Professor Madblood and the Crystal of Marinia: November 27 – December 2, 2000

Okay, I pulled the original art for this strip to find out what the small text on the envelope on the first panel says. It’s addressed to Dave Davenport, and the return address reads, “DaveCon 2001.” MAJOR INVISIBLE FORESHADOWING!

Headlines on the newspaper in the second and third panels:

MADBLOOD WRECKS HAVOK (I had not yet learned that it’s “wreaks,” not “wrecks”)



DOOM PREDICTED (with a tiny picture of my friend Dana)


Helen’s seriously flipping out in that third panel, is all I can say.

Helen’s shirt sports the logo from the 1990s CGI cartoon “Reboot.” I was watching a lot of “Reboot” at the time because my roommate had every episode on tape. I’d play it while I drew Narbonic. It was actually a pretty good show, especially in the later seasons after the kid characters grew up and became disturbingly hot.

At this point in the story, I think Helen already has a thing for Dave. She’s been in love with him since he walked in the door. But she doesn’t think she can have any kind of lasting relationship with him, and it’s much safer to think of him as a test subject. Meanwhile, Madblood presents an alluring alternative, at least until she finds out what a dork he is. Dave, at this point, is not in love with Helen. He’s much too scared of her.

Dave is already reacting to Helen’s maniacal schemes with bland disinterest. Excellent coping ability, Dave!

Man, I was so into “The Sims” in college. I made a house populated by analogues of myself and my housemates, and we all sat around for hours watching tiny computerized versions of ourselves have lives. Eventually everyone died because I placed two toilets equidistant from each other at the top and bottom of a flight of stairs, and the little computer people couldn’t decide which way to go when they needed to pee. They’d walk halfway up the stairs, get confused, and start back down again, over and over and over. After a few weeks of watching “The Sims,” my actual housemates and I started having similar problems.

Since then, I’ve gotten my Sims fix through Spike’s brilliant Playing With Dolls.

At the time this strip was written, there were no Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the Bay Area, and I was going through withdrawal. Now they’re all over the place. Those things are like crack.

Helen knows that Dave wears boxers, of course, because Mell put them on her head during the faceoff with ANTONIO SMITH. It’s only a well-kept secret outside of Narbonics Labs.

Evil guys continue to get all the chicks throughout Narbonic. Dave just adjusts to the situation by becoming more evil.

I’m still pretty fond of this strip, so I don’t have anything too snarky to say about it. The characters are developing distinctive voices, and they’re drinking coffee, and that’s what a good Narbonic strip is all about.

Anyway, it’s my birthday today. Cut me a break.

I guess my main observation here is that I drew a nifty “Young Ones” logo on Helen’s shirt. “The Young Ones” is another show I watched a lot while drawing at around this time. It’s one of my favorite TV shows and a major influence on Smithson, although I admit that’s not immediately obvious.

Helen’s glasses are really big in this strip. I had trouble keeping them down to size, just like I had trouble confining the characters’ eyebrows to their heads.

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48 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Crystal of Marinia: November 27 – December 2, 2000

  1. Er, havoc, with a C.


    Unless you specifically mean the Marvel character or the software program.  In which case, he’d have a hard time wreaking either, but could indeed wreck them. 

  2. Monday’s Comic: Panel three: The phrase “tricky buggers” might give one some misassumptions concerning Mell’s accent. Or some correct assumptions?

    Panel four: Doesn’t Helen remind one of Lucy Van Pelt, leaning on Schroeder’s piano?

    “Secret powers” – so Madblood has the power of Heart? I guess that leaves Fire, Water, Earth and Air for Mell, Helen, Dave and Foxy Cop. (Respectively?)

    Also: “leaping into a jet-black helicopter and vanishing“? I didn’t know they had disappearing helicopters in 2000. Next you’ll be telling me that they had white-ink pens, and manga in American bookstores.

  3. I thought the misspelled headlines were just an attempt to accurately represent the US media.

    And I saw my first vanishing helicopter on September 20, 1987.  Ooo, Claudia Christian…

  4. Leon Arnott (l) says: “Panel four: Doesn’t Helen remind one of Lucy Van Pelt, leaning on Schroeder’s piano?”

    As long as she doesn’t start calling him her “sweet baboo”…

    (At least I’m finally getting the hang of this HTML*…)

    *HTML: “Hard To Make Legible” or “Hate This M*********in’ Language!”

  5. Havock with a ck:C?sars Spirit..Shall..with a Monarkes voyce, Cry hauocke, and let slip the Dogges of Warre,.5 for two ain’t bad.

  6. Tuesday’s Comic: I don’t know whether Mell is nonchalantly boasting about the superiority of conventional weapons as a matter of course, or very chalantly trying to move the subject away from Madblood before Helen becomes so overcome that her body starts drifting through the air like a feather. Clarification, anyone?

    Crystals: probably the maddest power source imaginable. Apart from children’s screams, of course. They’re also the vestigal structure linking the mad scientist and her ancestor, the alchemist. (Apart from the aforementioned magical beakers, of course)

    Your ability to create a context in which to use the word “polysaccharides” pleases me greatly.

  7. Leon:  I believe Mel’s boast refers to what she did to Helen in Panel 3–turned Helen to goo in under 30 seconds.

  8. Really, that’s Shakespeare’s most astonishing power:


    He stone made up half the words he used, and people still consider him a model of erudition. He’s like George W. with a goatee made of awesome.

    (Yes, that was blasphemy on several levels… But true.)

