A million billion thanks to the cartoonists who contributed to today’s strip. All of them have given me immense support, in various ways, over the course of Narbonic. Please take the time to check out their amazing work.
Andre Richard draws Jeepers on Girlamatic.com and many other adorable comics on WebComicsNation.
Phil Foglio‘s illustrious comics career includes Buck Godot, Xxxenophile, and runs on Plastic Man and Stanley and His Monster. He and his wife Kaja collaborate on Girl Genius, the other webcomic about a blonde, bespectacled mad scientist girl. He drew the bonus story in Volume 3 of the Narbonic print collections.
Roger Langridge is one of the very best cartoonists working today. His comic Fred the Clown runs on WebComicsNation. He also draws special sequences in my comic Smithson, and he once drew a Marvel comic I wrote entitled “Moleman’s Christmas,” which was awfully kind of him.
Joe Zabel‘s online “Trespassers” stories have run on Modern Tales and elsewhere. His print work includes art for Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor.
William George is the awesome creator of It’s About Girls, on Modern Tales, and Bang Barstal, on Graphic Smash.
Aaron Neathery, in addition to drawing the first Narbonic guest week, has created a number of adorable and occasionally disturbing comics, including Albert, Ed Deadeye, and Daycare.
Trudy Cooper is the utterly brilliant creator of Platinum Grit. If you like Narbonic, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll like her work.
Chris Baldwin is best known for Bruno, one of the longest-running and loveliest webcomics, which is also ending soon. Fortunately, we’ll still have his equally wonderful strip Little Dee.
Chris Shadoian‘s Streets of Northampton was one of the flagship comics on Modern Tales at its launch, and his Popcorn Picnic is on Modern Tales now. He drew the bonus story in Volume 2 of the Narbonic print books.
Derek Kirk Kim is the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Award-winning creator of the graphic novel Same Difference and Other Stories. He’s so talented he makes everyone around him puke with envy.
Irony Chan draws the daily webstrip Get Medieval. She drew the bonus story in the upcoming Volume 4 of the Narbonic print collections.
Tom Hart is best known for Hutch Owen, currently a daily strip on Serializer.net. He’s also the acclaimed creator of graphic novels like The Sands and Banks/Eubanks. He and I collaborated on the webstrip Trunktown.
Vera Brosgol is one of the most gifted cartoonists and animators of her generation.
Brian Moore is a fantastic cartoonist and illustrator. He draws Smithson, which I write.
Jason Thompson draws The Stiff on Girlamatic, and is a hell of a guy.
Dirk Tiede draws Paradigm Shift on Modern Tales. He and I once collaborated on a World Cup tie-in manga, which was fun. He’s a hell of a guy, too.
Andrew Farago is the curator of the Cartoon Art Museum and the creator of the webcomic The Chronicles of William Bazillion. He’s easily produced more Narbonic-related art than any cartoonist besides myself. He’s also married to me.
Shaenon of today here. In June of 2006, I sent a group of cartoonists the following email:
If you’re receiving this email, it’s because a) you’re a cartoonist I admire, and b) at some point you’ve been kind enough to lend your talent and/or kind words to my webcomic “Narbonic.” Now I’m appealing to your generosity once again. At the end of this year–December 31 precisely–Narbonic will end its six-year run. I would like the final Narbonic strip to be a Sunday feature incorporating images of the characters in the future, giving the readers a glimpse of what happens to them after the strip ends. And I’d like for these images to be drawn by different cartoonists, as a nod to the tremendous help and encouragement I’ve received from other creators over the past six years.
Also, because I’m lazy.
So here’s the request: I’d be thrilled if you’d do a drawing for the final Narbonic strip. I will assign you a scene to draw. The details–dimensions, style, B&W vs. color–are up to you. I can also catch you up on any information you might need if you haven’t read the strip in a while. I’ll need finished art by mid-December, so you’ve got some lead time. If you’re interested, please email me by next Saturday, June 10. Also let me know if there are specific characters or situations you’re particularly interested in drawing. I’ll do my best to accommodate you. If you’re not interested or don’t have time, that’s more than okay.
One more thing: whether you decide to participate or not, PLEASE keep quiet about this project. Obviously, it involves hella spoilers.
Thanks very much, and thanks again for all your support. Meeting great cartoonists like you guys has been one of the biggest benefits of working on Narbonic, and I couldn’t have gotten to the end of the strip without you. I’m really lucky.
Of the people I emailed, one wasn’t able to participate. Another planned to but couldn’t get the art done in time. As it turned out, the illustration I’d assigned him would have spoiled some developments in the at-the-time-unplanned spinoff Skin Horse, so it’s just as well that I wasn’t able to include it. (All right, all right–it was Artie’s wedding.)
What I did get were, as you can see, some of the greatest artwork of all time. Some of the many details worth turning your attention to:
— Those are some seriously pissed-off hamsters.
