Sunday, May 31, 2009

Comic 590: Stop copying shit, randy

ugh so shitty
Hoorah for the return of "My Hobby", where we learn that Randy spends his free time being a totall asshole to his friends! Today's Hobby features Randy pissing off his friends for fun! CLASSY.

Now I was not aware that "Papyrus" was the worst font ever, just as I was not aware that it was the font used for Randall's favorite movie, Serenity. I learn so much from xkcd. So I asked one of my thousdands of good friends about it. For purposes of this conversation, my friend's name is Jimmy O'Helvetica:

Jimmy: I mean, again -- he's just pandering to the typophiles out there
Jimmy: or rather -- making mortal enemies
Me: is papyrus that bad?
Jimmy: It's not as bad as his handwriting
Me: zing
Me: that quote goes on the blog

But tired old pandering about fonts is not what pisses me off most about this comic, because I do not care about fonts. I care about comics being fucking original.

SO take a look at this chainsawsuit from the day before this xkcd came out.

This coming from a comic that has done a pretty good job making fun of xkcd in the past.

Now I'm sure this is all just a crazy huge coincidence, and that's why it's an even crazier coincidence that just three weeks ago, PvP also made a "typography geek" comic, though they used the totally different phrase, "font snob." Let's take a look - tell me if you notice anything interesting.

ha ha pvp im in ur alt text

If you answered, "why, Randall made fun of the very same font this guy did!" then woo hoo for you! If you said "oh big deal, papyrus is a lousy font, everyone makes fun of it" than woo hoo! you have helped show that Randall is a tired old hack whose jokes are old and stale and boring! YOU WIN ALSO.

I know, I know, I should give him points for not just making fun of Comic Sans, but really, why? If Papyrus is just as bad, and just as many people make jokes about it, what's the point? Can't you replace the word "Papyrus" with the words "Comic Sans" and get the exact same thing?

Lastly, the comic seemed a lot like 280 to me.

OH ALSO remember: the best font out there, regardless of what Jimmy O'Helvetica says, is still Humor Sans.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Comic 589: Puzzling

maybe if i were drunk this would all make more sense?

I'm not sure why so many people seem to like this particular comic - but then again, I don't know why anyone likes xkcd, ever. Nonetheless, some people who usually have better taste than that like this comic, and I guess my cynical jaded hateful nature is obscuring the joke. I see a man making a simple situation complicated for the sheer joy of finding something useful for his math degree, and then it's like "ha ha, you made it like an old puzzle! so we will make it more like an old puzzle, by adding animals." I am not going to get crazy mad though, because maybe this is just one of those situations where I am biased. And maybe I'm a little biased....

I do really believe though, that this comic is really similar to 173 - even with the graph of the common social situation laid out there in true nerdy form. It also seems a little similar - to me at least - to 287, in the common-situation-turned-into-obnoxious-puzzle way.

The line "The logistics of who can get drunk are nontrivial" confuses me - not on its own, but because I can't really place it into the rest of the comic - I assume it's being said by the main character, in that it appears underneath what it clearly his text ("someone has to get...") but it doesn't feel right for him to be saying it then. It feels more like the kind of phrase Randy would place as a caption, centered, under the whole comic, as a sort of explanation for the whole series of events. A guy saying that phrase sounds a bit like a dick, and it doesn't even really make sense at that point in the conversation.

Also, from a graph point of view, Panel 3 is just kind of dumb. They don't mention dinner anywhere in the comic, so I feel like Randy just looked at a simpler, bar+party version of the graph and said "hmm that is not NERDY or FANCY enough for me" and added another node to the graph. It's especially odd, given that it doesn't seem to even describe the situation he his in. Not that I'm saying it has to, but a real nerd would have worked to include those little details.

Details of course, on why Randall is not allowed to be left with the goat, will be spared for the sake of good taste.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Comic 588: Dispirited

Pep shitty
UGHHHH this is so gross. honestly there are some ways where this xkcd makes me want to yell at people while vomiting less than usual, but when I stop and think about it, I just want to yell and vomit oh so much more.

The problem is the terrible elitism of it, for lack of a better word. This comic is just for all the nerds out there who thought they were better than everyone in high school. For all the kids who never played sports and always felt a little left out, who were never friends with the cheerleaders because they spent all of high school programming, the people who always viewed their school authorities with skepticism and so were annoyed at them that they resented having to be in a room with people who gasp! did like the school.

