Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comic 655: Trickery

It's a guest post! Woo!!! In part because he ended up falling through the summer of MADNESS cracks (i think), and in part 'cause you were all like "uhhh, carl, stop SUCKING SO HARD" on the last post, everyone's best friend, dragon2041, wrote today's guest post. A few of my own thoughts follow. Dragon, GO!

dummmm du dum dummmmm

I was hoping that today's strip would be either truly awful or surprisingly good. Unfortunately, it isn't. And that's a trend we see a lot in xkcd - a stunning mediocrity that leaves the reader with no feelings whatsoever about the comic.

Either way, I'll split this up into 3 sections : The Criticism, the suggestions, and the praise.

The Criticism:

To start us off, we have another instance of the head not being attached to the body in panel 1.

The setup for the comic isn't so bad - we see a man rock climbing, plenty of opportunities to go from there -... And then in the very next panel, we see pieces of someone. Please - don't give away what's going on in the second panel when you're aiming for a big surprise. I'm biased though, having already seen the fourth panel - it's entirely possible that someone reading it for the first time could mistake the leg and face for that wooden post that is the goal in kids' rock climbing course.

Speaking of a kids' rock climbing course - that's what this is supposed to be a picture of. This stick-man is using the almighty power of slanted photography to make it look like he's climbing a kids' rock climbing course. Who among you would be truly impressed by that? Why would anyone even want to post pictures of themselves climbing a kids' rock climbing course?

Admittedly, the fake picture would be made a lot more impressive by the fact that he's not using a belay (the device that clips to a rope/pulley system and supports your weight), except for the fact that professional climbers, the kind who climb Mount Rushmore [people climb mount rushmore??? -Carl], would still use a belay on a kiddy rock climbing course because most of them aren't fans of falling. I know I'm nitpicking, as it's supposed to be a falsely impressive picture, and, you know, the character isn't actually climbing.

And finally, we have the alt text. This alt text wouldn't be so offensive if the comic it follows was actually good. But it isn't - it's mediocre. And in the same way, the alt text itself is mediocre. It's a problem I feel we see a lot in xkcd - the alt text continues the already boring conversation. If the alt text is a followup to an interesting/funny conversation, that's great - but in this case, it would have been far better as a random observation - or perhaps a callback to some of the old alt-texts, with Mr. Munroe (Randall?) making a comment in the first-person about similar situations/what he would do in the situation.

Either way, it all wraps up with a mediocre punchline that doesn't add much to the comic - even omitting all the words and keeping just the "art" that's currently there would make for a better comic.

I'm worried that I'm criticizing just for the sake of criticizing - but I hope I've raised at least a few valid points.

The Suggestions:

Put the head on the body in the first panel.

Erase the girl in the second panel - although, admittedly, if she just appeared in the third panel, that would be a little weird. I stand a bit divided here, I guess.

Give some funny alt-text.

The Praise:

Well, I guess more effort was put into the first panel than Mr. Munroe (Randall?) usually puts in. Really, the first through third panels aren't that bad. They set up well for an interesting punchline or a funny wordless comic. Also, the situation presented is kind of funny-interesting, with someone faking rock-climbing to impress their friends.

I guess that's all I can say =\.

Carl again. My own take on the comic was that it was an exceedingly old joke (I recall it being in an old Mad Magazine batman parody...from the 50s. And I'm sure it was old then, too) rather blandly executed. To all those people who suggested that a far better joke would have been to have a guy who goes to rock climbing walls, sets it up so he is standing out from the wall, and thus makes real photos of rock climbers look fake - that is a great idea. That would have been awesome.

Who is impressed by pictures of rock climbing? I went rock climbing some times. I am not a sporty person. I went to like, rock climbing birthday parties when I was like, eight. Why would you be impressed by that facebook picture?


  1. I pretty much agree with everything in that post, except that the second panel thing with the lass looking like the post at the top is good and should stay. But it's an ol' ol' joke.

  2. Thank you for that thought provoking contribution, 7:18.

  3. "[people climb mount rushmore??? -Carl]"

    They do in whatever that movie was!

  4. It's pretty good. Nothing spectacular, but it elicited a minor reaction of humour from me, something xkcd has not done for a long time.

  5. @dragon2041:
    You're thinking of North by Northwest. Good movie.

    Just for the record, an artificial wall isn't necessarily for kids. And if you do think it's just for kids, go ahead, try climbing one.

    I didn't notice the person in the second panel, so I don't think it's that big of a deal. However, you're dead on about the mediocrity...nothing really funny about this comic.

