Thursday, August 27, 2009

Comic 629: Falter Ego


Normally, when I read an xkcd comic, the flaw or gap in the humor is apparent on the first read, with possible nitpicks spotted the second or third time. Only takes a couple minutes max to get around a joke (or a stat concept, ha).

But this one...it works for me. The first two panels had me worried, with Randall loading up his double barrels of meme humor "conventions" and "furries," but the third panel, expository as it was, made me chuckle. The joke is way better than that time he stood up for furries -- here, we have a non-moralizing joke!

The fourth panel is a little dry, but it gets his point across and is more effective than if the comic stuck with the packing scene. The flavor text (which was also on point) kind of begs for an SMBC-style bonus panel of two furry-humanies debating which kind of sex is better, perhaps as a staged event, with the crowd dressed according to its division, but that'd be more art than Randy's churned out in a while. All in all, this comic bucks the trend of making me wish it would go an extra mile and instead makes me thankful that it didn't forget a joke. Lowered expectations, or a minor success? I'm willing to believe. *releases a dove into the clear blue sky*

And I'm pleased that my guest week gets to end with an alright comic. I don't know how Carl deals with the bingo chart of hate-filled responses, but for my part, I enjoy the cameraderie of belittling someone else's efforts...when they're bad. And when there's cameraderie. If this blog was just blind nerd-rage without laughter, then I'd have moved on as soon as I arrived. If xkcd remained an alright comic with its own readers and no hypetarians trying to convert me to love it because SCIENCE LOL, I wouldn't have thought to hate it.

Instead, xkcd's litany of non-jokes is a tie and a book and a spreading guide to tech support, and the feedback here splits between "not a bad post" and "don't ever post here again," and that works. The old crew is aware that this fish tank-sized community only exists so long as spite towards xkcd exists, and the new arrivals seem to catch on to our fun-loving ways soon after their obligatory winded speeches about how we could be leading actual, rewarding lives. Somewhere along the way, hunting cuddlefish went out of vogue, and I don't know why (Amanda? Rob?).

So, while this post was written with the skin of someone who likes xkcd (this time!), I'm ready to don the hater skin come Monday. But we all know what's underneath.

79 comments:

  1. I did not care for this comic. It presented an idea--not too humorous, not too believable, but an idea--and that was about it. It strikes me as the work of a man in need of a strip to make his deadline. "Furries=funny! What can I say about furries?" In terms of execution, the third panel was too wordy. Shorter, punchier dialog for this (the main point of the strip) would have improved the clarity and the buildup to the final panel.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Agreed. I think there's a limit to how much editing can do for this comic--it seems VERY idiosyncratic. But Christ, Randy, at least get SOME. How many times will we have to suffer the trauma of watching a potentially clever idea be delivered DOA?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh I just noticed, Randy did his trademark move of putting a reaction phrase (I see, or Yes, yes it is) and another panel after the punchline. Seriously Randall, a joke is not a story arch, you do not need to have falling actions after the climax, you just need to find a PUNCHline and end there. No reaction shot from the other character (which are all basically stand in phrases for "Oh Randy your ideas are so clever and unique") and no useless panel after the joke.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kirk, thank you for pointing that out. It's such an obsolete line that it went unnoticed here. Now it sticks out horribly.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This seems like another "illustrated picto-blog" comic. "My fursona is a human" is the sort of thing you'd randomly post on Twitter out of boredom. Or maybe that's just me.

    Anyway, I like Randall's Illustrated Picto-Blog. He has some really neat ideas sometimes. I wish he would just recognize that he's better at drawing visualizations of nerdy daydreams than he is at being funny, and switch gears a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kirk: I don't see how that's true in this case. Where do you think it should have ended?

    Thomas: You forgot about "not funny" and "doesn't really make much sense." To each his own, I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kirk, there's humour in that fourth panel - certainly enough to justify its existence. If it had ended on the third panel, it would have felt more like an idea that was delivered without doing anything with it.

    Thomas, your bonus panel idea would have been overkill.

    ReplyDelete
  8. the alt text was decent...

    Id cut off the last frame, turn it into a "votey", replace "i see" with "wat" and call it a day.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Kirk, there's humour in that fourth panel - certainly enough to justify its existence. If it had ended on the third panel, it would have felt more like an idea that was delivered without doing anything with it.

