So here’s Artie’s human form, which Andrew insists on calling “Man-Artie.” I wasn’t very good at drawing him yet, which is funny, because I’d been practicing for years. Originally his appearance was based loosely on my friend, cartoonist Keith Knight, and you can tell how long ago that was because it was back when Keith still had dreadlocks. The design changed a lot over time.
By the time this strip ran, Human!Artie had already appeared, under an assumed name, in the first Li’l Mell storyline, drawn first by Vera Brosgol and then by Bill Mudron. When people in the Li’l Mell comments started saying that he was hot, I realized that absurd good looks should be part of Artie’s human presentation package. It just got more exaggerated over time.
I never told Vera that the guy she was drawing was Artie. I did tell Bill after the storyline was over. I didn’t tell anyone else, but one day I was doodling Man-Artie in my notebook and Andrew leaned over my shoulder and said, “That’s Artie, isn’t it?”
And yes, Artie is six and a half feet tall. He’s a big guy. This is one of the few times in Narbonic he doesn’t use metric measurements; usually he converts everything to metric in his head, one of his countless minor annoying know-it-all habits.
I wrote this strip really early in the run of Narbonic, after reading Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses. You can tell it’s early because Artie is uncharacteristically snarky.
I drew Artie with dot eyes like this for a while to make them look like his gerbil eyes, but later I gave up and gave him eyes like the other characters have. The characters whose eyes aren’t constantly hidden behind glasses, anyway.
Artie of course quotes Kafka’s Metamorphosis, because that’s the kind of thing he does. There are a few different English translations of the famous first sentence, so I just went with the one I liked best.
The whole concept here is bizarre, but it still puts a smile on my face. I probably went with Ted Koppel because Bloom Country always used to use newscasters’ names as punchlines.
I’m sorry, but Dave describing himself as having “frankly raging heterosexuality” never fails to crack me up, even if it’s true. This storyline is so great.
In a later strip, Mell also expresses bafflement that Helen designed a body with sex appeal. Helen doesn’t strike people as having frankly raging heterosexuality. I had the idea that Helen would be at the peak of her sexual frustration at this point, having gone five years without getting to goink Dave even once, and it comes out in her design for Artie’s human body. Like comic-book artist dudes drawing giant boobs on all their female characters.
I also like the big guileless grin Helen has in every panel, just happily surveying her work.
Seriously, this is a great storyline. All kinds of setups finally pay off here. I hope you’re enjoying it too.
Okay, I’m starting to get a handle on drawing Artie. He looks pretty good in this strip.
Remember the teleporter remote? That they got at the end of “Demons”? This strip got complicated over the years.
I like it when Dave encourages Helen in her evildoing. He’s come so far. It gets me all choked up. In fact, he could even be ready for… Nah. Better wait a couple more weeks.
Helen fussing over Artie is also good. It works well when he’s so much bigger than she is.