Zombie Woof: September 17-22, 2001

Oh, dear. Now Helen has a whole row of oddly patterned test tubes. The checked one is nice.

I love this whole storyline, by the way. It’s the earliest Narbonic storyline that I still find more entertaining than cringe-worthy. It’s hard to go wrong with zombies, of course, and Dave is just so matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Well, obviously he’ll have to go on an undead rampage. That’s just what zombies do.

Actually, stalking and killing the person responsible for your death is more of a traditional Haitian zombie thing than a modern George Romero-type zombie thing. I may have been influenced by the film Zombie Nightmare, starring Tia Carrere, Adam West, and Jon-Mikl Thor and his band Thor-kestra, which for some reason is one of the few episodes of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” I actually acquired on tape in the old “Keep Circulating Those Tapes” days. Or maybe I just liked the idea of Dave pathetically trying to exact revenge on Dr. Narbon, something of which he is patently incapable whether alive or dead.

Also, wood glue is funny.

Dave, of course, completely misses the deeper implications of Helen’s unusual-for-her level of solicitousness on his behalf. Beyond his grasp are the subtleties of the human heart. But at least he managed to get his hand stitched back on. There’s a little dramatic tension there when you see his hand in his pocket in the first panel.

Okay, there isn’t really. I’m just one of those lazy artists who can never think of things for characters to do with their hands.

Mell is reading The Chris Ellmann Story.

Note that by this point I was doing not only word balloons but occasional bolded text. This represented massive effort by my standards. I’m a lazy, lazy artist.

I’m sorry, I just like this strip. I’m juvenile. Although not as juvenile as the people who are going to make dirty-minded comments about it not really being a finger.

The “gum” comment brings up the tricky question of whether Undead Dave carries with him the fetid odor of rotting flesh, such as could not possibly be covered by a stick of Wrigley’s. Based on comments in later strips, the answer is probably yes.

There’s also the question of whether any chemicals or hormones at all still affect Dave’s system. If his blood isn’t flowing anymore, probably not. He probably feels weird and cranky for any number of reasons, if indeed he feels at all, trapped within a lifeless, decaying corpse that defies all reason and human decency by moving with the crude semblance of life.

Zombies are so great.

And the novelty of being undead starts to wear off. Poor Dave. This strip doesn’t really have a punchline, leaving me to ponder the indignity of Dave’s existence and the mystery of what the heck Mell is polishing there.

As I’ve said before, I didn’t intend for the repeated destruction of Dave’s cars to be a running joke. It just kind of happened organically. Dave’s wail in the last panel will be echoed, much, much later, by his unfortunate clone.

The Elastic Snaps is probably another entry from my old band name list. I had a million of ’em.

50 thoughts on “Zombie Woof: September 17-22, 2001

  1. Monday’s Comic: Finally, Dave remembers the person that did him in. He’d be hopeless as a Shakespeare character.

    Tropes not used in today’s episode: inverting Dave’s speech balloon to white-on-black to overemphasise that he’s a ‘supernatural’ creature. Yay for low-tech!

    Pink-heart-evil is very matter-of-fact. That’s what’s so cute about it.

  2. “Helen, could you give me a hand here?” (I know, we did that one last week, but the classics never die.)

    How much wood would wood glue glue if wood glue could glue wood?

  3. wood glue would glue no wood, wood glue would glue Dave,


    And on that note ‘Sure, you can ek out bloody vengeance later’ is the best thing ever. 

  4. Tuesday’s Comic: Well, whaddya know. She was serious.

    Let’s not forget, though, that Helen had quite a few motivations for raging against her creator, such as self-assertiveness in the face of wanton human resource damage. Not to mention the unresolved tension of that ‘dead mother’ thing.

    Zingers: 1.
    Off-panel head inserts: 4. Good golly.

  5. Mell has a nice zinger there — with a bit of foreshadowing, even! 

    It occurs to me that Yak-face has quite a story
    of his own — once the favorite toy of a brilliant (if dorky) child, suddenly and mysteriously abandoned to the untender mercies of the mad Dr. Narbon for twenty years… And even after his return, there’s one more betrayal left in store, courtesy of the strangely bland clone-Dave and his nefarious mistress!

    JGF:  That missile base has popped up (sorry) a couple of times before, — check the “Mad Science in the Real World” thread on the “old” forum, which is linked from the strip header.

  6. David, *what* ‘nefarious mistress’? Clone Dave was as much of, if not more of, a lonely schmuck than regular Dave!

    . . . you Daves. I swear. 

  7. Aaron:  Sorry, that was  “mistress” in the Mad Sciencey Creator sense, not in the “joined at the hip” sense.


  8. It just cracks me up that you think you are lazy with your passion and talent.  I daydream of having half your skill and potential.

  9. Yeah, I’m personally having a hard time looking at it and seeing anything else.

    It’s hairy, it’s bent, it’s got a hard bit on one end, and it looks like it’s got a bone in it. Definitely a finger.

  10. Wednesday’s Comic: To the casual viewer, it almost looks like Dave had the idea of ripping off and throwing The Finger on purpose. I suppose that would ascribe him with an uncharacteristic degree of sardonic wit, though.

    ladyfingers they taste just like ladyfingers

  11. I love the little curl in panel 3. Nothing says “dead” like a little curl coming up off something. Now I know what decoration I want on top of the little box of ashes when I die.


