Sunday, April 5, 2009

Comic 565: Insecurities

lord dumbleton of suckstowne-upon-avonHa ha, the security question was really from the police, who are trying to find dead bodies! Ha ha. It's funny because the man killed people but almost gave away how! Luckily, the police will prove nothing, as the man is too clever for them. Komedy Gold!

Why would anyone think that was, for a second, anything other than a trick? "oh hey, a security question that only applies to murderers, accomplices, and gravediggers! That's most people!" This whole comic's paranoia tone seems a bit too much like comic 525, right down to the reaction shot of the startled spies, wearing headphones, and looking at oddly shining displays.

This is one of those comic whose idea is ok, but it could have been done better. We know nothing about the characters or the situation, which I think makes it worse. We're just sort of thrust into this scene and get a little comedy out of it, but not much. Hint randall: this is a situation where a recurring character could be nice!


Guys remember when someone got access to Sarah Palin's e-mail by just figuring out the answers to her security questions? Good times...


Now something interesting happened with strip, from an art point of view. Take a look at it again. Maybe you noticed it already; I didn't the first few times. See it yet? Look at the chair. No, it's not the trademark hovering! Yes, the man's head is hovering over his body, which in turn is hovering over the chair. Look at it closely. Look at how the whole fucking back of the chair disappears for a panel.

Come on, Randy! You are, at this point, essentially a professional artist. You make a very short comic, and only 3 times a week. Can you at least take a little time and make sure things don't disappear randomly? That's like, a basic trait of the physical world. You might want to portray it in your comics.

Anyway, he did go back and correct it, as you can see on the site now. If you look real close you can see also added a little more detail to the chair in panel one to make it match - that little knob that attached the back to the chair wasn't there originally (come to think of it, maybe that's why the back fell off?). Anyway, with xkcd's usual not-my-fault-ism, there is no mention of the mistake. Randy never admits a mistake.


(Fun story: so I linked to the xkcdsucks post about comic 525 above, and I was rereading it, and got to the part that says "I also push in all of the drink bubbles on fast food cups, but that's as a secret message to my family in case the place where I eat is ever gunned down to let them know I thought about being gunned down before it happened." And I thought, 'Wait a second, I don't do that. What the hell was I thinking?' And then I saw that it was Thomas's post, not mine. You'd think I would have noticed earlier.)


Commentor Napoleon in Rags, below, links us to this oddly familiar comic from Nedroid.


  1. "This is one of those comic whose idea is ok, but it could have been done better."

    Turns out it HAS been done better. Like so:

  2. The only thing I could think of when I read this comic was the plot with the (scrap)booking room on Arrested Development.

  3. hey carl, you should add a link to xkcdcouldbebetter onto the left nav.

  4. Holy lord Napoleon, you are totally right!

    Kristen: I am ashamed to say that I have forgotten the details of that episode. Can you remind me?

    Greg: I know, I know, and I will, once we move it to its permanent message board home.

  5. Well, after I read this comic - I was like - what the hell, is Randall so uninnovative now, that he stopped ripping off other people's ideas, and started rehashing his own over and over again (#525)?

    It sucks.

  6. Is the new comic just four unrelated comics put on top of each other?

  7. "Hint randall: this is a situation where a recurring character could be nice!"

    Except his only persona of value in xkcd is Mr. Blackhat, who tends to trigger people's "lmao watch out for sociopaths" funnybone. There is no character who would make that strip funny.

    Also: Carl, are you comfortable dying what appears to be an unforeseen and uninformed death, even if the opposite is true?

  8. I'll be honest: I was expecting a Death Note punchline for the alt-text. I was disappointed.

    I didn't even notice the chair going screwy. Looks like Randall fixed it.

  9. Today's comic: You sat down to watch the Matrix again but didn't notice that Trinity doesn't ever wear her hair in a bun?

    Or did you have to add the bun because your art is too limited to differentiate genders without adding long hair or ponytails to the girl sticks?

  10. @ Carl. It was one of the last episodes. Wayne Jarvis is trying to get Tobias to testify/ give them evidence against the family but he refuses. Outside the courtroom he sees a flyer advertising free scrapbooking lessons and he decides that a scrapbook would make a good birthday present for his daughter. The free scrapbooking lessons, however, was a sting operation. And that was a prime example of how to make the idea behind today's xkcd actually funny.

    It was also the episode where George-Michael and Maeby make out cause afterwards Tobias shows them the pictures of Maeby's clearly natural birth.

  11. Ohmigod! Carl! DON'T DIE ON ME NOW!

    (i've always wanted to say that*)

    (*possibly because my life is sad and bereft of amusement**)

    (**somebody please love me)

  12. "Hint randall: this is a situation where a recurring character could be nice!"

