Sunday, June 28, 2009

Comic 602: Broken Social Life

Overcrapified more like

So apparently Randall Munroe (or his stand in, Generic Stick Man) is awkward at parties. This is because he cannot handle much social interaction and would rather think of math! Things would be so much easier if we could all just hang out with robots.

This comic has of course inspired on the forums (as well as in comments here) lots of "oh man i TOTALLY do that to, get out of my head" type responses. That's what I hate about xkcd: He just writes about nerds bein' weird and awkward and everyone identifies with it and is like "oh man that is so awesome, I am validated now because Internet Man has the same issue, that makes me less weird" and that somehow translates into "xkcd is funny."

But enough of that. The real problem with this comic is that we've seen it before. Yes, he has some more interesting that usual visuals (both party-turning-into-the-dude's-mind kind of thing and the visualization of prime numbers) that prove, once more, that Randy knows basic photoshop. But "I am bad at social interaction but have to pretend I am not because of social pressure" is an old xkcd trope. You see it in 358 and a while ago in 92. Of course, this one is even pander-ier to his fans.

But I do have some nice things to say this time! this makes me feel good. He finally has put some work, apparently, into the art. That's rare, and it's nice to see him not be so damn minimalist. Good job expressing your thoughts in a good combination of words and pictures! this is what comics are for. yay

99 comments:

  1. holy shit carl you posted BEFORE THE NEXT COMIC WENT UP what is going on

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  2. Ah, no, the next comic is up and has been so for a long time...

    I seriously can't get why Carl identifies the "Generic Stick Man" with Munroe, the author has not stated this even once, as far as I am concerned.

    Half of the problems you (@Carl) have with his comics are based on this false assumption and it leaves a truly bad impression. You don't comment on the joke and your arguments are predominantly ad hominem because sometimes you have nothing else to grab onto. Your logic is weak and falls apart even under superficial examination. You say you hate XKCD for something someone else has done. This argument would not stand in front of any thinking person, I believe you understand why. Apart from that, I do agree that identifying oneself with a comic strip that is about the most unbelievable geekiness and then saying "I feel better now" is a subject for examination by trained specialists. However, you cannot blame Munroe for that.

    Munroe's jokes aren't always top-notch humor, however, you are doing even worse at criticizing them.

    P.S. Please, excuse any errors in grammar, punctuation, and word choice, English is my third language and I have not had too much of a chance to practice it.

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  3. Is English being your third language why you don't get that this post on 602 went up while 602 was still up and that is actually amazing given Carl's recent track record?

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  4. While I agree that sometimes this blog is a bit hairy with distinguishing between author and character, in this case I think it's justified assuming that it is Randall. It seems focused enough on this one cypher that we haven't seen before, and who we know works on maths papers, etc, that I feel confident saying "this is meant to represent Munroe".

    CAPTCHA: "pulvors". I fractured my pulvors once, and it hurt.

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  5. To be honest - in comparison to the latest few comics, this one has no openly sexual references, actually deals with a preference for (real) math and just is a "not-crap" comic overall. Maybe way below former par, but I see this as a way back to the roots of the glorious days.

    But then again, the alt-text ruins anything. In a way, it sounds like he were to say "I made a fun math reference, but am not sure whether my readers like it, so I better add a 'yeah, me totally too'-reference for the non-math people in here"
    Come on, don't feel bad for turning your back on cheap mainstream comics!

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  6. My next studio album, "Roots of the Glorious Days", is available via Parlophone Records from July 7th at iTunes!

    CAPTCHA: "pantisho". Hmm.

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  7. I don't think the real problem is that we've seen it before. I think the real problem is that he's basically saying "PEOPLE WHO ENJOY PARTIES ARE SHALLOW AND I AM SUPERIOR TO THEM BECAUSE I PREFER TO THINK OF MATHS."

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  8. That's a pretty intense generalization. He's setting the scene of a particular kind of party. The people are talking in a bitchy, banal way about other people, and stick guy wants to escape. You're adding the shallow/math stuff yourself; this could appear on a tennis comic site with stick guy escaping into his head to play pretend tennis, but this is xkcd, so obviously, we're gonna get some primes.

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  9. First Anon: What fluffy said. By "next" I meant 603. Hence the word "next."

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  10. That's a pretty intense generalization. He's setting the scene of a particular kind of party. The people are talking in a bitchy, banal way about other people, and stick guy wants to escape. You're adding the shallow/math stuff yourself; this could appear on a tennis comic site with stick guy escaping into his head to play pretend tennis, but this is xkcd, so obviously, we're gonna get some primes.

    Alternately, of course, he could've written it at some other sort of party! Is the point of this comic "People are bitches" or "Math guy just wants to do math"? If the latter, well, it could've been in any kind of party, and actually the message would've been stronger if he'd been at a conventionally entertaining party. As it is, it dulls the point because even a perfectly normal person might be turned off by the jackasses Randall has filled his imaginary party with.

    If, however, we think of the comic as saying "Man, people suck SO HARD, thank God for math," well, the terrible people are actually integral. The fact that a solid five panels and the alt text are devoted to demonstrating just how shitty these folks are--more narrative space than the guy's math fantasy!--seems to support the hypothesis that, yes, people being vapid assholes is an important part of 602.

