D-Con: February 18-23, 2002

That’s a pretty big girder Dave’s toting in this strip. I never explicitly brought it up, but Dave’s a bit stronger than you might expect. He’s a big guy. Also, I suspect Helen might have tweaked him a little when she brought him back from the dead.

I ended up using the gender-swap formula several times over the course of Narbonic. In general, I tried to use inventions from earlier in the story wherever they would be useful. And I did kind of enjoy drawing the reverse-gender Helen and Dave.

Look how happy Helen is to be infiltrating the Dave Conspiracy! Who could ever be so heartless as to deny her this simple pleasure? I ask you.

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Well, it’d be hard to smuggle Mell into the convention. And Helen really does worry about Mell’s education, strangely enough. I figured I’d keep her and Artie out of play until later, when Helen would need Mell for firepower and Artie for…well, clinging desperately to whatever’s handy and explaining things, which is pretty much all he does.

The radiation cabinet in the last panel has magnetic poetry on it.

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This is so ridiculous I still kinda like it. “Gabba gabba hey” is sort of from the movie Freaks, and more from the Ramones’ version of the line from the movie Freaks.

Boy Helen actually looks kind of menacing in the first panel. The goatee really helps.

There are lots of little gerbil tails hanging out of the wastebasket in the last panel. This is not the correct way to dispose of your gerbils. Also, I notice I’ve once again drawn a Sea Monkeys Ocean Zoo among Helen’s lab equipment. I had one on my desk at work.

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Gosh, I still love this strip. It’s such a ridiculous conversation. Also, the identities Dave and Helen come up with for themselves are actually pretty good.

Dr. Pretorius is the madder mad scientist in Bride of Frankenstein, a movie that comes up repeatedly in Narbonic. The SEAL Team 6 thing is an admittedly obscure nod to a MSTing my ex-boyfriend Kevin did of a terrible RPG fanfic called “The Seven Stars.” Here are the first few chapters of Kevin’s treatment.

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As I’ve mentioned before, one reason I had Dave drive aesthetically unappealing cars was that I was terrible at drawing cars, so I figured my ugly drawings would at least match the ugliness of the original car. It almost works here, in that this is quite an unattractive car. Wish I hadn’t gone with the grey fills, though.

Mell’s line is from Bugs Bunny, of course. Storage Room C is, I’m pretty sure, the only storage room ever mentioned in Narbonic. It’s like Fibber McGee’s closet in there.

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59 thoughts on “D-Con: February 18-23, 2002

  1. Heaps of people end up with strange first names, so I wouldn’t be that surprised to meet a woman named Dave. For one, there was that woman who changed her name by deed poll to Dave Gorman (from Are You Dave Gorman? fame: Dave Gorman made a drunken bet to find 54 other Dave Gormans).

    Can you become a Dave by deed poll, or do you have to be born a Dave? 

  2. Monday!

    If my memory serves me correctly, the alfalfa-based gender transformation potion is used, directly or implicitly, in three (3) more story arcs, including this one and excluding the final one. Admittedly, it does make for a relatively versatile disguise.

    Swirly elbow-skin: 2. Every time I see it, it bugs me for some reason.

  3. Funny thing, but said formula is alive and well and living in The Mad Scientist Wars (the fanstory). Great comic!

  4. Thank you, Valerie. I was just about to google for the filename story locations, since it had been a few months since I’d last caught up on them. It’s like serendipity or synchronicity or random coincidence or something.

  5. Oooh, male Helen is back! And everyone’s eyebrows have gone free-floating and prehensile again! Yay!

    Helen is going to change his T-shirt, isn’t he? Most men named Dave that I know don’t wear clothing with little hearts.

    Also, I am sure there must be a Davina out there whose friends call her Dave.

  6. Davette is a tad more elegant, I think. But it would seem that you have to have ‘David’ originally.

  7. Both filename stories are good, but going way too slow >_< Dammit, phrases per day, people! 🙂  


  8. “Splort!” is just so appropriate.  I’m gonna nominate it for Webster’s next revision.

  9. Well, Mell could become a plausible Dave just as easily as Helen did. But Mell never gets gender-swapped or transmogrified or turned into Dave or given uncontrolled shapeshifting or killed, zombified, decorpitated, and transplanted into a robot or unstuck in time or… Usually that’s Dave, but Helen and Artie both catch their share. Pretty much the worst thing that ever happens to Mell is getting assumed into Heaven. Presumably, this is because unjust desserts (like evil cupcakes!) are funnier, and Mell pretty much always deserves it.

    And I suppose disguising Mell wouldn’t work for long, anyway. She wouldn’t get past the hotel lobby before she felt the need to start blowing things up.

  10. I think if you added male testosterone to Mell’s already murderous personality, the consequences might be too horrible to contemplate….

  11. What does the bottle by Helen’s suitcase say on it? It looks like Bay W-something… inquiring minds want to know!

    I’m not sure if adding extra testosterone to Mell would make her noticeably more aggressive, really. She’s so aggressive already,  would we notice?

  12. Well, when Boy-Helen punches the wall and says he feels better, it’s MELL who says ‘Welcome  to my world’, so you could make a case that she’s already pretty testosterone happy.

     Girls don;t have *no* Testosterone, just lesser *amounts*.

    … Which means Mell prob’ly has a little girl-moustache.

