Demons: May 31 – June 5, 2004

Oh, poor Dave Barker. I’m sorry, Dave! Incidentally, this is about the closest we get to seeing the present-day Dave Barker.

One of the other head Daves from the “D-Con” arc can be seen in the demon’s clutches. He’s wearing an aloha shirt, obviously, because they just came from Hawaii.

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Mell’s one of the flatter characters in Narbonic, but it was nice to be able to develop her character a little, mostly in the background of the story, to the point that it was plausible for her to become a lawyer, have a more-or-less-normal romantic relationship, etc. Recently Jeff Wells told me that Mell was his least favorite of the central characters when he first read Narbonic, but rereading it he developed an appreciation for her. I feel the same way. When I go through the archives like this, I generally like the way Mell turned out.

Also, the pajamas-and-briefcase combination is charming, I don’t care what you say.

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Another part of Caliban’s never-to-be-developed backstory is that he actually worked for many centuries as a purchaser of souls. I was thinking of the Friar’s Tale in The Canterbury Tales, where demons apparently just hang around on Earth chatting with people and waiting for souls to become available. (I totally love The Canterbury Tales and, if allowed, will recite large chunks of the General Prologue until smacked.) Anyway, Caliban got taken off the job, probably because he got too chummy with the humans, and was put on more restrictive duties like working the gates of Hell.

I’m not crazy about this strip, but I do like all the griping about dawn.

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Aw, Mell’s negotiating on the party table. Remember when this storyline was about a Valentine’s Day party? Yeah, me neither.

Another strip with way too much dialogue. Getting through the plot is hard. And yes, that’s an economy-size box of alfalfa on the counter in the first panel.

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I do like Mell in lawyer mode. This is one of the very few times in the strip we get to see it, too.

35 thoughts on “Demons: May 31 – June 5, 2004

  1. Monday:

    I want to say that this demon’s stachebrow is remarkably stylish.

    Let’s take a passing moment to reflect on the memory of these five Daves. We know Barker well, these two have previously tangoed with our protagonists, this guy has mostly dwelled in the background, and presumably this guy is one of them as well, completing their number. And now they’re all worse than dead.

  2. I love Mell in panel 4.  The dirt, the little smile, the pajamas, the briefcase…very well done.


    Plus she’s using the one line you *NEVER* thought you’d ever see Melody Wildflower Kelly say: “Lets negotiate.”

  3. Tuesday:

    It isn’t out of the blue to expect that Mell wouldn’t just passively follow Helen’s plan, given her previous autonomous indiscretions. That the plan would be in the best interests of everyone else is, to say the least, a pleasant coincidence.

    (I wonder if Cal’s head is a little far from his own speech bubble and too close to Mell’s. Hmm.)

  4. A lovely young lady named Mell,
    Could out-argue demons from Hell.
    This delicate flower,
    Beware of her power …
    The demons, beware of their smell.

  5. (TUNE: “Don’t Bring Me Down”, Electric Light Orchestra)

    The demons come in the dead of the night!
    They must return ere the coming of light!
    They hate the dawn …
    (Ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo … icky-poo!)
    When morning returns,
    The fearsome Day-Star, it burns!
    They hate the dawn!

    That lousy dawn … sucks!
    That lousy dawn … sucks!
    That lousy dawn … sucks!
    That lousy daw-aw-aw-awn …

    We’ll show these demons a couple of tricks!
    We should be done by a quarter of six!
    They hate the dawn …
    Soon they’ll all be gone … gone by dawn!
    The deal will be done
    With aid of coffee and buns!
    They hate the dawn!

  6. I took a class in Chaucer last spring and enjoyed it more than I thought.  My personal favorites are the Miller’s Tale, Reeve’s Tale, and the surrounding prologue bits.

  7. I apologise unreservedly to anyone who actually knows Middle English for the following:

    A Daemon ther was, yclept Caliban,

    Who far too chummie was with mortale mann.

    And soe he did get caste out of the Pitt,

    And met a Maide of greate Madnesse and Witte.

    But other Daemons came for him from Hell,

    Untile a Deal was broker’d out by Mell.


  8. Honestly, I think that Narbonic’s ability to completely change stories like this may have been part of what made me love it so much.

    On a side note, as I reread through this one at a time I realize that, because I’m really careless when reading comics, a lot of lines I attribute to human characters were actually Artie sitting on them. Huh.

  9. Hey, you used that punchline in the actual strip a few weeks ago.

    And, thanks to you, Mr. Grubbs, I have just realized that that’s not, as I had always previously read it, Helen’s line in the last panel.

  10. So the demons, who were kept at bay by Artie’s pure little soul, have no trouble sitting around a table covered with pink hearts.  Pink-heart evil strikes again!

  11. @Ed: I think the demons recognize a kindred spirit in Mell, so they can more easily disregard the pink hearts….

  12. Ah, yes, not being a Tom Wolfe fan, this is the strip that introduced me to the eloquent and useful phrase “screwed the pooch.”  Although, considering what happened to poor Sir Pounce, perhaps the phrase should have been “poached the pussy.”

  13. So we have a bunch of evil creatures, seemingly threatening, potentially powerful, but totally flummoxed by anyone halfway competent.

    Congress, anyone?

    p.s. Ever since the “Big Bad Wolves” story arc on Skin Horse, the phrase “screwed the pooch” makes me think of Julie and Tip.  Well, at least for two weeks out of the year.

  14. Nasty beings that are imprevious to logic or their own best interests….. Reminds me of… Sigh. At least in this case we’re confident that the Good Evil will triumph over the Evil Evil. Or something.

  15. dangit, I hate to be a killjoy, but more dialogue, more plot & less cute gags is exactly what ‘Skin Horse’ needs… I am an old fart and you’d probably be wise to ignore my advise.


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    Maybe plot isn’t the right word… Skin Horse seems to operate on a fairly simple set of imperatives, the complexity more a matter of incident. I felt compelled to comment because you tend to denigrate some of the things I particularly like about Narbonic: the wordiness, the Dave Conspiracy, the way one genre meanders into another… things that feel right but don’t have a pat explanation or a single purpose. Obviously, SH is a different beast -as it should be- more focused & more tuned in to internet culture (hmm, pretty wordy though, now I look at it again- so that’s good).

  17. The most important thing to me is to be funny. I am constantly throwing chairs at myself and Jeff and shouting, “FUNNIER!”

  18. (TUNE: “Man In The Mirror”, Michael Jackson)

    The demons came tonight
    For a renegade …
    But Mell said “This ain’t right,”
    So a plan she made!

    She didn’t scream or shout,
    Just got her briefcase out
    See the gleam in her eye!
    She’s got a legal plan
    For saving Caliban,
    He will now be their spy, he won’t die,
    And that’s the reason why …

    I’m loving it when Mell is a lawyer!
    She won her case, so give a cheer!
    She faced the hordes of Hell, and we saw her
    Beat the Malebrache, and she showed no fear,
    Dan’l Webster can go and kiss her rear!

  19. Saturday:

    Another storyline is brought to a crescendo, but rarely is it so tidy and ordered that someone gets to pose in triumph at the vital moment.

    Right now I only just remembered the particular affinity devils and demons have for contracts – an affinity as strong as that of dragons for gold piles, or ugly little omnipotent men for guessing games – which makes this particular solution completely fitting for its problem.

  20. Well we’re past “Unstuck in Time” story-wise, so not a spoiler to mention future!Mell. Now mentioning any exploits (while not acknowledging that such events exist) perpetrated by future!Mell not detailed therein would be spoilers.

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