Conclusion to “A Week of December 18 Story”

Man, if there’s anything I enjoy more than drawing little-kid versions of Helen, it’s drawing little-kid versions of Dave.

The scene in the Chinese restaurant in “A Christmas Story” always bugs me. Making fun of people’s hilarious accents is NOT COOL. On the other hand, nothing that pisses off Derek Kirk Kim can be 100% bad, right?

Thought I’d include some recent Narbonic extras this week. I have here a batch of photos from Ken Ambrose, who took James Rice’s staggeringly well-travelled gerbil, Speedy, to South America and Antarctica. Antarctica! Here are the photos, with Ken’s notes.

Image 1 – Leaving DC
Not wanting to spend the winter in DC, which is both wet and chilly, Speedy heads on a grand voyage to South America.

Image 2 – Ticket
After packing, he’s got his tickets for 36 hours of flights that will take him all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina – the southern-most city in the world. They compete with some little place in Chile, which is actually farther south, that is the southernmost Town in the world.

Image 3 – Passport
On Arriving in Argentina, Speedy presents one of his many passports. You might think that an intelligent, speaking gerbil might excite some attention, but he’s just waved through with a stamp.

Image 4 – Bahia Ensenada
In Ushuaia, Speedy spends some time in nature hiking along a beautiful coastal trail.

Image 5 – Strange Fruit
On top of great vistas across the Beagle Channel, Speedy comes across these strange fruits. It turns out that they are from a tree fungus but that they can be made into alcohol.

Image 6 – I am not a Rat
Speedy is mistaken for a rat by B&B owner Alba. Google and the dictionary do not have the right words to help her understand that Speedy is an intelligent gerbil – quite clean and likely to take offense at the “R” word.

Image 7 – Chess master
Before heading off on the ship, Speedy takes time to defeat a local in Chess. Here he is standing on top of the battlements, ordering the death of the king.

Image 8 – With Laurie
After crossing the Drake passage in a Force 9-11 storm, where no pictures were allowed, Speedy meets with the expedition leader. In this meeting they discussed the likelihood of wildlife and interesting political connections that could be possible on the voyage.

Image 9 – Penguins1
Speedy observes the local wildlife, in this case Adaile penguins. These penguins nest on small rocks, which they will gladly steal from their neighbors. Speedy encourages all animals to find proper soft beds that don’t involve nesting in 1 degree Celsius with just rocks and snow under you, but is ignored.

Image 10 – Penquins2
Speedy tries to form a dialogue with the penguins but to no avail. The rookery is quite loud with penguins greeting each other after feeding at sea. It turns out that penguins can recognize each other’s voices, a good thing since they are all identical and you wouldn’t want to walk up to another male penguin and ask for a shag.

Image 11 – With Mayor
Speedy meets with the Mayor of Ensenada Base, an Argentinian station on the Antarctic Peninsula where a number of families live year round. While pretending to be dong valuable scientific research, this base is largely an attempt to maintain a claim on Antarctic territory. Speedy questions the mayor about getting a piece of the action, but is referred to Buenos Aires to meet with a political official.

Image 12 – Conference
Speedy ends the trip with a conference among other travelers. Unfortunately few of them have the same upbringing, a mad scientist’s lair is uncommon, and there is only so much to talk about. Thankfully they meet at the bar and are able to drown their differences.

Image 13 – Staff
Speedy thanks the local staff who served such fine food during the voyage and helped with the two passages across the Drake. This young woman was particularly generous with cups of tea and very politely called Speedy “Sir” throughout the voyage.

Image 13 – Captain
Speedy meets with the captain at the end of the voyage and thanks him. The trip so far has included a number of political contacts and a chance to see Antarctic beauty – a remarkable success. After seeing the incredible power of tabular icebergs, Speedy has some new ideas for ways to impact world events in the north. Shortly after this picture Speedy left the ship – the Sarpik Ittuk, and headed for Peru in order to visit ancient historical Incan sites.

Thanks, Ken! I’m pleased that the fine tradition of candid gerbil photography has outlived Narbonic. Also, OMG PENGUINS!

7 thoughts on “Conclusion to “A Week of December 18 Story”

  1. Man, if there’s anything I enjoy more than drawing little-kid versions of Helen, it’s drawing little-kid versions of Dave.
    And yet, the spinoff you inevitably produced was Li’l Mell. (Seemingly, your attempt to insert li’l versions of all three protagonists into later storylines exceeded even your considerable abilities?)

    I wonder, was the first occasion where glowing green was associated with radioactivity? Superman, or earlier than that?

    Did Dr. Narbon really need the pistol in page 2 panel 1? Surely her reputation precedes her!

    And thus ends the mandatory holiday parody arc. The Narbonic comic would never veer any closer to transforming into Sluggy Freelance, except for that Insanity Claus arc this time next year.

  2. OK, I can’t find it right now, but I read somewhere that when your eyes get burned out by a too heavy burst of radiation, the last thing you see is a green flash. Something about the way your brain compensates for that particular type of overload.


    Most radioactive sources in fact glow blue, but you’re only gonna get to see that from the other side ofa couple of meters of water, most of a foot of heavily leaded glass, or the grave.

  3. I think the green glow thing is because, before it was known to be dangerous, radium was used to make glowing green paint for watch faces.  Since radium was among the first-discovered and best-known radiation sources, the green glow was associated with radiation in general.

  4. Um. You drew the wall outlet upside down. In the commonly shown *smiley face orintation*. It is possible for a very young Helen to begin her electrical studies by slightly yanking on a cord, exposing the upper two prongs, and laying a fork, screwdriver or other implement across them…

  5. It’s probably WAY too late to post this here, but I thought I’d point out that nuclear radiation does not, in general, glow. Well, not to the degree that it would be detectable to the human eye. The idea that it glows does, indeed, come from the use of combined radium/phosphorous paint to make pleasingly glowing clock faces. It is the phosphorous that is glowing, though, the radiation is just exciting the phosphorous atoms so that they do. If you don’t know the story of how we discovered this was a terrible idea and don’t know the meaning of the phrase “Radium Girls”, you should look the later up on Wikipedia. Seriously, It’s horrible and ugly, but you owe it to yourself to read about this.

    The blue glow mentioned is called Cherenkov radiation, and, again, it’s not really the radiation that’s glowing but the water around a highly radioactive source. Well, technically, any light is radiation, but that’s not what non-scientists mean when they say radiation. That is, Cherenkov radiation isn’t nuclear radiation and won’t harm you. Though the radiation causing the Cherenkov radiation may well harm you if you’re close enough to see it.

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