D-Con: April 8-13, 2002

The Daves are right. This strip is a total copout. But an inspired copout. I’m sorry I lost a balloon tail there in the second panel, though.

I love this whole series of strips. For one thing, they’re in a friggin’ dungeon. Which is somehow in the basement of a hotel. And Helen and Dave have to communicate all Count of Monte Cristo style. In other words, it’s completely nonsensical and has almost no connection to anything else in this storyline, and is therefore awesome.

Sometimes Artie has little thumbs.

The last line is a reference to Huckleberry Finn, of course. For that matter, so is the entire strip. “Condemned prisoners in a dungeon” is one of my favorite cartoon scenarios, second only to “stranded on a desert island,” which I somehow also manage to work into this storyline.

Come to think of it, “D-Con” is a pretty strange storyline all around.

I think this is the only time the gerbil inseminator is used to actually inseminate someone with gerbils, albeit off-panel. It’s the kind of thing you have to use sparingly.

I got better at drawing arm hair later on.

I was not very good at drawing people sitting on the ground. That’s why I gave up and switched to a profile in the second panel.

I can’t remember how, exactly, I decided that this storyline should involve a desert island. I might have written the desert island scenes first and then hooked them up to “D-Con.” Some of the island strips were written really early on. Like I’ve said before, I dig desert island storylines.

I still like this strip a lot, even though it’s wordy. Artie looks really pissed in the second panel there.

43 thoughts on “D-Con: April 8-13, 2002

  1. Plus, they broke the fourth wall in lieu of a punchline! 😀 Wacky!  That is a copout compounding a copout! Copout Squared!!! 😀 

    Having gotten my usual bitch out in the open… The Daves are awesome!!! 

    I just like the idea of the secret masters of the world calling each other “Dude.”

  2. Monday:

    Personally, I’m wondering why they appear to be having their ominous meetings in some kind of mystery movie theatre.

    It also suddenly occurs to me that there’s no metafictional reason why their faces should be concealed at all – especially since we already know the identity of one of them – and that the silhouette is therefore solely for the benefit of the trope-aware.

    Fourth-wall felonies: 26.
    The D word: 10.

  3. OK, the song parody for this strip would be “We’re Evil”, sung to the tune of “Tequila”.  (Lazy songwriter.)

  4. Who knows what Evil lurks in the minds of the two Helen Narbons? Not this bunch of clueless losers…

  5. Tuesday:

    The only good thing is that Helen lived up to his promise of “shooting and biting people.” Sometimes it’s easy to forget that he’s supposedly insane instead of just being a typical lovable fool.

    It also occurs to me that this is the first Dave has seen of Artie since they left in the car about a week ago. He seems awfully willing to accept Artie’s dramatic reappearance, isn’t he? The turnkey must’ve slipped him a plot synopsis in with his swill ration.

  6. Artie has little thumbs because Helen tinkered with his DNA.  When asked about the funny-looking paws on the gerbil, Helen replied, “Oh, that’s just a little thumb thing I cooked up…”


  7. Not only does Dave accept the ridiculous, he almost seemed to expect it.  Madness isn’t so far from his starting outlook on life (see strip #1).

    Of course, Artie’s entrance is almost Checkovian: usually when you split the group, you tell each part’s story separately.  Here, we aren’t following Artie and Mell, and although we later get some windows into what Mell does with her off-screen time, Artie has no choice but to join Dave and Helen.

    Or, since Helen, Dave, and Mell together form one functioning person, wherever two are gathered Artie must fill in for the third.

  8. Wednesday:

    “D-Con” is just some kind of Ancient Conspiracy Satire Gender Swap Road Trip Talking Animal Great Escape Transforming Mecha Desert Island Fanservice arc. One would almost think that the webcomic was about to end (a view not unsupported by the final D-Con strip itself), and that the author was trying to expend as many tropes and prior characters as possible. In that light, it makes perfect sense.

  9. Pratchett also played with dungeon cliches in Interesting Times, and Going Postal.  But you knew that already, didn’t you?

  10. I like those prisons too.

    Hamsters actually do have little thumbs. They’re not fully opposable, but they’re there. It’s now… maybe 18 years since I had gerbils, so I don’t really remember their paws in detail. Guinea pigs, I can confirm, have four toes on the front paws, three on the back, and no thumbs whatsoever.

  11. I feel the need to point out that http://www.footballoutsiders.com has a lot of interesting nonstandard statistical analysis. In response to gripes about alphabet soup (their cornerstone stat goes by DVOA) they named one of their newer stats DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early. Because — and this is a quote — “I mean, who can argue with a guy named Dave?”


    Yes, pro sports are now openly under the thumb of the Dave Conspiracy.

