D-Con: March 18-23, 2002

Arrgh…I hate those grey fills. Also, I have no idea what happened to the R in the first panel.

This Dave is based very loosely on my friend Drave, who was the first person I met in San Francisco. He was working at the Moebius-inspired arcade in the Metreon shopping center when I went into the city for my internship interview at the Cartoon Art Museum, and he took an interest in my portfolio. Now the Moebius arcade is long gone, which is too bad, because it was actually pretty boss.

Aside from that, the one good thing about this strip is Dave identifying himself as “Davenport, like the sofa.” It’s one of those lines I could use at any time, but only once.

ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST really shouldn’t be working freelance for the Dave Conspiracy. They’re a little too shady for a heroic expert on document attribution like himself. But what the heck, I wanted to do some ANTONIO SMITH stuff.

“The game’s afoot” is from Henry V:

I see you stand like greyhounds the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry “God for Harry, England, and Saint George!”

ANTONIO SMITH’s first line is from Timon of Athens. His second is from Othello, and his final line is from Love’s Labour’s Lost. I basically live to do strips like this one, not in the least because I have other, better writers to do most of the work for me.

I never figured out how to draw ANTONIO SMITH’s hat.

“We’re the Illuminati. We have everyone’s spit,” was one of the first lines I wrote for this storyline. The whole plot is pretty much built around it.

This is just stupid. There’s no reason Artie wouldn’t have backup. And no, I decline to comment on whether they were male or female gerbils. It might not even matter, as Artie has previously admitted he can’t always tell the difference.

The ponytailed Dave is sort of vaguely based on my college friend Frisbee Dave. All the Daves at Vassar had nicknames to distinguish them because there were so many of them. I like that first panel, by the way. The poses are actually pretty decent by my standards at the time. I’m generally pretty good at drawing people who slouch a lot.

Man, this strip is no darn good. It doesn’t have a punchline or anything. I didn’t like it when I drew it either, but sometimes you just need to keep the plot going. I do like that Dave is so easygoing about getting thrown in a dungeon. He really is a born lackey.

Spoiler: The one big plot hole in this sequence (no, really, there’s only one big one!) is that the Conspiracy would be more likely to bring out Dr. Narbon’s saliva rather than Helen Beta’s, since they think Dave is talking about Dr. Narbon. I realized this at the time I was plotting it and went ahead with it anyway, hoping no one would pay much attention.

65 thoughts on “D-Con: March 18-23, 2002

  1. Monday:

    Dave died “last summer”. The Dr. Narbon storyline indeed ended its run in May, but that was a continuation of Smart Gerbils, which began in January 3 and only contained about a week’s worth of events.

    This actually fits in perfectly with my aforementioned “inverted seasons” theory – January is summer in the Narboniverse, and six months later Dave is revived in snowy winter, which is when Wetware Interface ends. Exactly as planned!

    Dave should wonder: how exactly did news of his death leak from the walls of Narbonics Labs? Helen buried him on-site and told nobody. This is the first second clue that the Dave Conspirators have a greater interest in Dave’s murder than even he suspects.

  2. Yeah! I would have thought that if Dave D was legally dead, he’d have hit more problems by now… so how did the Daves find out about it?

    (I am reading Narbonic for the first time, so I don’t know anything.)

  3. kicking_k: Whyncha go to the full archives, then?  Just take the _plus out of the URL.

  4. Today’s band name: “Dave’s Ovaries”.  Their hit single “I’ve Got Uterus Under My Skin”.

  5. Did they actually test him for genetic femaleness? ‘Cause you can’t exactly /tell/ he’s got ovaries.

    I guess it’s a fair assumption, but still. It’s pretty creepy to be like “yes, I know all about your guts, and they’re she-guts.”

    Maybe I’m just weird. Am I the only ovary-possession person here who would get unnecessarily wound up and say “You don’t know that!” if someone made the statement in the comic to me? 

  6. Yeah! I would have thought that if Dave D was legally dead, he’d have hit more problems by now… so how did the Daves find out about it?

    Because I’m such a lazy cartoonist, I don’t really bother to explain how Narbonics Labs covered up Dave’s death, but, as we will later find out, there’s a very good reason the Dave Conspiracy knows about it. If Dave didn’t trust so blindly in the power of the Daves, he might be suspicious that they seem to know all the details of his death.