Needless to say, this is a huge proportion of the xkcd audience. People like this guy. Or this guy. Or all the fucking idiots who think that pep rallies are somehow "Orwellian" because that is just dumb as shit.

<Orwell Rant>
Listen, stupid people: Just because something is creepy, or just because something is being observed by camera or there are cops watching a certain place, or just because people happen to approve of some sort of authority figure, does not make something Orwellian, nor does it make it necessarily bad. We know that you read 1984, and that's real special, and yeah, there are some things worth worrying about in that context, but that doesn't mean you have to fucking say that every fucking thing you don't like is Orwellian. God damn it all, but you are ruining that word and taking away all its power, so fuck you, you don't know anything.

</Orwell Rant>

So yeah, we have lots of fucking losers who thought they were just too damn good for their school and OH NOES had to stand in a room for a while. So we get the Secret Nerd Fantasy Comic, where in the middle of the pep rally, the sarcastic nerds finally get to say what they are thinking, just like they all wished would happen in actual life and which never did, and never will.

And then we have still more problems. The only "stimulus," so to speak, coming from the authority figure (the cheerleader) is "Lakeview High is the best!" That's not even that objectionable! I mean, it would make a little more sense for the sarcastic outrage if it was like some violent chant about beating another school - but she doesn't even mention another school. And to that simple sentiment, the nerds get all aggressive. Really, nerds? You thought that the cheerleader's cheer was meant to be taken literally? As in, she went through all the schools there are and clearly the best one is the one they are in? You can't stand the idea that it is just a saying, a way to get some school spirit and some goddamn pride in the place you have to spend four years? Why the hell do you have to give her a hard time for chanting that?

And then in the last panel, we get the Nerd Vindication. Look at the downtrodden cheerleader. Look at her, having recognized the error of her ways. Yes, you see, all it took was some clever questioning by the nerds to utterly bring down both the School Administrators and the Cool Kids at once. Revenge of the nerds, indeed.

In any case, the "pride in sports teams is utterly random" humor has been done so much better.

As many people pointed out, the extra comma in "why are we having this, rally, again" is utterly egregious, particularly given that Randy claims his comic is about "language."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Comic 587: Mathy McMurder

Oh man, here I am with another late update! keepin' it professional, here at xkcdsucks.

I'll be nice today and say that this comic has some good parts to it. I can't quite describe it, but it is related to the desperate-looking-for-patterns that is so endemic of sciencey TV dramas, which are certainly worth parodying.

The problem I think is that Mathnet (not something I was familiar with beforehand, I will admit) is as far as I can see already a parody. So the xkcd is just taking something funny and....making more jokes off it. very much like the critique of that Princess Bride comic a few months back: you are going to have to do more than just jump on the back of another person's humor vehicle.

Is there any reason they need that caption at all? It's funnier without it - a little more mysterious (when is the right time for George's useful pattern finding skillz?) and it just sort of flops on the end there. Better to end where the joke is. Perhaps if the caption had been on top, so we still end with the "This is not possibly helpful" concept it would work better at the very end.


Have I already said that Abstruse Goose is one of the worst websites on the planet? It is. That is all I am going to say for a long time about that horrible comic.


Guys do you remember how Randy is having an actual printed book of his comics made up to be sold for money? I am looking for sources to try to get me a review copy. I promise to treat it fairly (and since it will likely have a lot of old comics, I will likely have a lot of nice things to say) and link to any sort of website that may be selling it. If you have any helpful connections to make this happen, send me a missive. Let's make this happen, guys.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Comic 586: Culture War

Mission to sucking
Ugh this is going to be a short post. This comic is dumb, the end. It's trying, I guess, to go for the hilarious "person in a situation where they are not usually" type humor, and it fails. "They must make more money because they have bigger instruments, also that means they are better" is not even close to a good joke - it's almost pathetic in how far away it is from joke success. Also, the last panel's words are waaaay to packed in there - the girl's second line functions as the punchline, or what should be a punchline, and that should get its own panel. That also adds a bit of a pause before you read the punchline which is usually a good thing.

Also that second panel, with her all scrunched up by the door, is creeping me out too. You see Randy, when you draw one pair of stick figures having sex, suddenly they all look like they are doing it! Draw some damn clothes. And bodies for them.

