Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: February 17-22, 2003

As I’ve mentioned before, Andrew and I own only an NES and a Super Nintendo, so the majority of video-game references in Narbonic are to these two game systems. I was playing a lot of Donkey Kong Country at the time I wrote this. I’m pretty good at the Donkey Kong games.

Helen mentions that Dave sounds just like Madblood, which means there’s a danger he could be Madblood, having somehow intercepted Dave’s cell phone. But really, only Dave would open a phone conversation the way he does here. Helen’s ability to distinguish between Dave and Madblood, no matter what they look and sound like, will come up later.

Dave-as-Madblood playing video games is just adorable.

I love conversations where both parties have separate but equally wonky goals. It’s not nearly as good if one of them is sensible.

Helen is wearing the same dress she wore to her high-school reunion. It’ll appear again. Helen doesn’t have a lot of dressy clothes.

Dave just keeps bagging on Madblood. You’d almost think he was annoyed by Helen’s efforts to seduce the guy.

I decided to do this strip even though it arguably contradicts the way Dave ultimately quits smoking in “Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time,” which I had already plotted out at this point. I thought it was funny. I get in a lot of trouble that way.

One of my favorite strips from this storyline. Dave-as-Madblood came out great in the third panel; he’s a nice combination of curves and lines. I have no idea what any of the devices behind him might be. I have nothing more to say about this strip except that it’s awesome and I should win ten Nobel Prizes for it.

This storyline has a lot of strips where the dialogue almost totally crowds out the art. At least in this case I anticipated it and drew huge friggin’ balloons for the computer’s typed dialogue.

Yes, in the first panel, Dave is stealing Madblood’s silverware. Which consists of sporks.

Naturally I hate this strip because it’s MADE OF HORRIBLE GRAY FILLS. Also, Madblood appearing as a 300-mile-tall hologram is the kind of thing that really shouldn’t get crowded out by an oversized word balloon. Nonetheless, Helen’s point stands.

As we see next week, Helen is at Notari’s, the Italian restaurant where she and Madblood had their date back in “Crystal of Marinia.”

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36 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: February 17-22, 2003

  1. Monday:

    I found your appreciation of Donkey Kong Country quite endearing all those years ago, even though our age difference probably means that it was much less a facet of your preadolescent childhood as it was mine.

  2. (TUNE: “Philadelphia Freedom”, Elton John)

    I used to have a game of Pong,
    Just bouncing from left to right;
    But after fifteen minutes I was bored …
    I used to have a job (meaningful, somewhat);
    But the games have changed!
    The more I play, the less my work gets done!

    Now I eat and sleep and play my Super Nintendo!
    From the day I brought it home, it made me glad!
    Super NES, it had that 16-bit processor;
    Gave me graphics like my 8-bit never had!

  3. Tuesday:

    Once again Dave seems slightly out of his depth. Does this woman really have her twitchy-yet-firm hand on the tiller of this mission?

  4. And despite having an AI running the moonbase, Lupin also has… an answering machine.And never mind how Lupin got his moonbase hooked into the Earthly phone system… there’s the question of how Dave and Helen are conversing without lightspeed delay!

  5. Given Lovelace’s tendency to comment on Madblood’s personal life, do you really think he’d want her answering the phone to his mother?

  6. (TUNE: “Devil With The Blue Dress On”, by Long & Stevenson, covered by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels)

    Jeepers peepers, see those eyes!
    Little black dress, just her size!
    Got a date, she’s leaving soon;
    Gotta call Dave, up on the Moon!
    Cigarette and flannel shirt,
    Quit playing Donkey Kong now and get me some dirt!
    Helen with her black dress, black dress, black dress,
    Helen with her black dress on!
    I confess I like this black dress, black dress,
    Helen with her black dress on!

  7. Eh, Dave’s a human. He’s allowed to be contradictory. And thus, the cartoonist has made no mistake–just a realistic character!

  8. Wednesday:

    There have been so many smoking jokes over the years, and each one serving to further concrete the constancy and immutability of Dave’s smoker identity, that Dave’s sudden kicking of the habit is rendered a shocking, unthinkable blindsiding. (Of course, its ramifications for events within its storyline itself are not to be forgotten, but those gently arise in the reader’s mind later, when the mutability of things is an important issue.)

    So, I can’t help in hindsight to see each of these smoking joke strips as foundationstones for the aforementioned big surprise, even though the foremost consideration in our author’s mind was possibly little more than getting through another day.

  9. I don’t see any contradiction! Remember, Dave’s “brain”, (abused synaptic receptors, spinal reflexes, etc.) didn’t go through time with his mind/soul. Nor, apparently, have these things been transformed with his appearance — he still slouches, retains his own temperament and personality, and (as shown with the A.I.) even his own “flavor” of machine talent, rather than Madblood’s. Continuing to smoke fits in fine with all that….

  10. The situations aren’t analogous. At this point in the strip, Dave’s so ingrained his smoking habit that it’s like a mental rut.

    As for later–

    Wait, what are you talking about? Dave never smoked.

  11. “The body may be clean, but the brain’s been smoking since high school.”

