Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: December 23-28, 2002

Look, Artie in little goggles! Sad but true: Artie in little goggles is pretty much the entire reason Jeffrey Wells, my Skin Horse collaborator, read this strip. He cannot resist animals in little goggles. Or hats.

On the shelf behind Dave: a mug with little hearts on it (obviously Helen’s), a jar full of eyeballs (ditto), and an NES.

Man, did I ever need to learn to draw word balloons. Anyway, this strip brings up something hinted at throughout the series, that Helen is secretly pretty manipulative. It ends up being a major theme in this storyline in particular.

Radioactive material in Narbonic is almost always plutonium, because I had a friend in elementary school who was obsessed with it. This is a shout-out to you, Steve Blazewick!

What do you mean, what kind of grants do mad scientists apply for? Awesome grants.

Even though I’m sure it was obvious where this was going, I kept Dave off-panel and screaming for several days. I decided I wanted to stretch the gag into an entire week. This is the kind of thing that resulted in “Doppelganger Gambit” being eight months long. I have no regrets.

I think I wrote these strips pretty early in the storyline. They’ve got that still-working-things-out feel to them.

That’s a volume of The New Journal of Malology Artie’s leaning against. As for the background, who knows?

Another reason I stretched this out for several days: Artie is super easy to draw.

The question of how much Artie is like his evil colleagues comes up repeatedly in Narbonic. Ultimately, his efforts to do good probably end up causing more destruction than their efforts to do evil. He means well, really. Most of the time.

Okay, I’m bored with this now. Get on with it, Shaenon of the past! On the plus side, the gun came out extremely well in the first panel. As you can see, it apparently works via a small removable vial of some kind of liquid, presumably containing DNA and stuff. I didn’t think too hard about this.

Artie’s last line was inspired by something Andrew’s dad is fond of saying: “That movie’s so old, Gabby Hayes got the girl.”

Yeah, okay, who did not see this coming?

There’s something strangely satisfying about a) drawing Madblood with Dave’s body language and b) drawing Dave as a little skinny nerd rather than a big doughy nerd. Much more of this in the weeks to come.

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36 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: December 23-28, 2002

  1. “”So, Dave, what did you do today at work?”
    “I let myself get convinced to shot myself in the face with a wierd ray gunby a talking gerbil.”
    “…………Never talk to me again.””
    Dave III, 21 Dec. 2002

  2. Monday:

    Is that a background, midground and foreground in panel 1? Someone must have had an invigorating weekend.

    Dave’s comment brings to mind a trope about characters keeping their faces when they transform. Though I suppose the intended joke is in Dave’s loyalty to his body extending only as far as the bridge of his glasses.

    Aaah! Silent Penultimate Panels: 13.

  3. (TUNE: “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”, Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe)

    I really want to keep my nose …
    It helps my glasses not to fall …
    All other noses I reject!
    This shape I will select!
    This nose … I pick …
    (Oh, man, that’s sick …)
    Though this transmogrifying ray
    Could make it any shape at all;
    A nonexistent Michael Jackson, or a big Durante bold!
    It really doesn’t matter much, unless I get a cold …
    At times like that, it really blows …
    Regardless, I suppose,
    I want to … keep my … nose!

  4. I have a few large and well-labeled buttons in my brain; little animals with hats and/or goggles is one of them.  I tender no apologies.

    On that note:  Eee! 

  5. Now, is this the strip that the canon-revisers are referring to, where Mell is surprised to see Helen in the lab at 10?

  6. From a Mad Scientist Grant application form:

    What terrible revenge will you wreak if your work is not funded?

  7. Tuesday:

    Helen’s “Well, I- that is-” probably ought to have saved up and bought a panel to itself. It’s a moment in and of itself!

    Is there really a compelling reason why Helen must trick the boys into zapping ’emselves? Possibly because she needs to directly wrest a favour out of them further down the plotstream, but isn’t the fact the she’s their boss give her enough authority to irradiate them however many times she wants? She could give Dave a raise or something.

