Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved: July 26-31, 2004

Okay, I think it’s super cute the way Dave and Helen talk to each other while they’re apart. Also, I like Dave in his T-shirt without the flannel. He’s adorable in this storyline. How could Helen not miss him?

That cartoony rest-stop landscape in the first panel is really nifty, and for some reason I never drew another background like it. How did I pull that one off? Maybe because the area of Ohio where I grew up looks just like this.

Artie mentions that Helen isn’t a doctor; very attentive longtime readers may recall that she went mad and dropped out of academia shortly before finishing her doctorate in biochemistry. I think I put this line in because I was irrationally annoyed by people calling her “Dr. Narbon.”

I don’t have anything to say about this strip except that Zeta has a pretty good laptop for 2004.

…and speaking of computers, Helen’s got the model of gooseneck Mac I owned for many years. I finally broke down and got a new computer this year. The old Mac’s name was Pangur Ban, P.B. for short. I’ve started calling this one Silver Streak.

Helen always has that one fuzzy deely-bopper thing in her pencil holder, like Dave has on his computer. I just like drawing those things. Do they even exist anymore? We used to get them as prizes for selling wrapping paper for the school.

The “Hang in There” poster with a gerbil appeared behind Helen’s desk in the very first Narbonic storyline and can be seen from time to time throughout the strip. It’s one of the few consistent details I bothered to draw in the lab. Her computer has a heart pattern as the desktop wallpaper, as it would have to.

How many times can I get away with using Kingdom Hearts as a punchline? Because I was thinking of using it in a Skin Horse strip, too. No, I cannot upgrade it to Epic Mickey.

I really enjoy Dave’s interactions with the Madblood robots. It’s such a weird situation, and yet Dave is totally in his element. Also, the robots clearly like him a lot.

This is the first storyline where Dave wears a lab coat. It’s entirely intentional that he’s also unusually comfortable and in control here.

32 thoughts on “Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved: July 26-31, 2004

  1. Tape?  Who uses tape anymore?  If Shaenon were updating the technology references, Zeta would be using a digital voice recorder … and in six years, when Narbonic: Special Edition Blu-Ray comes out, she’ll have a micro-aural implant with 50 gigabyte/sec uplink to the blogo-cloud …

  2. Helen must miss Dave a lot.  Now that she was left all alone (sniff), she is spending the fun time of her wildest impulses thinking and writing about Dave – and about Dave’s body.  Smiling and typing.  Drunk with passion! And too much Grenadine Lemonade.

  3. Much of rural America (at least those parts near Interstate exits) looks like that.

    I know that the only part of Minnesota that I’m familiar with — that part betwixt the Minneapolis airport and Saint Cloud — has a couple of places like that.

    The only thing missing is a grain silo or so on the horizon.


  4. Obvously because of the many mads in this world, technology in some areas are better then what we had, other areas are more or less unchanged though.

  5. Grant. It’s bad enough that we get robotic spammers in the comments. They don’t need help from you.

    I can’t help but think that Zeta’s smoke trails are subtly different from NUA-1 Dave’s

  6. I had a bunch of those puffballs in grade school too. They ended up getting so dusty later on, though, that I had to toss ’em.

  7. Thursday:

    This is one dramatic reunion that our mad scientist would much rather skip at the present. It would be a singularity of awkward feelings.

  8. I still have a collection of those “fuzzy things” accumulated from the mid 80s to the mid-90s. They used to be at pretty much every tourist attraction I went to, so each one reminded me of a different trip or event.


    Anyway, they’re officially called “Bugs”, though I forget the name of the company that produced them. Tragically, since they were given such a generic name, it’s nearly impossible to track down official substantive information about them. Much like half of the bands on the 1986 Transformers Movie Soundtrack, their popularity evaporated before the Internet got it’s act together and there simply is no public data on them at all.

  9. (TUNE: “Getting Better”, The Beatles)

    I talked with Zeta for a while …

    At Denny’s, I sit in my booth …
    It’s boring, to tell you the truth!
    TIme going by,
    But Oreo pie
    Helps satisfy my sweet tooth!