On a more meta note, I'm finding that these posts are more and more just repeating what other people are saying - simply because so many people are now realizing these comics are so bad. I'm still going to keep blogging, but I'm getting the sense that my posts (this isn't true for your comments) are not as needed anymore - and that's in many ways a good thing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comic 585: Shark Jumps XKCD

fuckity fuck fucker fuck  shit fuck fuck
Dear me. This is another example of Randall apparently thinking he can write a webcomic despite having no clue what he is doing. He gives us a very, very elaborate and long set up for something fairly disappointing.

Was I the only one who thought of Land Shark?

Ok so first off, he has to explain his complicated shark tracking thing. Is this actually how people track sharks? I don't mean the tagging them part - that makes sense. I mean the "we can't afford the second part of this research, so we're going to hope that our capsules don't land in the oh, I don't know, 90% of the world that no one inhabits, and then kind people will mail our data back to us, and nothing can possibly go wrong!" part. They should just have the GPS data, which has to come from a satellite, find some other satellite to send its data to, so you don't have to recover the tag itself. BUT NO MATTER.

The point is that the system is contrived to set up the WACKY situation where a shark has a balloon attached to him and he floats away! Who knows where he got that wacky idea?! I don't!

I for one read the first two rows and thought "oh god, I bet this ends with a flying shark..." but then again, I am very intelligent, so perhaps other people did not find it so predictable.

Points to whoever said that the "beakers 'n' flasks" image may represent chemists but it is a dumb thing for zoologists to have.

Ok so the main problem with this comic - the reason I said he doesn't know what he's doing - is that his punchline sucks. If you are going to work so hard to make a situation where we can (sort of) accept a flying shark, you need to do better than "I want to be a scientist [BECAUSE THEY GET TO MAKE FLYING SHARKS]" . how about these-

"Dad, why do you have to keep bringing me along to your boring old job ?"
"And that, my dear, is what will happen if you don't eat your broccoli."
"I hope that was God's way of punishing those Creation Scientists."

See? not hard.

Are we really approaching 600 comics? fuck.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Comic 584: "Unsatisfied" is putting it lightly

damn right

Oh my god this is disgusting. And I don't just mean because of the gross oral sex going on in row 3. Though that is certainly very problematic. I guess we should start with that.

Yeah I know xkcd is supposed to be edgy and For Mature Adults and it's dealt with lots of sexual topics before, and I know that I as a reader am a Mature Adult who has dealt with lots of sexual topics before, but this still struck me as really gross. Just because it's about sex doesn't mean it has to be that graphic and a lot of people don't want to see the characters in their webcomics doing that. Now we have, it is true, seen a little of this before: In comic 487, which I said at the time was the most graphic we had seen those stick people be. It weirded me out then and it weirds me out now. Perhaps part of the problem is that going for something so explicit doesn't really serve any function except to prove that Randall can make it so explicit. In 487 it was funny, because it led to a punchline that was all about how that level of graphic sex couldn't be sustained; here, it means nothing. That panel could be replaced by another, less disturbing one that still managed to convey the idea "HEY LOOK PEOPLE these guys are in a relationship! check it out!"

Oh what's that, there's other panels in this comic that also suck? Oh ok good to know.

I hate this comic because it's just another one of Randy's boo hoo I will never be happy, no matter what comics. There's a thousand of them (all conveniently catalogued here) and they all suck hugely. It has a terrible emo "well either path I take I will be sad until I am dead, when I will still be sad" message that completely reeks of Very Young Person At The End Of His First Relationship.

This one makes less sense than the rest of those comics though: We realize by the end that the various rows are supposed to be marking their relationship through time, ending in death, but the characters never age (and I'll begrudgingly admit that Randall did this, at least, well in comic 572). So when the graves show up it's very sudden and confusing. I am also annoyed by the fact that the comic starts with the man clearly with one of the women. That's a pretty asymmetrical situation - in other words, choosing between girl A and girl B is very different from choosing to stay with girl A vs leave her for girl B. It's presented as though both potential lives are basically the same, but really I think you'd end up with some differences: Leaving girl A for girl B colors the relationship you would have with girl B. Maybe. In any case, I think it would have been better to start with the first panel having the guy with a vaguely similar relationship to both girls. Not that it wouldn't still be a whiny immature comic. Just one that made a little more sense.

