D-Con: February 11-16, 2002

This is a really dumb joke and I like it anyway. So there. Although it’s a shame the way the word balloon is attacking Dave’s face there in the third panel.

Helen’s T-shirt reads “Zillion Pharmaceuticals,” which I know is a reference to something, but I don’t know what. I mean, there’s an actual pharmaceutical company with that name, but I don’t think that’s it. I do recall that I had the idea of giving Helen T-shirts from companies the lab dealt with, but that idea didn’t go very far.

The most ridiculous thing about this storyline is, of course, the crossover between regular Narbonic continuity and the Sunday strips, where Helen feuded with poor Dave Barker. This plot development was especially hard to explain in the print collection, which doesn’t reproduce the Sunday installments. I dealt with it by getting the actual Dave Barker to write the intro to Volume 2, in which this storyline appears. The intro he turned in is pretty damn funny.

The characters are right. There never was any good reason for any of this.

I’m sorry, Barker. Really.

I have nothing to say about this strip, but what do you think that stuff on the counter in the first panel is? It’s a total mystery. The little object looks like a pedometer or something.

Dave’s angry eyes always crack me up. He’s so nonthreatening when he’s angry.

Why did I introduce a secret Illuminati-like society into Narbonic? Well, here’s Helen’s incoherent explanation. Thanks, Helen!

Dave’s weary, weary pose in the last panel is pretty good. Also, I think I’m getting better at drawing boobs.

The note in front of Artie reads, “Sure hope Ellmann can read this.” The note in front of Dave reads, “Agenda: Blow Stuff Up.” If you think that note would be more appropriate for Mell, you don’t really know Dave. Neither does Dave, of course.


I used this general gag any number of times in Narbonic, but what the hell, it’s cute. Even though it’s not as expertly rendered as it might be, I like Dave hunched over the console in the first panel. This is basically what I look like when I’m drawing.

Dave is, of course, wrong on every single count to a greater degree than he could possibly imagine. Except for the part where he thinks he can rebuild Helen’s doomsday device.

54 thoughts on “D-Con: February 11-16, 2002

  1. Monday:

    Hey! Hi! Hee! Wait a minute! You can’t put Helen’s mailbag grudge with Narbonic fan Dave Barker in the canon strips! You’re folding the fourth-wall Sunday strips into continuity!

    Stop, I say! The versimilitude can’t withstand it!

  2. Tuesday:

    In a way, your brand of evil is far more frightening than ours.” Today, Helen quietly ponders the sinister side of innocent human curiousity. Idle hands and all that. It’s an unusual change-of-pace for her.
    Helen calling Dave evil: 2.5.

    Strange stars!

    (Hmm… cranial rainclouds notwithstanding, I wonder about the viability of an arc dedicated to weather control. Snow in summer! Remote-controlled cyclones! Personal sunbeams during rainshowers!)

  3. I love today’s strip. Possibly because it’s vaguely reminiscent of my husband crouched over a currently-dead video recorder or something. (No doubt it is just as well that we don’t possess a non-working doomsday device.)

  4. There is really nothing more evil or worrysome than a programmer who is bored. If you ever hear one say “I can do it better,” make a backup of everything, and RUN.

  5. You’re telling me. For the record, never ask one to help you figure something out… two hours later you’re running files on a #$@! toaster.

  6. Wednesday:

    The real reason was, of course, that Master Barker made a quite justifiable assumption about Ms. Narbon’s age. If she was at all reasonable, she would be targetting the cartoonist instead.

    Of course, this does result in a noticable sinkhole in the strip’s narrative causation. Certainly, this webcomic has punctured the fourth wall some 24 times in the past, but only for a fleeting instant with no meaningful effects, that we can discard idly. But now an external event is serving as an internal plot motivatior. The Narboniverse is no longer a causally closed system. This isn’t necessarily a crippling flaw when said webcomic is a comedy of such elasticity, but it does make it hard for anyone attempting to treat the narrative with analytical seriousness.

  7. Sinkhole? What sinkhole? These are mad scientists you’re dealing with, my friend. There was no continuity of causation in the first place.

  8. The only reason Helen needs is “because I said so, that’s why.”  (Wait … does this mean my mom was a mad scientist??)

    Today’s band name: “Vengeance Mojo”


  9. Ed: Yes, your mom was a mad scientist. Now you know why things get kind of fuzzy between eighth and tenth grade, and none of the other kids’ families had a “handyman” named Igor. And why most of the PTA was vaporized. Oh, and the thing with the pie.

  10. Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: Ed: Yes, your mom was a mad scientist. Now you know why things get kind of fuzzy between eighth and tenth grade, and none of the other kids’ families had a “handyman” named Igor. And why most of the PTA was vaporized. Oh, and the thing with the pie.

    Yeah asking her to help out with the bake sale was a bad idea

  11. See, my mom *is* a Mad Scientist. No joke. One week, it’s history, another she wants to save the world.. well, she’s always trying to save the world. Just with evil.

  12. Mell’s drinking the coffee. I thought you weren’t supposed to drink the coffee. Character-ignoring-her-own-advice count: 1

  13. I see no contnuity breach. So long as MIT exists in the Narboniverse, there’s no reason there can’t be a student named Dave Barker there.

    Reynard: You assume Mell doesn’t want plesiosaur DNA.

  14. Dave Barker is getting off lucky – his youthfully exhuberant photographs resurface years later only to show off his sense of humor. Imagine the poor soccermoms in PTA meetings tonight who are wondering if all the men in the room have seen those naked pictures that her college boyfriend “said” he deleted…

    Lucky me to be old enough that my horrid pictures from 1973 are unscannably stuck in albums – white flared jeans with red, yellow, green, and blue pinstripes …and the purple turtleneck…I looked like a Parcheesi board in a space warp… well, I was young and didn’t know any better… 

  15. Oh, “Davicide” was the best neologism of the year. It gets extra points because you can argue about how to pronounce it.

