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Smithson Thus Far... ·

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: BATTLEBOTS! (Which are coming to ESPN or ESPN2 soon, BTW, with new rules that will keep wedges from dominating.)
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:
I swear I read that as "...will keep wedgies from dominating." Which I bet is an ongoing concern for a lot of people involved in Battlebots.
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says: man (real) robots freak me out man. at least when i think of them, coupled with our new small acurate senseing devices, and FPS AI programing advances...
D. Connolly (theogrin) says:

Wh---why do I get the sneaking suspicion that these robots are making their 'toys' out of...papercraft?

Anything else would probably be a case of - if you'll pardon the use - cannibalizing parts...

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

OK, have I got this right.  The li'l "woot!" guy in the last panel was the pilot of the biplane, and he's celebrating the fact that he stayed in the air for .015 seconds?

And will he celebrate by painting a little leg in a fishnet stocking on the side of his aircraft?  He could become a spokesman for Nehi, then.

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says: Ed, you have correctly apprehended this complicated bit of cartoon choreography.  Shaenon began hating me the moment I asked her to draw a castle made of office supplies, and my request that she draw in a single panel "a robot piloting a flying machine running over Tip's foot and then crashing into the wall" most likely only cemented this.
Rob (acoustic_rob) says:

Is it just me, or do these killer robots slightly resemble Phil Foglio's Law Machines?

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Ed: I thought he was celebrating that Tip stayed in the air for .15 seconds....
kelly snedeker (telluride) says: LOVE IT! robots and aviation can't get better than this.
Jane Narbon (lady_madsci) says: Oh, no! Battlebots!


The Mad Scientist Wars:

Now in So It Begins's lair. Have been unbound. Now, where did I put those slap patches?
Pete (westrider) says: So, uh, what's up with the two pairs of glasses?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says:

Well, I finally made good on my threat to start my own free forum. Comics by Shaenon II (it includes The Mad Scientist Wars) is open!

The forum can be found at:

I hope all of you can join!

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

Wonderful, So It Begins.  (May I call you "So"?)  Thanks for setting that up.

All right, I hereby encourage every one of you to pick a forum, cling to it with near-religious tenacity and spend all your time dissing the guys on that OTHER forum.  Because, AWESOME.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Pete: It's the UV room, so Tip's wearing (briefly) UV-blocking shades.
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says: Ok, so we have Italian Silverfish, Amish Centipedes, and now Barnstorming Robots?  Or are they 0r-Vi11e and Wi11-BUR?
Ryan Boes (thatguy) says:

I have joined forum II so...

All you forum I users are just stuck in the past and your site takes forever to load.

 Te he he  =P

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says: That's the spirit, Ryan.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says:

This is just getting wierder, and wierder, and wierder.

prof_tinker: Have you signed up for my forum yet? It doesn't take as long as registration for The Nice does.

David Toboz: Where the heck are you?! I've been waiting for you to post for days now!

Finally, don't forget: The Mad Scientist Wars is moving to .

Now, the Mad Wars:

Whoa! What are all those creatures coming from Jane Narbon's lair? And they're heading towards mine. Hmm... they don't look particularly friendly. 

I know! Prime, deploy the M.A.R.I.O.!

Soon, the area outside my lair is a scene of squished animals, as my newest robot creation, the M.A.R.I.O., jumps all over them. I'm getting a higher score than ever before! 

Now, once--


What is that thing? It looks like a cross between a dog, a turtle, a porcupine, and a dragon. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was supposed to be

*the M.A.R.I.O. neatly dodges a jet of flame from the monster*


Here goes...

Jane Narbon (lady_madsci) says: While SoItBegins is trying to destroy the huge monster that Professor Tinker sent, I'm trying to sneak up on him. It's not easy, since the lab isn't particularly organized (and the floor is used as a filing space).

Eventually, however, I manage to get right up behind him. Now, I know I had a sedative patch hidden somewhere on me.. Aha!

Wait, this one's been used. Too many enemies, not enough time for replacing stuff. Fortunately, I can also knock SoItBegins out the same way I knocked out Professor Tinker.

