Narbonic strips.

joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

I get the feeling Helen is banking on Dave coming back as much out of spite as out of love.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: "Mrmphl!"
Fred Schiff (eldersprig) says:

Reminds me of the Adolescense of P1.  Course Dave's a bit past that point now.

David Blake (vivavi) says:

He'd have to be crazy not to!

...oh, right.

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

Boards with Nails in Them? It's something Toons can just do:

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Silent penultimate panel: 56. Helen is touched that her lab employees / chosen family would readily face the end with her and Dave. It's a dumb trope, but damnit, she can't resist this kind of schmaltz.
joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

I haven't read the archive in a while and I don't remember clearly, but I know at least the first time I read this I was thinking she wanted them gone because her plan to talk Dave down from the edge required them to be alone. Not because it was sexy, but because it might be embarassing for him to have that kind of heart-to-heart in front of other people.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Madblood finds this whole situation tedious.  He's board out of his skull.

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

If Mell was really going to hit Madblood, wouldn't she drive that nail through so the pointed end would be sticking out?

Nick T (dhraak) says:

@samhdaniel And just how do you think she's planning to drive the nail through?


(when all you have is a nail, every problem looks like a hammer)

David Blake (vivavi) says:

Helen's last line is definitely one of my favorites!

David L (fots) says:

"Making problems is much harder than fixing them."  Shaenon, didn't you mean that the other way around? :)

Also, the base collapsing now works fine.  Unless in your mind the base was completely destroyed and then rebuilt to exact same specs anyway (because of this strip (and sorry, don't know the html tag code here):, then the collapsing now works perfectly because of the extra destruction wrecked by Helen and Dave getting it on in Cyber-space (which wouldn't have happened in the other time line). :D

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Train of thought:

- Madblood must have built the base pretty tough.

- How did Madblood build the base, or for that matter his moonbase?

- Wait, he's a roboticist.

- ...But shouldn't there be a fleet of construction robots hanging around somewhere then?

David Blake (vivavi) says:

That's it!  There were repair-bots, and they were in the process of fixing the damage and keeping the walls from collapsing.  But they all shorted out when Helen gave Dave the digital smooch.

Chris Brunner (cjbrunner) says:

Or maybe the robots got tired of Madblood and left.  He can be pretty difficult to be around, even for robots.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Silent penultimate panels: 57. This is a nice moment of quiet victory for Madblood, at the tail end of this mess. All his stuff is routinely smashed at the end of every storyline, but he can undo the murder of his electronic daughter.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Walking In Memphis", Marc Cohn)

Get in the submarine, and
Escape this place!
You're staring at me, unbelievingly,
With a weird look on your face!
Mell, Helen, and Artie,
Don't you look at me that way!
Been thwarted enough that I back up stuff
At the end of every day!

And I'm backing up Lovelace,
Backing up her source code and memories!
Yes, I'm backing up Lovelace ...
It's not against the rules, oh girlfriend please!

Peter Day (newuser) says: The boxes of Lovelace aren't the only backup in this particular strip, of course.
joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

Creating backups is the truest sign that a mad scientist loves his creation, right Helen?

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Backups are so much against Mad Science rules that he'll be banned from future Mad Scientist Symposia and be forced to give back his Von Boom award money.

Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

I'm with joe -- it's pretty sweet (in an 'awww' kind of way) that Madblood thought to keep a backup of Lovelace.

Wayne (wayne) says:

Backups are very important, just ask Mat Honan of Wired Magazine.  I've also been a computer guy for 25+ years, so maybe it's second nature to me.  Even my home system has two backup external drives: one for just my iMac, the other for our laptops.  And I have two sets, one at home and one at the observatory, they're rotated every couple of months.  When I start working again I'm buying a larger RAID system and putting it in a fire-proof cabinet.  And all the backups are encrypted.

No, I'm not paranoid.  Much.

Daniel Ross (nentuaby) says:

Little moments of with-it-ness like this are what make Madblood one of my favorite mad scientist characters.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

(Tune: "Yellow Submarine", John Lennon, Paul McCartney)

In the town where I have worked
Lived a man, mad since his teens,
And he told us of his lair
With his lab in smithereens.

So we teleported north,
Finding Dave in the machine,
And we trashed the Arctic lair
Leaving nought but submarine.

   We all flee in the Madblood submarine,
   Madblood submarine, Madblood submarine.
   We all flee in the Madblood submarine,
   Madblood submarine, Madblood submarine.

All our staffers are aboard,
Lovelace backup disks are next door,
And the lair goes "Krakka-Doom"....

   [repeat Chorus]

(Full speed ahead, Helen Narbon, full speed ahead!
Full speed ahead it is, Wolf!
Load torpedoes! Fire torpedoes!
Ay yi, Mell, ay yi!
Artie! Artie!)

As we plan the next melee (next melee)
Every one of us (every one of us) has all we need (has all we need):
Madness, guns, (heh, heh, heh!) and rivalry (fie on thee!)
In the Madblood (in the Madblood) submarine (submarine. Bwa-ha!).

   [repeat Chorus]
   [repeat Chorus]

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

I wonder if that's an aurora in panel 3, or the crew have decided to sail away into a fantasy novel environment of alien pillars. I'm all for either possibility.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Every time I read this strip, my head plays the music from Star Wars, when Luke torpedoes the first Death Star.  The dramatic horns as they batten the hatches and make it out just ahead of the collapsing roof ... the build-up as the head away ... the explosion ... light tinkly music as the Aurora lights the sky and Madblood says his last line ... then the full orchestra sweeping in as they sail into the distance ...

P. Ipsum (vitupera) says:

Hm, I saw it as the extremely large wave from a very large flying island abruptly losing its adjective.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Helen Beta Ray Narbon?

mickey f (other_mickeyf) says:

The "putt putt putt" is very nice too.

Wayne (wayne) says:

Excellent filk, Tetra!

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

For the third time, Shaenon kills off Dave (the real one).  This time we're not sure (yet) whether he's even started to transfer himself to somewhere else.

@Wayne: Thanks, and no, you're not paranoid until you're doing real-time mirroring to 2 other geographically remote locations and running disaster recovery drills at least monthly.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

This is a sweet episode. It feels like she's had that greeting bottled up for years.
Kether Malkuth (kether) says:

Zeta is one of those characters I would like to see more of. Well, that actually applies to all of the cast, but she has appeared so little...


So... BIG SPOILER two weeks for that big reveal. Will Shaenon finally reveal her name?


David Blake (vivavi) says:


Zeta only realized she had mad science origins a few days ago, and it seems like she's already coping with it better than Artie.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"No, Zeta ... I am your mother!"

Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

I suspect that being a gonzo jounalist is good preparation for this sort of thing.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

@Kether: Her first name has been revealed. See the comments for the week of Feb. 6-11, 2006 and the two days prior.

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