Zombie Woof: October 22-27, 2001

I talk about this in one of the later Sunday installments, but originally I planned to bring this character back. I was going to do a storyline in which she and Dave run into each other at a bar, after Dave has a body and is no longer undead, and end up going on a date. They go miniature golfing. I wrote three or four strips for this storyline but never got very far on it. The real problem was that the Dave/Helen relationship heated up much more quickly than I expected, and soon I passed the point at which this storyline would make narrative sense. Lovelace ended up filling the role of the unfortunate Other Woman.

Anyway, I still feel bad about never giving this woman a name. Maybe something from Shakespeare?

Whoever she is, she’s reading Film Threat in the first panel. Also, the last line indicates that she works for a temp agency, which may explain why she changes jobs so often. She was previously seen working retail in the last week of “Crystal of Marinia.”

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Aw, poor Dave. Also note the Ellmann shout-out on the back cover of Film Threat.

I wonder if Dave can still cry, or if all fluid has dried from his tear ducts. Either way, it’s probably pretty pathetic.

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I think this is the only time Dave’s cigarette brand of choice is mentioned. He’s a man of simple tastes. Incidentally, his neck is very disturbing.

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I’m sorry, but the thought of Madblood on public transit, riding up and down the city in search of human brains, still cracks me up. However, the woman’s grocery bag breaks a cardinal rule of cartoon illustration by containing neither a baguette nor a stalk of celery. I’m sorry.

I drew myself on the magazine in the first panel.

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“Frank” is one of the strip’s countless references to “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Man, I was hung up on that show.

As mentioned earlier, I really did intend for Dave and the unnamed chick to go miniature golfing at some point. I still think it’s kind of a shame that never worked out, but it turns out that Narbonic has no room for relatively stable, sane characters.

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I’m still pretty pleased with the gag here. It’s important that Helen’s highly variable connection to reality sometimes works against her. The art’s not too bad either, at least by my standards at the time, so I can’t snark this strip too much. Good work, Shaenon of the Past! You’ve failed to humiliate me today!

54 thoughts on “Zombie Woof: October 22-27, 2001

  1. I’m hideously tempted to say “Calpurnia.” 

    I always liked her, though, despite the brevity of her appearance. 

  2. Monday:

    This looks like a great strip to start off a wacky spinoff series with. (A great many of these strips are, actually.)

    Epistemological Problem of the Day: is Dave naked (Y/N)?

  3. Her name: Mathilda.  Friends call her Tilly.

    Leon: The answer to the Naked Dave question is, of course, “mu”.

    So: Maybe 40-50% of her is already in Skin Horse.


  4. Someone from Shakespeare who had to put up with unwanted attention from a guy?  Hmmm … “Maria” (in “Twelfth Night”, has to fend off Sir Toby Belch), “Miranda” (in “The Tempest”, learns to survive among practitioners of strange arts), “Ophelia” (in “Hamlet”, goes mad).

    Hey, noting that people ordinarily have a mental filter against things that are too bizarre, yet in spite of this the lady can see and hear a disembodies talking head … maybe she possesses the genes for potential madness, in which case “Ophelia” would be appropriate (but she doesn’t have to kill herself).

    I also vote for her showing up in SH.

  5. Clearly she needs a name that shortens to “Cal.” When I saw her this time, I thought “Calliope” or “Calypso.”  And, SIB, I also thought “Desdemona.”

     But I also thought that a name from Greek literature would be just as appropriate as a Shakespearean name. Galatea?  Penelope?  Lysistrata?


  6. I also would love to see this character reappear in Skin Horse. I adore this storyline mainly because of how blase she is about a talking head. I guess they really DO see stranger things on that bus line…

  7. Leon: Epistemological answer of the day.  The concept “naked” is normally used in the context of people who have an entire body.  Before there can be an answer with regard to Dave, I need to know why you care. 🙂  That will provide the context that leads to an answer.

     This of course assumes that we aren’t counting his body, which seems reasonable because it’s detached and he apparently has no awareness of or control over it.


  8. I don’t have much to say, besides the fact that Daves line in panel four gave me de ja vu.

    So I will simply say this: Monty python has never been a more appro soundtrack. 

  9. So who exactly can make use of those tiny glasses on the desk? They don’t even come close to being appropriately sized for the doe eyed Narboniverse denizens.

