Smart Gerbils: February 26 – March 3, 2001

When I stick to drawing nothing but gerbils, Narbonic looks pretty good. You know, overlooking the fact that they look nothing like actual gerbils.

I like the way the gerbils think they’re too young to read but old enough to speak articulately and destroy the humans with their death ray. Also, man, this storyline’s got a high body count.

Song list:

25. “Don’t Look Down,” by the Sugarplastic

Facts and science, this kangaroo alliance
A pallid pair when everything is at stake
What would they choose, if their feet were in my shoes?
The likes of Newton, Faraday, von Heisenberg, and Planck?

From Heroes and Villains: Music Inspired by the Powerpuff Girls, which is an awesome album. Seriously, it’s got songs about the Powerpuff Girls by Shonen Knife, Devo, Frank Black, and the Apples in Stereo. What more do you want out of a cartoon soundtrack? Anyway, “Don’t Look Down” is sung from the viewpoint of Professor Utonium as he watches his superdeformed creations fly off to battle Mojo Jojo. Excellent mad-scientist song, albeit focusing on those pitiful fools who choose to harness their genius for Good.

Oh, Shaenon of the past. You can’t even draw a damn rectangle in perspective. Sigh.

As of this strip, the rebel gerbil forces are reduced to Dana and an unnamed second gerbil. It’s probably either Allison or Jaye, since those three were my housemates in my senior year of college.

Today, July 31, marks the seventh anniversary of Narbonic. Yikes.

Song list:

26. “Maybe It’s Crazy,” by Seanan McGuire

I like a man who knows things men weren’t meant to know.
Who grabs ideas in his teeth and then won’t ever let go.
I know that I’m no Bride of Frankenstein,
But we could be electric if he’d just be mine–
Maybe it’s crazy, but baby, love usually is.

Seanan has written a couple of awesome Narbonic filks, but they haven’t been recorded yet, so for now I’ll have to content myself with this henchman love song. Heads-up to devotees of mad science music (I can’t be the only one, can I?): Seanan is planning an entire album of mad science and horror songs, Red Roses and Dead Things, which I am told will in fact include a song about Narbonic. Keep an eye on her website.

This strip doesn’t really have a punchline. I try not to do that kind of thing, I swear. Also, how does that elevator work? It’s got like a rope attached to the top that’s dragging it up. Honestly.

27. “Livin’ in Deep Thirteen,” by Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank

I was alone with the world to tame
I was evil but feelin’ blue
Lookin’ around, talkin’ to clowns
Never guessing that I’d find you

What, like you don’t own both Mystery Science Theater 3000 soundtrack albums? This song has personal significance because I used the first two lines as my senior quote in the Vassar yearbook. Now it always tears me up a little. Good times…

I don’t have much to say about this strip, but I do like how these storylines can start out fairly mundane and wind up, weeks later, with two superintelligent talking gerbils arguing over their death ray after killing the rest of their group.

Okay, song list:

28. “Transmission C,” by the Incredible Moses Leroy

It’s a quarter past eight
He’s rubbing his own face And dreaming of the day
His name’s in the books
And how they’ll all say
They knew him when he was
A genius in the brain and a light to the fools

I swear this song is about the relationship between Reed Richards and Sue Storm in The Fantastic Four. But you gotta love that scientist romance, and I’m big on the Incredible Moses Leroy. Incidentally, I may have the lyrics wrong; this is the first song on the list for which I’ve been unable to find lyrics online.

As you can see, I made extensive use of the white gel pen for this one. Also, I think Dave is definitely looking at Mell’s butt now.

Song list:

29. “So Far I Have Not Found the Science,” by Soul Coughing

I don’t mind the worry following me like a dinosaur
I don’t fear I am descending into the molten core
So far I have not found the science
But the numbers keep on circling me

This is a great song! Also, it’s one of those songs that consists of the same lyrics repeated over and over, like a lot of R.E.M. songs. For some reason, those things tend to be darn catchy.

And now, for no particular reason: an extra-long strip! I just thought it’d be fun. No, I don’t know how the remote manages to continue working with a gaping bullet hole. Dave’s just that good, I guess.

