Madness: November 13-18, 2006

This whole strip is serious business and I don’t know if I should be snarking on it at all. That said, I had to kind of cram words to get Dave’s whole speech into the third panel. I felt it was important.

For all she’s mistreated him in various ways, Helen really does have enormous respect for Dave, as he does for her. That might be the one thing that gives their relationship hope. I do love her speech here.

Maybe I should have done something more ambitious for the “shattering” effect in the last panel, but the Photoshop filter thing I used actually looks pretty decent.

St. Barbara is the patron saint of explosions. What?

That round word balloon in the third panel came out all weird. Oh well.

Around the time I was writing these strips, my friend Jason Thompson was complaining about “love conquers all” plots, so I felt it was important to work in at least this minor twist of Helen messing with Dave one last time. Of course, Jason would probably have been happier if I’d just made them zombies.

I inked Helen with a thick line in the second panel to make her stand out, but it came out too thick and I find it distracting. This is one of those things that still bugs me. In fact, this whole strip was strangely hard to draw.

Note Madblood loading equipment onto a hand truck. This will be relevant later.

Helen understands that pretty lights, like random beakers, are essential to successful mad science. Also, in the last panel, Mell is trying and failing to drag a live power line. I hope that’s clear, because I personally find her off-panel pain hilarious.

30 thoughts on “Madness: November 13-18, 2006

  1. It’s always seemed appropriate to me. Like, Dave would have good reason to mush his words together and speak quickly, before Helen can get another word in.

  2. The bots have turned to stream-of-consciousness, I see. I don’t have enough black turtlenecks, berets, or bongos to read through that entire ad.

  3. Tuesday:

    I just want to put it on the public record that everything Helen listed in panel 2, Mell has also done, either much better or much longer.

    Panels 3 and 4, though, is a nice clean break of the “I love you / Not enough” refrain – a shattering of a temporal loop of abuse. It’s a little bit hokey, but what part of this webcomic isn’t?

  4. @Leon: But Mell isn’t mad, so the assertion that it’s proof of strength to overcome madness still only applies to Dave.

  5. @Ed: It’s my second favorite, after “The Dave you knew is dead.  I killed him with awesomeness.”

  6. Don’t forget he’s been unstuck in time, too, which Mell didn’t go through.


    Also, I think the temporal loop got broken back at the pool.  It’s what allows for this to even happen.

  7. Wednesday:

    Thank goodness Mell saved us from Artie’s increasingly awkward innuendo. There’s no way to politely dance around “they’re blowing fuses with the force of their orgasms” without sounding like a very inept robot.

    Off-panel head pokes: 38. I like how Madblood’s flowing tie complements Mell’s hair. It’s seldom we get nice visual similarities like that.

  8. Thursday:

    It was quite a leap of faith to expect Mell and Madblood to spring to action in a momentary pause like that. But then again, isn’t it the Power of Teamwork that really conquers all?

    Silent penultimate panels: 55.

  9. Dav, it’s not that she’s necessarily smarter than you, it’s that she’s been mad long enough to take advantage of your newfound madness.

  10. Dave’s genius may now be greater than Helen’s, but Helen also has smarts. They’re not the same thing.

  11. You also need a Jacob’s Ladder and control panel with at least twenty-four knobs.  And one of those big double-blade knife switches.

  12. And dials.  You need at least one black surface with a dozen or more inset glowing dials.

    …wait, that’s not mad science, that’s a Leiji Matsumoto starship.

  13. Mell’s off-panel yells are hilarious because bad stuff almost never happens to her.

    Even if there is some usable brain tissue, this brain has been chemically altered to be Bill. It’s quite a long shot, but at least the Tinasky Study is finished if it doesn’t work and Dave is no more.

  14. Mell’s off panel bit in the last panel is another of my favorite Narbonic bits. Comes in to my mind pretty much every time I have to do anything involving electrical cords.

  15. This strip beautifully illustrates why Shaenon is brilliant. She throws away the punchline that most people would’ve settled for in the first panel, and then uses the rest of the strip to build to a second, funnier, and plot- and character-developing punchline. And then in the background she’s got the slapstick going, and, far from overselling it, as is too common, she doesn’t even bother to actually show it to us, letting it sneak up on us, and making us imagine a scene that, like Mell clocking Daves with a ‘gator, is probably funnier than anything that it’s possible to actually draw.

  16. Oh, so he did let them through the forcefield intentionally. That makes a lot more sense than them outrunning a mad genius AI’s speed of thought.

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