Friday, November 28, 2008

Comic 510: Egging The Question

I don't have much to say about comic 509. I found it boring and stupid, and I still don't know what the fuck is up with Mr. Beret. I guess his new thing is that he's really gullible? What the hell?

And anyway, the next day Dinosaur Comic made a waaaaay better comic about dangers to the earth's magnetic field. But moving on....
Look Randall. We all love the high school or earlier comics. But it's starting to get to be too much. We had elementary school geography lesson in this comic, we had ha ha classes are boring (funnier if you weren't out of school already Randall! ) and of course, we had oh man guys I have made the most witty and original observation about standardized tests EVAR.

So now we get jokes about elementary school science projects. What is the deal here? Have you been thinking of this joke since 6th grade? Have you gone back through all your old Notebooks O' Fun until you got back here? Can we expect "Ms. Lee Smells Like Poo" comics next?

And I'm also sick of the single-panel wordless comics. They aren't comics! they're just odd little ideas that you draw up in five minutes and put online. Look, let me show you something. You see this? That's the newest Subnormality comic. Read it. Look at how many words there are. Look at how much the artist drew. Look at how many jokes are jammed in there. Now hit back a few times. Notice how every single comic is like that. This is a weekly comic. It comes out once for every three xkcds. And it takes, it would appear, about 20 times as much effort. This from a cartoonist who does not do this full time, unlike you, Randall. This cartoonist does not just go "huh, remember back when in scicence class we had to make a contraption to protect an egg when we dropped it yeah well what if the egg hatched??" and call it a day.

Think about that.

update: OK what do you guys think of this idea for a more "complete," so to speak, comic based off this idea:

First panel is a broad view and shows a whole classroom working on their separate projects. Lots of little speech bubbles asking for various supplies (paper, tape, cardboard, string, etc). Next panel is a close up of one dude in particular, staring intently at his project. He asks for more bizarre stuff - a heat lamp, for example. Or a glass dome. Stuff like that. People look at him like he is crazy. A few panels of this, then a handful of him furiously working. Then you see all the traditional people dropping their cardboard shit, and they all make fun of him and are like "ooh hey what does Mr. I-need-some-glass have for us?" and he confidently drops his incubator, and it very quickly incubates and hatches the egg, and the baby bird flies out. Incubator crashes to the ground and is destroyed. Bird flies away. Student is silent, and smiles. End.

This is a much better comic, no?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Comic 508: oh my god what is happening to that woman's hair??

yarrr, ye comic be kidnapped by pirate ninjas
Ok am I the only one really creeped out by this comic? That woman's hair basically looks like it is being eaten by some pasta or something. This is what happens when you try to add other details to a stick figure. It ends up creepy. This happend before with the Pope and with Morgan Freeman and those were also pretty weird.

From a comedy standpoint, doing my best to avoid the horrible mess on that woman's head, it's just trying to be funny by being random. We're supposed to go "woah, what the hell does 'upholstery' mean here? HA HA I DON'T EVEN KNOW." I feel like the joke is either suppsed to be the woman's analogy does make sense, in which case we feel a little left out because she never explains what it is (because Randall has no idea, he just wants to present the CRAZY IDEA even if it makes no sense). OR the joke is that she also doesn't know what it means but she's using it as a convenient rebuttal to his question, but that doesn't quite feel like what the comic is going for. Also it's not that funny.


Lastly, I know Abstruse Goose is supposed to be similar to xkcd, but AG 81 just seems waaaay to close to xkcd 353.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Comic 507: It's all in the name of SCIENCE

inset hell freezing over here
I actually liked this comic a lot. I think the idea of experimenting with lesbianism in a scientific way is a pretty funny concept, even more so if it's clearly just an excuse to sleep with a lot of different people under the guise of scientific rigor.

That said, I think the drawing part leaves a lot to be desired. Was two people holding hands, one of them pointing, really the best idea for an illustration he could come up with? Why not like the guy looking really tiny next to twelve football players or something? Or her in bed with like three other guys and saying to her boyfriend (who is on the floor) "Hey! It's for SCIENCE, ok?" Or some kind of two panel thing, where the first panel is her in bed with a girl and the text is "I'm cool with her past lesbian experimentation" and the second panel is " but I wish she hadn't insisted [etc]" and it's her in bed with some other guy going "Hmmm.....not sure I recorded the results right that time, we'll have to do it again."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

what is happening at the Onion?

