Gender Swap: January 14-19, 2002

I never intended to use Seth much after this storyline, but for some reason he kept reasserting himself. I just like writing angry nerds.

I really like how short Dave is. Look at her stubby little arms!

As longtime readers have probably noticed, I have a weakness for that trope where a normally untrustworthy character pops out an unexpected insight. Mell does this all the time. I’m watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for the first time right now (I’m a bad nerd!), and one thing I really liked was how, in the third season, the Mayor of Sunnydale is evil and insane but also basically right about a lot of things, especially things the good guys don’t want to admit to themselves. Which is not to say that I’m comparing Seth to the Mayor of Sunnydale. It’s not like Seth is going to wind up involved with the demons of Hell…oh, wait. He is. This strip got weird after a while.

I don’t remember what “White Phoenix” is a reference to (Jean Grey of the X-Men was the White Phoenix at some point, but I don’t think that’s what I was thinking of), but “Jimmy Heyday” was a movie that Seth, the high-school friend after whom this Seth is named, came up with. I should stress again that the real Seth looked nothing like this Seth, although they were kind of equally crabby.

Andrew makes another cameo, standing in front of Dave and Seth in the movie line.

This is, of course, based on an argument I had once on the Internet. And no, I have no idea how Dave gets away with smoking in a movie theater.

This really isn’t a minute and fifteen seconds’ worth of dialogue, but goodness, aren’t those word balloons big enough? This is the kind of gag I could do in any Narbonic storyline, but it works fine here.

What I really like about this strip is the tiny fish swimming in the flask in the last panel. Anyway, Helen’s right. Biology’s pretty gross. At least, that’s what people tell me whenever I turn the conversation to duck penises, which I admittedly tend to do a lot.

Helen looks awfully spooked in the last panel. Could it be he’s not interested in kissing Dave after all? Or just girl Dave? Maybe he feels things are moving too fast. Somebody should write a fanfic about this, and I swear this time it’s not going to be me.

Those mittens with the hearts are always excellent.

57 thoughts on “Gender Swap: January 14-19, 2002

  1. May the holy gods of olfactor protect anyone around Seth when  he doesn’t use deoderant.

  2. To a sexually frustrated young man, “Let’s get one thing straight between us,” is the worst possible comment a woman can make.

  3. .. thats a pretty modest shirt; I imagine that it must be *very* difficult to look down…

    I suppose that’s why it demands undivided foucus. Me? Seth would bb sans knees by now. 

  4. Monday:

    Personally, I’m wondering what Seth’s getting out of this relationship. If he’s willing to buy that this little lady is Dave, then he’s also willing to buy that this little lady will soon transform back into male Dave – quite possibly at the stroke of midnight – and then the world will contain a man whom Seth has once gone on a date with. And a fellow acquaintance at that! Is he really thinking this plan through?

  5. Eventually it’s just him and the sword. How sad. Although, I remember the very last strip with Seth and the hot demon women. I suppose it’ll go up a bit, but you just have to wonder if this is the fate of anyone acquainted with Mad Scientists.

  6. “…but you just have to wonder if this is the fate of anyone acquainted with Mad Scientists.”

    Sooner or later, yes.

  7. You know, a lot of times I don’t recognize Andrew, but I remember reading this one and being like, Hey!  There he is! It was cool.

  8. Tuesday:

    Help test the equipment“? Good lord. I refuse to believe that even he’d say that.

    In-universe Andrews: 6.
    Shaenon using the T word in commentary: 2. (Incidentally: here is the closest match.)

  9. Shaenon shows admirable restraint for not introducing Hammerspace at this point.

    “Not all problems can be solved with sledgehammer.”  (Many, but not all.)

  10. The mayor of Sunnydale is amazing. I love how movingly sweet and mundane the things he says are, while meanwhile he is cheerfully planning everyone’s horrible death. He gives this totally weird daddy vibe and it is creepy-awesome.

    • He also has this honestly affectionate father-daughter relationship with Faith, again while they’re both planning horrible things. He gives her a knife and says something like “Be careful with that, and don’t put out anyone’s eye … until I tell you to.”

  11. Seth, meet fist. Fist, seth. Oh, you’ve already met? Go figure.

    But I’m very fond of that as well. Spike has those moments- part of what makes him so annoying is how *well* he knows people. 

  12. I started looking at the first panel of this strip before I thought to get the commentary, and this provided just enough of a distraction that I was wondering as it loaded why Seth was going to the movie with a recognizable non-Dave character.

  13. Wednesday:

    Well. Here we are.” Dave realises, to her chagrin, exactly what is going on. Seth, conversely, isn’t quite there yet.

  14. Smoking in a theater? Someone should shout “FIRE!”

    Ok, sorry if I brought the obvious phrase to light…

  15. Second the Marx Brothers!  “We were hunting for moose.  That’s big game.  One morning I shot two bucks; that was the biggest game we had.”

  16. I love both the Marx Brothers (The then Elks come gather around the waterhole.  And you should see them run when they find out it’s only a waterhole, they’re looking for a Elkahole) and the Three Stooges (It’s the plumbers madam, and they’re wrecking the house).

  17. Marx brothers for life- Harpo is my Hero.

    Although, I would’nt mind setting the honorable Stooges on Seth for a few hours…. 