    It could be both, but it definitely seems that the message of "People suck" is present, and probably stronger than "Mathematicians are autistic."

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  11. @Anon 2:13:

    "blah blah words You don't comment on the joke blah blah oh look I'm smart please someone respect and pay attention to me blah blah bullshit"

    It's hard to comment on something that doesn't exist. This comic had no joke. It had an observation that might, to a feeble-minded, fanboy lackwit, might be perceived as amusing, but calling it a joke is quite a stretch.

    In regards to the rest of your post:

    -Prove the assumptions are false, and provide evidence to support your argument
    -Saying ad hominem makes you look like a pretentious high school debate student. This is the Internet - if you want perfect debate etiquette, get the fuck out.

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  12. I didn't find it funny, but at least it wasn't downright bad.

    Meh! Not much else to say.

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  13. Actually, many, many, many comics make the fair (though implicit) point that its main character IS a projection of Randall himself. That doesn't imply he's putting into the comic things that DO happen to him, of course. Oh, and in more than one occasion, the character was referred to by Randall's name. Either way, though, the using of xkcd's strips as a means to comment on Randall personally is reaching stupid proportions. It's funny how people criticise him so fiercely, when in fact THAT is what helps people become notorious. If he was really all that bad, it would be better to simply ignore him.
    This comic was damn solid, and again, very easy to find all sorts of stupid, idiotic subtexts in. "Oh, Randall is showing how superior he is!". Pathetic. "Oh, Randall is socially inept and doesn't know how to deal with people". Well, nothing in the comic implies that ALL non-geeky people are as stupid and shallow and false as that, but people like that exist, and it's not such an absurd point to prefer maths than to staying around people like that (unless you're also stupid and shallow and false, in which case you'd say "deuhhr, you don't like parties because you don't know how to enjoy life, deuhhr"). The comic's single important point is at the end: people automatically assume (usually unwittingly) you're exactly like them, so you obviously enjoy what they enjoy, and everything they don't enjoy is a burden to you. If that never happen to you, maybe you just don't have any idea of what the comic is talking about and your points are pretty much stupid. What *I* find is that I the comic wasn't trying hard to FORCE me to relate with it. It's quite in tune with the more assorted, unassuming ideas of old, and I like that; it's just one of those "oh, funny, I've been through that before! Turns out I'm not alone in this world" moments, and if Randall was just trying to cater to his fans' pleasures, at least he put some effort in it.
    As for the "BUT HE HAS DONE THIS BEFORE!!!!!11" criticism, meh. You've been making the same style of criticism over and over and over and over, yet you're just ok with that...

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  14. Guys, xkcd has recently started using nicer visual effects, what with the Robot's electric arc, meteors and the slipstream-ish slide into a mathworld.
    Is it a real trend of improvement from the sticks-n'-words style Randall has used for ages or just some stochastic behavior of this sad sad system?

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  15. Sorry, had some more to write:

    Oh and xkcd#92 and xkcd#358 has real frigging art in them! FRIG!!

    Randall, stop being such a lazy ass and make good art again! We know you can do it! WE KNOW!
    Look at this awesome bark! Look at these stylistic red cups and movement of the partiers! Look at the SHADING! We never see no frigging shadings in an xkcd anymore, not like the one in xkcd#358. Look at the rudimentary, one-point, perspective in xkcd#92! It is much more pleasing with the zero-point we see in the usual flatland xkcd. xkcd#92 even has a nice negative colours effect!

    FRIGG!!!1

    and again
    FRIGG!!!!1

    p.s. Even though xkcd#602 is not a humorous xkcd, it has a nice commentary. Also, it talks about a different aspect of parties than the other two and each of the other two talks about a different aspect. So I don't think he is recycling... not much.

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  16. I'm still surprised that so many people liked this. Look at it. THEY'RE STANDING IN SINGLE FILE, WTF?! And there's one lonely, miserable cup on the table. Which disappears in panel 5.

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  17. @Fernie:

    If doing the same thing over and over again is wrong, then Randall and Carl are BOTH wrong. Saying, "Oh, it's wrong to criticize Randy for being repetitive, but I will criticize YOU, Carl, for being repetitive", is a double standard, and it fucking pisses me off.

    If Randall is immune from criticism for repetition, then so is Carl. Similarly, if you forgive Randall for it, you must also forgive Carl for it. Get Randall's dick far enough out of your ear to think clearly before making such a stupid argument.

    Also, as for this:

    "The comic's single important point is at the end: people automatically assume (usually unwittingly) you're exactly like them, so you obviously enjoy what they enjoy, and everything they don't enjoy is a burden to you. If that never happen to you, maybe you just don't have any idea of what the comic is talking about and your points are pretty much stupid."

    Perhaps there is a scenario you're forgetting; that Carl (and I, and others) find this point incredibly trite, cliche, and frivolous, and thus consider it a rather uninspired, unoriginal point.

    Go eat a dick, you self-righteous prick. It's not that we don't get it - it's that we don't want it. Try peddling your superiority complex elsewhere, asshole.

    (P.S. - Gin does make a man mean.)

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  18. I thought the entire point of being friends with someone was because of mutual interests. But Randall has proved me wrong by showing true friendship is about standing in a single file line, doing whatever you feel like.

