Battle for the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil: March 21-26, 2005

And a new storyline begins! Frankly, I think everything from here to the end of Narbonic is solid stuff. Okay, “Angels” has some weak points, but overall I can read the last year and a half of the strip without cringing. And I love this storyline, because everything awesome happens.

In fact, this storyline is so great it has its own soundtrack! Shane Wegner and Paul Marino composed this instrumental track, “Dr. Narbon and the Battle for the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil.” Writes Shane, “We tried to make it cinematic, kind of like in Inception. I envision slightly more Matrix-style gun-fu (which is seriously hard to draw, I know).” I strongly suggest listening to this on repeat as you read the following three months of strips. (The piece is (c) Shane Wegner.)

Thank you so much, Shane and Paul!

I love old Marvel comic books with footnotes explaining the origins of various plot points, so I wore the concept into the ground here. I have no regrets. This stuff still cracks me up. I also like that this strip has a decent punchline even without the footnote stuff, which I think shows dedication on my part.

My favorite meta Marvel comic is the early issue of Fantastic Four where Doctor Doom tricks Reed Richards into a showdown by going to the offices of Marvel Comics and forcing Jack Kirby and Stan Lee to summon Reed. He crushes Stan Lee’s ashtray as a threat. How come comic books aren’t awesome like that now?

Longtime readers may or may not recall that, in previous encounters, Dr. Narbon was working as mad-science liaison for the Dave Conspiracy. Unsurprisingly, this seems to have gone sour.

I can’t remember when or how I came up with the idea of Mell fighting Helen’s mom, but in retrospect it was inevitable. This is one of the storylines that went through a long nebulous, I’m-not-sure-what-the-plot-is period before it finally jelled for me.

I like Dave’s miserable expression in the first panel. He really, really doesn’t like dealing with Dr. Narbon.

Yes, Helen! Work on Artie’s gullibility issues! Help him become canny and manipulative so he can be a bastard over on Skin Horse!

…See, everything is Helen’s fault in the end.

Footnote gags: still funny.

The thing is, I really did need those footnotes. Narbonic had a lot of crazy backstory by this point. Are people even keeping track of Dave’s status with the Dave Conspiracy at any given point? I had some trouble with it myself.

I remember drawing this week of strips at Capricon in Chicago. Dirk Tiede showed me how to draw shine on a character’s hair, like Dave has here. I took his advice and continued to draw Dave’s hair this way for the rest of Narbonic. So thanks, Dirk!

As you can see, this strip has a single continuous background, following some elaborate device that apparently ends in a water cooler. There was no particular reason for this. I just thought it’d be fun to draw. And it was!

Battle for the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil: Next

45 thoughts on “Battle for the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil: March 21-26, 2005

  1. When I hear this song, the one strip that sticks in my head is the one that’s sure to give Eric Burns a heart attack.  (We’ll be seeing it before long.)

    Bravo, bravissimo, Mssrs. Wegner and Marino.

  2. Nice music, Wegnarino!  (Sorry, but the alternative was “Mariner”, which would only work if you had included lyrics with ancient rhymes.)

    (TUNE: “Raining Men”, The Weather Girls)

    Mell’s leaving this weekend, she’s going out of town …
    The ROTC called her up, ’cause s**t is goin’ down!
    It’s all super-secret!  It’s stuff she cannot tell!
    And the G-Men … get excited when
    They’re gonna be training Mell!

    They’re training Mell!
    Holy moley, they’re training Mell,
    So well!
    She’s leaving early Saturday …
    Dave suggests “Just walk away!”
    Helen just ignores him!
    She’ll put aside her germs!
    And she won’t rest, until she’s guessed
    Why, just before mid-terms …
    They’re training Mell!

  3. Is this piece available for download anywhere? I kinda want to make it my ringtone and dance with my kid to it and generally listen to it on repeat until I go deaf.

  4. Wow!  That is one gorgeous piece of music!  Can we recruit them for “Skin Horse: The Musical”?

  5. Okay, I am getting over my shyness to actually speak up. This is one of my favorite storylines of Narbonic–mostly because I am a shameless romantic.


    And I know I haven’t ever commented before, but I’ve been reading this for the last… three or four years now, and I really do adore Narbonic. It was mostly the reason I started reading webcomics (although I am shamed to admit I am behind on Skin Horse).


    Also, that music is boss.

  6. Thanks all! It’s humbling to have people enjoy some internet silliness like this. Paul made it great, I just have random ideas and he makes them awesome.

    Um, I mean: BWHAHAHA! Cower, mortals, before my genius!

    PS- we might make another… I have some ideas for a big climactic score for Battle of the Frozen North, for example.

  7. Man, I need to commission these guys to write a Speedy theme.  Something with a deep V8 roar, punctuated with lightning, all with an exotic arctic / tropical theme.

  8. Tuesday:

    The only conceivable improvement for this episode is for the footnotes to continue encroaching upward on the characters as their own speech balloons encroach downward, until panel 4 contains only Helen and Dave’s noses.

  9. (TUNE: “Hot Stuff”, Donna Summer)

    See ’em there, recalling stuff appalling,
    Incidents that happened before!
    Underneath we’re noting, titles quoting,
    Soon, there won’t be room anymore!

