David Cronenberg’s The Geek: September 30 – October 5, 2002

I always come up with such great excuses to get characters naked. Go me!

Also, my art in this strip is pretty good by my standards, especially the second panel with Dave looking up at the big unidentified overhead monitor. This is why I need to bother to do spot blacks.

It’s surprisingly thoughtful of Dave to leap to Helen’s defense in the last panel. He’s really warmed to Helen since they got stranded on the island. Maybe it was that sarong she went around in.

And another sign that Dave has changed a bit post-island: he’s mostly just relieved to see Helen pop out of the teleporter nude, as opposed to aroused and/or terrified, the two sensible reactions.

I went crazy with the grey fills this week. Not cool. But nobody cares because I also drew in a naked lady.

I remember Joey Manley, who did not often comment on Narbonic, predicting that the extra Dave biomatter would cause trouble later on. Alas, no, I just used it for a cheap joke and never brought it up again. I’m sorry.

Ugh, those fills are awful. Again, I’m sorry. I have a lot to apologize for in this strip.

Yeah, I basically just wrote this to explain why Dave hadn’t changed his hairstyle since getting off the island. In fact Dave never trimmed his hair back to its original brutally short length, because the readers and I decided we liked it better this way, but eventually he got a shave.

This was drawn long before there was an American “Iron Chef.” I don’t know what Dave would make of that.

This was one of the very first strips I wrote for this storyline. Yes, the whole long thing was just a buildup to the one time Dave gets to zing Helen. Enjoy it while you can, Dave.

I do like his pose in the last panel. It’s also one of those rare times you can see his eyes from the front. And no, I have no idea what Dave is building.

And thus the storyline ends: on a surprisingly victorious note for Dave. Could it be that being Dave isn’t really so awful after all? I’m really bad at all video games except for “Ms. Pac-Man” and “Super Mario Bros. 2,” so I sympathize with Helen here. Her hunched-over pose in the last panel is good. Her expression in the next-to-last panel was better in the thumbnail, though; I couldn’t get it to turn out the way I wanted in the final. It’s a little too exaggerated.

As mentioned before, this relatively brief storyline is part of a series of plots exploring what it means to be Dave. This theme reaches its apotheosis in the rapidly approaching and ridiculously long “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit.” But next up, more of Mell!

54 thoughts on “David Cronenberg’s The Geek: September 30 – October 5, 2002

  1. Dave may be leaping to Helen’s defense, or he may simply be upset that he didn’t call dibs himself. That’s fairly standard in this sort of situation, right? 

  2. Frankly, If I didn’t know what happens, I’d find the steaming teleporter somewhat ominous.

  3. Monday:

    “Carnivorous”? Mell hopes too highly.

    The problem of clothing, fillings and other non-biological accoutriments seems to be one that was fortuitously avoided by Dave’s re-jiggered island teleporter. But consider: this new teleporter is not actually teleporting Helen at all, but the biological corruption within her. While it’s hoped that the resultant extraction will cause her body to reconstruct itself (?!), there isn’t any reason to assume that her clothes will be affected at all by the procedure.

    But, given Helen’s decision for prudent nakedness, I’d also like to congratulate you on making the rejuvenating telepod appear fittingly, um, yonic.

    Today’s Trope Bingo: calling dibs on someone’s stuff.

  4. (TUNE: “I Gotta Be Me”, by Sammy Davis Jr.)

    Well, then, here we go …
    Did we do enough?
    If she’s turned into blobs of goo, me and you can just split up her stuff …
    I get her CD’s!  I get her CD’s!
    If she’s all ick, or dead as a brick,
    I get her CD’s!

  5. Ironically, it”ll be Artie and Mell who larer deal with a creditable imitation of a “carnivorous pus-monster”, at least in the Fanfic Annex!

  6. @David Harmon:

    Or, depending on how you look at it, earlier. (Supposedly, said fanfic takes place during the early part of D-Con.)

  7. Tuesday:

    Once again, sheer pluck and off-kilter derring-do overpower rationality and reason!

    It suddenly occurs to me with great force that every one of the main characters in Narbonic undergoes at least one full-body reconstruction, complete with resulting sublime nakedness, at least once in the run: Dave in 2001, Helen in 2002, Artie and Mell (insofar as transference between planes of existence counts as de/reconstruction) in 2005. It’s a… strange trend, but not all that inexplicable. Nobody can survive this sort of webcomic intact, it seems.