    Also, something I'm surprised no one mentioned that random cup on the table. It has no apparent purpose, but in the last panel one of the generic girls goes to pick it up. It just feels out of place that no one else would have a plastic cup drink or why it would suddenly be of importance. But that's me nit picking.

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  19. Also if Carl's humor is repetitive, it's because his xkcd dictates what he writes. If Randy makes the same mistakes, Carl pretty much has to write the same criticisms.

    It's like they say, you can't polish a turd.

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  20. Hunter Barry: What's so wrong with the cup? She was drinking it before the comic started, she stopped drinking it to talk, then she resumed drinking it to get a sip later on.

    The_P: What's so wrong with ad hominem? It's a perfectly good word.

    Hunter Barry (again): Who said he was at that party with his friends? Maybe he had one friend at the party who dragged him there. Maybe he decided to try and meet new people, but it didn't work out.

    And to anyone: What's wrong with this "not having a joke"? Comics don't need jokes; the point of a comic is not to make you laugh; it's to entertain/please/satisfy you.

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  21. D'oh! I meant phrase, not word.

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  22. What's wrong with the cup is it just seems out of place to only have one person drinking it. It's not a major problem, it just irks me that he would add detail to that one insignificant part.

    I assume they're his friends because why else would he be hanging out with them. Occam's Razor at it's finest. If he was dragged there against his will, then Randall should establish that earlier in the strip. Otherwise, the sane reader will be left to assume the most likely explanation and the fanboy will assume whatever makes the strip work.

    Usually, comics need to have some point to work. XKCD doesn't have art, a narrative, or a punchline in this case. So what is the point? I guess the point is this one hypothetical character prefers math over conversation. Whoop de doo.

    On an unrelated note, I actually liked the most recent comic. It was pretty rational and well thought out. About the only complaint I'd have is why is he talking about a 2006 film in 2009, but he's committed worse sins in the past week than that.

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  23. I'm pretty sure the rich don't have more children. Make whatever point you want about societal decline vs complaining about it, but don't have your "good" character spout crap.

    This comic is like "HI I'M RANDALL AND I THINK I'M SMARTER THAN A BUNCH OF NAYSAYERS OH SNAP THAT COULD BE A COMIC"

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  24. 603's biggest problem, for me, was that Idiocracy came out three years ago.

    The next biggest problem is that this is the third or fourth time Randall has mocked a satire or a parody--he did it with Princes Brice and MathNet, for example. It's very lazy to riff off already funny material.

    Of course, the Idiocracy stuff is gone by panel two, and I'll confess that I wasn't really able to completely follow the thrust of the guy's argument.

    But I actually didn't mind it, because for ONCE it felt like he's written two characters who are different and also NOT RANDALL. Mr. Some Other Kind Of Hat is clearly not Randall, because he's a NEW CHARACTER. And Random Stick Figure isn't Randall, because he's kind of dumb.

    Similarly, I don't mind how incredibly preachy and abrasive stuff like the fourth and sixth panels are, because it's coming from a character who's supposed to be a hateful jackass. Okay, I mind a little bit, because it's not funny. But at least it doesn't feel like Randall, personally, is condescending to his readers.

    I find Mr. Some Other Kind Of Hat's claim in the fifth panel very, very dubious, but I'm not actually sure how I would even begin to quantify stuff like "harm done by social decline" or whatever. Also, re-reading it, the grammar is off--I'd suggest replacing "ever did" with "itself."

    Alt-text is cheery and optimistic, and that's a pleasant change of pace from the usual relentless "People suck love sucks I suck KILL ME NOW" tone that XKCD has adopted as of late.

    The alt-text made me think of Pictures for Sad Children, although I really read that particular one as applying more to Aaron Diaz than to Randall Munroe.

    Also, FUCK AARON DIAZ TO DEATH.

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  25. I thought idiocracy was a lot of fun -- but I also agree with Randall.

    However, the comic simply doesn't have a joke or a punch line. It's just Randall being preachy, which should have been saved for his blog. On the other hand, theres no stick figure fucking, so that alone makes it one of the better recent comics.

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  26. the comic is so much funnier if you assume no-hat-guy = randy. it's in character

    I feel like that last panel can be used in any number of xkcd: could be better parodies.

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  27. Also Randy spelled zealots wrong.

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  28. So, in panel 4, there's a vowel in "zealot" that shouldn't be there.
    It COULD be an ingenious gambit attempting to combine the word "sellout" and "zealot" (the sounds are similar, the slur wouldn't be hard), and the implication that being high-and-mighty with morality is hypocrisy?
    Or Randall could use a proofreader.

    p.s. why is White Hat offscreen in the last panel? Is he just walking away because he's that done with the conversation, or is it because the text was written before the illustration was done, and there wasn't room for White Hat to stick around, making a dismissive gesture?
    And does it even matter?

    Who has two thumbs and is too young to drink gin like Poore? IT'S THIS GUY

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  29. Aside, I briefly read PVP Makes Me Sad because Carl mentioned it in an (old, old) comment...

    ...and I'm stopping, because overall I really think it IS too positive. PVP's really pretty trite and banal, and though the illustration has steadily improved, the jokes are actually pretty much at XKCD-level "i am referencing the 80s: laugh now" stuff. And then there's the fact that he writes long-format storylines based around characters who are exclusively idiots, jackasses, or overprotective mothers.

