H Is H: September 26 – October 1, 2005

Foot and Zeta work surprisingly well together. I hadn’t expected that. I guess Foot was just waiting for someone to talk to.

I don’t really have anything to say about this strip, so here’s some old doodles of Young Zeta. I’m currently sorting through twelve years’ worth of sketch notebooks and keeping whatever looks interesting.

I love this strip so much. The anatomy and perspective in the third panel came out all wonky, but I ended up loving even that; it looks like a Lynda Barry layout or something. Admittedly, my fondness for this strip probably stems mostly from my intense love for the Kuribo’s Shoe level of “Super Mario 3,” which Seanbaby captured so much better than I ever could.

I’ve said this before, but Seanbaby was the first person to think of being funny on the Internet and actually succeed.

Zeta sitting in Foot does look a lot like Mario riding Kuribo’s Shoe. “Super Mario Bros. 3”: good game, or best game?

ANTONIO SMITH looks like he’s had about enough of this nonsense.

I only wrote this strip to get Mike and Ruby offstage by the end of the storyline, but it turned out awesome and I should win ten Pulitzers for it. Especially Mike’s smile at the end.

At this point, Artie is kind of not fully aware he’s gay. This comes up later.

“Chuckling over Shavian punctuation” still makes me crack a smile, but you know me and cantankerous Irish playwrights. I hate the AP style guide, though. It’s against Oxford commas. This comes up in my day job all the time.

39 thoughts on “H Is H: September 26 – October 1, 2005

  1. Y’know, if you had slightly rephrased Foot’s dialog to:


    …then we would have seen an iambic Foot.

  2. I’d read this strip a dozen times or more before it struck me that, in the third panel, Zeta’s connecting Foot’s “ZETA <i>UNDERSTAND</i>” observation with her own “mad scientist’s creation” comment and realizing something about her origins. (Whether Foot recognizes her as a mad scientist’s creation is neither clear nor necessarily germane to her own epiphany here.) I think it was her expression that finally clued me in. Sometimes I’m dense like that.

    She recovers her composure pretty quickly, though. Ruby doesn’t notice anything unusual.

  3. Tuesday:

    This is a very nice episode. Zeta letting out her gerbil hair is the most memorable part – a delightfully succinct symbol of coming to terms with the monster inside, with her impossible heritage.

    (“The brink of the gulf of madness” may seem a bit awkward but to me it’s somewhat reminiscent of “the valley of the shadow of death”.)

  4. (TUNE: “Push”, Matchbox 20)

    The journalist in me says, “Keep apart,
    You gotta keep it impartial!”
    As I’m edging closer to the brink!
    But still I’m feeling the call down in my heart!
    Now I’m here at the threshold!
    Take that final step, don’t stop to think!
    I’m gonna make it official!

       I’ve … slowly chased it …
       Madness calls …
       It speaks to something deep in me …
       And I’ve … not embraced it,
       Until now!
       At last I’ve found my destiny!

          Yo, I am one with the Foot!
          We are one!  We are one!
          I’m having fun with the Foot!
          So much fun!  So much fun!
          We’re stomping over the top now!
          They’re asking if we could stop now!
          (Guess we should …)

  5. And Zeta reaches her own narrative climax, embracing her heritage and her nature.  Amusing that this perpetual wanderer is now mistress of a giant foot.

    The odd thing about showing natural hair like hers everyone would assume it’s some sort of ‘do.  But, people being as they are, she would be all too likely to spawn a new fashion….

  6. Wednesday:

    This is a good videogame joke because of how little it was telegraphed, and how naturally it results from its component parts.

    Though, the mystery of how one foot is capable of lifting itself up must remain unsolved – ‘boing’ sound effects notwithstanding.

  7. @Leon: As for the sound effects, it’s a little-known fact that, around this time, Madblood had a short-lived henchman named Gerald Mac.

    (TUNE: “Winnie The Pooh”, Sherman & Sherman)

    The targets of Foot are now, it seems,
    The Knipl Grant winners’ list!
    The sound of his stomp drowns out the screams
    For Zeta to please desist!

    The diners against the wall are backed!
    And Davenport feels it, too,
    That someone’s attempting to re-enact
    The Level of Kuribo’s Shoe!

        Kuribo’s Shoe!  Kuribo’s Shoe!
        Sorry, oh, as Mario will romp and stomp!
        It’s Kuribo’s Shoe!  Kuribo’s Shoe!
        Giddy kiddie video game!

  8. Seanbaby certainly has been, ah, influential, to put it mildly.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to one day find that time cops have been sent to kill him, due to the irreparable damage that nigh universal adoption of his sense of humor will be seen to have done to the human psyche.

