D-Con: April 29 – May 4, 2002

That hand in the last panel is completely messed up, is all I can say. Also, Dave wears the same class ring I do. And this storyline really has gotten pretty damn silly.

A lot of Narbonic storylines are just a slow, careful buildup to one ridiculous image. In “D-Con,” that image is the third panel there. I’m still pretty happy with the way it turned out. For the record, I like the first panel, too. Sure, the boat itself is nothing to write home about, but the choppy waves surrounding it look pretty darn good. So there, haters.

I like that the super-secret shadow conspiracy has its own con T-shirts.

Aaand the other image this storyline has been building up to. You know what Narbonic needed? More men kissing. I just wasn’t thinking proactively. Anyway, at this point Helen had certainly been a man long enough, so it was high time she changed back. These smooches probably aren’t helping her relationship with Dave, though. They’re just making him all confused.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m generally fond of the strips that involve more of a conversation than a straight setup/punchline, and this is one of them. It’s just Helen, Mell, and Dave being Helen, Mell, and Dave, which of course results in exploding robots. Also good: Helen using Dave as a human shield while rescuing him, Mell posing on the robot, and Helen still wearing her “Hi My Name Is Dave” badge.

I really like Helen’s pose in the second panel. And Artie’s expression in the third. If I had to do it over now, I probably wouldn’t be able to draw Helen and her gun so well again.

Dave’s conflicted loyalty between Narbonics Labs and the Dave Conspiracy throughout this storyline interests me, not in the least because neither choice seems especially wise.

The first panel looks pretty good by my standards. That’s one heck of an explosion. And, yes, this is yet another storyline in which all issues are resolved by blowing stuff up real good. I think Narbonic is pretty well-plotted for a comic strip, but that’s not always saying a lot.

The “message from the President” won’t be explained for another three years, but eventually we’ll get to see it. The Daves are unaware that they just left the President in question back on the boat. It all works out with no hard feelings, more or less.

This strip, and thus the end of “D-Con,” originally ran on my birthday. I didn’t usually time things out so neatly.

55 thoughts on “D-Con: April 29 – May 4, 2002

  1. Wasn’t Dave’s college controlled by the conspiracy? I seem to remember that in The Ratio, all male characters were called Dave.

  2. Monday:

    Gee, Dave has really accepted his fate. It’s almost as if he wants to get as far away from the giant brainless massacre robot and the blonde madman as possible. And after all he did for Dave, what with bugging his tooth, and reinstalling a nicotine addiction in his new body and all. (P.S: at this point Dave is still technically 17.5 years too young to legally buy cigarettes again. Tut, tut, Dave.)

  3. (Sung to the tune of “Tangerine” — the version sung by Frank Sinatra, not Led Zeppelin)

    Perched upon my lip!
    How my fate is in your nicotine-stained grip!
    Lordy, how I pray
    That the Dave Patrol will not take you away!
    You can bet
    Without Cigarette,
    I will get the shakes like sick chihuahuas get …
    And this song will never be sung,
    ‘Cause I don’t have a good lung;
    My lungs are pwned by Cigarette!


  4. . . .had a little Chihuahua named Carlos that had some kind of skin disease, was nicotine dependent, and was totally blind.

  5. One thing I’ve noticed while reading your reruns is that the Narboni-verse gerbils look a hell of a lot like Kangaroo Rats (except more awesome).

    Also, I have a few song suggestions for your list (and will probably think up more later):

    “905” by the Who

    It’s a song sung from the position of a test tube baby (or a clone, not sure which) wondering if there’s any way they can possibly be unique or if they’re destined to just do and become the same as all the others. Seems appropriate to Beta’s struggle with her clone-ness.

    Everything I know is what I need to know/ Everything I do’s been done before/ Every idea in my head/ Someone else has had/ And the rest of my life is an open door 


    “Clones (We’re All)” by Alice Cooper

    It’s a song about clones rebelling against their maker, ’nuff said.

    We destroyed the government/ We’re destroying time/ No more problems on the way/ I’m through doctor/ We don’t need your kind/ The other ones/ Ugly ones/ Stupid boys/ Wrong ones

    I’m all alone so are we all/ We’re all clones/ All are one and one are all/ All are one and one are all 


    “Ants Invasion” by Adam and the Ants

    While the song is supposed to actually be inspired by a movie about a reporter chasing after giant invading ants and getting in all sorts of danger, it sounds more like it’s sung from the position of a mad scientist who unleashed the giant ants and wondering if they made the right decision. Either way, it’s about giant ants causing massive death and destruction, how much more mad-sciencey do you need it to be?!?

