Yes, Dave’s evil instincts are developing nicely, unlike my artwork. Man, I drew giant puffy sneakers back then.

There’s not much else going on in this strip, so I might as well talk a little about process. I drew the non-Sunday Narbonic strips in batches of six. After the first month or so, I quickly evolved an assembly-line method in which I drew six sets of panels at once, then did all the pencilling, then lettering, then inks. Spot blacks and shading came last.

I drew the strips with Micron technical pens. The early strips were mostly inked with an 03 size Micron; later, I moved up to a fatter 05 to get a slightly stronger line. I now use an 08 Micron for a lot of drawing, but in Narbonic I used the 08 only for lettering. I think these early strips were drawn only with an 03 and a skinny little 01 for details.

Yeah, I know, fascinating.

Later, of course, this escape effort will cause serious post-time-travel continuity problems. Fortunately, my nerdy friends will be able to help me explain things.

Everybody’s heads are still way too big and their legs way too small. This gets better eventually, I swear.

I like that my lettering is so bad I can’t even sign my name straight.

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How badly can I spell “que sera, sera”? Quite badly, as it turns out. I ought to fix this, but I didn’t fix it in the print collection, so there’s probably no point now.

As Joey will probably be happy to point out in the podcast, this is about as action-packed as Narbonic ever gets. Drawing people moving around: not my strong suit.

I worked temp jobs in the summers during high school and college, like a lot of people. Temping was not fun, but at least it beat my all-time least-favorite nightmare job: conducting phone surveys for magazines, political candidates, and NBC News, which I did at a depressing little phone bank for two summers when I couldn’t find work anywhere else. Talk about evil. Worst job for an introvert EVER.

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There’s a certain good-natured dumbness to some of these gags that I kind of like now. This attempt at reverse psychology is an example. It’s silly, and a little stupid, and Dave’s oddly mincing little pose in the second panel makes me smile.

At this point, the twelve people reading Narbonic, most of whom were close friends, started to email me to complain that the conveyor belt was moving REALLY slowly. Dave should’ve been sliced in twain, with or without Freudian undertones, back around Monday.

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All though the six and a half years of Narbonic, I never, ever, lost my taste for cliffhangers with “To Be Continued!” written at the bottom. It’s one of those things that I, as a comics aficianado, am hard-wired to love unconditionally, like giant cartoon sweatdrops and cigarettes that hover mysteriously in the air in front of someone’s mouth while he talks.

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Panels 3 and 4 break the old rule that you shouldn’t flip the viewpoint 180 degrees between panels. It’s totally distracting. But it was about the best I could do at the time. And Helen does look pretty cool.

In the Narboniverse, a rope-swinging rescue invariably represents the prelude to romance (albeit sometimes unrequited). This is not, by any means, the last time this will come up.

I invented the term “Narboniverse.” Yes, I’m very sorry.

Meanwhile, on this date, unbeknownst to me, a group of my friends launched the still-active Narbonic mailing list, moderated by Dave Barker. They alerted me to the existence of the list a few days later, through means that I’ll have to explain in an upcoming installment. You kind of had to be there.

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6 thoughts on “ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST: September 4-9, 2000

  1. Tuesday’s Comic: Neither of the two explanations given in “Continuity Repairs With Rob and Andy” manage to adequately explain this, as they both assume that Helen already has her hands freed. Better explanation: Dave simply chewed through the ropes, which are inexplicably edible?

  2. Or they were perfectly positioned so that when Dave leans forward, the sunlight coming in through the window passes through his eyeglasses, magnifying the rays so that they effectively burn through the ropes.

    Hooray glasses!

  3. Obviously some slight change in mannerism that replaces lighting a cigarette (most likely cleaning his glasses) resulted in them being broken earlier in the sequence.  As a habitual glasses wearer he simply put them back on with the broken (real glass) lens in place.  He then used this to cut through the ropes, risking his eyesight to do it.

  4. Personally, I never saw a continuity problem when Dave changed time and forced himself to stop smoking. The events pictured here happened the way they happened when Dave was smoking. The obvious conclusion is that other events in the past also had to change. Since none of the characters ever made reference to how they got out of these situations, it’s left up to the readers immagination as to how these events transpired in the smokeless Dave’s timeline.

    Considering that the heros of the… um… VILLAINS of the story are mad scientiests, it’s not they really worry about making sure things such as cause comes before things such as the effect. Considering that they start playing around with time-machines, there’s always the Bill and Ted way out… which is aweful cheesy, but involves lots of going back in time and cleverly placing of objects they’ll find useful

    Of course, there’s also the Schlock Mercenary way. Which is to reference the event after it’s happened in such a way that the reader is left wondering as to the actual events :'s an effective technique, and can you imagine Antonio whining about the unexpected aid from Helen’s glasses? 


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