    While it's nice for there to be genuine fans of stuff offering well-thought-out critique of a comic, I was hoping for something a bit ruder, and a bit less inclined to say "Wow! I really like where Scott's been going with a lot of this stuff :)"

    So, it's not for me, and I'm not reading it.

    Thought you might like to know.

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  30. 603 is preachy. Isn't Randall so kind to enlighten us by attacking preachy idiots? Oh wait, that is exactly what Randall is too. So I present alternate panel 4 text:

    You're like the webcomic artists who are burdened by their superiority with the sad duty of decrying the obvious intellectual decay of each new idea. And you're just as wrong.

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  31. Who wants to bet that "zealouts" will mysteriously disappear by tomorrow morning, with no acknowledgement from Randall? I'm calling it now!

    Oh and 603 pisses me off. New Hat Guy is pretty obviously supposed to be Randall, and either he just thought the hat looked cool or he somehow wanted to make people think it wasn't him. His little rant makes no sense and isn't even responding to anything in the movie (a movie which I never considered to have any sort of message in the first place, beyond "hay what if everyone in the future was totally stupid lol komedy gold").

    Randy-in-stylish-summer-hat may or may not have an excellent point anyway, but the presentation is just overly irritating and reminds me a little too much of this: http://www.shmorky.com/comics/big20060619.gif

    Also I hate not being able to copy and paste in this comment box. PLZ FIX IT CARL OR BLOGGER OR WHOEVER'S IN CHARGE KTHX

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  32. Oh and 603 pisses me off. New Hat Guy is pretty obviously supposed to be Randall, and either he just thought the hat looked cool or he somehow wanted to make people think it wasn't him.

    It worked on me. I thought that the hat combined with the ridiculously over-the-top verbal abuse were supposed to clue us in to the fact that everyone in this comic is a gigantic stupid douchebag.

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  33. Ooh ooh ooh I just refreshed the comic and there is no comic there! Perhaps a certain typo is getting unpersoned as was foretold? We shall see!

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  34. I just refreshed, and it's "zealots"!

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  35. Nah, 603 is a repudiation of the arrogant geek culture that everybody* heaped scorn upon him for the last comic. People like this are bullshit. For the first couple panels I was afraid xkcd was going to play that trope straight.

    He took it a little far into Godwin territory (he didn't actually Hitler or Nazis but we all know where he was going with that), but just because Randall has been an arrogant prick in the past doesn't mean he can't decry other arrogant pricks. It might be hypocritical, but that's never stopped anybody (nor is it really a good argument when we can all agree that arrogant prickery is annoying, except when it's not).

    His comic is down now (he's probably fixing the spelling for zealot) and I just had to refresh, so I can't be specific. I'm amused at the forums, though -- a bunch of the posts are already taking the side of the moron in the comic.

    *to within experimental error.

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  36. Ens, you HAVE to be specific--WHICH moron are they siding with? I cannot check myself, for my mind would surely combust.

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  37. It's already fixed.

    603 wasn't as bad as 602. This marks a slight upward trend, but after 600, I'm not holding out hope for much.

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  38. I'm actually pretty happy with 603. Makes a good point, pretty amusing, starting to break up the 4x1 panel flow.

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  39. Despite it being a tad preachy and awkwardly presented, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 603 is a bit of a high note in the latest series of XKCD's solely for the fact that for once it goes against the "People are dumb" dogma that nerd culture is so in love with and which XKCD is the prime prophet of. Somebody finally pulled the emergency break on the whole "I'm not shallow because I do math"/"Pep rallies are for sheep"/"Math people are better than all other scientists" thing, and it was XKCD itself that did it. Amazing.

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  40. the "get out of my head" brigade have arrived: http://echochamber.me/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=41627#p1654729

    On the comic, it's alright I suppose. Not really funny and I'd like to know what inspired the rant but at least it's an improvement over the recent efforts.

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  41. One thing that suddenly struck me about 603: it reads almost -exactly- like a Chick Tract. The way the text in panel 4 is seperated into two bubbles, seperating a line like "And you're just as wrong", the whole wall of text with poor art thing, or the whole 'everything you believe is wrong' sentiment. I mean: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0093/0093_01.asp

    This may actually be true for a lot of preachy XKCD's, but it suddenly became noticable for me.

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  42. last panel of 603 reminds me of dinosaur comics

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  43. And then there's this lovely chestnut:

    "On any measure of intelligence, I surpass either of my parents".

    Any measure, you hear that, folks?

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  44. I identify with this comic, but I have this radical solution where I don't go to parties. So I guess I don't identify with this comic, because I don't do things that I don't want to do. Apparently Randal Munroe does. Bummer for him I guess.

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  45. @Grand Master: holy shit that guy sounds like douche. he claimed in like 3 sentences that he was smarter than both of his parents in all aspects of life and that he was the tallest human in his family line.

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  46. "If doing the same thing over and over again is wrong, then Randall and Carl are BOTH wrong. Saying, "Oh, it's wrong to criticize Randy for being repetitive, but I will criticize YOU, Carl, for being repetitive", is a double standard, and it fucking pisses me off."

