Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: September 29 – October 4, 2003

I’m sure I’m not the only person to guess, back in 2003, that Britney Spears would have some kind of meltdown upon hitting full
adulthood and drop out of public favor, thus setting the stage for a terrifying comeback years down the road. It was pretty obvious. I
just want to be praised anyway for being correct.

Mell indicates that the future has CO2-related global warming but a “clean” atmosphere. That’s not a contradiction. The air pollutants
that irritate the lungs and eyes are different from CO2, which people can breathe comfortably. The people in Mell’s future took care of
one problem but not the other.

Global warming is probably an ongoing concern where Mell and Dave are right now. They’re constantly losing real estate.

[SPOILERS] Oh boy! Foreshadowing! I set this up to sound like a one-off gag, though I’d already planned for Dave to have a
computerized girlfriend later in Narbonic. I like it when you can’t tell whether the strip is kidding on the square.

This also echoes the earlier strip where Dave’s high-school buddy wants to know when he’s going to lose his virginity. I’m sorry for
repeating the gag, but I like it when characters have dumb questions about the future.

I don’t have much to say about this strip, but I like that they have an escalator. That’s useful, and also easy to draw.

I didn’t go into a lot of detail in the strip, but the concept in the back of my head here was that Mell, an inexperienced but charismatic
youngish politician, runs as Vice-President on the Republican ticket (I thought the Republicans would be more successful running a
woman than the Democrats, because they could court crossover votes more easily) with a trustworthy old white guy as the
presidential candidate. Once they’re elected, she has him quietly assassinated, which doesn’t look suspicious because he’s old and
has a weak heart, and takes over the Presidency.

Imagine my annoyance when the GOP lifted my entire idea for their 2008 presidential campaign. That was so rude. They know I’m
just a webcartoonist. I can’t fight infringement on that level.

I love the hell out of the old Marvel “Here Comes the Hulk/There Goes the Hulk” T-shirt. It appears many times in Narbonic.

As do shameless fakeout cliffhangers.

And now Dave is wearing, like, a completely different Marvel T-shirt. This strip has no respect for continuity.

[SPOILER] That’s so obviously not Helen, isn’t it?

46 thoughts on “Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: September 29 – October 4, 2003

  1. Hmm.  Just to play devil’s advocate, technically Mell agrees that ice caps are melting and that there’s mass extinction, not to global warming per say.  Were we to ignore the Word of Sarge, it’s possible they’ve fixed global warming, but the ice caps are being melted and species becoming extinct for some other reason.  Possibly involving Helen’s mom.

  2. Are Dave’s lungs burning because he’s been smoking for thirty years, or because he automatically lit up a cigarette (just like he did when in Madblood form), in spite of the fact that he’s never smoked?

    Or hasn’t he never smoked yet?  And if he has never smoked already, why wouldn’t Mell mention it?  (“Dave, you’re smoking!”  “Thanks Mell, you’re pretty hot yourself…”)

  3. Perhaps since Mell knows (SPOILER) she’s going to destroy the universe to send some VHS tapes back in time, she’s just savoring the future.

    As a life-long bachlor, there’s no way Dave would still have a sense of taste. 

    The smoking wouldn’t have helped either.

  4. Tuesday:

    When you first read this strip, the idea that Dave’s only recently been successful with a computer seems merely pathetic. When you read this strip today, you (for instance, I) can’t help but think of this development as a bit sad. Which is basically the same emotion, but on an entirely different level of sincerity. It’s funny how this webcomic works.

    Mell has developed a good fool-suffering expression. And in panel 1 I’m reminded of Charles Schulz’s famous apostrophe eyes.

  5. (TUNE: “Kodachrome”, Paul Simon)

    When I ask Mell about the twenty years I missed now …
    Got no wife, no girlfriend and no hair!
    As for the only recent girl that I have kissed now,
    She was made of photons and thin air!

      I love the way she’s rendered,
      Shapely and female gendered!
      Better than any plasma screen display, oh yeah!
      ‘Cause she can handle quibits
      That can enhance a few bits!
      Kelly, don’t harsh … my hologram today!

