The people in the first panel aren’t anyone in particular, except for me in the background.
Telomerase is the enzyme that produces telomeres, little strands of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that are lost, bit by bit, every time a cell divides. (I apologize to all the geneticists in the audience for my crappy explanation of this.) Although the telomere doesn’t contain meaningful genetic information, once the telomere is gone the cell is unable to keep reproducing, because then it would start losing bits of DNA it actually needs. Short telomeres have been linked to premature aging, and it’s been suggested that telomerase could be used in anti-aging therapy. However, this is questionable and, at present, mostly confined to the realm of science fiction and webcomics.
The Daf-2 gene has also been linked to aging, at least in the worm C. elegans, one of the model organisms commonly used in genetics work.
Pineal gland extract is a pretty common anti-aging phlebotinum in science fiction, although I was thinking specifically of the awesome MST3K movie The Leech Woman.
It’s true, though. Some people get old the minute they leave high school.
I can’t remember why I named this character “Larry Brock,” but I did have a crush on a really short guy in high school. He was cuter than Larry, though. Actually, I frequently had crushes on guys who were shorter than me, because I’m tall, but when I had five or six inches on them it was probably hopeless. Sigh.
In high school I campaigned successfully to get the school to do varsity letters for the Academic Challenge team. I was not a cool kid, no indeed.
Another early one. Initially I had Helen and Dave go to some lengths to pretend to be dating, but I decided that was silly and out of character for both of them. So they kind of just let people draw their own conclusions.
This woman is very strange-looking, while at the same time being not entirely unlike many women in my hometown.
It’s kind of surprising, the number of times Dave exploits his sexuality to get something out of Helen.
I could not get Dave to look right in the first panel! I redrew it and pasted the new panel into the strip and it still looked bad! It was very frustrating. He looks exactly right in the last panel, though. As for the middle panels, sometimes I just have too much damn dialogue. I’m aware I have a problem.
So Dave finally confesses, at least to himself, that he’s kinda sorta got a thing for Helen. It only gets more emo from here, folks.
As a vegan (and, um, a gerbil), Artie shouldn’t eat deviled eggs. I think he’s just sending Dave on errands for no good reason. I do like the dialogue in the final panel, though, plus for some reason the skinny guy looks like John Waters.
There’s also some kind of argument going on in the background of the first three panels. I think someone just got congratulated on a nonexistent pregnancy, which happened to me at a comic-book store once.