Dave’s Dead, Dave: June 11-16, 2001

Man, the scan goes all wonky in the last panel. I must’ve tried to clean it up a little too much.

Cocktail shrimp rank among my mother’s favorite snack foods. She generally keeps a sack of frozen shrimp in the freezer. Lorna Doones, on the other hand, were something we used to have to stock up on for my Grandpa Red.

“Oh, Beta. I can’t remember every guy I kill”…Man, I love Dr. Narbon. I really do.

Incidentally, those are some really baggy pants I drew on Helen, but they’re not that much different from what I actually wear, so I guess it’s okay.

Dr. Narbon probably hits a little too close to home here. She and Helen have similar taste in men; they just express it somewhat differently.

In the second panel, Helen’s speech balloon is apparently so heavy that it’s weighing down on Dr. Narbon’s, warping them both out of shape. Sigh.

Helen is getting better-looking as this storyline progresses. I’m kind of gradually learning how to draw boobs here.

This one isn’t particularly funny, but at least it’s pretty decent looking by the standards of the time. I like Dr. Narbon hefting herself out of the couch and Helen’s thoughtful little expression in the third panel. Sometimes you get lucky with just the right little mouth line, and sometimes you don’t.

I keep drawing different patterns on the couch from strip to strip.

I don’t know if I meant to place Helen and her mother close together in the first panels and then far apart in the last, but it works pretty well to make it feel like they’re suddenly distanced from one another. It was probably just an accident, though. Generally, I’m lucky if I can draw two figures in roughly the correct proportions to one another; actually planning the composition of a panel is way beyond my abilities. If a strip looks okay, it’s mostly by accident.

As blase as she looks here, I’m sure Dr. Narbon loves messing with Helen’s mind like this.

Helen’s been putting up with that evil cackle even longer than we have, so I’m sure she’s good and sick of it.

I’m getting pretty good at drawing Helen by this point, which is why the strips that consist mostly of her look so much better than the strips where I have to draw anything vaguely difficult. Man, has she got a lot of hair, though.

Spoiler alert, but Dr. Narbon didn’t invent the teleporter, either. One really has to question her commitment to the “science” part of mad science.

Obviously, I did the teleporter effect with a couple of Photoshop filters. Not all that well; it’s kind of pixelated around the edges there. Oh, well. It gets the point across. And with that Dr. Narbon makes her exit, having done what she came to do: kill Dave and drink all the booze in the lab.

This is hardly unique to strips from this period, but everybody’s glasses are FLIPPIN’ HUGE. What’s up with that?

51 thoughts on “Dave’s Dead, Dave: June 11-16, 2001

  1. Monday’s Comic: Somebody dragged Dave’s carcass into the couch room, it seems. (Perhaps an even funnier punchline would be revealing that Dave is propped up on the couch right next to her, mirroring her pose.)

    Hey now, those leisurely shoes on Dr. N’s feet are a punchline all to themselves. Clearly she intends to draw this whole matter out into a long, comfortable stay.

    (Note that in saying this I have somehow missed the fact that she was also wearing them last Saturday, which happens to contradict last Tuesday.)

  2. Obviously, Dr. Narbon changed shoes once she got outside.  The other ones had Dave residue all over them.  Remember, “clean” death is a relative term.

  3. Yeah, those pants look pretty much like the waders I use when trout fishing.

    And Shaenon, I swear we must be cousins, becuase your mom and mine are twins.


  4. Tuesday’s Comic: Leave it to Dr. Narbon to sexualise a space-borne laser blast of death. (Not that that’s terribly difficult, mind.)

    Notice again that the method of time travel is foolishly glossed over!

  5. According to Dr. Narbon, dead = cute.  Does that make Dave “drop-dead gorgeous”?  (SPOILER ALERT — although, that term might also apply to Mell in the “Angels” story arc).

    Heh heh *cough*cough* dang I need a lozenge.

  6. Leon:  No, not foolishly — Dr. N is merely keeping her secrets, not to mention “messing with” her daughter…  Remember Mell’s lesson:  The second part is to have deep, dark secrets.

  7. I think the couch is made from the same material as Dr. Narbon’s shirt. Chain mail. Dang that’s cool. I can totally see Helen having a chain mail couch.


  8. The surface pattern of mail is more somewhat enlongated diamonds than grid-like. Those materials look more like a coarse weave or knit to me.

  9. Wednesday’s Comic: Why do so many people imagine that creating a causality paradox has the effect of shutting down the entire universe? It’s almost as if they consider causation to be a Trek-era robot that responds to such problems with howls of “DOES NOT COMPUTE” before spontaenously combusting.

    And, of course, there’s Helen’s assumption about the mutability of history…

    Characters expressing intention to destroy universe for the sake of one character: 1. This event is a pretty good portent that things in webcomic land are about to become permanently confusing. (But this time, however, it’s a red herring.)

  10. It’s the Chamelecouch ™!  Or perhaps the mutable sofa covering is one of Dave’s first mad-science inventions … perhaps the sofa should be named after him?  Yesterday chain-mail, today chain-link fence, invented by a chain-smoker — seems appropriate, yesno?

