Angels: November 21-26, 2005

My concept of cherubim as being just covered in eyes comes from A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L’Engle, the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time. That was also where I leaned about mitochondria. How many people read that entire series?

When I was a kid, a neighbor boy asked me if girls pee. I said yes. I probably should have made up something more interesting, but the question caught me off guard.

This strip is completely silly and I just wrote it to move the plot along, but now that I’m looking at it I like it. Again, I tend to be fond of strips that don’t have a gag-punchline setup and are just characters having stupid arguments. Also, it’s hard to deny the comedy power of Seth in that outfit dangling an eyeball.

This storyline is one of the times the strip might have been better in color, because of all the blood. Then again, what color would angel blood even be?

Oh, man, Seth adjusting his tie in the second panel. Like trying to hit on Mell isn’t the worst idea in the universe. Unless you’re Caliban, I guess. I don’t care what you say, that’s some funny stuff.

Seth’s final line still pleases me. Apparently the Narboniverse isn’t one of those places where you get sexy devil girls.

Let it never be said I don’t have a romantic side. The Mell/Caliban relationship is deliberately a background element in Narbonic, because I liked the idea of Mell just quietly hooking up with someone while Helen and Dave go through their whole soap opera. But on the few occasions I focused on them, they seem like a remarkably together couple. Go figure.

Explaining a wandering eye with “He was covered in gore!”… Mell is a simple creature.

This is one of the storylines that I mostly made up as I went along, and Caliban using the arrival of angels to try to book it back to Heaven was an idea that came up mid-writing. And yet it ended up being the core of the story. No, I’m not sure what the plot would have been otherwise. Sometimes I don’t think things through too carefully.

That’s a really big, flat bug under glass in the first panel. Also, drawing stairs is hard.

This came up in the “Demons” storyline, but it seems likely that most of the Narbonic characters, with the possible exception of Artie, are destined for Hell. That’s kind of grim if you think about it. I blame my Catholic upbringing.

SPOILERS: Amazingly, Mell does find a way around this problem. In the balance of things, Caliban’s mostly lucky to have her in his corner.

52 thoughts on “Angels: November 21-26, 2005

  1. Me!  Well, I read everything in that family and maybe 6 or 8 more books in her other sequences — so I guess it depends on what you consider the “entire series” (given that the families/books interlocked).


  2. Mom told me that Vernon Grant, creator of Snap, Crackle, and Pop, had said that, when he was very young, he thought women were flat on the bottom, like saltshakers, and just glided around. Big floor-length skirts meant that he couldn’t see that women had legs, too.

  3. I read that entire series, but I think Proginoskes was a bit cooler (and nicer!) than these killer wasp cherubim. I was also a bit put out to later discover that mitochondria were real but farandolae were something that L’Engle made up.

  4. It’s been so long that I have no idea how many books there even are in that series.  Let me see… Wind in the Door… Swiftly Tilting Planet was the last one I actually read, I think.

  5. Yes, I read them all, and all the other ML I could get my hands on.  I recognized that influence on this storyline the first time through!  Those books were hugely influential in how I saw (see) the world, actually.

  6. @Tiff:  It was a standing joke in Catholic schools (1960’s era), that nuns didn’t have feet, they had wheels.  Twenty years later, our church had a social outing at a local roller rink, and I found it it was true.

  7. I know I read at least the first two, but I don’t remember if I read anything past those. In which one did they get stuck in 2D?

  8. My knitting group meets in a space that has a 3-D printer and I noticed last month that someone had printed out a tesseract (or, strictly speaking, a three dimensional projection of a tesseract). Which I wouldn’t have recognized without those books, so, thanks, Madeleine L’Engle!

  9. I didn’t read the entire series, but I did get through A Wind in the Door and Many Waters in addition to A Wrinkle in Time. Great stuff.

  10. @Tiff: I am reminded of Aliera e’Kieron, a character in the Dragaera fantasy series. She is extremely short and sensitive about it, and has been known to use floor-length skirts and levitation spells to hide this.

  11. I remember reading one when Meg was pregnant and I think one when Charles Wallace was older and the central character, and I read at least the book jacket of one when the twins were the protagonists and met girls.

  12. I read A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I barely remember any of it! Except that the stuff about mitochondria was totally insane, and there was a big brain in one of them.

  13. I think technically it’s ichor. And according to my extensive research (typing “ichor” into Google), it’s golden.

    And I vote for “smighted”.

  14. Should be smit.
    I will light the candle. I am lighting the candle. I lit the candle.
    I will smite the infidel. I am smiting the infidel. I smit the infidel.

  15. This is (another) one of my favorites, mostly because “smite” is the verb I use when explaining the principle parts of verbs.

    smite, smites, smiting, smote, smitten

    Good times.

  16. Well according to what I’ve read, angels usually take human form if they take physical form at all. But theoretically, if they were to take on a physical form similar to their (super)natural form, the color of their blood, or whether they had blood or not, would be up to them.

    And also Seth wouldn’t be able to “kill” them at all as they’d just re-incorporate or regenerate instantly and smite him right there. Being angels, they’d be exempt from death, and therefore immortal in any form. But that’s obviously not how metaphysics works in Narbonic.

    • Maybe cherubim are low-powered enough to need time to regenerate. Or maybe they die, but then go straight back home to be issued new bodies.

