Sunday, December 14, 2008

Comic 517: An Agony In Ten Frames

bad ideas: the comic

Hello everyone! I am Rob, your friendly neighborhood guest blogger. I will do my level best to be at least as awesome as Carl. I have never failed at anything I have ever done before, so I am not worried. Today, in case today's strip went by too fast, I am giving you all of my cinematographic skills to present a FRAME BY FRAME ANALYSIS of the comic!

The premise of the comic revealed! Our hero has acquired a gun that shoots marshmallows. I wonder what wacky high jinks will ensue? (Here is a hint: it involves shooting marshmallows.)

Apparently I called it.

So apparently our intrepid hero really likes shooting at this girl! But she is frustrated. Is she doing important work? Laughing at the absurdity of our hero?


A supersoaker! In case you were not aware, Randall is fond of supersoakers. He keeps one in the desk. And in case you did not catch the reference, our intrepid hero informs us he forgot it was there! Because it is always there. It is important that you know he is making a reference to an older comic that he made. Guys, Randall has so much in common with you, he also reads XKCD.

Now everyone has one! Hurray etc. Also, I am pretty sure beret guy must be one of Randall's friends. He is making too many appearances otherwise.

Look, it's one of those "oh man is it two frames or one frame!?" effects! They are shooting streams of marshmallow at each other!

Ha ha ha he is talking about Ghostbusters! I, like many other people, watched those movies as a child! And do you remember the Staypuft Marshmallow man? He was a monster that appeared at the end, when they crossed the streams! And they are using marshmallows so it is A DOUBLE REFERENCE.

This is the sound of something very big appearing.

Aaaaand the joke got away from me.

This might have had the potential for a good joke, maybe--but it was very badly executed, if so. It went from 'look at the zany fun!' to 'ghostbusters reference!' to 'now there is a big monster off screen! Marshmallows are magical!' Ultimately I was mostly just vaguely confused. Maybe I just lack basic literacy!

But I feel that even the basic idea of a marshmallow gun is kind of a bad one. Anyway, there are much cooler things to do with marshmallows.


  1. This comic feels like it was written very close to a deadline. You get to the end, and there's almost a punchline... but not quite.

  2. I actually laughed out loud at this one. Might be my latent Ghostbusters obsession though. It just seemed fun to me.

  3. back to back posts on here? it's like christmas. only not.

    anyway, this is another REMEMBER YOUR CHILDHOOD comic. and it wasn't funny. just another attempt to connect with his readers on some memory in the past. ecch.

    and people on the internet, like the fools on the lj rss feed, didn't like it. there were a bunch of agreements that this comic should have ended after the 4th panel, and i tend to agree with that. even if it had just been the first half of the comic, that would've been fine too. the whole ghostbusters thing is just so tacked on.

  4. This took me a while to notice but isn't this also another "something terrible happens...offscreen" comic? like 515, 500 and 475? the answer is YES.

  5. It's also the second time he's made a "don't cross the streams" joke.

  6. Okay yes! The way to extract a joke from this comic is to cut it in half, so the bad ghostbuster reference never happens.

    Then find a way to make the first half of it funny, so it is not just 'hey I am shooting this girl with marshmallows hey I am shooting this girl with marshmallows OH GOD SHE IS SHOOTING ME WITH A SUPERSOAKER.'

    Maybe that's not possible, but at least then it would just be a Wacky Fun thing.

  7. (i am just posting this because i forgot to turn on email followup)

  8. just to be clear (sounds like you arent sure about the punchline), the joke is that the monster is the marshmallow man from ghostbusters and he is mad that they are shooting marshmallows (because he is made of marshmallows, see)

    this punchline is not funny, was telegraphed hugely in the earlier panels, and was written so poorly as to easily confuse (the monster should be saying "you're shooting WITH what?")

    yeah this comic might actually be funny if you just take the first four panels

  9. I don't know, I am not convinced it's clear the monster is once again the stay-puft marshmallow man, or that he is angry. Maybe it's just a big god that thinks they are silly for shooting marshmallows?

    And why is that funny?

    Your punchline raises more questions than it answers!

  10. "Guys, Randall has so much in common with you, he also reads XKCD" is a riotously funny line indeed.

  11. Hey, the xkcd forum thread is actually halfway tolerable for this one. Even they don't like it.

  12. Bill Watterson shines ever brighter for the number of "Calvin vs. Suzie" snowball comics he did that absolutely trump this. Randall can't make an office marshmallow fight funny?

    The Ghostbusters reference itself would have worked if Randall DREW THE THINGS THE COMIC IS ABOUT. Then he follows up by using alt-text to flip the joke that's not in the panel. Double lame.

    Can we have a Portal strip about how the cake is a lie, next? A Robocop comic where he says, "Freeze, dirtbag?" A Caddyshack one with the sound "Neh-ne-ne-ne-ne?" Yes, the stick office people should put in a putting strip and re-enact the entirety of Caddyshack in a long, rehashed adventure.

