Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: October 6-11, 2003

Another really early script. This entire subplot was something I came up with very early in the development of Narbonic.

Dr. Narbon has transparent glasses in the past and opaque glasses in the future. If I were doing Narbonic over, I would probably
develop some kind of consistent symbolism to transparent/opaque glasses, but as things stand there isn’t one, even though the
transition from opaque to transparent ends up being important to one character.

For some reason I could never get Young Dr. Narbon’s glasses to look right in the final strips. They kept coming out all crooked. I’m

I periodically played with the idea that the Helens Narbon have been cloning their own descendants for generations, possibly for
centuries, but it never really comes up in Narbonic itself. I did, however, take the time to establish that Dr. Narbon got her doctorate
from some shady mail-order outfit. I liked the idea.

Oh, Dave. Like you know anything about the stock market. I guess he could warn her not to invest in Pets.com or something.

I love drawing kids with the gap in the front teeth.

I spent a long time working out all the details of Dave’s elaborate lie, but “Robot butlers everywhere!” is the money line.

I decided to have Dave grow up in state that hosted Narbonicon. I grew pretty fond of the Twin Cities during my visits. Of course, I was
only there during the summer.

The bonus story in Narbonic Volume Four (available now at the Couscous Store!) goes into more detail on the concept of little Helen
and her mother fleeing from place to place, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. It’s probably my favorite of the bonus stories.

Helen, of course, looks exactly like me at age nine, only blonde. That was one of my favorite shirts.

33 thoughts on “Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: October 6-11, 2003

  1. Monday:

    What’s also creepy is how Helen’s hairstyle was unerringly handed down from the previous generation.

    Will Dave, in this inescapable temporal loop, find salvation in his mightiest nemesis?! Who knows, maybe Dave has remembered what Ms. Kelly said and is about to figure that Helen’s transfiguration into Dr. Narbon can also happen in reverse. (And suddenly I’m reminded that Dave was never around to hear Dr. N admit that she never had a time machine… or indeed to inflict any meaningful revenge for his unjust murder.)

  2. I believe it is worth noticing that young Dave also has transparent glasses. Or is that reading too much into it?

  3. Dave is apparently seeing Helen from the readers’ perspective here, which would explain his failure to notice that this Helen is wearing Alpha’s BCDs rather than Beta’s little pink glasses until panel 3 when it’s made obvious to the reader.

  4. Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Doctor Helen Narbon shoved Dave Davenport into her time machine – and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own (well, they were…just younger or older), and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better (recover Yak Face!). His only guide on this journey is Mel, a politician from the future, who appears when the plot wills it, who only Dave can understand and fear. And so Dave Davenport finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right in his past what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap… will be the leap home.

  5. This continues the long tradition of different characters having identical appearances and so being easy to draw.

  6. I always gathered that there was a long line of clones from Helen’s having a genetic instinct to clone herself instead of having a normal biological clock – I believe there is a pixie to that effect.

  7. There’s something very special about Dave getting a death threat from someone who, in his subjective timeline, has already killed him, but who has yet to kill him in her timeline. Also this raises the possibility that she actually kills him because of information from the future he’s accidentally caused her to receive. But, obviously, it wouldn’t be that simple.

  8. Tuesday:

    Dave’s line in panel 3 sounds awfully dirty for someone talking to their would-be future mother-in-law. Dr. N, meanwhile, seems to be gazing vacantly into the distance (or possibly just overestimating Dave’s height).

    This storyline development has actually encouraged me to reread the completely canonical Week of December 18 Story, the other storyline starring a precocious six-year-old. It occurs to me that since Helen is 3 years Dave’s senior, that storyline’s Dr. Narbon is 3 years in the past of this storyline’s soon-to-be doctor. Since then, she’s temporarily regressed to a longer hairdo and no earrings.

    (It also occurs to me that that silly seasonal Sluggy-esque side-story actually serves as the clearest insight we get into the young Dr. Narbon and Beta’s mother-daughter relationship, something that eponymous storyline and this one only briefly brush upon. Which is another good thing you could say about it.)

  9. @Leon:  If you think Dave’s line in panel 3 has suggestive connotations … then along with panel 4, this strip is full of sex and violins.


  10. Maybe she kills him as revenge for misinformation from the future that he deliberately causes her to receive.

    Hey, Dave, the old “paying them in misinformation that they won’t be able to check until you’re safely out of range” trick only works if you don’t tell them where to find you in the future.

  11. Wednesday:

    Why’s Dr. N looking at Dave like this is actually all his fault?

