I must’ve written this shortly after Andrew got Season One of “Transformers” on DVD and started watching it all the way through. For the record, he says it doesn’t hold up as well as “G.I. Joe.”
This week of strips is not that great, but Roger is totally awesome-looking and I love him. For absolutely no reason I named him after my friend Roger Langridge, who currently writes Thor and draws the Muppet Show comic and is one of the greatest cartoonists alive.
Roger looks kind of like a huge mutant version of the cherubim that show up in the later storyline “Angels.” I had the idea that when he was an angel, he was a cherub. The angels and demons in the Narboniverse can assume any form but tend to fall back on certain templates when they’re not making an effort.
As I’ve mentioned before, Caliban is an old character I wrote into a lot of stories when I was younger, so he has a whole complicated backstory that doesn’t come up in Narbonic. For what it’s worth, he wasn’t one of the angels who rebelled with Lucifer. He was a conscientious objector, or possibly a big coward, who refused to fight on either side. According to some folk traditions, these angels were condemned to Hell along with the rebels. According to others, they were merely condemned to Earth, where they became the elves/Fair Folk/Fomorians/whatever. Caliban was cast into Hell, but he’s always had a closer affinity to the earthly plane than most angels or demons.
Caliban’s last line in this strip is an oblique reference to that old joke with the punchline, “Break’s over, back on your heads!” (How old is this joke? There’s a variation in the ninth-century chronicle of the voyages of St. Brendan the Navigator. Why, yes, I did take a bunch of Irish lit classes in college! Thank you for asking!)
Yeah, this stuff is just not Narbonic enough. The only good thing is the crazy eyeball creature. I like his little T-rex arms. Again, Roger could probably appear in humanoid form if he wanted to; this is just the shape he defaults to. The fact that Caliban’s default shape was practically human probably suggests that he identified way too much with mortals already.
This is really a whole other comic strip that has somehow crossed paths with Narbonic. It’s not that bad, necessarily, it’s just a whole other thing.
In the Narbonic universe, rope-swinging rescues always indicate romance, albeit sometimes one-sided.
Mell calls Caliban “Hot Stuff” as a reference to Hot Stuff, The Little Devil, but also to him being hot. I worried about this ambivalence, but in the end I decided to leave the line in. Way, way back in the earliest days of Modern Tales, Joey Manley fantasized about getting the rights to Harvey Comics and making all the Modern Tales artists draw their versions of the characters. I think I was supposed to draw either Hot Stuff or Wendy the Good Little Witch.