I remember spending a lot of time deciding what type of statue Helen was planning to steal. And no, I don’t know why Pakistan.
Man, I need to stop drawing those eyebrows, STAT. I like the little sweatdrops all over Madblood’s face in the second panel. Poor little guy. Why was I so cruel to him?
This was one of the first strips I wrote for this storyline. I wrote Narbonic all out of order, filling in strips whenever I thought of a gag or a new plot twist; in the later storylines, there are adjacent strips that were written literally years apart. I think most of “Crystal of Marinia” was written around this strip. I also think Helen’s dialogue is maybe a little out of character here, because it was written very early on.
The weird antagonistic flirtation between Helen and Madblood in this storyline is pretty entertaining. Alas, they were destined never to recapture that chemistry, mostly because Madblood turned out to be such a dork.
Sure, Madblood’s an utter cad here, but it’s also the last time he gets to be even remotely suave. More important, Mell has a totally awesome 8-ball jacket like Al wore on “Quantum Leap” (which Mell was watching at the beginning of this storyline, so that must be where she got the idea). One of my friends in high school had a jacket like this, and I was so jealous.
Man, do I ever love Mell’s jacket. That thing is friggin’ fun to draw.
I don’t know if Helen’s really had many, or even any, relationships at this point. She doesn’t seem very experienced. And she’s been very busy with the science, and the going mad.
In my original thumbnail, the last line was, “Men may be scum, but women are pure evil!” But I hate doing that kind of stereotypical battle-of-the-sexes stuff, so I changed it in the final version.
Another hilarious cartoon explosion that blows up every surrounding inanimate object but causes no real harm to anyone’s person (but does destroy a necktie). If only I could have kept Narbonic at this level of plausibility forever. Sigh…
Helen: 1. Dave’s Cars: 0.
In the background of the first panel, we’ve got Dave’s beanie Darth Maul again. To my vast surprise, I’m able to remember that the other object is an action figure of that gross bloated guy from the David Lynch “Dune” movie. They used to sell those in the Archie McPhee catalog, which I got for years when I was a kid. The book behind them is Hogfather, my favorite Discworld novel (except on the days when it’s Small Gods or Witches Abroad). Dave is wearing a “Weird Al” Yankovic t-shirt, because he’s just that cool.
You’ll note that Dave generally sports a lot of stubble when he’s awakened in the middle of the night. Some might argue that it’s unrealistic to depict such rapid facial-hair growth, but those people have not met my father, quite possibly the most testosterone-soaked engineer on earth. He shaves twice a day, morning and evening, and still has a permanent Fred Flinstone five o’ clock shadow. My mother hates facial hair and forces him to stay as clean-shaven as is physically possible for him, but when I was a kid he would sometimes go off on a weekend business trip and come back with a full beard or moustache. This is the model of male hairiness to which I was exposed in my impressionable years. For that matter, my husband is pretty hirsute, being one of those swarthy Sicilian types, but he’s got nothing on my dad.
This was the last daily Narbonic strip of 2000. And my art was already substantially less eye-gougingly hideous! Looking back, I’d made a lot of progress: the artwork’s a little better, the lettering’s legible if you’ve got good eyes, the characters are coalescing, and I’ve developed some idea of what type of material I want to do and where I want to take the story. In the balance, things could be much worse. Excelsior!