I really wanted to do a road-trip story, but I hated drawing cars. What to do? My friends and I brainstormed vehicles the characters could pilot. At one point I was very close to having Dave, Artie, and Zeta travel by zeppelin. I didn’t know how I could get them in a zeppelin, but anything was worth not having to draw a car.
Fortunately, at the last minute I realized that tractor trailers are relatively easy to draw. Plus I was fond of them from an early age, having grown up on the book Big Joe’s Trailer Truck. (SPOILERS: Joe’s truck is full of toys.)
It’s painfully obvious that Andrew’s Optimus Prime modeled for the truck in these strips. I have no regrets.
I think this is the first time Dave mentions taking “dead days” from work. It comes up again in the next storyline when he deals with the national henchmen’s union.
SPOILERS… The guy on the left in the last panel is, of course, my husband. The girl on the right is kind of a big deal later on. This is the first of her three appearances in the bar. Yes, I totally had the ending of the strip worked out by this point.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a common type of yeast, is one of the “model organisms” commonly used in biology lab work, like E. coli and the beloved D. melanogaster. It’s also useful for making beer!
I drew a pretty good bar in the first panel! That’s my cousin Kim Manganello tending bar. The bar is, as always, Manganello’s Irish Pub.
Yes, Helen considers Canada “exotic.”
Okay, I can’t comment on this strip without MASSIVE SPOILERS… In the last panel, Helen is writing up one of a series of papers about Dave she’s been publishing under the pseudonym Milo Tinasky. The mad-science community’s reaction to this study will drive the next storyline, “Professor Madblood and the Lovelace Affair.” Glia are non-neural cells found in the brain; the scope of their function is currently not entirely known, which makes them useful phlebotinum for sci-fi plots involving neurology, at least until science comes along and ruins everything for us writers. Schwann cells are also found in the brain. If you look verrrry carefully at the top line, you’ll see that Helen references her own mother’s work (Narbon I, 1974) on Helen herself. Dr. Narbon’s use of the young Helen as a case study in the development of mad genius will also come up in the next storyline.
SPOILERS CONTINUE… Geez, that girl does look like a perfect cross between Helen and Dave, doesn’t she? Apparently big round eyeglasses are hereditary.
NON-SPOILERS: This might be Andrew’s biggest cameo role in Narbonic. He gets a speaking part and everything!
This joke never gets old.
Andrew had lots of ideas for things that could happen in this storyline, based on his extensive knowledge of road-trip movies. Few, alas, made it in. Most of the elements Dave mentions here are, of course, from The Blues Brothers, one of the greatest movies ever made.