    If I’d the courage/ I’d make my way home/ Too many antics in the forbidden zone

    10:38 and I think I made the wrong decision/ Another lifeless man with a strange incision/ I hope that insect doesn’t see me/ He’s not reknowned for his courtesy/ I’m not searching for the ants invasion


    “Re: Your Brains” by Jonathan Coulton

    I know you already have “The Future Soon” and “Still Alive” on your list (and you said you referenced “Skullcrusher Mountain” at the end of the series) but this song’s just so perfect for the period Dave spent as a zombie trying to convince Mell and Helen to let him eat their brains.

    All we want to do is eat your brains/ We’re not unreasonable, I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes/ All we want to do is eat your brains/ We’re at an impasse here, maybe we should compromise/ If you open up the door/ We’ll all come inside and eat your brains


    I keep trying to find a Radiohead song to suggest to you, too, but can’t think of anything.

  6. Love 905.


    Did you see the shout-out to Narbonic over in <a href=”http://www.littlelevers.com/Angels/”>Angels and Aliens</a>?

  7. Tuesday:

    Something more important to consider is how the other Dave initially takes Dave’s strangely specific panel 2 pronouncement in his stride. Presumably there’s a chart of nautical vehicles sorted by speed, with “giant robot with propellers” inexplicably appearing at the top.

    The Dave logo has migrated from the back of Dave’s shirt to the hull of the black boat. Also, it isn’t clear how Helen and Mell are capable of hearing themselves talk beneath a spinning propeller. The actors in the live-action version won’t like this scene one bit.

    Hey, Helen! Does that machine really have additional propellers on its arms? Maybe you’d travel faster if you dropped to the surface and used those propellers as outboard motors. That hunk of junk can lift its own weight, so it’s gotta be buoyant.

  8. Leon — what is WRONG with you?  A flying robot is COOL!  And you want to turn it into a, a, a, a freakin’ BOAT? 

    Flying robot = coolest transportation ever

    (sung to the tune of “Spanish Eyes”)

    Ro … bot that flies;
    Wind in our hair, exhaust fumes in our eyes!
    Sail … through the skies,
    We’ll give the Dave Patrol a big surprise!
    Death … ray that fries;
    Then, quoting Bun-Bun, “Ev’rybody dies!”
    sail … o’er the sea,
    Bring my nicotine-stained henchman back to me!

  9. Dude.  All Daves know exactly the capabilities of a giant robot.  It’s innate.

    We generally have a pretty clear idea about aliens, too, excepting women.

  10. I think Terry Pratchett does that buildup-to-absurd-moment thing, too.  Remember the climax of Moving Pictures?

  11. Speaking of taking things in stride, I love the nonchalance both Daves have in the last panel.

  12. In future times

    Scientists will fail to co-operate

    Yet build a giant robot…

    Robot parade, robot parade

    Twirl the propellers that the robots made…

    Bah. I’m just not as good at this song-adapting business as others.

  13. Sorry, Dave. I feel your squick, but… Helen’s right. That was cool.

    (Hey, at least she was a woman for the last half of that kiss.) 

  14. Dave should have been entirely good with that. I mean, think about it. The ultimate fantasy of many straight men is to think they’re such studs they can turn lesbians straight. (Please note, I am reporting, not espousing.)

    Being a guy who can kiss another man and turn that man into a hot woman?

    Now that is machismo.

    • He doesn’t always kiss mad scientists, but when he does, he changes them from male to female instantly.
      He is… the Most Interesting Dave In The World!

      (Sorry, I just had to say it…)

  15. Wednesday:

    I presume this also doesn’t count as “Helen and Dave’s first kiss” as mentioned by the author here, insofar as their other first kiss did not. Today’s Lesson Learned: don’t despair, for you can take two mulligans in your salivary life journey.

    Something else to consider is that Dave doesn’t have to suffer an eyeful of whatever it is that “splort” represents. A worthwhile trade-off?

    Today’s Trope Bingo: No Man Of Woman Born. (Rather, in today’s case, a Man As Woman Born.)

  16. (Sung to the tune of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”)

    Now you’re in for it!
    (Where’d the robot go?)
    Now he’s swapping spit,
    All because he’s
    Not a Dave; he’ll show you now; he
    Smooched his henchman! (Is this yaoi?)
    Kiss this guy and turn into a girl!

  17. (Snickering at the juxtaposition of comments above that makes it look like Leon is referring to Eric as “Wednesday”.)

  18. Leon, Dave’s eyes were popping out of his skull.  Whatever happens during a splort, he saw the whole process, and I imagine time slowed down for him so he could see it in slow motion.  His brain will analyze every detail.  It’ll be the one thing he always remembers whenever he dreams about Helen, or whenever she tries to kiss him or appears like she might, and sometimes it will intrude on his thoughts for no reason.  (Mad scientists don’t need a reason.)

  19. I’d assumed the “splort!” was to protect us from sights too horrid for our tender souls (much as Terry Pratchett never describes Angua’s transformations, which are apparently enough to make hardened members of the Thieves’ Guild leave town, never come back, and scream ever after whenever they see a dog).

