Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: May 5-10, 2003

Look, I finally got me a circle template!

Mell’s speech is, of course, from Patton. Much of Mell’s dialogue in this sequence is based on either movie Patton or actual Patton. And it takes up ALL THE DAMN PANEL SPACE. I’m sorry.

Never pass up an opportunity to draw characters in amusing hats.

Yeah, more of the big speech from Patton. And more dialogue that completely crowds out the art. That said, I do like the way Mell came out in these strips. The sunglasses and the cigar really add something. No, I don’t know where the generalissimo outfit came from or what it signifies. It just seemed like the thing to draw at the time.

I can’t believe I spent three days on this speech, but it was all worth it for “I was an ATM in Louisiana.”

I think this is the first Narbonic strip that mentions Mell’s middle initial. As faithful readers of Li’l Mell know, her full name is Melody Wildflower Kelly. I didn’t realize I’d done this until TV Tropes pointed it out, but Helen, Dave, and Mell all have embarrassing middle names. I guess it’s a trope I’m drawn to as someone with a ridiculous, hard-to-spell name. (I generally like my name, though. I didn’t have to deal with any competition at all for the URL

Throughout this storyline, people kept asking why Madblood would build a robot army based on himself. It’s because Madblood, unlike Dave, has a healthy sense of self-esteem. This is why self-esteem is bad for you, people.

Madblood pulls the trick of making areas invisible to his own AIs again, much later, in “Professor Madblood and the Everlasting Ices of the North.”

This is another strip that gets echoed much later in “Everlasting Ices of the North.” Of course, in most storylines, the other characters have just cause to complain to Helen. The part of this strip that still makes me smile is Artie apologizing, but only for part where they let Mell come along.

Narbonic was pretty easy to draw when it was just a bunch of Daves walking around.

It took two weeks of the three Daves running around together before I was able to find time for Dave to process the bizarre situation Artie is in. There’s limited room for plot and character advancement in a four-panel strip, even a really wordy one. Still, I knew I had to pause for this discussion. There’s no point to doing wacky stuff like this if you don’t get to stop and address how it affects the characters.

If Dave had ever asked Artie what it was like being a gerbil, he probably would’ve just gotten an eyeroll. A tiny, tiny eyeroll.

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51 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: May 5-10, 2003

  1. I think I may actually have been sent this strip by Shaenon.  Its in a frame somewhere, but may still be packed away from the move.  I really should go and try to find it again.

  2. Androids! Madblood’s androids. What kind of ‘droids love girl maniacs? Bearded ones, ones with ties and labcoats, even ones with pockets full of notes — love maniacs, girl maniac — one’s with wild hair and checkered skirts, ones that know where they left their ax, and how to use it to cause hurts. Androids, Madblood’s androids, the droids a girl maniac loves to love back!

  3. Did Mell find that hat and jacket in Madblood’s closet, or has she been carrying it around on every mission for years waiting for an opportunity? I can’t decide which possibility I like better.

  4. garran: They’re probably Madblood’s, as it’d be kind of difficult to carry that heavy-looking clothing everywhere.  Plus, she’d have been wearing that hat at every conceivable opportunity.  Either way, I’m quite sure she’s Patton herself on the back.

  5. Monday:

    I really had trouble placing the source of this speech – at the time attributing it to either Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket. I then watched both films in that order, and came out not only with a diminished respect for the nature and spirit of the human creature, but also wondering what the heck is up with that “Surfin’ Bird” song.

    Q: Does a ‘full Earth’ trigger lycanthropy in the way that a full moon does?

  6. (TUNE:  “Bad Moon Rising”, Credence Clearwater Revival)

    Listen to Mell quote from “Patton”!
    Watch as her army she’ll harangue!
    With mirror shades, coat, and hat on!
    Robots prefer the one who sang!

    You’ll wage war tonight,
    ‘Cause robots love to fight!
    There’s … a full Earth on the rise!

    Mell knows that you can be sure that
    If there’s a clever plan you had,
    And, in this plan, you lose your hat,
    You can be sure that plan is bad!

    If you keep your hat,
    You know your plan is phat!
    There’s … a full Earth on the rise!

