In the script for this, I originally had Dave list all the guys named Bruce he considers attractive, such as Bruce Campbell and Bruce Willis. It wouldn’t fit in the panel, a problem readers have probably noted I run into an awful lot.
Mell’s crush on Willie Nelson occurred previously in a non-canonical Sunday strip by Andrew Farago. It comes up again in a much later strip in which the characters list Mell’s weaknesses. Sometimes running jokes develop in strange and unpredictable ways.
As is mentioned in a much later strip, Dave seems to have strong morals only where his crush on Helen is involved. He doesn’t have a problem working toward the conquest and/or destruction of the earth, but he’s not about to pull a “Revenge of the Nerds”-style seduction. That would be wrong! The protagonists of Narbonic may be villains, but they’re generally honest villains, which is why the most severe crisis in the strip involves Helen withholding important information from Dave.
Still, if you’re going to do a story where characters turn into duplicates of other characters, you have to at least bring up the possibility.
I like that the pencil cup in the second panel contains a test tube and a hypodermic needle.
I wrote this strip fairly late in the process. It occurred to me as I was reviewing the rest of this week of strips that the previous storyline provided Artie with a petty personal motive for dicking around with Dave. Artie’s entitled to be petty once in a while.
It’s probably reflective of my personal mindset that the longest Narbonic storyline opens with the female characters building transmogrifiers, plotting revenge against their enemies, and apparently carrying out some kind of illegal international arms deal, while the male characters worry about dating and looking pretty. Also, that I spend way more time on the latter.
This is, I believe, the first of a number of jokes in Narbonic about Madblood’s height. The stupidest thing about this is that he’s not even short. He’s average height, about 5’9″ or 5’10”. But Dave’s 6’1″, and in this strip it made sense for him to notice that he was suddenly eye level with Helen. After that, it just became amusing to keep harping on it.
Sometimes running jokes just develop out of nothing.
Inasmuch as Helen built the transmogrifier and encouraged Artie to play with it, there’s not much chance she’d be confused by this situation. I always like it when she gets excited enough by Dave’s distress to bounce up and down, though.
No, I don’t know how the transmogrifier knew how to reproduce Madblood’s goatee. As we shortly learn, it reproduces other things that aren’t genetically determined, like fingerprints, so there’s some serious hand-waving required here.
Argh, I hate the way Helen came out in the last panel. Everything is completely wrong. What is she leaning on? I hated it when I first drew it, too. Sometimes a drawing just doesn’t work and there’s nothing you can do to make it work.
Which is too bad, because I really like Helen’s little crush on Dave here. See, she can recognize him because she knows and loves him, the same way she can differentiate between a dozen identical gerbils! This might be the first outright indication that Helen has a thing for Dave. It’ll come up again.
I was really interested in the characters’ body language in Narbonic (and in all my comics, really). One of the things I liked about this storyline was the challenge of differentiating between identical characters (and, in the weeks to come, there will be many duplicates of both Madblood and Dave) with expressions and poses. And by giving them different glasses.