Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved: August 2-7, 2004

Well, it’s true. Women are hard on Dave’s cars.

This strip was drawn in response to people on the Narbonic message board complaining that Dave didn’t need to get such a big truck just to drive a bunch of androids to Winnepeg. Well, no, he didn’t really, but look at what an awesome truck it is!

Artie and Zeta agree on nearly everything. Dave is outnumbered here.

I had decided at this point that Dave comes from Minnesota, as a homage to the Narbonicons. Where anything else in Narbonic is located, who knows?

It always kind of bothered me that Artie was forced to hop up and down on the keys to use a computer, so I wanted to do a storyline where Dave built a tiny little wireless keyboard for him. Somehow it got reduced to this strip, which explains why Artie uses a regular-sized keyboard and saves me from having to design and draw gerbil-sized electronic equipment.

I’m sure Dave did an excellent job, though. Possibly too excellent, but Artie never uses it, so I guess it never comes up.

Andrew and I are in line ahead of Artie and Dave. The guy at the front of the line is Paradigm Shift creator Dirk Tiede, and Derek Kirk Kim is behind the counter. This was drawn during the brief period when Derek worked at a Bistro Burger, for reasons to complicated to get into here.

The guy in the second panel is nobody in particular, though he looks like he ought to be.

This conversation gets more complicated in retrospect, when it turns out that SPOILERS Artie is totally gaybones.

Dana’s final reward came out of a) a line in the Don Hertzfeldt cartoon “Rejected,” and b) Jeff Wells’s habit of writing mini-fanfics for Artie and Dana that for some reason always involved dairy products. This all made sense at the time.

That just might be the saddest Artie I ever drew. And I drew some sad Arties.

Much later, Eric Burns quoted this strip in a Websnark post about Artie’s tendency to wreak marginally more havoc through his well-meaning but poorly-thought-out actions than the characters who are actively trying to be destructive and evil. Eric understood exactly what I was going for with Artie, and I was very excited and flattered than someone had put that much thought into my comic. Also, Artie’s dialogue looks very classy and smart all typed out.

36 thoughts on “Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved: August 2-7, 2004

  1. Monday:

    Dave’s final pathetic line is one of the best ones in this arc.

    By my count, Dave has had 4 cars extinguished – one by reckless driving, one by space debris, one by the very robots he’s now cooperating with, and one by triggering the car’s self-destruct explosives. That last one may sound impressive and masculine, but, as we all remember, it was Mell and Helen that wore the blaze of glory, while Dave huddled between Helen’s legs.

  2. You know, if Dave took the gender-swap formula, I could have just used Weird Al’s “Truck Driving Song”.  As it is, any song about a truck has to take care when making rhymes …

    (TUNE: “Luck, Be A Lady”, Frank Loesser)

    Truck, it’s a big set of wheels!
    You know how macho it feels!
    Big rig we’re driving, we’re arriving with panache now!
    Truck, it’s a big set of wheels!

    Truck, really big is my wish!
    It won’t be easy to squish!
    Each car I’ve had, it ends up badly with a crash now!
    Truck, really big is my wish!

    We’re rolling down the scenic highway,
    Got lotsa lights, got lotsa chrome …
    I’m paying for this rig, so we’ll just do it my way!
    We’re damned by my Y chromosome!

    So please understand how it feels,
    How all this power appeals …
    Though you may voice that my first choice was kinda rash now,
    Truck, it’s a big set of wheels!

  3. (TUNE: “Oklahoma!”, Rodgers & Hammerstein)

    Heading north on U.S. 52!
    Where my self-respect
    Will soon be wrecked,
    And I’ll be disgraced in front of you!

    Is a place I only go alone …
    For my deepest fear,
    It dwells up here,
    and it chills me right down to the bone!

    You’re telling me right to my face,
    That you don’t care, we just need a place …
    We need a place …now!
    Where we can stop and park …
    So terrible and dark, that to all it’s verboten!
    Minnesotan … am I!

  4. If you want to confirm your total inadequcey as a human being, Minnesota’s a nice place for it.

  5. I love how casual Artie and Zeta are about preying on the weaknesses of Dave’s psyche for minor convenience.

    I also love how casual Dave is about preying on the weaknesses of Dave’s psyche for minor convenience. I guess Helen and Mell have been pretty effective at teaching him that if it’s embarrassing and possibly painful, it’s going to happen, so he might as well relax and get it over with.

