The End: January 2-7, 2006

And a new storyline with a much more sinister title begins! “The End” is not actually the end of Narbonic. It’s just the end of something else.

Feet are funny.

Another strip based on a hoary old joke, this time about how Hell has all the lawyers. I will never pass up an opportunity to incorporate ancient jokes into my comics. Wait until I get to the bit about the refrigerator running.

Maybe I just have a dirty mind, but this is one of my favorite Narbonic strips. My friend Urian says “jibber-jabber” a lot. Because he is awesome.

Drawing people in bed is kind of hard. I’m never sure where to put the pillows and such. In this case, I guess it doesn’t matter much, since everyone’s going to looking at the naked people.

Ha ha! Lookit Caliban’s chest hair!

Past strips suggested that I’m the god of the Narboniverse, but in this strip God has nuts. I probably shouldn’t think too hard about this.

I love the folklore trope of the man who angers both Heaven and Hell and isn’t allowed into either when he dies, as in the story of Jack O’Lantern, Stingy Jack, or Will O’ the Wisp. The version of “The Soldier and Death” in Jim Henson’s the Storyteller, a show with which I was obsessed when I was ten and reading lots of obscure fairy tales, incorporates some of the same concept. Anyway, this is my little tribute to those stories.

As frightening as the idea of dating Mell is, Caliban could’ve done worse. She looks out for him.

See, I never know how to draw the top of the bed.

33 thoughts on “The End: January 2-7, 2006

  1. tune: “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne, 1945

    On the snow piled so deep and frosty
    Our poor Caliban is lost. He
    Pines for Mell until he hears that

    Her re-entry, like his, is quite nude
    And all she can say is, twice, “Dude”
    It’s a shock when you’ve fallen flat

    When she finally warms up, Mell
    Tells her beau that the heavenly host
    Sent her plummetting down to Hell
    They kicked her out, too, she’ll boast

    Once she’s out of the snow and warming
    She’ll want Caliban performing
    Lots of sex will make up for that

  2. Monday:

    Shaenon, this is the second time I’ve read this episode, but the first time I’ve noticed that the word “makeshift” in panel 1 is followed immediately by the scene in panel 2. So I just want to say: god damn you.

    This is, notwithstanding, a very memorable strip, for a number of reasons – the way Mell’s bare flesh blends with the snow in panel 3, as if being born out of it; the way in which Mell is, for once, naked mentally as well as literally, being reduced to the monosyllabic (and not in the atavistic sense but the haggard, humbled sense); the way the ‘wistful snowfield ending’ has been subverted so audaciously.

  3. And now we catch up with the first comic where I started reading Narbonic. I had known about it for a while thanks to Eric Burns’ Websnark site, but previously the archive had been stuck behind some sort of subscription thingy. Six years later, I don’t know of any webcomics that don’t have fully functioning free archives, other than some full-color, full-page comic-book-model style sites that have several cotributing teams. (And no, I’m not referring to porn sites. There are non-porn comic-book-style webcomics that get by with a subscription model or some other monthly premium extras thingamajig.)

    On the other hand, thanks to Moore’s Law, individual creator-centered comic sites have much fewer hosting issues and bandwidth costs than back in the early 1830s. I mean early 2000s. So everyone can afford to have their own sites now, and not be forced to charge for access to the archives, which is super important for gaining new readers over time.

    Anyway, other than Mell’s return being spoiled, I was pretty entertained by the archive right up until the point where I caught up so I couldn’t read more than one comic per day and time itself seemed to slow to a crawl until the end of the last storyline. But that happens with pretty much every webcomic I read.

  4. (TUNE: “Wait”, The Beatles)

    It’s been a whole week,
    We seek
    Solace in thought …
    But here comes Mell now!
    SPLAT on the spot!

       Her celestial days are done!
       She’s returning at Mach One!

    A bit of snow there …
    Then hair,
    Hiding her t*ts!
    Just hear her shout, “Dude!”
    She’s nude,
    Freezing her bits!

       Her celestial days are through!
       (Are you sure that’s not Mach Two?)

          And now, my friend,
          We’re near “The End”!
          Not of the strip,
          But of some other stuff!
          And now, poor Mell,
          If you can’t tell,
          Is cold as hell,
          Snowed in the buff!

    It’s been a long week,
    What has she learned?
    Let’s give a loud cheer!
    She’s here!
    Mell … has … re-turned!

  5. To swipe a quote: Absolutely anything a hamster does can be appropriately responded to by some inflection of the word “Dude”.

  6. Tuesday:

    It’s either an optical illusion, or Mell was really good at hiding how teensy-weensy she actually is. Look at her! (I suspect her shoes were the reason.)

    Panel 4 Mell reminds me of a certain supernatural Japanese being. Is she returned as an onryō? Don’t let a chill go up your spine as you read that page. (Also right now she’s a yuki-onna, no question about that.)

    • Looking at those pages, I’m not buying yuki-onna at all (the snow being only temporary, and she doesn’t retain any aspect of it).
      And if anything, she’s the “dead” opposite of a onryō — a vengeful spirit while enfleshed, she unnaturally attains the afterlife but attacks the inhabitants, who duly cast her back to her proper plane of existence.

  7. (TUNE: “Tears In Heaven”, Eric Clapton)

    It’s an ancient joke …
    They need lawyers in Heaven!
    Mell says, “Holy smoke,
    They need lawyers in Heaven!”