    Gee, how surprising you're missing the point. You forget that if Randall and Carl are "BOTH wrong", then neither has the right to criticise each other. Pot calling the kettle black, much? Hypocrisy, much? Not having any mirrors in the house, much?

    "Perhaps there is a scenario you're forgetting; that Carl (and I, and others) find this point incredibly trite, cliche, and frivolous, and thus consider it a rather uninspired, unoriginal point."

    That's NOT the criticism I found around here -- people were way busier attacking Randall himself for supposedly being self-righteous and arrogant, and did NOT bother about what the strip actually meant. You just thought that criticism up right now, and, well, guess what? ANYTHING can be trite, cliché and frivolous; it only depends on how conceited you want to be. If all people in the world shouldn't be allowed to make the same point more than once, art would have been completely depleted centuries ago.

    I also appreciate the insults; it only shows how little you care about actual criticism, and you're only catering for the "insulting xkcd makes me cool" crew. You're doing here exactly what Randall is supposedly doing in his comic: crowd pleasing. But that's not my problem: if it floats your boat, don't let me stop you.

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  47. "More harm has been done by people panicked over societal decline than societal decline ever did."

    I guess I take issue with that? Even excepting things like the dark ages, general downturns in economies and standards of living and whatnot have done a whole hell of a lot of damage to things.

    Second, indignant-hat-man's "theory" is a hypothesis, and is also pretty churlish. What an ass.

    Finally, the guy on the left isn't really getting much in edgewise. Hat-man interrupts him repeatedly, assuming, probably, that he doesn't have any legitiamte arguments. Which is the same dogmatic stylings, naturally, of the people he decries.

    Basically, I don't have an opinion on the issue, really. I'm led to believe that there is evidence supporting the theory that the Flynn effect is reverting itself in developed countries, which are what I assume is being discussed, and I have a lot of anecdotal evidence to support that idea. Regardless, I don't feel well-informed enough to make a judgment; Randall clearly does (or at least thinks he does), but man is he insufferable, and there's not actual evidence for anything that he presents.

    Also, no joke, unless "You're ugly" counts.

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  48. I'm definitely getting a Mary Sue vibe from New Hat Guy. I kind of hate him, he should go fuck himself.

    ('cuz no one else will amirite lol)

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  49. @Fernie Canto: Honestly, what is your stance on xkcd and this blog?

    Here you say how you like 600 but fanboyism is getting on your nerves. And also how terrible 601 is.

    Here you say that because of 601 xkcd has hit the point of no return in awfulness, but 602 has fully redeemed it. You also mention that you "get a little bit of refreshment and pleasure by being nasty and bitter at a goddamn webcomic author.".

    And lastly, above this you mention that "people were way busier attacking Randall himself for supposedly being self-righteous and arrogant, and did NOT bother about what the strip actually meant."

    So according to you, its okay to absolutely hate some comics, absolutely adore the others, be nasty and bitter at Randy without any cartoon criticism some of the time, and then call others out on this message board for doing just that? I mean for christ's sake, how can you go from saying xkcd has hit the point of no return to back to being amazing in 2 comics!?

    How about you pick a side and go with it.

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  50. Yeah fernie pissed me off and lost any credibility when he said xkcd hit the point of no return and then was fully redeemed. In the same sentence.

    Do you know what 'point of no return' means?

    I don't think it's worth arguing with such a fickle, and feeble minded, person.

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  51. @Fernie:

    "Gee, how surprising you're missing the point. You forget that if Randall and Carl are "BOTH wrong", then neither has the right to criticise each other."

    Is that how it works? I don't think that's how it works. Because, if you believe in freedom of speech, then both still have the "right" to say whatever the fuck they want. That kind of PC censorship bullshit doesn't fly.

    "That's NOT the criticism I found around here"

    Really? Because I just made it around here. The quote of me comes directly from here. Here is the only place that specific criticism has been found.

    "If all people in the world shouldn't be allowed to make the same point more than once, art would have been completely depleted centuries ago."

    I'd like to see you prove this, because it's an incredibly untestable claim. Accepting that it's okay to be cliche is an attitue that breeds stagnation and hinders innovation. I'm not saying that all points that have been made before should never be made again - I'm saying that, after 600 fucking comics, you'd think Randall could come up with something actually original for once.

    "I also appreciate the insults; it only shows how little you care about actual criticism, and you're only catering for the "insulting xkcd makes me cool" crew."

    So assumptions you make about me from the things I do and say online are correct, but the assumptions we make about Randall from the things he does and says online are not reasonable? Fuck that noise.

    Also, see Mike G.'s post. I can't decide if you're an idiot, a troll, or just plain crazy.

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  52. @format and Mike G.

    First of all, he says that he HAD (previously) considered xkcd to have hit the point of no return. His point is that 602 proved this idea to be false--it's really not that confusing.

    In any case, the point of no return is the final point at which return--that is, if you are to return, you must do it before passing that point. To have PASSED the point of no return implies that redemption is no longer possible, to have HIT it implies that if you are to redeem yourself, you must do it immediately. Since his claim is that 602 does redeem xkcd, the terms have all been used acceptably and without contradiction.

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  53. Thats understandable Chris. I just find it nonsensical to flip flop so much and so easily on such extreme ends of the spectrum.