    Someone take the crayons away form Billy, already.

  13. Oh crap, that last "Billy" refers to Family Circus, not Watterson. Sorry for the mix-up.

  14. Yeah the forums are pretty harsh on this one - including a few people who say they don't think the comic is as good as it used to be. If any of you ever post on the forums, this would be a spiffy time for a link...

    Anyway I particularly liked this post.

  15. Theory on why this one is so bad: Randall started reading the blog in earnest and drank himself into a stupor over the weekend, woke up on Sunday at 11:30pm with the worst hangover possible and said "uh shit i need to make a comic i guess" and banged this one out just in the nick of time!

  16. carl: big thumbs up for that post. the following line summarizes exactly what seems to be going on:

    "Most of his comics just seem to be references to things in hopes of people going "yeah I get that reference too, that's awesome!", without any actual joke."


  17. I liked the person who was like "Randall is just having an off month. You'll see. It'll all get better soon, honest."

    It sounded so desperate. So eager.

  18. Rob, your xkcdsucks debut was an amazing one. I agree with Lint of Death, that was a very amusing line.

    I ventured over to the forum from Carl's link and found this comment, in response to the responses against the OP in Carl's comment (making any sense?). In short: "My guess: some people can't deal with criticism against their big hero." I like.

    I am considering getting a blogger account so I don't always have to type my name.

  19. Re: the link above: Get out of my head, Domovoi!

    Re: the comic: enh, I've never watched Ghostbusters so that reference went right over my head. Quite enjoyed the first five panels though, in the same way as the one with Beret Guy and the stapler - zany fun comix are zany fun.

  20. The lack of an on-screen (err, on-panel) monster at the end blue-balled me harder than the Blair Witch Project.

    Randall, if you're going to have a dramatic build-up, you have to actually release! Otherwise, you've become the web comic equivalent of Creed.

  21. Okay, guys, I have a question for you:
    There's an image macro you see around the *chans ( in which there's a a Jesus (from some old rennaissance painting) engulfed in proton beams above the ghost busters.
    Is Randall's is just a reiteration of that idea or maybe the other way around? Maybe it's just one of those things that everyone see but rarely make jokes about that?

    I think there were several strips about this parallel invention concept on Dinosaur Comics, even in a very recent one.


  22. Cow, in this case I don't think you can say Randall is ripping anyone off. The joke is more or less original, it is just not any good. (And it is a Ghostbusters reference, so I guess it loses some originality points?)

    Amanda: You should, having a blogger account makes you cooler than other people.

    Hero worship! I think the problem is people who think something is awesome don't want to think people who dislike it are acceptable human beings. Especially if they are proclaiming their dislike publicly instead of being quiet about it. (Observe people saying "so don't read it" when you complain about a comic--you are clearly just being stupid!)

    So it's more that they feel like their tastes are being assaulted when we talk about the decline of XKCD. That is what I think.

  23. So apparently I have had a blogger account all along because I use Gmail?

    I did not know this. And now I facepalm.

  24. Are you people all so stupid enough not to catch the Ghostbusters reference? Not the "don't cross the streams" one, the fact that he's implying the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man (ala Ghostbusters) is off-screen.


  25. No, we get it, that just isn't funny. We're still looking for the joke. "Ha ha, TWO REFERENCES" is not funny, it is masturbation.

  26. Also, Anonymous, if you were literate you would have noticed we already mentioned that.

  27. I know this post is months old, but just in case anybody goes back and reads it, I want to point out that in Ghostbusters, crossing the streams did not summon the marshmallow man. He appeared when Gozer told them to choose the form of the destroyer. Crossing the streams is what killed him. So this comic makes even less sense than originally posited.

  28. Good call! That is kind of the thing about references, if you're not intimately familiar with the reference material you assume it's accurate.

  29. fuck you, rob-hole

  30. This post has been removed by a blog asshole.

  31. Hey Nonny Nonny MooseOctober 11, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    "Are you people all so stupid enough not to catch the Ghostbusters reference?"

    This is a weird question (even ignoring "so stupid enough"). Allow me to demonstrate why:

    "Are you people all so stupid that you didn't get the reference to Ronald Reagan's 1961 health care speech?"

    "Are you people all so stupid that you didn't get the reference to the Epic of Gilgamesh?"

    "Are you people all so stupid that you didn't get the 1 Corinthians 12:25 reference?"

    "Are you people all so stupid that you didn't get the Happy Days reference?"

    "Are you people all so stupid that you didn't get the Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magicka Obscura reference?"

    i.e. Not knowing about some reference to a scene that most people haven't heard about, let alone seen in its original context, does not equal stupidity.

    On the other hand, thinking that not knowing about some reference to a scene that most people haven't heard about, let alone seen in its original context, does.