    We’re gonna use some FOOTNOTES!
    There at the bottom!
    We’ve got some FOOTNOTES!
    Author’s remarks!
    Yeah, there’s some FOOTNOTES!
    Each panel’s got ’em!
    Let’s relive the glory
    Of the former story arcs!

  10. I remember reading a Marvel comic which actually had a footnote saying “And if you can remember where that happened, please let us know!” or words to that effect.

  11. I cracked up with “True Believer”.

    @eddurd: what with not knowing the original song, my brain keeps setting the chorus to Queen’s Headlong instead. 

  12. These 4th-wall-breaking footnotes crack me up: I hear them in Bugs Bunny’s voice.

    And, Ed, your filk cracks me up, too.

  13. Rachel, ‘True Believer’ is one of the many phrases Stan the Man dropped into his footnotes.  Along with ending the footnotes with “Ed.” so often that some kids wondered who the heck Ed was.

    Shaenon: my favorite meta Marvel moment was in the 80’s, when a superhero had to visit the Marvel offices and two writers in the background are complaining about how cheap Stan was, and how he was wasting his money on big posters of the superheroes they write about.

  14. I love Artie’s flat “How?” in the final panel. You can hedge and delay all you want, but at some point you have to admit that the world is ending and everyone is doomed.

  15. tune: “Coconut,” Harry Nilsson (Nilsson Schmilsson, 1971)


    Dave Conspiracy got burned

    They said “We need a hit”

    They said “We need Mell Kelly now,

    We know she can do it”


    They’re sending Mell after Doctor N.

    She’ll kill her all dead

    They’re sending Mell after Doctor N.

    She’ll drop a mallet on her head


    I say, “Helen,

    This is kind of hard to say”

    I say, “Helllll-en,

    Mell will kill your mom today”

    I say, “Helen,

    This is kind of hard to say”

    I say, “Helllll-en,

    Mell will kill your mom the Daves all say”

  16. It’s not just a footnote gag- it’s a footnote gag and a fourth wall gag!  That makes it doubly funny.

  17. (TUNE: “Kiss On My List”, Hall & Oates)

    Her co-workers wonder why she went away …
    She wouldn’t say!
    She claimed it was super-secret special training today!
    She seemed to be kind of evasive, and kind of withdrawn …
    We’re just better off not knowing … where she has gone!

    It seems the Daves fought with Dr. Narbon,
    They want her gone!
    The first eight assassins did not do well …
    This job is dang’rous as hell, so they called and asked for Mell!

    Because this miss, this miss is on the list …
    Because this miss, this miss is on the list …
    Because this miss is on the list … of assassins for hire!
    Because this miss, this miss is on the list …
    Because this miss, with gun or knife or fist …
    Because this miss just doesn’t miss … when she yells “Open fire!”

  18. It would have been great if the “Eh, never mind.” footnote had been on a reference to a continuity repair for Dave never having smoked.


  19. (TUNE: “You’re Sixteen”, Ringo Starr)

    Leave my mother alone!
    Her butt I own,
    With her boxful of wine!
    She’s my mom … she’s murderous … and she’s MINE!

    They sent Mell to Brazil,
    Mother to kill!
    Now, how dare they, those swine!
    She’s my mom … she’s murderous … and she’s MINE!

        All my childhood, it was spent
        As Mom’s genetic ex-per-i-ment!
        I’m calling dibs, I want her head
        To mount on my wall, alive or dead!

    May the Daves all be cursed!
    I’ll get there first
    With intentions malign!
    She’s my mom … she’s murderous … and she’s MINE!

  20. @N B: He got his membership back at the end of Demons, when Helen traded Dave Barker back to the Daves in return for a couple of favours.

  21. Wayne: There’s nothing like a gangsta waltz:
    tune: “Years from now,” Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show (Sometimes You Win, 1980)

    Kill my mom
    I want to kill my mom
    With a death ray or bomb
    Her head is mine!

    It’s not my intern’s job
    It’s not for that Dave mob
    This grenade’s mine to lob
    Her head is mine!

    I look back on the years of my childhood
    As an experiment
    In terrarium spent
    With the sen-ti-ent slime
    Yes, Mell is a killer supreme
    But she can’t kill my dream
    Of revenge so sublime
    It’s sweet payback time

    Kill my mom
    I’m gonna kill my mom
    My personal pogrom
    Her head is mine!

  22. “It’s your intern killing her. That’s almost as good.”

    No! No! NO! It’s only “good” if it’s Beta’s signature on The Contract!

  23. On discovering some James P. Blaylock novels in a used book store, a thought struck me: do the Narbons have anything to do with the fiendish Professor Ignacio Narbondo?

  24. (TUNE: “Highway To Hell”, AC/DC)

    One’s an older Ph.D.,
    She’s the mistress of the mutant men!
    One’s a younger LL.D.,
    With a killer bod, a perfect ten!

    One of ’em killed me!  The other tried!
    Now I don’t know who I’m rooting for!
    I can’t pick a … favorite side,
    They’re like Alien and Predator!

         And now it’s Mom versus Mell!
         Yeah, it’s Mom versus Mell!
         Who to root for?  Can’t tell!
         ‘Cause it’s Mom versus Mell!

Leave a Reply