    Funny, if this had been a recurring theme you'd be saying "yet another rehash of an old and tired joke". Incidentally, the idea of getting away with a crime and/or playing cat and mouse with omnipresent government authorities *is* something he's done before:

  13. This was actually an amusing comic. I think you should look at it "in a vacuum" like you said before.

  14. Truly, this one wasn't so bad. There's a joke, and it's not terrible.

    Lowered expectations, baby.

    These new Matrix jokes are pretty lame, though.

  15. Yeah this wasn't thaaaat bad... but it wasn't particularly clever. Nor did it make any sense, as you noted already.

    But then Randall had to RUIN it with that stupid chair issue. It's not like there's any particularly difficult art in this either..! FUCK YOU RANDY my god you don't have to take art classes to draw this shit.

    Latest Cuddlefish, actually, no, not funny. A recurring character and a rehashing of an old joke are not the same things. You know how Susie would appear sometimes in Calvin & Hobbes? Okay she did not appear only for one particular joke, but rather for a particular type of joke. It wasn't like each time she appeared the same joke happened.

  16. Let's not start comparing xkcd to Calvin & Hobbes. It'll only make xkcd seem worse.

  17. Okay Sir John that was an example of a recurring character but TO MAKE YOU HAPPY

    how about how on Friends when David the scientist guy returns it's not the same jokes over and over again but they all draw upon his inherent nerdiness as a character

    okay there John are you happy now

    if not that is too bad i am out of ideas

  18. I AM NOW SATISFIED even if Friends is probably too good too.

  19. OKAY I WAS GOING TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT FAMILY GUY and that chicken but that's actually the same exact joke over and over again.

    I miss Friends. =(

  20. Funny that the first thing I saw on TV when I got home from work right now was Friends.

    TOO BAD I DON'T LIKE IT and was hoping for The Simpsons.

  21. i'm with you john.

    Anon: We'll never know what I would say if Randy added more characters, because it never - OH WAIT he did try it this summer and I liked it. Check out "The time Randy tried to make Mr. Beret a very weird recurring character" before he gave up on that and we hardly heard about him again.

    I wrote at the time that "It's clear that Randall is trying out a lot of very different ideas for what he wants to do next with xkcd - looks like he's leaning towards longer stories with more established characters. Not a bad choice for when you run out of standalone jokes, but still it's a little weird to see him trying it out right in front of us." I say that's not exactly complaining.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Are the cops seeing the typing right away? Or does the character on the left just have a broken delete key? I mean... there is no reason to leave "behind the" when he submits the answer.

    I suspect Randall thinks we can't follow the painfully simply flow without making it that obvious and bad for us.

  24. Speaking of Mr. Beret, a few weeks ago I noticed (and then promptly forgot) something I found at the time to be quite astonishing: An early appearance?? (In character, too, as much as his character was ever developed.)

    I think I'm kind of easily astonished, but there you have it.

  25. Hey, complete and utter idiots: ART MISTAKES HAPPEN. Fuck, Gary Larson only did one panel a day in his syndicated comics, and he still made art mistakes occasionally. He admitted to them in later published books, but do you think he would call attention to them if he had the ability to fix it quickly and surreptitiously?

    Even the man himself, Howard Tayler, can occasionaly be found fixing mistakes in his work after it goes up for the update. SHIT HAPPENS.

    And much as I'd like to argue with all you Carl-worshippers about this comic being funny, I know there is literally no point to it, you'll just keep quoting the only person on the site who has an independent opinion.

  26. Gary Larson wasn't drawing fucking stick people.

  27. Carl-worshipers? I mean, Carl is a pretty decent guy but he doesn't like A Softer World, which means he will die before we reach the promised land, like Moses, because he sinned etc.

    But really? Carl-worshipers? Is that the best trolling you can do? Have you ever read the comment threads here? The only person on here who is quoting Carl is Carl. CARL YOU FUCKING CARL-WORSHIPER LEARN TO FORM AN OPINION INDEPENDENT OF YOURSELF


    I think you're ascribing too much authority to Carl, who people pretty routinely disagree with.

  28. guys i actually think Carl is awesome and is always right, and I don't generally have a different opinion from him, so maybe that cuddlefish has a point?

  29. Alex, your comment makes me want to make some sort of comment on how xkcd always draws stick people fucking stick people.

    anyway yeah um do not compare stick figure art to Gary Larson okay. Maybe if you compare this to Cyanide and Happiness you will sound like less of an idiot.

  30. @Anonymous

    It's not like this set of comments is a Carl slurp-fest. Several people above, including myself, Dr.S, etc, noted merit in the comic.

    Save it for the truly terrible xkcds that unavoidably become Carl slurp-fests since there's nothing good to say.

  31. @Cuddlefish
    I applaud you for not posting within a pre-defined category of cuddlefish. But Carl worshippers? The guy likes Dinosaur Comics, ffs! Most of the time, I don't even agree with Carl's reasoning for why XKCD sucks.