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

So at this point, it looks like the Death Robots wouldn't be any better as friends to the centipedes instead of enemies. For all we know, the robots were trying to be friendly when they skooshed the centipedes.

I notice that each new "race" is bigger than the last. It won't be long until Tip is talking to farm tractors. Where will it all end? With Tip as the Lawrence of Arabia of talking bugs and 'bots?


Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: Panel 3:  nnnNNNEEER disaster.
David Toboz (professor_zobot) says: it weird that I want a plush MedUnit #1 for my very own?

And I just have to say that I'm hoping the next species on the chain is some kind of sentient energy being or something.

 Insanity Conflicts: (Reposted here until Prof. Tinker registers on the new forum. Sorry about disappearing like that, guys. I have had a bad couple of days, and it won't happen again.)

My lab invaded, and left trashed. My potential ally kidnapped right beneath my nose...and on top of it all, he had to imply that I would try something HEROIC.

That's it then. So It Begins must pay for his arrogance. I mean, yeah, I DID technically have him killed, and Miss Narbon did do the deed, but it's not like he had to take it personally. We're mad scientists. Anyone of us worth his/her salt should be able to cheat death a couple of times. I suppose I should also render some aid to Miss Narbon as well. It wouldn't do to leave an ally in danger like that. But before anything else, I must repair the damage done to my lab by all this tomfoolery!

Well, that took longer than I expected. Hmm... according to the bugs remaining around SiB's lab there's quite the fracas going on outside. (I'm not going to pretend that I didn't lose any, but I've always found it a lot easier to spy on people when they think they've already disposed of a spy or three. It makes them think they're no longer being watched.) Hmm...are those mutant monsters going up against some odd plumber-ish thing? How...mad.

Well, my next course of action seems clear. I'll send out a platoon of Zobots to SiB's lab with express orders to find and rescue Miss Jane Narbon, (as well as to try and destroy anything that stands in their way.) and in the meantime, I'll work on finishing and boosting the power of my orbital laser pointer, so I can fling it into space and vaporize SiB's lab and everything in it in an expanding column of intense focused energy! With my genius, it should only take an hour or so...

I wish I had time to come up with something a bit more original, but it's all happening so fast, I'm forced to employ more traditional mad scientist tactics. Hopefully the Zobots will manage to accomplish something useful, but they'll be up against another mad scientist with little to no backup. It'll be amazing if one of them survives. However, they should buy Jane Narbon some time.

"Zobots! I command you! Go and recover Miss Narbon, as well as shredding any other puny biological life forms that get in your path! And STOP SINGING SONGS FROM CATS!"
Mikhail Borg (mikhailborg) says:

I was on an authors / writers convention panel with Ursula Vernon this weekend; I dressed as Tip for the evening, in something sleeveless, floor-length, and purple. The arm and leg hair was authentic, even if the beard wasn't; nevertheless, I think it was good promotion for the comic.

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says: Thank you, Mikhail, for taking one for the team!
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says: This one made me fall over laughing.  I wonder if any of them escaped from Helen and Dave's Daughter?
Incog Neato (ghede) says:


... THAT has to be uncomfortable. Spiky claws. Spiky claws.

Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says: wow. petaluma. my old stomping grouds. petaluma has produced it's fair share of misfit children. if my memory serves.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says:

The offspring of Helen and Dave strikes again!

Hey, waitaminnit. Would Helen & Dave's kid be named Jane, by any chance?

To All: Have you taken a look at Comics by Shaenon II?

To prof_tinker: The sooner you register, the sooner we can move the Mad Scientist Wars over.

'Tis a Tsar Chewed Mints: 

 Ohowwww! That hurt! Good thing I was wearing my special gaming helmet. I whirl, and sure enough, Miss Narbon's right behind me. She looks quite innocent, standing there, but for the fact that you can see the iron pipe she's trying to hide behind her back.

Now what should I-- uh-oh... looks like I just got to play the Zobot Bonus Round of Super M.A.R.I.O. Hmmm...

