I really like Dave’s pose in the first panel and his comment in the second. So this is a really good strip for Dave. Good work, Dave.
One of the underlying concepts of Narbonic is that most people have some degree of trouble dealing with really weird stuff, to the point that a significant number just block it out. Dave is a lot better at coping than most, but there’s a reason for that.
The energy drive, a prototype of which appeared in the first Dana/Zeta storyline, will be important later on. By this point I’d decided what the ending of Narbonic would be and figured I’d better start to drop some foreshadowing.
Dr. Noah was named after a friend of mine who’s a dedicated Objectivist, so I put in a lot of Objectivist stuff. At some point I settled on the idea that gerbils are left-wing and hamsters are right-wing. There was no good reason for this.
I read The Fountainhead in high school in an attempt to win an Ayn Rand Foundation scholarship. I never heard back from the foundation, and in retrospect I’m not sure if they really give out a scholarship, or if it’s just a plot to trick kids into reading Ayn Rand instead of edifying authors like Terry Pratchett. I mean, doesn’t giving out scholarships go against Ayn Rand’s entire philosophy? Maybe they give the scholarship to the kid who writes an essay decrying the scholarship system for supporting social parasites and declaring that you shouldn’t be allowed into college unless you can pay your own way with the fortune you made as a railroad baron.
Like Zeta, I had a wholesome Midwestern upbringing. Now I live in Berkeley and draw cartoons about talking Objectivist hamsters. You see what it does to you?
After introducing Bill at age seven in the time-travel storyline, I decided I wanted to work him into the strip as an adult. So here he is. As you can see, he looks almost exactly like Dave did at the beginning of Narbonic, before he got a better haircut. He smokes, though, which Dave never did. And he wears contacts.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time deciding what kind of pastry Dave, Zeta, and Artie would pick up as an offering. I think Andrew suggested Entemann’s. Where I come from, those glazed Entemann’s cakelike assemblages materialize at most, if not all, gatherings, whether or not anyone brings them. This is another thing that comes with a wholesome Midwestern upbringing.
Dave’s expressions are really good in this strip. I just want that noted.
In this and the other strips in this sequence, I think I did a pretty good job drawing a perfectly unremarkable home for Bill. It’s mostly full of stuff that was in my own apartment at some point. Please take special note of the Domino’s pizza coupons on the fridge.
Bill’s brand of beer was another subject of intense debate when I was writing these strips. Also whether he would call it “MGD.”
Aw, geez, I still have that lamp. I bought it ten years ago and it broke immediately and I still carried it through three moves to date. It’s in my basement now. It really sucks as a lamp, but as a background prop in a comic strip it looks pretty darn good.
I still adore the concept of Dave idolizing his older brother out of all proportion to his actual features and accomplishments. It’s one of my favorite things in Narbonic. Not only is it entirely appropriate to Dave’s warped sense of self-worth, it plays upon one of my favorite comedy tropes: vicious rivalries in which only one party is aware that a rivalry is even going on. Rimmer’s hatred of his cool alternate-universe counterpart, Ace, in “Red Dwarf” was a definite inspiration here.