  6. I couldn’t even tell you why, but the scenes set in the city near the lab always make me think of San Francisco.

  7. I’m just going to randomly guess Michigan as where Narbonic Labs is located. It just feels Michigany. And the water level is too damn high in Ohio for subterranean labyrinths, anyway.

  8. Wednesday:

    I never consciously noticed this before, but Zeta’s thin, black, pupil-covering sunglasses are really effective at conveying her air of unimpressed disaffection.

  9. Hmph.  archy the cockroach typed all his poems by jumping up and down on the typewriter keys, AND he had to drag the carriage return lever.  So much for you, Mr. Cybernetic Gerbil.

  10. It seems a bit more complicated than that – he seems to be interested in female gerbils and male humans. I have a complicated theory about this which I’ll explain at the appropriate time.

  11. I’m interested to hear Pete’s theories when they come up, but I’ll just note that this isn’t entirely about hormones.  Artie is intellectual enough that propagation of the species would be a significant motivator, whatever else he may be interested in.  Of course, that’s one of those problems humans don’t have.

  12. Artie’s attraction to female gerbils could be pheromone-based.  A female human who wanted to attract him might just put on a dab of Eau-de-Gerbile … or maybe Chanel Number Alfalfa.  (But that’s just my two scents.)

  13. Whipped cream is surprisingly dangerous in large quantities.  Too light to swim in, too thick to breathe, too opaque to see the rope that someone throws you, and to top that off it’s a pretty effective sound insulator so no one can hear you cry for help.

  14. Friday:

    In a cosmic twist of fate, this also turns out to be how Helen dies. Of course, at that point she really was the Queen of France, so it’s a bit less distressing.

  15. It wasn’t the whipped cream that killed her, it was the 10-ton maraschino cherry that the Royal Canadian Air Force dropped on top.

  16. Not to fill up the comments with yet more spam, but we now have tiny Helen dolls for preorder and they look like this.

  17. I always kind of wondered why everybody “blamed” Artie for unionizing the Madblood bots — like it was a bad thing.  They were programmed to obey Madblood, who wanted to take over and/or destroy the Earth.  Freeing them from their programming wouldn’t have turned them into an army of killer robots — it would have prevented them from being one.  Left to their own devices they don’t seem to be that dangerous to me. 

    In fact [SPOILER], the only reason they end up being dangerous later on is because they weren’t freed in this storyline — they just ended up belonging to someone even crazier than Madblood.  So, granted, Artie (and Dave) trying to help them did have bad consequences, but I don’t think Artie could have been expected to realize what would happen.  [SPOILER]

    I’m not trying to argue — plenty of Artie’s other projects, like creating Dana, seemed poorly-thought-out to me and ended in predictable disaster — but I just don’t see the Madblood bots fitting that pattern.

  18. Saturday:

    Artie’s worry that all of his actions are tainted by his freakishness, his artificialness, is putting a terrible stock into the viciousness of the universe, of nature opposing the will of the unnatural. Just as the unlawful scientists are enemies of human law, so too are their misformed creations enemies of natural law.

  19. (TUNE: “I Feel Good”, James Brown)

    Artie’s sad!
    Because he did bad …
    He’s so sad,
    His actions turned bad …
    He’s sad!  It’s bad!
    Madblood’s mad!

    Robots, see!
    They wanna be free!
    They say, “We
    Just wanna be free!”
    So free … they’ll be,
    ‘Cause of me!

  20. I know this will be burried deep in the other comments, but wish to express my thoughts regardless of my arriving late to the party.

    I appreciate how complex Artie’s character is. He is, as of this week of strips, shown to realise that some of his ‘humanitarian’ (for lack of an equally concise term that isn’t human centric) aid schemes are often poorly planned. Similarly, they often achieve negative results or are counter productive. He realizes this and has misgivings and regrets when his well-meant plans turn out this way. Yet he continues to create and enact these plans because he truly does want to help, and despite their chance of failure believes said schemes would help if they played out as he intended.

    Yes, he does often end up indirectly (or directly) doing more harm than good to his causes (a trend continued in his skin Skin Horse appearances), but he does not intend to. Rather, his plans fall flat because he – in his enthusiasm to help – spends insufficient time ironing out flaws and planning countermeasures, or they fall flat because the universe itself conspires against their success for some reason. Usually giggles.

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