Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: November 17-22, 2003

This is another one that I didn’t like much but Andrew thought was funny. Looking back, it actually is pretty funny.

SPOILERS: Given later events, it’s very possible that what Dave is talking to is not a recording, but a copy of Future!Dave’s mind uploaded into the base’s computer system. The possibility occurred to me while I was writing these strips, but I decided to leave it up in the air. It doesn’t make much difference anyway.

Many the Narbonic strips that still make me crack a smile (and there really aren’t that many) are the ones that perfectly encapsulate one of the characters. Artie has a lot of moments like that; as will come up in much later Director’s Commentaries, I will never not be amused by his excitement over working for a nonpartisan think tank or the line, “I’ve only been able to contact a local village, and my Gwich’in is terrible!” Anyway, this is one of Dave’s perfect little moments. He’s in the future, a holographic duplicate of himself is trying to entertain him with Star Wars jokes, and he acknowledges that this is entirely appropriate.

Plus there’s the fourth-wall breakage. Dave breaks the fourth wall a lot.

Failing to refill the swimming pool is one of the few ways to die in my favorite video game of all time, Maniac Mansion. So this is a reference, but it’s a legitimate plot point in the strip as well. I took a ridiculous amount of pride in setting that up.

The most important advice Future!Holographic!Dave gives is actually in the third panel, but Dave doesn’t take it.

These and the next couple of strips were some of the last strips I wrote for this storyline. They’re really just here to tie the plot together. I wish they were funnier, although I always enjoy using the word “sass.”

SPOILER: Ironically, or maybe just strangely, Dave does quit smoking as a result of this.

It’s probably worth noting that Future Dave is someone who regularly feeds people into teleporters.

The only part of this strip I really like is Dave’s line in the first panel. Obvious humor is obvious. I really wish I’d drawn more detailed backgrounds in the future scenes. Some of these weeks, I was on a tight schedule. Or I was lazy.

31 thoughts on “Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: November 17-22, 2003

  1. Once Dave [SPOILER] went mad and uploaded himself, I thought back to these strips and figured that Dave occupied the clone’s body while Future!Dave only claimed he was a recording so as not to reveal his madness to himself too soon.  Dave’s got enough on his mind right now; going mad would just be a distraction at this point.  Sure, that’d be one way for Future!Dave to change his past, but Dave is the rare mad scientist who succeeds when his plans go as expected, hence he plans carefully.

    I’m glad to have it officially not confirmed one way or the other.

  2. It was funny at the time, and makes lots of sense in context.

    Making Past Dave at least a little ashamed of his future self is a net positive, so I wouldn’t put it past Future Dave to spontaneously break into spam-talk. 

  3. Monday:

    This is probably the only Nigerian spam joke in all of webcomics that I actually think is pretty effective, owing entirely to how much of a complete non-sequitur it is.

  4. I like to think that Future Dave is messing with his past self and really saying these lines himself, in lieu of any messing with his past self with regards to, you know, the future.

    On another note, completely unrelated to anything on this page… I found a line in an old commentary about there being a Skullcrusher Mountain reference in the final strip of Narbonic. And then I went to the final strip, and I found that reference, and I must say that Shaenon K. Garrity, you win the Internet. All of it. It’s over; you are the champion. Congratulations.

  5. Tuesday:

    Fourth-wall breaking dialogue: 45.

    You might think that Dr. Davenport suddenly thought of this as a means of proving his authenticity to Dave, but of course there’s no way that this isn’t just a totally arbitrary nerdy whim.

  6. P.S: About this week’s Slow Wave: how is it even possible to dream something like that? (I think this means you should eat more grilled cheese before bed.)

  7. (TUNE: “Help!”, The Beatles)

    I need a Jedi!
    Help!  Not just any Jedi!
    Help!  I need you, Obi-Wan!

    Long time ago now, in a far-off galaxy,
    I tried to help the rebels throw off tyranny!
    But now I’ve put my message in ths funky ‘droid;
    I’m feeling fear, ’cause Vader’s here,
    And he looks quite annoyed!

    Help me Obi-Wan, now if you can …
    I’ll entrust you with the Death Star’s master plan …
    Now I’m caught by Villain-In-A-Can!
    Obi-Waaaaan, please, help me!

  8. All right! That’s like the one dream I sent him that wasn’t about having sex with “Weird Al” Yankovic.

  9. This strip this morning brought me an interesting free-association . . . .

    HoloDave’s “Help me, Dave,” skit brought to mind Princess Leia, which in turn brought to mind Princess Leia in her slave-girl harem outfit¹, which in turn brought to mind the strip that originally aired October 21, 2003 (which re-ran about a month ago), and a comment that I should have made then except that I only thought of it a few minutes ago.

