Hiccup: August 8-13, 2005

I was kind of into Five Star Bars.

I thought of this one at the Chicago airport as I was leaving Capricon, where I was a guest in 2005. I spent the entire flight back waiting impatiently for the chance to get home, get to a computer, and tell Jeff Wells about it. I think Jeff came up with the term “acaudial.”

I had Artie hanging out on Usenet because a) at one point I had wanted to do an entire storyline about Artie’s Usenet friends, and alt.support.gm was kind of a little tribute to that long-abandoned idea, and b) by 2005 next to nobody was on Usenet, so I figured a bunch of social-justice-oriented beast-men could hang out there. Nowadays they’d probably have a subreddit on Reddit. The only subreddit that isn’t mostly rape jokes.

Dave and Helen are too short in the first panel. Where are their legs? This bothers me because everything else about this strip is perfect and awesome and rules on high in its realm.

This is a fairly major plot point, but I like this strip mainly for Mell’s astute observation in the third panel. Actually we never do learn for certain how long Artie will live; as with so many things in Narbonic and in life, we just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best. He’s still alive in Skin Horse, and that’s a good sign, right?

In the thumbnail for this strip Artie refers to himself as three years old, but by the time I got around to actually drawing it he was four. Some of these storylines went on longer than I expected. By which I mean all these storylines.

Artie mentions his novel-in-progress again in later strips. I liked the idea of him working on a novel, but at the same time I have no idea what it would be about. He’s four years old and has lived his entire life in a disused storm drain. What kind of novel comes out of that background?

This strip is excellent and I love it very much. Look, everyone’s briefly happy! Next week a new storyline will begin and it’ll all go to hell, but for now all’s right with the world.

Also, all of Artie’s pensive expressions came out just the way I wanted them to.

Yeah, okay, this is kind of the quintessential Narbonic strip. Whether I like it or not, on some level my comic is always going to be known as The One With Canonical MPreg. Or one of the ones. There’s a lot of webcomics out there.

Artie is a gay shapeshifting gerbil-dude, and even he finds this conversation awkward. I like that Dave is pretty cool with it, though. He’s changed a lot over the years.

36 thoughts on “Hiccup: August 8-13, 2005

  1. (TUNE: “Tainted Love”, Soft Cell)

    Now that I’m human, I’ve got … appetites!
    There’s something … just not right!
    I’ve gone ovo-lacto
    And I won’t go back, no!
    Makes me drool a lot
    Over Five Star Bars!
    No, I will not share!  These are mine, not ours!

    I was vegan, pure! (So pure!)
    Now, I’m not so sure!
    This Five Star Bar sensation
    Has given me a weird fixation!
    Tell me please, the calories
    Don’t count!
    Oh … Five Star Bars … Five Star Bars …

  2. Yesss, Artie, succumb to the dark side!

    The chocolaty, chocolaty dark side….

    The Auld Grump

  3. Tuesday:

    Since when did Artie have a Vitruvian Man poster? Surely he realises that this does not help whatever case he’s making here.

    Speaking of the proportions of man: Dave and Helen are actually standing several feet to Artie’s right, and Artie is just that huge now.

  4. (TUNE: “Consequence Free”, Great Big Sea)

    “Thank you very much.”  (By the way, that was sarcasm.)
    Now my friends all think I’m “acaudial” and weird!
    Critters dream of thumbs, want to be a guy that has ’em …
    Now I have become just exactly what I feared!

    Said things to me
    So hurtfully!
    Tarantuloid did also!
    It’s not for me!
    I say no, no, no,
    No, no, no-no, no, no!


    No, no; Artie uses a chair which can go very high, so he can use it in his base form. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go very low, which is why man-Artie is so hunched over here. He’s simply well off the floor. 😉

  6. In actuality, Duluth has a fairly low population of terrifying sexual deviants from the Internet. It’s got way more hipsters than any place in northern Minnesota has any right to, though.

  7. Not to mention that Mad Science can probably extend lifespans — certainly it can at least preserve youth.  (And Artie used to swim in that coffee!)

  8. Wednesday:

    Is Artie realising that, with this electrifying breakthrough, his preordained death in the future might thus be of an entirely unnatural cause? Or is he merely feeling foolish at how he’d interpreted his coworkers’ undignified attitudes towards his mortality as blatant insensitivity? (He was correct, but that’s beside the point.)