    Dave is too overcome to observe that Helen’s line in panel 3 really should be interpreted as a dig at his teleporter-rejiggering skills.

    And, of course, there simply must be purely aesthetic Art Noveau steam wafting out of that dark concavity. And it’s not even Censor Steam, either. (Which would simply be overspending this arc’s fanservice budget, in my opinion).

  8. You know, Artie, Mr. Spock didn’t get slapped around nearly as much as he ought to have been.  Nice close-up. You need a shave,  though.


    Mell: She’s baaaaaack…

    Dave: She’s front, too!

    Mell; AVERT! AVERT!

  9. Never mind the nudity – have we ever previously seen Helen without her specs?

    If the teleporty thing was supposed to transmit Dave only… is there a Dave (or partial Dave) floating around somewhere else now? (I really should read ahead and find out.)

  10. @Ed, you reminded me of an old Benny Hill ine:

    “Helen’s all white.”

    “All white? She’s absolutely wavishing.”

  11. I never took that look of Dave’s as relieved. More “Oh good, she’s alive, and DAMN!”


  12. Those gray fills came out looking good, at least. The earlier ones had a definite “flood fill in Photoshop” look to them but by this point it looks like you learned to expand your selection and clean up the edges and so on.

  13. Hmm… Had you read Niven’s World Out Of Time before writing this?  There’s a certain similarity to the main twist there….

  14. Helen’s expression in the last panel is enough to make me fall in love with her…if I hadn’t already.

  15. I love how the leftover Dave has spontaneously generated a cigarette.  (“I have no mouth, and I must smoke …”) 

    (TUNE: “Yesterday”, by The Beatles)

    Scrambled Dave ….
    All the DNA that Helen gave …
    Quantum particles collapse the wave,
    Oh, what a pseudoscience save …

  16. Well, potentially Dave weighs 250 pounds and Mell’s doubling it, but that still breaks conservation of mass.  Presumably Helen is lighter in her original form than as HelenDave, but there’s still a lot of mass left to allocate to Dave.

    I’m going to assume that Mell is just bad at estimating the mass of lumps of poorly-defined flesh and stop thinking about it.

  17. You’d think Mell has plenty of experience with masses of poorly-defined (and no longer living) flesh.

  18. Iron Chef!  Iron Chef!
    Here’s a tune that’s been done to death!
    Horrible!  I can’t look!
    Tony Stark … loves to cook!
    There goes the Iron Chef!

    (You can guess the tune, right?)

  19. Thursday:

    In today’s episode, the profound insights gained from having one’s conception of self broken down and rebuilt twice over end up amounting to hairstyle jokes.

    Weeks ago“? It was about, what, 14 days after the teleporter mishap (before which they were, you know, on the island) when Helen asked Dave out? And the day after was when she started looking for a fix, and assuming the new telepods took about a day of construction, that brings us to this strip. Hmmmm.

  20. Dave would have been appalled by Iron Chef USA with Shatner as the Chairman, but love Iron Chef America with Alton Brown as the commentator.

  21. @dvandom: I would pay cash to see Shatner attempt a backflip like theChairman does.  Let’s see him negotiate a lower price on six weeks in traction.

  22. Dude, Shatner was the only good thing about Iron Chef USA. He was the only one who actually took it seriously and wasn’t being all ironic about it.

  23. @David M

    Maybe Mell is including Dave in with the Dave mass. Wouldn’t they  both contribute to the smell of pure geek?

  24. Of course, as we now know, Dave usually has no idea what he’s building – yet.

  25. Friday:

    I suppose that, just for today, Helen and Dave really are equals in mad science-based harm and humiliation. But it won’t make the evil Helen any more receptive to his, ahem, perspective of things.

    It’s always interesting, in fiction, when a character does their impression of another character. It simultaneously says something about the imitator, the other, the imitator’s perception of and relationship to the other… and the imitator’s tact and skill at mimickry, or lack thereof. The only thing I would add to today’s demonstration is Dave swiping one of her lab coats to aid in the mockery.

    Zingers: 2.

  26. @Brad: Certainly she is, but no matter how you look at it 500 pounds is a lot of human flesh, and I don’t think M(Dave)+M(HelenDave)-M(Helen) works out to 500 lbs based on observable morphology unless Dave’s bones are really, really dense or he has a cybernetic body or something.

