Gosh, I’m such a nerd. I mean, we’re looking at a situation here where a Shakespeare parody is the “cool” option.
Mell’s willingness to jump ship and betray Helen for minute personal gain would come up in future storylines, and even provide some degree of foreshadowing toward the Dystopian Brain-in-a-Tank Future. On the whole, though, Mell is fairly loyal to Helen. She’s just distractable. And totally self-centered, of course.
I still kinda like this strip. Mell doesn’t get bonked on the head nearly enough in Narbonic. She deserves it more or less constantly, but it’s just not as funny when bad things happen to Mell. It’s funnier when good things happen to Mell and she uses the opportunity to make everyone else suffer.
Also, no comic with a sound effect that actually says “Bonk!” can be a total loss.
ANTONIO SMITH’s handgun: still freakin’ huge.
Oh, come on, that gerbil panel is awesome! Six years later, that’s probably still one of my best-looking panels. Sigh. I also like the comically trampled Helen in the last panel. The previous strip had Mell getting bonked on the head, so on the whole this is a big week for violence against women. I made a conscious effort, especially in these early, slapsticky strips, to let the female characters get beat up from time to time. If female characters are considered above pratfalls, they’re just that much less potentially funny.
This does not, of course, prevent Dave from getting the shit kicked out of him far more than the women. Poor Dave.
Helen’s dialogue is getting more appropriately Helenesque here. “Golly, I feel just like a Bond villain!” is about the right note I wanted to strike with her character. I like that balance between cartoon feminine sweetness and cartoon megalomaniacal evil.
The total lack of perspective on the control panel makes it look almost Cubist. I wonder if I could have turned this into a conscious style and ended up with a really cool-looking comic, maybe become the next Mary Fleener. Yeah, okay, maybe not. I can dream, can’t I?
How many end-of-the-week cliffhangers can I fit into one relatively brief storyline? Okay, only two, but it still feels a little excessive.
I know it looks like I made the gerbil background by just copying the all-gerbil panel from Wednesday’s strip over and over, but I actually drew all-new gerbils. I checked the original art, and, yup, covered in gerbils. Also, I know it looks like Dave is wearing nail polish and/or slammed his finger in a car door in the third panel, and I have no excuse for that.
The second panel is based on a still from John Woo’s The Killer. Well, it is.
“Push the button” is, of course, a nod to Mystery Science Theater 3000. References to this show may come up once or twice in Narbonic. ANTONIO SMITH is quoting Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1: “Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence/ Shall this our lofty scene be acted over/ In states unborn and accents yet unknown!” The button labeled “Do Not Push” is from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Man, lots of random cultural references in this strip.
You know, this is the basic plot arc of almost every Narbonic storyline: someone, usually Helen, goes looking for trouble, usually for no good reason, several odd characters and devices are brought into play, they all get set off in various ways, there’s a big explosion, and the survivors go out for drinks. It really never changes much from this first storyline. Creative action plotting: not one of my strong suits. The plots only get more complex later on because I accumulate more metaphorical dominoes to set up. The addition of Artie alone complicates any situation.
Note how these big explosions cleverly save me from having to draw a fourth panel.