    That comment is:  That strip was the first time in Dave’s consciousness’ subjective time-line that he saw Helen while she was totally unclothed.  Furthermore, never again during the run of the strip would Dave ever see Helen so naked — no undergarments, no stockings, not even her trademark rose-tinted glasses — the true inner Helen on view with nothing but some clear nutrient fluid and some transparent aluminum² between her and his glasses.

    And I totally overlooked this until this morning . . . .

    Alas, my prurience is not what it once was.


    – – – – – – – –

    ¹ And what the Hell does a Hutt want with a Human slave-girl in a harem outfit?  That was one sick Hutt!

    ² You’d expect Dave to use anything else?

    • I always figured that Jabba had no more interest in Leia sexually than a human would with a sexy banana slug, but that it was more of a “look what I have, and you can’t have her, neener neener!” attitude on the Hutt’s part. Anyone smart enough to run a major crime syndicate has to know what the effects of a scantily-clad attractive humanoid female is going to have on most humanoid males.

      I may have a horribly dirty mind, but even I am thoroughly grossed out by the thought that a Hutt (basically an overgrown sentient banana slug) could possibly be aroused sexually by a humanoid of any gender…

  10. @Grant: Not true!  Dave saw Helen in the altogether back on October 1, 2002 (near the end of the “David Cronenberg’s The Geek” story arc).

  11. @Ed:  Technically true — but I claim extenuating circumstances.

    1. Dave (and Mell) may have seen her nude, but we the readers never did

    2. She was far more naked on 2003-10-21 (and after) than she ever was on 2002-10-01.

    3. Everyone (readers included) was able to ‘enjoy’ Helen’s nakedness on 2003-10-21 and the following days.  On 2002-10-01, we had an implication of nudity for one (1) panel.  Period.

    4. And as any old-time SF reader could tell you, October The First Is Too Late.




  12. I’m fairly certain Dave does, in fact, try not to lose it at Helen. He just doesn’t succeed.

  13. Wednesday:

    And so Dave’s been given the one treasure he never knew he needed from this time travel adventure: premature hindsight.

    Computer games aside, “refill the swimming pool” is just puzzlingly arbitrary enough to stick in the reader’s memory for the long few years until it needs to be recalled, without Dave having to noticably go out of his way to remind the readers of it.

    (Today I can’t help but wonder how Dr. Davenport’s widow’s peak manages to be entirely invisible in profile.)

  14. (TUNE: “Fool On The Hill”, The Beatles)

    Unstuck in time … lost in this place …
    I talk to a grumpy hologram who’s wearing my face!
    “Remember that, when the time comes,
    You must fill up the swimming pool!”
    And that’s all I’m gonna tell me,
    That the pool must be filled!
    So I’ll fill up the pool
    Like my future self said,
    Even though he’s a tool!

  15. “Refill the swimming pool” is my favorite line in the storyline, is such a mayor foreshadow and makes so much sense when it happens

  16. Still, I love the line “Do I have to do everything for me?” For most of us, the answer is usually “Of course!”

  17. (TUNE: “Get Back”, The Beatles)

    Dave is in the future, Dave is in some trouble,
    Later life he won’t enjoy!
    Dave is talking to his holographic double,
    Double says, “Don’t sass me, boy!”

    Go back!  Go back!
    Go back to where you once hung out!
    Don’t slack!  Don’t slack!
    You’re sweatin’, get your shirt wrung out!

  18. Friday:

    Another memorable slapstick moment for future-trapped Dave.

    “To find Flanders, I just have to think like Flanders! I’m a big four-eyed lame-o, and I wear the same stupid sweater every day and the Springfield River!”

  19. This one always made me wonder – would Mell be glad to see Future Dave, or get that little smile?  I always suspected she was happy to see Young Dave -taking action-, because she wants the timeline changed as much as anybody.  I’m not sure how this jives with her letter to the Daves, though.  Mell be crazy?

  20. (TUNE: “Ticket To Ride”, The Beatles)

    The teleporter looks nice,
    Let’s use it today!
    This teleporter device
    Can ‘port us away!

    Hey, we can teleport two!
    Mell, we can teleport you-ou-ou!
    Where will we teleport to?
    Hey, I don’t care!

    As long as we get out of here soon,
    To a bizarre place,
    Be it a far place
    Or near …
    The Arctic, the Sahara, the Moon …
    I really don’t care
    Just so it’s somewhere
    Not here!

    But now, with Helen again,
    I quietly curse!
    As to Milwaukee we ran,
    How could it be worse?

    Soon as I said it I knew,
    Deep dreck I’ve gotten into-o-o …
    With me, the artist will screw,
    But I don’t care!

  21. Ed! Ed! How many more internets do you need?!?!?! We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel as it is!

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