Awww, the little Mell sprite in the last panel is so cute and so psychotic-looking. I love it. That particular sprite is, of course, Killing Urge.
Behind Mell, you can see not only the ubiquitous three-eyed smiley mug, but a big soup-bowl-sized cappaccino mug featuring P-chan from Ranma 1/2. These mugs were largely unsold merchandise at the Viz Shop-By-Mail warehouse, just sitting around gathering dust, and a large number mysteriously teleported two doors over to the Viz offices over the years. There was a time when the P-chan mugs were everywhere at Viz. Most of them disappeared in the move to the new location a couple of years ago, and now everyone just uses glassware from Ikea. Pity.
Helen’s shirt reads “I Hit Stone Cold.” At the time, there was a storyline in the WWF involving Stone Cold Steve Austin getting run over by a car driven by an unknown assassin. RUN DOWN LIKE A DOG IN THE STREET! The hunt for the guilty party (who, of course, had to be another pro wrestler) was dragged out for many entertaining months while Austin recovered from a real-life injury. It ended unsatisfyingly. Come to think of it, it would’ve made just as much sense if it had been Helen.
I wish I still had this internal flier from Microsoft that Dave Barker sent me years ago. It was a poster urging employees to refer their talented nerd friends to Microsoft, and it featured shadowy, vaguely sinister blue figures and the legend, “If we could clone you, we would.” By comparison, BrainScan for Windows seems positively benign.
Man, I can’t believe I lost that flier. I’m looking through my folders of Narbonic-related research material, and here are a few of the many things I did keep:
-A Scientific American pullout on the brain.
-A list of comic-strip characters who vanished from their strips, including Lyman, Shermie, Ham Gravy, Bumbazine, Uncle Max, and every female character to appear in Bloom County.
-The receipt for my couch.
-A flier from the Bakken Science Museum in Minnesota.
-The definition of the word “eusocial.”
-A whole bunch of quotations written on individual Post-It Notes. Sample: “I didn’t do it for science. And I didn’t do it for glory. I’M JUST MEAN!” From Chopper Chicks in Zombietown.
-Instructions on the care of gerbils.
-A certificate of my ordination as a minister of the Universal Life Church.
-A set of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” temporary tattoos.
-A note Dorothy Gambrell included with my purchase of a Cat and Girl t-shirt and set of frosted glass mugs.
-A number of photos of AMC Gremlins.
But no Microsoft flier! Man, what a letdown. Because I’m unable to scan it for you, let me share a Viz internal flier instead:
This is a something that Jason Thompson drew after a European publisher sent the office a big tub of horrible ammonia-flavored Swedish fish. Jason was the only person who would willingly eat them. Everyone else started using them to spell out rude messages on the breakroom tables. What you see here is Jason’s noble but futile effort to put a stop to this.
Where were we? Oh, right. Brain scans.
This strip’s on the wordy side, but I like all the dialogue. “I’ll be allowed concubines as a reward for my faithful service”…come on, that’s pretty good. Helen’s still wearing shorts; she really needs to get into the long pants.
This storyline will turn out to be relevant to the larger story, oh, six years from now, when [SPOILER ALERT HEY LOOK SPOILERS] Helen clones a new Dave using the memories from these brain scans. I didn’t have that planned at the time I drew “Employee Brain Scans,” but I was really disgustingly pleased with myself when I thought of it later.
More random spot color! I’ll get tired of doing that eventually. I like Helen’s heart-pattern desktop wallpaper.
This may have come up before, and will probably come up again, but I was really, really into “Babylon 5” in college. It was a big influence on my decision to do a strip with a big story arc and a set ending. I planned for it to last about as long as “Babylon 5,” too. I tried to avoid adding a bunch of annoying-ass telepath characters at the end, though.
Finally, a miniscule victory for Dave. I like to think he’s learning to survive at the lab. Also, I got to draw him with blank Little Orphan Annie zombie eyes, and that can’t be wrong.
Even when my art skills were this crude, I was still pretty good at drawing Mell with a mallet. Go figure.
I don’t have much to say about this strip, but I think it’s pretty darn solid. The last line is good, “I hardly brainwashed Dave at all” is very Helen, and Mell’s got a sledgehammer. What more do you want from me? Also, I’ve started drawing Mell’s skirt with checks instead of plaid, which looks much better. And thus ends the second-shortest Narbonic storyline, making way for the shortest one.