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  54. I just found something worse than the xkcd forum: the xkcd LiveJournal comments. Sadly, they disappear after two weeks.

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  55. I'm a socially awkward nerd who doesn't like math, that's right I said it. I would rather think about video games or naked girls, but I guess that is because I am just a plebian in the eyes of supar genius math language and love expert randall.

    Oh and I also get the feeling that he hates women. Why won't Megan screw him and save us from more terrible comics?

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  56. This weekend someone referenced xkcd IN REAL LIFE IN MY PRESENCE, but I was able to choke back the bile. It was a math major talking to some other science major about that stupid xkcd 435, fields arranged by purity.

    Specifically, it was brought up because of its intense pandering, as some sort of justification that math is awesome.

    And people like it because of this. I'll just never understand.

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  57. @Subculture
    Amen. When will Randall learn that we use blogs to preach our simplistic worldviews, and webcomics to amuse others? Unless xkcd isn't supposed to be funny or insightful in anyway, in which case good job Randall.

    Even though I agree that the story in Idiocracy is far fetched, couldn't Randy have made a strip that wasn't so indignant, preachy, and... unfunny?

    A: "Here's my elitist opinion x."
    B: "You're wrong because you're just like people you hate. Oh, and x is probably true because you suck in a way that validates x. Haha! *walks away*"

    HAHAHAHAHA you sure told him what's what, Randall analogue. That's what I'm gonna do next time someone spouts an ill informed opinion; be a boorish and condescending asshole, which is essentially the prerequisite for finding #603 funny.

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  58. To be fair, people who talk like the hat guy in 603 are usually boorish, condescending assholes themselves.

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  59. @The_P

    "If doing the same thing over and over again is wrong, then Randall and Carl are BOTH wrong. Saying, "Oh, it's wrong to criticize Randy for being repetitive, but I will criticize YOU, Carl, for being repetitive", is a double standard, and it fucking pisses me off."

    Though his "Gee, how surprising you're missing the point" post seems to indicate otherwise, I felt that Fernie was criticizing Carl for being hypocritical, not directly just for being repetitive. I didn't think he was holding Carl accountable while giving Randall a pass. He was just saying that Carl shouldn't criticize for something he does himself.

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  60. "No links before 5 posts. Especially if you link to filthy scum like the BNP.

    NOT. WELCOME. HERE."
    ~Unnamed mod

    Looky, biased mods!

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  61. Wow, this was actually a good criticism. Carl usually makes critical assumptions which lead him down a path to possible misinterpretation. Then, he presents his interpretation as being the ONLY interpretation. However, I don't think he did that once in the one.

    I, for one, didn't interpret 602 as him being snobby. I think it's just a dude who can't leave his work behind. I thought the main character was sad at the end that he couldn't just enjoy the party. However, the particular style of the party banter does lend credibility to the snobby interpretation.

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  62. From our friend teapotdome:
    http://arch.kimag.es/share/53777592.gif

    603 in a nutshell. (It's still better than 602, TYVM.)

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  63. 603: Soapbox rant. Hat-less assuming man comments on an old video before the hat-wearing guy just bitches him out. Who's Randy trying to fool, we can see him under that hat.

    Which brings up a complaint I have had with XKCD for a long time. Look at 602. Goddammit why are all the guys bald? It just looks wrong if you take the time to give girls hair but not guys.
    Oh wait, excuse me. Look at #600. Give a creepy male sex-bot hair but not the other guy?

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  64. Tomical

    Just as there is nothing indicating they have hair, there is nothing indicating that they are bald. He just didn't draw hair. Complaining that men are bald because only girls have hair would be like complaining that the stick dude on a men's restroom door is naked because he doesn't have any indicated clothing, while the woman on the door has a dress. The pony tail or long hair indicates a girl. No hair drawn indicates a guy. I wouldn't expect more from a stick-figure comic.

    As for the sex bot having hair, perhaps that just indicates that he is something more than the stock male character.

    Finally, everyone just shut the fuck up on them standing in single-file line. It's a 2D comic. If he drew them non-single-file they'd be on top of each other and you wouldn't be able to tell what's what. And then you'd probably complain about that...

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  65. @Anon
    I think we can all agree that good writing can save bad art. But when the writing sucks, criticizing the art is fair game.

    I don't mind the non-existent hair or the stickmen. But the perspective is just awkward as hell. What's wrong with a 3D room with 2D stickmen? Seriously, if you're gonna use the same panel 6 times in a strip, you better be sure the panel doesn't look like ass.

    There's minimalism, and then there's laziness.

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  66. Anon:

    Randy isn't drawing some OSHA warning label, he's drawing a comic. Stick figures to begin with are lazy because they're cliche and frankly boring. I support artists who can make stick figures interesting by giving them unique detail, Raymondo Person Raymondo Person would be an excellent example. Only drawing hair on girls makes the guys stick figures look identical, anonymous, and lazy.

    "I wouldn't expect more from a stick-figure comic."

    Well I am a visual artist and even when I liked XKCD I hated the stick figures. I'm sorry if I expect more from a COMIC, which is just as much art as it is writing.

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  67. That (Mal from Firefly) dude had hair...

    Why so lazy, Randall?