  18. I think I run into smokers in theaters about 1 time in 4 visits.  Being badly allergic to tobacco smoke, it’s not something I can ignore, but I have to assume that when I’m not there, these people get away with it without problem.  Nobody else seems to complain and theater people seem to be annoyed when I do.


  19. I like a bit of slapstick comedy too — but once in a while the Big Three (The Stooges*, Abbot & Costello, and Laurel & Hardy) would go just a bit too far for my taste. I much prefer the verbal slapstick of the Marx Brothers as well…


    *Remember, there were actually a total of six (if you count Emil Stika) Stooges over the life of the act. 

  20. Thursday:

    But with this explanation, and even given artistic license with facial hair and such, I don’t understand why the gender transformation would be one short wet climactic “splort” instead of, say, various areas of the body transitioning at different rates. That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

    It’s nice how many unique punchlines involving Helen explanining a cure were used over the course of this webcomic.

  21. Leon, I’m disappointed.  You usually go on for 5 or 6 paragraphs of minute analysis.  Come on, how about breaking *your* personal record, hmmm?

    Today’s band names:  “Hormones In The Blood”, “Reverse The Effect”, and “Technobabel”.  Three in one day!  That’s *my* personal record to date!  Woohoo!

  22. Ducks don’t even have penises, do they? Or are they hidden inside the cloaca? I’ve never been clear on that.

  23. During mating season, some species of ducks grow tubular penises longer than their ENTIRE BODIES. It’s crazy; most birds don’t have penises at all (just a unisex organ called the cloaca), so it’s like waterfowl have to make up for everybody else.
    Shaenon K. Garrity, like 11 months ago.

  24. Friday:

    Today’s explanation involving Dave’s precious bodily fluids is, I must say, a completely logical and uncontrived reason for invoking the second-oldest way of ending a transformation story: the Princess’s Kiss. (If only that kind of restoration had been available back in the previous arc – zombies are about equal to frogs, right?)

  25. AFIKT, the ducks don’t actually grow their ur-penises just for mating season, but they are pretty funky.  Turtles are also strikingly well-endowed, but I’ll let you search ScienceBlogs yourself for that one.


  26. I like the “Mell’s DISTURBED.” in the last two panels. It’s something we don’t get to see very often.

  27. Oh, I’m torn. Do I say

    “Personally, I try to duck penises whenever possible” <waggle brow>


    “Vy a duck penis?” <play piano>

  28. Oh, god, don;t even get me *started* on barnicles. See, they stick to one place their whole life, which makes mating difficult. So they have adapted with penises that if they were human sized would be the lenght of three double-decker buses stacked atop each other.


  29. I like the anglerfish where the male just fuses to the females body and let’s his cells swim through her bloodstream.  And the things mites do would probably get me banned from the server.

  30. I love this strip because Helen’s final comment always reminds me of what my Animal Behavior professor would say: “Nobody has to LIKE it, it just has to WORK.” I.e., “Biology isn’t pretty.”

  31. If Girl Helen is attracted to Boy Dave, does it follow that Boy Helen would be attracted to Girl Dave?  Personally, although I find their new forms cute, I think they’re both much hotter in their original genders.

  32. If Girl Helen is attracted to Boy Dave, does it follow that Boy Helen would be attracted to Girl Dave?

     I seem to recall Dave exclaiming after the break-up something along the lines of “Good lord! I’ll never have lesbian sex again!”. I remember that the underage barfly that turned out to be their daughter was there for it… Anyway, I assume this means that Girl Helen is attracted to both Boy Dave and Girl Dave at that point. Mostly because she likes him for his mind, right?

  33. angafirith: If I recall correctly, she likes him for the genes for his butt.

    Also, in panels 3 and 4, one of Mell’s hair-tendrils has become a Dave’s-cigarette-like dangling hovering thingy.

  34. Is it me, or is there a definite Doonesbury (seventies vintage) vibe to this series of strips? The expressions on the face just recall early Trudeau.

  35. Saturday:

    All I have to say today is that the mittens do a good job of …hhhhh…. situating this arc chronologically.

    That, and to call today’s trope bingo: voila.

    Off-panel head inserts: 5. Well, I suppose it’s better than a balloon emanating from the right panel wall..

  36. “It’s not pleasant, but Dave and I will have to swap spit!”


    Squick, Squick, Squick goes the comic…

  37. *ahem* Curse you Leon! I spent hours re-reading TVTropes after you redirected me there!

    (Let’s see, let’s see, I know I’ve got this down somewhere… ah, here it is.)

    Next time…

  38. Two comments here…
    First:, re Friday’s strip, cue the X-rated fanfics! (And I love having a dirty mind. Guess what popped into my head when Helen said “swap bodily fluids with Dave”? Heh heh heh… -_^)

    Second: What’s so bad about 2′ long corkscrew penises anyway? Or elephant penises, which are prehensile. Or… And curse you, moderators, for taking out my link to [WARNING: DO NOT LOOK THAT WEBSITE UP UNLESS YOU ARE OVER 18 AND ARE NOT OFFENDED BY SEX TOYS!]

    (Okay, I actually left the link out deliberately because I don’t want to get in trouble for posting potentially pornographic links. And I really mean that warning above! Look up Bad Dragon at your own risk! Don’t say I didn’t warn everyone! In fact, just go over to instead! Seriously! Stick with work-safe links!)

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