Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Comic 511: Sleet

frozen rain more like frozen shitty comic
Ha ha, I sure do hate it when people are overly annoying about DRM! That reminds me of this webcomic I sometimes read that recently skipped writing a comic one day to write a bitchy little complaint about DRM. What was that comic again? OH YEAH it was xkcd #488 of approximately six weeks ago.

The nicest way to interpret this comic is that Randall knows that he can be annoying and preachy and this is his way of acknowledging it and thus, in theory, making it more OK. Whether that works is up to you, I suppose. I don't think it does.

Whenever I wonder if I'm really interpreting a comic right or not (in this case, Is Randall being mildly clever and ironic, or is he just oblivious and hypocritical?) I of course head out to the dreaded xkcd forums. Today's comic has had surprisingly little discussion - only 78 comments, putting it third on the list (usually the newest comic is first, occasionally second). There was hardly any discussion of the comic at all, and none about how Randall himself recently skipped comedy for a day to complain about itunes. Instead, they debated whether 0.999.... equals 1 (most of these posts have since been deleted, but evidence remains). Also the merits of Battlestar Galactica. Also whether Let It Snow is a christmas song. Idiots.

Speaking of Let It Snow, why did the first panel use its first line? It doesn't really set up anything about the joke or relate to the rest of the comic. It just makes you think the comic will be a song parody and leaves you (ok, leaves me) confused.

And of course, a relationship that is breaking up over DRM is pretty damn quirky, wouldn't you say? Not to mention just another depressing messed up relationship comic. I'm going to have to make a new category page for that I think.

update: A few commenters point out something I really should have noticed at first: This comic is, in addition to its many other flaws, very very similar to Comic 473. The rhythm of it is the same - four panels, the first three are basically serious and vaguely sad about a failed relationship, and then the 4th shows that the breakup was over a trivial issue (har! that's funny!). Not only that, but they both have basically the same image in all four panels. What the hell randall? It's been less than 3 months!


  1. I am not sure what I think about this one. On one hand, I'm glad Randall is able to laugh at himself. On the other, goddamnit it's not funny.

    I've been having this reaction to a lot of them lately. They're honestly too boring to hate. I'm not sure if this is a step up or down.

  2. Yeah, it was really awkward trying to fit the second frame into the beat of "let it snow" Took me two or three tries before I gave up.

  3. Is there really a question whether Randall has some self-distance and is showing self-irony? Self-distance and -irony has been an underlying theme in xkcd pretty much from the beginning. That's the reason why I fell in love with the comic. I might be quite a geek myself, but all the geekiness in xkcd would still be unbearable if it wasn't for the self-distance.

  4. Is there any chance Randall didn't notice that he used the opening lines from Let it Snow? I didn't notice but I'm not American and English is not my native language, so I guess I'm not in a position to tell. I just thought that first line gave great pace and mood to the comic, but I understand that that is lost on you if your thoughts go to a Cheerful song as Let it Snow.

  5. re: why did the first panel use its(let it snow) first line?

    because "The night was dry, yet it was raining" is not nearly old enough of an obscure quote for the one true Randall.

  6. also dinosaur comics really knocked it out of the park with this one. Even if the idea is already taken. Still funny.

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  8. Is this comic supposed to be an olive branch to us Overrated-ers? He may not realize it, but Randall is still white-knighting.

    One of Randall's recent best IMO was the "sexual curiosity control group" comic because it showed how a girl could be geekily sexual and it could be unnerving -- an XX chromosome that doesn't reside on a pedestal! The male didn't fall MORE in love with her for being scientific. It was quirky-on-quirky, and I liked it.

    THIS, however, only thinks it's being subversive. "Hey guys, sometimes the DRM hate can get out of hand, huh? I will validate this message through a female narrator so readers know it has to be true!"

    Why not treat DRM the way furries were handled, with a couple of office fellas mocking their coworker for adhering to DRM, then Mr. Hat shows up doing something wacky and casually mentions, "Why should he give a shit about DRM? He's having fun with the product."