    (Today’s neologism – “technopedophilia” – the desire of an old crackpot to hire only young, impressionable engineers who won’t realize he’s just making stuff up.)

  16. Well, if killing a wife is “uxoricide”, is killing an ex-wife “exoricide”?  Except in the case of my ex, it would take an exorcism to get rid of her.  (Sorry, it’s 2am, my stomach hurts, and I’m not in a good mood.)

  17. Thursday:

    All I want to know is, where did Helen get the photo? A midnight raid on a filing-cabinet in a distant, darkened skyscraper? Or did she just nick the wallet of a hapless in-universe Shaenon? Either possibility brings forth even more questions.

  18. No, it’s a messy killing.

    Sorry.  Haven’t been to Rocky in forfrickinever.  Must get in lines where possible. 


    • Narbonic with audience participation. Sounds good to me!

      Now if we could only persuade Shaenon to say “I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey…” -_^

  19. Whenever my mom photo’s someone, and they’re of age where perhapse they have a few spots or some shine, they tend to protest ‘Oh, I’ll look so terrible!’.

    Her response? “In twenty years, you’ll look at this photo and all you’ll be able to say is ‘I look so young!’.
    Q E Duh. Dave, welcome to immortality. Plus: Love the hair. I’m doing something similar this holloween for my Joker Costume.

  20. Friday:

    There’s plenty of things to say about this strip. Firstly, the shadowy meeting of the world’s Daves is, as indicated by the arc title, a ‘convention’ rather than, say, a ‘gathering’. This is the first second clue that the Dave Conspiracy really isn’t as deathly serious a business as one is led to expect.

    Secondly, we’ve got a strangely ambiguous line in panel 3. Does Helen herself mean that Mell coming would, in a twist of Dave’s words, be putting the Daves’ lives at stake? Hard to tell – obviously Mell sees it that way, but Dave doesn’t.

  21. Big Freakin’ ™ Gun count: 15

    You realize that “cannon fodder” is a 19th-century term … what would the 21st century equivalent be, especially for a mad scientist?  Death ray fodder?  Red shirt walking?

  22. The 21st Century equivalent of “cannon fodder” is stuff like the new Star Trek movie showing the NCC-1701 being built on-planet instead of in orbit, which will lead to endless discussion and verbal wrangling, i.e. canon fodder.

  23. BFG Fodder, aka BFGF obviously.

    And I think Dave’s actiually past that phase now- he dosn;t die- I mean, unless you count when… well… 

    okay, He’s still  BFGF.

  24. I was going to make a snarky comment about how the PB&Js Helen’s mom made for her must’ve been a lot more aggressive than the ones my mom made me, but then I remembered who Helen’s mom is. So, yeah.

  25. Saturday:

    So that’s two motives for Helen wanting to do in the Daves – promotion, and canonically problematic revenge.

    With regards to the former… it still stands that becoming a trusted partner or bitter enemy of a world-controlling organisation will complicate one’s own plans for controlling the world. As Helen (and, for that matter, Dr. N) intends to exclusively control the world through plagues, hordes and standard superweaponry, what she gains from chumming up to / eliminating a group that exclusively controls the world through subterfuge isn’t exactly clear.

    Of course, she doesn’t really want to control the world, does she? So, really, it’s all just business.

  26. “Also, I think I’m getting better at drawing boobs.”

    There are many cartoonists who excell at depicting the female form.  Shaenon may not have surpassed the leaders in this field … but at least she’s drawing abreast.

  27. I want the Dr. Horrible Freeze Ray song added to the Narbonic mix list. ^-^

    And I agree with Artie. After a while, you believe it. It hurts the brain, and sometimes you need to get out the white wash in order to start functioning properly again, but you’ve built up sufficient connections internally that almost anything can match up.

    Peanut butter and jelly? Peanut butter and petrolium jelly? Peanut butter and crude oil? Peanut butter and dinosaurs? Umm, peanut butter T-rex……

    Now, would smooth or crunchy better hold onto the spark of destructive life?

  28. Helen doesn’t particularly want to take over the world. I mean, she would, if it were useful for Science!, but she’s really more about the research and the chaotic evil.

    As we will learn shortly, there is a position in the Dave Conspiracy for a mad scientist, but it’s already filled.

  29. Yeah, I’m with Artie. There’s basically nothing left that’s  far enough out there that I’d call it unbelievable.  It ends up making me a bit gullible, but from what I’ve seen, this universe is a far stranger place than most people give it credit for, and the number of things that are truly impossible is, I think, very, very small.

    @ NigaiAmai Yume: Crunchy Peanut Butter is always the better choice.

  30. “…but sometimes they fight. Bitterly.”

    This is one of my (many) favourite jokes in Narbonic. More generally, I like this method of, like, reverse verisimilitude that the comic is able to get away with: having Helen say something like this which is so absurd that the audience goes, “Oh! She’s doing this because she’s mad,” and then cheerfully accepts as sufficiently motivated whatever comes next.

  31. Does the Dave Conspiracy run the DAVE School?


     Go watch ‘NASA Seals’.  It’s on the Demo Reel page.  You know you want to.


    *sigh* so many artists obsess about how well they do or do not draw the female form.  It’s a booby trap.

  32. Johnn Reynolds, you go to hell forusing bad puns.

    John Wells, you go to hell for beating me in posting that the third Dr. Horrible is up for viewing.  And for not saying it’ll be only available on line for a limited time – it’ll be taken down and available for order on DVD soon.

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