Madness: September 18-23, 2006

Artie is still scared of heights. FORESHADOWING.

It really bugged me at the time that the last panel is so wordy. Artie talks too much. On the plus side, it meant less Arctic landscape to draw. So thanks, Artie.

Dave does eventually meet the person for whom he’d pull himself together, near the end of the strip. And has already met her a couple of times, actually.

“Cheese on toast!” was one of the cartoony non-swears frequently employed by the rewriter of the Yoshihiro Tagashi manga YuYu Hakusho, which I used to edit for Viz. I think he picked it up from Donald Duck comics. Nowadays I edit Tagashi’s current manga Hunter x Hunter. Sometimes it feels like my life never really changes.

Many things about this strip are excellent, but the most excellent is that I didn’t have to draw the exploding flaming poison cannonballs.

I like this strip a whole lot, even though, as with the earlier strip where Helen reveals that Dave isn’t primarily a mad computer scientist, the ominous foreshadowing never really pays off. We don’t get to see much of Real Helen. It’s probably just as well.

When I drew this, I was extremely pleased with Artie’s legs sticking up from the back of the flyer in the first panel. Please enjoy.

This is mostly just a tying-up-the-plot-threads type strip, but I do enjoy any time Artie is at least a little bit openly evil. If he put his mind to it, he could probably do more damage than the rest of them combined. I also like the teeny little figures in the first panel. Establishing shot!

Is Helen right here? Probably only to the extent that everyone in the gang causes a lot of destruction, and Artie is the only one of them who doesn’t own it. One of the themes of Narbonic that developed without my conscious intention is that just good intentions–or bad intentions, for that matter–aren’t enough. Things tend not to go as people intended, unless those people are Helen, maybe.

Also, sometimes Artie just needs to get yanked down a peg.

I wrote this strip at the last minute, but it’s awesome. You cannot overuse hamsters in robot suits.

36 thoughts on “Madness: September 18-23, 2006

  1. @Adam: They’re in an open vehicle in the middle of an arctic wilderness with a limited fuel supply and only basic winter clothes. Midwestern basic winter clothes, but basic nonetheless. Their choice is between the mad laboratory currently run by an uploaded mind in the throes af a mental breakdown and the flying island currently run by genocidal, Randian hamsters. Where else are they gonna go?

  2. Well, there’s the local village, but Artie’s Gwich’in is terrible, and Mell’s only languages are English and Speaking Loudly At Foreigners.

  3. Tuesday:

    The only thing that would be better than exploding flaming poison cannonballs… is if they also had spikes.

    (When I was a kid I really liked the idea of ‘poison’ as a nonsensical intensifier of a weapon’s deadliness, especially if the weapon was energy-based.)

  4. Ah, I thought he just missed her the first time.

    If Dave does consider Mell, he’ll shoot *radioactive* exploding flaming poison cannonballs.  With spikes.

  5. I wouldn’t think it would be easy to identify an exploding flaming cannonball as being poison by sight when it’s shot at you, but I suppose if anyone can do it, it would be Mell.

  6. @John: It’s when they’re green, but not glowing green. As Tetra indicated, glowing means they’re radioactive, exploding, flaming, poison cannonballs.

  7. (TUNE: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, Sherman & Sherman)

    Flaming poison cannonballs with spikes that are exploding!
    Dave may try to do us in, I have a vague foreboding!
    Rather deadly ordinance at us he’s now unloading!
    Flaming poison cannonballs with spikes that are exploding!
    (toast with a little bit o’ cheese on the top,
    toast with a little bit o’ cheese on the top …)

  8. Wednesday:

    It’s counterintuitive, but nonetheless logical, that Helen would consider her mad self – the monster within, often mentioned, never seen – to be more ‘real’, or indeed more ‘Helen’, than her day-to-day self.

  9. Also:

    Number of landings should equal number of take-offs.


    The two things that are totally useless are runway behind you and sky above you.

  10. Even trying to be the good one, Artie still does more damage than the rest of them combined. As Helen’ll point out tomorrow, this mess is largely his fault.

  11. I feel a nearly overpowering need to hug Helenin that first panel. She just looks so cold. I don’t know whether my girlfriend would approve or not though.

  12. Artie’s “Yes, but I recycle.” is (IMHO) one of the funniest lines in the whole run of the comic.

  13. Sweetheart said it best: “Artie has a beyond-genius IQ.  He can lift a car.  He cares, very deeply, about important things. . . . He’ll care about you.  And in the end, it’ll tear you up inside.”  Artie is uniquely capable of caring those closest to him into an early grave, with lots of collateral damage.

  14. Artie cares very deeply about problems, but never considers the further consequences of the most immediate solution the problem at hand. His dark side is mainly comprised of hubris masking itself as humility and compassion.

  15. It pleases me that the theme of things developing unintentionally developed without your intending it.


    Artie made mistakes, but much of the blaming here is Helen refusing to acknowledge her own mistakes.

  17. @ joe dreyfuss: That describes more than a few politicians too.

    John Ames says: “‘You wreak more evil than any of us!’ ‘Yes, but I recycle!’ Artie in a nutshell, folks.”

    If he can be put in a nutshell (and he probably can) he should probably be locked inside before he does even *more* damage…

  18. Yeah, but on the other hand, considering how little control we have over the consequences of our own actions – what else do we have to offer other than good intentions?

  19. Saturday:

    At first I thought the pistol was some kind of switchblade, simply because the idea of Mell holding a one-handed firearm was too implausible.

  20. On the other hand, that’s clearly a Desert Eagle. If Mell is gonna limit herself to a handgun, she’s damn well gonna use the biggest handgun there is.

  21. I don’t know if it’s been de-throned, but the .454 Cassull was the most powerful handgun that I was aware of.  the .50 Desert Eagle was technically a larger caliber, but it wasn’t the same round as the .50 BMG sniper rifles.


    I believe the .500 Linebaugh is currently the most powerful production repeating handgun. There’s also the .460 S&W.

  23. And just whom is Artie warning in the last panel there?

    Is he telling Helen and Mell to run, or is he guarding the Hamsters against their impending mad sciency doom?

  24. As near as I can tell, the current most powerful handgun is the S&W Model 500, firing their own .500 S&W Magnum Jacketed Hollow Point, with a maximum muzzle energy of 4.1 kJ.  The Cassul and Linebaugh cartridges run down around 2.4 kJ.  There are a limited number of other revolvers capable of handling the .500 S&W, as it requires a five position cylinder to allow for thicker walls.

    That being said, I think the desert eagle is still capable of handling the most poewrful automatic cartridges.

  25. @Nick: He’s looking at the hamsters, so I’d say he’s warning them of something more dangerous than mad science: Mell.

  26. Where I’m from, the kind of criticism some politicians get can be run into the ground for months is actually kind of the opposite of Artie – “I push large-scale changes for good” “Yes, but you used non-environmentally friendly paint on your boat!”

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