Monday, August 11, 2008

Comic 460: xkcd was also better when it was underground

ok ok ok I know that the point of this strip is just a pun, and I shouldn't take the first 3 panels seriously, but I must. The pun is only as strong as its foundation, and I'm not sure this foundation makes sense. Dinosaurs are always underground (in the literal sense) regardless of whether Hollywood makes a movie about them or not. I might believe that "Today's grad students....don't care about fossils" if there were anything else for paleontologists to study (say, if there were an actual Jurassic Park with actual dinosaurs to study). I don't think you get to grad levels of studying Dinosaurs without branching out just a tad bit from what is in a movie (and its terrible, terrible sequels...)

The problem with all this is that all the female character is saying is that she is bitter that today's new paleontologists are only into it because it is cool (or was, 15 years ago...) and that she was into it before it was cool. The pun is supposed to be that when they were not popular ("underground") they were also literally underground. And that only makes if paleontology is no longer about digging up bones (false, as far as I know) or if the Jurassic Park mania were still going on (certainly not the case). So it all adds up to basically just a tired and lame pun, and it's that kind of pun that gives the others a bad name.

I don't like Randall acting like he's an expert on all sorts of random fields. Obviously he can make plenty of computer science references because that's his thing but to get into details of paleontology seems kind of pretentious to me.

Also, while I respect the stick-figure style randall uses, it gets weird when you can't tell anything about a character - in this case, the characters' ages. Obviously they are older, but the kids they are complaining about look exactly the same in the comic.


  1. You may find this link relevant when thinking about #461:

  2. CRAP.

    Thank you so much for that - I haven't yet finished the Penny Arcade archives so I hadn't seen it.

    I was actually all prepared to write a really nice post about 461 (seriously, I really liked it) and this changes everything. I mean Penny Arcade is damn popular, xkcd even parodied it...and Randall's comic is damn, damn close.


    I wonder if anyone on the forums is talking about this.

    Thanks again.