Here is the wrap-up. Thanks to everyone who has contributed comments (mostly offline) to improve this story. I am hoping this comes in handy for class next year. If you find it useful for your classes, please let me know. If you re not a teacher or scientist, let me know if any of this made sense. You can read the entire story over at the ATP post.
For those interested in process, I altered the visuals of the ending after I had finished inking. A full description can be found below the page.
Tweaking the ending. Personally, I really like this ending. It made Lisa laugh out loud which is a pretty good indicator of success. Anyway, in the final version (above) the image from the penultimate panel is repeated for the last panel. However, the original final sequence looked like this:
Everything is the same except that Wilbur is holding the dummy’s head in the last panel. This pose is the pose that I had always imagined drawing when I finished the script but it left me vaguely unsatisfied. Something was off, and I think the problem was the implied motion. A lot has to happen between the two panels: Wilbur has to turn, bend over and pick-up the head. For me, knowing all of that had happened threw off the timing of the joke. At some level I like the the “angry antenna” in the original, but the deadpan of the final version implies an ongoing exasperation that Wilbur has with the dummy, as if some rivalry exists between the two to which we are not privy. The timing on the second also feels right, now, and that is the most important aspect for an ending, in my opinion.