    It’s kinda fun
    To make this pun …
    Do refrigerators run
    Up in Heaven?

  8. Wednesday:

    This is the point at which I finished the archive as well. I first read Narbonic in three gulps: first, the Modern Tales free sample; then, I purchased access to the entire archive and finished around about January ’06. Then, knowing I would find the daily grind to be excruciating with so much heart-wrenching territory ahead, I carefully waited an entire year until 31/12/06 to devour the entire final year in a single night.

    That paragraph is kind of pointless except to say that from now on we’re in less familiar territory for me. Strips which have a different emotional texture in my memory. I’ll be glad to see them again.

    Caliban’s “I know” is a bit too easily missed given how much it says about both him and the state of Heaven.

  9. (TUNE: “Another Saturday Night”, Sam Cooke)

       So now I’m back on the Earth, and I got back my body!
       I need my honey, now, I must get laid!
       I’ve had enough of that ghost jibber-jabber …
       I never could have stayed!

    Went Upstairs a week ago …
    She’s raising hell there, without a doubt!
    Up to the Gates, so Pearly,
    She gave St. Pete a swirly!
    And so they went and kicked her out!
        (repeat CHORUS)

    Once again corporeal,
    And now her boyfriend is filled with awe!
    She needs some recreation,
    Erotic oscillation,
    The horizontal cha-cha-cha!
        (repeat CHORUS)

  10. Leon, I don’t think I see the connection you’re making…

    It’s a bit less obvious now since Makeshift Miracle has been rebooted from the start, but panels 2 and 3 of Monday’s comic are a homage to a striking scene from the original.

  11. Thursday:

    The way Mell’s and the other characters’ facial features are drawn, with dot pupils and the merest curve for the socket surrounding a tiny nose, was the first thing that drew me into your comic back in ’05. It resembled my vague memories of early 1900s comics like Segar’s, which at the time I found refreshing, as until then I’d only read webcomics whose art style was either Final Fantasy inspired or Sluggy Freelance inspired. Even though I can’t say for sure whether Segar et al was that much of an influence on you, I wasn’t wrong in assuming you were literate in comic history beyond your ilk.

    I only got around to posting this anecdote now because Mell’s face is unconcealed by glasses for the first time in who knows when.

  12. (TUNE: “Mellow Yellow”, Donovan)

    Mell got taken to Heaven,
    Crazy state of affairs!
    Mell made mayhem in Heaven,
    So they kicked her Downstairs!

          The thought of Mell in Hell, oh!
          (Quite fright’ning)
          The thought of Mell in Hell, oh!
          (Quite fright’ning)
          The thought of Mell in Hell, oh!

    Mell down in the Inferno …
    Demons panic and shriek!
    Folks familiar with her know,
    She’s kicked out in a week!
       (repeat CHORUS)

    Down in Jesus’s basement,
    Gates, for Kelly, are shut!
    Plus, her boyfriend’s replacement,
    Has a stick up his butt!
       (repeat CHORUS)

  13. Mell seems weirdly grown-up in these strips. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because she’s literally been through Hell and grown and matured for her experience. Maybe it’s because she’s not wearing her glasses.

  14. I’ll repeat what I said (IIRC) the first go-round: I’d be willing to bet that The Devil kicked her out because he was afraid that she’d take over.

  15. Yes, God has balls.  They’re called planets.  Hence the phrase, “a world of hurt”.

    I love love love Mell being uncharacteristically tender in panel 2.  With a violent unstoppable killer in your corner, what need you fear?  (BTW, the following filk works best if you imagine it sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir …)

    (TUNE: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, Martin Luther)

    A mighty fighter is our Mell,
    Kicked out by God and Satan!
    Expelled from Hea-ven and from Hell,
    For Death she won’t be waitin’!

       It really took some guts
       To kick God in the nuts!
       And now, with Caliban,
       She’s standing by her man …
    They’ll soon be copulatin’!

  16. Saturday:

    From another person, Mell’s final line would be a jokey repudiation of mortality, a schmaltzy declaration of esprit de vivre in the face of the most inevitable. But in her case she’s actually just transparently, callously dismissive of dying, as if she’s above the rules by now. (Not without reason, of course.)

    Mell is definitely the sort of person to steal most of the sheets.

  17. “amoung”? Sarge, that’s the wrong sort of ‘o’ to get a British ‘u’ stuffed after it.

  18. So after the Universe is destroyed (in the original timeline), Mell’s disembodied soul floats around … finds another Universe, finds a planet that’s just starting to develop life, possesses the protozoans with her spirit … in less than a million years, they’ve evolved into intelligent life, in another thousand they develop civilization and space travel … go marauding across all the other inhabited worlds, crushing them, taking them over in the name of Immortal God-Empress Mell … THE MELLIVERSE!!

  19. Mell’s hair down over her shoulder in panels 1 and 3 but up over her pillow in panel 4. Spooky.

  20. “Past strips suggested that I’m the god of the Narboniverse, but in this strip God has nuts. I probably shouldn’t think too hard about this.”

    Nope, not gonna make hentai anime references, nyao. Nuh-huh, no, not gonna do it at all. You all can go Google “futanari” yourselves, nyao.

    And no, I am NOT going to ask if Shaenon ever served in the USMC. Get a life, people!

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