  7. @Leon: According to Radioactive Panda, not quite.

    One wonders where Mell got that cigar. Madblood likely would have known if he had any, particularly considering his desire for Dave’s cigarettes. Do cigars, perchance, “just happen” for Mell?

  8. Leon:  There was a series of light fiction called “Bureau 13” — in the volume Full Moonster, the disaster du jour turns out to have been triggered when an unwitting werewolf managed to sneak past some museum guards and actually touch a moon rock.  BOOM was only the beginning….

  9. Oh, that’s a great series! He also has a hard to find book called ‘That Darn Squid God’. Nick Pollata. Who co-wrote Illegal Aliens with Phil Foglio.

    Ok, enough praise for others. Mel rocks!

  10. Other than the fact that the earth has a fairly constant position over any one spot on the moon (It doesn’t rise.), nice filk.

    • The moon has a 12% variance on earthward facing. If the base is near the earthshine termination shock, then earth would occasionally rise and set, both on the same horizon.

  11. Mell probably just carries cigars around with her for victory celebrations.  Y’know.  Blow up a few dozen bad guys?  Smoke a stoagie.  Blow up the dean’s office?  Smoke a stoagie (NARBON HOUSE!!!!!!!).


    Acquire army of thousands of robots willing to take over the world for you?  Oh yeah.  You guessed it.  Stoagie time! 

  12. One can only assume that Madblood keeps a general’s outfit around the moonbase, for exactly this sort of occasion.

  13. That third panel is awesome. The long rant combined with the close crop of Mell’s face with the dark, foreboding composition: absolutely perfect.

    Never apologize for letting the dialog crowd out the art.

  14. If you’ve got a robot army, you could just send it out to conquer the world, but how much better to revel in the fact that you have a robot army ready to do your bidding and celebrate by exhorting them. 10155 is halfway to the correct conclusion: the speech is nothing more than Mel’s self-gratifying fantasy realization.

  15. (TUNE:  “Mustang Sally”, Wilson Pickett)

    Gen’ral Kelly!
    You sure have got a lot of vim!
    Gen’ral Kelly!
    Robots obey your every whim!
    You’ll unleash your robot army,
    And for the world … it’s looking grim!

    Do you love the Gen’-ral-is-si-mo Kelly?
    (Mell Kelly’s swell!)
    Sparkle in her eye and fire in her belly!
    (Mell Kelly’s swell!)
    She won’t sit around just watching the telly!
    (Mell Kelly’s swell!)
    Gonna rule the world from Nome to New Delhi!
    (Mell Kelly’s swell!)
    Don’t want Madblood, he’s too smelly!
    At her command, we’ll unleash Hell!

  16. A robot army may be able to conquer the world for you, big deal.  Having an army that stands and listens to your maniaical rant – THAT’S worth having!

  17. I thought it was obvious where the Generalissimo outfit came from:  Mel’s been ransacking the moon base’s closets for ages, now. 


    If you look at that jacket, it’s essentially a lab coat, with epaulets and a few medals.  i.e. it’s Madblood’s “When I Conquer The Earth” outfit.  


    It just looks so much better on her than it ever would on Madblood.  

  18. Sorry Wednesday’s comic didn’t appear on schedule. I’m in Japan right now and didn’t realize it was screwy.

  19. (TUNE: “Gloria”, written by Van Morrison, recorded by Them)

    I should tell you about our general!
    She leads us in combat!
    She’s about five-foot-ten,
    If you include the hat!

    A hundred years from now,
    I will not have to say,
    “I was an ATM…”
    This girl I will obey!

    And her name is M … E … L … O … Deeeeeeee …
    M-E-L-O-D-Y!  (Mel-o-dy!)
    M-E-L-O-D-Y!  (Mel-o-dy!)
    I’m gonna shout “Encore”! (Mel-o-dy!)
    I’m gonna shout “Enchante’!”  (Mel-o-dy!)
    (Undoubtedly!  Undoubtedly!  Undoubtedly!  Undoubtedly!  …)

  20. I know many ATMs in Louisiana.  They tend to be good folks. Although, there is one in my university’s student union that’s an evangelical.  As it processes it says “This wait is short. Eternity is longer. Where will you be spending it?” It’s a bit annoying when you just want to get your forty bucks and be done with it.