And holy lord, the alt-text. How I despise you. Whoever said that if you just add the o rly owl you will have everything that is wrong with xkcd in one comic is correct. How much more forced nerdery can you have, randall, you make me want to vomit right here.

Comic 583: Reproductive Wrongs

creepy, not realistic
Aaaaahhh, it is good to be back. And man, what a crazy week I missed: that Race series was just disgustingly horrible. Jay did a most admirable job taking it down, and I'm not sure how much there is to add - we all know you like firefly, we're all sure that it shouldn't have been cancelled, but you just wrote some fan fiction - crappy fan fiction mind you - forgot the backgrounds, and didn't even write a cogent story. GOOD JOB.

Anyway Jay has now been relegated to the dank prison below the castle of my Comedy Empire so now it is just you and me.

Today's comic is so close to being something easy to deal with. It's so close to just being another pun (a half-decent one, I'll admit) and developer nerd type thing. But right around the second panel, it just turns into some terrible monster and so I have to deal with that too.

"Hey, can you do me without a condom?" What the fuck randall. This is not how human people speak. Not even close. And the proper response is not "OK" but "Holy lord, what did you just say?" I guess they are supposed to be hilariously casual about the matter but still, "do me" ? And then just tacking on the "without a condom" detail? That makes me feel dirty, way more than xkcd usually does.

And even ignoring that there are issues: I'd hope that a funny funny man like Randall could have thought of a funnier (and faster) way to acquire a young child than "doing me without a condom." Sometimes I feel like Randy just forces himself to add sex to his comics just to show that he can, that he isn't tame like Garfield or Blondie.

That said, I made the mistake of reading the newer one - 584 - before I wrote this, and that is so horrible it makes this look a lot better by comparison. I should have waited.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Comic 582: Doesn't actually suck

Oh, Randall, you tricky devil. You did that on purpose. This is my last guest post, and I so wanted to go out with a bang, but... I just can't find anything to criticize here. I liked this comic. Admittedly, it's another reference, which I believe I've bitched about before, but there's an actual joke and it works even if you've never heard of Car Talk.

I really don’t have much to say about this, so I’m going to write briefly about the forum thread instead. One thing jumped out at me as I read it, and suso, I think you have to explain. suso, meet everybody. Everybody, suso.

suso has this to say about the comic:
”Haha! This happened to me once. Randall get out of my head.”

We’ve talked about the inanity of “get out of my head Randall” before, but this might take the cake. Not to pick on you, suso, but honestly - what? This has happened to you before? Yeah man, I know, don’t you just hate it when you drive your car off a cliff?

In other news, apparently the math in the alt text is wrong. It would actually take much less than 6.5 seconds for him to fall to the bottom, and this sort of inaccuracy will just not do. The forumites have been busy correcting this error.

And that's really all I've got. Carl should be returning in time to write about the comic, and as as much fun as we’ve had in his absence, I’m sure we’re all glad to have him back. Carl, I pass the torch to you.


Update: OK guys, we have some controversy in the comments. I want this post to be longer, so I'm going to write about both of them.

Regarding suso: There are a number of people, Carl among them, who believe he was being sarcastic. Look, obviously, that's a possibility, even a probability, I just didn't want mention it because it's boring. I do maintain that you can't assume someone's intelligence on the internet, but I am about 90% joking here. I want to believe.

Regarding Car Talk: There are a few, not a lot, but a few people who didn't get the reference and so didn't find the comic funny. This befuddles me, because despite living in America, I didn't get the reference either. I made the connection in my head, "car trouble → 'Car Talk' → hah, he is calling a radio show instead of attending to the immediate problem! Randall, you card." The joke didn't depend on the reference - I would have laughed even if the name of the show had been made up. Can one of you who didn't get the comic explain this to me?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Comic 581: Finally over

OK. OK Randall, I admit it, you got me. I did not see that coming, although I should have, and it almost made me laugh. It's an alright punchline, though that kind of anticlimax is hardly new in the field of humor. I think Randall's kind of blown his credibility by bitching about Firefly being cancelled so many times before. It makes it seem kind of petty - like, we get it already.

