Demons: June 7-12, 2004

Again, linking Mell and Caliban romantically was Jeff Wells’ idea. It ended up working incredibly well. Before this, it was hard to imagine Mell in any kind of adult relationship, but once I set it up it seemed completely natural. I don’t know why she and Caliban work together, but they totally do.

As mentioned before ad nauseum, I’m not happy with this storyline, but these last few weeks of wrap-up strips are pretty good. Some good character moments in here.

Look, it’s Sir Pounce! The most popular character in Narbonic! I think this is his last appearance in the daily strips, although [MINISCULE SPOILER THAT BARELY EVEN COUNTS AS A SPOILER] he does make a cameo in the final strip.

I’m actually being kind to Seth here; if I hadn’t included this strip, the implication would’ve been that he died when he got devoured by the demon back in the restroom. Still, he’s obviously very upset here, as he’s emitting three drops of undefined liquid at a time.

ACTUAL SPOILERS: I can’t remember if, at this point, I was already planning to bring Seth back, but it was kind of inevitable. As Chekov wrote, you can’t send an angry little nerdy guy to Hell in the first act and not have him return in the third. With a totally sweet battleaxe.

I should have just gone ahead and had Caliban crash at Dave’s apartment, but I was tired and ready to end this storyline. It still kind of bothers me that I passed on the opportunity, though. Let’s all pretend that Caliban took Dave up on the offer and lived on Dave’s futon until he landed a job at Starbucks.

Caliban rooming with just about anybody has great spinoff potential. I would personally like to see a strip about Caliban sharing an apartment with Seth while they compete for Mell’s affections. Somebody draw this and send me a portion of the royalties.

Andrew points out that, given the year this strip ran, Dave is probably giving Caliban an issue of Catwoman from the period when it was drawn by Jim Balent, a very special time in Catwoman’s life. Balent, of course, went on to pen the greatest single line in the history of comic books.

I always liked this strip. Despite his participation in the atrocities of Hell, occasional backstabbing, and very snippy attitude toward people who cut in line at his eventual barista job (OMG spoilers), Caliban is probably the sweetest character in Narbonic. He’s much happier as a human than he was as either an angel or a demon; he wasn’t really cut out for life on a cosmic scale. Caliban was always inspired a little bit by the Goldfish in Eleanor Farjeon’s The Little Bookroom: “It was a shame ever to let such a tiny fellow loose in the vast ocean. He needed a world more suited to his size.”

I’m sorry, that reference was probably both too obscure and insufficiently nerdy. Pretend I said something about Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose again.

So Dave’s got conflicting feelings. He tries to be a stand-up guy, he really does.

The melting snow outside the lab is a nice touch, contrasted with the heavy snowfall at the beginning of the storyline. It’s time condensed for thematic purposes, like how in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” they go through an entire year of seasons in, like, a week.

This is actually pretty adept for Dave, spinning what he believes is about to be a crushing letdown into something harmless and only slightly self-deprecating. Helen, meanwhile, is having second thoughts about her “yes” from the night before because she knows it’d be really wrong for her to get romantically involved with Dave. Both are scuttling their chances at happiness without knowing that [SPOILERS, WHATEVER] said chances are much better than they believe, but that’s what happens to people who can’t have a damn conversation with each other.

Helen’s got socks on because she never ordered slippers to match the official lab pajamas. Poor Helen.

44 thoughts on “Demons: June 7-12, 2004

  1. Monday:

    Helen is feeling tremendously upstaged. Just look at her!

    There are a bit too many people in this webcomic who have dark, twisted minds.

    And it’s easy to see why Mell and Cal fit together: demigods know their own.

  2. Sacre fromage!  Of course Mell would be attracted to an evil soul with centuries of experience in inflicting pain …

  3. He’s a demon from Hell.

    She’s a lawyer.

    The compatibility is plain.  I’m just afraid he’ll feel so outclassed

  4. Hmmm. I’m not sure how showing him IN HELL dispells the implication that he died, actually…

  5. The whole story now becomes clear!  Frustrating customer service can bring out the axe-wielding maniac in any of us.

  6. Tuesday:

    I wonder if there’s something a little too cheesy about Dave wondering if they forgot something. (I thought I’d silently promised myself I’d stop linking to that site.)

    What they also forgot, by the way, is that Dave and Helen were almost at the tail-end of a very interesting conversation.

  7. Let’s see … a meek-looking guy, fed up with getting treated like @#$%, grabs a weapon and goes on a rampage … this has box-office potential!  I can see it now:  “Falling Up”, starring Kurt Russell, directed by Shel Silverstein …

    (TUNE: “Heaven”, Bryan Adams)

    Oh, went to a party for Valentine’s …
    Mell declared, “A date I need!”
    And at gunpoint, I agreed …

    These creatures appeared, with their scales and spines!
    They were uglier than s**t,
    And they swallowed me …
    I was cast into The Pit!

    Buddy, I’m begging of you,
    Just a simple phone call, that’s all!
    Hard to conceive, but I know
    I’m in Hell now!
    Somehow or other I knew
    Dating Mell would put me through Hell!
    I knew this date wouldn’t go
    Very well, now!

  8. Leon, I will never get this thing you have where you want Narbonic to not be cheesy. It will NEVER HAPPEN.

  9. I really, really like the expression on the demon’s face. What in Hell is a phone, and why in Hell is this angry little nerdy guy demanding one when I’m trying to read, dammit?

