Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved: August 30 – September 4, 2004

Poke around online, and there are heated debates on the subject of whether Canadian Coke is still using sugar, or if they’ve switched to corn syrup like the U.S. has been using for ages. To be safe, drink Mexican Coke.

This storyline is full of hard things to draw (see first panel above), but the one I consistently fail at is phones.

This came out looking almost exactly like I wanted it to, which is pretty impressive given the stuff I had to draw. Any time I did a crowd scene of the androids, I got sick of drawing Madblood over and over. And yet I kept doing it! In retrospect, it’s good that I did, because a bunch of screaming Madbloods getting attacked by a giant beetle on top of a semi is awesome.

This strip doesn’t really have much of a punchline, but it’s okay because I drew an awesome explosion in the second panel. The art on this week of strips is pretty darn good. I must have put extra effort into it so I’d get all the robots and trucks and things looking okay.

I didn’t like this one when I first wrote it–I put it in just to move the plot along–but reading it now I think it’s pretty funny. Also, I did a nice view from the top of the semi in the first panel. So good work, me. Man, there’s a lot of good stuff in this storyline, given that I made it up as I went along from the abandoned pieces of previous storylines.

I had a whole backstory worked out to explain Dave’s past and why Bill is like that, but it was too angsty so I never used it. I hate it when webcomics go for cheap drama, so I tried not to do that if I could help it. It’s too easy and no fun. So, yeah, we never find out exactly what the deal is with Bill. Also, Dave’s mother never got to appear in the strip, but that’s probably for the best.

Of all the things that are easier to draw in silhouette, which is basically everything, semi trucks that have been damaged by giant robots landing and/or exploding on them rank pretty high.

I always enjoy endings where people learn dubious lessons, but the best part of this strip is Dave worrying that he let someone else drive. Rental-car places really put the fear of God in you over that.

47 thoughts on “Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved: August 30 – September 4, 2004

  1. If anyone could use a cell phone with two speakers and no screen or buttons, it would be Dave.

  2. There’s a good local taqueria chain (Anna’s) that carries glass bottles of Mexican Coke, but even those are labelled as containing cane sugar and/or corn syrup.  Brandy and I have bought bottles, and ended up with two clearly different recipes out of what seems like the same batch of Cokes.

  3. Yeah, you have to be careful even with the Mexi-Coke now. The stuff that is definitely sugar (and only sugar) is starting to get phased out. HFCS is really cheap because of all the corn subsidies here, which of course Mexico benefits from too because, hey, cheap imported sweetener.

    According to “The Future of Food” (which is ridiculously biased but still has some interesting points in it), a lot of Mexican tortilla companies actually import all their corn from America, because even though it doesn’t taste as good as the local stuff (since we’ve GMed, bred, and industrialized it to oblivion), it’s way cheaper. They still keep the local crops around for their higher-end produce though.

  4. And while clinging precariously to the back of a hostile giant robot bug that’s attacking his Optimus Prime, the thing Dave is most concerned about is finally losing his grip on his Helen cell phone.

    …which I’m pretty sure is actually a cordless phone handset that only works as a cell – or from cislunar space – because Dave decided it ought to.

  5. Monday:

    The first panel is pretty good, except that I think I’m no longer sure how many Dave-lengths long the bug is.

  6. (TUNE: “Take It On The Run”, REO Speedwagon)

    Runnin’ from a robot,
    Chasin’ other robots,
    Runnin’ from their master who is clever and mad!
    Speedin’ down the highway,
    Though he’ll maybe die, hey,
    Still it’s not the poorest vacation he’s had!

    See the hatch closing!
    Now we’re supposing
    Dave’s a bit upset, and he’s needing a hug!
    Things are gonna get warmer
    Stuck inside a Transformer!
    Dave, you big goofy lug, now you’re stuck inside a bug!

  7. FTR, if you’re in the Boston/Cambridge area, Boca Grande over Anna’s. They’re run by feuding (Japanese-American!) siblings, and so are uncannily similar in some ways. But Boca Grande uses higher-quality, fresher ingredients and yummier recipies. (And unlike Anna’s, has not been busted for failing to pay overtime wages to over-worked employees.)

  8. Poor Dave.  If only he had waited until Bluetooth headsets were out, this tragedy could have been avoided.

  9. Matthew:  Way back when I was in college, Boca Grande was a staple of my diet…  Anna who?  😉  Having gone down South, Chipotle’s is… well, OK.  Given there’s no Boca Grande down here….

  10. The major soda brands in Canada are on HFCS now, but here they call it “glucose-fructose”.

  11. And yet you seemed to love drawing crowd scenes with gerbils.  What you needed to do was a story where the Madbloodbots turned in to gerbils, some other small furry creature. 

  12. Panel 2 conjures the same thought as the strip that ran a couple Thursdays ago: Zeta’s eyes may only be black dots, but they’re the most expressive black dots I’ve ever seen.  Yay, as they say, you!

