Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What's that cyanide and happiness? you suck? oh, ok, good to know

I have long felt that most of Cyanide and Happiness is basically worthless crap. Occasionally funny, but usually not. But take a look at today's comic:

appears funny at first...

Remind you of anything? It sure as hell reminded me of something - check out one of the last Perry Bible Fellowship comics to be produced:

...but this is the true source of the joke!

Now for all I know this joke didn't originate with PBF - it may be even older. If anyone can think of an older incarnation of this joke, mention it. But PBF sure as hell did it before C&H, and given that PBF is one of the most popular webcomics of the last few years, and given that this particular comic is 7th from the top on their mainpage list of comics, I have no choice but to call MAJOR LEAGUE BULLSHIT on those cyanide and happiness people. BULLSHIT.


update: ok what the HELL - I am minding my own business on Digg when I see this comic, which according to the url is from March 1st. But not less than two weeks ago Amazing Super Powers had this, from Feb. 19th. I'm not going to say anything about it, besides the fact that ASP's is significantly funnier. But what do you guys think is going on here?


  1. Nice catch, although I think Cyanide and Happiness has produced some damn funny stuff (it helps that it is a daily comic... with enough volume, something has to work).

    Anyway, I think this is just another example about the difficulty of originality in humor. Especially with the advent of the internet and webcomics, there is a lot of readily available material there, just waiting to make the same joke accidentally. And then of course there is always the unintended theft of a joke. If you read something, laugh, and then unconsciously recycle the joke several months later... are you really to blame?

    So don't be so quick to jump on Cyanide and Happiness with an accusative tone. Accidents happen. Call them out sure, but there's no need to get vicious for a single incident.

  2. Your common use of "two comics did a joke about a similar subject so one of them must suck because of it" is something that I still don't really understand.

    The PBF comic involves pointing out that using this in a real life scenario would be a silly way of doling out capital punishment... or possibly just a parody of the game's subject matter, whereas the cyanide and happiness joke is based off of the silliness of the man's "last words."

    similar subject != same joke

    There are dozens of reasons why C&H is a terrible webcomic (that occasionally produces gold), but making a joke in a similar manner to that of Perry Bible Fellowship isn't one of them.

  3. Cyanide and Happiness is basically worthless crap. It actually used to be one of my favorite comics, but like xkcd, they've run out of ideas. This isn't the first time I've looked at it and thought "I've seen this somewhere before", though I can't think of any examples off the top of my head.

    This is the same joke. The "last words" thing was the setup, not the joke proper. I don't think they stole it, partly because they're smarter than that, but mostly because they have no problem posting comics with no fucking punchline at all - but they should acknowledge the similarity in a news post or something.

  4. I just found this blog, and thought to myself - someone actually has enough free time to point out how they have a bad opinion about something (which is strictly a subjective perception) over and over.

    It's really a shame you couldn't spend this time more creatively man.

  5. Goodness, Anon, you are so new here at yet already it feels like I have known you for a long time...

    Subculture: I think this comic is close enough that it deserves a lot of crap from me. I don't mean to say that C&H stole it deliberately, thinking "ha ha, no one will EVER catch us let's just copy this old PBF comic! woo" but I think that when they come up with a comic they should think a little harder about where they may have gotten inspiration.

  6. And yet it is obviously a "creative" use of time to post a negative comment on a blog. The comment in question also contributes nothing to the blog's content.

    I commend you for your vast creativity!

  7. Anon: This entry has a paragraph worth of text, two links, and two images. It was inspired (presumably) by some browsing of webcomics in his free time. I am sure Carl is capable of doing xkdsucks and living a fulfilling life at the same time.

    Carl: That is unreasonable. "Gee, let me think about all the funny things I have heard, read, or seen. Sure wouldn't want a duplicate. That would be disastrous!" Not to mention if this incident was unintentional, reflecting or 'thinking harder' about the source wouldn't have brought up any flashing red lights. That's the point. They don't realize that it is theft.

  8. I feel like Cyanide and Happiness is pretty much just.. shock value. Sort of like that one horrible comic that poore mentioned once, Robot something? But much better than that. Anyway, most of the time the writers are just having fun, and aiming to make you laugh but not really be funny.

