Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: December 16-21, 2002

I really tried to stay away from topical political references in Narbonic. You’ll notice there’s nothing about September 11 in the 2001 strips, for instance. I did have information about WTC relief efforts on the Narbonic site for some time. I’ve got a lot of friends in New York City and it was a scary time.

By winter 2002, of course, there was a whole ‘nother set of issues in play. It was a politically polarized time and Artie’s a political guy.

After this strip ran, someone emailed me to warn me that the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan was a socialist organization. I really don’t think that would bother Artie. Much later in the strip, he gives money to a bunch of hamsters on stilts. Now that’s a bad idea.

Anyway… this is one of the first strips where you can see part of the name of the bar, Manganello’s Irish Pub. The name came from a family in-joke that my cousin Tom Manganello, having married into our Irish family, was going to start a bar with that name.

Okay, so I just like writing Dave drunk. He gets kind of belligerent. This strip is just silly, but I regret nothing but those horrible grey fills.

“Doors are JERKS” was a line I wrote at the last minute after being unable to think of anything more coherent, and it’s probably one of my best punchlines ever. I enjoyed drawing all of Dave’s drunken expressions in this week of strips, especially the classic Squinting and Pointing.

Dave has more than a touch of Nice Guy Syndrome, which I like to think he gradually loses over the course of Narbonic. I like that in this strip he seems to think his problem is that women don’t appreciate his unconventional good looks. You keep working it, Dave. Things will look up.

Like Artie has room to talk. He can’t even tell whether other gerbils are male or female.

The bartenders are based on my cousins Kim and Tom, the hypothetical proprietors of Manganello’s Irish Pub. “Nerdberger” is the name of a character in a Sam Henderson comic. He’s a nerd.

I think this is the only time Artie gets drunk in the strip. He holds his liquor a lot better than Dave does. In other news, that is one adorable detox gun.

Every once in a while, Artie betrays that he’s Helen’s creation. His last line here is reminiscent of the Thursday strip in this week. And by “reminiscent,” I mean, “I recycled the gag.”

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39 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: December 16-21, 2002

  1. Hey, if your cousin ever needs a commercial jingle …

    (TUNE: “There Is A Tavern In The Town”, William H. Hills)

    It’s Manganello’s Irish Pub!
    (Irish Pub!)
    Come down and get some booze and grub!
    (Booze and grub!)
    Ignore the barmaid’s sores, and the waiter’s hacking cough!
    We bought the health inspector off!

  2. Monday:

    There’s no way Artie was going to let Dave upstage his shocking revelation. Especially with something as unimportant as falling ass-over-teakettle for their mutual employer and up-and-coming space queen.

  3. “It’s Martha Stewart’s money. Please don’t tell her.”

    Now I have this picture in my mind of Ms. Stewart as the Cobra Commander-style head of an army of obsessively organized hit-women coming after Artie.



  4. Tuesday:

    Internal consistency with the Wetware Interface storyline lends a convenient punch-line to today’s thrilling episode. And, of course, a reminder that those omnipresent cigarettes don’t just purchase themselves.

    Beer snorkeling?! But isn’t that the exact opposite of drinking beer? (Furthermore, surely Artie would prefer to bathe in a more aromatic beverage.)

  5. Judging from the darkness, that’s probably Guiness in the glass, so Artie couldn’t go scuba diving unless he used a jackhammer to dig a hole first.

  6. (TUNE: “Livin’ On A Prayer”, Bon Jovi)

    (Once upon a time,
    In the Narboniverse …)

    Helen built an underground lair;
    Flashing blue eyes and flowing blonde hair,
    She’s cute … so cute …
    Dave’s debugging software all day;
    Falling for Helen, but what would he say?
    He’s mute … it’s moot …

    So to the tavern!  He’ll sit and sigh!
    He needs a drink, even said he’d buy!
    He’s such a failure and he can’t tell why!
    Oh no … he’s starting to cry!

    Hey … I can’t quite hear!
    I’m … divin’ in my beer!
    Miller Lite, ’cause it’s nice and clear!
    Who-oah!  Divin’ in my beer!