    Off-panel head inserts: 15.

  8. If I was going to zap myself with a transmogrifying ray, my nose is the main thing I’d want to change… maybe that’s just me. Or do most people think their noses are a bit odd? They’re a rather odd facial feature, all round.

  9. Also from a Mad Scientist Grant application form:

    List three (3) fools, and how you intend to destroy them.  Attach separate forms for each fool.

  10. Besides plutonium, there’s also mickium, goofium, and the rarer mortium and ferdium. Oh, and minnium (and the identical but smaller byproduct minnimium).

    “These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard. And there may be many others but that haven’t been dis-cah-ved.”

    (For the youngsters out there, Mortie and Ferdie were Mickey’s Huey, Dewey, and Louie. I only recall seeing them once in the Gold Key Disney comics. I don’t think they liked working in their uncle’s shadow. Rumor has it that they hooked up with Mickey’s old foil Ricky and were working the lower end of the Las Vegas lounge circuit. They both disappeared in late 1991 after Ferdie accidentally stepped on Frank Sinatra’s shadow.)

  11. Wednesday:

    Artie would make a terrible Mephistopheles. Helen probably wouldn’t try to convince Dave at all, though.

  12. Artie’s standards of HUMAN beauty are different than Dave’s, anyway. Is this storyline the first hint as to human-Artie’s sexuality, long before human-Artie even exists?

  13. Last week I had begun to suspect that Dave was going to get his wish,(if only for a short time), and be drawn by Andrew Farago. It seemsfrom his reaction, that this is not the case.

    Poor Artie. He tries to help the humans, but their ideas ofrationallity just aren’t the same as his.
    James Rice, 26 Dec. 2002

  14. Thursday:

    Characters respond to prolongued off-panel scream with patient introspection. Previously!

    (Actually, I’m pretty sure that every comic strip does this type of gag sooner or later. It’s definitely the sort of joke that wouldn’t work in live action, and not just due to the logistics of talking over screaming – a good portion of the humour comes from the sheer spatial length of the scream in the comic.)

    Also note: Dave’s exasperated “Gah!”, signifying that he needed to draw breath, and is continuing to scream of his own volition.

  15. Artie always takes for granted that he’s “the good one”, despite that not really standing up to scrutiny. It was gratifying to see Helen call him on it towards the end of the run.

  16. Friday:

    “I was bored” isn’t quite the sort of flippant response that Artie of all people would give. Maybe something like… “That’s why I was testing it”?

  17. (TUNE: “With Love From Me To You”, The Beatles)

    There’s a body shape you might want …
    There’s a feature that you might lack …
    I’ve got the means
    To make custom-made genes!
    But I … can’t change … you back!

    It’s a trick to rearrange you
    And keep you still alive!
    If I cannot safely change you,
    Then I’ll just ask Dan Shive!

    If you hassle me, I just might
    Make you Carrot Top or Jack Black!
    Or just for fun,
    Maybe Ed Gedeon!
    And I … won’t change … you back!

    (Explanatory footnote:  Dan Shive writes and draws El Goonish Shive, a webcomic that also features a transformation ray gun.)

  18. I don’t think Artie’s being flippant in saying “I was bored”. Being Artie, he’s being truthful; he was bored. He hasn’t yet found out how to use his energy in internet activism; which will also refine his ethics (odd, it doesn’t do that for the rest of us…)

  19. Saturday:

    Look at that head-body ratio! Once again Dave gets the short end of the transformation stick. Sad to say, but that killer robot from last year was probably the zenith of Dave’s protean existence.

  20. What do you mean “Apropos of nothing”?  That’s Apropos of everthing!   TMBG AND Science, come on.  It’s practically a Narbonicon sound track all by itself.

  21. All I can think of when I’m reading Artie’s soliloquy in the Thursday strip is when [SPOILER ALERT OH DEAR $DEITY THE SPOILERS ARE GONNA GET ME]Helen berates Artie for calling himself “the good one” in the last storyline.

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