Gender Swap: January 7-12, 2002

I do like Dave’s smile in the last panel. The job has certain perks.

Most of the strips I cut from this storyline involved a shopping trip wherein Dave and Helen go out to get new clothes because they’re completely different sizes now, and Dave gets dolled up in an absolutely adorable sundress. I ultimately decided that this subplot didn’t go anywhere and wasn’t all that funny (aside from the sight of a cranky Dave in a pretty sundress with that ubiquitous cigarette stub dangling off his lip), so I killed it. I also had Helen consider staying male, which I guess would have been a subversion of the standard gender-swap trope of having the formerly male character decide to remain female. One of these strips mentioned the Crabtree Grant for Women in Mad Science, a reference to which I eventually worked into “Professor Madblood and the Lovelace Affair.”

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have kept the thumbnails for any of the cut strips from this storyline, or I’d share them with you now. I don’t have a lot of shame.

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Even though the gaming group was all male and had to be for the previous week’s lame “gamers scared by girl” joke to work, I didn’t want to advance the notion that there are no girl gamers. Hence this strip.

The Vampire RPG was, of course, indeed instrumental in bringing a lot of girls into gaming at a certain time. I went to the Origins gaming convention in Columbus twice in the late ’90s, and one thing that struck me was that the con was overwhelmingly male–and often sweaty, smelly, stereotypically geeky male at that–until after 5:00 when the White Wolf LARPs started. Then there were suddenly teenage goth girls in skimpy black outfits everywhere. It was pretty surreal. But I’m told it helped a lot of men with serious social and emotional problems have sex with a lot of women with an entirely different set of serious social and emotional problems, so that’s good. Maybe?

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I know it’s juvenile, but I like Dave’s last line. Let me have my dick jokes! They’re all that makes me feel human!

I remember this being one of the first strips I wrote for this storyline. I worked out the parts about Artie’s interest in experimenting on the staff before almost everything else. I still don’t think this is all quite in character for Artie, but I was still figuring him out.

Helen’s pose in the last panel is unfortunately stiff. Drawing is hard!

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Some pretty good expressions here, especially in the first panel. Artie still looks really scruffy in close-ups, compared to the way I drew him later on. Helen’s hand in the third panel is really weird.

I adjust my pants in public without shame, but I’m aware that it’s generally frowned on in polite society. Sometimes you just need a good scratch down there!

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Since the GM is based on my ex-boyfriend, this is an extremely veiled self-deprecating comment. I don’t have much more to say about this strip, except that I hate it when I draw the characters with big half-lidded eyes like in the second panel. It looks like friggin’ “Garfield” or something.

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53 thoughts on “Gender Swap: January 7-12, 2002

  1. Monday:

    Those pesky hormones bring low even the loftiest minds. It is a popular theme for humanising those that were formerly above-human.

    As for Helen retaining his new form for the future… well, it would seem odd that Dave’s death couldn’t defeat Status Quo but Helen’s gender apparantly can.

  2. I notice he had to take the cig out of his mouth (and frame) so you can see the smile.  I have to do the same thing….  :-Y

  3. Mental: the cig is still there in panel 4, dangling downward from the center of Davette’s lips (almost looks like she’s sucking on a lollipop).

    Helon has noticed the hot girl.  The logical next step is beer.  Much beer.  Beer good.

  4. On the subject of Mad Scientist songs, have you considered “Twenty Minutes of Oxygen” by the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets?  They mostly do Lovecraft-inspired stuff, but the above is on their Spaceship Zero album.

  5. I played Vampire in the ’90s (still do, in fact — ran a game earlier this year). I think a lot of those girls back then would nowadays be cosplayers instead.




  6. Yes! Nowadays it’s all about manga fandom and cosplaying. Actually, nowadays there are tons of girls getting into all kinds of geek stuff. It’s awesome.

  7. hehe. But you’re not cynical, right?  (I can’t talk, though. The “cliched gamer geek character that I have in my head but have never actually written”  put yours to shame. I think he’s too over the top to actually write, but sadly, I am sure there are people in the real world that are actually as bad, or worse. The annoying thing about fiction is that it has to be realistic. Reality doesn’t.

    Want to see some serious creepy gamers? Read this and prepare to be horrified:

  8. Ah yes, the “creepiest gamers” thread. Reading the whole thing is a grueling experience. Someone (not me, at least not this year) ought to do a “worst of” to save everyone the trouble.

  9. What shocks me about this strip is that … Dave is actually *lighting* a cigarette.  A new one.  I was under the impression that there was only one cigarette, which existed in a perpetually half-smoked state.

    This would be one of Dave’s first mad-science inventions, the Everlasting LungClogger.  Which means that in the Narbonic movie, Dave has to be played by Johnny Depp.

    I just made myself nauseous.

  10. I haven’t read the creepy-gamers thread, but I remember Dragon mag once did an article on creepy and/or evil DMs.

  11. TO ALL: Apparently the forum (actually, the entire Forums site) is down. I’ve sent an email to the forums site owner, but have as of yet received nothing back…

  12. So, they’ve had a girl at the table before, all of them dated her … and they’re still afraid of girls?

    … or are they afraid of girls *because* of that? o_O

  13. Forum info: Forum is still down. Some searching has mostly led me in circles.

    I sure hope it comes back up soon.

