Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Comic 441: Too Many Problems To List Them All

I'd like to thank Mr. Randall Munroe, the creator of the ever popular xkcd comic strip, for remind me that he is a relationship with a female who is just as nerdy and quirky and cool as he is! I often forget this, because Mr. Munroe is so clever and funny nerdy that my brain automatically reverts to the belief that there is no woman worthy of him. But then, on those rarest of occasions when through his superhuman mind warping abilities, he detects that I have forgotten this fact - it is in this moment when he says to himself, in his attractive but nerdy voice, "SO BE IT. I must make another comic. A comic to remind people. To remind them of my love. And how quirky it is. I choose not this task; fate has chosen it for me." And then, with a flutter of wind, he retreats to his lair and begins to draw. Such is the life of a webcomic artist. I thank you again for your service.


Seriously, where do I start with this one?
-Ok yeah you are old enough to have kids but you are in your mid-twenties I think. You've been able to have kids for about the past decade. This is nothing new.

-Seriously, when are you going to get sick of the "Ha ha! I'm treating something alive likes it's a machine or vice versa!" joke? Your joke here is nearly identical to comic 218.

-Any part of this joke that isn't exactly like 218 is pretty damn close to 387.

-Lastly: I am not a woman, but I suspect that if I were, and if I had just given birth, I would not use the sentence "Sweet! We made a baby!" I suspect that I would say, "Sweet! I made a baby! You sat and did nothing!"


Update: I went and made a list of all the times we've seen the living thing/machine idea. It's over on the left in the Repeat Offenders column, and right here.


  1. xkcd blows goat dicks

  2. OKAY.

    Well that's a bit more than I would say but hey, whatever.

  3. I think that what you guys are doing here is kind of messed up. I found this blog tonight and decided to take a look over it. After all, it might have some good points? But all I really found was a sarcastic, bitter, and generally misunderstood critique of comics that you don't need to critique; if they're really so bad, XKCD wouldn't have the massive following that it does.

    It seems to me that you don't understand the rather specific humour in most of his comics- after all, reading over your review of comic 434 (XKCD Goes to the Airport) I noticed that you took "man page" to be a mispelling of "main page." While this isn't really evidence in itself to anything particular, it demonstrates a clear lack of understanding for the humour that he uses- humour that is not going to be understood by a large majority of the population.

    You have.. two regular readers (who post feedback, at least). This isn't something you should feel proud that you do; you are not a martyr for baring yourself to the XKCD-sympathetic world. I found it rather sad that you're taking the creative work of an entirely unrelated person to you and mocking it with completely unfounded and unqualified principles of what constitutes pure or good humour.

  4. I agree with the guy above me, your critiques are kind of ridiculous. Specifically because you assume that every comic is specifically about the author or something in his life.

    But, this argument is retarded in every way: "if they're really so bad, XKCD wouldn't have the massive following that it does."

    Popularity is not quality. Look at pop music.

  5. Perhaps a flying girl should drop Carl in front of Randall so they can recognize each other's humanity and the ire can stop.

    OR, Carl can continue criticizing XKCD out of what seems to be a love for the series, sometimes veering into ridiculous territory. That'd be fine and entertaining in my book.

    Legit criticism: #441 is yet another example of the comic announcing a premise that's already in the comic. Heck, the top caption should be re-fitted as the fourth line of dialog.

  6. Oh goodness so much to respond to. I'll start at the top.

    "a sarcastic, bitter, and generally misunderstood critique" that is awesome. I should put that at the top of my blog all the time. I am indeed bitter. And I am indeed sarcastic (please do not tell me sarcasm is a bad thing, it is, according to xkcd's main page, one thing that the comic is of).

    Soon after the "manpage" thing I realized I was wrong, I should have gone back and corrected it. You are right. Though to be fair, I did say "I assumed "manpage" was a typo for "mainpage" only because I've heard of those."

    I think I am enough of a computer person to get most of the jokes (I mean, I am running linux right now, so it's not like I'm totally an idiot at this stuff) and when I don't get the jokes, the forums can usually help me out. I wouldn't say there are too many comics where I don't get the jokes, usually it's just that they aren't funny.

    If it makes you feel better, I am not particularly proud of what I do. I don't know why I started doing it or why I've continued, or how long I will keep doing it.

    And please, please don't give me the "well it must be good because other people like it" argument. That's ridiculously illogical.

    On to the comment #4! True, I shouldn't assume that every comic (especially the relationship ones) are about his life. After all, if so, he would have had several marriages by now, not to mention several happy relationships as well as an unfortunate restraining order concurrently. Nonetheless, in this particular comic, I can feel pretty sure that he is referring to himself and people of about his age. After all, who else would it be? Too much younger and they can't have kids, too much older and they are comfortable with the idea. And any other age and he wouldn't care, so he wouldn't make a comic of it.

    I agree on the foolish logic of comment #3! I'm glad we agree on something.

    Comment #5! I don't think of myself as angry with Randall. More disappointed. I wouldn't criticize it so much if I didn't care, but I feel weird because as I see it, the comic used to be good, started getting bad, shows no signs of improvement in the future, and I feel upset. I have, in fact, been told that I am treating the comic like I just had a bad breakup with it. This made me laugh, but it's true.

