Monday, April 20, 2009

XKCD Book

Surely you have all by now heard the news which is taking the internet by storm: xkcd, a web-comic, has decided to venture forth into the terrifying world of printing things on paper, and selling them, for money! The New York Times has the shocking details.

I'm not totally sure why the New York Times decided to write about this - unless I'm much mistaken, they didn't write about The Great Outdoor Fight or Your Whole Family Is Made Out Of Meat, which are the two webcomic books on my shelf now, or The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack, of which I read a friend's copy recently. Yet the Times manages to write a full article about this particular webcomic book. No matter. That's not what I'm here to say.

Anyway, this should be interesting. According to the article, the book will have 150-200 xkcd comics, and that seems like a very smart move to me. I think a book with the 150 best comics so far could be pretty high quality. It's once you try to find the top 300 or 400 comics that you have to delve into the newer ones and will inevitably find lousy comics.

I'm very curious to see which ones they choose - if it's mostly older (#100-#300 range) then it'll be good, but it will also sort of subtly imply that the newer ones aren't good enough to warrant inclusion.

I'm also curious which kinds of people will want this: mostly fans, who just want to support the strip and show it off to their friends, or people who like the concept of xkcd but aren't into the whole online thing? A print run of 10,000 seems to imply the former to me.

My last concern is how much new content there is in it: the new PBF book, for example, is 40% white space and 48% just the comics that are online. A few old sketches and an interview were added, but I wouldn't pay much for those. The Great Outdoor Fight, on the other hand, has a lot of stuff not seen online (not to mention that it's a story that works better all in a book together, whereas PBF is about the same experience either way).

Lastly, does anyone know how I might go about getting a review copy of the book? I am easily one of the top 15 xkcd critics, and I swear I will give it a fair reading and recommend it if it so deserves.


Also lastly: Randy's joke at the very very end of the article is pretty good, but gah, putting "he/she" into a quote like that is just so damn awkward!

42 comments:

  1. Are you going to buy a copy, so you can criticize it's outcome?

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  2. I have a hard time imagining that someone could enjoy the subject matter of xkcd, but dislike using the internet. But that's just me.

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  3. The webcomic Jesus & Mo has now reached five volumes in print. It's also the best webcomic I know of.

    TRiG.

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  4. Jesus Christ that is one creepy as hell pic of Randy.

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  5. "Also lastly: Randy's joke at the very very end of the article is pretty good, but gah, putting "he/she" into a quote like that is just so damn awkward!"

    I've commented on it before, but Randall makes such a conscious effort to be gender neutral (in his comics and his writing, apparently) that it's almost painful.

    You can have a comic with just two dudes hanging out Randall, I'm sure no one will be offended.

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  6. If we just used "they" as a singular thirdperson pronoun...

    In unrelated news, Jesus & Mo is pure crap. Is Trig the originator of this crap? Who knows!

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  7. @Anon: that had better be a non-inclusive we, buddy, for I have no part in this "he/she" rubbish.

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  8. He's trying so hard to be gender-neutral but he's SO GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT amirite

    okay i can't actually verify this because nytimes won't let me see the article without logging in! sigh.

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  9. I didn't have to log in.

    Be thankful you're spared from that picture.

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  10. I didn't hafta log in yesterday! Arrrgh. So I wasn't even spared the pic, hahah.

    But anyway he switches from third-person to second-person and that is just a no-no!

    CAPTCHA: bearpox! Hahahah.

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  11. These guys have no idea how to sell a book.

    "I don’t have hard numbers about this, but the impression I get is that the amount of eyeballs you get from being on the humor shelf at Barnes & Noble — it is almost insignificant."

    Trans: People are going to flock from every corner of the internet to buy the book off of my site.

    "Will there be review copies sent to newspapers and magazines? Good question, Mr. Ohanian said. There’s no reason why not, he quickly concluded."

    Trans: Hey, I hadn't thought of that!

    "[Title text is] not supposed to be a punch line, but hopefully if you didn’t laugh, you’ll laugh at this."

    Trans: If you didn't get the joke the first time, hopefully I can beat it into your head.

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  12. Ahahah. Adam, the first Randallian translator.

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  13. Theory: Randall and Carl are actually the same person and this is all a clever scheme.

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  14. To get people to stop reading xkcd? Cool beans, mah boy!

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  15. No, to get the people who stopped reading xkcd because it sucked to still read it. Isn't that what all of us are doing? eh? ehhhh?

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  16. Unfortunately, most webcomics make their money on merchandise sales rather than ad revenues. If you're getting hits because people want to mock you you won't get ca$$$$h

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  17. Anonymous:
    Theory: Randall and Carl are actually the same person and this is all a clever scheme.

    Anonymous, you are Carl, Randall AND other people all over the place. You're a whole cohort.
    I can't trust anyone who chooses to hide behind a mask with this vengeful hatred.
    Now that I think about this I'm sure Carl or Randall have done something to upset you a long long time ago and now that you see how well Randy or Carl are doing you were like "shiiiiii-" then you came here to spread rumors about both. You have the memory of an elephant so you hold the meanest grudge
    Get over it and maybe have some real tasty pie to calm your angriness.

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  18. We should really get some usernames.

