Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: April 14-19, 2003

Oh boy! Another of my favorite ridiculous plot developments! I can’t remember when or how I thought of this, but it’s a natural outgrowth of the need to use the teleporter at some point in the story because, hey, they’ve got a teleporter. And it just so happened that the teleporter has been used previously to de-fuse Helen and Dave, so I guess the developments in this week of strips are inevitable.

Some of these strips are just way too wordy. Helen’s quite the manipulator in this storyline. As is hinted repeatedly throughout Narbonic, setting people and events up like a chain of dominoes may be part of her mad-genius powers. Or she could be making things up as she goes along and taking credit whenever they go her way, like her mother does.

This may be my favorite Narbonic strip that doesn’t have a proper punchline. I love this stupid plot development. Also, the last panel contains two of my favorite things to draw: naked people and Mell loaded down with guns. There’s also a ridiculous hat, which may be the trifecta, except the word balloon covers the gun mounted on top.

Is this the only time I drew Dave shirtless? It just might be. Even when he’s in bed with a girl, I usually drew him with a shirt on. It’s hard to make the chest hair cute.

Artie-as-Dave has little beady gerbilly eyes. Later on, I initially drew human!Artie with the same eyes, but I gave up on it after a while because they weren’t expressive enough.

Mell’s helmet is very “Calvin and Hobbes.”

I have nothing to say about this strip. It is awesome and perfect. Even the naked drawings of Artie-as-Dave came out pretty well. This was totally worth the entire eight-month storyline.

This strip doesn’t have much of a punchline; it’s just there to move the plot along and get Artie into some clothes. Even if you only count his appearances in human form, Artie probably spends more time naked than any other character. If you count his appearances as a gerbil, of course, he’s naked most of the time.

Yes, I included the line about sweatpants to explain how Artie-as-Dave is able to fit into Madblood’s clothes. Because otherwise people would complain. As it is, we have to assume that Dave and Madblood have similar vision problems, which is why Madblood can continue to wear his own glasses as Dave.

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51 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: April 14-19, 2003

  1. Monday:

    That reminds me of something else Rob said… “…repairs to a teleporter which had not yet malfunctioned?” Indeed, in the ‘The Geek’ story the teleporters are constructed from scratch, and used only once. And furthermore, they’re based on sender-receiver pod technology, unlike the island’s teleporter.

  2. Artie should consider himself lucky, given what might have happened had he shown up wearing the other possible body….

  3. (TUNE:  “Save The Last Dance For Me”, The Drifters)

    We can go
    To the moon, taking flight
    At the speed of light,
    That’s the thing to do!

    It’s not slow
    To use teleportation,
    If quick translocation
    Appeals to you!

    And if you say we’re rescuing Dave,
    Then absolutely, I agree!
    Except for … where you used the word “we”!

  4. I absolutely love this development! Artie needs to get into action! And someone needs to spend time as the wrong species! (even if is just pet-to-human)

  5. How was Artie going to help the situation as a gerbil?  Extreme cleverness?  Finding of keys?  I am saying that this plan was not super great to begin with.


    Maybe this was sort of obvious to everyone already. 

  6. (TUNE:  “Come Together”, The Beatles)

    Here come small gerbil, he got
    Super genius, claim dis-
    Cri-mi-na-tion, sayin’,
    “I got moxie!” Tell her,

    “I’ll save Dave, For The Win!
    Fire the te-le-por-ter up ’cause I’m goin’ in!
    Beam me up there!  Right now!”
    (Helen, grin!)

  7. Tuesday:

    Helen’s scheme score: 5. For a moment there, Madblood was nipping her heels with regards to schemulation and gambitry.

  8. Superintelligence doesn’t extend to emotional awareness, or he’d notice she drives him like a tractor.

  9. I like the fact that the teleporter is apparently limited to the speed of light.  That’s the sort of detail you don’t always get.

  10. Things in Narbonic follow the laws of physics except, of course, when it would be funny.

  11. Big Freakin’ ™ Gun count: 32

    (TUNE:  “Under The Boardwalk”,  The Drifters)

    Now electronically
    To the Moon I’ll zip along …
    I checked it personally,
    So what could possibly go wrong?

    Up on the Moonbase,
    I showed up nude!
    I said the “Famous Last Words”,
    And now I’m screwed!

    (Up on the Moonbase!)  Mell’s full of guns!
    (Up on the Moonbase!)  She sees my buns!
    (Up on the Moonbase!)  I think I’m sunk!
    (Up on the Moonbase!)  Gotta hide my junk!
    Up on the Moonbase!  Moonbase!

  12. Wait a second — 2 seconds to the moon? That’s approximately light-speed. (Now to back-engineer the device — Bwah hah hah!

  13. I think you managed to make those gerbil eyes pretty expressive in panel’s 2 and 3. Tintin (and more recently, The Rainbow Orchid) do it with all their characters.