I generally think The Onion is amazingly wonderful. Often the short articles are one of their better features, perhaps because they get a few good jokes in without stretching the whole article too long. Efficiency of language, etc. This is why I was confused (not mad, not yet...) when two of their recent shorts were, as best as I could tell, utterly devoid of humor. Read them for yourselves -

Crocodile Bites Off Bush's Arm

Bush Tumbles Wildly Down Washington Monument Staircase

Not only are these both about Bush, but they are both about him getting hurt, and were released only a few days apart. What the fuck? Is it just that they want to get all their Bush jokes in before he leaves office (60 days and counting, bitches!) ? Still, you'd think they'd have better stuff than this. What do you all think?

Also, remember when I complained about Andy Rooney? I sure as heck do. The Onion has apparently also noticed this! I like their version better.

On a related note: Did anyone else notice something awfully similar between the newest Truck Bearing Kibble and a certain Perry Bible Fellowship? Just saying.

Comic 506: Randall MunrO. Henry

Theft of an o henry story
So first off y'all have to know that this comic is a parody of the O. Henry story Gift of the Magi. So read the summary on Wikipedia if you don't know it yet.

If you do read the wiki article, note that the vast majority of the article is adaptations. They've got about 15 there. It's not exactly new, what we see here. And it's not even close to the funniest adaptation - for my money, that is Steve Martin. I'll quote directly -
One of the short-short stories in Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes, "The Gift of the Magi Indian Giver," involved the husband selling his shinbones to buy his wife "cuticle frames," while she sold her cuticles to buy him "shinbone polish." The ending implied that the couple enjoyed a bit of light BDSM.
Shinbone polish makes me laugh very hard. Much more than "Roomba dueling harness." Maybe if it had been the first instance of such dueling, but it's not. And of course, for utterly absurd Roomba humor, you can't beat Achewood.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comic 505: In one act play form!

here be some wacky ideas
THE SCENE: A COFFEE SHOP IN BOSTON. RANDALL, a webcomic artist trying to conitnue to ride his washed up talent to fame and fortune, is with two friends, BILL and JIM.

RANDALL: Guys! Listen! I have an idea. What would happen if you were on a desert island and you-
JIM: Ok I would bring um Lord of the Rings, um...a popcorn
RANDALL: NO I'm not doing that. You're on a desert island and-
BILL: A popcorn popper? Seriously? Why the fuck would you bring that? Are you bringing popcorn kernels also?
RANDALL: GUYS shut up. You're on an island and all you have is rocks. Rocks and sand. And you-
BILL: Oh I remember this one. You have to guess your eye color. It's green!
RANDALL: NO IT'S NOT THAT. Shut up guys. You have rocks and sand. And nothing else.
JIM: I would probably just drown myself.
RANDALL. No, there's no ocean. OK it's not really an island, it's just a massive desert.
JIM: How massive?
RANDALL: Super massive. Like actually infinite.
BILL: And nothing but rocks and sand.
RANDALL: That's it, yeah. So would you-
JIM: Yeah I'd say you'd die pretty fast.
RANDALL: NO YOU CAN'T DIE. You don't have to eat, you don't have to drink, you just have you, the rocks, and the sand.
JIM: How did you get there?
RANDALL: You - you don't remember.
BILL: And how long do stay?
RANDALL: Forever. And you don't die.
BILL: Can you kill yourself?
RANDALL: You don't want to kill yourself.
BILL: Yes I do.
JIM: So ok you are super bored forever ha ha that sucks the end.
RANDALL: NO. You have rocks. So what do you do?
BILL: Don't tell me you do math. That would make it even more boring.
RANDALL: You do math. But you could do all the math ever.
JIM: No, you don't. Because you don't know it all.
RANDALL: Shut up. You do all the math ever. And then you do all the physics ever.
BILL: Oh ok, well that does make it sound fun...
RANDALL: Shut up. And then you make a computer.
JIM: Out of rocks.
RANDALL: YES it's all just algorithms and math and memory and stuff. Which you could all do with rocks and squares and stuff.
JIM: Uh ok maybe I guess. Why are we doing this again?
RANDALL: Because eventually - eventually you could simulate particles!
BILL: Yeah, nothin' more exciting than particles!
RANDALL: Shut up. You could do it! You could.
JIM: Is your brain infinitely large? I mean there's a lot to remember about all that stuff.
RANDALL: Look. The point is you could do it, right? I think you could.
JIM: I dunno.
RANDALL: I think you could.
BILL: Whatever.