The rest of the comic was I don't care. In a crazy plot twist, Summer beats up Nathan, and I don't care. In a crazier plot twist, Nathan beats up Randall, and I don't care. We have some homoeroticism in the last row - as people pointed out in the comments, apparently Randall was not horrorstruck in the last comic, but was instead consumed by lust. Then it's over, and there was much rejoicing amongst the fans. Honestly, I wouldn't have predicted that this would be the week that would turn people against xkcd - I was expecting them to eat this up, the way they did with leet and secretary. I'm so proud of them.

There's really not a lot of material here to work with, but I have a few stray thoughts. In no particular order:

1. The second sentence in the last panel completely ruins the flow of the joke. Randall should have made it the alt text, and chucked the real alt text in the trash where it belongs.

2. There are already several joke petitions for Fox to 'uncancel' the fight. I disapprove.

3. The comic I just read cannot be described by any combination of the following words: epic, awesome, win, or sauce.

Overall, this entire story arc left me with a feeling of "whatever." I wouldn't even call it bad, not in the sense I usually mean by the word. It was just dull, which is worse. I've written five posts now, and I've tried to make them all interesting and funny, but I'm not a good judge of my own writing, so I don't know if they came out that way. Thing is, though, they were hard to write - much harder than I expected. And it wasn't the act of writing itself, it was summoning the energy to care. With bad things, you can at least point and laugh and hate at them, and here I struggled to do even that.

What Randall really needs is an editor. Someone merciless, someone to tell him, "parentheses don't fucking go there." Or, "everything after panel three is worthless." Someone to tell him that making five comics about Firefly is a bad idea.

I think Randall has it in him to write a decent comic. He was funny once, he's just become self-indulgent as hell (and I'd bet the constant love from his fans has a little something to do with that.) Another person on board might curtail that. He also needs to put a six-month ban on himself from making subculture references so he can learn to tell jokes again.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Comic 580: A victory over Randall

Okay guys, there is one thing in particular I want to talk about here, but before we get to that I have a comic to summarize. Away we go:

In panel one, we see the skateboarders standing next to each other. This disappointed me, as we last saw Randall whizzing off into the vast white emptiness, and I had my hopes up that he would get lost out there and die. Alas, that was just a gag, and this mediocre story continues as before.

In panel two, Nathan Fillion is a bad sport and cunningly tricks Randall into picturing him naked. He has a penis and Randall has a penis, and this makes Randall hideously uncomfortable, enough to freeze him solid apparently. I don't know about you, but I am male and when I happen to think of other guys naked, it does not render me paralyzed with disgust. It probably means I'm gay, but whatever.

Panels everything else are just too boring for me to summarize. We finally get to the race, and it is maybe the least exciting race ever, since there's still no scenery. Half of the time we don't even get those wavy lines to indicate movement. We have more of Nathan's patented brand of wackiness, and it hasn't gotten any funnier since comic two when it appeared. Less so, actually. Also, thanks to the lack of a background, there's no perspective in panel eight and it looks like a miniature Randall is flying above Nathan's head.

In the last row, we have the punchline, and this is what I want to draw attention to, because as many of you noticed, I totally fucking called it. Yesterday, I wrote this:

'I was really hoping she [Summer Glau] would beat up someone, because that's what she does in the show, and then I could make a joke like, "yes Randall, you would love to get beat up by Summer Glau, wouldn't you."'

And today we have this:

Eerily similar, I know.

The way I see it, there are two possible explanations for this. Either Randall's comics are obvious and predictable, or I am psychic and am intercepting his thoughts from 500 miles away. I suspect the former, but either way, I win.

On a final note, I am so glad that Randall referred to her as "Miss Glau" and not Summer. That is what he would call her in real life, and there is a limit to how much fakery I can take.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Comic 579: Where will he end up?

Well, we have the appearance of Summer Glau. I totally called it, even though it's what we were all expecting. I was really hoping she would beat up someone, because that's what she does in the show, and then I could make a joke like, "yes Randall, you would love to get beat up by Summer Glau, wouldn't you." But trust me, it's better this way.

The first two rows are just a build up to a joke about Morena Baccarin, who played a prostitute on the show. Randall is wondering if she is one in real life, because he would like to engage with her in hot Firefly sex. I guess? I did not understand this joke until I looked it up on Wikipedia, and I strongly suspect it isn't funny, but maybe it would have been if I'd gotten it. I'm going to pretend. Please don't take this from me.

