I like Dave’s assessment of the situation in the second panel. He’s really settled nicely into his job, although unfortunately he isn’t yet capable preventing horrible things from happening to him, just resigned to the fact that they’re going to happen.
The specific Stephen King novel I had in mind was Needful Things, which really isn’t one of his better ones; maybe I should have said Clive Barker. I think my favorite King stories are Carrie (which is pretty clumsily written, being a first novel, but has a raw power that I think a lot of his later books lack) and that short story where GIANT SPOILERS this guy stranded on a desert island survives by eating parts of his own body and on the last page he’s going ladyfingers they taste just like ladyfingers. This is a good thing to mutter to your friends without warning.
In other news, that’s a pretty fat cigarette pack Dave’s got in the first panel. The impossibly miniscule text on the sheet of paper reads, “Chris Ellmann reads tiny print.”
I should have drawn curly cigarette smoke like that more often.
Dr. Narbon’s line in the second panel brings up an idea many readers had when this storyline first ran: that, what with the time-travel and all, Dr. Narbon is really Helen herself from the future, circulating through history in an endless time loop. Although this would be kind of cool, I didn’t even think of it when I was writing these strips. It ended up being a pretty nifty red herring, though. All in all, I think it would be kind of depressing if Helen were fated to end up exactly like her mother. She should be free to do her own thing, although I’m sure she’ll always be obviously her mother’s clone.
The scarlet emerald is a reference to the classic bad fantasy epic The Eye of Argon, by Jim Theis. I love bad art in general, and Eye of Argon was very well known in the “Mystery Science Theater” fan community when I was a regular, having been the subject of a popular MSTing by Adam Cadre. Anyway, The Eye of Argon is a classic all around, and your life will not be complete until you’ve attempted to read it. At least get as far as the drooping nipples.
I’m such a nerd that I can’t help humming the phrase “Eye of Argon” to the tune of the old “Star Trek” filk “Banned from Argo.” Eye of Argon, everyone…Eye of Argon, just as soon as this song is done… It’s really, really sad.
I let Andrew pick the access code, which is why it’s the date of the Great San Francisco Earthquake. There’s no further significance to this, I’m afraid.
Poor, dumb Dave. I like how, in this week of strips, he knows he’s doing something really, really stupid, but he keeps going ahead with it anyway, because he wants that damn toy. I probably could have played this up more than I did; it’s the basic source of whatever humor these strips have.
I drew the firing lever completely differently here than in the previous day’s strip. Sigh. I think I like this version better–the giant pulley is more Bride of Frankenstein than the big lever.
The sound effects here are crudely drawn but actually pretty effective. I like the way Dave’s scream floats out of the burst in panel three and behind Dr. Narbon’s dialogue in the next panel.
Oh, don’t look at me like that. It’s his own fault for showing Dr. Narbon the death ray.
This is another strip I still like. I enjoy the timing of the conversation and the logic of Helen’s explanation. (You can tell it’s a clean death because Dave’s tissue is apparently totally undamaged, albeit decaying, when he gets resurrected later on. But not painless. That would be silly.) I also managed to draw five panels without making them painfully cramped.
One problem: in the first panel, Mell indicates that the scream is coming from stage left, but in the last panel she and Helen run off stage right. I should have had them run left in the last panel, even though it would’ve slowed down the eye and generally made the flow of action a little awkward. Or maybe just drawn the test tube suspended in midair, one of my favorite visual effects stolen from Chuck Jones cartoons.
My friend Rob didn’t like this strip because he had to stare at Dave’s ass.
I never intended to permanently kill Dave off, although some readers at the time thought I was. I just thought it would be interesting if he spent some time dead. I was mostly wrong, but more about that in the weeks to come.
The partly obscured box behind Dr. Narbon reads “Hamdingers,” a reference to the last Joel Hodgson-hosted episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (featured movie: Mitchell, starring Joe Don Baker) in which Joel escapes from the satellite via an escape pod hidden in a box of Hamdingers. “Caution: Gerbil Parts” is pretty good.
I shouldn’t have drawn that weird hank of hair in front of Helen’s face in the foreground. That really bugs me now.