  7. I figured it was a technique gathered from years of manga editing… the way series like Hayate the Combat Butler and Excel Saga omit letters from trademarked names mentioned in dialogue. Granted, I don’t think the timeline quite works with when you drew this strip, but it’s mad science… who needs temporal causality?

  8. Rachel: Are you sure you’d really want them to check whether you have ovaries? That’s the sort of thing I’d only suggest if I were sure it would really help my case.

  9. I figured it was a technique gathered from years of manga editing… the way series like Hayate the Combat Butler and Excel Saga omit letters from trademarked names mentioned in dialogue.

    Kismet! I’ve worked on both of those! I actually just took over Hayate; starting with Volume 12, we’re gonna have cultural endnotes, baby.

  10. @ shinyhappygoth: Er, because I’m enjoying reading it as it comes. And because I have a Masters degree to finish, and I’m really trying not to have another archives binge just now…

    And also (because of the Masters) I have no spare brain capacity, and therefore like the commentary because it points out things I’d otherwise miss. Like all the foreshadowing. Is this doing it wrong?

    I like the order of precedence Dave D gives to “turned into a woman and double-crossed”.

  11. Tuesday:

    It’s a bit of a miracle that ANTONIO SMITH managed to reappear just often and briefly enough to reaffirm his existence in the reader’s mind. His only ‘major’ story arcs are his introduction arc (Aug-Oct 2000) and “H is H” (Aug-Oct 2005), and he has to share the latter with Zeta Vincent and Dana-by-proxy.

    This is, I suggest, a symptom of both Helen’s and Shaenon’s gradual growing-away from villainous megalomania. Perhaps our author kept the ANTONIO marble rolling due to an earnest but steadily diminishing intention to give him a grand starring role in a future arc?

  12. Kismet! I’ve worked on both of those!

    I know. That’s why I mentioned them. I forget whether my first encounter with your manga editing career was through a note associated with this strip, or your endorsement of the Brigadoon anime series, but I’ve been seeing your name in more and more Viz Media releases ever since. Is there any series you HAVEN’T worked on by now?

    And hooray for endnotes! Hayate DEFINITELY needs them. A shame they’re four books away, though.

  13. Jaye Brown (illogicalv) says: I think I’m still bothered by the implication that Daves cannot be female.

     A very valid point.  Back at Vassar, there was a Davina.  I remember noticing that and decided that she counted as a Dave when I when I figured out that Vassar was 10% Dave


  14. Wednesday:

    And back he goes into the mists of time.

    In panel 4, ANTONIO SMITH’s eyes aren’t visible, even though nothing is concealing them. Also, it occurs to me that Ms. Davenport’s nametag went missing yesterday, and has yet to return. Taking into account Monday’s missing r, this doesn’t bode well for the remainder of this week.

  15. You do realize of course, that in panel 3, if ANTONIO SMITH’s line had been, “A point nine seven seven correlation”, it would have been in iambic pentameter.  (In statistics, the value of a correlation coefficient ranges from minus one to plus one.)

    English and science nerd!  Double geek alert!


    Leon: Antonio’s eyes just moved further up under his hat brim to avoid any more exposure to Dave D’s handwriting….

    I can’t throw any stones, though, since even my printing has been excoriated by those less imaginative than I.

  17. Augh- my handwriting is atrocious. I’m pretty sure there’s a warrant out by now. There’s a reason i type.

  18. Thursday:

    You mean to say that revealing the awful truth and significance of Dave’s death, and thus leading the protagonists ever so gradually toward the terrible secret of Dave, was entirely secondary to the task of using the line “We have everyone’s spit”?

  19. (Sung to the tune of “Ev’rybody Must Get Stoned)

    Man, the situation’s grave …
    ‘Specially for an altered Dave …

    Here comes the Circle o’ Five, ah …
    Goin’ round, gettin’ saliva …

    Man, them fellahs never quit …
    They got ev’rybody’s spit!

  20. Aahh, but which Helen Narbon’s spit?  HN-alpha might match Beta’s genetics, but she hasn’t taken The Formula….

  21. Thomas Levy (ergonomytch) says: So they ARE stealing our precious bodily fluids! I knew it!

    Yes, but they can’t actually be sapping and impurifying them, or the transformation wouldn’t work. 


  22. Also, they know exactly which Helen he’s talking about before he even mentions a surname, I see.

    I don’t understand the joke about fluoridation! Waah!

  23. Hey, the Daves can have all the spit they want from me — *AFTER* I’m done with it, of course…

  24. It’s mad computer hacking.  Sure, you could copy- but why copy when you can cut?  And why use just one photo when you can bombard your target with 5,000?

