I wrote this strip really, really early, when the plot of “Demons” was significantly different. Originally it was followed by a series of strips revealing that Helen had bugged Artie with a subdermal listening device, which allowed her to listen in on some key conversations while, of course, still missing the ones that would have cleared up the ongoing romantic miscommunications between herself and Dave. It was overly complicated and hard to follow, so I cut it.
In the second panel, Artie is visibly relieved to find that Helen appears to have lost romantic interest in Dave. Throughout Narbonic, he’s generally unsupportive of their efforts at a relationship, leading him, way down the line, to lay down an ultimatum that sets the final events of the strip in motion. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but, although Artie always has a rational reason to object to Helen and Dave hooking up, underneath it all, Helen is kinda sorta his mother and he’s kinda sorta squicked out by the idea of her dating anyone, let alone one of his closest friends. Artie’s relationship with Helen is complicated.
Yes, Artie is briefly outraged that Helen didn’t keep Dave Barker around to torture and experiment upon and whatnot. If he has to live with evil people, they could at least be consistent about it.
Artie usually reacts this way whenever Helen throws him for a loop. Which is pretty often.
This is a really early script. It still holds up pretty well in context.
At this point Dave has had one confirmed girlfriend, his college girlfriend Sarah. I don’t think he’s had girlfriends, plural, unless you stretch the definition of “girlfriend” to include instantly-regretted drunken college hookups and/or girls he watched “Babylon 5” with once. At this point he’s still had a more successful love life than Artie, though, so give him that.
Man, Dave really likes those Shephard Fairey “Obey” prints. He’s drinking from a “My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable” mug, which I also own.
Helen and I have the same cursive handwriting.
Man, I ended up using the Dave Conspiracy way more than I originally intended. It turned out to be useful to have a vaguely sinister but not especially destructive all-powerful shadow organization around. The Conspiracy doesn’t appear on-panel from here on out (possibly due to all previously established members except Dave Barker being sent to Hell), but it continues to play a role here and there, right up to the end of the strip.
Every once in a while, Artie earns his reputation as the smartest person at the lab. And once again, Barker, I apologize for my cruel misuse of you throughout the strip. It’s over now. Vaya con Dios.
This strip is awesome. I wrote it pretty early in the planning for “Demons,” and it still fits into the story nicely. “But killing Dave Barker was your greatest dream!” is, of course, a great line, but my favorite part of the whole strip is making Dave’s gift a “Farscape” calendar. It has to be “Farscape” specifically. “Star Trek” or even “Babylon 5” would be too classy. “Farscape” is exactly the level of gift I was going for here.
My other favorite part of the strip is that I didn’t bother to draw any damn backgrounds. As I’ve mentioned before, this is pretty common for the last strip in any given week of Narbonic.
Speaking of “Babylon 5,” after ten years I’ve decided to re-watch the entire series and write about it in my LiveJournal. Please enjoy my slow, painful slog through the first season on my way to the good stuff.