  9. Hold on. I know you're not a fan of the quirky relationship thing, but seriously: XKCD does technogeek humour. Everyone in it is a technogeek, pretty much. If two characters are going to break up, it will be something like this. You can't throw this in the quirky relationship file fairly, I think.

    The REAL criticism to play is how similar this is to the strip about being thrown out of the house for saying Pluto should never have been a planet.

  10. Sean, I think the biggest problem now with xkcd is that it's too mainstream. Randall has published a lot of comics that pander to the general audience and this has boosted his popularity a bunch.

    It seems that he's gone so far away from his geek roots that any time he resorts to an easy geek-laugh, it seems like something of a cop-out, leaving a large part of his audience confused.

  11. Looking at Carl's comments about the Xkcd forums... these people sit around arguing about whether 0.9999... is equal to 1???

    Unbelievable. If these people like science and math so much, you think they'd have the patience to look up a justification of why 0.999...=1 is true, rather than argue about it simply because they don't understand it.

    People like this really piss me off... I actually have to give the forum moderators some credit for banning the topic.

  12. I think cryptamnesia is responsible for the first line. He probably doesn't know he's doing it. Or didn't at the time.

  13. Oh, also: this is the same joke as the "Pluto should never have been a planet" one. Seriously, Randall?

    (captcha is Underod.)

  14. Jay - nothing I can say but I 100% agree with your comment.

    M7S- I really feel like this kind of self reference is very different for xkcd. The two self-reference examples that jump to mind are comic 442, which was basically an "oh man I'm awesome" look back and not ironic at all, and I guess 207 and 245 which is about such a minor little thing that it is also hardly the same category. And of course, some of us are indeed starting to find the geekiness unbearable.

    Ariel- it's weird, I actually didn't like that Dinosaur comic as much as I usually do. I really loved the king midas one of a few days ago though, in part because of the incredibly elaborate story he put in both the alt-text and the comments text.

    Thomas - it just occurred to me that even though you (or someone) has used the phrase 'white-knighting' before, I have no idea what it means. I hope it means...moving one step to the side for every step forward, or vice-versa. Oh I hope it means that.

    Sean - you are totally right about the Pluto thing and I will add it to the post. I disagree about the Quirky Relationship thing (from here on out I am just calling it 'QR'). I think it's basically exactly what the category is: "we're so quirky, we have fights about DRM! ha ha, so quirky!"

  15. I don't have much to add except that I really enjoyed the DCs that Ariel and Carl posted. Yaye!

    It is so hard to try to be good and resist reading every DC in history until winter break. *resists*

  16. Unrelated comment: as a reader of Dinosaur Comics, Carl, you must surely be aware of isitfunnytoday.com. Seems to be a website devoted to measuring how funny each webcomic update is. (XKCD is second overall, behind SMBC, and Zach Weiner craftily linked to it in his update, too. It's ahead of both Kate Beaton and PFSC, which burns me up, man.)

    The reason it's worth mentioning is that you can now view a quantised measure of XKCD's funniness... IN A GRAPH LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. And I don't know how to put links into HTML so you'll have to copy and paste the link:


    That is almost meta-humour.

    Re: captchas: this must be how they come up with new names for Pokémon. I choose you... Norapico!

  17. I had just found out about that site like a day before you posted this. It seems interesting, I think we'll have to give it some time to sort everything out and get some real data. Obviously there's all sorts of potential biases that these sites will have -for example, xkcd readers are probably nerdier than webcomic readers as a whole, and so they are probably more likely to be willing to go to a site that measures how good a webcomic is- but there are certainly interesting things to see there, like if one particular xkcd gets very high or very low marks. In short, I will keep an eye on it.

  18. Nadia Mitchel (in Ohio)May 1, 2009 at 10:55 AM

    I thought that this one was funny.
    You lose, Carl. Now STFU loser.