    It ALREADY feels like that, because the delivery on the idea was so tepid.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'd like to say that John Campbell already did something similar, and made it way funnier. I'm not saying Randy copied the joke, just that Pictures for Sad Children did it much better.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thomas in his comments hit the nail on the head here. This was an... okay comic. And an important part of this website/community/hatedom to me is that it does more than juste hate XKCD. It makes fun of it when it sucks, indeed, but it also points the way to a better comic, or if you will, "Illustrated Picto-Blog". And, paradoxically enough, I think it helps me appreciate XKCD more. Before coming here, I viewed the comic as mannah from heaven, universally funny and intelligent. But now, though I see much less humor in the comic, I see the human side of XKCD: the story of a truly interesting fellow who sometimes hits and sometimes misses. This site is dedicated to the misses, but we can't ignore the hits.

    ReplyDelete
  12. RANDALL WANTS YOU TO KNOW HOW COOL HE IS BECAUSE HE KNOWS ABOUT THE FURRY MEME!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree that, while it was pretty good up to the third panel, the last one just didn't get it over the line. Still, I prefer it over a lot of other recent ones. i.e., I only smiled but at least I didn't feel like smacking him.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I TOLD YOU NOT TO LET THOMAS POST AGAIN although admittedly he did alright this time

    ReplyDelete
  15. A friend of mine is quite an xkcd fan (though not a fanatic) and we both agreed that today's comic was an interesting idea and had potential to be funny, but wasn't.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kirk: I don't see how that's true in this case. Where do you think it should have ended? |

    I'm pretty sure the best way to end the comic is to replace the dialog of the fourth panel with something along the lines of the alt text. (I guess character one can complain about how hot it is under two different suits, while the other one questions why you need to wear a suit at all) This way, you keep the joke from the alt text of "are you supposed to wear multiple suits?" with the added bonus of the joke "due to my art style, how could you tell!"

    But I donno, I'm no comic genius like Crandall.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I read today's strip, and I had to reread it about twice in order to properly realise that THAT was the "joke". There's no joke at all: just a vaguely, potentially intriguing idea thrown on the ground with a very, very tepid and inneffective fleshing out. Maybe it's good that there WAS fleshing out this time around, unlike other strips in which there was JUST an idea thrown around. But the idea wasn't even that good to support a simple, immediate joke. I saw no humour whatsoever in the strip today; it was so dry, bland and pointless, it left me quite frustrated, in fact.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This was a crappy comic. Not "I'm going to punch randy in the face if I ever see him" crappy, just not original or funny crappy.
    The premise on its own is kind of funny if you think about it, but can you make a good joke out of it?
    On the forums, there were only about 3 or 4 people that offered to suck randy's dick. But overall, it didn't generate much of a response.
    That's how you KNOW it's bad.
    I did find this though, which I thought was funny:
    "
    Observation #3: Randall is a furry, but doesn't want to admit it. Plans on admitting it after he makes enough furry comics to soften the blow to his reputation. Also Black hat guy will wear cat ears sometime in the future.
    "

    ReplyDelete
  19. consider the following:

    furries >>> pretentious xkcd fans

    amirite

    ReplyDelete
  20. Third panel is one of the most awkward deliveries of a punchline in the history of webcomics. "have a thing for pretending to be humans"? Horrible.

    Also, Livejournal? Who the hell still uses it, aside from Russians?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Whoever writes this blog

    I love you. I FUCKING love you. This blog has been NEEDED for so long now.

    But unfortunantly, I'm still going to post one of these comics as the welcome message to an online class I'm teaching, because I know of no other even relatively funny math comics.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I groaned when I read "furries".

    ReplyDelete
  23. SMBC does math jokes once in a while, almost always better than any of the last five hundred or so XKCDs.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Furries. Ugh.

    Also, that "I see" is of course horribly placed and unnecessary.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I thought this one was okay. I give it extra marks for not being about that horrible teen "drama" Skins.

    Although, on that subject, should the comic not technically be called 'Skinnies'?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Regarding the tie:
    HE STILL HASN'T FIXED THE TYPO IN THE ITEM DESCRIPTION

    ReplyDelete
  27. Unrelated:

    This blog is the 11th result on Google for xkcd.

    ReplyDelete
  28. "Ah, "furries". I respect their morally reprehensible fetish and their disgusting, depraved antics. I shall not judge them."

    If you aren't checking WMH's twitter, you are missing out.

    ReplyDelete
  29. WMH has a Twitter?!