  11. Leon:  Why do so many people imagine that creating a causality paradox has the effect of shutting down the entire universe?

    Amen! The whole point of “paradox” in physical science is that it can’t happen!  Therefore any line of argument which appears to conclude in a paradox is known to have a flaw in its reasoning (which may well be to wrongly derive a paradox).

    I blame the “hole discussion” about abused collapsars leading to “naked singularities”: 

    “Aack!  A naked singularity means anything can happen”  “Like what?”  “Anything, I tell you!  The whole universe could collapse!”

    Um, no it can’t….  The appearance of a naked singularity would mean that something happens, and we don’t know what — but whatever funky stuff does happen, happens at the singularity.  Even a micrometer away from that point, edge/string, or surface, the laws of physics come back into play, including stuff like lightspeed limits.  Even if the singularity grows, I’m pretty sure it’s limited to lightspeed or below, but that would beq questions involving the Law Of Large Numbers and/or the Drake Equation.

    More to the point, any such “instant doom” would imply that the universe is fundamentally ephemeral, just waiting to be brought crashing down the moment someone violates the “Ultimate Taboo”.  But that’s just primitive religious thinking, the idea that “everything comes from God”, and if we piss him off, he can take it all back.  Frankly, I think the Universe is both bigger and saner than some cranky old man in a white robe (or even a cute blonde in a lab-coat 😉 ).

    Similarly, the “paradoxes” of time-travel merely indicate the limits of our knowledge, and especially about the infrastructure of our universe..  In a static plenum (which the Narboniverse clearly isn’t), you could participate in the past, but not change it.  In a mutable plenum, (which the N-verse could be), Niven’s Law of Time Travel eventually kicks in.  (Briefly: The only stable timeline will be one where time-travel is not invented, or remains unused.)    In a multiple-timeline scenario, the time-traveller can create new lines, and probably strand themself, but still can’t trash the whole works.  In no case will the universe just throw up it’s hands and scream “you can’t do that! I QUIT!”

  12. Ed:  I thought he was already named after the couch!

    Incidentally, there is a Davenport Machine already, but it only makes small parts….

    On the other hand, Glorianna Davenport, at the truly mad-sciencey MIT Media Lab, does seem to have a dossier and goals nicely apropos to this webcomic….

  13. Contradiction is the HEART of Mad Science.

    “ex falso quodlibet” after a contradiction what ever you please.

    Also known as the Principle of explosion.


  14. All you mad scientists would have poor Dr. Novikov turning in his grave right now, but for the fortunate fact that he is still alive.


  15. “All you mad scientists would have poor Dr. Novikov turning in his grave right now, but for the fortunate fact that he is still alive.”


    An introduction to Dr.Narbon could take care of that.


  16. “Frankly, I think the Universe is both bigger and saner than some cranky old man in a white robe (or even a cute blonde in a lab-coat 😉 ).”

    What about a hyperactive Japanese high school student?

  17. yeah I never understood why the universe would throw a fit if I met myself.

    I just finished a story where time pardoxes do’nt destory the univese but make reality so mushy that things that Should exist start existing. There’s twO las Vegases, Fu Manchu is real there’s trolls, the RAF rides giant Bees it’s a mess.

  18. Thursday’s Comic: “I don’t have a _____” is almost a recurring Narbon arc phrase. Shoulda been used more often, that.

    I would like to comment on the great defusal of expectations that has taken place here. The episodic nature of the preceding arcs has left us, the viewers, (and, to some extent, the characters) completely expecting a time travel cure to undo the main character’s anticlimactic and undeserved death and restore the all-important Status Quo, and today that rug is pulled out from under everybody. Congratulations!

    Silent Semifinal Panels : 6

    Ellipses denoting silence: …1.

  19. In the last panel, why does it look like Helen’s shirt lost its right sleeve, and she’s now wearing an opera glove on her right arm?

    Also, note that in the Pensive Penultimate Panel, Helen’s shirt reads “il”; in the final panel it reads “ik”.  Obviously it’s counting down alphabetically.

  20. No, that’s just the curve of her breast against the “il”, Ed. Mmmm, curved breasts….

  21. It’s a ringer tee, Ed. It has cuffs of ribbed material in a contrasting color at the arm and neck openings.

    I think the combination of the ringer cuff being slightly wider on the left arm than on the right and the near-total obscuration of the left shoulder between breast and earlock make it look to you as though the left arm has a long sleeve that’s been rolled up and the right arm’s sleeve has been chopped off instead.

    To me, it looks fine.

  22. I love. Narbonic’s plotline. So much. Pondering this strip makes me think of the brain in a tank event, and now I am swooning with terrible unrequited love. Why are you so awesome.

  23. Friday’s Comic: Featuring more examples of splayed arms for your benefit. (Remember: the arms must be raised no more than 100 degrees from the vertical before it transforms into a hug, or else no more than 150 degrees before it transforms into a surrender.)