  14. Wednesday:

    In panel 2 we bear witness to not just a mad scientist joke but an absent-minded professor joke – perhaps the only one of its kind left.

  15. Kick ’em where the road forks! Bust his berries! Revenge is a dish best served with Tchaikovsky playing in the background, I’m thinking a ballet.

    Man, there are so many fun ways to say that. That last one might be stretching it a bit.

  16. Hit him in his Children! Put a dent in his love life! Get into a boxing match with Mr.Bigg and his twin assistants! Make him a tenor!

    hee hee hee! 

  17. I know others have said this before, but I would like to agree with them: every time you say that you were still figuring Artie’s personality out, I’ve just gotten the impression that Artie was figuring himself out.  Dabbling in animal experimentation seems like a natural step for a young creation of mad science still trying to get a handle on his place and identity in this wacky world.  I love how Artie takes time to define his values, just like a teenager, and then takes even more time trying to reconcile his actions with his beliefs.  In short, I think Artie wouldn’t have done this kind of thing later in the series because he’s older and wiser then.

  18. Thursday:

    Now this is just silly. Not only did Artie apparantly invent a near-instantaneous gender-inversion transformation potion in his spare time, but he also synthesised said concoction out of, ahem, nearby table scraps. What is this, Bamboo BioTech?

  19. SIB: your palindromic gerbil lyrics don’t quite scan.  Are you sure you have the right number of “laf”s?

    (Then again, you can never have too many lafs.  Ha ha.)

  20. Actually, one of the things I really love about this strip is how much femDave and Helen-man look like themselves.  I’m not sure what it is about the way they’re drawn that so captures who they are when they have their normal genders.

    Whatever it is that makes body-swap stories in TV and movies not quite work–when actors are trying to take on other characters?  This strip has the missing link.  Helen in this strip looks like Helen, even though he’s a man.

    Somebody else needs to put this better.  I language put good not.

  21. Artie’s sitting on Dave’s head seems to be making it difficult for her to aim her glare properly.

  22. Friday:

    I somehow feel that Dave’s balloon in panel 4 should be on the same side as his gaze.

    Plot problem: Dave has, owing to an aforementioned subplot cut, not had time to go clothes-shopping in between getting transformed, attending his gaming session and preparing for a date. Where and how she procured a bra in that time is a mystery.

  23. I have always loved that “unhooker/unhookee” line.


    Unhookerrrrr…Unhook ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha


    My hands around her back! 

    (Sit back – the tune will come to you.)

  24. Tiff: It took me a second, but yes, the tune came to me … and now it will be running through my head all day, laughing maniacally.  I hope you’re happy with yourself, ’cause I’m not.

  25. So is that last line meant to imply that Dave gained her intimate knowledge of bra removal by having her bra removed by someone else? I gather not, but if you think about it… whoa, Seth!

  26. Leon, how would She-Dave not have had time to go bra shopping? She had time to watch a dozen chick flicks and lots of wrestling and get a new wrestling poster.

  27. I kinda like the expresion in panel 2…

    Interesting that male Helen has hair similer to his/her mother and female Dave has hair similar to post island trip Dave (except that she always has longer haid on which ever side of her head is away from the reader…)

  28. Saturday:

    Attention, Seth. The suave thing to do would be this: as soon as she says “Read my lips” you start making out. Trust me, if you do it quick enough and with enough suction, you’ll wipe her memory like in Superman II.

    It also occurs to me that 50 years ago Seth’s freckles and bushy hair would be the height of handsomeness. Not so these days.

  29. (singing) Me not woman, hear me fart / Me not lonely in me heart / You not wrestler, me not in-ter-est-ed, duuuuude …

  30. Well, Dave’s situation could be worse. The operation could have reduced his number of life grains as well as inalterably turning him female.

  31. I think the half-lidded expression looks like a Bloom County character being sly. This is not to Narbonic’s detriment.

  32. Tuesday. This kind of thing happened to me. I was in a D&D group with four guys. Two were off the table (one engaged, one my brother). The other two wanted me to marry them. One is my husband. I broke the other’s heart. I still feel sad. Cloning would have been very useful.

    (About 75% of guys in gaming groups wanted to date me. Unlike Sarah and Dave, it makes me grin. Except for the heartbreaking. The attraction percentage is still very ego-stroking.)

  33. Honestly, I’m not sure why Helen had to do the test. (Other than being mad and perhaps not the strongest at logic puzzles.) Helen and Dave can be at least initially eliminated — while of course it’s not impossible that, I don’t know, Helen has an mischievous split personality or Dave has been doing an extremely elaborate briar-patching con this entire time, both are definitely violations of Occam’s Razor and should be considered after more plausible alternatives.

    That leaves the superintelligent gerbil with a chip on his shoulder, and… um. Mell.

    … Yeah honestly even if you include Helen and Dave I would probably have guessed Artie :V.

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