Saturday, February 28, 2009

Comic 549: The Princess Munroe

Carl's decided to head off 30% of reactionary comments by having me, a fair-weather fan of the movie The Princess Bride, rant about this comic. This way, people don't shoot down his apathy with "but you're apathetic to the movie anyway!" No no, it pissed off a fan, too.

The first thing that comes to mind is, "this parody doesn't even work on a surface level -- that's not how the script goes!" Panel 1 has got the revision correct, then panel 2 flies off the rails. "Why did he let her think he was dead?" Well, all he did was go through 3+ separate trials and chase her down himself, but I guess he could have kept in touch. Panel 3 implicates Westley even though he doesn't admit to murdering while being a Dread Pirate in the movie, and he wouldn't have to anyway if each Dread Pirate passes the mantle on to the next worthy captive. The Dread Pirate's ruthlessness could very well be a mass delusion, which I always took to be the joke of the Dread Pirate's very existence. But these are nerdy concerns.

I count three punchlines in the last panel: "Westley acknowledges the narrative," "Buttercup rejects the narrative/pursues Inigo," and "Westley uses 'As you wish' to desperate/bitter effect." As much as Randall's geek-movie piggybacking annoys me, I think taking characters in new directions has potential, but not like this, where we're left with a Hollywood romance flipped into a breakup. And if Buttercup were so against murder, would she necessarily prefer Inigo, a sword-for-hire? Westley (hypothetically) killed to survive on his way to Buttercup; Inigo does it for cash.

There's a better joke hiding in the alt-text, with the idea that slash writers would've rewritten the movie to fit their tastes, but the execution's just a bumper sticker in the alt-text. If only we could address Randall in person...


Carl: Booo! BOOOOOO!!

Randall: Why do you do this?

Carl: Because you had a beloved comic in your hands, and you gave it up.

Randall: But my fans would have forgotten me if I waited for good ideas!

Carl: Your comic lives and you rely on movies -- (to the fans) -- True comedy saved him in the early days, and he treated it like garbage. And that's what he is, the King of Refuse! So, bow down to him if you want. Bow to him. Bow to the King of Slime, the King of Filth, the King of Putrescence. Boo! Boo! Rubbish! Filth! Slime! Muck! Boo! Boo!

[tl;dr version = Comic didn't get the parody right, wasn't funny in any of its punchlines, booo]

thomas: i changed a few tiny things about this post - added a link to the comic and a comic # to the title --carl


  1. So, I'm not entirely convinced of 'Westley let her think he was dead' not being a slightly valid complaint. The question seems to be one of timescale! I mean, was he gone for a year? Was he gallivanting around the oceans for a long time?

    It seems to me that he could have made an effort sooner--3 years serving as the valet. If the Dread Pirate Roberts is always close to Florin 'this time of year', surely they made port once or twice.

    And then he spent however long being the Dread Pirate Roberts. He was the captain! He does what he wants! I mean, I guess what I'm saying is he could have come to pursue her much sooner.

    The comic still sucked though.

  2. Also it seems to me like he's kind of shitting on the movie here. He is kind of saying the storyline and theme are implausible and wouldn't stand up to scrutiny.

  3. Fair enough, Rob, about the time scale. I don't know that Dread Pirate Westley could do "whatever he wants," though. The charade collapses if each Dread Pirate acts differently, so Westley (in my version of events) was probably obligated to spend X days sailing like the previous Robertses. The last one did spare his life.

    Oh, and additional nerd-comment to Randall: Inigo becomes the next Dread Pirate at the end of the story! Female leads just have to put up with scoundrels.

  4. I'm not accusing Randall of copying anything here, but I just want to point out that my comic from last Tuesday has almost the exact same joke (from a different movie).

  5. I lol'd at that last bit of Carl's speech. That's a good reference.

  6. Well, Ch00f, if it's called "Steal My Comic," you can't exactly complain. Yes, I know the reference.

    And hey, at least Randy's doing actual drawing again.

  7. I can't even bring myself to care anymore. But I do get a few yuks from imagining Randall shutting his cock in the CD tray for sexual pleasure. As long as his cock is DRM free, it's all good!

  8. Ch00f, the guy you have there has gotten the joke right, and maybe Randall has taken "Steal My Comic" to heart a bit too much - it says "Serving the MIT community since 6.01", so Randall is probably aware of it.
    That sucks.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. This comic at least makes me optimistic that maybe Randall will move in the direction of "Interesting observations/unique insights of things we're all familiar with" as opposed to "Shameless plugs for things we're all familiar with".

    And...he kind of has a point, right? I mean, Westley is a pirate. That is not a good thing, however romanticized it has become in the geek culture. If the joke was "The Dread Pirate never kills anybody!", it was waaaaay too subtle, I really don't think there's enough to back that up. And Westley has been doing this long enough to have accumulated a fortune upon which to retire.