  14. I personally like the way she’s done up Artie/Dave’s cheek fuzz to looklike Artie’s traditional stuff. That and the eyebrows. And Artie’s sternlittle mouth.

    With all the hype she gave this, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, butgenerally speaking, I think she’s lived up to it well.
    Jeffrey Wells, 18 April 2003

  15. (TUNE:  “Mr. Tambourine Man”, The Byrds)

    Hey, Artie, gerbil/human,
    What is going on?
    You’re bipedal now,
    And you’ve misplaced your fur somehow!
    Hey, Artie, trouble’s loomin’,
    Truth begins to dawn!
    Mell now has to look askance
    Because you’ve got no pants!

  16. The difference between Mell and the next gun-toting young lady is that Mell has a delicious tendency to mix and match pieces of dialect-specific English seemingly at random.  “What’s all this, then?” is a very British way of speaking, but ‘ginchy’ seems like something you could hear at any university.  I confess ‘starkers’ has me utterly stumped.

    • Well, I’ve been known to use “starkers” from time to time, even before I discovered Steampunk. I guess I just watched to much Brit telly as a kid… (Yes, I’m American, not that you could tell by my accent. -_^)

  17. Mell’s use of anachronistic and context-inappropriate slang is one of my favourite things about her.

    ‘Starkers’ is a Britishism, but I have never heard any real person say ‘ginchy’ who wasn’t being consciously ironic.

  18. Friday:

    Oh, what a terrible fate to suddenly be catapaulted about 180 thousand kilometres through space and several boughs along the evolutionary tree. How fortunate, then, that this comic’s latest victim has met such a caring, understanding soul to help him through his unearthly plight.

  19. If the teleporter zootched Artie into Dave because of Dave’s DNA, where are the glasses and cigarettes?  Those are as much part of Dave as the aerobic eyebrows and whatever it is Mell’s trying to ignore.

  20. I beg to differ. The ENTIRE EIGHT-MONTH STORYLINE was worth the entire eight month storyline. I love each and every minute of this arc, it’s hysterical. 🙂

  21. (TUNE:  “Birthday”, The Beatles)

    This suit’s for my birthday!
    It’s my birthday suit, yeah!
    This suit’s for my birthday!
    Hey, Mell please don’t shoot, yeah!
    This suit’s for my birthday!
    It’s my birthday suit, yeah!

    Wait a minute, Mell, I’m Artie!  Artie!
    Wait a minute, Mell, I’m Artie!  Artie!
    Wait a minute, Mell, I’m Artie!  Artie!
    Wait a minute, Mell, I’m Artie!  Artie!

    Birthday … suit, just wearing a smile!
    Birthday … suit, this isn’t my style!
    Birthday … suit, I’m stuck for a while!
    Birthday … suit, Mell thinks that it’s vile!

  22. and Artie is not complaining about his vision without glasses? If Dave and Madblood have typical geek vision,  Artie shoudl be bumping into things a bit.

  23. Saturday:

    Such a callous woman!Bipedal bcomotion takes years of hard work to master, don’t you know. And Artie already has to get used to the fact that the entire world has shrunk around him, and he can no longer jump more than a fifth of his own height.

    • Yes, he can–the moon’s gravity is one-sixth that of Earth, giving him John Carter-like strength and leaping ability.

  24. (TUNE:  “I Believe I Can Fly”, R. Kelly)

    I didn’t think a rescue would take long,
    So I said, “What could possibly go wrong?”
    And that invoked the Famous Last Words trope,
    So now I stagger, stumble, fall, and grope …

    What made me sore was
    I hit the floor, ’cause
    Instead of four paws,
    I’ve got no forepaws!

    I don’t think I can walk,
    Every step is a stumbling block …
    I know I must be an amusing sight,
    Putting left foot in front of right …
    And for sure, I can’t run
    While Mell is swiping Madblood’s neutron gun!
    Being biped’s a crock!
    I don’t think I can walk!

  25. Re: Artie’s vision – it’s probably so disturbing just having two eyes that point the same direction (binocular predator vision vice bilateral monocular prey vision) that focus is the least of his worries. One of the rewards for actually reading Moby Dick is Melville’s musing on what it must be like to have two separate fields of vision.

  26. Terry Pratchett discusses the same bilateral monocular vision through the medium of cows.  He theorizes that it drives the cows barking mad, which fits with my experiences of cows.

  27. Bipedal locomotion is still not my strongest suit, and I’ve been human for 25 years (and one day).

  28. Artie’s vision problems get discussed in an upcoming strip. Basically, Dave’s eyes don’t seem weak to him because his vision as a gerbil is even worse.

    It’s been pointed out to me that both Narbonic and Skin Horse feature male nudity this week. This is because I am awesome.

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