    If you'd like, think of me as a dottering old mad who doesn't understand these Computro-Trons and these Interwebnets and I just like to complain that back in my day, we used sticks to count, the army knew how to fight a war, and kids were respectful to their elders and wore a decent amount of clothing.

    ANYWAY thanks for the feedback gang, and if you think I'm a bitter, humorless idiot feel free to spend time elsewhere (I recommend, as I always do,

  7. >>-Lastly: I am not a woman, but I suspect that if I were, and if I had just given birth, I would not use the sentence "Sweet! We made a baby!" I suspect that I would say, "Sweet! I made a baby! You sat and did nothing!"

    I am a woman, and I can tell you right now that you can't make a baby without a man being involved in some way. Yeah, the women have to do all the hard parts, and for that we definitely deserve some special acknowledgment, but when my husband and I have a baby, WE will have made it.

    I found this cartoon hilarious. I don't think it is nearly identical to the others mentioned. Variations on the same theme are not the same joke. This criticism is like complaining about Monet painting the Rouen Cathedral a gazillion times.

  8. -Ok yeah you are old enough to have kids but you are in your mid-twenties I think. You've been able to have kids for about the past decade. This is nothing new.

    The joke is obviously about maturity level and perception of self, not chronological age. It is the mentality of, 'holy crap, I'm going to be a parent! I suddenly don't feel so young anymore.' Duh.

    -Seriously, when are you going to get sick of the "Ha ha! I'm treating something alive likes it's a machine or vice versa!" joke? Your joke here is nearly identical to comic 218.

    What comic or comedian tells only one joke per topic? There are many successful and innovative comedians and comic artists who spent there career tells all different kinds of jokes on the same general theme.

    -Lastly: I am not a woman, but I suspect that if I were, and if I had just given birth, I would not use the sentence "Sweet! We made a baby!" I suspect that I would say, "Sweet! I made a baby! You sat and did nothing!"

    Men refer to their offspring as "my son" or "my daughter". Couples refer to them as "our children." Biologically, both the man and woman make the baby, and emotionally, if they are a couple and raise the child together, certainly the man has no less association with being responsible for the child.

    I think you are just looking for things to complain about.

  9. I wonder why this post has gotten the longest and most serious discussions in the comments. Probably just because I made the tone of the original post so angry. Not that I regret it. This blog serves no purpose if it doesn't generate controversy on the nature of humor.

    Anon - UM YEAH I knew that men were needed to make babies. I'm pretty sure I understand that process. Also the fact that you refer to both a spouse and Monet in a mere two paragraphs proves that you are clearly the most mature and intellectual commenter I've gotten yet (no offense, other guys, I love you all, but come on - Rouen Cathedral? You are not nearly at that level).

    Anyway where was I. You may very well be right on the We vs I issue, nonetheless, I still think there is a level of equality (4 "We"s vs. 0 "I"s) that strikes me as odd. I was probably a bit too disparaging towards the father in this case, but still - am I wrong to say the woman does substantially more work and goes through substantially more pain during pregnancy and birth? It's really not that important though, so if you still disagree that's fine.

    As to whether it's too similar to 218 I am going to have to stand firm. In each case, the idea is a) My generation is clearly not ready for the responsibilities we currently have, and b) so we are treating something serious and involving a human life as though it were some kind of toy, game, or electronic machine.

    Why do I think 218 is hilarious but this one sucks, given how similar they are? Good question. In part, 218 came first, so it felt more original. But it's not just that - 218 is also much more specific (in general, details = Laffs A Plenty), and the image it conjures is a bit less disturbing. Plus I simply have a very special place in my heart (no irony intended, for real) for the NES. It is not something I can control. Also I think it's funnier because anyone can fuck up raising kids, but the idea that you could be so bad at surgery but somehow manage to become a surgeon is funnier.

    As to Monet - the difference I see is that those paintings were made as part of a series. It's not like Money was sitting there going "oh MAN I need to sell some paintings - hey, everyone liked that one I did of that cathedral, let's whip up some more!" As far as I know.

    Of course there are differences (for one, it's not like the heart surgery comic was the most popular thing he's ever done [though if he writes a "sudo bake me a cake" comic I will kick him in the balls]) but still - they aren't meant to go together, as I see it, and I'm the only one saying they form a sort of series. I'm sure if you asked him, he would say something more along the they-are-different line rather than they-form-a-series.


    Marf - Of course the joke is about maturity level and not age. That's clearly the point. He's saying "while I'm biologically capable of having kids, I am not psychologically ready", to phrase it in a totally humorless way. But my point was that he's been biologically capable for at least a decade, probably, and unless he never thought about it or unless he was mature enough then but isn't now, I wonder what took him so long. I for one think it is terrifying that under some circumstances I could have kids now. But I thought that when I was 15. Nothing new.