    *checks*

    That's just awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  30. @xkcdsucks ; Cease your verbiage you churl! My mother is a SAINT! She would NEVER choose to procreate with the likes of you!
    4:56 PM Aug 12th from web

    In fact, if she fell pregnant with your vile progeny (rohypnol?), I would PLUNGE her womb! Purifying it of your bastard spawn.
    4:59 PM Aug 12th from web

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love arguing with WMH on twitter. It's the highlight of my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I can't say that I liked this comic at all D: It reminded me of Pictures from Sad Children where's there's a dog that's a reverse furry.

    Since the joke in today's xkcd doesn't really go past saying that there are furries who act like reverse furries I can't say that I liked it very much.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "I love arguing with WMH on twitter. It's the highlight of my Mondays, Wednesdays, and "Fridays."

    No, you don't.

    ReplyDelete
  34. WMH is my most favorite man, not because of his pro xkcd antics, but because his similarity to Ignatius Reilly.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I must confess, Kirk, that prior to the reading of your post I had never heard of this "Ignatius Reilly".

    I ventured to wikipedia, and this is what I found:
    "The central character is Ignatius J. Reilly, an educated but slothful man still living with his mother at age 30"

    Why, I never.
    Kirk, I am literally ENRAGED at this unfavourable comparison. This is a most grave insult.
    I am adding you to my mental expansive list of foes. When the time comes, I shall not spare you.

    Farewell.

    -William Monty Hughes
    IQ 224
    "Cogito Ergo Sum"

    ReplyDelete
  36. See that? William Monty Hughes hates his mother.

    ReplyDelete
  37. KIRK THAT IS BRILLIANT

    I never thought of that

    ReplyDelete
  38. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Hughes

    ReplyDelete
  39. Why William you miss my point! Ignatius Reilly is a modern saint, he is the genius, much like yourself, who is surrounded by a confederacy of dunces (The Confederate States of Xkcdsucks, in your case).

    You should not see my comparison as an insult, but as a great complement, for you see, though these dunces (and his constantly drunken mom) kept him from achieving his greater potential, and it is their fault that he is forced to stay with his mother.

    ReplyDelete
  40. WMH, have you read widely in Boethius?

    ReplyDelete
  41. Willy, you have to add Kirk to your list of people whom you believe should expire slowly and with difficulty at some point in the near future! You're DROPPING THE BALL, man.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "I've been driving a car and having a job all day" is hilarious and justifies the whole comic, that is the punchline, right in the last pannel where y'all like it

    ReplyDelete
  43. I have enjoyed the writing of Huge Willy for as long as I have been reading xkcdsucks. I didn't know about the twitter before- I'm definitely going to check up on that every so often.
    I would also like to note that the forum thread has ascended (yes) into a discussion on the history and origins of furries.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Also, is the dialog "I've been driving a car and having a job all day" just because the animals aren't very good at pretending to be human, or because randy doesn't actually know how people converse? The world may never know!

    ReplyDelete
  45. This is coming out of nowhere, but randy is kind of a hypocrite for bitching about papyrus when you look at #311

    ReplyDelete
  46. Justin: I also had questions about the dialogue in the last panel. At first I assumed it was because it was meant to be humans pretending to be animals pretending to be human, but then...why ask if they meowed? I am forced to conclude that Randy has never had any interaction with anyone, ever.

    ReplyDelete
  47. randy wasn't so much bitching about Papyrus, though. he even said in the alt text he kind of liked it

    ReplyDelete
  48. @founder of the American navy (thanks, whoever taught me that last time): presumably their fursonas (and I was hoping to go through life without ever using that word!) are bragging about how good they are at imitating humans. They are, as you say, humans imitating (animals imitating humans). So person on the left is pretending to be a cat pretending to be human and proud of how good she is at pretending to be human, so good she didn't let the facade slip and meow at all.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Oh. You're right. I don't remember that alt text at all

    ReplyDelete
  50. Ann Apolis: I get what you're saying, but in that context, isn't asking whether or not they meowed sort of breaking character? Or am I just overthinking this?

    Oh, and also I'm the bassist for Led Zeppelin.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Persons A and B are conversing. The character person A plays, which is a cat pretending to be a human, asks the character person B plays, which is a cat pretending to be a human, if the character that person B plays meowed. This makes sense since in character, person B is in fact a cat

    ReplyDelete
  52. What is B's character?