    If you take all the human girls that I have dated,
    Had ’em all lined up in front of me …
    I’d say that flesh and blood is highly over-rated!
    Girls look better rendered in 3-D!
      (repeat chorus)

    Kelly, don’t harsh my hologram!
    Kelly, don’t harsh my hologram!
    Kelly, don’t harsh my hologram today!
    Kelly, don’t harsh my hologram!
    I know you don’t give a damn!
    Kelly, don’t harsh my hologram today …

  6. @Leon: Are you kidding?  Anyone can have a relationship with a meat.  Having a relationship with a computerized hologram is SERIOUS geek cred!  I mean, it was good enough for Geordi LaForge, right?

  7. I wonder if they found Lovelace’s backup in this timeline.  If they didn’t, he last relationship was with a hologram… nearly twenty years before this strip.  Ouch.

  8. Wednesday:

    I mean, sure, I’ve often groused about the preposterous cosmic machinations that have bestowed this undeserving creature with a plentiful bounty of boons with little to no retribution, but I’ll permit Ms. Kelly, just for now, to appreciate this quiet moment of triumph.

  9. The sign in the first panel: “Violators will be …” what?  Prosecuted?  Executed?  Maybe persecuted … the Secret Service team will start calling you at 3am and hanging up, or ringing your doorbell and running away, or going up to your doorstep and leaving a flaming bag of C4 …

  10. Hm, at that angle is it more likely to be a stepped escalator or simply a sloped conveyor belt?

  11. DvD:  Stepped, definitely.  If they were standing on a slope at that angle, you’d see it in their posture.


  12. Of course, the GOP missed two aspects of this storyline.  First, they neglected to make their candidate give up her glasses for contacts.  (And pin-striped suits.)  And then (perhaps for this reason?) they neglected to win!

  13. Webcartoons Palin comparison to real life.  I would totally vote for Mell on any ticket.  (Because I want to live, that’s why.)

  14. I don’t think that’s a good long-term survival strategy, Ed. I doubt Mell has the time or attention span to track down and kill all opposition voters, and the chain of events that includes her being elected Vice-President ends with her SPOILER destroying the entire universe.

  15. … Huh. Actually, now that I really think about it, Mell probably would have to put on a whole folksy / Reagan kind of act to really bring in the votes. (She could probably get Dave to build her some robo-kids – you know, for the single mother vote). So her public face probably *would* be a lot like Palin…

  16. Actually, the Dems had already tried this with Ferraro and Wossname some years before Narbonic, unfortunately.  Didn’t work then, either.

  17. I’ve always been fond of the exchange in the last panel; it just sums up so much about both the characters somehow.

  18. McCormick: “The other party’s got an incredibly charismatic candidate? Well… uh… we’ve got a babe!”

  19. Oh my gosh. That sounds like an amazing shirt.

    I want to marvel at it, but Google Images won’t help me.

  20. Come to think of it, Mell couldn’t have run as a Republican!


    Back in “Mell Expelled,” her college classmates think of her as the nice girl who helps out at Peace Rallies and gives speeches in favor of Gun Control (origional air date:  October 12, 2002).  In the following week (October 17 – 18, 2002), she makes it clear that this is the way that her classmates do and will remember her.

    This is an obvious career-killer for any Republican running for national office.  In “reality,” Mell may be almost as much of a gun nut as Sarah Palin, but opposition research (either by other Republicans in the primaries, or by Democrats in the main shindig) would find this commie-liberal-peacenik past of hers, and kill her chances right then and there.

    Now, if Mell had only been herself in college, then she might have a chance as a Republican . . .


  21. Actually, this whole sequence had a narrow escape.  Mell claims that it would have been impossible for her to be elected President, largely because she’s female.  (Which is why she’s only Vice President.)  Yet, we came very, very close to having a female President.  Had Ms. Clinton (whose public presentation is much closer to that of VP Mell than Palin’s is) not bungled the primaries, she would surely be POTUS at this very minute, making a mockery of Mell’s rationalizations and doubtless puncturing her normally impregnable self-image!  (There wasn’t really any way that the party of old tired white men was going to win that election!)  So let’s all be glad that things turned out the way that they did!