And I squeeze in another “to be continued” caption box! Go me!

Song list:

30: “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades,” by Timbuk 3

Well, I’m heavenly blessed and worldly wise
I’m a peeping-tom techie with x-ray eyes
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing all right, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades

Surely the coolest song ever recorded about studying to become a nuclear physicist. Or any kind of physicist, really. Ah, the ’80s, when anyone could be a beer-chugging rebel who played by his own rules, from Michael J. Fox to the staff of Fermilab.

32 thoughts on “Smart Gerbils: February 26 – March 3, 2001

  1. Monday’s Comic: And here we are in the final stretch of the gerbils’ rebellion for control of the laboratory for reasons which are tenuous at best.

    It seems, upon introspection, that not all of the dumb jokes about “remote controls controlling things that they shouldn’t” are adequately milked by this story arc. We could do with at least one silly strip where someone ‘pauses’ the laser just before it strikes something, leaving a pure-white beam of energy extending from outer space to a just few feet above the floor. The fast-forward and rewind functions can subvert expectations by doing nothing useful.

    Current named gerbils (deceased in italics): Artie, Dana, Jaye, Ethan, Dale, Lise, Allison, Kate, Marc, Ben, Mike(?), Keri(?) (92.3% completion)

  2. Curse you, Tomn Peng! Yesterday’s first Madblood Battle Anthem made me put on on my _Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber_ CD, and the third track inspired this:

    “Dave Davenport’s Lament”

    Don’t torture me, Helen Narbon!

    The truth is, you really scare me.

    You’re oh, so sexy,

    But also crazy

    As a mad gerbil!

    I gasp and burble…

  3. Tuesday’s Comic: Silly Shaenon, Allison was eliminated three Thursdays ago.

    Testing out a weapon on one of your defectors? My, Dana’s pretty far gone into Overlordism at this point. Had she not flown over the cuckoo’s mortal coil, she’d have made an interesting Series Final Villain – considering that she is already almost a Series Final Villain by proxy.

  4. Woo! Happy anniversary! 😀 Seven years ago I was…really really young.

    Also, tee hee. Pinkos. 

  5. Interesting bit of Seanan music trivia: Singing along with Maybe It’s Crazy at full voice will cause holes in rush hour traffic: TRUFAX!

    Interesting bit of Shaenon gerbil trivia: They are not only genetically-modified for intelligence (if not sanity), they are also stronger than they look. The remote masses the same as the average gerbil, yet they are able to manipulate it as if it were paper. This becomes an important tidbit later when Artie starts throwing his weight around. 

    • Those aren’t the genetically modified gerbils. Only Artie’s GM in this storyline. It hardly matters though, normal gerbils are stronger than they look. Ever been headbutted by one?

  6. Wednesday’s Comic: Silly Shaenon, that isn’t how the Narbonics elevator shaft works! TIME PARADOX.

    Speaking of which, let us reprise previous complaints regarding the absence of tangled pipes, buried treasure chests, and Buzzy Beetles in the shaft cutaway.

    Dear me, doesn’t Helen ever tie her shoelaces? It’s a wonder that she remains upright for so long.

    Finally, this is probably the first strip in this webcomic where overt character intrigue is revealed. Congratulations!

  7. I must admit, panel 3 does ooze excessive cuteosity.  And the untied shoelaces just add to it.

    Maybe the rope pulls the elevator car up to the half-way point, where the hydraulic shaft takes over and pushes it to the surface?  Sounds like just the sort of excessively-complex mechanism that would appeal to the mad-science-techie-nerd personality.

  8. Gol, I still have fond memories of that MST3K soundtrack.  To this day, I can still sing the Frank song.

  9. What worries me is that, according to the arrows on the inside and outside, it only ever goes up. Wayside School is Falling Down?

    Unless that’s supposed to be a woman in a triangular skirt bending over, seen from behind. 

  10. Thursday’s Comic: “About” to blast the lab?! That awful, puissant finger of light has struck four times already.

    In the absence of more pressing issues, I shall now point out that I find it unlikely that even ingenuine gerbils would rest their tails upright, as if mimicking the handle of an ornate cup or mug. Also, there’s another merchandising idea for you.