In the last panel we have another joke. It would have been okay, if Randall had spent some time building up to it, instead of the prostitute one. As it is, it comes out of nowhere - that's right, they're having a race! So my reaction was "huh."

I'm a bit baffled by the geography here. I'm not sure what's up with the mountains in the background. At least I think they're mountains, though part of them appears to terminate above the ground. The characters all appear to be standing on some sort of hellish, featureless wasteland, like the comic takes place in limbo or something. Maybe the cast of Firefly lives in the desert? But then at least there'd be plants.

I think I'd be less annoyed by this comic if I didn't feel like Randall was using it to live out one of his personal fantasies. He gets to hang out with all his favorite actors and they accept him as one of their own! I mean, it's fine to have heroes and dream about meeting them, I do that too, but you are posting it to the internet for millions to see. Get ahold of yourself, Randall.

This comic seems to be generating a surprising amount of hate on the forums. Durandal writes, "I don't really see any humor at all." Akbar writes that "xkcd has officially jumped the shark", and Kuznetsov is just waiting for the story arc to end. This is encouraging, as my impression is Randall was expecting this to be a real crowd-pleaser and apparently it... isn't. What's that you say, guys? Recognition doesn't equal humor? Say it ain't so!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Comic 578: More buildup

My initial reaction on reading this was, it's not as bad as it could have been. I was expecting something like the leet series, which I maintain is the worst thing Randall has ever written. This comic is not as bad as that, but it is not good.

First off, thank you Mrs. Stick Lady for expressing exactly what I was thinking in the first two panels. I wrote about this before, so all I'm going to say is that yes, Firefly was years ago, and you should no longer be making jokes about it. You are a remarkably astute observer.

In the third panel, we get the first joke of the story arc. Unfortunately, it's not a very good joke, "celebrities take themselves too seriously, haha," and we've all seen it before. In such exotic places as xkcd, for example. See Richard M. Stallman in the leet series, Ron Paul in the secretary series, and Cory Doctorow in the leet and secretary series. Randall does this pretty much any time he uses a celebrity.

I'll admit I'm distracted by the fourth panel. Randall apparently ran out of space while drawing it, and instead of redoing it decided to stick the dialogue outside the frame. Unfortunately, it seems to be encroaching on Nathan Fillion's personal space, and it looks incredibly awkward, like they're both saying "come again?" simultaneously.

This comic is basically fan fiction, and that it's about actual celebrities instead of Harry Potter doesn't change that. I think fan fiction is pretty icky just on principal, but what pisses me off is that I know a pretty sizeable portion of xkcd's audience would claim to hate fan fiction in all its forms. And yet here they are, reading it without even knowing.

Why does Randall do this? I could understand it if he wrote an actual fan fiction, because Firefly ended pretty quick, and you know 14 episodes could never be enough. And I could understand it if he was writing this about Summer Glau (who I fully expect to make an appearance, by the way), because Randall has one hell of a crush on her. But it's about Nathan Fillion and his skateboard, and it's not as if either of those things are ripe with jokes, because to date we have not had an actual punchline.

Long-form storylines seem difficult for any webcomic writer to pull off. Even the Penny Arcade guys have trouble with them, and they're a notch better than Randall, or three. I don't know why he feels the need to insert celebrities into all of his stories, but he's not doing himself any favors.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Comic 577: Not pictured: joke

Hey, kids. It's commentator Jay, up for a round of guest-posting. I've taken over this blog, and I don't intend to give it back - but don't worry, Carl, if you're good I may let you post from time to time. Peons in the comments, I expect you to treat me with the deference that my position deserves.

Okay, the comic. I think most of us can agree that it's bad (which is a relief to me), and I think most of us can agree on why. The first panel. This isn't the first time Randall has resorted to explaining his references, and someone should really tell him that if you feel the need to do that, you're doing something wrong. And this is a pretty clumsy way of going about it too - I'd replace that dialogue with "Nathan Fillion from Firefly." Same effect, without the parentheses. How the fuck are you supposed to pronounce those anyway?

Even ignoring the awful first panel, what we have here is a comic of references. I'm going to focus on the Firefly thing first, because I've wanted to talk about it for a while and I just don't get it. It was a show with what... 11 episodes? That aired in 2003. That was a long time ago. Granted, I've never actually seen it, maybe it really was that good - but guys, it's still time to move on.