    Those are some nice mountains. (They are still in the suburbs, right?)

  12. Seeing as how the mountains have apparently turned into a tree in the last panel (Dave and Soon-to-be-Dr. Narbon are in the same relative positions, and they don’t seem to have walked anywhere in the intervening two panels) I conclude that they are, in fact, in Coconino County.

    Where’s Ignatz when you need him?

  13. (TUNE: “My Little Town”, Simon & Garfunkel)

    I’m bouncing through time,
    I went back to first grade;
    Girls made my life a living hell …
    Then I jumped up to high school
    And I cut classes with Majel!
    I’m not doing well,
    Bouncing through time …

    Forward to forty-six!
    Selling some weapons to Mell
    Who’s the new V.P.!
    And the clock backward ticks;
    Losing my mind,
    Must find synchronicity!

    And there in the park,
    I see Helen
    Except that her glasses are square!
    It’s Alpha, not Beta, that’s here!
    But that’s neither here nor there …
    This is why I lost my hair!
    ‘Cause I’m bouncing through time!

    Lady, what a day I’ve had
    Because I’m bouncing through time!
    Yes, I know your daughter’s mad
    Because I’m bouncing through time!
    Changing age is still a shock
    Because I’m bouncing through time!
    I can give you tips for stock
    Because I’m bouncing through time!

  14. Of course, as I pointed out the other day, Dave’s cunning plan here neglects to take into account that yesterday he told not-yet-Dr. Narbon where to find him in twenty years when she’s discovered that he’s lying.

  15. “Robot butlers everywhere!” IS the money line.  And it’s in the first panel!  Again!  It’s just this sort of mad comicry that leaves me in awe of your talents…

  16. I don’t recall exactly how this exchange goes downhill (I’m not peeking ahead!), but soon-to-be-Dr. N is likely very suspicious of Davey already.

    As we know Dr. N plans to use Beta for spare parts.  A plan foiled by Helen’s acquisition of a shotgun (or some other large firearm, I forget exactly).  Of course as John points out it is a bad idea to let Dr. N know where she can find you for vengance purposes.  Running into her randomly is dangerous enough!

  17. “In the future you will use the words ‘heh heh heh’ a lot.”

    “Heh heh heh.”

    “…or you could just be using them now.  I’ll be over there, hiding.”

  18. To quote jcampbel: “Of course, as I pointed out the other day, Dave’s cunning plan here neglects to take into account that yesterday he told not-yet-Dr. Narbon where to find him in twenty years when she’s discovered that he’s lying.”

    Gosh, she might be so peeved as to kill Dave dead with a death-ray!

  19. Friday:

    Fortunately, of course, Dr. Narbon’s irresponsible irradiation had absolutely no effect on Davey’s body, mind or future destiny.

  20. (TUNE: “Obladi Oblada”, The Beatles)

    Helen Beta Narbon, where the heck are you!
    Gotta run, we got six hours, tops!
    Not from Minnesota, we’re just passing through
    Away from ra-di-o-ac-ti-vi-ty and cops!

    Gotta run!  Gotta hide!  Gotta go, yeah!
    Now we gotta flee the scene!
    Goodness me!  Goodness my!  Goodness oh, yeah!
    Helen’s mom’s the queen of mean!

  21. Wait, hang on, I forgot to do something yesterday:

    Fourth-wall dialogue: 44.

    Okay, universe back in balance, carry on.

  22. My question is, what dealings does Dr. Narbon have with the CIA?… and why do I have the feeling I don’t really want to know the answer?

  23. I’m entertaining the hypothesis that this encounter is actually the cause of Helen hiring Dave in the future, which would turn it from an incredible coincidence to a logical necessity.

  24. Saturday:

    Dr. Narbon seems to have finally bought this “time traveling 26-year-old 6-year-old” story, and Davey didn’t even need to bust out some secret personal details on her (which, let’s face it, would probably all be inaccurate until several years from now).

    The good news is that Dr. Narbon really does get her act together, but at the expense of her body parts no longer being together. Thank you, thank you, and good night.

  25. (TUNE: “I Melt With You”, Modern English)

    On the run now from the CIA …
    Come with me, I think my daughter ran this way!
    She’s blonde with braids, and a shirt that’s really cool!
    What’s the diff between “enslaved” or “work for”?  Miniscule!

    Hey, this is Dave, he’ll work for you!
    He’s seen the future, and there’s robot butlers ev’rywhere!
    You’ll nuke Long Island ‘fore you’re through!
    This kid named Dave will help you, too!

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