  11. It occurs to me: The laser had enough power to (apparatnly) vaporize the gerbils, but no one seems bothered about the holes in the roof. I guess it must not be raining outside. ^_^

  12. Re: the Roof – Especailly when the roof is several feet of earth and possibly highway.

    Re: the Lyrics – I was also unable to find them online, but listening to the download, I believe that the above listing is correct.

  13. Yes, Mell and Artie must spackle.  There is much spackle that must be applied.  To repair the roof, they need lots of spackle.  Isn’t it amazing that “spackle” can be both a noun and a verb?  Do you love saying the word “spackle” as much as I do?  Spackle spackle spackle spackle spackle spackle spackle spackle spackle spackle wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee ha ha ha ha ha!

    Yes, I have had a lot of sugar today; why do you ask?

  14. Ed,  sadly, four years of working with a particular co-worker in the government has rendered the word spackle *shudder* somewhat disturbing to me. Let’s just say that this fellow had a tendency to refer to his “man spackle” and how he redecorated his girlfriends…

  15. Friday’s Comic: “Surrender or disintegrate” – but on the human scale, the heaven-sent mortal uncoiler isn’t very efficient with regards to total body dematerialisation. Would the gerbils really be motivated to powderise their victim’s corpses one brick-sized chunk at a time? (Now that’s what I call comedy.)

    Fun fact: apparantly, right now is possibly the first time in history that anyone has ever been inspired to concoct the phrase “No taxation without disintegration.

    I’d like to congratulate the artist on (unintentionally?) promoting the illusion that Dana (gerbil on left), when viewed face-on, has a circle-beard and goatee. Mwahahahahaha, like-mother-like-daughter etc.

  16. As far as the laser’s efficiency on humans, keep in mind that the gerbils are evidently using either the “Firey Death” or “Extra Crispy” settings (depending on whether they were able to get it switched a couple of weeks ago), whereas I believe that the only thing that humans are ever going to get hit with is the “Clean Death” setting. 

    Speaking of which, that’s three settings.  We later find out that there are four, all deadly.  So what’s the fourth one? 

  17. The fourth deadly setting is, “Economics Lecture”.  Slow and agonizing, with a synthesized Ben Stein voice.  After 15 minutes, if the subject hasn’t died from cerebral hemorhage, they commit suicide.

    P.S. Bwahahahahaha!

  18. When Dave was rebuilding the control panel, he probably added in the feature that Trek energy weapons have, where they can utterly disintegrate their target, and his clothing and any worn or carried gear, in a flash of FX, without so much as scorching the floor he stands on or anything else nearby.

    The current setting would probably incinerate a human target just as completely and with as little collateral damage. Or a mastodon. Or a ninety-foot-tall fire-breathing terror-gerbil.

  19. Saturday’s Comic: The day that Shaenon finally gives up trying to conform to syndication standards?

    (Don’t worry, fellow newspaper editors – you can simply decant panels 2, 4, 5 and 7 into one strip and panels 1, 3 6 and 9 into another, and thus produce two sufficiently paced humour strips. You won’t get this fortunate with future length infractions!)

    I know it’s a given by now, but today’s instance of flood-filled grey (and canonically inaccurate flood-filled grey, at that) will not go without remiss! And what, young lady, am I to make of the improbable angle from which that bullet’s being fired? I was under the assumption that the gerbils and their pilfered video-controlling device were still on the floor.

    And thus, Helen did meet again with the only person in the world that she is afraid of. This must surely be a cataclysmic experience for her, having been convinced up until panel 9 that Mom and her reign of terror had gone from her life, and the world at large, forever.

  20. Not only is it a cool song about being a physicist, it’s a cool song that extolls the virtue of GETTING GOOD GRADES. There’s something you don’t see every day.

  21. Now, not that I’m disagreeing with their choice, but why, precisely, do you think the gerbils were aiming for Mel’s bra strap?

  22. A friend of mine used to use that song as inspiration/motivation during her college years. It helped her get an M.S. and Doctorate in Nuclear Medicine.

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