    And when your art direction is simplistic enough to the point where the only way you could put any less effort in it is to cut and paste, entire portions of the limited set shouldn't go missing.


    Hey, dude, think about that. How can Carl fuck himself independently of his own opinion? It's funny because it's Megan, and raptors are Steve Doctorow and things that I saw on the Internet are funny.

  33. So I guess I'm the only one celebrating Carl day this year, huh.

  34. Why is the monitor upside down and coming out of the wall? is it some new fangled invention I'm not aware of? Man, I'm ouy of touch. Plus there's a talking/pungent/bristling foot rest under the agent's feet. WHAT IS THAT?

  35. Yeah, I'm not sure what's up with the ankle-level screen/speaker either. Perhaps it's supposed to indicate that they're in a van or something?
    That would make sense, if they are immediately viewing what he types by observing the Van Eck radiation of his display.

    Still, it's not exactly intuitive.

  36. If I started trolling people.... There'd be none of you left.

    And also, what I'm saying is that people like Gary Larson (who is apparently ALSO God around here) also routinely made art mistakes. It's something that happens.

    How many of the people who've replied to my comment were legitimate fans of xkcd? The only defense I've ever heard made of this site is that it is written by people who liked xkcd but think it's dropped in quality. But "fucking stick people"? Really? You're calling into question the signature art style?

    The reason I use the term "Carl-worshippers" is that, A, I wanted to offend as few people with it as was convenient, and B, because more than half the posts on the site are jumping on his bandwagon. He says "Randall should have more established recurring characters," everybody REPEATS "Randall should have more established recrring characters."

    (I'm fully aware that might not be an accurate representation of how that happened, but I can't track down whatever comment recurring characters were first mentioned in, if there was one. Even so, people do parrot his opinions, you must admit.)

    My major comment, which I've been holding in for a while but I think needs saying: Carl, mate, you're a sensationalist. Occasionally you make /damn/ good points about the comic and about humor in general, but most of the time you're just playacting and it shows. You're /not/ this enraged by xkcd not living up to your standards. How could you be?

    A lot of the time, you play up to your fanbase, and it undermines a hell of a lot of your points. You're more like the anthropomorphic personification of trolling than you are a human being with legitimate arguments, which is depressing as fuck, because I can tell you HAVE legitimate arguments to make.

    Also. WTF. No love for Howard Tayler?

  37. How the FUCK do you mess up stick figures?

  38. How the FUCK do you mess up stick figures?

    1. You don't give them necks! Or you do, and shove them through their skulls.
    2. You don't let them sit down on things! Instead they hover.
    3. Combine the above two suggestions!

  39. Trolling Anon, you are an idiot. I say that with love. This is a website called XKCD Sucks. Of course people are going to agree that XKCD sucks. Most of the time people disagree about the specifics of why it sucks, which is why we have such lively discussions and a fairly solid community.

    What you call parroting, most people call discussing--if the blogger writes a post about why he thinks kittens are fluffy, other people saying "I agree" is not parroting--it's responding to a point.

    I'm not going to go into your basic inability to parse human language like "fucking stick figures," but you have interpreted that in the least accurate possible way.

    And your not-at-all incisive "I HAVE REVEALED TEH TRUE CARL" doesn't merit comment, except this one.

  40. Hey, look, guys, Rob can make a straw-man of me by carefully misinterpreting choice statements!

  41. Aww, does it hurt Ickle Cuddlefish's widdle bwain when mean ol' Wobbie doesn't respond to his idiotic self-important posts?

  42. "[a] vitriolic and bitter collection of unwarranted nastiness about a silly and harmless comic."

    Why argue comedic taste?

    Comedy is not universal. If you look hard enough I'm sure you'll find someone who thinks Carlos Mencia is funny. Attempting to dress up personal taste into reasonable points has no meaning. I'm not saying personal opinions are pointless, far from it. What I am saying is that perhaps a more culturally important opinion should be voiced. Perhaps a website like "(insert political party here) sucks!" would generate more meaningful discussion.

    This is like going on a forum and posting a thread about how (insert band here) sucks. It's unimportant and a waste of time.

  43. Ok, but surely there is some kind of continuum. Far more people will tell you that Arrested Development is funny that will tell you that Federal Reserve Policy is funny. Surely we can agree on this? So there has to be something about one that makes it funny, something that the other lacks. Just like there is something about say, a popular comedian that makes him funnier than a chemistry lecture. Right?

    I think this is true for comedy in a way that is not true for music.

    So what I am saying is, there are a certain number of things that make humor work. I can identify some of them (they all sound pretty boring when described), and I think xkcd generally lacks all of them. As to whether these things are actually what make comedy good, well, that's up for debate and probably neither of us can prove our own sides. If you can't accept all this, you are probably better off just skipping the blog, though you are still encouraged to stick around.