    You have also stumbled upon a difference between comic strips and stand-up comedy. A comedian tells jokes that are designed, usually, to flow and relate to each other and vary around a similar idea. Comic strips (and single panel comics, and webcomics, etc) generally don't. Or if they do, they are very broad - the difficulties of living with teenagers, say, or the traits of specific characters. The ones whose topics are too narrow - a kid who always causes trouble, a cat who is lazy - these comics suck.

    George Carlin told a great many jokes on language, a broad topic. Carlos Mencia tells jokes about stereotypes about Mexicans. One of these is broad, one is narrow. One of these is an icon of comedy getting the Mark Twain award for humor, one is a hack who is possibly the worst working comic in America today. You see the difference? "Treating a living thing like a computer or vice-versa" is narrow enough and common enough that Yahtzee Croshaw specifically mentioned it in his video about sucky webcomics.

    Relevant text - "all you have to do is apply video game logic to the real world for comic effect" He's talking about video games of course, because that's what he does, but you get the idea. A comic - especially one that only updates three times a week - will not have the flow and spontenaity of a stand-up routine, no matter how hard it tries. Give me an example of a comedian - a good comedian - who got famous on that one topic and I'll reconsider. (there's one I can think of but we'll see if you mention this person and we'll go from there...)

    And lastly, jesus maybe I should have left that "we" vs "I" point out if people are going to totally misunderstand what I meant. I would argue that biologically, a man and woman make a zygote (like anon above, did you think I had missed that in Bio class? Or life in general?) but not a baby. The woman does most of the work in turning the zygote into the baby. As my good pal Barack Obama says, "Any fool can make a baby." I'm not talking about who raises the child - as you say, ideally two parents raise the child - but neither is randall. He and I are only talking about "making" the child, and that's basically what a woman does.

    As to whether I am just looking for things to complain about, that is a legitiamte critique. Obviously having started a website at colors how I view the comic. I try to be objective, but if you think I failed that it totally allowed.

  10. sorry, i err just wanted to point out that the only people who post abotu how crap xkcd is are the ones that write the stupid blog. the rest of us know theyre full of shit.

  11. Carl, you have to admit that males do play a role in the reproductive process.

  12. And plus, what's with the "COME ON RANDALL YOU CAN TRY HARDER"? Anything Randall tries you criticize, regardless of how funny his work actually is.

  13. but that's because he never tries very hard to be funny! or he is trying and failing, in which case I amend my statement to become GET A NEW JOB, RANDALL

  14. Strangely enough, Carl, that's exactly how I was feeling the day I gave birth. Last Monday. Maybe you just don't have the same sense of humor we do. ;)

    I used to think I would be offended by the "we" made a baby thing, or "we" had a baby, becuase it was ME who would do all the work. But now, and I don't know why, it's totally a "we" thing. And I think almost every parent is amazed that we could be trusted with the responsibility of children.

    Anyway. I found this post because I couldn't remember which comic number this one was. Ha ha. I guess you and Randall Munroe don't share the same sense of humor at all. I, personally, find his stuff hilarious.

  15. I agree with you Carl (although I'm late to the party) that 218 was actually kind of funny (still kind of disturbing no matter how audacious the scenario) whereas this one wasn't. Forget all the crap about "we" vs. "I" because as was demonstrated above everyone will just walk over you for being a dick and only trying to find bad criticisms of the comic because you can't find anything else to critique about.

    I personally felt that just the premise given with the guy's (read: Randall Munroe) comments to his "wife" about if they made the baby wrong and that they should disassemble it is COMPLETELY unnecessary, I wouldn't say it is contrived dialogue, but it falls under that category of things you just fucking would never say in real life, TO ANYONE.

    As seen in other comments on this blog, this I think is some of the worst dialogue to come from Randall, worse than "can you do me without a condom?" because of what this dialogue is implying. Randall may be trying to make a crack that he doesn't believe that he's mature enough to be a parent but... why the fuck did you think it was a good idea to say "we should disassemble it, check all the parts and put it back together"? The premise you are putting forward with that comment is that you think there are people in the world who do not understand that you can do that with machines because that is how they were built but you CAN'T do that with humans and animals.

    Really Carl, you should have just stuck with that critique, because it's a good thing to talk about and it wouldn't have led to all this whining from the xkcd fans (but that doesn't matter since I'm late to this party ;P)

  16. I just gotta point this out. I was reading your critique, and as I clicked the comics that you linked to show the similarities between them, I laughed at both of them, and still thought this one was funny.

    You do have a valid point about the parents in this comic being horrible and not funny, but the way it's presented gives it a humorous spin.

    And the point of all of the we vs. I stuff was for it to seem more as a problem for both of them rather than hostility toward one or the other. Because seriously how would it have sounded if they had said

    "Sweet! I made a baby!"
    "Are you sure you did it right?"

    Obviously, it sounds a bit like the man is accusing the woman of incompetence, which would be MUCH more offensive than the man taking some credit for the formation of a child.

    Anyway, unlike most of the xkcd fanboys who try to flame you, I do see why you do this. It's first to criticize xkcd for not being as good as it used to be, and pissing off all of the fanboys is just a bonus. At least, that's the impression I get.

  17. Hello! nice post dude. You must be the best in this. i hope to learn a lot of things about comics and cartoons in this website.