The Dean of Students was supposed to be based on Lea Hernandez, but she came out looking more like my mom. In the first panel, you can see the top of a poster reading “Join the NSO.” That’s the Nonhuman Students Organization, Vassar’s sci-fi club, in which I was heavily involved in my college days.
As mentioned way back in the early days of the strip, Helen is “Ms. Narbon” rather than “Dr. Narbon” because she never finished her doctorate. She went mad instead.
I could’ve done a better job on Mell’s expression in the last panel, which is too bad, because that’s what really ought to sell the strip. Oh well. All the art this week is kind of off. Sometimes I just can’t draw right. I had the same problem working on Skin Horse last night, so if SH looks weird about four weeks from now, that’s why.
The whole two-week storyline is, of course, written around this strip. I don’t have much else to say about it except to note that for a while I had a thing for drawing those shiny dot eyes on secondary characters (and gerbils). Now I find them a little distracting.
As I mentioned before, the Dean of Students is kind of vaguely based on Lea Hernandez. At the time I drew these strips, Lea was putting together Girlamatic.com, to which I contributed (and continue to contribute) the weekly comic Li’l Mell. I also cast Lea as Mrs. Divine, the principal of the elementary school, in Li’l Mell. More on Li’l Mell later.
“Social scientist” is perhaps going too far, but Mell is the one member of the group who figures out how to manipulate people. It’s possible that Helen does this too, but on a much deeper and less scrutable level.
Charlie Fodor was a working name for the character who ultimately became Kenichi “Scooter” Tanchibi in my comic Smithson. The name came from the fact that one of my friends in college was John Zagat, son of the restaurant guide publishers, and I always thought it would be weird to have a name that was trademarked. Hence Charlie Fodor, heir to the Fodor travel-guide fortune in an early draft of Smithson. Later I made him Japanese-American and a distant heir to the powerful but fictional Tanchibi Stationery Concern.
More random evocative leaves in the third panel there.
Now Mell’s just being a dick to Dave for no reason, stranding him on campus. She’s serious about her political ambitions, though. This is all a setup for later events, at least in one possible future.
I wish I’d been better at drawing hot girls at this point. I mean, these girls are pretty hot, but I could’ve drawn hotter girls later on.
Otherwise, not a bad strip. Dave actually gets through this brief storyline relatively unscathed. I mean, he gets turned into a girl, but he isn’t especially bothered by it, and everything else works out okay for him. Refusing to be bothered is the best way to survive almost any situation in the Narboniverse.
No, I don’t know why he puts on his (her) jacket for one panel and takes it off again.