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  19. Man, he has such a creepy pedo-smile in that photo.

    Lots and lots of excellent webcomics have had books put out. Narbonic, for example. Also, many way overly-popular webcomics like Schlock Mercenary and Sluggy Freelance (probably the only webcomic which has an even lower quality-to-fanbase ratio than xkcd).

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  20. I'm proposing DC and Questionable Content, although I dunno if QC has a collection.

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  21. the_"godhe'sgrouchytoday"fishApril 21, 2009 at 4:33 PM

    @fluffy: Phew! I was almost losing faith that he murdered babies because I couldn't see any in the picture. But now I resee (?) your point. That's a relief.

    @Schadenfreude: Apparently one is being planned. I dunno if you've heard of it, but there's this website called "Google", and you can type stuff into it and it gives you a long list of related websites! It's great. It's located at http://www.google.com . I recommend it.

    (There were no results for "randall munroe ~kills ~babies", though. That's because he forces them to censor the evidence using his Internet popularity.)

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  22. I am certainly not the author of Jesus and Mo. I comment there occasionally. The humour is subtle, but highly intelligent and often topical.

    It's also British.

    TRiG.

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  23. @Guy above trigonometry: You're implying QC is worth a collection, and therefore me being interested in looking it up randomly in crappy search engines. Also, have you looked at the comic, especially like the first half? Even shittier looking than DC and Jesus and Mo.

    Search Yahoo is my (& your) friend.

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  24. okay random fly-by comment:

    You have the memory of an elephant so you hold the meanest grudgeQUESTIONABLE CONTENT ha i feel so proud, i caught a reference

    anyway TRiG why is only the i in your name not capitalized, apparently your name is Timothy Richard Green
    HA oh wait I get it.
    That's actually really clever, my intials only spell ACW, which sounds like a strange form of acne.

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  25. Wow, that's an impressively pointless article. I mean even given the tech-savvy audience of xkcd, you only need to take a look at all the huge gamer comics to see how what none-news this is. PvP, Penny Arcade, Megatokyo, Ctrl-Alt-Del *shudder*... they've all produced multiple print-compilations; hell Order of the Stick has two prequels that are print-only.

    It will be very interesting to see what strips make the cut, I can't think of any webcomics off the top of my head that have done best of type efforts rather than complete compilations, it does seem to imply an awareness of the comic's variable quality. On the other hand I guess there aren't many webcomics that are still almost completely composed of one-shots more than 500 strips in...

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  26. Book of Biff, Savage Chickens, and Doctor Fun all come to mind right away (and are all way the hell better than xkcd).

    But yeah, a lot of comics which start off as one-shots do seem to turn into massive canonfests (Sluggy Freelance, Goats). Often they gradually become unreadable in the process.

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  27. Oh, also, Penny Arcade has managed to avoid turning into a canonfest too. (Not that it's particularly funny, but at least it's gotten to be pretty well-drawn, and it's certainly influential at least.)

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  28. I am pretty sure that the Qwantz book left a bunch of comics out.

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  29. Fun fact:

    All gaming webcomics that are not Penny Arcade are shitty rip-offs of Penny Arcade.

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  30. @Schadenfreude: sorry, thought you meant you were proposing it as an excellent one &c. &c. I've never read it, but I hear it's popular, so rest assured I know think it's awful.

    Powerup Comics is the only good gaming webcomic there is ;).

    Unrelated: music I like keeps being used on adverts! Now I feel like a target demographic rather than a person, and that makes me sad.

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  31. *NOW think it's awful, NOW, screw you all.

    Budget day! Yay! Woo!

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  32. "Also, many way overly-popular webcomics like Schlock Mercenary and Sluggy Freelance (probably the only webcomic which has an even lower quality-to-fanbase ratio than xkcd)."

    I was working with ^this^, although given "Lots and lots of excellent webcomics have had books put out." comes right before it, I could see where the miscommunication occured.

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  33. Glad to have that sorted out. (Unlike the economy, amirite?)

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  34. ZING

    Fluffy's last link... has caused temporary blindness. I have no idea how I'm typing this. Say what now?

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  35. Amanda said:
    You have the memory of an elephant so you hold the meanest grudgeQUESTIONABLE CONTENT ha i feel so proud, i caught a reference

    Awww maaaaan, I put so much effort into bringing up memes into the comment without really naming them outright but no one really see it. :(
    "Anonymous does not forgive. Anonymous does not forget." for example...

    What if Randy tries doing something like that? Hiding as much memes as possible without them being out in the open like they usually are.

    Will it be the end of xkcd's over-appreciation due to mass self destruction of his fan base due to them exploding in awe?

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  36. I feel like that's exactly what Randy does now, like with the latest sheepy comic. But I didn't know how to say it.

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  37. Maybe "that's exactly what Randy does now, like with the latest sheepy comic" would do?

    (You can make the cheque out to "The_Cuddlefish Corporation of Great Britain".)

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  38. I meant "bringing up memes into the comment without really naming them outright but no one really see it."

    =)

    NO CHECK FOR YOU

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  39. Speaking of this, even Dresden Codak has put out a book already. Which sold for $175 and it sold out very quickly WHAT THE SHIT.

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  40. Also, Dr McNinja has already had 2 volumes printed.

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