This one always worried me because I don’t actually know whether gerbils have color vision. Most rodents have little or no color vision, but that’s because most rodents are nocturnal and need to see in the dark more than they need to see in color. (To put it simply, there’s only so much room in the eye for rods, which sense light, and cones, which sense color. More rods means less room for cones, so animals with great night vision tend to have crummy color vision. Humans have great color vision but crummy night vision.) Gerbils are among the rare diurnal rodents. Since they don’t need to see in the dark, they may have good color vision.
However, I couldn’t find any information on the admittedly arcane subject of whether gerbils can see color, so after hemming and hawing I decided to go with the joke even if it turned out to be scientifically inaccurate.
Update: I just Googled around, and it looks like gerbils have far more cones in their eyes than most other rodents. So they can probably see color pretty well. Better than, like, a rat or something, anyway. So I’m sorry, and this strip should probably be stricken from Narbonic. Also, I’m not sure if you can tell that in the last panel Artie is supposed to be talking to a wastebasket.
Before this strip ran, I asked the mailing list and message board if I’d ever used the phrase “freakin’ at the freaker’s ball” in Narbonic before, because I couldn’t remember. It’s the title of one of Shel Silverstein’s less kid-friendly songs.
Artie almost always uses metric measurements. Show-off.
I stole “fun-size” from Jeffrey Wells’s Narbonic fanfic. I’m sorry, Jeffrey.
Overall this strip makes me happy, but Artie’s expression in the final panel was even better in the thumbnail. I hate when that happens.
Pretty straightforward. The best part is Mell rolling her eyes at Artie’s moral crisis in the second panel. For whatever reason, these two characters play off each other really well when Artie is bigger than Mell.
Again, a pretty simple, self-explanatory strip. As is my usual m.o., I spent four months painstakingly building up a convoluted storyline involving space travel, teleportation, shape-shifting, and double-crossing just to have one week where the jokes write themselves.
It was kind of hard to fit Artie whacking his head on something into every panel. Panel space is always at a premium in Narbonic. All things considered, I think I did okay on this one.
The day this strip ran, Joey Manley sent me the following email:
My favorite cartoon relating to the book is, I think, a Far Side. It takes the form of a to-do list stuck to a refrigerator by a magnet.
1. Get milk.
2. Take out garbage.
3. Forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
Today’s Narbonic, though, is a very close second.
Unsurprisingly, I’m a big James Joyce fan, although I’m more about Ulysses than Portrait of the Artist. I geeked out hardcore the year I was in Dublin, visiting all the Ulysses sites in the city and going out to the tower at Sandycove. And the rhododendron gardens. Sigh.
“The one in the lab coat kicks and bites” is one of my favorite punchlines I ever came up with, not to mention a pretty good summary of Narbonic in general.
This one still amuses me. I like the sound effect.