    I don’t think the body would be clean. If he’d been transfigured at any deeper than a cosmetic level, then he’d’ve stopped slouching and stuff as those above have noted he’s still doing. If it’d been right to the cellular or atomic level, then Madblood’s memories and everything would’ve been reproduced and Dave would have believed he was Madblood. Helen will have made sure the transfiguration was as thinly cosmetic as possible so as not to interfere with Dave’s beaten down, manipulable wishy-washy will. She only pretends to be dismayed that Dave went right to smoking; actually the question was a test to verify that she achieved only the depth of transfiguration she wanted.

    I can explain the parsec thing in Star Wars too.

  12. Why ten Nobels?

    1. This strip is a concise deconstruction of the socio-political motivations of the geek mind. It lends a great deal of weight to the argument that scientific journal articles should be present in a comic format. Not that I’ve heard that argument, but when someone gets around to making it, it’ll have some weight waiting for it…

    2. Umm, lemme think about it

  13. Thursday:

    Today’s punchline may be fairly conventional, but it isn’t laid on any heavier than it needs to be. A subtle smirk and a tiny thought balloon are enough to show Dave as silently smug but not outright smarmy.

  14. (TUNE: “Octopus’s Garden”, The Beatles)

    I’ve been marooned
    Here on the Moon,
    With a new Super Nintendo system here!
    I get to play
    All night and day
    One or two Super Nintendo games; what cheer!
    I’ll sit and play … so quietly …
    Won’t shout “HOORAY!”, and won’t go “WII!”
    With Madblood’s face,
    In Madblood’s base,
    Just a new Super Nintendo … and me!

  15. If you can’t spend the evening with a beuatiful woman, a Moonbase full of advanced (or even retro) geekery is a decent consolation prize.

    Meanwhile, Mell is … ?

  16. Zarathustra’s Id:

     2: Nobel Prize for analysis of sexuality in the self proclaimed “geek male”, most notably the denial of an traditional “date night” in favour of new gadgets. 

    3: The humanization of items, possibly in order to gain intimacy or companionship with something that will not deny or abandon you.

     4…Who’s next? 

  17. 4th: The psychological vs. physiological motivations behind nicotine addiction.

    5th: The effect of lightspeed delays on interpersonal communication and alleged perception of emtional states.

    6th: Sense

    7th: Inning Stretch

    8th: Wonder of the World

    9th: Projection of personality traits onto fictional characters as pertains to their graphic resolution vis-a-vis 8-, 16- and 32-bit microprocessors.

    10th: ‘Cause Mell’s got a .357 magnum pointed at your occipital lobe, that’s why.

  18. I actually own a Titanium spork.  And thanks for reminding me, I’ve been planning to have in monogrammed.


  19. Friday:

    With dialog balloons as large as this, one wonders whether this chosen font is a bit of an encumbering extravagance.

    …Well, it’s not like the computer gets to speak all that often in this storyline.

  20. (TUNE: “We Will Rock You”, Queen)

    Sweetie, you’re an A.I.
    That’s why
    You allow me in
    Even though you know I’m not him!
    You got primary node
    With fail-safe code!
    It’s threaded so your head it won’t overload!
    Guide me, I’ll re-
    Write you!
    Guide me, I’ll re-
    Write you!

    Talking to computer,
    Cute her
    Voice is; sounds to me
    Like Jennifer Con-nel-ly!
    I can help you, you see!
    I’ll set you free!
    All righty, just guide me
    To C&C!
    Guide me, I’ll re-
    Write you!
    Guide me, I’ll re-
    Write you!

  21. I’d never realized that Dave was stealing the silverware before. Somehow this makes perfect sense.

  22. This is quite possibly my favorite strip in the entire run.  “PEOPLE OF EARTH” is a guaranteed laugh line.

  23. Saturday:

    This episode’s events are quite silly, but at the same time, everyone wishes they could do this. (Though what I also want is to know where his voice is being projected from.)

    He’s a big enough man to offer her a choice, what with most world rulers willing to part with only the least romantic of continents. I know I’d pick Asia without question or remorse.

    Fourth Wall Dialog: 35.

  24. (Since yesterday was “We Will Rock You”, there’s only one obvious choice for today …)

    (TUNE: “We Are The Champions”, Queen)

    I will rule from the Far East
    To the Cape Of Good Hope …
    Hope that girl at Notari’s
    Doesn’t think I’m a dope …
    But now something unexpected
    Has come up, my dear!
    So you see, with respect
    I’ll project
    My regret
    On the ionosphere!

    I’ll be your ruler … it’s Fate!
    For now, I must cancel … our date!
    I’ll be your ruler, I’ll be your ruler;
    There’s no one cooler,
    For I’ll be the ruler …
    Of the world!

  25. This way you know he meant to come but couldn’t and everyone knows you were going out with a powerful guy and you weren’t dumped

  26. What Madblood doesn’t realise is that when appearing as a 300-mile-high hologram, all your potential subjects can see of you are your nostrils. And it’s kinda hard to be terrifying when people are commenting on your nose hair.

  27. His voice is projecting through every device capable of sending a signal- from the biggest speaker systems down to a simple metal mixing bowl.
    Sound familiar?

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