Today's comic was, I will admit, thought provoking. It was not, however, funny. It's one of those comics that belongs not on a webcomic site but on "Randall's Random Ideas Illustrated: The Blog." The only part that's a joke is the last panel, which I think sort of brings down the whole thing to a "ha ha, that whole thing was for a dumb joke about school being boring" level. Sort of retroactively diminishes the rest of the comic.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Comic 504: Cryptic

Well, today's comic certainly wins the award for most obscure xkcd ever, I would say. From the forums and the rest of the internet I learn that apparently a form of encrypting messages (including internet content) used to be classified as a weapon for purposes of helping spies or something, and Randall is here saying that if it were still so classified than it would be legal under the terms of the second amendment.

I probably shouldn't even comment here because I don't know the subject matter at all, but for what it's worth, it strikes me as a pretty desperate joke on a pretty desperately obscure topic.

Reader ZZ points out that Jefferson had little to do with the Second amendment; he wrote the Declaration of Independence but was traipsing about in France when the Constitution was written. Nice try, alt-text, but your history is flawed!

Did any of you get the joke? If so, is it any good? On a related note, can anyone think of a more obscure xkcd? This and this strike me as close, but they were both very early ones, and probably drawn when he was in class learning about those topics.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Comic 503: Misguided

i actually am leaning pretty hard in favor of the name 'xkcd suxkcd' so yeah.

Oh man does this comic suck. Really, Randall? You really think this is funny? This is like one of those stupid old "WHY DO WE PARK ON DRIVEWAYS AND DRIVE ON PARKWAYS, EH? EH???" questions. Especially given that Randall is into like science history and stuff you'd think he'd know the answer is that the WEST is the WESTERN HEMISPHERE (and parts of western europe that are culturally and historically tied to it) and the EAST is the EASTERN HEMISPHERE and if you are towards the west of the western hemisphere, then yes, you may actually find that the westernmost part of the eastern hemisphere is closer to you if you went west than east. If that's actually something that bugs him, it's a little sad.

So clearly he knows the reason and he just wants to make a dumb little observational point, and yeah, observational humor is about people recognizing the truth in the observation but how many people are going to really say "ha ha, yeah, that bugged me too!, why the hell did they name it that way?"

One person who didn't laugh is frequent commenter Amanda, who e-mailed me shortly after this comic went up to say how much it bothered her. To quote -

What bothers me is that the Randall fans are like WOW I have once thought this very same thought and am remembering it now and oh it is just so funny to remember how stupid this concept is and since I identify with this comic I shall call it funny and Randall remains God so PLEASE GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL. Okay. Perhaps that brief moment in which you learned that the "east" and "west" that were relative to your location in the Americas ARE NOT THE SAME as the ones that apply to "The East" and "The West," you may have chuckled briefly and thought, wow how silly. But I assumed everyone else, like me, eventually did get over it because we all realized that the coiners of these two names did not know of the Americas. I suck at geography and history and whatever, and I'm a stickler for accurate names but I got over it. And the observation itself is not that funny. At least, for me, not comic-writing funny. TELL ME RANDALL WHERE IS THE HUMOR.

What all this reminds me of is, unsurprisingly, a Dinosaur comic. Click it for more readability.

AND THEN i was inspired to make my very own dinosaur comic in response to the xkcd

click it for a version you can actually read
this corrected version of my original was made by cow_2001
thanks, cow_2001!

And then lastly, more of a tangent than anything else, since a mildly better joke would ask why the Midwest is in the eastern half of the country (it was named when all the area to the west of it was not lived in mostly!), I give you The Onion.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

some random housekeeping stuff

Hey guys-

1) Some dude named George sent me an e-mail to recommend the webcomic Subnormality, and I can say having read through the archives: it is very spiffy. Be warned though - there's an ungodly amount of text in a lot of them. Places to start: this one, this one, this one, and this one. It can be very PBF-like at times.