Firefly is not the only reference in this comic. Randall is something of a fan of electric skateboards, he's mentioned them a few times, and as he writes on his blog, he is very excited to learn that Nathan Fillion likes them too. Honestly, I don't know what to say to this - I'm glad you have a hobby, Randall, I really am, but it isn't enough to carry the comic on its own.

See, if you're thinking to yourself that this comic is missing something, you are correct, because Randall has apparently forgotten to include a joke. This comic has no humor, not even an attempt at humor. There's just anticipation of all the wacky hijinks that are going to ensue later in the week. It's lazy. Even the alt text is just a reference to an earlier xkcd, and that is not enough. Picture this: I'm a stand-up comedian, and I walk out onto the stage and say in a grave and solemn voice: "internet." Or, "Firefly." Do you laugh? No, and if you do it's only because I'm an idiot. References aren't enough by themselves, you have to do something with them.

That's pretty much it. On the plus side, it looks like this is going to be a five-comic week, which means you all get even more Jay! So if you are thinking, "oh how I love you, you are even better than Carl", you my friend are in luck! If not, well, I hate you too.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Comic 576: Making The Full Case for Randall Munroe's Illustrated Picto-Blog


The thing is, this is an intriguing idea. Might not work well, but it could be fun if you got the details worked out. The top half of this comic, the first four panels - they don't make me or anyone else laugh, but I like them as a concept. It's in the second half - the "put it into practice so we can make a joke" half - that there are problems.

Now I know I often say that certain xkcd comics don't have any joke when there should be one, so I'll at least say that yes, he has tried here to make a joke, and not just present an idea. The issue is that the joke is terrible. There's no reason at all you'd get on a watchlist for those items. A tourist map of the pentagon? If it's made for tourists it's clearly not going to have any of the secret stuff. Lube? Really? You think buying that is something the government cares about? No. You just wanted to stick in a sexual reference for its own sake (just like your alt-text wanted to stick in a reference to a previous, better xkcd for its own sake).

And so we come once again to an idea that we here at xkcdsucks have been mentioning forever: Randall Munroe's Illustrated Picto-Blog. Randall Munroe is an interesting guy. He's not nearly as funny as he thinks he is, or as he used to be, but he has some interesting ideas. At this point, they are the most amusing thing on his webcomic. The problem is that he forced himself to update his webcomic three times a week, and he doesn't have interesting ideas nearly that often.

That's why we have been proposing that Randy shut down xkcd, and start up a blog - a blog that please god you do not promise to update on a pre-specified basis - where he describes all his ideas. He can talk about purely theoretical ideas, or talk about trying to put them into practice, or anything in between. He can illustrate them with little comics or drawings when needed. This would be a great website.

In fact, Randy did something very much like this recently, in his post "A Date Idea Analyzed." That's certainly something he could have put as a comic, ending with the four panels he drew at the bottom. Honestly, if you'd told me that Randy had heard this idea, I would have guessed that he would make it into a comic, so I honestly applaud his restraint there. But so many irritating comics recently could have made interesting posts like this. That one about figuring out where people near you are having sex, that one about making a simulated computer out of rocks, and honestly, even though I hated it at the time, geohashing works for this too.

This blog would have basically the same readership as xkcd, but unlike xkcd, it wouldn't be based on the lie that Randall Munroe is a hilarious dude. I would read this blog. I would like it, too. I suspect a lot of the folks here would like it. And then if he had an idea for a comic, he could post that too, but he won't have to. So hopefully he'll only post when he has something that doesn't suck so hard. We will all be winners here!

I might have to e-mail Randy and ask him if he'll do this. I know he won't listen but I really do think it's the best idea.


Two notes:

There have been a shit ton more comments on this blog recently, mostly of the entirely worthless, irritating nature. Try to ignore those I guess? Also if someone posts as Carl and the word "Carl" isn't a link to my blogger profile, it is an imposter! and you should tar and or feather them immediately.

And with that I am off the xkcd sucks grid for about a week. Jay will be getting started here with the next comic, and probably if the comments are as numerous as they have been recently, I will just have to ignore them all and start again when I get back. I really do read every comment, even if there are way to many to respond to anymore. So be good while I'm gone kids, Jay has my phone number and he will not hesitate to call me if you are acting up again, and you will not like what I do when I get home.