  13. You should’ve turned the Madbloodbots into spheres like Steve.  Much easier to draw crowd scenes!

  14. You should’ve turned the Madbloodbots into spheres like Steve.

    @Diane:  That would be totally balls.


  15. Artie pitching forward over the steering wheel is a hilarious detail too. More so because of all of them, he’s the one who _would_ always wear his seatbelt, if only he could.

  16. “Oil! Covered in oil!” When a Madbot says it, it’s a prelude to PTSD. When Helen says it, though….

  17. Wednesday:

    There’s always self-destruct explosives. Aaaaalways.

    (And, of course, Dave is unharmed because the explosives was pointed outwards.)

  18. Leon:  A mad-science robot doesn’t <i>need</i> explicit explosives, it’s overpowered enough to blow up without them.

  19. Well, at the end of its useful life, you can’t exactly leave a giant bug robot out on the curb for the Salvation Army to pick up.  An internal self-destruct is merely good lifecycle planning.

  20. (TUNE: “Sh-Boom”, The Chords)

       Ka-BOOM!  Ka-BOOM!
       Clatter and shatter and shudder and plink!
       Ka-BOOM!  Ka-BOOM!
       Clatter and shatter and shudder and plink!

    Riding in a truck!
    Our master then dispatched this thing to bring us back!
    A giant robot bug that sprang to the attack!
    Riding in a truck, we’re f***ed!

    Cheering for our Dave!
    This thing pursued us as we’re running down the road!
    But then we threw him and he caused it to explode!
    Cheering for our Dave, we’re saved!
    (A click and shudder,
    Ka-BOOM!  We’re covered in oil!)

       (repeat CHORUS)

  21. Thursday:

    In a different world, this story would be passed down through generations of liberated robots, changing in each telling, entering the realm of the legendary, and becoming only slightly farther from reality than the version Dave is giving here.

  22. (TUNE: “Through The Fire And Flames”, Dragonforce)

    On a far northern highway,
    On the Minnesota plains,
    Dave sits amidst the wreckage of
    The robot bug’s remains!

    In pursuit of the Madblood ‘bots,
    In a rented truck they ride!
    They said, “We must destroy it!”
    And they then threw Dave inside!

       Oh, the belly of the beast was hell!
       But what did Dave see?
       The carcass of a poor Two-Forty-Zee!

    Now he can’t open the doors,
    But sees it’s running on G4’s!
    So to kill it, all the skill of geekdom applied!
    Finding a screwdriver,
    Better than MacGyver!
    Luckily it’s not UL cer-ti-fied!

        Right here and now!
        He blew it all apart!
        Dave has saved us from near-certain doom!
        He’s not sure how,
        He didn’t realize he was that smart!
        He just tweaked it a bit …
        It went ka-BOOM!

  23. The poses in that third panel remind me of one of those fantasy paintings with a loincloth-clad barbarian being fawned over by half-naked chicks.

  24. I’ve always said that’s where Narbonics really shines; expensive, convoluted, inexplicable drama.

  25. (TUNE: “Knights Of The Round Table”, Monty Python)

    We’re ‘bots of the nerd Madblood!
    ‘Tween him and Dave, there’s bad blood!
    We’re banged up good!
    It’s true, we would
    Be bleeding, if we had blood!
    But we were saved by Davenport,
    If he drinks wine, he’ll be havin’ port!

  26. And today’s lesson is …

    “Show me a man being attacked from behind by a giant robot insect, and I’ll show you a man with a bug up his a**.”


  27. Redneck cops?  In Minnesota?  Now I’m imagining the “Deliverance” theme played as a polka by Weird Al Yankovic.

    Alternately, how about Frankie Yankovic?
    (TUNE: “Beer Barrel Polka”, Jaromir Vejvoda)

    Chased by the redneck,
    Chased by the redneck police!
    My truck’s a dead wreck!
    I got it running, at least!
    In-jured my head’n’neck,
    Got a contusion or two!
    Though I’m being chased by red-necks,
    I’m all black … and … blue!

  28. Aside from the visible damage, the rental place might be more disturbed that a mad scientist was repairing the truck….   (Notice that little bit of foreshadowing in panel 2!)

  29. 512 is not so hard to understand. Madblood constructed his robot army in batches of powers of 2; necessary since it takes time to scale up production. First a single prototype (#1), then a pair, (#s 2&3), etc. It took 8 batches to get the kinks and bugs out, so starting with batch 9 (#s 512 – 1023) the robots were at their final design. Naturally, the robots with numbers that are powers of 2 are natural-born (er, constructed) leaders, so #512 would be the obvious choice as a liaison with Dave.

    I also have to cast my vote that Thursday is a totally excellent strip. Besides the obvious “poorly grounded” gag that is sure to make any engineer smile, I love the camera angle on the first panel, and I love the way the robots are clinging to Dave as he tells his tale of derring-do. And that it was a *carcass* of a Datsun certainly makes for a sleepless night.

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