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  68. Carl is an eagle-eyed critic this time.

    I didn't recall either of those prior two comics, namely 358 and 92.

    In light of this, 602 is basically the exact same thing as 358, only more poorly done. These two comics together are basically proof positive of the decline of xkcd. Take the exact same idea, and look at how it was executed two years or so ago versus today.

    603, of course, sucks as well. It's like Randall's setting up his own straw-man type arguments, then knocking them down himself. The tacked on "you're ugly" joke just makes it even worse.

    Randall has an annoying tendency to try to add on a joke, with that joke being super lame and bringing down the rest of the comic.

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  69. Not a fanboy (xkcd sucks)June 29, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    Webcomic art doesn't matter as long as it conveys information. Nobody cares about the art as long as it's not an eyesore. And even then, good writing can save it.

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  70. Tomical and Wilhelm

    Anon here again

    I just don't understand your complaint. It's been stick figures that look like that for 603 comics now. You know the score. And that's the style of the comic. Mostly stick figures, mostly black and white.

    Perhaps the characters, for the most part, are SUPPOSED to look identical and anonymous. Then, the joke is about the joke and not the character(except the few times it is about a character). I just see each stick figure man as a person I've never seen before(hatted-men exceptions aside).

    When I read books, I almost never fill in faces, so reading a comic like this with little facial detail is fine for me. Maybe Randall made the stylistic decision a long time ago for things to LOOK lazy. If something like that is the case, lazy or unlazy can't really apply since it is deliberate.

    "just as much art as it is writing"

    I think that would be up to each individual reader or the author to decide. I don't read xkcd for the art(even though I like the style), I read it for what the characters say. And when it is good, it doesn't matter what the drawing looks like, it gets the point across and the comic isn't hindered by it.

    But my main point is that it has always been this way and it isn't going to change. And if it DID, it would cease to be xkcd.

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  71. 602: More boredom has been caused by passive-aggressive elitism than actually trying to correct it. Aw, could the math man not turn relationship gossip into a logic puzzle? So sad.

    603: Randall makes a bold statement against preaching to the choir, complete with a "no one will fuck you" insult. I predict the next week of comics all contradict his message.

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  72. At Anon:

    I'm not trying to get Randy to change his art style, I know that's futile. What I am doing is complaining about an aspect of XKCD which has always really bugged me. If I wrote this blog, I'd spend most of each post complaining about the bad art. I'm sure I'm much more judgmental on art then you, but that's because it's what's important to me.

    "When I read books, I almost never fill in faces, so reading a comic like this with little facial detail is fine for me."

    Well, this is why I stated my opinion and not yours. Because my opinion is that the art is lazy.

    "But my main point is that it has always been this way and it isn't going to change. And if it DID, it would cease to be xkcd."

    If this is true, then I am for it.

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  73. Tomical

    Anon again

    Looking at some of the older comics(well, the graph paper sketches), it is clear that Randall has considerably more talent than he displays in most comics. And we see colors and interesting things, sometimes. Now, if he has this talent, but decided to make xkcd look the way it does to save time, then it would be lazy.

    But, if he made the decision for any other reason, I don't feel that it can be called lazy, as I don't think that term or its opposite could ever apply in that case.

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  74. He's not shading, leaving characters off screen, making mistakes, not proofreading all that jazz.

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  75. Not shading - could be stylistic, but debatable
    Leaving characters off screen - come on, in 603 "leaving" that character off screen could be used to show that the character is practically gone already. It can be used to comedic effect.
    Making mistakes - I'll give ya that one, though I feel Tomical disagrees with the style of the comic, and the mistakes don't really have anything to do with the style

    Your post is like a distilled post by Carl. You got some things right, but so much of it is choices and personal preference. What you call "leaving" I call "placing". So, you say he did something wrong, I say it's a choice. It's fine if you don't like that he "leaves" characters off screen, but don't act like it is an objective mistake.

    The same applies to calling the art lazy(unless he made the choice because he didn't want to work hard). Lazy implies he did something straight up wrong, but I feel it is just a personal preference, a stylistic choice that he made. For all we know, he could've taken a very long time and made distinct choices to have xkcd look the way it does today. Or maybe he's lazy, who knows?

    But, if anyone(especially Carl), wants to criticize xkcd, ya gotta get as objective as possible and stay fresh. Blasting the art for being "lazy" is parading personal preference as objectivity(except in that one specisl case), and since it never changes, a blog that only criticizes that would soon become as repetitive as Carl thinks xkcd is.



    Honestly, I think Carl should create a repeat offenders list and just check off which ones the comic uses each post and display that. Then, write anything else. that is unique to that comic. If he gets to the point where he can't find anything except the checkboxes, it's time to shut it down. But, that probably wouldn't be as much fun.

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  76. Anon 1:27, look at this.

    #602
    Original
    My version

    Look at the way my stick figures are distributed; instead of looking like they're in a single file line waiting to be served, you instantly realize you're looking at some sort of party.

    Wouldn't you agree that my version in no way compromises xkcd's style? Then why doesn't it look awkward like Randall's? Oh that's right, it's because Randall's a lazy hack.

