The End: January 16-21, 2006

I did some boss artwork in this week of strips. For a long time, whenever I made promotional materials, or needed to submit sample Narbonic art for a magazine or something, I’d use these strips. I can’t remember why I put so much extra effort into drawing this particular week. Maybe I had some free time, or maybe I was trying to put off drawing the week after this.

What I’m trying to say is, that crazy thing Artie is working on is pretty boss. I think it was based on various pieces of equipment from the Life Science Library book on machinery I used to use for visual reference.

Artie in a lab coat is always great. Artie in a lab coat and goggles doubly so.

Check out the overhead shot! Again, why did I put so much effort into this week in particular? It looks awesome!

Also, I like the whole conversation in this strip. Dave’s take on his relationship with Helen is always fascinating, and I like it when he and Artie are bros.

I think it needs to be acknowledged that, by this point in the strip, Dave is pretty badass. He’s come so far…

Also, Mell’s battle-ax is pretty cool.

There’s the three-eyed smiley mug in the first panel. Nice to see it’s survived this long.

I guess I could have done this gag at any time after Artie got his human form, but what the hell, it’s pretty great here. I’m very fond of this strip, especially Mell in the second panel. Drawing shirt collars is hard.

Want the original art for this strip?

I used this strip for promotional postcards for a long time. Because it’s awesome.

The weird shadowy gears of Mister Stabby in the first panel came out a lot better than I expected. And Dave has a pretty great welding mask. I should’ve drawn more welding masks in Narbonic. That goes on my list of regrets:

– More welding masks
– Make eyebrows less weird
– Also ears
– Don’t really need all those demon stories
– Backgrounds? Yes!
– Should have done hilarious spinoff about Seth and Caliban sharing an apartment
– Next time, maybe hamsters

Did you notice how I gradually zoomed in to make Artie the focal point of the strip? Because that is Very Artistic. Or as artistic as I get, anyway.

Dave has no idea how much Artie’s well-intentioned meddling is about to screw up his love life.

Want the original art for this strip?

37 thoughts on “The End: January 16-21, 2006

  1. Monday:

    It looks almost as if you drew this strip in extra large size. It definitely seems crisper than usual.

  2. Dave Van D, I’m sure they exist, but they get snapped up very quickly by one of the large number of male geeks hovering around them.

  3. >> … why did I put so much effort into this week in particular?

    There was a sale at Wal-Mart on benzedrine.

  4. @dvandom:

    My wife not only likes graphs, she makes them.  Her favorite shows her bouncing photons from a laser off the moon., and she does that one several times a month.

  5. Wednesday:

    Whatever authentic cavalry poleaxe Mell broke in half to make that weapon would probably have looked pretty swell.

    This is almost certainly the first time that Dave ever successfully slapstick-injures Mell. That it itself is a bit of a miracle, let alone that she’s been knocked into slapstick-hallucinations.

  6. (TUNE: “Mona Lisa”, Nat King Cole)

    Synaesthesia, synaesthesia Mell is feeling …
    With the noisy smells, and colors she can taste!
    With a scream she’ll come, she’s dropping from the ceiling …
    But she failed again when Dave she tried to waste!

    Dave is dreaming of a life with lovely Helen,
    While avoiding daily threats of death and pain!
    Here comes Mell, with a well-sharpened weapon …
    She’ll, of course, yield
    To a force field …
    Is it real when you feel synaesthesia,
    Or just an artifact of neurons in your brain?

  7. “I can taste colours…” is one of my favourite punchlines.

    It’s also very nice to see Dave getting acknowledged as a badass.

  8. Ed, I am just fizzy with admiration for this filk.  “She’ll, of course, yield/To a force field” is worthy of Cole Porter.

    And “I can taste colors,” especially the way it’s written, is one of the funniest lines in Narbonic.

  9. Mell doesn’t get to break the fourth wall very often, does she? (She certainly breaks everything else! rimshot)

  10. Thursday:

    R.I.P. Mell’s dignity, 2000-2006. How did she get demoted to Dave’s old cast position so quickly? Mell must have finally met her kryptonite: final season dramatic escalation.

    Fourth-wall dialogue: 68. I’m counting this episode because come on, she’s looking right at us – even more direct than the usual knowing aside.

  11. Big Freakin’ ™ Gun count: 51

    (TUNE: “Johnny B. Goode”, Chuck Berry)

    Way down there in the sewer, in Narbonics Lab,
    Mell is saying Dave’ll end up on a slab!
    Getting out another Big ‘n’ Freaky Gun,
    When Artie puts a stop to all her deadly fun!
    Promises to stop her now, by any means,
    Then drops her on the floor just like a sack o’ beans!

        Stop!  Stop, Kelly, stop!
        Stop!  Stop, Kelly, stop!
        Stop!  Stop, Kelly, stop!
        Stop!  Stop, Kelly, stop!
        Oh, stop …  Artie be bad!

