Yeah, okay, not one of the more exciting strips. Dave has no tie because it was burned off in the explosion (implosion?), and also, I suspect, because I didn’t feel like drawing it anymore. I do like Mell’s sardonic little expression in the third panel.
The early strips include a lot of Microsoft jokes. One reason for this was that my dear friend Dave Barker worked for Microsoft right after college. He quit after about a year, spent the summer driving across the country in a VW microbus, broke down in Boston, and enrolled at MIT for a master’s in transportation engineering. But that is another story, and shall be told a couple of Sundays from now.
This strip introduces two phrases that would be repeated frequently over the course of Narbonic: “evil intern” and “evil coffee.” I was an intern myself at the time I drew it, doing odd jobs at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. I was also filling in for the front-desk receptionist at manga publisher Viz LLC, a job that was supposed to last for two weeks. Six years later, I’m still there, although I’m not a receptionist anymore.
I returned to the font of evil coffee many, many, many times in Narbonic. It ended up being one of the key tropes of the strip, one of the touchstones I could always go back to when I was feeling lost. Coffee saved my bacon many times.
I don’t drink coffee. Don’t like the taste.
You know, that second panel still looks pretty good.
The three-eyed smiley face is an icon I used a lot in “North of Space.” I used it occasionally in Narbonic, but I tried to cut back because Warren Ellis was using it in his awesome comic Transmetropolitan. Nonetheless, the three-eyed smiley mug is one of the coffee mugs that appears regularly around Narbonics Labs, along with the one with the nuclear symbol on it.
The pencil cup on Helen’s desk is emblazoned with 6.02 x 10^23, the numerical value of a mole. Don’t ask me why.
I desperately needed to stop drawing lipstick lips on Helen. It’s not good on her, it’s not good on For Better or for Worse characters, it’s just a bad look all around. Mell’s hair is really crazy in these early strips, too.
Not much else to say about this strip, although I appreciate any opportunity to use the word “plutonium.” It brings back fond memories of fifth grade, when my friend Steve was really, really into plutonium. Maybe you had to be there. And be ten years old.
Man, I miss the days when I could just have random stuff happen for no good reason. I still think this is kind of cute, with the bubbles and the asterik and the little THUD and all.
Helen’s cheerful face is pretty much the last thing you want to wake up to. Unless you’re Dave, I guess. I used the same basic opening gag in later strips, most notably with Caliban in “Demons.” I just like that big evil grin.
Here begins the conflict between Dave’s self-preservation and his libido, a struggle which will dominate Narbonic for most of its run. I should’ve made sprites for them.