  24. Re: the filename story — with this Friday we reach the “laughter of fools” phase of Helen B Narbon’s descent into madness …

  25. Friday’s Comic:  So today, Helen’s shirt is … is … Helen’s shirt … mmm shirt … yes Shaenon, you *are* learning to draw boobs.  (*insert large hammer sound effect here*) ow

  26. The last frame of today’s comic does a fine job of making it clear that  Helen is her mothers clone. 

    I think it is the large glasses (big powerful ears, yea) but I’m really starting to love the way you draw Dr. Narbons mouth.



  27. “Oh my. Octavius Winter, Esq., has just signed his own fate-worse-than-death warrant.”

     Having the fools at the Institute laugh at you is bad. Having your mothers lawyer laugh at you, that is quite another matter. I’m sure it might drive people with no Mad Scientist gene at all to drastic measures. 

  28. Off-topic but in genre, Girl Genius just coined another phrase, at leastI haven’t heard it before.  “Don’t burn a bridge unless your foe is on i!

  29. “This is hardly unique to strips from this period, but everybody’s glasses are FLIPPIN’ HUGE. What’s up with that?”


    You just want me to say “big powerful ears” again don’t you? Take another look at Dr Sivana.



  30. Saturday’s Comic: Now that’s how you make a memorable exit. The only tough part would be trying to edge the current conversation toward the subject of teleportation.

    “Heh. Heh. Heh.”: 15.3. If this were on film, the last “Heh” would echo out in an oh-so-sinister fashion.

    If my memory serves me correctly, all of the Narboniverse’s teleportation technology was invented by our own Future Dave, and sent back through time by Future Mell as proof of authenticity. (Or at least, that’s what happens in Timeline 0. For all other Daves, the teleportation technology is simply repaired. )

  31. All these different timelines, with different versions of Dave running about … how come there’s no “Crisis On Infinite Daves” story arc?  Would the “Everlasting Ices Of The North” story be the Narboniverse equivalent of Marvel’s “Civil War”?  Don’t you just love the word “Narboniverse”??  Can you tell I had another late night update before heading off to Chicago and I’m running on 3 hours of sleep again?

  32. Helen Sr. will later be accused of being a one-trick pony, but both she and Helen Beta have two main tricks, I think: first, mad biology, which they use to create the other characters (some substantial portion of the cast are either first or second-generation Narbon experiments); and second, a sort of mad social science, which they then use to maneuver and manipulate those characters. They tend to get more recognition for the former talent, but I think that the latter is where they really shine. Dr. Narbon uses it to build her villainous aura, and to overtly play with people’s heads — we don’t meet anyone else who inspires the sort of respectful terror that she does, even in the mad scientific community, and this seems to be something she’s cultivated entirely through unsettling perspicacity and force of personality; Helen is lower-key, favouring charm over intimidation and a cutesy and scattered persona over the unabashedly wicked one, but proves just as adroit, in her interactions with the immediate cast, at having everyone end up doing what she wants, and twisting their brains into knots in the process (my personal favourite example is Artie as he’s falling toward the swimming pool). Both tend to it as much in service of their whims as their plans, which I take to be why it so often gets Helen Beta, at least, in trouble that it’s hard to imagine she intended.

    Of course, Helen also shows a wider range of invention — I think the time machine is all hers, and the transmogrifier certainly is. Maybe Dr. Narbon is advancing similar frontiers of knowledge off-screen, or maybe the bulk of her work is behind her and she’s into the ‘Harlan Ellison’ stage of her career, mostly just enjoying making public appearances and being a Personality.

    I’ve always been fond of this punchline; I guess I have a minor weakness for dysfunctional family politics.

  33. Oh, right, I got distracted. I was going to say that we do know that Dr. Narbon has kept up both the villainous manipulation and the biology — Mongor the Iguana Man seems to be a pretty recent project.

  34. Actually, it’s not clear that Mongor is Dr. N’s creation — given his prior on-line relationship with Artie, he might well be a hireling.

    Ed:  I’d say the  wrap-up for the hamster battle pretty well covers that question…. 


  35. This is hardly unique to strips from this period, but everybody’s glasses are FLIPPIN’ HUGE. What’s up with that?

    Helen’s glassess are about double the size in panel 5 as they are in panel 1.  I think Dr. Narbon or Helen invented Reflexive Refractive Plastic, which alters it’s size in response to it’s wearer’s emotions, and it’s been used in all the characters’ glasses.  Unfortuately, the notes and specialized equipment used to make the formula blew up in one of the lab explosions.

  36. I think doctor narbon dabbled in many different forms of mad science. after all, she has left many a landscape desolate in her wake. and aparelty been burned at the stake. not a woman i would want to tangle with. even if she is more bluff than substance… with temporal mechanics anyhow.

    i have to agree with andy, social science might be the Narbon’s Greatest field of mad science. i mean, really, even other mad scientists Fear the name of Helan Narbon… but not beta. but then as andy noted, beta doesnt use the more “evil” methods of her mother. though, when she gets angry, its only the most powerfull that do not Tremble and buckle.

    The next arc following dave’s afterlife experences i find most interesting.

  37. Everybody’s totally off on the couch. Obviously, it was the first draft of Mongor (the Iguana Couch!) which Beta pilfered from her mom’s lair when she thought mom had been burned at the stake. And thus the ancient tradition of handing down crappy furniture to one’s offspring has been fulfilled.

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