I remember having a really hard time drawing the panels of Mell at the fast-food place (you can tell it’s a fast-food place because there’s a picture of a burger on the side of the counter!), which is really pretty sad. That said, even though this strip is way too wordy, I really like the conversation between Dave and Helen. It’s so perfectly appropriate to both characters.
The tracking beacon is a total McGuffin to get all the characters in the same place, but what the hell, it works. There’s only so much complex plotting you can do in a comic strip.
I think I came up with this plot development because I hadn’t given Artie enough to do in this storyline. “Someone has to be the superintelligent one” ended up being a recurring refrain of Artie’s; he says it again near the very end of Narbonic. In fact, most of the people Artie works with are extremely intelligent. They’re just a little short on common sense. In his future life Artie will no doubt constantly be frustrated by the limited intelligence and laughably illogical behavior of nearly everyone he meets. It’s just part of being Artie.
Market Street is in downtown San Francisco, thus further confusing the issue of where any of this is taking place. At this point Skin Horse is more or less set in a home base in the Washington D.C. area, but I kind of like the more nebulous geography of Narbonic, where a sufficiently motivated college intern can travel by foot from wherever the hell Narbonics Labs is to wherever the hell D-Con is, even though it took Dave and Helen at least two days of driving. Oh, and a few hours later everyone can be lost at sea and well on their way to an island off the coast of Brazil.
The phone in the first panel is so messed up. It looks like a really big peanut.
You can see why Mell is upset here. Her entire function in the strip is being challenged. Incidentally, as crudely drawn as the rubble here is, it’s still a leap forward from the end of “ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST” back in the 2000 strips.
The guy running from the robot in the third panel is supposed to be Dave Lister from “Red Dwarf,” a show that was an enormous influence on Narbonic, by which I mean I stole all the good jokes. I thought of including other famous Daves in the D-Con storyline, but I didn’t get in all that many.
Seriously, I have no idea where any of this is taking place.
I like the way the last panel turned out. Artie’s pose is just about perfect, and for some reason Mell always looks good upside down with her hair flying around. She looks good in micro-gravity in the moon storyline, too.
Now everyone is very tiny indeed in comparison to the robot. Sigh. But at least Mell looks cool riding around on its head. Mell seems like the type who’d know cars, or at least cars that turn into giant robots with arm-mounted cannons.
I know it feels very much like I made this storyline up as I went along, but I swear I actually plotted it out in advance. That’s kind of sad, come think.
I actually like the way the boat turned out in the first panel. The figures are totally out of proportion to it, but whatever. It looks like the Noah’s Ark funhouse at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, which I visited every single summer until I moved to San Francisco at age 22, and that’s all I could really ask.
I could write more, but frankly I’m drunk as a lord on cheap California wine in the aftermath of my boss debate watch party. USA! USA!