2) Why has Spanish xkcd not updated since Scrabble? Did they just get intimidated by the Secretary story and give up?

3) I think it's high time I changed the title of this blog (not the url, the title part up at the top) to xkcd sucks (or maybe even "xkcd suxkcd"). I have lost most of my faith that it can get better.

4) I still think just hearing what I have to say gets boring after a while - if you want to say anything even mildly interesting about xkcd (in general, over time, the newest comic, and old comic...) I will probably post it unless you write like a stupid person. .

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Comic 502: Another WACKY Beret-based adventure!

ugh, you should be glad this image isn't loading. don't bother refreshing, trust me

Looks like our good friend Beret Dude (maybe I should call him Mr. Beret) is back, and he once again makes no sense as a character! Last time, I was confused because he had gone from kind of off-beat and meaningful (much like early xkcd as a whole) to obsessed with bakeries and then oddly quiet. Is there a pattern here that makes him a consistent character in anyway? Hardly seems like it, and in the unlikely event that there is some continuity here it's almost certainly obliterated with today's comic.

Seriously, what's going on here? Mr. Beret is, we now discover, a total idiot, and he apparently thinks his fat mom is outside the known universe pulling him or something. I mean I guess the joke is he is very stupid, to the point that he takes the other guy's joke seriously, but that doesn't strike me as all that funny. Anyone have a better sense of it?

As far as I can tell, we have at long last another addition to the "ha ha, bitches, I'm getting all serious on you WITH NO WARNING" series. What I would have liked to see was the comic appear to take a turn for the Serious and Meaningful in the last panel, but then after "pull harder, mom" the dude from the first two panels yells, off-screen, "That's what SHE said!" thus destroying the meaningfulness and messing with the readers in a far more amusing way.

Anyway, what the fuck is up with the Beret guy? He really has nothing to do with any of his other appearances, ever. That's not how characters work, at least not this soon after they've been introduced. It just makes no sense.

I also see that the seated character manages to lose his legs in between the first and second panels. How 'bout that.

Update: Reading over the comments, you can see that a lot of people who usually think the way I do disagree with me on this one and like this comic. This may very well be one of those situations where my inherent anti-xkcd bias is not something I can overcome, and so I will simply point out that I am aware of it and let it be what it is. Come to your own conclusions, folks!

If you did not come upon it on your own in your daily webcomic perusal, note that Overcompensating made a joke on this same topic on the same day. Amazing! But Jeffery Rowland has some proof that he at least came up with the idea before he saw this. Just an odd story, and in any case, you should read Overcompensating if you aren't already.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Comic 501: Someone's Sold Their Soul

honestly just read good omens, that's always fun times
Ah, the infamous End User License Agreement. A rich, totally untapped source of humor.

It feels these days like I need to do two parts to every post - all the reasons this joke is so old and a list of places it's been done first and better, and then a more theoretical "ok well what if this were the first time, would it still suck?" kind of thing. So-

Part one:
Ughhhhhhh another EULA joke? Good god. Someone please tell me how this is any possible way better than this quote (note that it also is an EULA which, by the time you read it, you have already agreed to according to the terms of the agreement). And no, snotty old german folk legend references do not make the joke better, they in fact make it worse. In my opinion. For further EULA fun on, see right here (this one is not as similar to the comic, or as funny, as the first one).

And of course, the realiable old xkcd forums reminds us of an incredibly similar line from the wonderful book Good Omens, which is disturbing because not only is it about the absurd nature of legaleese filled contracts it's about that in the context of demons making deals with people for their souls which is not exactly the most common topic in the world. And I'll be damned if Randall Munroe hasn't read Good Omens. If he hasn't, that's an even worse problem.

Part two:
Ignoring all the better versions of this joke, it's not a bad comic. For some reason the signpost right by this guys desk amuses me, as does the specificity of the agreement. I mean, how often can the dude be in a situation where that agreement is needed? The Devil being just a stick figure with tiny horns strikes me as a little artistically lazy, though. I mean, at least a tail, if not a pitchfork. Some color or fire or stuff could have been fun.