  12. Well yes, the finger refers to something else — but this is a case where the subtext gets utterly buried by the overt meaning and immediate context.  Or in other words…

    sometimes a rotting, severed, finger is just a finger. 

    And I totally sympathize with Dave…. 

  13. “Aww, come on, Helen, give me the finger!”  (Sort of like the old cartoon where one cat told another “Give me the bird!”, and the second cat replied, “If the Hays Office would only let me …”

  14. In the last panel, Helen’s thumb is on the wrong side of her hand.  More digital shenanigans??  Unless it is someone else’s hand, and based on the angle, it might be…

  15. For the record, If I went through this, even knowing what I know? I’d do it to… . . exept I’d lose both of ’em. Whaaaaaaaat? 

  16. Thursday’s Comic: Cheer up, Dave. Now you can do all those things that the tyranny of oxygen had previously forbidden you. Like… walking on a lakebed naked?

    Extinguished cigarette total: 4 + (20 x 2) = 44.

  17. But he hasn’t never smoked *yet* … (Douglas Adams was right about verb tenses being inadequate for [common SF trope deleted to avoid spoilers]).

  18. Dave might want to consider chewing gum even if he doesn’t stop smoking — It’ll make a great temporary adhesive for when various other body parts drop off. (Of course, he’d better be careful not to break his jaw when he chews…)

    “You don’t breathe.”

    Then how does he talk? Talking involves sending air through the larynx, past the vocal cords. That requires…um…breathing. 

  19. Edwin, note that he moves without his body sending electricity to his muscles and can think without blood being sent to his brain. You don’t really understand mad science, do you?

  20. You can presumably inhale and exhale if your diaphragm is working, even if this doesn’t oxygenate your blood and even if you don’t do it involuntarily, at least as long as your torso is airtight. And, if it gets a hole, there’s always duct tape.

  21. If Dave were to accept the gum, what would he accomplish by chewing?  Presumably he doesn’t salivate, so wouldn’t chewing gum be about as effective as pounding it with a hammer?

    On an unrelated note, Helen offering a small, refreshing treat is a very scary thing. 

  22. If Dave doesn’t need to smoke then why does he keep blowing his money on ciggarettes?

  23. I have always liked Shaenon’s ear for dialog. I can’t say why “stanking” sounds twelve and a half times cooler than “stinking.” It just does.

  24. The body may be undead, but the brain’s been smoking since high school.

    The polished thing looks like a giant metal foot. Maybe Helen’s got a four-story-tall heroic bronze of herself, with “ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR <3” inscribed on the base, for after the conquest.

  25. Friday’s Comic: As I mentioned earlier, I happen to find a zombie that smokes to be quite funny, for roughly the same reason that a zombie on a motorcycle, or a zombie Marlboro Man, is funny.

    …But, of course, I’m thinking of the virile American image of cigarettes, whereas Dave is seemingly partaking of the glum, spit-soggy British variety smoked by unemployed dockworkers.

    Formerly (that is, Tuesday), Dave’s stitching went right through his right eyeball. What’s going on here?

  26. Alternate punchline:

    “I’m an object of pathos, a tragic perversion of life!”  “And before, you were a programmer.  It’s called ‘upward mobility’.”

  27. I wonder if Unity had these problems? Probably not…she was put together by pros, and Helen’s purely a hobbyist technonecromancer.

  28. Well Unity doesn’t have the neck bolts keeping her head on, definitely the trademark sign of a technonecromancer’s prowess on zombieism.  (Great word Dave).  I imagine Mell is polishing the boot of a giant gold Helen statue.


  29. Does Dave actually spend money on cigarettes? I thought they just sort of appeared automatically in his pocket. I mean, he clearly hasn’t bought any since he died, and he’s been smoking continuously for a week, and wouldn’t have  been hording cigarettes at work in particular, and he hasn’t run out.

  30. Iabervon:  Does Dave actually spend money on cigarettes? I thought they just sort of appeared automatically in his pocket

    Yes, and yes.  Conditioned reflexes can be scary…

  31. Saturday’s Comic: You know what would be hilarious? If, immediately after carpe-ing the diem in panel 3, Dave stepped and fell head-first into his unfilled burial plot. (Better save that one for the movie.)

    Well, at least Dave’s beginning to count his blessings. For once in a long while there’s a sky above his head, grass is growing, the sun’s shining, even though he can’t feel its warmth… and he’s just lost colour vision…

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand the historical circumstances that led to bands (or webcomics) having Word Salads for names, but the silly side of me is quite approving of it.

  32. Valerie – I scrolled down to see the bottom bar here said “Zombie Woof: September 10-16, 2001” or something like that, then went looking for that week in the archives.  That was the week before this.  Voila!  (At least, that’s what I think of as the filename.  Perhaps you were looking for something else?)

  33. Re: Wednesday, panel 3: You know, Dave, it’s really not very nice to give your employer the finger like that. -_^
    (Especially since she might turn it into a deadly weapon and give it to Mell to play with!)

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