Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: December 2-7, 2002

Hey! Today’s my birthday!

Today begins the longest single storyline in Narbonic, running from December 2002 to July 2003. Some claim “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit” is too long, but these people are haters. It is awesome and contains everything a Narbonic storyline requires: mad science, romantic angst, shape-shifting, explosions, and humiliating things happening to Dave.

The art in this week is pretty bad, though. It’s all over the place. Dave looks cute in the first panel, though.

I don’t like this strip very much, but I do enjoy the uniform Madblood has apparently devised for himself. Mell steals his jacket later on.

Again, the art is all over the place in this week of strips. I was trying to do some new stuff and only sporadically succeeding. Also, I was getting tired of drawing Dave with the full beard.

Dave’s probably right about the island, although I cannot even begin to guess what kind of move he thinks he should’ve made.

This is a really doofy strip; I only did it to fill out the week. I had Andrew do the lettering on Madblood’s signs so they wouldn’t have my handwriting, but he had trouble doing all the teeny-tiny lettering. Lettering is hard.

I do like Madblood’s continued efforts to get Helen’s attention. He and Helen both have a pull-your-pigtails-and-run approach to dating. Also, Dave is clearly fed up with the whole thing, as well he should be.

I watched “Birds of Prey,” which was a bad, bad idea. Gail Simone’s run on the comic is really good, though.

Even though the punchline isn’t great, I like this strip. Helen’s flounce, and Mell giving Artie that doofy Star Trek line, and whatever the hell sci-fi pen Dave is writing with… it’s all good.

The only problem with doing the shoulder sprites is that they tend to really clutter up a panel. Beyond that, I always enjoyed writing these, and this one has Dave’s Steve Dallas-like social life.

It’s probably too small to tell, but Social Life smokes a joint rather than a cigarette.

Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: Next

59 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: December 2-7, 2002

  1. You and my daughter have the same birthday? She turns 10. Evil 10. She’s going to love this.

  2. Happy birthday!

     Also: agreement. Best headline ever. If I knew how, I’d make up a fake newspaper and print that front page out to hang on my wall.

  3. Hah! Funny thing… right now, in the forum story [The Mad Scientist Wars], we just started a new chapter. It’s titled:

    “Jane Narbon and the Doppelganger Gambit”.

  4. Monday:

    I will say of today: it is the best start to a storyline that this webcomic ever had. (The lift door isn’t even fully open!)

    The girth of this storyline is a tad appropriate for the number of motifs it covers: space travel, AI, impersonation transformation, and animal-to-human transformation. The question is, did it really need all four of these motifs? Especially, one might argue, since animal-to-human is already going to be covered by Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil? …I’ll reserve my judgment on this matter for eight months.

  5. Happy birthday! Also, this is one of my favorite storylines, so not too long. Although to be fair I first read it in book form, not doled out over 8 months.

  6. Oh, come on, Dave. “Can’t compete”? It isn’t Madblood that Helen’s just asked to conquer the solar system at her side.

    Happy birthday, Shaenon! 

  7. That’s an interesting point, really. Helen is now thinking of herself and Dave as a team to the point that she’s saying “We must challenge him” instead of “I must”

  8. There’s no such thing as a narbonic story that’s too long. More, more, I say! And that one was particularly awesome.

    And happy birthday!  

  9. This was the storyline that was going on when I found this comic.  Sure, I went back and read the archives eventually, (and bought the books when I could) but this is the one that hooked me in.  So I can’t say that it was in any way “too long”!

    It was commented re the previous storyline that, for all the talk about it, nobody ever actually gets turned into a gerbil.  It might also be pointed out that, despite the talk (and her own high hopes) I don’t recall Mell ever actually shooting anyone.  (Wait; I seem to remember a throw-away bit where she shoots up a computer lab full of geeks who want to play Doom.)

  10. I agree with our Evil Birthday Overlord – “Professor Madblood & the Doppelganger Gambit” is pretty much the perfect Narbonic storyline. Yayy! Go Team!