So I guess that were this the first EULA joke I had ever seen, it would be a tiny notch above average. As is, it's several notches below. Like with the last comic, Randall has to keep in mind that if he's going to tread well worn comedic ground, he's got to do it in a new way. Otherwise it's just tired and old, like the last two comics.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Comic 500: Woo hooo! comic 500! oh wait no it's just some election thing

So clearly all my super-intelligent and brilliant theories about how we would celebrate Comic 500 were wrong.

I guess - as a politics nerd, among the other kinds of nerd I am - that I identify with the sense of relief in the first two panels. Though the joke strikes me as not so much a joke but basically reality (See: Bloggers discuss 2012. Hell, it's basically a given that you don't even wait till the election ends to debate the next one).

And anyway, if the joke is that people say they want to be done with the stress politics but really they don't, I feel like a better joke might revolve around the game "Guess who the president is going to have work for him" or other political speculation.

In any case, it's not a bad comic - it just feels like as far as political humor, it falls far short of some of the great stuff out there. I feel like this election gave us so much to mock - I'll be bipartisan and mention both Sarah Palin and Mike Gravel - that this feels subpar. Randall has yet to succeed at political humor, and I think he should stop trying.

update: Oh god it's worse than I though. It didn't even take long for me to find way more examples of lame 2012 humor. Let me be clear - I don't think any of these are funny. I think all of them are based on a stupid, obvious joke that you have heard and will hear after every election.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Comic 499: I keep misreading "Scantron" as "Scranton" as in the city where The Office takes place

epic story post is now finished!

xkcd: your source for standardized test laffs
Well, for those of you hardcore nerds wondering when we'd finally see Miss Lenhart, you are probably a little too obsessed. For the rest of you: Randall probably had a beloved elementary school teacher named Lenhart (no doubt she changed it when she got married and he refuses to accept that) and so he uses that all the time, much like he often refers to a mysterious girl named Megan.

This comic is exactly the same premise as comic 292. Person innocently thinks a minor mistake will be harmless, it ends up being catastrophic. The rhythm is even disturbingly close - even to the point of having the third of four panels have no border. Read them both together - it's crazy! The blood everywhere after a seemingly innocent action is also very reminiscent of comic 419.

Anyway, it just kind of feels like he needed to fill in space between his Epic Story Of Magical Awesomeness and his Post Election Comic Spectacular That Turned Out To Be Nothing Special so he went for some tired old everyone-jokes-about-this-their-junior-year joke.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Nerdier Take On Comics 497 and 498

While I am catching up on stuff I missed since last week, why not read this very nerdy and very angry take on the end of the Secretary story arc that a reader e-mailed me:


I was genuinely offended by these two comics. Randall claims to be a geek, yet he totally fucked up his representation of the LightCycle.

Firstly, a LightCycle is always represented by some sort of portable stick when not in use. To activate the bike, the user simply holds the stick out in front of them horizontally, then that stick becomes the handlebars and they lean forward as the bike grows around them. Somehow, Tron Paul here just rezzed a LightCycle out of nowhere. Especially bad because he was just holding a cane which could easily have become a LightCycle.

Then, in comic 498, he fucked up again. LightCycles are perfectly capable of steering outside of the Game Grid. In the film, Tron, Ram, and Flynn escape the game grid and have no trouble out-maneuvering several tanks and recognizers. Sure, the bikes no longer have the 90 degree movement that is so characteristic of them, but they still steer just fine. As a smaller note, they don't have jet walls outside of the game grid either, but I'll let this slide because it was more of a parody of Ron Paul.

It just pisses me off that Randall would screw something up like this. He claims to be a geek, and yet he makes jokes about things that are far beyond his level of understanding just hoping that we other geeks out here wouldn't notice his mistakes and instead think of him as a god just for bringing up 24 year old sci-fi fantasies.

This movie was a huge piece of my childhood, and he totally fucked it up.

Just thought you might like to know.
This is a good time to mention that e-mailing me is always a good idea.

apologies for me being SUPER behind here

yeah so it turns out my election-related work this weekend and early this week was far more intense than I had realized, so updating will all probably happen tomorrow afternoon. So - when I do that, go back and read all about my Detailed Analysis of the end of that Secretary story and the comics since. I actually wrote my whole thing about the end of that arc but then lost it.

On the plus side, I singlehandedly turned an entire state from red to blue for this election, so I say it was worth it all.