The drawing of Dana in the second panel is actually quite good. This is a pretty grim strip, really, what with the little gerbil descending inevitably into madness and death. The abandoned products of mad science often meet unfortunate fates in Narbonic. It’s hard out there for a monster.
Dana’s gibberish in the last two panels is taken from the routines of Coyle and Sharpe, guerilla comedians who staged bizarre man-on-the-street interviews with unsuspecting San Franciscans in the 1960s.
I put some effort into coming up with all the weird background gizmos in this week of strips. They’re meant to recall portions of the device Dana built at Burning Man in the first Dana and Zeta storyline. I wish I’d been more creative with these kinds of visual details throughout Narbonic. Eventually I got some old books of photos for reference; the most useful was a Life Science Library book about machines that I picked up for a quarter.
This might be the only drug joke in Narbonic, not that it’s much of a joke. The only time I ever managed to get high on pot was a few years ago when I went to a screening of “The Big Lebowski” on April 20. It turns out there are certain tacit assumptions involved in such an event. I got completely zonkered on secondhand smoke and had the best Burger Joint hamburger ever.
And with Dana’s comment in panel one, Zeta’s personal history is established. I had an idea of Zeta’s background for a while, but it wasn’t set in stone until this point. In fact, this period–mid-2002–was when I set up a lot of the foreshadowing for the final Narbonic arcs. It was a little nerve-wracking, to be honest. Once you commit to a bit of foreshadowing, you have some wiggle room as to how the story finally plays out, but you have to go through with it in some form. You can’t just leave the gun hanging on the wall for three acts.
I wasn’t especially crazy about Zeta’s origin, actually; plot twists involving characters being secretly related to other characters don’t interest me as a general rule. I think I ended up doing an okay job with it, and I very much like the last daily strip in which Zeta appears, but I was ambivalent about it at the time I was doing these strips.
The really great thing about this strip is that, in the background of the first panel, a bunch of hamsters are dragging a crate with a radiation symbol stamped on the side, with some kind of hamster overseer or taskmaster riding on top. That is boss.
Penfold was Danger Mouse’s sidekick in the “Danger Mouse” cartoons, which ran constantly in the early days of Nickelodeon, and was a hamster, not a gerbil. For shame, Zeta.
I still like the third panel a lot. Yakuza are extremely funny, unless they’re actually cutting off your thumbs or something. Also, the last panel is probably the best drawing I did of Zeta in her punk phase.
I think Dr. Noah appears in all of six strips over the course of Narbonic, and he’s probably a stronger character for it. I like to imagine him going about his daily business, working at the dental practice, playing canasta with the genocidal hamsters, somewhere off-panel while the rest of Narbonic is going on.
Of course, [SPOILERS] much later the hamsters destroy Dr. Noah themselves. They’re evil; they’re just not insane.
Although I usually locate Two Willows in Ohio, the proximity of a Sparkle Mart suggests that the characters are somewhere in the South. I don’t remember why I picked Sparkle Mart beyond the fact that it has a nice, perky ring to it.
How many times can I use the line, “I am your creator! You must obey me!” in a single comic? Only time will tell.
Somehow all the comments threads this week have ended up being about food, and I’m sure this one isn’t going to be any different. Man, I was so happy when they opened the first Krispy Kreme in the Bay Area.