  27. (TUNE: “Don’t Be Cruel”, Elvis Presley)

    I’m finally back to me!
    My genes are back in line!
    Let’s sing out joyfully
    And drink some cheap-ass wine!
    Let’s be cruel
    To our cyber-fool!
    Then we’ll torture gerbils more …
    We’ll make ’em all watch “Heroes” Season 4!

  28. Leon:  The only thing I would add to today’s demonstration is Dave swiping one of her lab coats to aid in the mockery.

    But somehow, he’s gotten an extra pair of her glasses — Helen’s own glasses stay in side view for those two frames, but she does seem to be still wearing them!

  29. I assume that Dave’s grabbing the glasses when he goes offscreen in the second panel.

    Dave imitating Helen is really adorable.  There’s something extremely fun about seeing him be so mock-enthusiastic, and the little heart in the third panel totally sells it.

  30. So helen now has a teleporter… how long before it escapes andtries to kill everyone, like her other projects?

    And how are Dave and helen playing quake on an Atari 🙂
    Alex, 5 Oct 2002

  31. Saturday:

    A good ol’ post-transformation epilogue strip. Being in a different form for any length of time tends to broaden leave one’s horizons broadened when they return to their natural form. In this case, residual sympathy for Dave’s so-called hobbies.

    So Helen now has a teleporter… albeit one that may or may not be restricted by the location of the receiver pod. It’s still enough to make one wonder, though, why they only put it to use a few more times in the upcoming stories. Perhaps, for Dave, the allure of being able to teleport to work is mitigated by the obscene effect it has on one’s electricity bills?

    What It Means To Be Dave, As Told By Two Narbonic Storylines:
    * His first name is “Dave”.
    * He’s kind of revolting.

    All in all, this storyline manages to cover almost the same ground that the typical Freaky Friday story would cover (and the upcoming Doppelganger storyline will serve to cover further ground in that regard) while lampooning the Body Horror type of story. I’d have to call it an efficient storyline.

  32. (TUNE: “MacArthur Park”, by Jimmy Webb)

    My game of Quake is sweet, just like a cake!
    All my high scores rising, flowing up!
    Helen used to like it more than most …
    I don’t think that she can play now,
    ‘Cause she lost my DNA now
    And you know that she’ll most likely stink on toast!  (oh yeah!)

  33. What system are they playing Quake on with what looks like an Atari 2600 joystick?

    Did Dave port Quake to the Atari 2600?

  34. My fanboy retcon reflex automatically inserted a panel where they compromised on a console game instead of Quake, which had to be cut for time.  Dave agrees quickly, of course, because Quake is a Man’s game.  By that I mean, if you’ve got a handfull of smelly gamer dudes, you want them in their own cubicals, whereas if your adorable boss-slash-love interest wants to play a game, you suggest the couch!

     I am curious as to what console game Helen would have suggested as a compromise.  Any ideas?  Keep in mind that Dave could easily get a 2600-style joystick to work on a Nintendo, Genesis, Dreamcast, etc. 

  35. I noticed that myself, but then I figured yes, they were indeed playing Quake with Atari 2600 controllers. Because, y’know. Dave.

  36. I can basically only draw two types of controllers: Atari and NES.

    Leon, I’m pretty sure the staff’s reluctance to make casual use of the teleporter has something to do with all the genetic accidents. It happens the next time they use it, too.

  37. @Ed Gedeon

    I’m not an experienced filker, but it seems to me you’ve missed the most obvious lines from MacArthur Park to adapt. I know that resorting to the obvious could be seen as beneath some people, but the lines do adapt quite easily; working from four lines I read at a site I googled, and following its stanze breaks: 

    I somehow left my Quake Skills in the Dave

    I don’t think that I can play it<br>Though It hurts so much to say it<br>And I know I’ll just be Pwn’d again, oh no

  38. @Warren:  I *did* use those lines.  My lyrics “I don’t think that she can play now / ‘Cause she lost my DNA now” correspond to “I don’t think that I can take it / ‘Cause it took so long to bake it”.

    Neener, neener.

  39. I’m pretty sure they’re playing Worms Armageddon. That’s the only 2002-era game I can think of that you can play on a single screen with multiple people with controllers consisting of a joystick and a single easy-to-reach button. Obviously, the video card upgrade for Helen’s computer went away when she stopped being Dave, so they couldn’t play Quake against each other on the computers in the lab.

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