I believe that panel 1’s “Dude” fella may be a reference to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode that eviscerated the low-budget film Time Chasers. Serious MST3K aficionados may remember the skit wherein Crow T. Robot travels back in time to berate no-account, 20-something Mullet Mike Nelson into changing his life. In the background of the cheese factory where Crow harangues Mullet Mike is slouched a low-key coworker of his, who responds to any statement or query with only a simple but versatile, “Dude.” So, Smoking While Fornicating Dude might be yet another g-d MST3K reference, after all.. or maybe not, as I can’t always recall precisely what was running through 2006-Era Me’s mind. (And let’s not even talk about 1996-Era Me, who’s even more of a mystery to my present-day self.)
I’ve long planned to reintroduce “Princess Arkashia” later on in Empowered, but have never quite found the opportunity to do so. Someday, though, I can reasonably promise that she will reappear, given that future volumes will hinge on defining more clearly the presently ill-defined menagerie of alien species that lurk on the periphery of the Empverse.
As panel 3 none too subtly hints, at the time I drew this story, I was an frequent listener of the radio show Loveline, back in the days when it boasted the classic line-up of Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla. As I so often heard back then, that is indeed the perpetually grumbling “Ace-Man” having to school yet another ignorant Loveline caller on proper radio etiquette. “Good times, good times,” as he used to say.