    ReplyDelete
  53. THIS IS A MESSAGE TO ALL XKCD HATERS:

    GO COLLECTIVLY FUCK YOURSELVES! if you really think it's that bad, make your own damn webcomic and stop whining, it's pathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Goddamn, I hate it when we get told like that.

    And of course he's not going to stick around.

    Thanks, one-shot Anon.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Where is the insult/defense chart?

    HEY ANONYMOUS. IF YOU HATE THIS BLOG SO MUCH GO MAKE YOUR OWN BLOG

    ReplyDelete
  56. I wasn't digging this comic at all until I got to the last panel, the lines "did you meow?" and "not once!" actually had me laugh out loud. I was all set up to hate this comic for the first three panels but it ended up being the first xkcd I've laughed at in what seems like years.

    ReplyDelete
  57. message$ = "question"

    This is a message to all the Anonymous out there. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF YOU?!?

    ReplyDelete
  58. Anonymous is legion.

    ReplyDelete
  59. "Anonymous is legion."

    That's not a "why".

    ReplyDelete
  60. Replace the first three panels with a caption, and this comic would be acceptable.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Took me a sec to get this one. Kind of clever. Although he did the joke before, see 209.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Joe said: "This is a message to all the Anonymous out there. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF YOU?!?"

    Because we can't be bothered registering just to tell you dicks that you are a bunch of whiny humourless dicks.

    ReplyDelete
  63. and you are apparently too much of a dumbass to realize that you don't have to register to post with a name?

    ReplyDelete
  64. That is the exact same joke. Good eyes Mal.

    But 209 did it far, far better. First, it makes much more sense. I can't really imagine anyone prefacing every sentence like that (and there has got to be a better line to use than "Are there any bagels left?"). Second, he did what all good comic writers do: he put an extra joke in after the punchline ("it goes over water, too!").

    Admittedly, the alt-text slightly redeems the actual comic. It's an actual joke (a rare strain of alt-text), and it's a direct extension of the comic, not some weird little vignette or half-'tarded math lesson.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Good thing to put after a joke: A second joke which builds on the first joke's momentum.

    Bad thing to put after a joke: Semantically void character commentary, whose sole purpose is to clue the reader in on the fact that YES, the webcomic just told a joke, incidentally killing all the momentum and impact of the punchline and leaving the end of the comic, not two jokes told in quick succession, but a deflated, self-effacing blandness.

    ReplyDelete
  66. @Anon 10:44

    But you have enough time to write comments, read responses and reply. Let us not squander the precious hours of this great mind.

    ReplyDelete
  67. You know, it fucking bothers me when they say "whine." It doesn't fucking make sense.

    Whining has a purpose. When you're whining, you're whining TO somebody. A dog whines because it's hungry etc. You want something to change.

    Who the fuck are we whining to on this blog? Randall? The fans? Yeah, no. They CHOOSE to come and read this crap. Most of us are perfectly content to bitch at empty air.

    I don't care if they insult me, I know it's not true. I just want them to put a little thought into what the fuck they're saying.

    ps. you don't have to register to post with a name, dipshit.

    ReplyDelete
  68. pps. how did you get so many profile views Mal? You're making me feel like less of an internet persona.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Uh, IDK, people might've read my blog since I think I mentioned it on Your Webcomic Sucks.

    ReplyDelete
  70. @Rob: Good to know. For some of us, this is our first experience with blogspot, so we've been jumping straight to the 'anon' option.

    And you know what? We still will.

    @Asher: I said we couldn't be bothered, not that we didn't have time. There's a fundamental difference between the two.

    @Jay: You whine to each other. But OK, maybe you're right. Maybe whine is inaccurate. It's more of a circle-jerk.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Kind of like the xkcd forums.

    ReplyDelete
  72. See, it's also not a circlejerk. You're throwing out insults because you disagree, and none of them make sense.

    But I'll play your game - why is this a circlejerk? What could we do to not be one?

    ReplyDelete
  73. we could stop sitting in a circle, like we are doing. you know. just as a start.

    ReplyDelete
  74. I, like undoubtedly so many others, discovered this blog when I got really tired of xkcd making stale, unfunny jokes, and Googled 'xkcd sucks'. So, obviously, everyone here is going to think likewise.

    Although the current Anon is acting like (and might be) a troll, criticism is fairly frequent here and it's either made fun of or shot down almost immediately. Even criticism that doesn't quite fit on the bingo chart regularly pops up. So, dealing with that more respectively, when applicable, would be admittedly pretty nice to see.

    ReplyDelete