A confession: I hate this storyline. It gets way too bogged down in unimportant plot stuff, it doesn’t go anywhere, and I probably shouldn’t have introduced supernatural elements into Narbonic in the first place, let alone brought them back for multiple storylines. During the course of “Demons,” I considered giving up and ending Narbonic. (Of course, as Andrew and Jeff Wells both know, I’m likely to melodramatically threaten to give up on whatever I’m writing or drawing at any given moment.)
That said, there are some things about “Demons” that I like. I enjoy the character of Caliban, so it was fun to bring him back. The Valentine’s Day party and sleepover is a pretty good setting. And I like the opening weeks. This strip, for instance, is pretty good.
The narration is my tiny homage to Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor. Dave’s line went in because the scene reminded me of similar bits in Bloom County, even though Berkeley Breathed lifted the whole “talking to the bathroom mirror” gag from Doonesbury. Dave’s “Geek Pride” T-shirt was designed by cartoonist Brandon Hanvey. Brandon gave T-shirts to a ton of Bay Area cartoonists, who are always happy to receive free clothes, so for a while all of us could be seen about town displaying our geek pride.
Dave is still wearing the chili-pepper boxer shorts Mell put on her head in the very first story arc.
Originally, this storyline was going to take place during a Christmas-season party, but “Unstuck in Time” went on a couple of months longer than expected. It works better as a Valentine’s party anyway.
What the heck is that helmet Dave’s wearing? What job is he off to perform in the helmet? I don’t know, but I like it.
I wrote this strip just to provide exposition and explain why Helen wouldn’t be bringing a date to the party, but it works pretty well. There’s Dave’s smug grin, and Helen calling Madblood “an old sorehead”… it’s solid.
Around this time I tried to draw Helen with her hair up while doing lab work. I worried about that kind of thing.
Artie is reading “the wail of archy,” from Don Marquis’s “archy and mehitabel” sequence. Marquis wrote a series of poems from the point of view of archy, a free-verse poet who dies and is reincarnated as a cockroach. At night, archy climbs onto Marquis’s typewriter and types poetry, all in lowercase because he can’t work the shift key. The poems were beautifully illustrated by Krazy Kat creator George Herriman. This falls into the category of “stuff I was into in high school that explains why I couldn’t get a date.”
Anyway, in “the wail of archy,” one of the best poems in the sequence, archy totally angsts out about being a cockroach. It’s ideal transgenic reading material.
The whole idea of Artie predicting what people are going to do and say is something I came up with early in the planning of Narbonic, when I thought of Artie as a mischievous wiseass character. Maybe it doesn’t quite match his personality as it eventually developed, but I liked the idea too much not to use it.
This is the kind of stuff I find hilarious. I’m a big old nerd.
I spent a lot of time tweaking character designs for Maternal Instinct before realizing she should just look like Helen’s mom. It’s embarrassing, how often the obvious choice eludes me.
“Go away, maternal instinct!” is a line I still find funny, not to mention applicable in daily life.