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<   No. 1604   2007-06-18   >

Comic #1604

1 Ginny: {approaching a door in the Vatican} And here's the last obstacle. The Vatican Library door with the lock designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
2 Minnesota Jones: Let me have a look. I know the sorts of things old Leo would do.
3 Monty: For the last time, Pop, you couldn't possibly have known da Vinci.
4 Minnesota Jones: Oh? He is a time traveller, you know.
4 Monty: Oh, good lord...
4 Ginny: I knew it!

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I had a devil of a time coming up with a script for this strip. I knew what had to happen: They had to come across the library door and the da Vinci lock, but I had a complete writer's block coming up with a gag.

I sort of roughed out the first three panels in my mind and recorded the dialogue, but the last panel still eluded me for days. In desperation, I decided to throw in the twist that Minnesota Jones is actually keeping his options open on claiming to have met Leonardo da Vinci. So what I originally wrote for the last panel was:

Minnesota Jones: Oh? He was a time traveller, you know.
I tried this out on a friend, who was less than enthusiastic, but said it would be okay if it led somewhere later on. Well, of course it leads somewhere later on. Everything does! But when I went to type it into my scripts file, I realised that if da Vinci was a time traveller, it'd be more fun to imply that he's still flitting around. Sure, he may have died back in the Renaissance, but that doesn't stop you meeting him tomorrow. Thus:
Minnesota Jones: Oh? He is a time traveller, you know.
A subtle change, but I think that improves things, by adding that tinge of surreality, and causing the suspicion that maybe Minnesota Jones really does know what he's talking about and isn't simply either talking through his hat or in the opening stages of senility. So I was kind of happy with that, enough to go ahead and shoot photos, but thinking it was still fairly weak, really. Then when I was putting the photos together and adding the captions, I realised I had some extra space and could squeeze in some more dialogue into the last panel. And what better than to add contrasting reactions from the two people who matter most?

Finally, I'm happy with this strip.

2017-08-13 Rerun commentary: More properly, one should call him "Leonardo", since that's his name, and not "da Vinci", which simply means "from Vinci", which is a small town in Tuscany. It's not a surname in the same sense as we understand it today - it's merely an indicator of birthplace so that you can distinguish this Leonardo from any other Leonardos you might happen to know. Contemporary Italians at the time would certainly have referred to him as "Leonardo", not "da Vinci".

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