Madness: October 23-28, 2006

Apparently, now that Zeta has hooked up with the main cast she’s decided she’s evil, too. Run with that, Zeta.

Tom Spurgeon used the panel about the naked Nobel laureates to illustrate a post about me on the Comics Reporter. I was enormously proud. That one panel does kind of sum up the whole of Narbonic.

Really, most Nobel laureates are probably too old to be useful as breeding stock. But I don’t care because it’s funny.

That’s my friend Jason Shiga in the background of the first panel. I have a lot of trouble drawing Shigas.

Antonio Smith is quoting The Merchant of Venice, the most often mentioned of the many Shakespearean plays mentioned in Narbonic, although a lot of people probably know it better from Gene Wilder’s quotation of the line in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Artie’s response is Antonio’s first line in the same play. Antonio never explains why he’s sad, and it’s been speculated by some critics (including Don Foster, the model for Antonio Smith) that he’s gay and is bummed out because his dumbass buddy Bassanio is planning to get married and break up their bromance. So this exchange works on many exciting levels and Mell thoughtlessly ruins the whole effect with shouting.

Seriously, though, Bassanio is an idiot. Screw that guy.

I also approve of slim, bronzed Latin men. Artie and I are in agreement here. We are also in agreement about linguistics being awesome.

The dark-haired girl in the second panel is Gemma from my comic Smithson as she appeared in high school. She looks different in Smithson, which is set a few years after Narbonic. Narbonic and Smithson aren’t exactly set in the same universe, but I’d planned for Artie to eventually have a role in it as a character who would never quite appear on-panel. If you’ve ever read Smithson, he’s the grad student with a medical condition who gets Chuck’s room.

(The main Smithson website isn’t up anymore, but the archives are still here.)

The guy in the last panel is Sergio Mendoza, who appears as a six-year-old in Li’l Mell and as an adult in Skin Horse.

35 thoughts on “Madness: October 23-28, 2006

  1. The ultimate power of Good, and one of the main reasons why Evil always loses despite usually having superior numbers, intelligence, and/or charisma: guilt trips.

  2. Or Artie knew that Helen was going to win, and that winning for Helen meant having her goink-toy and the most amazing mind she’s ever prodded back under her control.


    Then Artie’s as evil as his mother’s ever wished!

  3. @Dave Van Domelen: I always thought the saying went: “The road to Hell is paved with good inventions…”

  4. Tuesday:

    We really shouldn’t shame Nobel laureates for not being the prize stock these two ladies had secretly hoped they’d be. Let’s not forget they were chosen foremost as brain-powered psycho-weapons! The breeding thing was always just a post-hoc option.

  5. There’s also the point that Nobels are generally awarded 10 or more years <i>after</i> the big discovery.

  6. Wednesday:

    This is a bittersweet strip – it’s the end of whatever narrative arc Mell had in this whole webcomic. Putting aside a long-held adolescent dream, seeing it for the Midas wish it is. A sober climax for the nonsensical bildungsroman that is Mell Kelly’s internship.

  7. So if seeing herself as a universe-destroying tyrant helped make her the person she is today, then it seems that the road to Mell is paved with bad intentions.

  8. Though I’m not usually inclined toward this position, I do have to say Mell looks better with glasses.

  9. Oh, and this may be a minority opinion, but I thought Mell looked cute with contacts and short hair, although very different.

  10. Speaking of Mell and her glasses, I just noticed that in the Unstuck arc, when Dave first meets up with Future!Mell, she is wearing glasses.  She takes them off when she’s yanking his chain about what happens to him later, and for the rest of that arc, Future!Mell does not wear glasses.  Curious.

  11. Semi-tangential to Shakespeare, I’ve been wondering: Helen Narbon is of course a Shakespearean reference herself, but are the Narbons also any relation to the Fiendish Doctor Ignacio Narbondo from the works of James P. Blaylock?

  12. Thursday:

    In some small respect, this little scene with his mentor-crush helps metaphorically redeem Artie, to help release him from the curse of his wicked heritage. Though it was his meddling that caused this calamity, it was also he who, erm, stopped it… by falling off the island while the women did all the actual heroics.

    (Look, let’s just give him this moment. I mean, he did put that collander on those hamsters and all, you can’t forget that.)

  13. Well, Artie’s the one who insisted on freeing the humans at all; Zeta and Mell were just going to flee and leave them to their fate.  So sure, he should get some points for that.

  14. Sadly, I can no longer read the “so shines a good deed in a naughty world” line without thinking of Death attempting to justify nicking someone’s Hogswatch dinner in Hogfather.


    “No it won’t!”


  15. Reading that play again, Antonio doesn’t come off as much smarter than Bassanio.

    But now you have Artie quoting Shakespeare’s Antonio at your Antonio, named after the same Shakespeare’s Antonio, who just referred to the character about to quote Antonio by quoting a female character (played in Will’s time by a boy) who, returning home from pretending to be a man and speaking to another female character also played in Will’s time by a boy and returning home from pretending to be a man, made a comment not referring to Antonio or any other guy.

    Can you make this any more complicated?

  16. She could slip Artie and Antonio Smith mints, and then they would also be female characters played by guys. Or maybe verse vica, I’m not sure.

  17. I’m pasty, German, and built like a slightly padded tank. Thankfully, my girlfriend prefers pandas to slim, bronze, Latin men. 😉

  18. I think wet, naked Gemma (who reminds me of Zeta) and Sergio would be fine additions to any breeding colony.  However, while Sergio is bi-, Gemma is homo-, and I thought the hamsters didn’t import any of the latter.

  19. Gemma is also bi, one of countless things that was going to come up in Smithson eventually.

  20. Saturday:

    I love the smooth segue into the next major chapter of this arc.

    This reminds me – perhaps you should finally remove the heart-rending “Smithson Thus Far…” link from the top of this page.

  21. I’ll translate that final panel: “Why won’t everyone leave me alone so I can play Doom 2 in peace?”

  22. Sergio! And Gemma! That guy does look Sergioish, now that you mention it, but I didn’t recognize Gemma with hair in a color found in nature and that doesn’t look like it was trimmed with a weedwhacker.

    Gemma does describe herself as “a polyamorous bisexual feminazi” at one point in the last Smithson chapter.

    Man. I miss Smithson. Seemed like things were just really getting moving, and then it stopped.

    I assume that, since Mell and Sergio didn’t recognize each other, this is happening before (in whatever weird metatime sense applies) Adjustment?

  23. Mell and Sergio don’t actually come face-to-face in this sequence. Neither do Sergio and Artie.

  24. Specifically, Sergio and Artie don’t meet just after Artie confesses his love of Latin men with an interest in lingustics. Passing like two ships in the night…

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