Thursday, December 11, 2008

Comic 515: I wish I didn't know

secrets man was not meant to know

Here's our good friends Mr. and Mrs. Hat, continuing to descend into regular old violence. Remember when they used to be creative? When revenge for Mr. Hat involved trapping a sumarine under a lake just to steal back a hat? What's so annoying about this comic is that Mr. Hat's specialty is creative and nerdy ways of pissing people off or killing them or stuff, and so it should be an opportunity for Randall to come up with something like that (it's not hard - Telling the guy that Sarah Palin thinks his political blog is great so he kills himself seems like something we might see).

Frequent Commentor cow_2001 wrote about this comic: "I know this isn't the greatest xkcd EVAR but still, FINALLY we see hat guy (again) IN action instead of TALKING about his actions. At least that, right? RIGHT?!" It's true I complained about that during the Homerian Epic of a story a few weeks ago I was annoyed that we just heard a laundry list of exploits that weren't so exciting on their own, but isn't this worse? In the second and third panels they plan to kill someone, though we don't find out about it until the 4th panel when he's already dead. And it's a surprisingly violent death, too.

There's a whole discussion on the forums about whether it's ok to make jokes about murder. I say it obviously is ok; I'm of course more offended by lousy comics about murder because they're not funny.

By way of awkwardly segueing into something else I want to talk about, here is another comic that is technically about murder but you just see what happens before and after: Achewood of April 9th, 2003. I don't know how many of you read Achewood (you all should, though), but there was a time when the author had a whole bunch of blogs that he wrote in each character's voice. It was all part of his insane plan to make the achewood world as crazily real as possible. Anyway, he doesn't update it much anymore but I just noticed that the blog of Nice Pete (our murdering friend) has the same layout as this blog, which is both nice and freaks me out a little. THE END.


  1. Dear Randall,

    Mr. Hat has jumped an entire ocean full of sharks. They were swimming in an ocean that was covered in oil and on fire. Mr. Hat was riding the world's fastest Indian when he jumped over them. It was the worst episode ever.

    It is time to stop having consistent characters. You can't do it. You just can't. Okay?

    Hurried love and kisses from Tokyo!

  2. I don't think our relationship is quite at the kissing level yet, rob. Maybe soon!

  3. This comic first confused me and then, scared me. That is NOT how those characters are supposed to act. In fact, they are so out of character that something must be wrong, so I'm scared. The first panel, it's just wrong! It would fit their personalities better if they were finding ecstatic joy in insulting each other, then the guy walks in and then they kill him. Just my views.

  4. Yeah this was not a fun one. But regarding Mr. Hat's descent into violence, perhaps it was caused by Mrs. Hat? I mean she was pretty violent from the get-go, right..? With the mines and all.

    I like your idea better, the Sarah Palin thing. Randall needs to come read this blog.

    Also, is there a particular reason as to why people are posting their CAPTCHAs?

  5. I got a string of captchas that I found awesome and started posting them. Then other people posted their awesome captchas.

    I don't get captchas anymore. Woe.

  6. I've mentioned it before, but I guess I must repeat myself. Randall has promised he won't make xkcd political. Palin jokes is of the table. (That's probably why he forced one in during that comic battle, outside of xkcd domain.)

    Rob: "Dear Randall,
    Hurried love and kisses from Tokyo!
    Carl: "I don't think our relationship is quite at the kissing level yet, rob. Maybe soon!"

    Either Carl just proved that Carl-is-Randall conspiracy theory or shown that is analysing powers isn't as flawless as he want's us to belive. :p

  7. Or he is trying to add mystery and intrigue to his persona!

    Carl, if you are actually Randall you should probably not let me talk about you with all of my rumors and hearsay. Also you should let me know because FUNNY STORY IF SO.

  8. I guess I'm going to risk unpopularity around here by saying: I thought this comic was fine. I'm not exactly sure why it's fine, but it is. I have some time to kill, as always, so I'm going to try and analyze it below.

    I think I liked this one because I've never actually been a fan of Mr. Hat. I've never found him creative, or funny. To me, his jokes always seem to follow one of two formulas: the random act of violence (515 falls into this category), and another which I'll illustrate through examples.

    Look at all those comics above and you'll see they follow the same basic format. In the first few panels, we have Mr. and sometimes Ms. Hat forming a plot (and oh man, what wacky plots are these, guys!). In the middle panels, the Plot comes to fruition; and in the last, the victim has an exaggerated, unrealistic reaction. And then we have hilarity!

    Take comic 440, for example. That last panel there is just not how a real person would react. The correct response when your computer talks out of nowhere is "what the fuck", and an immediate trip to the psychiatrist. 374 wouldn't lead to some type of all-day depression, as Mr. Hat suggests, it would lead to "whatever, asshole". Likewise with 498. You get the point.