  22. Friday:

    If there’s one thing that I can’t help but wish for more of in this storyline, it’s the somewhat gloomy juxtaposition of Dave’s gloomy middle age with his cheery childhood.

    Fourth-wall dialogue: 43.

  23. @Grant:  I think what she was trying to establish was that Mell Kelly is a smart, compassionate, and politically active young lady, who is ready and willing to cheerfully help you out if you’ll let her.  She’s not trying to cover up a particular political stance as much as her generally sociopathic nature.  This is one of the areas where she beats Helen; when Helen goes to her High School Reunion, everyone is terrified of her (one girl still has a tail).  When Mell visits campus, everyone *loves* her.  Now ask yourself which of the two is scarier.

  24. @Mikekozar: Oh, I agree that Mell was just trying to appear helpful, friendly, kind, smart, etc., to establish a politically-necessary veneer.  It’s just that the methods she used to implement this will make her unsuitable as a Republican.

    She made the the mistake of always saying, “If I am X, then I will appear ~X!”  In some of these cases, it might have been better to say, “If I am X, then I will appear 0.01?X!”

    Of course, in most American universities and colleges from the 1990s to the present (and even back in my day — I graduated back in 1977 from the University of Louisville), the social climate is so far to the left that what seems like a “middle-of-the-road” position is seen by most of America as decidedly leftist.

    Helen has a nice personality (for the most part), but is insane, and she is willing to follow her insanity to wherever it takes her, and is smart enough to go very, very far indeed.  Mell, on the other hand, just wants to kill things and break people, but it sane enough and smart enough to delay it to the point of full gratification.  She is, indeed, far scarier then Helen.  As Mell herself points out later on, even though she is surrounded by geniuses, she is the one who usually gets her way.

    And in the “Dave kept smoking” world, Mell got herself all the way to the Oval Office.  But with her history, it’s not a Republican butt on the seat of power.

  25. Actually, Mell’s claim is not impossible in a situation where a woman has been elected president. If a there were a woman president elected that did a spectularly poor job, or at least were exceedingly unpopular, that could make future female candidates supremely unlikely to win.

    Just a thought.

  26. Mell says only that a young, short woman couldn’t get elected President in her present’s media climate. Not only does that not preclude the possibility of a more favorable media climate at some point in her past, the 2023 that this Mell is speaking from is part of a timeline that diverged from ours by 2006 at the latest. There’s no reason to believe that the 2008 elections in the Dark Future timeline had any particular resemblance to the elections in our 2008. In fact, given the cataclysmic events of the Dark Future timeline’s 2006, it’d be more surprising if the 2008 election wasn’t radically different. It’s easy to imagine Hillary Clinton being pushed aside in the Dark Future in favor of candidates perceived as being tougher on Mad Science…

  27. Saturday:

    Davey has gotten pretty good practice at summarising his situation to himself.

    What are the odds that Dave and one or both Helen Narbons (or possibly “Helens Narbon”) would happen to have been in the same ballpark so long ago? Dave here thinks it suspiciously fortuitous that Helen intentionally found him with a time machine, but he will soon have to consider the suspicious fortune of him being the time traveler who accidentally finds Helen.

  28. (TUNE: “Rock And Roll All Night”, KISS)

    Well, this is great, you’re stuck at six …
    You watch your brother practice his kicks …
    You’d rather not, but Mom won’t let you!
    When all at once, you hear a “Yoo hoo!”
    Familiar voice is calling, “Where are you?
    How many spots can one kid get to?”

    That looks like Helen!
    She keeps on yellin’ …

    I’ve some Swiss Cake Rolls today … and Nutter Butters tonight!
    I’ve some Swiss Cake Rolls today … and Nutter Butters tonight!
    I’ve some Swiss Cake Rolls today … and Nutter Butters tonight!
    I’ve some Swiss Cake Rolls today … and Nutter Butters tonight …

  29. “Most readers get as far as the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagak Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up; and in fact in later editions of the book all the pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs.”

  30. @Ed: Why would we interpret that as a KISS filk when it would be so much better as a Wesley Willis tribute?

  31. You know, at the time, this must have seemed like a terrible distopian future. Now, it seems like a great idea compared to where we’ve gone.

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