Demons: March 29 – April 3, 2004

I wrote slumber-party strips early on and was delighted by the opportunity to work an actual slumber party into the strip. Also, Dave looks very cute in his shirt and tie.

This is one that got written early on and then sat around waiting for a storyline. No time is the wrong time for Dave getting his nails painted! Please note that the official lab pajamas, first mentioned in the Very Long Fanfic of Jeffrey Wells, are adorable.

Dave is forced to choose “dare” because there are certain truths he really, really doesn’t want to reveal in front of a mixed group. Especially not a mixed group that includes a wickedly grinning Mell.

I’m sorry for not including a strip where Dave actually kisses Caliban on the lips.

People were confused by this strip when it first ran. All I meant was that Helen plans to use the mint-flavored gender-swap formula to turn Dave into a woman so he can sing Girl Scout campfire songs with her. Is that really so hard to understand?

I was in a pretty thoroughly horrible and half-assed Girl Scout troop as a kid, but I did get an education in most, if not all, of the standard girly campfire songs. So there’s that.

I like Dave’s pensive expression in the first panel, where he’s just waiting politely for this whole silly business to be over so they can get back to fighting demons.

I love this strip. I should have won ten Nobel Prizes for it. TEN.

As the blueprint in the third panel indicates, Madblood is working on his new top-secret base, which will appear in a much, much later storyline. Also, I’m really bad at drawing phones.

The ubiquitous Narbonics Labs couch is based on the couch in the house I shared with three people in college, back when I first started writing Narbonic. For the record, it’s blue.

Helen is the only character in Narbonic who would ever refer to anyone as “all tuckered out.” I always loved writing her dialogue.

54 thoughts on “Demons: March 29 – April 3, 2004

  1. Monday:

    At this point they know each other so well that Dave can argue that he doesn’t even need to say it. Obviously Helen has been unsuccessfully trying to make this happen for some time now.

    Putting a bona-fide Valentine’s Day slumber party in a storyline entitled “Demons” is one of those cute juxtapositions that I like about this webcomic.

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

    Mell!  Go fetch the pajamas!
    Official pajamas for lab!
    Don’t want demons who grow scales;
    We’ll polish our toenails,
    And gossip and chat and gab!

    Though we may be dragged off to Sheol,
    For now, we hear Helen squeal,
    “Mell!  Go fetch the pajamas!
    Official pajamas for lab!”

  3. Aw, pouty Helen (panel 3) is cute.  No wonder Dave crumbled.

    I meant to ask earlier, but forgot: is there a color picture of Helen in That Dress anywhere?  I could swear that I saw one back when the strip was first running, but I haven’t seen it show up in any of the Sunday strips so far.

  4. This panel exemplifies for me the melding of sweet little girl and evil mad scientist that is a big part of what makes Helen so utterly captivating and adorable.

  5. @Rob Vines: Dunno about official, Shaenon-drawn stuff, but I did include the Dress in my paper doll revamp/expansion sets.

  6. Tuesday:

    Dave succumbing to his innermost nail-painting urges seem to be a recurring fantasy of yours.

    Strangely, I haven’t really thought of Labyrinth as a Muppet movie until just now, even in spite of its broad Muppet cast. I guess I’ve just always thought of it as an eerie fantasy firstmost – possibly due to first watching it in close proximity with MirrorMask.

  7. Mr. Pibb??  What are you trying to do, ATTRACT the Legions of Hell?  That stuff’s pure evil in a 2-liter bottle.  To repel demons, obviously, you need to drink Heaven-Up.

  8. Wasn’t someone keeping track of broken fourth-walls?   If so, here’s a blatant breaching charge to balance out last week’s smaller breakage…

  9. @Ed:  I’m with you on the Heaven-Up, but I think for attracting the Legions of Hell you’d want something like Moxie.

    I am one of two people I have ever met who will admit to liking Moxie.  (But then, I also like RC better than either Coke or Pepsi, so that just shows what I know.)

  10. @andy4hire: When I was a kid, my dad did the accounting for the local RC bottler. He must have done a heck of a job on the numbers, since the owner of the factory dropped off a few cases of RC and Nehi Orange and Grape every couple of weeks for a year after that.

    No wonder we were always running around like crazed madmen….

  11. @samhdaniel:  “Crazed madmen”?  That’s even worse than regular madmen!  Nothing personal, of course, but even though I envy you the RC and Nehi I’m sort of glad I wasn’t your parents….

  12. Maybe this is why Dave’s nail looked painted way back when he had to push the weather controller button.

    Time travel!

  13. Wednesday:

    Overthinking time: Is Helen’s fixation with parties compensating for a childhood spent on the run without the freedom to engage in long-term friendships and friendship-fostering activities like these? (Or at least, without her mother waddling in with the chloroform and ruining it all?)

    Silent Penultimate Panels: 26.