    Thank you Broadleaf Erixs!

    And to people who take Carl seriously enough to think him "vicious" (not just you, Subculture)? Really? I mean I guess he did tell us all to fuck some goats once, but I would hardly call him anything beyond sarcastically blunt.

  9. Simpsons did it syndrome? Who cares? I liked the C&H one better.
    That said, I don't read C&H.

  10. Got to agree with K. As if there isn't enough truly dreadful product among the beloved comics of the internet, that you have to attack such incidental things. A much bigger weakness of C+H is their obsessive repetition of their own jokes, again and again and again; e.g. the person1 is dying and person2 cares more about something else joke.

  11. I don't think Cyanide and Happiness is all bad. At least one of the writers, Dave, routinely comes up with absurdist situations that end with absolutely TERRIBLE puns, and I enjoy those very much. e.g.,

  12. However, Dave also did the comic in question, so, uh.
    AHH I'm conflicted!

  13. Get out my head, Randall...if I parodied xkcd, I would write something like the latest one. Just terrible.

  14. Really, I think both of them sucked. I agree that C+H usually sucks and sometimes stumbles upon greatness. And I love pbf, but this was one of its later ones that started sucking. I don't think it was intentional—everyone has made a bad joke about hangman at some point in their life.

    I actually liked both of the scooby comics. I liked asp's better, but the policeman puking in the background did it for me in the other. Eh...

  15. Today's xkcd: Is it more disturbing, or more pathetic? I'm leaning towards pathetic, but I could be convinced otherwise.

    Pathetic: Stickguy is so lonely he's looking for companionship in a freakin' Etch-a-Sketch.


  16. Holy shit, I just saw the new xkcd. Forget everything else he's done, this is by far the creepiest and most pathetic thing I have ever seen drawn as a comic. It gave me that funny feeling I get in the tip of my nose when I can't quite believe something I'm seeing. An etch-a-sketch? Holy fuck. God dammit Randall, I've been lonely before but not fucking imagining girls trapped inside of my childhood toys lonely.

  17. Though, as I am usually pissed off by the art, I will admit that there is some detail in the creepy etch-a-sketch munchkin.

  18. Eh, that was probably just subconscious. C&H doesn't seem like the kind of comic that NEEDS to steal jokes. I mean, they got a large fanbase already. It happens.

  19. Lint of Death, bad example
    I've seen this one on TV on a sketch show before quite a while ago.

  20. I thought AmazingSuperPowers comic was a blatant rip off that Venture Brothers episode with the Scooby Doo characters.

  21. The joke is different. Venture Bros. ran with the the Scooby Doo characters being batshit insane (Son of Sam, Patty Hearst, etc. references) and gave a pretty dark take on how the gang interacts.

    ASP's joke is that "Fred" took the case too far and shot the mummy, and then is completely unrepentant.

    Similar flavorings, different joke.

  22. The most recent xkcd comic is so disturbing, even the fans acknowledge it.

    When someone admits that they fantasize about finding a tiny girl trapped in a small toy that will love them forever, I worry.

  23. Cyanide and Happiness is hilarious. I'm starting to think you just have a bad sense of humor.

  24. funny...I'm starting to think the same thing about you, anon! Looks like this is not the nerdy-webcomic-critique blog for you then. I'm sure there are others that you can enjoy.

  25. Could you make "I'm starting to think you just have a bad sense of humour" the page quote if ever you get rid of the current one? 'Cos then they could be like "I agree with your page quote" and then you could be like "actually that's me talking about you!" and then they'd be like "OMGGNOES!!" (I think that's how people speak on the internet).

    Which in turn proves I have a bad sense of humour. Man I suck.

  26. Oh, and kudos for making sure the links didn't overflow on this one. I don't know how you work your blogger magic, but keep doing it. (No, doin' it. That sounds much cooler, yo.)

  27. I don't know, I really like the current page quote. I believe it replaced my first one, "a sarcastic, bitter, and generally misunderstood critique of comics that you don't need to critique."

    somewhere I have a list of the best quotes I've gotten about this site. once there's enough I'll post them.