Prime, politely restrain Miss Narbon.

Now, back to the ga--AWW...
There goes the M.A.R.I.O.! Luckily, I made a spare, but still, it's quite a loss. No matter right now, though-- Prime, launch the L.U.I.G.I.!

Jack Charos (jackofchaos) says: Misfit toys? As in 'the island of misfit toys?'
Jane Narbon (lady_madsci) says: So there's a Bureau of Misfit Toys now?! What's next, a Clerk of the Clerk of Clerks?

@soitbegins: Don't even think that.


Madsci Warrs:

Ok, NOW what? I'm being politely restrained, I'm fresh out of-- wait, what was that? Sounded like a buzzsaw...

(Suddenly, a zobot bursts in through a freshly sawed opening. It severs the energy links holding me, then picks up the iron pipe that I tried to knock SoItBegins out with. It tries the same.)


This time, SIB doesn't even bother to yell. He just picks up his ray gun, turns around, and fires. The zobot dodges and fires back. Soon, it's a full-fledged gun battle, while I'm left unattended in the corner.

I spot a strange-looking ray gun lying on the corner of a desk. It's larger than usual, and it's got an empty glass cylinder on top of it. I pick it up, aim, and fire.

The results are a bit unexpected. Instead of the standard plasma bolt, a contiguous ray of blue-white energy lances out of the gun, to strike SoItBegins square on. His entire body glows for a second, then vanishes. When I look at the glass cylinder on top, I see it now has a miniature SoItBegins inside.

Having triumphed over SoItBegins, I throw the cylinder in the trash bin and accept a ride from the zobot back to David Toboz's lair.

I wonder if Professor Tinker's found the evil popcorn I left for him yet...

Heh heh heh.
Ryan Boes (thatguy) says:

I have drawn a picture of the little robot in an airplane.  You can see it at:

Go look at it now! 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

For those of us who fondly remember Charles Schulz, I can only say ...


David Toboz (professor_zobot) says:

I have 3 things to say:

1) We still have no knowledge that Skin Horse and Narbonic even take place in the same setting. Granted, it's really likely at this point, but I still feel the need to be nerdy and point that out because I'm obsessive like that.

2) Ryan Boes: That's a pretty cool picture!

3) I'd like to encourage fans of Skin Horse and Narbonic to visit So It Begin's fan forum... the url is, as he has already mentioned:

Lifestyles of the Mad and the Evil:

Mwahahahaha! My Orbital Laser Pointer is finished at last! Now I can highlight items during a presentation within 10 nanometers of inaccuracy! Also: it can vaporize things from space!

All I need to do now is find a way to get it in orbit...from my underground lab... that I never built a hanger or launching bay for...

Sigh... well, at least I can go check out how my Zobots are doing. What? They're not dead yet? But those were all version 1.0 models... they're so riddled with bugs that it was just easier to redesign the upgraded versions from scratch! Now that I mention that, it occurs to me that they were probably a poor choice to send to aid Miss Narbon... oh well, I *AM* mad, after all.

Hmm... it looks like my mechanical minions have gotten a bit distracted. Most of them are engaging a bunch of organic mutants outside So it Begin's lab. But did SiB deploy those or someone else? Wait... are they fighting in a garden-scale model of Tokyo? Why would they ever do... oh yes... when monsterous things fight, somehow, a version of Tokyo is ALWAYS destroyed, isn't it?

Oh dear...what's that green plumberish thing hopping towards the Zobot carrying Miss Narbon? Noooo! It leaped on it's head! In the original models, an overly strong jolt to the head activates the musical self-destruct sequence!

*The Zobot carrying Jane Narbon stops singing, and begins to play a faint yet audible version of "Pop goes the Weasel" from it's audio units.*
Mary Potts (queenofcapes) says:

The Bureau of Misfit Toys?!  Is that a Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reigndeer refference? *g*

Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

Brill! I know where my daughter's next toy is coming from, and it's not the trash. 

Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

Good greif, speaking as a former babysitter: Those poor poor bots.

