Demons: June 14-19, 2004

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

38 thoughts on “Demons: June 14-19, 2004

  1. Monday:

    It’s kind of peculiar watching Helen from between those two flasks. Are we the readers spying on this private conversation?

  2. “Narbon, Helen B.:  Does not play well with others.  Unwilling to share her toys.  Has a tendency to oh my god aaaiiiagghhh -“

    (scrap of paper found in the charred ruins of PS 9, Upper Sandusky OH)

  3. Huh. So Artie considers Dave a close friend? Well, being mostly restricted to the lab, I guess he doesn’t really have a lot of choices…

  4. Artie’s never really consiistent with the whole “superintelligent” thing, is he?

  5. @E.T.: That’s OK, most real-life “super”intelligent folks aren’t consistent about it either.

  6. I like how Helen can go from being pleased at her clever use of Barker in panel 1 to vaguely but honestly mystified in her absent-mindedness in losing him by panel 4. It’s this sort of conscious unawareness of the details of one’s own machinations that makes Mad Science so hard to defend against.

  7. I always figured that Artie was assuming that “lost” was a euphemism for “accidentally killed”.

  8. He rolled away, and fell down the stairs … but because he made his Dave Roll, he only took half damage.

  9. Like any simple creature, Dave’s hindbrain is primarily concerned with the “Four F’s” …

    (TUNE: “Kiss The Girl”, Alan Menken & Howard Ashman)

    Fighting …
    Fleeing …
    Feeding …
    And, y’know …

    Dave is pining
    In the evil sewer lair …
    Now his feelings he will share
    With Artie the gerbil …
    Been alone too long,
    Yeah, though it’s wrong,
    You wanna … goink the girl!

    (Sing with me now)
    Deep despair!
    Helen doesn’t care,
    Doesn’t feel remorse!
    Dave is normal like the rest of us!
    His hy-po-tha-la-mus
    Is craving intercourse!

  10. That’s five Fs, Johnn.

    Now, if you replace the last with plain Fantasy, that both fits the criteria and is more comprehensive.

  11. “Her feelings are her own now.” Caliban doesn’t seem to have realised that Helen would have been interested in Dave even if he hadn’t interfered.

  12. Hmmm … it’d be interesting to see a t-shirt reading “Save The Daves”.  But who would wear it?

  13. “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)”

    Because then you’d have to go through all the trouble of drawing a new group silhouette. 😀

  14. I’d do a Dave Conspiracy song based on ‘Here, There, and Everywhere’, but I’m not as good as Ed.

  15. I’m not Ed, either, but…

    Tune: “Here, There and Everywhere” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

    To lead a better life I need a Dave to be here…

    Daves, running each day of the year
    Controlling our lives with a mouse-click or two
    But they will just deny that there’s someone there

    Daves, ruling the world from their lair
    Davenport thinking how good it could be
    Artie wants luncheon but he doesn’t know to where

    The Daves are everywhere and if one’s beside me
    I know I need to take care
    Helen freed Barker in a plea bargain rare
    To Davenport’s standing repair

    His teleport’s working, it sav-ed the day
    Watching her gift, confusing all those who are there

    The Daves are everywhere and if one’s beside me
    I know I need to take care
    Helen freed Barker in a plea bargain rare
    To Davenport’s standing repair

    His teleport’s working, it sav-ed the day
    Watching her gift, confusing all those who are there

    To be Dave and everywhere
    Daves, there and everywhere

  16. ”Where are we going for lunch?”

    To the only place in town that uses alfalfa as a garnish, obviously. I’m picturing Artie paying with a tiny credit card.

  17. @ Rob: Ed welcomed me to the Dark Side when I posted my first filk and I pass that greeting on to you. Have a cookie…

  18. Or perhaps “vaya con una Chianti buena y frijoles de fava.”

    (Apologies for my high school spanish.)

  19. …and to ensure Dave Barker’s cooperation, Narbonic Labs would keep his 7-year-old daughter hostage.  The little girl would proceed to wreak havoc all through the labs, getting into Storage Room C, releasing the sentient meme into the Internet … all of which would cause Helen to adore her, so she’d mold the little darling into her own protege …

    Points to you if you figured out I was going for “Little Miss Barker”.

  20. I thought “Farscape” was those metal stairs on the outside of old buildings.

    (TUNE: “I Saw Her Standing There”, The Beatles)

    She had Dave Barker sacked!
    But she then gave him back,
    Back to the Daves … just so they’d reinstate me!
    I’ve got to do something for her …
    Here’s a Farscape cal-en-dar!

    I just can’t believe
    She’d let Barker leave!
    To kill that man, I know she wants it greatly!
    Now I will show I adore her …
    With a Farscape cal-en-dar!

    Well, I know it’s dumb,
    But my brain in numb
    That she did this thing for me-ee!

    Someday, you can bet,
    Dave Barker she’ll get!
    Revenge will be .. great and eviscerate-y!
    She knows I owe her much more, sir,
    Than a Farscape cal-en-dar!

  21. I must take issue with the implication that the first season isn’t ‘good stuff’.  For one – Sinclair was a more interesting character than Sheridan.  Also [SPOILER], I thought De’Lenn lost something when she became part human.  Plus, IIRC, both Zathrus and Morden are introduced in the first season.

  22. I think the only thing wrong with the first season is that you can’t tell that the episodes aren’t all one-offs, because their consequences haven’t started coming back yet. All of the awesome things in the first season wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy without the rest of the series.

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