  11. Sorry for the late update, very busy today.  Happy birthday, Shaenon!  Also, the Big Freakin’ ™ Gun count goes to 26!  (Mell, background of panel 3)

    (TUNE: “The Army Goes Rolling Along”)

    Give a shout!  Give a cheer!
    Shaenon’s made another year!
    The cartoonist of Narbonic fame!

    She draws blood!  She draws gore!
    She draws gerbils by the score!
    The cartoonist of Narbonic fame!

    For it’s draw!  Scan!  Post!
    Then we’ll raise a glass and toast!
    Count off the candles on the cake!
    (DON’T … ASK!)
    And in twenty-ten,
    We’ll sing this filk again!
    The cartoonist of Narbonic fame!


  12. (Tune: Volga Boatman’s song – sort of)

    Happy Birth-day (uh!) 

    Happy Birth-day (uh!)

    Misery & Despair

    People dying ev’rywhere, but

    Happy Birth-day (uh!)

    Happy Birth-day (uh!)

    May the candles on your cake,

    Burn like cities in their wake, so

    Happy Birth-day (uh!)

    Happy Birth-day (uh!)


    Courtesy of Megan & Cameron Courter who never miss

    an opportunity to sing it (or in this case, type it) 

  13. Happy B-Day Shaenon. And The Doppelnganger Gambit IS too long, but it’s when the cool stuff begin to happen and introduces the Madblood bots, so it’s Ok (Also is the best Madblood story, aside from the Everlasting Ices of the North of course)

  14. Look at him. He looks so pleased in the first panel. Maybe even he wasn’t sure his moonbase plan was going to work until now.

    And in the second panel, the M flag seems to be coming out of the top of his head. Brilliant!

  15. I like the final line. It’s classic Madblood that he’d end up beaming out his ultimatum on the Food Network instead of CNN or BBC. I suppose he should just be glad it didn’t end up on the Shopping Channel instead.

  16. I think the impressive part is an air tight uniform like that. Take *that* you Pillsbury dough boy astronauts!

  17. Myrddin- Honestly, given Madblood’s tiny frame, there’s plenty of room for a relatively bulky spacesuit under there.

  18. That’s a bit sad, really… I mean even the Phantom Dictator of Krankor managed to overwhelm every channel, and he didn’t even wear underwear.

  19. (TUNE: “Day Tripper”, The Beatles)

    I’m Lupin Madblood!
    Ruler Supreme of the Earth!
    Lupin “Wolf” Madblood!
    Laughing with psychotic mirth!

    ‘Cause I’m the world tyrant!
    God-like Em-per-or!
    No one can sto-op my
    Deadly ray!
    Make my day!

  20. I like this strip.  Anything where everybody gets a final-panel punchline that just so in-character you can’t stand it.

  21. Wednesday:

    Rocket telescope. (Actually, that makes a not inconsiderable amount of quite mad sense. But still – rocket telescope. And as soon as the same afternoon?!)

    Helen doesn’t misunderstand the moral value of that lunar base – it is very, nay, profoundly evil. Its mere existence on the face of creation is, to rephrase a certain in-joke, well over 1.6 kilodogkicks.

    The reason she doesn’t have any beast-men is because Helen’s mastery of physics and biology already elevates her above Dave’s level, and having bona fide loyal minions plural would only unbalance the interpersonal dynamics in this comic even further.

  22. (TUNE: “Rocket Man”, Elton John)

    And I think I’m gonna see out into space
    To spy on Madblood at his lunar base!
    Got a surprise or two for him, I hope …
    (Yeah, I’m no dope!)
    Got a rocket scope!
    Scopin’ out my rival on the Moon!
    (And I think that Dave will take a trip quite soon…)

  23. And, of course, there’s the expense of those Frontline? flea-and-tick control treatments…

  24. Bjexcou: YOu left out the stanza in the HAppy Birthay song that could have been written expressly forMell:

    There’s a lesson you must learn…

    FIRST you pillage, THEN you burn!

    Happy birthday!

    Happy birthday!

  25. Thursday:

    This strip isn’t all that bad, despite its silliness, and also despite being the second cable TV joke in three days. For one thing, Helen’s jumping up and down in childish impatience.