And I'm regestering, alredy. I've been sick. XP

From the desk of Madness:

.. . . . you know, if I wasn't Mad and I wasn't seeing this through my own spy camera, i wouldn't believe what I'm seeing. 

And here I thought a L.U.I.G.I. was purely theoretical? I hope my poor babys can make it  through alright.

And theres something funny about this popcorn i'm eating. . . hey! No butter?! Thats EVIL! Ugh!

Justin Grubbs (the_purple_knight) says:

I'm scared of people who eat metal arms. And why has it not come out of the intestine yet?

Back to my favorite reality:

Hm. looks like there are two places standing. ONe I recognize. ONe I don't. Zombie Ninjas attack the one with the turret. No the other one with a turret. THat's not a cupola, it's a turret. Don't sass me boy, I gave you life and I can take it away. Just go.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:
Ryan: That's adorable! May I run it on a Sunday?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Shaenon: Have you thought about registering for the new forum?
Dov Mittelman (silentspeaker) says:

*The Zobot carrying Jane Narbon stops singing, and begins to play a faint yet audible version of "Pop goes the Weasel" from it's audio units.*


(singing) There's one who came from Place with no Name

And one from Petaluma.

They're misfit toys for misfitty boys:

Robots of doom-a.

Anders Smith (mrsitouh) says:

Poor Tip - you can see the desire to hit bottom warring with the very real possibility that there isn't one all over his face. 

Derek Burrow (bard) says:

This is actually reminding me of that Freakazoid mini-cartoon, "Lord Bravery".  There was an episode that was spent trying to copyright his name by convincing other stores in a chain to change their names so the bake shop named "Lord Bravery's" would change their's.  And each time...a similar problem.

Lord Smoked Meats and Fishes, indeed.

Jack Charos (jackofchaos) says: I was caught off guard the last three times, but cobras can't be cute... can they?
Alycia Shedd (leeshajoy) says:

I was caught off guard the last three times, but cobras can't be cute... can they?

Dude. It's Shaenon. EVERYTHING she draws is cute.

Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says: Given that these are misfit toys, I'd worry more that the Cobras were action figures.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: If I were in Tip's heels, I think this is about the point where I'd hire the centipedes to exterminate the silverfish and call it a day.
NigaiAmai Yume (nigaiamai_yume) says: "There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza..." ^-^
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Did anyone here not see this coming?
Scott Davidson (mrson) says:

I *knew* that this was an RPG style side quest!

 ...At least it's not a fetch quest. You start with: "You must bring us the holy sword of light", and the next guy says: "to give you the sword of light, you must bring us the golden peach"... And a few dozen links down the chain you're asking yourself why you're carrying three elephant minis carved from coprolite and a broken ham radio.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Today on the Mad Scientist Wars:

The Tinkeroopas vs. L.U.I.G.I., the Rescue of Jane Narbon, and What SoItBegins Did Inside The Bottle.

Only on Comics By Shaenon II - !! Visit it today!!
Jane Narbon (lady_madsci) says: ... (blink) (blink)

First silverfish, then centipedes, then misfit toys, now cobras. What's next, goats?!
Owl Who says South (owlsayssouth) says:

First silverfish, then centipedes, then misfit toys, now cobras. What's next, goats?!

Spider goats.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Dammit Martin, ya beat me to it.

Anyway, where did Tip get crutches?  OK, that's today's obligatory band name:  "Doctors on Crutches".

Indigo C (indigo) says:

This has started to  remind me of that episode of Juniper Lee, and all she had to go through to get a smoothie.



David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Well, the stereotypical enemy of a cobra is a mongoose.

Scott:  What you're describing was the original form of a "fool's errand":

It's a medieval winter, everyone's stuck in the castle for months.  People are getting really bored -- including the knights, who you don't want getting too bored, because they're armed and dangerous.  If the lord sees that someone's starting to lose it, he can tell them to ask the castle fool for an errand.  The fool, of course, has been very busy, and had had plenty of chances to make arangements with folks scattered around the castle....