  9. Wednesday: The old “simultaneous but contradictory revelations” in panel 3. Always a crowd-pleaser. Except that it doesn’t really work this time because of the disparity in syllables between Mell’s dialogue and Dave’s.

    Also, today’s episode would make a very good comic template. Just erase all of the dialogue, and let endless adventures begin!

    In response to today’s webcomic namedrop: I’ve discovered that I have a hiterto undiscovered fear of Sims. Fortunately (and curiously), the weight of this comic lies outside of the pictures.

    But enough of that. Let’s now talk about Diablo 2, the bane of all webcomics characters. In particular: does Dave favour it over long-time nerd favourite NetHack?

  10. Ah yes, The Sims. The everygeek’s tool of making simulacrums of your friends and relatives puppets to your will. Most gamers probably carry a “creepy Sims” story.

    Me, I spent hours making a meticulous copy of my sister in The Sims 2. I’m not and artist and know nothing about anatomy, but simple trial-and-error got me a close likeness. Then I turned her into a guy. Then I placed these two into a passionate tongue-wrestling embrace. Then, on another nutter’s idea, I constructed a household decorated in her favorite styles and made entirely out of hers of different ages and genders. Then I showed her the pictures.

    What? I’m an older brother. I’m allowed. ‘sides, the “Lemon wrapped around a gold brick to the head” – expression made it all worth it.

  11. For the record, it’s “ReBoot” with an uppercase ‘B’. (Yes, I am a huge freaking nerd, why do you ask?)

  12. Reboot. Woah. Such a good series… good scripts, good acting, a plot that actually made sense… I spent three years tracking down all the episodes of that, but now I’m proud to say I have them all. The later, more adult episodes are awesome, but the early ones are still excellent.

    Disturbingly hot? Hell, yeah. Andraia before:

    Andraia after:

    (Unfortunately, Mainframe Entertainment has been bought ought and their old website that had lots of great pictures on it has been replaced by flash-filled crap. Those images above are about the best I can do. Sigh…) 

  13. Thursday’s Comic: Did he say a 3 hundred page manifesto?! How the heck did Helen manage that?

    Did she say a certified evil genius? Does that mean that Madblood is a certified genius, or a certified evildoer? What kind of certification committee exists for something as abstract as evil?

    What I also don’t understand is why Mell’s hair seems to have so many joints.

    Meta comment: in the extreme unlikelihood that anyone of you has managed to re-create various ReBoot characters in The Sims, please don’t hesistate to link images of them here before the week is out.

  14. Leon:  (1) Certified insane, of course!  “They said I was mad…  In fact, they put it in writing!”. 

     (2) I parsed Mell’s early hair as “white-kid’s dreads” — that is, she’s a 19-year-old college student, who has yet to realize that dreadlocks just don’t work without kinky hair.


  15. Did he say a 3 hundred page manifesto?! How the heck did Helen manage that?

    Well, it’s not writing, it’s typing.

  16. Thiiis is your birthday song, it is not very long!

    I’d post the “birthday dirge,” but it doesn’t seem to be standardized. As is to be expected, I suppose; the guy I heard it from learned it at Boy Scouts.

  17. Friday’s Comic: Hey! According to Comixpedia dot org, you’re about a month older than Garfield. I’m only 20, myself.

    Which brings me to a point of painful honesty: who among us males, in the midst of a sheltered adolescence, read today’s strip for the first time several years ago, and suddenly thought to oneself, “Hang on a minute. Female sexuality exists” (thus finally confirming a long-held but as yet unrealised suspicion)?

  18. Of course Dave is becoming more evil … it’s all that “evil coffee” he’s drinking!

     Whadday mean that’s not the way it works?  The coffee I buy is pretty low quality … so, since I drink poor coffee, it’s no wonder that I’m …

    Hey, happy day anyway, Shaenon!  You’re not getting older, you’re getting … um … OK, I guess you are older.


  19. Happy birthday!

    On the other hand, the only reason Artie doesn’t later get some of the chicks is that he doesn’t want them.

  20. Happy Birthday to the Norbster!  I declare today to be SHAENONFEST!!!    *guzzles milkshakes and pizzas*

  21. Saturday’s Comic: A mostly underused and undocumented trope is the big, 90% empty speech balloon.

    This also features the first use of “drat”, the most dastardly expletive known to humanity. Also the first time in which Helen does the Power Teeth Clench as she draws chi from her surroundings with which to smite her unruly intern.

  22. Y’know, the more I stare at that final panel, the more Helen’s facial expression resembles that of an evil cyborg’s.
    So, I decided to draw, in glorious colour pixels, this alternative-universe panel 4 to illustrate this similarity (and, while I’m at it, give Mell a similar conversion as well).

  23. big, 90% empty speech balloon When I do that, my forum posters think I’ve made a mistake.

  24. there were no Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the Bay Area, and I was going through withdrawal. Now they’re all over the place. Those things are like crack.

    A week after registering and I finally have a password so I can post.  Makes for serious lag time in a witty reply. Anyhoo, I  did this piece back in 2000, thought you’d enjoy it based on your KK comment.

  25. Re: The Young Ones and The Sims: I remember a TYO game on the ZX Spectrum (1986) which could have been the seed for The Sims.
    You were in control of one TYO character walking around a number of rooms and collecting stuff, and the goal was to exit the house. I didn’t ever complete the game, mostly because I had no idea who the Young Ones were and my English wasn’t good enough to decipher the speech balloons o_O

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