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”)
AMUSING HEADLINES NEARLY UNREADABLE
CARTOONIST NEEDS NEW PEN
DOOM PREDICTED (with a tiny picture of my friend Dana)
ELLMANN READS TINY PRINT
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.