  9. In panel one, there appear to be two black boxes affixed to Foot’s sole. My initial thought was they were rocket boosters, but that merely begs the question, what kind of rocket goes “boing”? A more “realistic” possibility is directed gravity projectors–set them to negative for alititude, and back to positive for that extra oomph on the stomp. (Attitude control could be handled by an internal gyroscope.)

    Honestly though, I think it’s just Flubber.

  10. @Leon; It’s not all that mysterious, provided that the foot has a flexible sole.  Which seems plausable for FOOT, if less so for the Nintendo original.  (Which, I must admit, I’d never heard of before.)

    Of course, anything created by Mad Science is likely to have a pretty damn flexible soul.  If it has one at all.

  11. Thursday:

    This is also a good strip. Zeta going mad with extremely limited and highly ridiculous power, while almost everyone else ignores her, is quintessenital Narbonic.

  12. OK, picture this … the modern-day Sherlock Holmes from the new PBS “Sherlock” series … sitting at home, playing SMB3, reaching this level, and shouting … wait for it …

    “The game’s a foot!”

    (Arthur Conan Doyle would be so proud …)

  13. “From now on, I live here.”  That’s exactly how I felt when I discovered Narbonic and Skin Horse.

  14. Panel three is hilarious to me for reasons I cannot wholly articulate. Something about the “can’t see over the steering wheel”, eyes-fixed-forward effect just hits the spot.

  15. Friday:

    Characters using stale drama/romance clichés as veiled code for freaky sex is actually one of my favourite jokes.

  16. (TUNE: “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”, Harry Noble)

    Do me!  Do me!
    Mike, you send a special feeling
    Through me!  Through me!
    Now my heart and head are reeling!
    Scr*w me!  Scr*w me!
    Let’s work out a way to have some sex!

    Take me!  Take me!
    Take me to a cheap motel and
    Shake me!  Shake me!
    Up and down and ’round as well, and
    Make me, make me
    Do some things erotic and complex!

       I’m hoping that my cybernetic hoo-hoo
       Makes friends with your gelatinous little man!
       We’ll do it like animals in the zoo do,
       As often and as hard and fast as we both possibly can!

    Jump me!  Jump me!
    Hang on, love, the ride is getting
    Bumpy!  Bumpy!
    Never mind the heavy petting!
    Hump me!  Hump me!
    Hump me ’til we both are total wrecks!

  17. If they haven’t managed to figure it out before the end of Narbonic, I wonder if they will get the assistance of Dr. Narbon and Master Davenport, as their specialities seem to fit the situation, and their ethics would let the two leave relatively intact (if only to allow the perversion against nature that is a sexually active battle gynoid and shapeshifter couple.)

  18. I’m currently writing a book, using the Chicago Manual of Style.  It’s just as illogical and inflexible as the AP Stylebook, so you have my sympathy.  Perversely, I’ve gotten used to dropping the Oxford comma, and I prefer that, but the Chicago Manual wants me to use it.

  19. Have to agree with you on the AP Style guide.  In fact, this strip always surprised me a little, given Dr. Smith’s reference to S&W earlier.  Maybe Zeta just hasn’t learned yet.

  20. Saturday:

    I think the first time I read this half a decade ago, I misinterpreted Zeta’s last line as “actually married [to the entire concept of grammar]”. Certainly that would explain his preternatural powers and dedication.

  21. The Oxford comma is important, necessary, and fulfilling. The AP style guide is wrong, incorrect, and fallacious. The Oxford comma will not be pushed, filed, indexed, stamped, briefed, debriefed, or numbered.

    Perhaps the AP style guide is to be used as ablative armor to protect Antonio, Zeta, and Artie since it has no other purpose, function, or place amongst educated people.

  22. (TUNE: “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”, Randy Brooks)

    Grammar got done over by the A.P.!
    Then again by good old Strunk & White!
    World is saved, and words as well need saving!
    Now come on, Zeta, we don’t have all night!

    Now the Knipl Winners’ dinner
    Got as strange as it can get!
    Dr. Smith now has a fanboy,
    And young Zeta has a giant metal pet!
    There’s a Mrs. Smith back home now,
    Who can really turn a phrase …
    And the readers say together,
    “Oh, is that what folks are calling it these days?”
        [repeat REFRAIN]

  23. I PREFER the Oxford comma. Style guides, linguistics professors, and academia in general be damn?d.

  24. Why can’t they understand? Why can’t they understand that serial commas are important because they naturally reflect spoken English usage? Do they never read the things they write aloud?

  25. @leon: I’m not sure about that being a misinterpretation. In a world wherein AIs can sue for emancipation from their programmers, a giant robot foot may sell its life story to Esquire, and gerbils tie their own neckties, I hold the opinion that marrying a system of grammar is NOT beyond the scope of plausibility.

    Is there any unambiguous evidence that ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST’s spouse is, in fact… a person?

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