  28. I have a question.

    I too think C+H and xkcd are past their prime, and i read them just because i have nothing better to do and because once in a while they do make me laugh ( well, C+H, xkcd didn't do that for a LONG time), and generally i don't go clicking on their sites to read their comics from a judgmental point of view, i come to be entertained and sometimes i am.

    Now, the question is: excluding xkcd, which you made a site reviewing so you should probably read, why do you read comics that you think are bad?

    From a personal experience, i dropped LICD around the time that the third artist came along and it was all " hail-the-lead-character(which totally has a name, yeah?)" that i couldn't stand.

    I could probably figure an answer on my own ( it takes a second to read, a glitter of hope, you DID say C+H was occasionally funny, etc..) but i just want to hear your opinion on reading comics that you don't really like.

  29. Not a bad question. With C+H I like it often enough that it's worth reading. The only other comic that I don't particularly like but continue to read is Abstruse Goose, because it's basically xkcd jr. so I am always curious how it deals with the same kind of jokes that xkcd does (answer: very poorly!).

    Also another kind of lame reason is that I just like reading webcomics and thinking about them, and with C+H it's popular enough that I sort of read it and go "ok this sucks, but why do people keep liking it?" kind of a theoretical thing I guess.

  30. Not a bad answer. If thinking about webcomics is lame, then i'm a major douche.

    I really like what you're doing here (the blog). You do seem sometimes to get a bit too much angry, but it's very hard to stumble around good critique, so it's nice to find a site like this, even if it's just for this one comic.

  31. I've long had as a goal to branch out into general webcomic stuff - this post is one of those. It would be a fair amount of work though.

  32. You do have guest writers you can use...

    Just don't turn into "your webcomic sucks, and you should feel bad", eh?

  33. as far as I can tell, their problem was just choosing randomass comics to talk about. However, I do one day intend to read their archives anyway, as well as the one they link to here:


  34. Different joke, different comic, different site. Does everyone browse all comic sites, and check the archives? No.

    Additionally, what does it matter where the inspiration comes from? The difference in these jokes is enough to merit the existence of both. They have a different character, and different merits.

  35. It's a game called Hangman, and is based on the practice of hanging men.

    It's an easy punchline to conceive, bonus points to PBF though for the added joke of "killed by a jury of idiots." This reminds me of people calling Carlos Mencia a plagiarist over his "Mexicans will build the border fence" joke.

    I'm aware there are other jokes he appears to have stolen, but the Fence Joke probably isn't one of them. Ditto for this Hangman example.

    And it makes me glad that Scooby Doo parodies have yet to go stale. Family Guy paid it a funny visit, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71XsrrfXFvk

  36. As much as I hate agreeing with anonymous people, I sorta have to this time. They also have different tones between the two.

  37. They're not really all that similar at all. They have a similar setting and that is about it...

    The type of people that complain that stuff like this is the same are the same people who complain about a cliche character, or a cliche plot point or a cliche event and attribute that to a "cliche story" even though if you look at what the story as a whole is, it's entirely different from many many many other things and is not cliche at all.

    This case is even more blatant though, as the only similarity is that they both have someone getting hanged by the 'hangman' game in them. The punch line is different, the characters are different, the art is different. The comic is different.

    Advice for the future, stay away from "lolthispointisclicheorunoriginalandthustheentirecomicis" arguments. They only work if the whole thing is a verbatim or close to verbatim copy, at which point it changes from "thispointis" to "thewholethingis"

    That being said C+H's one is pretty damn crap. And PBF is a pretty good webcomic.

  38. You know, I think the big weakness of other 'your webcomic sucks' sites is they tend to just say 'this entire comic sucks' and then never deal with it again. Compare with The Comics Curmudgeon, who routinely discusses all manner of print comics--looking at the individuals, not the trends.

    This might be harder to pull off in a strict mocking fashion for webcomics in general, but it's a better formula than the 'I hate this webcomic because X, moving on'.