  21. Evangelizing ATMs should be bitchslapped for violating the separation between God and Mammon.

  22. Thursday:

    Dave has the compulsion to call Madblood “Professor” instead of something more appropriate, such as “hated enemy” or “Mister Loopy”. Heck, Lupin could just put him on the payroll right this second and they’d both just fall right into the master-fool relationship.

  23. (TUNE:  “I Get A Kick Out Of You”, Cole Porter)

    I’m rather fond of my ‘bots!
    Only a fool would deny that they’re cool!
    Of style, theiy’re the epitome;
    For I get a kick out of me!

    Voltron and Gundam are dull!
    Fifty feet tall won’t impress me at all!
    For size doesn’t matter, you see …
    Plus, I get a kick out of me!

    I get a kick from the style and grace
    Each plastic face exhibits!
    So dutiful and obedient!
    Their code dissent prohibits!

    I’m quite attached to my horde!
    Watch as my army is swarming,
    Alarming and charming the world tastefully!
    Oh, I get a kick out of me!

  24. Huh, I have to say, I never questioned for a moment why Madblood would build an army of duplicates. It’s just so…him. And of course, because it’s freaking awesome!

  25. So the difference between a mad scientist and a minion is self-esteem.  “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and by gosh, the world WILL bow before my invincble robot army.”

  26. And, of course, this example of his vanity will come back to bite him in another couple of plot twists….

  27. Friday:

    I don’t know if it’s really in Madblood’s character to cry “Complain to Helen”, especially after the resounding success of his last incognito correspondence.

    Where on Luna did that giant boundless panoramic window go in the latter half?

    Hmm… what else to say? Ah, right. Silent penultimate panels: 19.

  28. (TUNE: “Rolling”, Soul Coughing)

    Tell Helen, “Well, Helen?”
    Mell’s yellin’, “Hell, Helen!”
    Tell Helen, “Well, Helen?”
    Mell’s yellin’, “Hell, Helen!”

    I took a rocket today,
    I soon discovered a stowaway!
    I gotta scream in panic and then run away!
    I gotta gripe about it so I say …

    Mell Kelly, do you not need a megaphone?
    Mell Kelly, is the whole planet now your throne?
    Cower in fear, our butts you own!

  29. Yeah, “Complain to Helen” doesn’t really work for Madblood. You can kinda make it work, though; it depends on whether “Curse you, Narbon! Once again, your perfidious intern has foiled my schemes!” counts as ‘complaining’ or not.

  30. I love the Daves! Dave of course is my favorite Dave, but the other ones are cute too, although Artie should wear glasses. And For the Record the “Complain to Helen” part of the story is one of the best (that and Dave winning Lovelace)

    BTW I haven’t mentioned it, but I love the Speech! Now I definitively have to watch Patton

  31. Saturday:

    “Optimal time for panic”.

    Another thing Dave doesn’t have time to ask: “Does my voice really sound like that to other people?”

  32. Breaking character for a sec: while reading the mailing list archives I happened upon a link to a 2003 interview. Highlights: this story arc boasts “all the tender human drama of a 1980s body-swap movie“.
    And also: “I have no formal art training“? That’s… a little bit surprising.

  33. (TUNE: “Won’t Be Fooled Again”, The Who)

    Now the situation’s grave!
    We see Dave and Dave and Dave
    As they run from all the chaos Mell has made!
    And we watch as each one crawls
    Thru the shafts inside the walls
    As they’re hiding from the battle ‘bot brigade!
    Now Dave’s telling Artie he smells like alfalfa,
    Artie tells Dave, “Now that’s really uncalled for!”
    Madblood’s annoyed that his scheme is destroyed!
    All his plans fell through!
    ‘Bots said, “Who are you?”
    Now it’s Mell who tells them what to do …
    He’s overruled again!

  34. In Dave’s defense, Artie knows what is like to be a gerbil, but not what is like to be a human. If Dave would have been a gerbil it would had been fair to ask

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