    And what exactly is in the background? Artie and Mell really shouldn’t be in the abstract minimalist wing at this time of day.

  9. Also, her astute observation in the fourth panel.  On the whole, Mel is quite observant, isn’t she?  I suppose it’s necessary for survival as a hench.

  10. The trouble with the moderated contents is that we can’t tell how many readers have already posted the quote by Pratchett.  Just in case …

    “Give a man a fire and he’ll be warm for a day.  Set him on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”
       — Terry Pratchett, Jingo

  11. (TUNE: “And When I Die”, Laura Nyro, recorded by Blood, Sweat, & Tears)

    I’m kinda testy ’cause my
    Prospects are dire!
    But Mell is here to tell me that I
    May not expire!

    Yeah, Mell is here to tell me that I
    Maybe won’t expire!
    ‘Cause dudes live more than four years ‘less you
    Set ’em on fire!
    Yeah, you can … set ’em on fire!
    Yeah, set the slow ones on fire!

    And while I live,
    I guess I’ve found
    I’ll have … quite a few,
    Few more years to hang around,
    To hang around!

  12. Yes, but now you’ve transferred all the lifespan angst to Nick.  I think Artie was better equipped to handle it.  (And I swear, I did not mean that dirty.)

  13. Thursday:

    Helen should have mischievously gone the other way and declared Artie biologically immortal, causing him to immediately weep in horror in the fetal position. It would be a profound irony that only a human super-scientist could properly appreciate.

    It would also have been a bit retrospectively elegant if Helen had instead given him 13 months to live, as that is how far we are from the actual event which will, without intervention, cause Artie to be killed.

  14. Possible titles:
         “The Colonic Verses”
         “Outhouse Five”
         “The Relatively Old Man And Storage Room C”
         “Of Human Roughage”
         “So Long, And Thanks For All The Flush”

  15. After all, a number of great books have been written while in jail.  A lab hidden in a disused sewer line has a certain similarity.

  16. @ Pete: Pretty much *anything* is better than “The Fountainhead” — or anything else that Ayn Rand ever wrote.

  17. Saturday:

    Artie is only feeling happy out of obligation. He still hasn’t managed to live down this humbling, nay, humiliating windfall.

  18. (TUNE: “If You’re Happy And You Know It”, traditional)

    If you’re happy ’cause you’re not about to die,
    If you’re happy ’cause your life’s not passing by,
    If you’re happy, it’s confusing,
    So you’d better get to boozing!
    If you’re happy and it’s weird, just sit and sigh!

    If you’re happy ’cause you finally fell in love,
    If you’re happy when you’re boss you’re thinking of,
    If you’re happy, get to drinking,
    ‘Cause you can’t beat Helen’s thinking!
    If you’re happy unexpectedly, that’s rough!

  19. Filk bookmark: “So Happy” from Into the Woods. If Ed or Kay or anyone doesn’t beat me to it, i’ll be back for that.

  20. I came across a great quote once upon a time on Slashdot:

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.  One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted , socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.  The other, of course, involves orcs.”  –Paul Krugman

  21. Saturday:

    Dave is being reasonable – he thinks his meager career will always take second place to Helen Narbon’s.

  22. Question: Are they still going to Manganello’s Irish Pub?  I ask because the reversed lettering in the window seems to read “IRIH PUB”.  Then again, maybe Dave’s just drunk off his S.

    (TUNE: “Nowhere Man”, The Beatles)

    He would be a pregnant man!
    Having babies best he can!
    Helen has a clever plan
    To have a kid!

    He and Helen marryin’,
    Then a child he’s carryin’ …
    Had to have Caesarean,
    He did!

    Somehow Dave … got pregnant
    When the sperm … and egg met,
    Could be worse …
    At le-e-east, you don’t have to nurse!
    (la, la, la, la leche!)

    He would be a pregnant man!
    Having babies best he can!
    Helen has a clever plan
    That he’d assist …
    He, not she, would pregnant be,
    Hear Dave insist!
    ‘Cause, you see, he tries to be
    A realist!

  23. Actually, do we know for a fact that that’s how Helen and Dave wound up having kids? (or maybe, if they had more than one, it was a kind of one-off kind of deal. You take this one, I’ll take the next, that kind of thing.)

  24. > He’s four years old and has lived his entire life in a disused storm drain. What kind of novel comes out of that background?
    Mario, obviously. Novelization or game, either one. :p

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