  12. Thursday:

    Well, the Dave spray has finally been consummated, as has the gerbil inseminator. And on a sadder note: that litter of gerbils must all be dead of old age by now. A pity!

    I doubt that there is such a thing as “arm stubble”, so I will decline mentioning it in response to this strip.

  13. (Sung to the tune of “You’re The One That I Want” from the musical “Grease”)

    I’m so upset!  Such aggravation!
    We’ve been cap-tured by the Daves!
    And we now feel … much consternation
    From incarceration!

    We gotta break out
    Of this stinkin’ cell
    That we’re now imprisoned in!
    Don’t wanna flake out;
    Gotta plan it well,
    Just like Huckleberry Finn!
    (If we don’t, we will starve and get quite thin!)

    In the dungeon we’ll rot!
    Dungeon!  We’re gonna rot!
    In the dungeon we’ll rot!
    Dungeon!  We’re gonna rot!
    Oh, day by day,
    We will decay-ay-ay ….

    (repeat chorus, fade out …)

  14. …Hey, Conspiracy kids, you’re supposed to be a little more subtle. seriously. (Rood /and/ Van Domelen? Seriously.)

  15. Somehow, I always thought the Gerbil Inseminator was used to inseminate gerbils with something, and not the other way around…. Silly me!

  16. Arm stubble may be a sign that the man likes his knives sharp, and tests them by shaving arm hair (and in the summer, leg hair).

  17. I dunno… I think sitting-on-the-ground Dave is quite well done. Kind of casual and slouchy, very Dave.

    And re: yesterday, the function of the gerbil inseminator kind of makes sense, in an off-kilter sort of way. As Artie pointed out way back when, gerbils are fairly difficult to sex. (Stop snickering! It means “determine the sex of”.) I can just see Helen performing some bizarre genetic experiment, going through a batch of lab gerbils introducing the necessary genetic material with a standard inseminator, and then picking up the next one and going, “Hmph. This one’s male. … Wait! I don’t have to let that stop me! I’m MAD!”

    And one fit of insanity later, there’s a very confused and very pregnant male gerbil. 

  18. Friday:

    The island. When I think of it, I’m reminded of that Simpsons parody of The Prisoner. You could’ve perhaps worked some of this into the Island’s arc, if not for the necessity of tying off the dangling ur-gerbil thread.

    It appears that it’s against the law to harm a Dave, but what if they, through inaction, allow a Dave to come to harm? …Seriously, though, surely the aforementioned law becomes null and void when a Dave is demoted to a mere David? What’s to stay Davenport from execution then?

  19. OK, first Gilligan, and now Shaenon … if it has lush palm trees, lots of verdant life, and fresh water, how the heck is it a DESERT island?  A TROPICAL island, yes.  Possibly even “deserted”, which implies there were once people there, but they left.

    I’ve seen such places in my life.  Just any member of my family, they’ll tell you, “Ed’s seen isle.”

  20. … if it has lush palm trees, lots of verdant life, and fresh water, how the heck is it a DESERT island? 

    It of course comes from the colonial notion that any ecosystem not consisting of arable farmland is a featureless waste. That’s why the lush forests along the upper east coast of the U.S. are the New Jersey pine “barrens.”

  21. Actually, “desert island” does, originally, mean simply “deserted island”. Same root. Chambers gives “desert <i>adj</i>: deserted; desolate; uninhabited; uncultivated.” This comes before the noun in the listing.

    You could argue that if it’s got a whole lot of exiled Daves on it, it isn’t uninhabited, but it does sound pretty much uncultivated.

  22. Saturday:

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Artie is a sane genius. It also occurs to me that the Narbonic cast have a pretty balanced skillset. Guns, genetics, electronics and superintelligence. It almost makes you wish for a storyline where all four of them need to work their magic in rapid succession.

    Now that you mention it, this strip is a tad wordy. The obvious solution is to draw bigger!

    Fourth-wall commentary: 27

  23. I can understand how Artie might be able to crack a 20-digit passcode, but how is he going to fool the retinal scanner?  I know, he’s going to press his lips against the scanner lens — and while the system is trying to decipher what this foreign object is, Artie will hit it with a hammer.

    “One of these days … POW!  Retina kisser!”

  24. *outch*. Ed…. really.

    And that’s easy- just hack the retinal scanner.  Makeit *think* it’s getting the proper input. And THEN hit it retina kisser. Sheesh.

     And here we see helen’s true skill: Manegment.

  25. “I’m sure the Dave currently pregnant with gerbils would agree.”

    Surely a contender for ‘Best Line in a Webcomic, Ever.” Got to be in the top 10 at the very least.

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