  10. Its just about as pathetic as dave gets, i would think. Ths is pretty much bottom level for him. 

    A standard, if you will, for all later points to be set by.

    although, i’m sure I’m not the only one relieved that apparently Daves cigarette answers to the laws of physics *sometimes*. 

  11. Tuesday:

    Extinguished cigarette total: 45. This is what taking that job offer has cost you, Dave.

    Nice ash trail, by the way.

    Hey, I wonder what is going on in Timeline 0, where Dr. N never kills Dave and history hasn’t been changed yet. Who knows what amazing scientific adventures Dave could be having instead of this?

  12. … apparently Daves cigarette answers to the laws of physics *sometimes*. 

    As Roger Rabbit once noted, “only when it’s funny”.

    Hey, how about a “Sluggy Freelance” crossover?  Dave could get a job at Zomblebies, working as a … (it’s coming) … “head waiter”.  (Ow, I just laughed coffee out my nose …)

  13. I’m more curious as to what goes on in the retroactive timeline where Dave has no cigarette to smoke. I’m rather picturing Dave shaking his head so vigorously that he falls off the desk. And <Undeterminedly-named character> snarkily says, “Less zombie smell” instead of ‘No more cigarette smell.”

  14. Eventually, the zombie head would leave her life, but the questions never would. She would grow increasingly fascinated with the zombie lifestyle, frequenting weirder and weirder chat rooms and webboards. Finally, one day, she’d answer the wrong civil service posting and find out more than she’d ever wanted to know about being one of the undead….

  15. I got distracted a bit by the jumping and disapearing glasses and pens. 🙂

    Something to consider regarding the naked Dave question:  He is not wearing any clothes.


  16. I dunno…


    I find it kind of hard to think of Dave as “Evil”. (As in capital-“E”, kick-the-dog, Conquer-/Enslave-/Destroy-the-World-type Evil.) Considering that he’s among the sanest (well, *relatively*) of his group and Evil things tend to happen *to* him rather than are caused *by* him (except, of course, toward the end of the comic), I would have to say that, while he’s a bit on the eccentric side, he’s more *frustrated* than Evil. He’s more or less a small-“e”-type evil. (And I’m leaning toward “less”…) He may be *in* an Evil situation, but he’s not necessarily *of* it.

  17. DvD: I can just hearr the conversation with one of her friends trying to talk her out of a relationship:

    Lost&Found Lady: But he said he loves me for my brains.

    Friend: Yes,  he wants to EAT THEM!

  18. Also trying to help narrow down the naked Dave question:

    I note that, without a hat, Dave is merely topless.

  19. Dave isn’t naked; he’s wearing his glasses. Which are, I will brazenly assert, the most vital garment for any Narbonic character.

  20. also, smokeing a cigarette, or at least lighting one up, is a tradtional way to bring about a wanted action, in this case: getting his head out of the lost and found.

    of course, he should have just asked her to call the lab, and leave a message. the cigarette method is more hap-hazard. you cant be sure HOW your desired action will be brought about.

  21. he should have just asked her to call the lab

    Dave tried that first, in last Saturday’s strip.  She refused; it’s not her job to call people.  Even if it would be the quickest and surest way to get rid of the talking head, it’s not her job.

  22. Wednesday:

    Tobacco: the anchor of sanity for those trapped in an insane world. (It is, now that I mention it, the exact opposite of cannabis.)

    Watch the booth.” Jeez, what’s with everybody in this webcomic, that they leave various responsibilities to one-foot-tall guys who can barely lift a pencil?
    …Now Dave knows how Artie feels. (And sooner or later the favour will be returned.)

  23. See, I always thought that Mell was the most sane of the crew. Violent, yes. Able to solve all problems with a sledge hammer, yes. Holding conversations with pink butterflies that don’t actually exist, not so much.

  24. Actually, Dave’s brand is sort of mentioned one other time, at the beginning of the D-Con storyline. 

    Mell: Despite the fact that Dave’s personal mail always involves eBay or special offers from Marlboro, I’m intrigued.

    The question of why Dave’s personal mail comes to Narbonics Labs is left in the dust by the awesome punchline “Ooo.  I’m bringing the cheese dip this year.”