  39. Wait... I'm confused, where's the XKCD Review?
    Wtf is this? :-/

  40. @Anon
    This was written on Tuesday, the XKCD came out on Wednesday, try to be a little less retarded.

  41. @K

    Then where's Wednesday's xkcd review? :(

  42. goddamn man, have some patience! I don't usually get a post up until soon before (or soon after...) the next comic goes up. I mean come on, surely you want a post that has had time and thought put into it, right?

  43. True, true. Thinking is very important. Something I should do more often.

    I guess I was just getting used to blog posts coming up so quickly the past few times.

  44. Waitasec, Carl, so are you putting quality time into this blog, or is it strictly a leisure activity? I'm asking on the cuddlefish's behalf, so they can "find this blog amusing" with the greatest accuracy.

  45. Thomas: you have no idea! I put SO MUCH TIME into this blog. it is the only thing I work on, pretty much. To say that it is worthless is to say that I have wasted my life, and surely no one would want to imply that.

  46. @Carl
    You don't get out much, do you?

  47. I mean, I spend so much time blogging, how could I possibly have time for anything else?

  48. They're both really similar to the Demetri Martin joke, "If I ever saw an amputee being hanged, I'd just yell out letters."

    He's been doing that one for quite some time.

  49. And you're any better? I've only cast a cursory glance here, and the only thing I've seen is that you've been taking other peoples' works (wait, what was that?), and just crudely insulting them or accusing them of stealing their ideas from someone.

    By that logic, your idea of humour became tale after your second blog post. You've been posting in this blog for what, almost two years? There are any number of "angry rant" blogs that have preceded this one. Did you steal their ideas from them?

    Even putting all that aside, your logic astounds me.

    I quote; "It used to be called XKCD: Overrated, but then it fell from just being overrated to being just horrible. This, XKCD sucks."

    Generally these types of angry rants are able to come up with some witty one-liner, or at least provide a credible reason as to why "XKCD sucks" aside from your own personaly opinion, but obviously that's beyond you. You can convince others to see your way by sheer force of will.

    Anyone with enough free time and a passable vocabulary can look witty and intelligent to others, but it doesn't mean that you actually are. (Which you clearly aren't, anyway.)

    Are these comics funny? Maybe not. One thing's for sure though, neither are you.

    But by all means, keep posting your blogs. People can only stand the same repetitive "this sucks" rant so many times.

  50. hm, that's odd. These usually show up on the FAQ page, not some random ass old post i wrote where one comic that isn't xkcd clearly, clearly copied another that is also not xkcd. Well whatever.

    Man, if I wrote lots of clever one liners you would just say I wasn't being serious and that I am no better than all the other "angry" blogs. You'd tell me that I should try to be serious and make real criticisms instead of just trying to make everything into a joke (a joke which I assure you, you would tell me was not funny).

    Where did I claim to be funny? I know more about humor than Randall Munroe, but that is not saying I'm funny. Where? Where do I say it? That's not the point of this blog, if you want to just see funny things go to the onion or watch the Daily Show or arrested development or read The Areas of My Expertise. this blog is to talk about humor, and what makes it work and what makes it fail.

    YOU. you make it fail.

    ha ha you suck.

  51. "YOU. you make it fail.

    ha ha you suck."

    See, that was my point. I do thank you for reinforcing it, though.

    This blog is as much about humour as Obama is about white supremacy. You don't talk about humour, you merely spray "'noun' sucks" around until the metaphorical walls are dripping with it.

    I did, however, read the FAQs, and I noticed those webcomics which you considered "funny". That's pretty hypocritical, as you're basing whether or not something is funny on your own, personal opinion.

    Which would actually count for a lot, if only you had the oratory skill to sway others to your view.

    Which you don't. "ha ha you suck" doesn't convince anyone that you are correct. At least, not anyone with a functional brain.

    Saying you know more about humour than Randall Munroe is both pretentious and ironic, because I have yet to find anything you've produced funny. If anything, you know as little as Munroe does about humour!

    The opinion of a minority (you and yours, in this case) does not decide whether something is funny or not. If the majority of an audience all agree that what they're viewing is funny, then guess what, odds are it's funny.