— It’s a little hard to tell at this size, but in Phil Foglio’s piece, Madblood is being legally represented by Phil himself. Some of his regular characters are in the courtroom. Also, that’s a really cute pouty Madblood.
— Someone needs to hire Roger Langridge to draw a Little Shop of Horrors comic. How great would that be?
— The “Starfish Body-Snatchers from Outer Space” headline in Joe Zabel’s piece is a reference to his comic The Fear Mongers, which he had just started around this time.
— Dr. Narbon has resurfaced in Australia. I was inspired by Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country, and particularly the section about a mysterious 1994 explosion in the Australian outback that may have been a meteorite, an earthquake, or the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult detonating an atomic bomb. I figured she’d be comfortable in a country where it was never entirely clear, at any given time, whether someone was setting off atomic bombs. Sorry, Australians.
— Dave’s proposal to Helen, as depicted by Aaron Neathery, also comes up in a Narbonic story I gave away in the Narbonic: The Perfect Collection Kickstarter drive. Aaron did the first guest week for Narbonic (week-and-a-half, in fact), and he was one of the artists I absolutely had to have in this final montage. He wrote the newspaper text himself.
— I asked Trudy Cooper later than the other artists, mainly because I was and remain intimidated by her talent. As you can see, she responded generously with a super hot pinup of Demon Slayer Seth.
— I submit that my best joke in this sequence is the idea that Caliban has not done anything more notable than getting promoted to manager at Starbucks. That’s about his level. Sorry, Starbucks managers. In all seriousness, I think that Caliban eventually progresses to opening his own coffee shop, probably near D.C. where Mell does terrible legal things for the Pentagon.
— Yes, Chris Shadoian drew Dave’s feet up in stirrups. You probably don’t want to think too hard about this. Move along.
— The Bondian hero in Derek Kirk Kim’s piece looks suspiciously like our friend Jason Thompson, who drew Mongor a few panels down.
— When I sent the artists their initial orders, my friend Laura, the model for Dave’s gaming buddy Iris, was pregnant. A few months later, she learned that she was having twins, and I had to email Irony Chan (a.k.a. Laura Chapple) and ask her to add another baby to the gaming scene she was drawing. The twins are doing fine, by the way.
— Tom Hart’s piece is based on the lyrics from Jonathan Coulton’s “Skullcrusher Mountain”:
I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you
But I get the feeling that you don’t like it
What’s with all the screaming?
You like monkeys, you like ponies
Maybe you don’t like monsters so much
Maybe I used too many monkeys
Isn’t it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?
— Vera Brosgol finished her piece on the night of December 30. I had to scramble to get the strip assembled and posted, and was ultimately up until about five in the morning. And it was totally worth it. Artie looks SO NONPLUSED. Also of note: after going through several invented surnames over the course of Narbonic, Artie has, at some point in the future, finally admitted that he’s a Narbon.
— I find the idea of Madblood reconciling with his rogue android duplicates extremely touching, and Brian Moore executed the scene perfectly. Madblood’s face has just the right traces of smug.
— Jason Thompson’s piece is, of course, an Animal House reference. I did it to entertain Andrew. Jason was my go-to artist for this because he is the best guy at drawing monsters.
— And Dirk Tiede’s is a riff on Norman Rockwell’s much-imitated “Freedom from Want.” You’re never short a drumstick at a Narbon Thanksgiving. The important thing is that Dirk drew Caliban looking out at the audience. Never, ever, do a “Freedom from Want” pastiche and forget the guy in the foreground looking at the audience. He’s the most important guy.
— Andrew is the other artist I absolutely didn’t want to do without. He painted this for me on canvas. It remains in a place of honor in our home.
I’ve updated the homepage links for the artists above. I should probably update their bios, too, but so much has changed. One of these people runs an art school now. Two of them make movies. Two draw smutty comics, and one draws Popeye. I should probably leave the bios as-is, so we can look back and marvel.
Thanks again, everyone.
This is the best explanation we ever get for Dave’s prescient Slumberland dreams. Sometimes mad scientists just know stuff.
This isn’t my best coloring job, but what the heck. I managed to work in a few callbacks to previous Narbonic strips, including echoing the fakeout ending from the first trip to the island with a real ending this time. I knew for a long, long time that the last line of the strip would be “evil.”
And that’s it! You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here! If you want to read more stuff by me, just about everything is available on Shaenon.com. If you’re hankering for more Narbonic specifically, I’ve been doing new Narbonic stories for the Couscous Collective anthologies, available here. To date, the anthologies with Narbonic stories are SPACE (currently out of print), BEARDS, and SPIRITS.
Meanwhile, thanks so much to everybody who’s read this far, including the people who read Narbonic when it ran the first time and then reread it again on the Director’s Cut. I hope I’ve managed to entertain. You are all awesome. So long!
P.S. Of course Helen makes pink lemonade.