  25. Pho-to-graphs … of Ro-den-ti-a
    Makes me glad … I was born!
    Helps prevent … my de-men-ti-a
    Here it comes … Gerbil Porn …
    (insert wailing saxophone here)

    (sung to the tune of “Turn The Page”)


  26. Ed: When I first read that, I thought the tune I was looking at was “Novocaine For The Soul.”  Although I guess that would be more:

    Pho-to-graaaaphs. . .

    Gerbil pornnn. . .

    . . .I’m gonna sputter up.


    Yes, I know.  I’m disgusting and evil.

  27. Rather like the Matts in the Carnegie Mellon KGB.  All new Matts are immediately assigned nicknames (mkehrt, Mr. Wright, Almond…) because addressing anyone as Matt is simply not an option.  We have a Row of Matts Committee.

  28. At CU-Boulder it was Jons: Cousin Jon, Sketchy John, Bicycle Jon (aka bi-Jon), Sexual Jon, and Johnny.  There was a Matt problem too, but that was distinguished by context.

  29. At my first job, we had three Richards, and a manager with the last name “Richards”.  Overused joke:  our department had an embarrassment of Riches.

  30. But would the clone taking serum affect the saliva of the original? Which was probably collected even earlier than that?

    If drinking serum can affect someone else’s bodily fluid that’s sitting in a jar who knows how many miles away, that’s some MAD science. 

  31. More Plot-Hole Spackle: *ahem*  When Dave’s DNA interacted with Helen B’s formula-laced DNA, it memorized her sequence and would thus respond to that sequence without the assistance of the formula as go-between.


    Behold! The power of Fans! 😉 

  32. See? Easy. I’m sure all of us have explained sillyer things with more ease.

    (Like why Severus Snape isn’t dead.Come ON people! Like Hell he wouldn’t have an Antidote!!)

  33. I was really expecting the saliva to mysteriously fail, and Dave to have to endure the dungeon thinking that the antidote would fail to work a second time or something. I mean, it’s not only a plot hole, it’s a plot hole that allows Dave to be *less* miserable than he otherwise would be. How could such a thing be? (I think everything would work out right with the saliva failing but the conspiracy believing her anyway, due to having just finished sequencering her and finding her to be a perfect match for Davenport.)

  34. My name is Ed and my landlord’s name is Ed. As I like to tell people, “Two Eds are better than one…”

  35. Edwin Q:  I’m sorry that I didn’t have a chance to tell you this, but I have grown to hate that joke so much over the years that now I have to kill you.

    Which would you prefer, a slow torturous death from old age, or being drowned by beer from the inside?

  36. As for the plot hole, never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.  The Daves got hold of Helen Beta’s saliva, told the guy in the filing room that it belonged to “Helen Narbon”, and he put it in Helen Alpha’s file.

    Right spit, wrong drawer.  Simple explanations for simple minds!

  37. Or if we keep malice on the menu, Helen Alpha didn’t want the Daves to have her spit so she replaced their sample with a second vial of Beta’s.

     Maybe she even foresaw this necessity… it’s hard to tell with Dr. N.

  38. We had Chrises. An emberrasment thereof.

    6 Chrises and a Krystal. I was friends with 4 of them and dating the Krystal for a solid year, and in school with the whole lot for 2 years.

    I am currently friends with 3 of them and friends with the Krystal. So in the end, it is still the predominant name.

    The far bigger problem I have had is an over-predominant MIDDLE name– Michael. Every single Sean, Shane, or variation thereof I have ever met or known has the same freaking middle name– Michael. I don’t know if it suits are names tonally, or if there is a massive brain-link in parents who gave birth / adopted in the late 80s, or what, but man is it creepy.

  39. What, nobody ever noticed the pun? Dave was double-crossed – his DNA was changed to XX.
    Also, I used a really old word processing program in 1987 that literally lifted the data off the 8″ diskette into temporary memory, instead of copying it, so that every time you made any changes, if there was the slightest power sag, you lost it forever. On that sysem, Artie would have lost his collection by uploading it.

  40. 3 notes.
    1. The first panel Dave refers to himself as DavenPOT.
    2. I believe (probably incorrectly) “the game’s afoot” is also from Sherlock Holmes; which actually fits with SMITH’S style strangely enough.
    3. Beta is a clone, and which means her silva is identical to her mother’s. See, she is no plot hole.

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