    Some people will always disagree, and they're entitled to their opinions, but most don't declare theirs to be the Universal Truth. (Or their Areas of Expertise.)

    I'm not here to find something funny, nor do I need to be pointed in any direction in order to find something that is funny, because I know exactly where to go in order to do so.

    What makes you and I different is that I don't make indignant blog posts claiming to know what's funny and what isn't.

  52. "You don't talk about humour"

    Yes. yes we do. Here, you seem to like politics so damn much ("obama! white supremacy!" what?) so i'll send you this particular example, about politics.

    As to my "ability to sway others to my view" or whatever Machiavellian phrase you used, all I can say is that most of the regular guys here (Rob, Fernie Canto, amanda? i forget about amanda, Thomas I think, maybe jay - anyway a whole bunch) all came here first as big xkcd fans. Now they're not. Either we convinced them, which is possible, or they just noticed over time that xkcd really does suck now. Take your pick.

    True, very little that I have written on this blog is funny. I kind of thought my post about the xkcd store was pretty funny. But that was a while ago. I don't claim to have much since then. I certainly don't claim to be a better artist than Randall, or have better handwriting, all key elements of his comic.

    The point is, I'm not trying to be funny. I'm trying to write about comedy. I can critique his art without being able to do better myself; I can critique his crappy shirts without having to sell better ones. And I'll be damned if you are going to tell me that I can't tell him his comedy sucks. If it's not funny, I know that, regardless of whether I can do better or not.

    Put another way, you haven't proven that you are funnier than I am, yet you are critiquing me. HM??!

    I like your whole "if a majority thinks it, it must be true" argument though, I can't disagree with you there!

    You didn't write indignant blog posts, but you did write a pretty indignant blog comment. Which is how I get the authority to say:

    HA HA you suck.

  53. The "Obama-white supremacy" bit was an analogy (and a rather good one if I do say so myself), but it was apparently lost on you.

    In a quick attempt to clear things up here; I am not an "XKCD fan", zealously defending Randall Munroe and all that is good and truthful, or whatever.

    I'll concede you are indeed attempting to write about comedy, but the way you're going about it is interesting to say the least. More often than not you just end up bashing whatever new comic appears on XKCD, saying that it's a rehash of this, that or the other thing, or stating that the entire comic has no merit whatsoever.

    Well, as for the "it's been done before" argument, (which is perhaps your argument of choice) very few things which become popular are completely, one-hundred percent original. There's always something, somewhere, which inspires the artist to create his art. (and I'm using art as a very loose term here)

    Eventually, two people will come up with the same idea, or at the very least, similar ones. This doesn't mean that they are constantly on the lookout for something funny to poach, but you seem to think it does, as again, it's one of your main arguments.

    It gets just a tad repetitive.

    I'll freely admit you sometimes raise some valid points, and more often than not, try and back up your views, sometimes even successfully!

    I wonder though, for a webcomic you claim to loathe with every fibre of your being, have you thought about how much traffic you're most likely generating to it from your very own anti-XKCD blog?

    The irony is staggering.

  54. "i forget about amanda"

    thanks, carl


  55. I don't think I am giving him that much traffic. And if I am, so what? Most people here are visiting xkcd anyway; better to have them visit through my site (so it shows up on his data as "xkcd sucks sent X people") than go on their own.

    There's a difference between two ideas that are somewhat similar and two ideas that are basically exactly the same. Part of the problem with xkcd is that he never, ever acknowledges that an idea he had is similar to someone else's - I'd believe him if he said it was a coincidence, but since he always gets vaguely defensive and deletes all references to how the jokes are close, I tend to be more suspicious.

    So amanda: Which is it? Were you a fan of xkcd when you started reading this?

  56. Yeah, I was a fan. I spent the next few days after discovering this blog curled up in the corner, rocking back and forth as the disillusionment set in.

    Anon: the irony isn't really that staggering. But relatedly, I was just musing over how strange it is that we of the xkcdsucks community probably know most of the xkcd comics better than a lot of the fans, if only because we discuss it more than "OMG SO AWESOME lol lol lulz"