Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: April 28 – May 3, 2003

Could Mell actually follow through on her threat? Probably not. She doesn’t know how the hey the transmogrifier works. The important thing is, there are now three Daves sharing a room, which was all I ever wanted out of this storyline. And Mell could mess them all up good.

As I’ve mentioned before, a big part of the appeal of this storyline, for me, was figuring out how to distinguish between the physically identical characters. This is the first of several weeks featuring three Daves. So, yeah. Madblood has the oval glasses, lab coat, and peeved expression, Artie is earnest and has no glasses, and Dave is Dave. In the last panel, they’re differentiated by dialogue alone. It helps that Madblood talks in such a cartoonishly over-the-top way.

I use the terms “original” and “extra crispy” to distinguish between two things way too often. I, er, eat a lot of fried chicken.

No, Madblood didn’t think any stage of this plan through very well, from programming his robot army’s obedience to turning himself into Dave. I always enjoy that sea of Madblood duplicates, though.

Sometimes I used to do bold text by just writing it in with a Sharpie. It was very lazy of me.

Andrew wrote Madblood’s dialogue in the first panel. It is, of course, a loving homage to Dr. Smith from “Lost in Space.” Andrew watched a lot more TV as a kid than I did.

Man, it was hard to fit everybody into those last two panels.

I don’t remember when I came up with the idea of Mell being able to command the Madblood robots, but I think it was one of the last big ideas I had for this storyline. It’s pretty ridiculous, but it does give Mell something to do around the moonbase.

There’s a lot of upside-slapping of heads in this storyline.

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51 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: April 28 – May 3, 2003

  1. Is the transmogrifier still set to “Dave?”  What happens if someone who is already Dave is turned in to Dave again?  I am thinking some sort of really gross recursive loop.

  2. Tuesday:

    Hey, Dave hasn’t had time to be formally introduced to Artie’s terrifying transfiguration, has he?

  3. Already Artie can think of something worse than being Dave.  He progresses.

     Does the transmogrifier have a setting for “spiky-haired kid’s stuffed tiger?”  I’d go for that.

  4. I’m kinda gettin’ a “Three Stooges 2.0” vibe here. I guess it’ll depend on how manic/violent the slapstick (if there is any) gets…

  5.  Edwin: Only if the Three Stooges were all Moe (or is it “Moes?”)

     Maybe Dave isn’t phased by Dave/Artie because he’s so obviously Artie, and everyone else is being transformed in to Dave all the time anyway.  And also he’s been under constant threat since before Artie arrived.

     Or it was a dream!  In space!  Alternate Universes!  Weather balloons! 

  6. (TUNE: “Do You Know The Way To San Jose”, written by Burt Bacharach, sung by Dionne Warwick)

    Can you picture Dave in gold lame’?
    Wearing a vest, no shirt!
    That makes me hurt right in my brain!
    Dave in gold lame’, I say “No way!”
    When Dave is showing skin,
    That is a sin!  My brain has pain!

    Here we are in Madblood’s fortress!
    Mell has got transmogrifying gun!
    All the settings she’ll change at random for fun!
    Madblood turned to Sonny, Dave to Cher!
    And Artie’s best
    With that gold vest;
    He’s got Dave’s chest and body hair!

    Can you picture Dave in gold lame’ …?
    (No no no no no no no no no!)
    Can you picture Dave in gold lame’ …?
    (No no no no no no no no no!)

  7. @DvD: thank you.  I was having a terrible flashback to the Liberace museum.

    (everyone should see the Liberace museum once, but only once).

  8. I want to say that 4400 also used the “extra-crispy” distinction, so you’re in good company.

  9. They’re not hard to tell apart. Dave has a flanel, Artie doesn’t wear glasses and Madblood acts like a stereotypical villain

  10. Ok, nice to know about Shaenon’s eating habits; but it works as characterization:

    Mel thinks of things as extra-crispy a lot, just like Bagladesh Dupree; she makes them extra-crispy.

  11.    ” very lazy of me”…  says the person who drew a web comic every day for five and a half years.   Actually, I think some of your best work was done in Sharpie.  I’ve got the envelopes to prove it.

  12. Thursday:

    Of course, it takes two panels for the Madbots to question the authority of this stumpy, unkempt, but nonetheless assertive individual.

    Off-panel head inserts: 16.

  13. (TUNE: “That Thing You Do”, The Wonders)

    Who?
    Who the hell are you?
    You’re not Madblood!
    Only Lupin Madblood
    Tells us what to do-o-o!

    Your face!
    Is not in our database!
    Now we must replace
    Our master and commander …
    Gone without a tra-a-ace!