    The thing is, there's a lot about TPB that doesn't hold up to scrutiny: Buttercup is an IDIOT, Westley only loves her for the most superficial of reasons and is judgmental when she gets engaged to keep from being murdered, etc, etc. They're a TERRIBLE couple. You just have to accept it, because the narrative and the side characters are what make the story so awesome. Well, it's why I like it so much. Maybe the rest of the geek community just likes easily-quotable campiness. God damn it.

    Speaking of side characters, Inigo is awesome but he has also certainly killed people, so Thomas is quite right about that one. Yeah, all in all this is a comic that could have been much better. I am still hopeful at the trend it hints at, though.

  11. Speaking as someone who's read and enjoyed William Goldman's novel a few times, and watched and enjoyed the movie several times, I can think of a few different levels on which this comic irks me, but the major one which Thomas didn't touch on is: The Princess Bride is a parody of adventure stories. By trying to parody a parody, Randall's putting himself in the non-esteemed company of Scary Movie and its innumerable sequels, spinoffs, and ripoffs. Criswell predicts 'jokes' about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's adopted children in future XKCD comics. You read it here first, folks.

    Oh, and Thomas, if you REALLY think your post is too long and might not get rid, then for goodness's sake EDIT IT DOWN. Even if your post was too wordy (it isn't), a cutesy "tl;dr" summary wouldn't help; it'd just make you look like one of those incoherent babbling teenyboppers on LJ.

  12. I think the major problem with the comic is that the characters don't seem coherent.

    are they breaking the fourth wall? are they not? they're just saying lines randall thinks are funny. A coherent world is important to comedy, even if it's an anarchy (see: monty python).

    Alison - Of course that the side characters are what makes TPB awesome, but i don't like your reading on the romance between them. The point of the story that they don't love each other for reasons - they just love each other. But i guess you're right (about them being a terrible couple), i don't think medieval times could store such a thing as a happy couple.

  13. Rob: I always thought Westley took so long cuz he was waiting for a good replacement?

    Thomas: FANTASTIC JOB. YAY Mama Cuddlefish is proud. Thank you for pointing out everything wrong with this comic and also making it better by adding the Carl/Randy dialogue. I mean the inaccurate... accusations?... inaccuracies enough were like omg Randall do you even know what you are talking about I think not okay

    Also enjoyed the new and improved alt-text.

    Schadenfreude: What does your name mean (and maybe it can be shorter or I will never respond to you again but I dunno if that is a threat or a welcome gesture)?

    Urban Space Cowboy: I would say that Randall is in even lower company than Scary Movie... perhaps Epic Movie.

  14. I had no idea what this comic was about so I just thought it was some random bullshit Randall pulled out of his arse but then the alt-text mention Buttercup so I thought it was HMS Pinafore because I know Americans love Gilbert and Sullivan even though they're practically unheard of over here in the UK but apparently it's the princess bride which I thought was some shit preteen comedy so now I am confused.

  15. Yes, this was a very competent post. Attacks the comic at its heart. Miles better than most of what Carl writes, and eons superior to (yuck) Rob. You should take over this thing.

  16. Aww, I have a fan! Carl, can I write a post again soon? I want to make the haters suffer through my terrible, terrible writing.

  17. Feh. You should let me do the writing. I'm guaranteed to piss off everyone, and I promise to make bold, unfounded accusations that Randall is a gay furry :D

  18. poore: i would actually find that funny

  19. Anyone who wants to write something should send me an e-mail at Rob, you can write something whenever. You know the deal.

  20. Holy fucking Jesus on a jackolantern is today's comic FUCKING TERRIBLE WHAT THE FUCK RANDY JUST WHAT THE HELL, MAN.


    I JUST

    I MEAN I


  21. Regarding the new comic:

    Pros: the combination of the context and structure of the sentence is excellent. "Ruined life" is also funny.
    Cons: Randall toots his own meme. e-Meme humor inherently irks me in the context of webcomics.
    Captcha: ruarg, the sound that usually ushers forth from my furious maw when I read xkcd.

  22. I think xkcd is a pretty cool guy -he makes jokes with memes and doesn't afraid of anything.

  23. Re: Most recent comic

    WTF??? Just WTF, Randall??

  24. Agreed with everybody about the most recent comic. Seriously.

    I saw them in bed and was like well this is GOING to suck. And ding ding ding!!! We have a loser comic AGAIN.

    Rob don't worry I still love you!

    poore I would LOVE to read your post!

  25. @Schadenfreud:

    Technically, it should be "I think xkcd is a pretty cool guy - eh makes jokes with memes and doesn't afraid of anything."

    I'm a former /b/-tard and proud to be ashamed of it.




  26. the princess bride which I thought was some shit preteen comedy

    Die a horrible death!

    Seriously, watch The Princess Bride. It's brilliant. There's nothing like it. I must get hold of the original novel, which I'm told is also excellent.


  27. I believe the gentleman who thought TPB was a shit romcom confused it with The Princess Diaries.