  25. Noo, there is a baguette- it’s right there!  Sorry Shaenon, you’re not as wicked as you think you are…

  26. No, no, that’s a liability.  Everyone knows that people carrying around baguettes that stick out of paper shopping bags are eventually to be mugged by the Italian Mafia, kneecapped, and overall have horrible things done to them.

     …there’s a rule here somewhere, I know it…

  27. Thursday:

    Egad! It’s the Rival again! Will he beat our Dashing Heroine to the McNoggin?

    I just rented and watched Young Frankenstein some three days ago (on our host’s recommendation, no less!) and as such I’ve only recently come to appreciate the importance of brains in 19th and 20th century science. Really, a loose, unmarked brain is almost as valuable an item as the bunsen burner. It’s really quite shameful that a practitioner like Madblood is unable to obtain a single brain in a modern American metropolis.

    …Meanwhile in panel 3, Dave takes offense to that last one.

  28. He’s not even taking offense to it. It’s more like he hadn’t really noticed that he was being whiny until it was pointed out, and is now trying to confirm that it was an honest assessment rather than an offhand insult. And the rotting, scarred zombie head part is just objective fact.

    I like how Madblood refers to himself in the melodramatic third person even in his internal monologue.

  29. It looks like one of those Japanese things that are related to carrots, to me.  Also, if it IS bread, I’m fairly sure it’s not a baguette unless it’s really long.  Just saying.

     I agree fully – melodramatic third person internal monologue rules. 

  30. Madblood needs every bit of help he can get. I mean, let’s just face facts. . . . he’s only intimidating in print.

    And shame, shaenon! not only no baguette or celery, but no milk carton with an incomprehensible ‘Have You Seen Me?’ bit.

    tisk tisk. 

  31. She can’t be that sane. She just had a conversation with a severed head.

    Okay, right, ‘relatively’.

  32. Friday:

    Dave didn’t really expect that gambit to work, did he? He’s such an opportunist in this storyline. He’d have had better luck spontaneously announcing his hitherto unmentioned ability to grant three wishes.

    Goodness, are those speed lines behind Mr. Madblood? Gee, he’s quite a sprightly fellow in spite of his wimpiness.

    Madblood grinning: 3. At last, after all these years, he’s finally got Dave in a headlock. Poor, poor Dave.

  33. I can just imagine Lost & Found Lady’s next conversation with her mother:  “Still working at that stupid dead-end job?  How do you expect to ever get ahead??”

    A scientist scrawny named Madblood
    Found the head of a zombie who’d had blood,
    Before Helen Narbon
    Glued the body back on,
    So between them will always be bad blood.

  34. Nah, not speed lines. Wood paneling or something. If they were speed lines, they’d only be behind him, not in front of him (or they’d fill the entire panel).

  35. Saturday:

    You’re right – not even I can think of a backhanded insult befitting today’s strip.

    …And that’s the end of “Zombie Woof”. I find it hard to believe that we all made it the whole month without mentioning this or this. For once, maturity wins out!

    Off-panel head pokes: 4.
    Today’s Wally Wood Panel: Big Head.

  36. Isn’t there something in Comedy Tropes where person A is looking for person B … person C gives a perfect description of person B and then finishes with “haven’t seen ’em”?  Occasionally, persons B and C are the same person, and person A doesn’t recognize him / her / them / it.  Bugs Bunny was an expert at this …

  37. Pippi Longstocking did it, too. 

    “Okay, mell, now we double-check the kareoke bar.”

    . . . . .  Helen, you just want to do another solo. 

  38. @Leon “Backhanded Insult” … I do not think that means what you think that means. A Backhanded compliment can seem like a compliment, but can be construed as insulting. A backhanded insult… would that mean ill, but is actually complimentary?

    Backhanded Compliment: “That dress makes you look beautiful.” implies that the dress is responsible for the beauty, and that the wearer is normally plain or unattractive. This can be more obvious with vocal cues. Impossible cheerfulness from a normally hostile individual for one.

    Backhanded Insult: “Ugh, that dress is awful. It makes you look hideous.” The reverse of the previous backhanded compliment.

  39. So, like “this storyline indisputably proves that our author is a horrible, horrible person”?
    …But I use those all the time as well!

  40. Ed:  You’re missing a big one.  The Shakespearean character who had to put up with the most in terms of unwanted advances is Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew!  And it so fits, she’s a wonderful Kate!

    Kiss me, Kate!

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