I don’t usually laugh at my own strips, and I especially don’t laugh at the early ones, where I keep getting distracted by the amateurishness of the whole production. But I have to admit that this little plotline always puts a smile on my face. Just the whole gestalt of Madblood’s grandiose pronouncements and Dave’s pathos as a talking severed head and the drinking and the robot…as far as I’m concerned, this is one of the best sets of strips in Narbonic.
I like the strips that are really silly.
The robot is based on the mecha in the old-school 1970s anime Armored Trooper Votoms. At the time I was drawing this, my roommate Mark Schumann and I were watching it at work during our lunch break. Votoms is perhaps most famous for featuring the all-time bestest “coming next episode” blurb in anime history: “Chirico drinks, and the coffee of Uoodo is bitter indeed.” Recently, a Japanese company actually started manufacturing Uoodo brand coffee in honor of this immortal line.
Dave’s head dish is a nod to the movie The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (or possibly The Head that Wouldn’t Die, depending on whether you believe the opening or closing titles), one of the classic “Mystery Science Theater 3000″s. He makes his own gravy!
This is, of course, ridiculous.
It’s implied here that Dave’s skull has been discarded and he’s now just a brain, which is about the lowest he ever gets. But at least he’s a brain in an awesome, if badly-drawn, giant robot.
A lot of Narbonic storylines from this period involve Dave undergoing some kind of bizarre physical transformation. Later, there are a lot of storylines about Dave turning into other people and/or other people turning into Dave. Then the final storylines are mostly about Dave’s psychological development and mental state. To get all hoity-toity for a minute, one of the central functions of Narbonic is defining Dave as a character, so there’s a lot of material dedicated to playing with his identity, seeing how far he can be stretched and warped and still remain Dave. I guess what I’m trying to say is, turning him into a giant robot is exactly what James Joyce would have done at this juncture.
Madblood’s size in relation to the robot keeps changing over the course of this week. Oh well.
I like all the robotty little sound effects. Also, the angle of the robot in the last panel reminds me of a Frank Kelly Freas illustration, only, of course, infinitely cruder.
Normally I don’t spend a lot of time on lettering, as you can tell by its general crumminess, but I had some fun with the drunk text here. At the time I drew these strips, I didn’t drink. I do now, and I sound not entirely unlike Dave in his cheerful/pontificating phase.
Dave’s propensity for singing “Freebird” while drunk has already been mentioned in this week of strips. In later strips, he can be seen drunkenly singing other melancholy songs as well.
Man, that’s a huge phone Helen’s got there.
This might be the first unequivocal admission that Dave kinda has the hots for Helen. He probably wouldn’t admit it while sober. It’s hard to gauge anything about Helen’s feelings from her reaction.
The tank in the first panel contains two eyeballs and an ear. Why not? I ended up drawing eyeballs in tanks a lot over the course of Narbonic, because they look cool.