    I'm not a big fan of the random violence comics - as Rob mentioned once, they're pretty reminiscent of Ctrl Alt Del, where sociopathic abuse is the punchline to every third joke. Still, I think they're a sight better than the latter category, even though people seem to prefer those around here. The violence comics may not be realistic, but they at least make sense - if someone cut off your hand, you probably would scream AAAAAAAAAAAAAH, yes. We don't have people saying things like "you're horrifying", or bursting into tears when what you did was really just a harmless prank.

    That's why I liked 515, or was at least neutral towards it. It's still not consistent with the characters - as Kiwi said, it would make more sense for them to be standing there coming up with creative ways to insult each other (and really Randall, you should know that) - but you don't have him hijacking bystander's voices to make his (bad) joke seem better. It's not funny, but it's not obnoxious.

    Here's an exercise you can do at home: compare comic 322 with this. They have somewhat similar premises - Mr. Hat is crazy in someone else's house. Which is the better comic? I think it's 164 by a mile.


    Holy FUCK that was a long comment. Maybe I should have emailed it to Carl. I hope this makes sense.

    ps. I think the reason random violence works better for xkcd than other webcomics is that on the whole, xkcd is pretty lighthearted. When violence occurs it's more jarring. 515 would be par for the course for something like CAD.

    pps. I don't see any captchas what are you people talking about.

    i'm done for real now i promise

  9. I wasn't going to say anything about this comic, but my CAPTCHA is 'mating' which is by far the most awesome captcha I've ever got, so now I have to say something.



    Well, I sorta disagree about this comic being worse than the Laundry List of Mischief we got a while ago. Sure, Randall could have added a few grisly murder panels, but what would that add to the comic? All it would do would decrease the impact - comic impact, shock, whatever - of the last panel.

    This comic has... I suppose you'd call it an Abrupt Scene Change? It's not an uncommon trope, and it can work, for comic effect in this case (although murder is perhaps taking it a bit too far IMO - Black Hat's getting more and more Flanderised in every comic he appears in).

    What would have been a bad comic is the following: first three panels the same, only going down instead of across, and instead of the last panel, a caption, something like: "They never found the body." Think about that.

    hur hur hur, 'mating'

  10. I'll add only two points:
    Ms. and Mr. Hat sometimes talk in that cutesy lovers way, but they have a public image to keep, so they got rid of the witness. The cutesy side is a secret side you aren't supposed to know about. That's perfectly in character.
    Second point. I'll just say again that this particular reiteration of the "person A acts in an uncharacteristic way when person B comes into the scene, then person A gets rid of person B" trope is... bland? Boring? Unimaginative? THAT's the real thing that isn't characteristic to the guy who used to poke holes in condoms just so that more unwanted children and unwanted HIV positives will roam the world.

    I guess those were 3 points?

    GUYS! I think we are over-analysing. I think we could use this time to do more interesting and/or useful stuff.
    We could stop whenever we want. Right, guys?
    (and gals.)

    So much ink on so very bland art... The madness... the madness... THE MADNESS...

  11. I fully consider hating xkcd one of my hobbies. Admittedly not a hobby I'd share with the world, but hey.

    There's no going back now.

  12. This simply isn't funny. It just doesn't have anything to it. No creativity. No references. Just an oversized, bloody sack.

  13. "This simply isn't funny. It just doesn't have anything to it. No creativity. No references. Just an oversized, bloody sack."


  14. M7S - you're right, he doesn't make the comic too political so my suggestion is, thinking back, probably not something he could have realistically done. Well he did politics here and here. And the 17th panel of this one. And anything with Ron Paul. But you could argue that those aren't really political humor, they're kind of jokes about politics from the outside looking in kind of thing.

    As to my analysing powers: the third option is that I wrote it late at night and was not reading very carefully and also i am SO DESPERATE FOR LOVE AND ATTENTION that i misread it as directed towards me. Or perhaps that last sentence does in fact prove that I am Randall Munroe

    Seriously, I'm not though.

    Jay: I would say that a lot of those random acts of violence are at the very least creative, and in many cases against people who deserve it (like the GRY puzzle) and a lot of the fun was that we also want to harm those people. I think the reason a lot of the violence worked was because it was cartoon violence (cutting off the arm is an exception, but most of them are like that). That's why I found this one disturbing: It was boring old murder that we don't even get to see, and it was against someone who was just standing there.

    Cow: I totally disagree. Cutesy talk is completely out of their character; we've seen them alone many times and they never do this. Hell, this comic basically goes against everything in comic 506, where we see them alone and they still fundamentally don't care about each other. They are acting very very differently here than we've seen them act before, including seeing them alone.

    And I could totally stop whenever I wanted to...right? Maybe?

    Jay is correct. This is a mission from god.

    Salazar: Yes. That is also a problem.

  15. There's a whole discussion on the forums about whether it's ok to make jokes about murder. I say it obviously is ok;
    I'm of course more offended by lousy comics about murder because they're not funny.


    but i actually didn't think this one was terrible, it's just not 'very good'... it's a filler comic.

    i think it's a shame that i am content to see something of this quality -- it says a lot about most of his recent work.