Artie’s second line is the best part of the strip for me. It might seem redundant for Artie to get turned human twice, but in my mind the initial test run in Dave’s body, back in “Doppelganger Gambit,” prepped him for his more complex assignment here.
I like Helen’s Super Soaker-like guns. And hey, the three-eyed smiley mug makes a late cameo!
I like the big transmogrifier arrangement. That’s pretty boss, frankly.
Helen worries periodically about Artie’s ability to wreak the preferred amount of havoc. It’s one of the few downsides of working with gerbils.
It always bugs me when evolution is portrayed as some kind of logical progression with a goal, although it does occasionally lead to hilariously awesome things like that episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” where the crew “de-evolves” and Barclay turns into a spider and Data’s cat turns into an iguana. But not the episode of “Voyager” where Paris turns into a giant salamander and has salamander babies with Janeway, because that was really wrong. Why did that happen?
(That said, I’m watching “Voyager” on Netflix now, and I was always pretty down on that show but it has some great moments. Mostly the body-swap episode where the Doctor is downloaded into Seven of Nine’s body. And the subplot is Tuvok going into pon farr! That episode could not be more solid!)
The poster on the wall of Dave’s office is for Ladyhawke, a classic movie about people turning into animals and stuff. Ladyhawke comes up repeatedly in my comics, mostly because it has such a great title. Ladyhawke and Killdozer!, best titles of anything ever.
Nicodemus after one of the rats in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Lafcadio after the Shel Silverstein book Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back, and Cricetida after Cricetidae, the family gerbils used to belong to before they got reclassified as Muridae.
I always had mixed feelings about Artie’s name; it seems a little informal for him. But maybe it’s better that way. Artie shares my feelings, apparently.
The illegible name on the spine of the book is “Beagle,” for Peter S. Beagle, whose The Last Unicorn deals with a nonhuman character getting turned human and being generally pissy about it. I assume “Wells” is H.G. Wells, for The Island of Doctor Moreau, but it could just as easily be Jeffrey Wells, for being awesome.
Helen is right. Italian baby names were and are very trendy.
On the art front, the book Artie is reading doesn’t look like it’s opened wide enough, which always bothered me. I wasn’t so good at drawing open books.
I wrote this strip pretty early in the run of Narbonic. Artie’s choice is an extremely oblique reference to the Tom Robbins novel Still Life with Woodpecker, in which the heroine is at one point strongly attracted to Ralph Nader. Man, is this week packed with random obscure references, or what?
Do you have any idea how hard it is to indicate that Dave is looking downward when he has no visible eyes? For that alone, this strip should be declared a national treasure. But it was all worth it to do a dick joke.