Thursday, September 11, 2008

Comic 474: Large Humor Collider

hm, this isn't right...
I'm not going to write too much - in order to preserve my creative energies for the newest comic, 475,- but this is generally a good effort. It's more clever than funny, but I have to give him credit for getting all six flavors of quark in there with only two (in my opinion) awkwardly forced in (namely Top and Bottom). The first three panels aren't really needed I think, this could have made a nice single panel strip. But in general, I say it's a step in the right direction. It would be nice if I thought that more often....

Anyone want to disagree with me?


  1. This one didn't do it for me, it really isn't anything we haven't seen before. But I agree with you that this would be a nice one panel comic. As it stands, its:
    Panel One: Science Pick-Up Line
    Panel Two: Serious rebuttal to stupid thoughts
    Panel Three and Four: You can find love in strange places.

    Honestly, it feels a lot like another "we're quirky...and so is our relationship!" Except they're more nerdy than quirky

    Somehow it just seems like one of Randall's wet dreams


    oh man I can't believe I didn't think of that before.

    everyone make sure you get the joke, by the way, this comic is more obscure than usual - quarks come in 6 varieties (known as flavors), which are Top, Bottom, Up, Down, Charm, and Strange, and the idea is that Randall worked all those words, in some form, into the last panel. It took me a while, which is why I'm writing this.

  3. Ah. I did not get that at all.

    I hope you're having fun writing about the latest comic; the people in LJ world are having a right panic because there is no alt-text.

  4. I felt that "straight down" was an awkward turn of phrase. It should read:

    "So, you're down for a night with a charming stranger? . . . Two whiskey sours, straight up."

    Possibly a little rearranging. Maybe I am the only person who uses 'down' in that context but it would have been less awkward than 'straight down.'

    But yeah, without getting the joke this one was really kind of lackluster. And for the first time I actually found myself wondering 'uh... what's the joke?'

    As for working well as a one-panel... perhaps, but I do like the 'LHC' context.

    Also, isn't that bakery dude?

  5. Oh I got the joke, but I still completely shut down on "Depends. Top or Bottom?" I know a lot of women, and I know a lot of women physicists. This is just not a question we'd ask a dude when we want to have sex with them. I also don't like how all the references are in the last panel. It fucks with the timing. IMO it would have been better to have three panels where she is saying weird things with "top, bottom, charm, strange, up, down", then the last panel reveals that she's a quantum physicist.

  6. And now that I think about it... why WASN'T the physicist a man? It would have made the strip much tighter. Of course, it doesn't seem like Randall writes much about gay people in his strips. Pretty heterocentrist.

  7. "Top" and "bottom" aren't just gay slang anymore. They're very widely used in the kink community, which is how I assumed Randall meant it until somebody with stronger physics-fu explained the joke to me. ;)

  8. Amanda - Same thing on the xkcd forums. People are idiots.

    Rob - There were a few things he could have done. I figure as long as they're discussing "top or bottom" he might has well have used the phrase "go down on."

    Sarah - Once again, it appears Randall does not understand women. The question is, though, if the physicist were a man and asked the same question, wouldn't the woman just smack him and leave? And once again, this time in the field of accepting homosexuality, xkcd lags behind Dinosaur Comics.

  9. Thanks for pointing out the 6 types of quarks, that adds a layer of credibility. I thought the only reference was through the title "Turn On," meaning the Hadron Collider has "turned on" all the women on earth.

    I also just realized that they are in a bar. I thought the woman was at a desk, and that the guy in the beret (bartenders wear berets??) was retrieving things from her desk. Beret-man's presence actually made me curious if Randall was subtly introducing a new character in the mix, one who's too busy getting things done to ask random people "top or bottom?"

  10. The way the comic is organized, the quark joke is more like an aside. The other panels are a bit misleading for the pun. To me, the structure lends to the joke to seem like a cute addition to another science-sex comic.

  11. Yeah, I think the problem of trying to find the joke is that it's set up like another unfunny Randall comic. It does remind of the other times he's made a funny, but proved yet again he needs to work on his timing and spatial organization

  12. Thomas - you make me wonder about this guy in the beret. As I recall, he is obsessed with bakeries, apparently is a bartender (not the first food service industry job I would have assumed for him) and trying to take away people's dignity. I think it is no longer safe to assume that just because two characters look alike in xkcd, they are the same person. I don't know if this matters, I feel like it has been a point of debate before.

    I kinda liked the title...and I'm glad he didn't go for a Large Hardon joke.

    Jim- I think the word "misleading" is a good way to describe it. Had he been able to make it a good joke without the puns, and had the puns at the end, it would have been a really great comic.

    Stephen - I think the timing wasn't so bad in this one, at least compared to some recent ones. I think in general I like this comic a bit more than you guys do. Whatever. We will all hate the boomerang one together. I should get to work on that...

  13. I dont have anything new to add, but i totally agree with you guys on most points: I didnt get the quark thing, im doing chem not physics! I had no idea they were in a bar until she orders a drink (btw, i agree with Rob, swapping up and down makes way more sense). Also, the first three panels just seem like an excuse to talk about the LHC, they dont actually have any content, they barely setup the last panel.

    And the thing that probably confused me the most was the third panel. It took me a two or three tries to notice that he was turned away, because of course you read the text before looking at the picture, the text is on top! I was like wtf, is she skitzo? It's difficult to tell what the stick figures are doing sometimes...

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  15. Regarding the first two panels: Could the LHC be Randall's misunderstood furry of the day?

    Internet people: "He he, look, the Hadron Collider is going to destroy the planet!"
    IP: "LOL"

    Blank Slate: "What's up with them?"

    Randall's Dream Girl: "Forget those assholes. I study physics and like drunken sex and am totally willing after two lines from you."

    See? It's a physics student and not a furry, so sex is ok. The comic is heterocentrically scientist.

  16. I'm a physics grad student and I didn't notice the joke until I read Carl's post. It's clever, but it's not funny.

    Actually it's not clever. He had the idea of slipping quark flavors into a converstation, and then cooked up some contrived dialogue. Not exactly comedy gold.

    What annoys me most about this comic is panel 2. Its sole purpose is to make it extra specially clear that Randall does not actually believes the LHC scare stories because, heaven forbid, we might mistake him for a stupid person. "Gimme a break" would have been sufficient to indicate her scepticism - and Randall's - but no, we get a patronising explanation to boot.

  17. That's a good point with panel 2 Johnny. It's those subtle things that I think annoy me, often subconsciously.

  18. Hey, I think I could disagree with you about the three first panels: I think I like the sense of movement and activity it generates?
    I don't think I feel strongly about it either way so it doesn't really matter to me?

    Oh, and what johnny and carl said.
    Especially the subconcious thing.
    I've talked with someone about those ultra-energetic cosmic ray collisions. If those LHC collisions would create tiny black holes, they wouldn't be as fast as those cosmic ray tiny black holes which can escape Earth's gravity faster than you could say xkcd: Overrated. So we still don't know if cosmic rays produce tiny black holes.