    Madblood grinning with closed lips: 4. It’s springtime on the moon, where the sun shines on Madblood every day!

  26. Believe it or not, Leon, the WB actually was on non-cable airwave-style TV in a few places. 🙂

  27. (TUNE: “Fly Me To The Moon”, by Bart Howard)

    Madblood’s on the Moon,
    He’s smug and smiling like a jerk!
    He will find out soon
    His dark and evil scheme won’t work!
    His plan I’ll scotch,
    Wait and see!
    He made me watch
    The W.B.!

  28. @Leon: I’m pretty sure the WB was not in fact a cable TV channel, especially as we didn’t have cable at the time, but I was still able to made the mistake of watching Birds of Prey.

  29. As my wife said at the time, the draw for Birds of Prey is it’s a buddy story about grown women. Turn it into teen angst and you lose what makes it special. No wonder the tv show failed.

  30. Friday:

    And that’s the end of the story. Next week: Mell skateboards down the Golden Gate Bridge arches.

    Helen’s hair billows in a very cape-like fashion, I’ve just noticed. If this were in colour, I’d be making comparisons to a deific aura about now.

    Hey! Don’t get your grubby fingers on the panel gutter!

  31. I like Mell’s pose and expression in the final panel. It’s at such contrast to her usual maniacal look.

  32. (TUNE: “What Do You Get When You Fall In Love”, Bacharach & David)

    What do you get when you fight Madblood?
    You build rocket scopes to probe his moon base,
    And get your scheme thrown in your own face!
    I’ll … perpetrate my own in-ge-ni-ous schemes!
    I’ll perpetrate my evil schemes!

    Oh, what a harsh insult this is!
    An un-ex-pec-ted result this is!
    Anyway, he can keep his luney base,
    I got plans … more evil than goonie-face!

    What do you feel when he foils your plot?
    He’s not worth your time, he’s just annoying …
    Give me a day, I’ll start destroying!
    I’m … gonna infiltrate your base, Madblood!
    I’m getting in your face, Madblood!

  33. Saturday:

    Personality sprites: 9. As they’re supposed to represent the subject’s internal conflict with a weighty moral dilemma, I’m not sure why they’ve manifested in this episode if the only competition to Good’s argument is just “Kill! Kill!”. It seems unlikely that Dave would be particularly compelled by that.

    You know, it’s a wonder this webcomic never employs any floating advisors representing the subject’s imagined conception of another character.

  34. (TUNE: “Hollywood Nights”, Bob Seger)

    I got an evil side, says “You should kill and kill and kill!”
    I got a good side that says “Let her go!”
    I got a social life, says “If you go out, then you will
    Get us shot down by a hot-looking ho!”

    I got personal sprites!
    Both the good and the bad,
    And my social life gripes
    ‘Bout the fun I ain’t had!
    Yeah my personal sprites
    They keep bothering me!
    On those Saturday nights
    When I play with my Wii …

  35. The only problem with doing the shoulder sprites is that they tend to really clutter up a panel.

    Which is much of their charm!  “See, this is why I try not to think”.


  36. All I can see for the first strip is a message saying “No image available.” I’ve been reading from the beginning, and I’ve gotten that message in a couple of Sunday pages too, but this is the first place I’ve seen it in the daily strips. I don’t remember having that problem the last time I read Narbonic online, but that was a year or two ago, and it looks like the site’s been redesigned since then. Is it just me, or is anyone else having trouble seeing some images here? If it’s just me, any ideas about how I can fix it? If it matters, I was using Google Chrome originally, then switched to Internet Explorer to see if it would help. (It didn’t.)

    • That’s because this version of the site was rebuilt from an archive I made a couple of years ago, and it turns out that my archive had a few holes. They’ll most likely get filled back in when Shaenon has time to find and re-upload the missing strips.

      (The rebuild is also why most of the comments are dated July 8; anything newer than that has been left since the rebuild and anything from that day is a comment that was there when I made the archive, and didn’t have any date associated with it on the original site.)

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