  7. Dave seems to be drunk enough already that he picks up someone else’s empty glass in panel 2, not his own nearly full one!

    Now that’s poor alcohol tolerance.

  8. So if Dave’s on beer one and Arty’s snorkeling in beer 2, who emptied the other 2 glasses?

  9. It could be Artie’s on his third pint and Dave accidentally grabbed one of his empties in panel 2.  Or it could be that the clear glasses contain water and the boys are wisely alternating sips to prevent hangovers.

  10. Doing an archive crawl last night … Skin Horse for 06/17/2008, does the sign in the window read “Manganello’s Irish Pub”?  Considering that SH is in D.C. and Narbonic is set in the Midwest, Manganello’s must be a franchise …

  11. So if Dave’s on beer one and Arty’s snorkeling in beer 2, who emptied the other 2 glasses?

    Artie, of course. It’s all a bit ridiculous.

  12. And in a bit of lifeimitating art, or art imitating life, I got fired today, and I’m pretty sure my girlfriend has had it with me. And my vehicle died yesterday.

  13. As many times as I’ve ead that strip, I’ve never noticed that Artie was snorkeling. Bad me.

    Shaenon,  I’m guessing the inside of your Closet of Anxiety is painted with a 60% gray fill…

  14. Wednesday:

    We all know from panel 2 that Dave, bereft of both glasses and stable vision, is actually pointing at a hatrack or a distant skyscraper, but the female toilet door makes remarkably more sense than the traditional possibilities.

    By now, the reader is probably wondering if that whole Moonblood thing from a week ago is only going to be a once-off. True Off-Topic Fact: a week ago I suddenly realised that, not only was it poetically apropos for “Wolf” to take over the moon… but that Lupin’s father’s name is Felix. Felix! A thousand curses on your cleverness!

  15. At this point, the only way things will be looking up is if Dave gets hammered enough to fall on the ceiling.

  16. Nice Guy Syndrome is, basically, the tendency for meek guys to act particularly helpful and attentive towards ladies they like in hopes the woman in question will spontaneously say, “Hey, he’s such a nice guy, I should go out with him.” When the woman doesn’t recognize the guy’s friendly behavior for what it is and goes and dates someone who actually, y’know, asks them out, the guy complains about how girls never want nice guys. The issue being that it’s inherently selfish and they’re not really “nice” — they’re calculating, acting friendly in the expectation of something in return.

  17. Isn’t citing a comic to call someone a nerd itself kind of nerdy?  Or did I just BLOW YOUR MIND???

  18. Obviously, the bartenders don’t have the “normalcy filter” that becomes a major plot point later on.

  19. I think there may be something like the Weak Anthropic Principle involved here. It’s logically necessary that the bartenders be able to see and hear Artie, because if they couldn’t see him and take his drink orders, he’d go to a different bar.

  20. /* Obviously, the bartenders don’t have the “normalcy filter” that becomes a major plot point later on. */ – I was wondering about that myself. Wonder what their story is.

  21. Friday:

    It’s a land of wonders and magic down beneath the asphalt in Narbonics Labs. Now I’m beginning to wonder what other whimsical prototypes Dave never finds out about.

    That’s not a treble clef engraved on the side of the gun? Well, there has to be a spark gap and tiny eyeball-shaped Van de Graaf generator on top.

  22. At least it’s not the gerbil inseminator. Then Artie would *really* have something to worry about…

  23. Saturday:

    These fools are like putty in her hands. Dave must still be under the residual effects of moroseness to be this persuadable.

    It’s kind of bizarre how this particular transformative doohicky functions through the application of laserlike energy to an arbitrary part of the body, in comparison to the more straightforward gender-swapping draught Dave refers to today.

  24. Dave Davenport starrs tonight in “Dr. Narbon or How I learned to stop worrying and love the Death Ray.”

  25. Four years after this comic, Persona 3 would come out, featuring an entire team of high schoolers who operate their superpowers by shooting themselves in… usually the temple actually, but point stands.

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