Helen looks genuinely distressed by Dave’s drunken protestations of lust. These are not the circumstances under which she wanted to hear this kind of thing.
Madblood keeps getting smaller and smaller as this scene progresses. I never had any clear idea of how big the robot was.
Tragically, I never got any better at drawing phone cords than this.
“Night Terrace” is a terrible pun. At the time I drew this strip, Andrew was working on a comic involving an evil overlord with an army called the Night Terrors, so the line is a tiny little tribute.
Now the robot is simply enormous compared to Madblood, and they totally look like some crude cartoon approximation of a Kelly Freas giant-robot illustration. What can I say? I had a lot of trouble with basic graphic storytelling skills, like not making a character suddenly double in size.
Helen’s pose in the second panel is pretty weird too, albeit dramatic.
Pretty straightforward strip. Throughout the strip, Mell is consistently disdainful of Helen’s crush on Madblood, although she tends to relent when confronted with Madblood’s weapons stores.
Mell, like Helen, is usually left-handed. I may have screwed that up once or twice.
Helen quotes Iago in Othello, Act III, Scene 3:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
Artie responds with Iago’s next lengthy line in the scene:
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!
It’s all way literary.
Meanwhile, what the hell is up with all the giant ears?
That’s my parents’ house in the second panel, except that my parent’s house doesn’t list dangerously to the right. Honestly, is it that hard to draw a straight line?
I was working in Viz’s HR department at this time and had to deal with OSHA-related issues, so it comes up more than once in Narbonic.
Andrew’s on the bus in the first panel. Man, did I draw him into the strip a lot, or what?
I wrote some side stuff on Professor Madblood’s family for the eternally unfinished Narbonic RPG:
Professor Lupin Madblood is the son of noted evil computer pioneer Felix Madblood, killed by his own creations before Lupin’s birth. Vague rumor has it that Lupin’s mother was not impregnated directly by Felix, but by a rebellious evil computer of Felix’s invention; this kind of thing is exactly why even other mad scientists avoid prying into the private lives of the mad. Felix Madblood and Caroline Schumann were never married. After Felix’s untimely demise, Caroline raised Lupin without telling him about his father’s shady career. Lupin began to exhibit tendencies toward mad genius early in life. He cracked after finally learning the truth about his father, or perhaps the muddy details of his own conception. Taking the Madblood name for himself, he vowed to devote his life to evil.
Obviously, I was weirdly fascinated by the classically bad 1970s sci-fi movie Demon Seed.
Anyway, Madblood’s mom’s name is Caroline Schumann (Schumann after my roommate Mark Schumann, Caroline after Dr. Frankenstein’s mother in the novel). She seems pretty grounded, all things considered. She hangs her Christmas decorations early.
“Little boxes made of ticky-tacky” is a line from the song “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds. I didn’t know this until thirty seconds ago, but it was inspired by the Bay Area suburb of Daly City, which I lived near at around the time I wrote this strip. It’s kind of a depressing town, but I’ve spent a lot of time there because there’s free parking next to the movie theater.
Have you ever been to a house where they put plastic sheeting on the floor so you don’t mess up the carpet? I encountered this pretty regularly as a kid growing up in the Ohio suburbs, and even then I knew it was messed up. If you’re having kids, you might as well accept that your house is going to look like crap for fifteen years.
Note the childhood photos of Madblood on the walls. Even in the baby picture, he’s bespectacled and scowling.