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  77. "Looking at some of the older comics(well, the graph paper sketches), it is clear that Randall has considerably more talent than he displays in most comics. And we see colors and interesting things, sometimes. Now, if he has this talent, but decided to make xkcd look the way it does to save time, then it would be lazy.

    But, if he made the decision for any other reason, I don't feel that it can be called lazy, as I don't think that term or its opposite could ever apply in that case."

    Then what if I don't call it lazy? What if I just call the art bad? Because it's bad. Floating heads, floating bodies, shrinking chairs and disappearing cups.

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  78. I think I laughed harder than I should have at that different version, Wilhelm.

    Meanwhile, I really don't think it's that Randall's lazy in this instance. Well, he definitely is with his writing, editing, etc. But I just don't think he has any conception of things like framing, placement, consistency, etc. Look at that one frame of a zoomed in cherry in that arc welding comic as a perfect example.

    Randall is not an actual artist. He's got some skills at drawing, but that's it. He's not some great webcomic artist that should be doing better than he is.

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  79. Anon 1:27
    "Lo, the Lord did rain down gifts upon..." Oops, sorry about that.

    Tomical

    That's cool. I just don't like the more objective sounding "lazy" to be used when you just don't like the style.

    Wilhelm

    Sorry, I typed up a response but a glitch caused me to refresh, and I don't feel like typing it again, but I'll say this much. If I had to criticize your drawing, I'd say I don't like how it's 3D, yet there are no boundaries. They're all in some sort of limbo. Randall's boundary-less 2D doesn't make me feel unsettled like yours does. Either way, you version does not change my experience of the joke so I feel it adds no value.

    Carl,
    Could you get a better comment box? Pajiba.com has a particularly nice one with preview and everything. It's the fuckin' bees's knees.

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  80. You're right, Anon, I should have zoomed in the frame a little more so the white background would be less exposed. But still, I used 30 seconds in Photoshop, so my point remains: Why can't Randall at the very fucking least make the frames a little interesting to look at? Just a little?

    The art is the very least of my complaints with xkcd. But I think it's justified to call him out on it.

    @John
    I disagree. The reason I call him lazy is because Randall has used framing, perspective and all that good comic jazz before, even when it didn't add anything to the joke. Just check 294, 295 or 304 for example. Not just lazy writing and lazy editing, but lazy art.

    Lazy everything.

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  81. a terrible comment box is part of the xkcdsucks experience

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  82. Funnily enough, "The XKCDsucks Experience" is the name of my forthcoming live album. Available with bonus tracks on iTunes, 12th July onwards!

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  83. William Monty HughesJune 29, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    haw haw haw
    I hope you're satifised with your feeble lives at insulting an honourable man! And a talented one at that. xkcd is one of the most hilarious "comics" I have ever had the fortune to lay my eyes on. It is pure, undiluted "awesomesauce". Carl (if that IS your real name, coward!), your thinly veiled attempts to cloak your own jealousy is laughable. You hide behind poorly worded and ridiculous criticisms to make you feel better about yourself. xkcd has not gotten worse, you have simply grown bitter.
    Don't try to hide it, don't try to "flame" me. I am much, much smarter than all of you and I mock your futile attempts at fabricating a false aura of intellect. Randall is too.

    Please, re-evaluate your own lives and perhaps grow something called a "sense of humour." Also, look into getting a "life" also.

    -William M. Hughes
    IQ 124

    PS. if anyone has the courage to leave this pit of spite and decadence and enter the Respectable xkcd Fora, you'll know where to find me so we can discuss matters in a civil matter. If you philistines are capable of such a feat.

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  84. William Monty HughesJune 29, 2009 at 4:46 PM

    Ooh, I apologise. My advanced verbiage is too elaborate for you primitives to comphrehend.
    If anyone can, please meet me in the Fora (username: Mathstar)

    -William M. Hughes
    IQ 124

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  85. hahahahahahahahahahahhaha

    WMH, sir, you have brightened my entire day.

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  86. William Monty HughesJune 29, 2009 at 4:54 PM

    I am a parody.

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  87. Don't Explain the Joke

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  88. "If anyone can, please meet me in the Fora (username: Mathstar)"
    Your name doesn't come up in a search and there are 62 pages of "M" users. You'll have to do better.

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  89. Don't Stop The Beat (but do Let The Beat Drop)

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  90. @thomas:

    Especially when I drop the beat and do my a capellas

    (P.S. - Everyone who doesn't get that reference is a fuckin' noob (except Amanda, who is immune from my scorn))

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  91. Also, @WMH:

    You gave it away too soon, and too easily. You are a comedic slut, turning over your secrets at the drop of a hat for a bit of notoriety. You are a magician who reveals his secrets; a prostitute who kisses and tells. You have no honor, and thus, you do not deserve my respect. It is a miracle that I am even willing to openly mock you, for the recognition of your very existence galls me. Count yourself among the worthy few who escape my wrath through virtue of their insignificance.

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  92. xkcdsuckscommentboxsucks.blogspot.com

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  93. i don't know what you are talking about, I wrote this sentence in my URL bar and copied it in here just fine.

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  94. @The_P: is it Flight of the Conchords?

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  95. @Ann Apolis:

    So very, very wrong.

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  96. Yah this is totaly just nerds being awkward, it's not at all say preffering math to the inane bable that is gossip.

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