D-Con: April 1-6, 2002

I remember this being hard to draw, probably because it included (gasp!) full-length figures and part of a room. Also, there’s way too much text in here, making the art cramped.

The note in the last panel reads, “Dear Chris, I hope you’re reading.” The thing on top of it is an adjustable micropipette. It’s for measuring out very small amounts of liquid, usually in biology lab work.

Helen mentions being 28, indicating that two years have passed in strip time since the beginning of Narbonic.

The best part of this strip is the file cabinet in the first panel with all the drawers labeled “D-D.”

The label on Dr. Narbon’s purse reads “Hazardous Materials.” As you can see, I passed up few opportunities to draw a tentacle coming out of something.

In many ways, Dr. Narbon is a very simple thinker. This may be why she gets along with Mell.

I always enjoy how totally Helen is undone by her mother. And here I found another excuse to draw a Sea Monkeys Ocean Zoo. So hurrah!

The washing-machine-shaped object is a lab centrifuge. I know the ones with exposed spinny arms like you see in the opening of the Ang Lee Hulk movie are cooler-looking, but this is closer to what people actually use for genetics work. Yes, they look kind of boring. (Incidentally, I’m one of three people who liked the Ang Lee Hulk.) See, this is why I made my main scientist a biologist instead of, say, a physicist or an engineer: most biology equipment is really easy to draw. I didn’t sit down and teach myself how to draw complex hardware of any kind until about two weeks ago, and that was just because Jeffrey Wells scripted a bunch of tech stuff into Skin Horse. Jeffrey is mean.

Dr. Narbon really doesn’t do all that much in Narbonic. She mostly just stands around, drinking and chuckling to herself, and lets other people do it for her.

I do love Dr. Narbon.

This is one of my favorite Helen moments, so much so that I was kind of sorry I had to do it with Male Variant Helen rather than Helen Classic. It’s “shooting and biting” that does it for me. Also, if that’s a gerbil inseminator, it’s a pretty boss gerbil inseminator.

46 thoughts on “D-Con: April 1-6, 2002

  1. Ah, this solves the “bring me a beer when I’m already holding a glass of wine” paradox.  Since they wouldn’t let Dr. Narbon bring in her box of wine, she’s just been putting her beer in the wine glass.  When asking for another beer, she was just requesting that her glass be topped off.

    I was about to suggest that her glass was organically fused to her hand, but then it changed hands in today’s last panel.  Another theory invalidated, dagnabbit …

  2. Do the Daves need to file anything under any letter but D? As a records manager, this concerns me. (Well, they must have an N drawer for Helens Narbonic somewhere.) Clearly they need a non-hierarchical function-based filing scheme instead. Which might include a record of what the stripy stuff is in the left-hand test tube.

    All the best people are 28. At least until a week tomorrow.

  3. Monday:

    The second-best part of this strip is that, much like an aged wine, panel 4 becomes significantly funnier if you know what the why is. Curse that dastardly woman! She’s probably doing this on purpose!

  4. Actually, the best part is that the Dave Conspiracy seems to keep their membership records sorted by first name.

  5.    In the case of the Dave Conspiracy, if they file sorted by First Name, Last Name or Last Name, First Name, everything winds up the same. A masterstroke in the history of file systems….

  6. Do scientists ever get tired of being so much cooler than everyone else? Seriously, do they?

  7. And dude, that video was filmed around the Presidio here in SF. Chalk up another victory for California’s burgeoning biotech industry.

  8. Tuesday:

    Helen is having a hard time keeping up to speed here. You wouldn’t think he was the biological equal of that canny woman on the left.

    Nevertheless! With this information, his experiment will begin in earnest.

    Today’s episode rewards the keen of eye. Look on her bag! A Yuk smiley!

  9. (sung to the tune of “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers)

    Kill Dave harder, keep on tryin’!
    Davenport is toast, and he’ll soon be lyin’ down.
    Kill Dave harder, keep on tryin’!
    Davenport is dead, we need more than fryin’
    His brain …

  10. Leon:  Helen is having a hard time keeping up to speed here. You wouldn’t think he was the biological equal of that canny woman on the left.

    Well, no… not since he became male, anyway….  😉


  11. This is a great punchline.  It saddens me that I can’t find more uses for it in my daily life.

  12. You have to remember that Helen Alpha has many more years of evil experience. (Maybe 30-ish?) I’m sure you don’t get to be that evil without a lot of work.

    Still, I think mental_mouse has a point there.

  13. Wednesday:

    Now here’s a conundrum: does Dr. N really know who’s who? That those rose glasses are not just familiar but familial?

    Though, this is how she acts around everybody, isn’t it? Finding points of tension and then cranking them up with her ambiguous, knowing chuckles.

    Heh heh heh: 16.3.

  14. You think you’re safely hid,
    Then you bump into your mom …
    She doesn’t see her kid,
    But she still destroys your calm …

    Because she bugs you!
    And it drives you really mad …
    Oh yeah, she bugs you!
    And you know that you’ve been had!

    She bugs you!
    Heh, heh, heh!
    She bugs you!
    Heh, heh, heh!
    With a mom like that,
    No wonder you went mad!

  15. (sung to the tune of “She Loves You” by The Beatles)

    I have no idea where all these songs are coming from.  I’m scared.

  16. Why, they come from the Song Place!  A magical, mystical land of fire, brimstone, unhinged flesh-eating monsters, and all manner of unholy terrors.  And songs.

  17. Roger Ebert is one of the other two! That right there is good company.

    I haven’t seen either film.

  18. The movie was much better if you read Peter David’s novelization first. There was a lot of stuff Lee had to hint at, since there wasn’t time to spell it out, and it was easy to miss those elements if you didn’t know to look.

  19. The phrase Ang Lee Hulk is giving me visions of a small, Asian film director morphing into a big green monster.

  20. I’m pretty sure Helen Narbon Alpha is, in fact, actually a mad psychologist. I can only dream of being as mindwarping as she someday… 

  21. “Dr. Narbon really doesn’t do all that much in Narbonic. She mostly just stands around, drinking and chuckling to herself, and lets other people do it for her.”


    According to my mom, that describes just about every tenured college professor/researcher she’s ever met.

  22. Friday:

    Q: So why is Dr. Narbon doing this?
    A: Because she loves her daughter.

    …Nope, I still don’t get it.

  23. Because she knows her daughter is smart enough to get out of any trap the Daves would set for her.

    “The Daves are good … but my daughter’s Beta.”

  24. Acually, I think it’s more “crazy evil selfish mad scientist” than “loves her daughter”.

    I mean, sure she loves Beta. But she’s not going to let that STOP her or anything.

  25. If I was as small as a gebil and saw an inseminator as big as the one Helen’s holding….Well, let’s just say “Lawnmower Man”.

  26. I suppose I could come up with lyrics to “Shooting and Biting”, sung to the tune of “Kung Fu Fighting”, but I really loathe that song.

    In spite of the perspective, the gerbil inseminator is not big enough to qualify as a Big Freakin’ ™ gun.

  27. Saturday:

    This is what I call an Action Sequence Catalyst Moment. From here on, fellow reader, you can enjoy lots of running, diving and exploding.

    Helen seems almost, ahem, genre-savvy in realising the inevitable outcome of his infiltration and embracing it as quickly and wildly as possible.

    Fourth-wall dialogue: 25.

  28. Actually, that does look like an average inseminator . . . you just add a teeny-tiny pipette to the end for the little ones.

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