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And the final storyline begins. Where "Madness" was all about Dave letting loose with his mad-science powers, "Genius" is about him learning to channel them toward something meaningful. And what's the point of genius if you can't do that?

Dave has clearly been at this hospice for a while, because the flowers next to his bed are in pretty bad shape.

The thing Mell quotes in the third panel comes from a language generator programmed with a vocabulary of the last words of Dutch Schultz. It was something I'd come across long before and always wanted to use.

I never did figure out how to draw Dave with a full beard.

I wrote this strip several years before it ran, and I had to keep changing the movie that Dave is no longer interested in seeing. I have that problem with Skin Horse now.

Artie basically lives where I live. He's still in Berkeley as of "Skin Horse."

I'm glad I worked in one last chance to draw a "For Better or for Worse" tongue-sticking-out laugh.

Mell is probably the best person for Dave to talk to right now. She doesn't judge.

Helen left the comatose Dave a single rose, a nod to the single rose he gave her on their zoo date in this week of strips. She's the sentimental type.

Hey, it's my birthday! Happy birthday, me!

This was the first strip I wrote featuring the ponytailed blonde girl; her earlier appearances in "Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved" and "The End" were written after this. I'm really happy with the way all of Dave's expressions came out. He looked good in the thumbnail, and he looks good here.

The Tab is a "Back to the Future" reference, of course.

48 comments:
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Dave spends a lot of time in this comic being shouted out of unconsciousness by Mell. This final time is especially picturesque.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: DAVE BEARD. This is an awesome strip.
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Is there any more frightening a sight to wake up to?

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Coincidentally, I had the exact same reaction as Dave when I woke up this morning.  Without the hot girl in my face, though, which is a minus.

Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

Also how I woke up this morning. Except the girl was five years old and landing knees-first on my chest.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Considering all the things that Helen has done to Dave already, I'm surprised that she needed outside help reviving him.  Was there a neurosurgeon named Dr. Lee involved, perhaps?

I also would guess that coverage for a mad scientist's henchman, if available at all, would be outrageously expensive.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

I like this commentary's implication that Dave's computerised mind had to re-learn natural language processing all over again as a result of returning to the brain.

I choose to believe that Dave's semi-conscious homicide attempts all involved pathetically trying to electrocute or levitate her by waving his hands.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

He's even wearing the Official Lab Pajamas.  And yes, beards are hard to draw.

Wayne (wayne) says:

I found a Python program that generates Noam Chomsky text, it made about as much sense.

http://code.activestate.com/recipes/440546-chomsky-random-text-generator/

joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

@Leon: Until you said that, I never realized Mell was implying that he had tried to kill Helen during his coma. I thought she was just referring to his initial rampage.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Leon:  Given Dave's history (and being right out of his ascension to madness), I wouldn't be surprised if he could effectually try to kill her by waving his hands.

Jacob Haller (jwgh) says:

The Seth & Cal story in the most recent CousCous anthology was everything I'd hoped for, btw.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Jacob--I aim to please.
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

"There's something wrong with my Daveness."

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

It's like "Questionable Content", where the characters keep referring to a particular band's latest album that just came out ... except that something that "just came out" a month ago in comic time, is now six years ago in real time.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Looking back at Bayformers, it was just as well.  It'd probably have sent him on another rampage.

Cesario VIola (cesarioviola) says:

Tetra...thank you.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

Part woman.  Part (killing) machine.  Board-certified in ALL specializations.  LAWYERMELL.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

I have nothing to say about this except that it suddenly seems completely ridiculous that Mell's still wearing that goofy shoulderless shirt while simultaneously being a lawyer. Yes, despite her having already worn it for literally half the decade.
joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

Let's see, if Mell started as an intern in May or June after her freshman year, six-and-a-half years later would indeed make it around November of the year she graduated law school. Congrats to Mell for passing it on the first try.

joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

Passing the bar I mean, not law school. November is when the July bar results come back.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Of course Mell got a passing grade on the bar exam.  Despite the fact that "strafe them with machine gun fire" is probably not the correct answer to very many questions on the test, the graders did not want the Law School - or themselves - looking like the Computer Science Dept.

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: I always associated that tongue-sticking-out laugh with Fox Trot rather than FBOW, personally.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Leon-- Lawyers are allowed to dress in a way that is both stylish and comfortable if they so please.
David Blake (vivavi) says:

Awww.  I bet she brought a fresh one every time she visited.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

It's a self-refreshing rose. It's also 99% human DNA. No reason, just showing off.

Dave never did find the "I'm evil" catchphrase to be a valid explanation for anything that ever happened to him. Except now, when it's the only explanation.

OK, I admit it, I'm glad this joke got a follow-up sight-gag punchline, once again during a contemplative moment. I can at times indulge in Mell's brand of brainless vice too.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Big Freakin' (tm) Gun count: 53

Mell not only sticks to her guns, she sticks to everyone else's as well.  Or she's stuck on guns ...

(TUNE: "Fun, Fun, Fun", The Beach Boys)

Well, from the Arctic lair
They all escaped, though it was rather rough now!
And Dave, he gave a scare,
But Helen told him that enough was enough now!
And while they all were there,
Mell, she nicked a bunch of Madblood's stuff now!
And she's got guns, guns, guns,
That nobody's ever taking away!

joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

She's a lawyer now, Ed. You have to put it in a more politic way. Everyone else's guns stick to her. It would be stealing if she took them, but it's not her fault if they just happen to follow her home.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

"That clone" - uh, that's YOU now, Dave, unless this is a totally new body.  If so, it would be the 3rd Dave clone.

Wayne (wayne) says:

Just be careful around the rose on Thursdays, that's its day off and it has been known to eat people then.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Hmm. Dave's glasses go opaque again for a panel as he laments his actions, and then back to clear when he embraces his evil lunaticness.

David Blake (vivavi) says:

Happy birthday!

I love Dave's last line.

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

And many mooooore~!

Marni Rachmiel (marniferous) says:

Happy Birthday!

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Hey, is that—?
James Rice (jhrice) says:

Speedy says happy birthday from Amsterdam.

Joseph Cotton (jcfromnc) says:

Happy Birthday!

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Happy birthday.  To quote Mr. Green, "Buy yourself a cupcake."

A friend just sent me a notice aobut your manga talk at the Berkeley Public Librrary on the 30th.  Sounds fun.

And yay, Rosalind!  Briefly though she appears, she may be my favorite character because of the hope she embodies.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

Ah, birthday greetings from me too. It seems almost everyone I admire is a May baby...
joe dreyfuss (jdreyfuss) says:

Happy birthday, Shaenon, from one Northeast Ohio expat to another.

 

How can she get a Tab? She hasn't ordered anything. She should get a Pepsi Free instead.

Wayne (wayne) says:

HBD, Shaenon!  I'm a Phoenix ex-pat, but my wife is an Ohioan: born in Dayton and grew up in Oberlin, where we were married.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Happy Birthday, artist Shaenon!
Yeah, you're older.  Stop complainin'!
As my dad says, "While you live,
It beats the alternative!"

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

Happy birthday, Shaenon!

Also, hi Rosalind.

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Happy birthday to you!
Cheer the day you were new.
May you have a fun party
And nice gifts from Andrew.

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

Happy Birthday, Shaenon! And May the Fourth be with you!

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Rosalind gets the best line in all of Narbonic in a few days here.

Ruben Krasnopolsky (ruben) says:

Happy birthday, Shaenon!

¡Y que cumplas muchos más!

I like that in the second panel, Dave hesitatingly admits that they were in love...

chic geek (chicgeek1) says:

Happy Birthday!

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