And a new storyline begins! Or at least a new storyline title. The last three storylines kind of flow together, like the first three storylines. This was a brilliant coincidence. Anyway, “Madness”!
In the background of the third panel is my weak attempt at the Northern Lights. At around this time I was editing the manga Knights of the Zodiac, a.k.a. Saint Seiya, for Viz, and it was very important to the artist that we replace one page in the saga in which he’d originally drawn the Northern Lights all wrong because he hadn’t bothered to look up reference for it. Much effort was expended to make sure we used the page with the right version of the Northern Lights on it. So this panel is my small, personal tribute to Knights of the Zodiac, significant only to me.
Another Viz references: all the hamsters are named after Viz employees at the time.
I know, I know. It would’ve been better if Madblood’s insult to Lovelace had been alliterative, to make him sound even more like Dr. Smith from “Lost in Space.” However, “Why haven’t you fired my beautiful missiles?” is very correct.
So, yeah, it’s deliberate that you don’t see Dave’s eyes from head-on in this strip. I felt the need to ease people into Mad Dave. This is one of those strips where the thumbnail looked better than the final art; I didn’t have enough room to give Dave all the electronic clutter he deserved.
Dave’s interest in Lovelace’s interface started before his psychological break and will soon become important to the plot. Sorry, Lovelace.
You know, it took so long to get to this point in the story, after years of setup, and it was immensely satisfying to write and draw. So many happy memories of drawing these disturbing strips.
The three-legged hyena cicadas are a reference to the Of Montreal song “Lecithin’s Tale of a DNA Experiment That Went Horribly Awry.” Originally I wanted to pepper this storyline with mad song lyrics, but I only worked in a couple.
A while back I dragged Andrew to an Of Montreal concert, and it turned out he was under the impression that they were a gentle nerd-rock group along the lines of They Might Be Giants. Around the time the pig-faced people started eating each other onstage, he realized he’d been mistaken. But Janelle Monae opened for them, so it was all good.
Dave’s line in the third panel is from the spoken-word couplet that opens Moondog’s composition “Stamping Ground”: Machines were mice and men were lions, once upon a time / But now that it’s the opposite, it’s twice upon a time. It may be best known as the music that accompanies the climactic revelation montage in The Big Lebowski. Moondog is one of the great mad-genius composers, so he needed to be in here somewhere
Folks in the comments have been asking why the younger versions of Dave don’t have opaque glasses. Originally, of course, it was because I designed those characters before I came up with the idea of Dave’s glasses reflecting, so to speak, his mental state. And frankly, six-year-old Dave looked creepy without visible eyes, so when it came time to draw him into the strip, I decided not to obscure them.
Instead, I came up with the idea that Dave’s opaque glasses represent his willful blindness about himself, and when he was younger he wasn’t in denial like that. I developed a flashback to an incident in Dave’s teenage years that would have triggered the change, which I planned to run on a Sunday or series of Sundays, but I decided it was too dark. This storyline gets dark enough as it is.
And no, no other characters’ glasses follow this rule. Dave is the only one with meaningful glasses.
I forget what the font Dave speaks here is called, but Mike Barklage used it in his cover design for Narbonic Volume 6, and it looked pretty sweet.
The perspective in the first panel is all wonky, as will surely surprise no one who’s seen any of my artwork ever. I needed to get Dave’s broken glasses into the frame, for purposes of Drama.