    Gee, he just was here;
    Why’d he disappear?
    The invasion’s overdue!
    And we’re left wond’ring who the hell …
    Lupin, Artie, Dave, and Mell …
    We’re all wond’ring who the hell are you?

  14. I’ve always loved this story twist. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any wackier…

  15. I like that even in this situation, the first thing Lupin says is… “Goodness gracious”.  Kinda slipped on his “evil attitude” there, didn’t he?

  16. I disagree, Dave. Lupin, while evil, is not rude. At good gracious(ness) is anathema to him. Thus, it is for him the equivalent of someone aligned with good saying “fire and damnation”

  17. Hand-letters bolded text by switching nibs, so it’s not like the principle is any different. That said, the boldface in today’s “Skin Horse” does look awesome. 

  18. See, this is why it’s impossible to dislike Madblood *too* much. He might be a self-important jerk most of the time, but his insecurities are just a little too close to the surface for you to really hate him.

  19. Even the Madblood bots, ostensibly objective and the same height as the 5’10 Madblood, refer to him as ‘small’.  That’s just being dissed right there.  ‘Thin,’ okay, maybe even ‘frail’, but ‘small’?  (It does, however, seem they’re programmed to adjust for the possibility of small changes such as Madblood losing an eye or getting turned into a girl).

  20. Also, Dave!Madblood’s dialogue in panel 1 reminded me more of the Wizard in the movie version of Wizard of Oz.  Note especially when he berates the Tin Man.

  21. They can cope with minor details like their master suddenly being a girl for no apparent reason, but it seems that not wearing glasses would be just too much change.

  22. Friday:

    This, then, is the operative reason why Mell is on the moon, despite being entirely sidelined by the Madblood-Computer-Dave-Helen dynamics for the past month. If Madblood’s base and plans really needed to be destroyed, this isn’t a half-bad way to go about doing so. I mean, it’s not like Dave would have the nerve to muck up something as technologically beautiful as this moonbase.

    The last panel needs a few more ‘crap’s. I’m imagining a wall of ‘crap’s extending across the entire balloon’s area. They are divided between three people, after all.

    Silent penultimate panels: 18.

  23. (TUNE: “The Girl From Ipanema”, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Norman Gimbel)

    Short and dark and wearing glasses,
    The girl who’s taking legal classes
    Will lead the masses
    And hand your asses
    To you!

    See her smiling, so ecstatic!
    Respect from robots automatic!
    She’s charismatic;
    She’ll take no static
    From you!

    Is … there a joy any greater
    Than … having masses of minions
    Who … all think you’re their creator?
    Call it strange, now, but I’ve got a hunch
    She’ll conquer the planet by lunch!

    All the world will get a schooling
    Her robots fight so harsh and grueling
    Without refueling!
    She’ll soon be ruling
    The world!
    (The gauntlet is hurled …
    She just wants the world …)

  24. I would just like to point out that this is my very favorite Narbonic strip ever.  If I ever find the person who owns the original, I will very vigorously shake my fist in your direction.

  25. Love the panel, not so sure about the development; but in the end it was fun to watch the Daves working togheter, not to mention I <3 the Madbots

  26. I love how quickly the conflict goes from Narbonics Labs vs. Madblood to everybody else vs. Mell.

  27. Saturday:

    This development is really a quite alarming challenge to the power hierarchy of this webcomic. Could it be that Mell might, with no prior warning or inclination, be lurching forth into full-fledged organised villainy?! (Fortunately for those who care about narrative consistency and sensibility, no.)

  28. (TUNE:  “Walk Away, Renee”, The Left Banke)

    When Mell finds out that robots
    Do what she said,
    Ambition, she will show lots!
    She’ll charge ahead!

    (CHORUS)
    She’ll have her way, Mell K.!
    She’ll conquer the world with just one word!
    These fifteen thousand robots
    Think that you’re their dad!
    Girl, you’re so rad!

    Soon all resistance scatters!
    Soon, all submit!
    She’ll dine from golden platters,
    Served by Brad Pitt!
    (CHORUS)

    Ruled Venus in a past life,
    And conquered Mars!!
    With Madblood’s ship, she’ll bring strife
    Out to the stars!
    (CHORUS)

  29. Congratulations, Shaenon- after years of determined lurking, I must finally comment on your awesome, awesome webcomic. (This one, anyway.)

    I almost never laugh aloud. When I think something’s funny, I’ll smile, or smirk, or perhaps chuckle softly. Once. And then go on with my life.

    Fifteen thousand robots going “WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?” made me roll onto the floor and laugh until I cried.

    Thank you oh so very much for everything that you have ever done. :-)

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