    Well, Artie’s got the size, he’s got the muscle too!
    And if you make him mad, then what a fuss he’ll do!
    Grabbin’ Kelly by her big ‘n’ baggy shirt,
    And then he’s gonna promise her a world of hurt!
    Artie says that vi-o-lence is such a sin;
    He’s reeling, ’cause he’s feeling such a deep chagrin!
        [repeat CHORUS]

        [insert obligatory R&B 12-bar solo]

    Helen has to figure out, she doesn’t know!
    Should her lover stay today, or should he go?
    (That’s another song, although it kinda fits)
    Will they stay together?  Will they call it quits?
    It’ll be OK, although we don’t know how
    ‘Cause Artie be badass now!
        [repeat CHORUS]

  12. “Meet your maker again?”  Dave never did meet his maker–he went to Hell instead.  *Mell’s* the one who went to Heaven.

  13. Zarathustrasid: No, she’s just got that wide-necked off-the-shoulder thing on, and I’m sure Artie stretched its neck out a little more when he picked her up by it. You can kind of see it hanging off her left shoulder in the fourth panel, behind her right hand.

  14. Sorry to be a stickler, but that’s MIG welding, not spotwelding.   Also, spotwelding doesn’t need anything more than safety glasses because there’s no UV light.  


  15. Also sorry to be a stickler, but if you didn’t do demon stories, how could you get a spinoff about a demon and a demonslayer?

  16. Actually, James, Dave refers to his favorite welding torch as “Spot”.  He has pet names for all his tools … the screwdriver is “Fluffy”, the ball-peen hammer is “Buster”, the roll of duct tape is “Obi-Wan” (you know the joke), and the 3-foot tape measure is, “Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds” (he added a 5-megawatt laser).

  17. That could be an oddly-shaped spotwelding electrode… or a MIG handle delightfully steampunked into looking like an oxy-acetylene torch head…

    But regardless of method, Dave is definitely tack-welding, and not laying down a huge bead. Obviously, he wants to make sure all the pieces of Mister Stabby are nicely aligned before burning them in completely. 🙂

  18. Would you really have deprived us of the wonderful Caliban?  Or the chance to see Sir Pounce in Hell?  For shame!

  19. The best part of the “The Full Monty” was the guys ragging on Jennifer Beals for being a crappy welder at the start of Flashdance.

  20. I agree with Shaenon about the demons! They had their moments, but in the end it was weird creating a hybrid of two primary Schools of Lore- Mad Science + Dante’s Inferno.

    I liked that when Dave was in his darkest hours in the past, only a demon believed/helped him. Another plot point is that Artie revealed himself to Mell in the spike pit by his not-knowledge of Caliban as her boyfriend. Would need a different hook to get out of that scene. The Malbreche?? Meh, editable probably. Although “Thanks for guaranteeing that they WON’T!!” is a killer punchline.

  21. Saturday:

    One thing I think would have been nice to do more often is to emphasise the size difference between gerbil Artie and a given human character, by making them fill or not completely fit in the panel. In today’s case, it offers a unique way of portraying emotional distance between Artie and Mell without either of them being that spatially distant.

    (It also offers a unique way of portraying Mell’s face as an 8-ball that will never be repeated in history.)

  22. I like how the zoom in on Artie emphasizes the size difference between Gerbil-Artie and Mell in panel 3.

    I can kind of understand why Artie thought that this might be a good idea, given his lack of experience with this human emotion called “love”, but I have never figured out why Helen agreed to go along with it.

    • Well… This is, so to speak, the “Spock” sort of thing to do. I won’t say rational or reasonable, because no, it’s not, but it’s the sort of thing the character in a story whose job is it to sound rational would suggest. And both Artie and Helen are vulnerable to that.

      Besides, this setup really is unsustainable. SPOILER: As Helen knows, as soon as Dave breaks through, he’ll pretty much instantly realize what Helen’s been doing all this time. That means that Helen’s options are either to kick him out, or tell him about what she’s been doing.

      And as much as classic storytelling would have you believe otherwise, better communication isn’t always the answer. If she tells him about the Tinasky experiment, Helen is not good enough at social, and Dave is not emotionally stable/mature enough, for that to end well. That will very predictably end with almost exactly the same outcome as we see later, with the only difference that the mad scientist whose base gets usurped is Helen instead of Madblood.

      Oh, and he actually has to make a computer to upload himself into instead of just exploiting poor Lovelace, but does anyone really think that would slow him down much?

      Helen genuinely has no good out here. There was a right choice, but it was more than a year ago. By now, she’s painted herself into a corner.

      It sucks, but life is really more like the old Infocom games where you can both render your game unwinnable within five moves of starting, and also have no way of knowing this until the end.

  23. “Sometimes I wonder if I AM the good one.”By the time the strip ends, so will everyone else, Artie.

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