  14. (TUNE: “Be Our Guest”, Ashman & Menken)

    Truth or dare!
    Truth or dare!
    Slumber party in our lair!
    Though our Dave may be distracted,
    Mell and Helen just don’t care!
    Now we’re down-loading tunes
    While our Armageddon looms!
    We’re not plannin’, we’re not schemin’,
    Gotta kiss a former demon!
    Playing games, talking clothes,
    Watching Muppet videos
    While we fiddle with our makeup, nails, and hair!
    Some bonding time we’re spending
    While our doom’s impending!
    Truth or dare!  Truth or dare!  Truth or dare!

  15. Bad move, Dave. No matter how embarrassing and/or potentially life-threatening the truth, Mell can come up with a more embarrassing and/or life-threatening dare.

    Thank you for not including a strip where Dave actually kisses Caliban on the lips.

  16. Ohhh! Every time I read this strip, my brain silently altered that to “a box of thin mints.” I figured Dave was just falling to girl scout-related bribery.

  17. Ohhh! Every time I’ve read this strip, I thought the mints were for kissing Caliban, as mentioned in the previous strip.

  18. Thursday:

    I’ve been to Haarlem
    I’ve been to Dover
    I’ve traveled this
    wide world all over…


  19. I always thought Helen was talking about Thin Mints myself, until I read Shaenon’s commentary.  Thank you, Captain Continuity!

    (TUNE: Whatever that thing is that Helen and Mell are singing)

    The doctor’s name was Narbon,
    The doctor made a clone!
    She said, “You’ll see, she’ll be like me
    When she is fully grown!”

    From baby to teen-ager,
    From teen to fully grown!
    She said, “Not true, I’m not like you,
    So just leave me alone!”

    The clone went off to college,
    At Polygnostic U.!
    Her Bach-e-lors degree she got,
    And then her Master’s, too!

    The lawyer came to see her,
    The lawyer came and said,
    “My dear Miss Helen, I must tell
    You that your mother’s dead!”

    The clone got rather angry,
    The clone, she took it bad!
    She lost her head, now nine are dead,
    And now she’s fully MAD!

  20. And I’m back. Damn illness.

    I’d always presumed that Helen was asking Mell to fetch the mint flavoured formula which swaps the gender of the person eating it for the sole purpose of turning Dave into a girl so he’d sing along to girl scout songs. Makes perfect sense.

    Oh, and I’m considering putting “Dave” as my preferred name on my British Army application forms. It’ll just be easier in the long run.

  21. It had been long enough since the last gender-swap arc that I didn’t remember the formula tasted minty, so this one did indeed lose me.

    (Also, if I were Dave, this threat would have no meaning, as I’d then have an excuse to get “cured” by Helen when the song was over.)

  22. Oh man, I never got that Dave was supposed to be a girl again in this strip! Silly me. I guess I couldn’t tell from the hair this time when he was on the side of the panel.

  23. Because of this strip I started consistently using the phrase “male type person.” Your influence on my life is both kinda boring and yet incredibly profound.

  24. @jenfullmoon:  It’s not a failure of your perception.  Dave’s not a girl here.  Helen just threatened to turn him back into a girl to nullify the reason he gave for not joining her and Mell in the sing-along.  He knew his defeat was inevitable, so he joined in as a male-type person rather than going through the transformation to a female-type person and having to join in anyway.

  25. tune: I’ve gotta crow (Peter Pan, 1954)

    I’ve gotta crow (shae-shae-shae-Shaenon)
    Thank you, I’m awesome because I can draw some great comics, I know (shae-shae-shae-Shaenon)
    My genius led to Farago: I’m wed to Andrew, so, you know
    I’ve gotta crow

    I’ve gotta brag (shae-shae-shae-Shaenon)
    Narbonic, Smithson, Trunktown, L’il Mell, and I edit some rag (shae-shae-shae-Shaenon)
    I’m such a Lulu that All the Comics in the World are my bag
    I’ve gotta brag

    I’m utterly awesome
    I’m so boss, I’m bursting with win
    I’ve earned a Nobel
    ‘Cause my drawing and writing are swell
    Can’t you tell?

    So naturally (shae-shae-shae-Shaenon)
    When I discovered the great, epic fanfic
    Of Wells, Jeffrey C. (je-je-je-Jeffrey)
    Skin Horse grew out of the genius between us
    The readers all squee
    Worship on bended knee
    Go, me!
    (Gar-gar gar-gar-gar gar-gar-gar gar-gar-gar gar-gar-gar-gar-gar-Garrity!)

  26. Friday:

    This episode speaks for itself, but I still want to say that “It’s after 10:30!” is the best part.

  27. The blueprint in the third panel doesn’t indicate you’re bad at drawing phones. The phone in panel 2 does that. </silly>

  28. Ah, prank calls. Expenssive and annoying. Unless you reverse the charges. Then they’re only annoying.

  29. It’s the little things you notice when reading Narbonic the second (or third or fourth time) through …

    Such as, Shaenon is terrible at drawing feet.  (Hey, if you were perfect, we wouldn’t love you so much.)


  30. For someone sleeping for the first time, Caliban sure chooses to sleep in an awkward pose.

  31. Feet are hard. They’re almost as complex as hands, and they deform in strange ways under load. And it’s trickier to use your own as models.

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