Rasteen Nowroozi (herandar) says: How exactly does a cobra consume killer robots? I would think that they are indigestible.
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:


Take that Mr. 'Cobras can't be cute".

Brand Willis (brandyllyn) says:

Surely we end up back at the silverfish when we're done.

Maybe the cobras don't eat them, but dismantle them for parts instead?

Fred (narsham) says: If this continues, the last group of sentient whatsis is going to ask Tip to keep Unity from eating them.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Ooh! I know! Steampunk cobras!
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: I keep expecting him to just give it up, at this point. Eventiually he;s gonna end up going right back into the office. . . .
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Basil, grafting a cute girl onto the snake is cheating. For full credit, you need to show cuteness with just a snake.
D. Connolly (theogrin) says: For the benefit of dvandom:
Alycia Shedd (leeshajoy) says: o/~ She swallowed the dog to catch the cat, she swallowed the cat to catch the bird, she swallowed the bird to catch the spider that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her... o/~
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says:

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly

I don;t know why, she swallowed the fly. . .

Peeeeerhaaaaaps sheeeeeee'll dyyyyeeeeeeee!! 

Incog Neato (ghede) says:

... What kind of cobra could eat a robot?


A metalophage AH-1 Cobra?!?

John Vertical (tropylium) says: Indeed, it's quite reasonable that by death robot standards, the word's basic meaning is "sentient helicopter", not "snake". The mongooses are there just to thro us off track.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"And now, your moment of Zen ..."

(Cut to shot of cobra basking in the sun, with a large bulge in its belly where the death robot has been swallowed.  From the bulge comes the sound of plaintive singing, "Yes, they'll aaaaaaaal coooooome to meet meeeee, in the shaaaaaade of that old ooooooak treeeeeeee ...."

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: What kind of cobra? One with acid in its fangs, not poison.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says:

Today on the Mad Scientist Wars:

Professor Tinker and the Locked Room, the Continuance of SoItBegins's Dire Predicament, and Jane Narbon's Semi-Triumphant Return.

Only on Comics By Shaenon II - !! Visit it today!!


John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Don't worry, Tip. Cobras are fairly easy to defeat in personal combat, as venomous snakes go. They strike straight-bodied from a upright position instead of lunging from a coiled position like most other snakes, which makes them relatively slow and gives them a sharply limited and easily estimated range. If you stay just at the edge of that range, you can taunt them into striking when they can't quite actually reach you, and then just grab them behind the head, putting them entirely at your mercy.
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

But can you do it while using hand puppets?



John Campbell (jcampbel) says: All I can say is: if I were a cobra, and someone waved a therapy puppet at me, I'd try to bite it.
Aaron Shades (prof_tinker) says: . . . . . . . . so, so many questions. Questions that i suspect we shall never truely know.
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says: If one of those questions is "Why is Unity pouring Kerosene out the window" then the answer is "Because."
Incog Neato (ghede) says: Or maybe she really hates the credenza down below.
Zhou Fang (fhnuzoag) says: Because geez, kerosene can't pour itself.
Jane Narbon (lady_madsci) says: ...Kerosene?!
So It Begins (soitbegins) says:

She must have a good reason.


- - - - - 

Today on the Mad Scientist Wars:

David Toboz and the Search Party. Also: the End of SoItBegins?

Only on Comics By Shaenon II - !! Visit it today!!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: I'm disappointed in today's artwork.  Everyone knows that "glup glup" is the sound made by 10W30 motor oil.  Kerosene goes "kadoosh kadoosh".  Honestly, Don Martin must be turning in his grave ...
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Ed:  with a "thwip thwip" sound....
Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

I believe that she is solving Tip's problem.

Brian Rogers (billionsix) says: Question: I notice we have a couple of profiles on the Cast page. But it gives Tip the title of "Doctor"  I thought he only had a Masters in psychology.
Martha Mintz (muffinthamighty) says:

I hadn't looked at the profiles yet.  They're both great, but I can't help but wonder who wrote them?  Who did Unity try to give a "tooth noogie" to?  Gosh.

She's even scarier now what with the potential brain eating. 

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