  10. tune: Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash

    Nurse . . . in an accident
    Died . . . and to hell she went
    Quacks . . . took her naughty bits
    Now . . . she is having fits

    Quick get out, you’ve a red, haunted vagina
    Poor Samantha Brown, it could give a ghost angina
    And it bleeds, bleeds, bleeds
    Haunted vagina, haunted vagina

  11. Wednesday:

    In Dave’s defense, that survival kit does fulfill the entire bottom tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

  12. (TUNE: “Yes, We Have No Bananas”, Frank Silver and Irving Cohn)

    Socks that match the pajamas,
    That match the pajamas you wear!
    There’s a comic by Balent,
    Who Sarge says has talent,
    And wrote about ghosts “down there”!

    For late-night snackers,
    Pea-nut butter crackers,
    And socks that match the pajamas,
    That match the pajamas you wear!

  13. Not that long ago, in the run-up to Read Comics In Public Day, my favourite comics podcasts, House To Astonish, advised its listeners “But don’t read Tarot in public, that’s not the image we’re supposed to be sending. In fact, don’t read it in private either. Just sit quietly and someone will come along to dispose of it safely.” 

    At the time, I had no idea just how true those words were.

  14. Isn’t that ‘special time’ in Catwoman’s life the time period when she was so topheavy she would have made Power Girl point and laugh?

  15. Thursday:

    This strip always makes me smile. It’s a very life-affirming humanist sentiment.

    Dave, still in top form, immediately responds with that equally human response: disappointment.

    What’s also wondrous about this strip is the pitch-black sun. It’s the sort of utterly counterintuitive rendition that reawakens my love of visual mediums.

  16. (TUNE: “Red Rubber Ball”, Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley)

    Morning has come, we now say good-bye,
    Time for me to spread my metaphoric wings and fly …
    There is nothing topping this in Heaven and/or Hell,
    If you’re hoping for celestial bliss, then dude, you’re S.O.L.!

    So behold, the sun is coming up!
    Such a vision to inspire!
    It’s big and round and black just like a ra-di-al tire!

  17. I for one am pleased to know I’m not the only person in the world who ever read The Little Bookroom.  (Twice or three times, not sure.)

  18. It’s been explained many times throughout the strip that Sir Pounce is an evil, evil kitten.

  19. The Little Bookroom is one of my all-time favorite books. The illustration of Dr. Lee on the Skin Horse cast page is based on one of Edward Ardizzone’s lovely title illustrations.

  20. I find myself in theological agreement with Caliban.  Which is odd because just about everything else in Narbonic gets me thinking deep thoughts that tend toward disagreement with the main characters.

  21. @Johnn—you do realize that a T1 line is a “mere” 1.544Mbps, right? My basic tier cable modem service can upload faster than that, much less download.

    If the lab were to have an OC768 line, now…

  22. Friday:

    When one wall of misinformation on Dave’s road to love gets knocked aside, another one rolls up. The poor fellow can’t even see the maze of misassumptions he’s been stumbling around in all these years.

    Personality icons: 18. It doesn’t really make sense that Dave’s good side is dissenting from an obviously virtuous act, but at least the rest of Dave knows what’s right.

  23. The good side is cursing because this revelation means he was acting villainously, because Helen was under a love spell.

  24. The good side is cursing because even angels need a little somethin’-somethin’.  Dave’s good side has it bad for Helen’s good side, and who can blame him?  Have you seen her in that little white outfit?

    To quote Randy Milholland, “If I knew angels were hot chicks in skimpy dresses, I’d have converted years ago.”

  25. It seems to be established in the Narboniverse that your virtuous side is only as virtuous as you at your best, rather than being an absolute moral bedrock. This is why Helen’s is just as mad as she is, and why Dave’s can regret not having Helen in love with him, even though he knows it’s right.

  26. Is that shoulder sprite Helen’s inner Helen Alpha?  I didn’t recognizer her at first with pupils, and without box wine.  And in all fairness, the socks do match the lab pajamas, so perhaps slippers would be de trop.

  27. This reminds me… is little “Gamma” from the future a clone, or their in-some-sense-slightly-more-natural daughter?

  28. Saturday:

    It’s lovely the way this storyline rounds itself off like this. And I’d like to add that “My graphics are going to be so flat!” is a pretty good line in and of itself.

    Personality sprites: 19.

  29. @kaygilbert:  The sprite in panel 4 is “Maternal Instinct”.  She’s shown up once before, although I can’t quite recall where.

    (TUNE: “Alone Again, Naturally”, Gilbert O’Sullivan)

    I remember late last night,
    Just before the demon fight …
    I was off my head,
    And I might have said
    Something awkward that wasn’t right …

    But before I can retract,
    Dave’s quick response comes back!
    And I’m kinda floored
    That he’s asking for
    Just some new computer hardware!

    Gee, his quick reply,
    Goodness, by
    Surprise it took me!
    He wants a widescreen monitor
    And not a night of nookie!

    If we want a family,
    Our kid will have to be
    A clone again, naturally!

  30. … I could’ve sworn that, even in ’04, 3D was a big thing in computer graphics. Why is Dave exulting in flatness?

    … Is it because he’s in a two-dimensional medium?

    • Flatscreen as in “not a Cathode Ray Tube”, which tended to be curved (as well as occupy a significant volume on your desk, despite only being able to display 2D).

  31. @Ed: At the beginning of the Demons Arc, Helen’s talking with her Maternal Instinct. Helen wants biological children… until Dave and Artie burst in acting like immature kids. Then she changes her mind and thinks about going with the clone thing.

  32. @Sam:  Well (SPOILERS), there is that scene in the epilogue where we see Dave in the hospital holding Gamma.  The clear implication is that he’s just given birth to her.  If we take that at face value, I’d say she’s not a clone (although whether her birth is more or less “natural” than her mom’s is up for debate).

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