  17. (TUNE: “Paperback Writer”, The Beatles)

    Heavenly smiter … smiter … smiter …

    Hey dipsh*ts, look at what you went and did!
    You’re in trouble now, for sure, I do not kid!
    They will send a seraph to investigate,
    You will meet your fate,
    ‘Cause a seraph is a Heavenly smiter …
    Heavenly smiter!

    You are getting smitten now!
    (Or is it “smote”?)
    Either way, you’re getting it, that’s all she wrote!
    They don’t care for reason, ’cause they’ve got the pow’r …
    In about an hour,
    You’ll be dealing with a Heavenly smiter …
    Heavenly smiter!

    They will send a seraph, not a deputy …
    Why is no one lis-ten-ing at all to me?
    Is it just too much to ask for some respect?
    Though your house is wrecked,
    I can protect you from that Heavenly smiter …
    Heavenly smiter!

    Heavenly smiter, Heavenly smiter …
    Heavenly smiter, Heavenly smiter …

  18. @John: Strictly speaking, ichor is the bloodlike substance of the Greek gods.  In that context, it is indeed golden.  However, the word tends to get used for pretty much anything else that needs an indeterminate bodily fluid described.

  19. Ichor uses copper as its oxygen binder, which oxidizes green instead of red, like heme does. It’s also usually thicker than blood. And I could totally picture the bckground covered in green snot.

  20. I’m pretty sure it’s “smitten,” but that also has the connotation of falling in love, so we can forgive Seth and company for seeking an alternative word here.

    And, @unnatural20, the roots of “light” and “smite” are clearly too different for that to actually work, but I still like your logic. The Gallagher of the Narbonic comment thread, you.

  21. He smote the infedel, who was smitten by that mighty smite.

    So smitten, at least it smite be, then again, smite not….

  22. Wednesday:

    Off-panel head inserts: 34. Mell quickly looped in a circle around the room just to come from behind with that final dagger to Seth’s dignity. Poor guy forgot who he was trying to impress.

    Mell of course prudently brought a backup gun that can’t even fit in a complete panel, and which I can assume was designed to target aircraft.

    P.S: I choose to believe that Seth just has a bugbear about cute horns and forked tongues (and acid constantly pouring from vacant eye sockets).

  23. To be fair to Seth, at this point he’s probably one of the few people who could even survive dating Mell.  Not that it would end well, mind; he’s no Caliban.  He’s playing in the same league, though.

  24. (TUNE: “Tears In Heaven”, Eric Clapton)

    Demon-slayer Seth
    Doesn’t like girls in Hades!
    He has cheated Death,
    But still can’t get the ladies!
    He’s fighting well,
    But can’t get Mell …
    And they’re uglier than hell
    Down in Hades!

  25. Subnormality pointed out that sexy devil girls can surely shapeshift into something less… appealing, should the occasion call for that.

  26. Thursday:

    This is a particularly memorable strip because it might be the most intimate and disarming moment Mell ever gets. (And yes, I did take into account that she appears naked in a snowfield in a few weeks.)

  27. Thinking of Tuesday’s strip, with Seth holding up a dangling eyestalk … the phrase “caught her eye” takes on a whole different meaning.

    (And of course you all know the joke about the guy who lost his glass eye and the girl who retrieved it for him.)

  28. Around half the time, I read “gaolkeeper” as “goalkeeper.” Surprisingly, It’s not a massive shift in meaning.

  29. I rather like the choice of ‘gaolkeeper’ in the last frame.  Not only is it indicative of Caliban’s actual job, it also invokes images of demons lined up on either side of a Rugby field, throwing, kicking, and mutilating a soul in an effort to get to either side.

  30. Caliban’s last line is pretty much the sweetest thing in the comic’s entire run. Also, “gaolkeeper.”

  31. Even with all the time Helen’s and Dave’s relationship spends in the foreground, I’ve always thought this one here was the single most romantic strip in the entire run of Narbonic.

  32. (TUNE: “Leaving On A Jet Plane”, John Denver)

    Well, we chopped up all the cherubim …
    We’ll soon be seeing seraphim …
    They won’t attack, they’ll just apologize!
    But now Mell suspects that Caliban
    Is gonna leave; he’s got a plan
    To get back to his home up in the skies!

        For one soul, assumption waits …
        Taken to those Pearly Gates …
        Caliban will vanish and be gone!
        He’s gonna leave his girl, Mell!
        She’s gonna give him holy hell!
        It’s odd how she caught on …

  33. Given that by the end of this storyline, there’ll be no less than four Narbonic characters that have been to Hell and returned, at least two of them under circumstances where it’s doubtful that Hell would be willing to take them back, eternal damnation doesn’t really seem like all that much of a problem.

  34. I don’t know. My personal fan theory is that the God of the Narbonic universe was the original Mad Scientist. Then again, there’s only so many acts of genocide one would personally wish for Him to let slide…

  35. Yeah, there are aspects of the cosmology that are really upsetting, aren’t they? And this is a humor strip!

  36. So is Purgatory not an option here? Or the first circle of Hell Dante described, where all the virtuous pagans hang? — For Helen and Dave anyway. Mell is way too dangerous for any afterlife.

Leave a Reply