       And Artie has gone outside with Zeta,
       He’s gone with Zeta … for a while …
       And Artie has gone outside with Zeta,
       That crazy Zeta … he makes her smile!

    The androids are seeking self-worth,
    So I’ve gotta drive them up north …
    Through snow and through rain;
    It’s really a pain,
    This truck doesn’t shift into fourth!

       And Artie has gone outside with Zeta,
       He’s gone with Zeta … for a while …
       And Artie has gone outside with Zeta,
       That crazy Zeta … he makes her smile!
       Ar-tie’s gone with Ze-ta for a while!

  10. Helen, of course, knows the Rule of Narrative Coincidence:  If someone named Zeta has re-entered her social sphere, it can only be one person….   (I wonder where Zeta picked up her last name?)

  11. I used to have dozens of those little sticky bugs, you used to be able to buy them as souvenirs from various places with a little ribbon attatched to them plugging wherever they came from. I loved them so much I used to make my own by gluing little eyes and a strip of paper I wrote on to a coloured cotton wool ball. I had them all stuck to my bedroom ceiling, surrounded by my glow in the dark stars (shaped into actual constellations, of course. I was a geek from an early age.)

    Ah, nostalgia. I bet whoever lives in that house now ripped them down years ago. Philistines.

  12. Oh … at least as many times as Square can make a ‘*Final* Fantasy’ game.  Go for it. 

    • Does FF13 “A Realm Reborn” count as one FF game or two? (Personally, I don’t count it at all, since it was so bad they had to re-release it, when it was really just a redone version of FF11 and they STILL didn’t get everything right…)

  13. Happy New Year to everyone but spammers.
    tune: “Should I stay or should I go,” The Clash

    Something wrong?  I ought to know
    Something wrong?  I ought to know
    Well, did Zeta ask about me?
    No, she’s interviewing Artie
    Off to Denny’s I did go
    For a pie of Oreo

    Now listen, Dave, Dave, Dave
    About our new toy I must rave
    There’s Playstation in the break room
    Well, for that I guess I’ll make room
    Kingdom Hearts will sure attract you
    But I don’t mean to distract you

    Something wrong?  I ought to know now  (Zeta Vincent!  I’m confused.)
    Something wrong?  I ought to know now  (Could be Artie’s just a ruse)
    Something wrong?  I ought to know now  (Maybe Dave is being used)
    Something wrong?  I ought to know now  (Kingdom Hearts!  I’m so enthused)

  14. Very well done, Kay! I have to run, my wife is hollering at me to get moving today … will have to post later.

  15. (TUNE: “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes”, David, Hoffman, & Livingston)

    We’ve got the new “Kingdom Hearts” game
    For Playstation 2,
    A girl made of [SPOILER] parts came,
    But didn’t ask ’bout you …

    She went off to talk with Artie,
    Private and discrete …
    If there’s a problem, I should know it!
    But Helen, she won’t show it,
    And Dave she’ll distract with a treat!

  16. Saturday:

    It would be awfully easy to fill this storyline with Dave having to do weird things to satisfy the robots’ Madblood obedience code.

  17. (TUNE: “The Windmills Of Your Mind”, Michel Legrand, Alan & Marilyn Bergman)

    Madblood’s found us, we’re in trouble, you must put the lab coat on!
    There’s no time for pie and coffee, soon our freedom will be gone!
    We’ve been GPS-located, and our network has been tapped!
    If he issues us an order to return, then we’ll be trapped!
    Now put on the lab coat quickly, so we’ll do just as you say!
    We obey selective orders that will help us disobey!
    We’ll ignore them, like you said!
    All the voices in our head!

  18. “Ignore the voices in your head”? Wow, so you say that to Helen all the time, Dave? My roomies tell me that all the time too, but I never listen to them…

    Darkstarr says it’s because I can’t hear him over the voices in my head, but the caveman just says I’m a rotten furball, nyao.

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