My introduction to the definition of “sport” to mean “mutation” was, of course, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, references to which crop up several times in Narbonic.
I wisely chose to avoid drawing much of the inside of the bus here, because it would be hard. I did carve Andrew’s and my initials into the window in the first panel.
Nor did I bother to try to draw Winnipeg. I’m sorry, Canada. It was getting near the end of the story and I was tired.
That’s right, I’ve had to apologize to two countries in three days. So far this has not been a good week.
At least I drew a pretty great giant dog-eating flower. I was worried about my ability to make it look properly vicious, or even recognizable as a giant dog-eating flower, but it came out nicely.
Helen’s really enthusiastic about seeing Dave again after, like, two days or however long it’s been. That’s… kind of cute, actually. Helen and Dave get along really well in this storyline, probably because [SPOILERS] I’m planning to pull the rug out from under their relationship yet again in the next one.
In the first panel, Helen is sexing fruit flies, something I was really, really bad at when I was taking biology in college. What you do is, you put the flies in a refrigerator for a few minutes, which causes them to pass out, then you take them out and sort the unconscious flies into males and females. This is a pain in the butt because fruit flies don’t have visible genitalia or anything, so it’s not like you can just look for the fly wangs; you have to check under a microscope for their not-especially-prominent secondary sex characteristics, like the mating spurs on the legs of the males. While you’re squinting into a microscope, trying to determine whether a particular fly is a male or a female who just has pretty hairy legs, the flies start thawing out and begin quivering on the table. Then, if you’re me, you shove them into two random piles and get them back into their little plastic cages before they wake up and start flying and hopping around the room.*
I was not very good at biology. That’s why I’m drawing comic strips instead of happily studying the life cycles of fig wasps like I dreamed of doing as a little girl.
I like to think that all of Artie’s anecdotes are as eloquently phrased as the snippet in the first panel suggests. Artie is definitely the only Narbonic character who would use the phrase “after a pregnant pause” unironically in conversation. Wait, no, Antonio Smith might do that. But probably not, and he’s hardly ever in the strip anyway.
I was worrying a lot about the elections around this time. And with good cause, it turned out.
*Hopping because this particular experiment was about breeding wingless flies. Fruit flies have this amazingly simple genetic structure, and one gene controls wings vs. no wings. It always made me think of that Far Side cartoon where the airplane has a lever reading “Wings Stay On/Wings Fall Off.” With D. melanogaster, you can pull that lever.
This may be the closest Narbonic comes to being a furry comic. I don’t know how to feel about that. Also note that the photo shows a rare variant Dr. Narbon: long hair, non-visible eyes.
Helen often mentions wanting Artie to go out into the world and wreak havok in her name, or whatever she thinks he would do. Artie’s always pretty nervous about the idea. Insofar as one can be “sheltered” while constantly being experimented upon by a mad scientist, Artie’s led a sheltered life. He’s kind of afraid of the outside world.
Dun dun DUN!
Geez, I hope people remember that this is Dr. Noah, the dentist who’s been teaching Objectivism to Dana’s intelligent hamsters. I put him in a strip earlier in the storyline to jog everyone’s memories.
And that’s the end of “Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved.” To review, this was a storyline made up of bits and pieces of all the dangling plot threads in Narbonic, and I did it mainly because I had a good idea for a title. Given that, it turned out surprisingly well. I’m very happy with it. It also sets up a lot of plot for the final years of Narbonic.
Next week: one of the bigger storylines. From here on out, everything ties into the main story arc. Also, characters are slightly more likely to get laid.