    Helen is so happy to have pulled off her theatrical moment, though. Why carp?

  20. I know all the cool kids are lovin’ the last panel, but I reserve fondness for the Third- look at his *eyes!* Those horrified, confused eyes! You can just see it… ‘Dude Kiss! But Girl! Crazy boss! gah!’


  21. I am going to go ahead and declare this quite plausibly my favourite Narbonic comic ever. 

    That is ridiculously badass. Emphasis of the ridiculous.  

  22. “I’m Helen Narbon and I’ve come for my henchman!”  This has always been one of my favorite strips.  Maybe because I’ve always wanted to be rescued by a deranged but beautiful woman.  With a gerbil inseminator.  GO HELEN!

  23. I do also like the “Princess Bride” reference: “Ah… but I’m not left-handed..er, wait, what I meant to say was that I’m not a Dave…”

  24. Wow, I totally hadn’t noticed any of your “Also good” items. This is one of the major reasons why the director’s cut is so awesome.

  25. Thursday:

    Why is there always a self-destruct? Why do these so-called geniuses feel the need to fill a cavity of their conquering world-bot with large quantities of explosive material? Even when a sufficiently penetrating flame, spark, jolt or short-circuit could spell premature detonation? Even when said world-bot’s armour casing was designed to absorb and shrug off as much explosive force many times over? And even when they proclaim from their shining tower that their failure is impossible and inconceivable? I mean, really, Madblood. That drunken Dave could’ve blown your entire street sky-high on a lark, you know.

    This is the second time in as many weeks that Helen’s Shocking Reveals are immediately rebuffed with “that’d be pretty stupid.” Subconscious self-criticism on the part of the author?!

    Alsoalso good: Dave Patrol has a gun that’s almost as fanciful as the one Mell had last Sunday. There’s probably a single mad firearms conglomerate at the centre of it all. I wonder what sort of stories they could tell…

    • If there’s a large cavity full of explosive material, that would be the ammo stores. If you want a big robot to self-destruct, the thing to do is rig the power supply that lets a couple-or-few tons of metal run (and fly) around like a maniac.

  26. Panel 1:  Big Freakin’ ™ gun count = 18

    Leon says: Dave Patrol has a gun that’s almost as fanciful as the one Mell had last Sunday. There’s probably a single mad firearms conglomerate at the centre of it all.

    Check out http://www.villainsource.com

  27. Friday:

    Also noteworthy, in my opinion, is Dave ducking for cover between Helen’s legs (well, where else?) and Artie wearing a quite unfortunate cartoon expression.

    The logic of Dave’s repeatedly clashing affiliations is entirely selfish, I’m afraid. He reveals the Conspiracy to Helen under evil psychological duress, reveals Helen and her gender potion to the Conspiracy to escape charges of identity theft, breaks out of prison to escape the threat of the Island, and now refuses rescue owing to the threat of very certain death. He doesn’t have time for fealty or honour when he’s tied to this whirling conveyor-belt of a storyline.

  28. It could have been worse; when Helen is firing in panel 3, the sound effect could have been, “bukkake bukkake bukkake …”

  29. What gets me is that the Patrol Dave’s apparent concern is that Dave and Helen get off the doomed ship safely (even though the reason it’s doomed is that Helen attacked it with an exploding robot), while Helen’s response to this benevolent concern for her safety is to fire her gerbil inseminator wildly about while her intern cheerfully counts down the time to the big explosion. 

    Yeah, our heros are the bad guys. Also, nuts.

  30. Wait, the President? From what time period? The present, wherein Mell is an intern at Narbonics Labs?

     Maybe you shouldn’t tell me, lest my head explode.

  31. Saturday:

    Davenport was capable of this”? Capable of reluctantly luring a murder-happy scientist and her war machine to the Conspiracy? Why is Dave always getting the rap for his crazy cohorts’ mess-ups?

    As you all know, the real reason that Davenport was murdered – and the Daves are told this – is because in 2006 he will deliberately let someone die. Today, though, the Daves interpret Davenport’s threat by what he unknowingly does – by him being a Butterfly Of Doom. That doesn’t seem very fair of them.

    It’s still unclear, though, why the Daves were sending Dave to the Island when they’d already deemed him dangerous enough to do him in once.

  32. I think they just want to put the situation on hold until they can figure out what’s going on – in particular, why Dave’s alive when they gave Dr. Narbon five bucks to kill him and she reported it done.

    As long as they’ve got Dave in their power on the Island, they can order him killed any time they decide it’s necessary. If it turns out that there’s some kind of bizarre case of mistaken identity going on, like this is some completely different Dave, they can always apologize and let him go. Death is a little more permanent, at least if you’re not a mad biologist.

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