  13. Can’t we all just agree that Mell + more testosterone = bad thing? At least as far as Helen is concerned?

  14. Mell has more than testosterone.  She has testostertwo.

    Possibly testosterthree as well.  (Thanks and a nod to Victor Borge.)

  15. I’m not sure if adding extra testosterone to Mell would make her noticeably more aggressive, really. She’s so aggressive already,  would we notice?

    Very, very briefly.

  16. I would so write dirty limericks of love to Helen with her magnetic poetry. Once she’s back to being a she, that is.

  17. Wait….. You left Mell and Artie at the lab, thus inspiring a fan to write an extensive fanfic about what Mell and Artie got up to during that period. A fan who you could then collaborate with in a new comic when you finally ended the current one. Now you are here saying “Evil schemes responsibly.”


    You planned this, didn’t you???

  18. Tuesday:

    Another instance of “good” as an accusatory adjective, reminding us of our protagonists’ self-proclaimed alignments. Speaking of which… Mell seems to be picking up on Helen’s gradually eroding immorality.

    Off-panel head inserts: 7.

  19. I thought the first rule of biology was, “A zygote is a gamete’s way of making more gametes.”

    The next time something unexpected happens, I will remember to shout “Gabba gabba hey” and confuse people.  (I was playing golf last weekend and had opportunity to use “crap on a cracker”, which amused my buddy.)

  20. So that’s where it comes from. It’s been ages since I watched that movie. I’ve more familiar with it being the classic cheat code from Descent.

  21. The one time ever that something gets tested on Mell. Mainly because it won’t have any effect on Dave.

  22. Okay, I’ve got to revise my comment from yesterday. This is the worst thing that ever happens to Mell.

  23. Of course the original line in the movie is “gooblegobble.” The Ramones took a pretty big liberty with that one.

  24. Yeah, but it makes for one of Daves better takes.

    And is i tjust me, or is Man-Helen weirdly handsome when all smug?

  25. I think male Helen is generally pretty handsome. And, yes, I do feel weird about that.

  26. Wednesday:

    It almost makes sense that Mell becomes identical to a Dave at about the same time that Dave manifests Mell’s inexplicable neck-craning ability.

    It is, of course, not just silly but inconsistent that Helen can manufacture a pheromone for a quality that the five ruling Daves can bestow and remove by fiat.

  27. Well, the Council of Five’s fiat is only upheld by the social conventions of the conspiracy, and mad scientists aren’t bound by social conventions.

    This seems like a good time to introduce my definition of Mad Science, as practiced in Narbonic

    Doing things that shouldn’t be possible for reasons that don’t make sense.

  28. It could be I’m missing this in the comments, but is everyone else seeing this as one strip short? Today is Thursday and there’s been three strips. The same pattern all week. I figure it’s one of two things, either Shaenon’s running a strip slow (no problem if you are), or there’s a technical glitch. If it’s the latter, I figured it ought to be mentioned.

  29. It’s not a full day off; it’s just been updating mid-afternoon instead of the usual 0100 EDT. I’d also chalked it up to SDCC.

  30. Helen’s jeans are now too short for him… (and I bet he’s wearing pink socks, if only we could see them).

    I find male-Helen oddly attractive, too, and he’s not even vaguely my type.

  31. *sigh* it;s always the evil ones…. with restrained crushes on their henchmen…. who are actiually girls.

  32. *sigh* it;s always the evil ones…. with restrained crushes on their henchmen…. who are actiually girls.

  33. Thursday:

    Today, a callback to this revelation, perhaps? Dave really shouldn’t be surprised – that bearded man rebuilt him cell-by-cell, watched each of his organs form. He has nothing left to keep for himself.

    Dave in panel 2 is apparantly holding his cigarette between the middle and ring fingers of his right hand, while pointing. Is that possible?

  34. Leon: It’s a surprisingly popular option.


  35. Artie: the voice of reason (or at least, not making things needlessly complicated and lacking in verisimilitude).

    I think I may adopt “It’d take too long to order the costume” as a rebuff suited to any occasion.

  36. Saturday:

    Where, I wonder, is Dave’s car parked? Highway median strips don’t usually have driveways, do they?

  37. Off topic:  It seems that somebody reported WebComicsNation as at “attack site” — there’s no details about what it actually supposedly did, but I got a big red screen from Firefox.  I clicked through anyway, on account of I’m non-Microsquish and running AdBlcok Plus to boot.

  38. Now, wait. What is Fibber McGee’s to you? Because I doubt the Sarge is talking about Dublin’s northside metal, punk and underage (illegal) bar.


    This is the point where Mell and Artie’s evening starts to go wrong, isn’t it? 

  39. I swear, Shaenon must be older than me to throw in a Fibber McGee reference.

    To the chronologically underpriveleged (i.e. young kids), Fibber McGee was an old radio show.  Yeah, they used to do sitcoms on the radio, in the days before television.  Fibber McGee kept almost everything in the world in his closet … every time he’d need something, you’d hear him say, “Let me just look in my closet here…” then you’d hear the sound of a door opening, and a tremendous crash as the entire contents fell out, burying anyone nearby.


  40. Only slightly more current would have been to say Mr. Whoopee’s closet from Tennessee Tuxedo. Helen would totally have a 3-D BB.


    Dave could just pull that ugly car off to the side of the road and people would assume it was abandoned. And being that ugly, they’d leave it alone.

  41. Yeah, we’ve been getting the bug notice on Google. Don’t know what happened. Joey’s looking into it.

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