At this point, the strip got verbose enough that I absolutely had to start using word balloons. Badly, but it’s a start.
Dave’s hand in the first panel is obviously not attached to his arm. It just teleported in from another dimension to clamp onto his head. You’d think he’d be more concerned about this.
I refrain from comment about my mother and the toe fungus, but I think the last panel is nicely suggestive of the type of sparkling conversation common in my family. Come visit us! We’re fun!
I think this is the first strip to mention Minnesota, later to loom large in Narbonic lore as the storied home of Narbonicon. Throughout the run of Narbonic, I played deliberately coy on the subject of where, exactly, the strip takes place; as far as I’m concerned, Narbonics Labs has no location. But if I had to pick a place, it’d probably be around the Twin Cities. They just seem so darned accepting up there.
In his enthusiasm for left-wing political activism, Artie gets a bit mad-sciencey himself, but try to be patient with him. You know he wasn’t raised right. As far as I know, the Green Party numbers quoted here were accurate.
I’m still pretty fond of this strip. I like that Helen calls Artie by his full name when she’s mad at him. And the sheer petulance of, “I HATE mad science!” Surely Artie doesn’t mean that. I mean, who hates mad science? The other good thing about this strip, of course, is that it required me to draw very little. I didn’t even include Dave’s computer.
Man, Dave’s glasses are HUGE in that second panel. I’ve got to start toning those down. And the eyebrows.
Dave doesn’t know it, but he’s hit upon one of Helen’s central preoccupations. Helen spends a lot of time wondering whether her madness was inevitable, as well as worrying over the related question of whether she’s actually going to grow up to be just like her mother. As those who have read through the archives know, her research into the nature of mad genius will drive the latter half of Narbonic. Also, this is not the last time Dave will try to cheer her up about being a mad scientist. So from that point of view, this is a pretty important strip.
From another point of view, there’s just waaaaay too much dialogue in the third panel.
The characters touch only briefly on the question of how Mell ended up that way. Really, it’s a total mystery, and it’s probably not a good idea to inquire too deeply.
Since I typically drew these strips a couple of weeks in advance, there was no real reason to provide myself with a filler strip here. Also, it’s not a very good filler, since it took almost as long to draw as a regular strip. I think I just wanted people to know it was my birthday. It’s also the day of the Haymarket Riots and the date on which Alice in Wonderland takes place.
For filler-strip purposes, Mell has reverted to her outfit from my high-school strip, North of Space.
R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders were excellent. Director Terry Zwigoff is in the band, too.
In retrospect, Helen should have said “Ultimate Frisbee.” Ultimate Frisbee is funnier than regular Frisbee.
This strip is extremely silly and I’m very fond of it, even though the first time around I misspelled “Jackal” and had to be corrected. This is another reference to the Spider-Man Clone Saga, a giant sprawling crossover mess from the ’90s. I must have been really hung up on it.
Helen’s T-shirt bears the image of a character from the incredible Don Hertzfeldt cartoon “Rejected.” In the previous day’s filler strip, I mentioned that I was going to the Spike & Mike animation festival; “Rejected” was part of the previous year’s Spike & Mike, which I saw with Andrew before we started dating. We laughed so hard at “Rejected” that we came close to throwing up. Sadly, nothing else in the Spike & Mike festival came close, and eventually we kind of stopped going. But that first time…that was golden.
I don’t want to oversell this thing too much, but Don Hertzfeldt is a genius.