  6. The comic was boring. I've also seen that joke before, several times, though I can't remember exactly where.

    And as someone who climbs fairly regularly, artificial walls can be very difficult - not only are there more difficult areas of the wall, but most climbers climb routes - i.e. you can only put your feet and hands on holds marked by a certain color tape. This makes the wall as hard or as easy as you want it to be.

  7. I don't think "Who is impressed by pictures of rock climbing?" is legitimate criticism of the comic. I think it's more about the lengths people might go to portray themselves differently than they actually are on facebook.

  8. So, "who is impressed by facebook?" would be a more valid question? Or, "why weren't his friends, that is, people who know him, already skeptical before Mary Sue came along?"

  9. batman, 1970s tv series. climbing up a wall.

    it has been made fun of for 30 years now

  10. Kids climbing wall? I know a professional climber who climbs artificial walls and can find routes that are challenging. The fact that its not outdoor doesn't make it easy (though, I suppose, it can't be as high as a real mountain).

    On the other hand, pictures of someone climbing wouldn't look impressive for most people... seeing a snapshot isn't impressive unless you know the route and/or the move being executed and know that its hard. I guess its impressive in the "wow, he's doing some sport I don't do" sort of way...

  11. The "kids wall" thing makes no sense. They make those things for adults too, you know. There are entire indoor climbing centers tailored specifically to this unique demographic of adult rock climbers.

    Also: a belay is not supposed to support your weight, it's supposed to stop you from hitting the ground when you fall. You're supposed to support your own weight when climbing. /pedantic

    Apart from that, fair criticism.

    True story: I went to Mt. Rushmore once, partly because of the fact that it's Mt. Rushmore, and partly because I wanted to see the restaurant where Roger Thornhill gets shot. (Oh shit spoilers!) Guess what? They destroyed the restaurant and made some awful viewing platform/shrine/theatre/temple thing instead. And thus my ENTIRE trip to the USA was RUINED!

    Now I want to climb Rushmore.

  12. I'll totally grant you that rock climbing can be hard. And that the stuff I referred to, that I am theoretically capable of, is not. But the point is that sometimes it's really easy, and there's nothing at all in the picture to suggest this isn't easy rock climbing. Note that the wall itself is flat, and there are plenty of holds on there. Hell, from looking at this "facebook photo" (panel 1), we don't know if he is 2000 feet off the ground or 2 feet. In short, there is nothing particularly impressive about what we are seeing here.

    But of course, this is all nothing at all compared to the fact that it's AN OLD FUCKING JOKE.

  13. I'mma nitpick here, as a major Batman fanboy: The Batman TV series (the one with Adam West) aired during the second half of the '60s. So the Mad Magazine parody would probably be from the late '60s or early '70s.

    Still a joke a couple decades older than Randy, though.

  14. @Carl

    I guess it depends on the audience. If he wanted to impress climbers, then its hard to say. As someone else said, the fact that there are 10 holds in close proximity may be meaningless if you are climbing the "red route" and the next red hold is far away.

    If its to a more generic audience, then most people are impressed by climbing at all.

    Also, it doesn't actually matter how far off the ground he is. Sometimes there is a really hard move 3 inches off the ground.

    I'm not arguing that the joke is good, merely that the whole thing about climbing possibly being easy is silly.

    Also, as an aside, if I were trying to pull this off, I wouldn't post the pictures with the girl in them on facebook..


    Same Anon from 1:10 AM

  15. "Just for the record, an artificial wall isn't necessarily for kids. And if you do think it's just for kids, go ahead, try climbing one."

    True - however, the point still stands that not many people will be impressed by pictures of someone climbing an artificial wall, no matter how hard it is. I did a bit of climbing recently and only got halfway - it's hard, I know. That doesn't change the fact that people probably won't be impressed by climbing unless it's outdoors.

    also: about the alt text - apparently my criticism was a little unfair, as I visited the forums, and quite a few people *didn't understand what was going on until they read the alt-text*.

  16. Same basic idea, executed much much better:

  17. Bwahaha, of course, SMBC again. The "votey" hidden panel is brilliant.

  18. I hope anon@7:18 is still reading this. Much like rock climbing, making the first post on a blog's comment thread is a truly impressive act. What many people don't know is that there are literally thousands of blogs (with millions of posts) out there that receive very little traffic & comments. You can find some of them by googling the word "blog" and the name of a small city or not particularly popular hobby. Post a comment saying "first!!!" on one of these blogs and take a screenshot to really wow your friends. You might even be lucky enough to be the first to comment on a 3 week old post. How awesome is that?

    Here, I found a couple for you:

  19. I'm a bit disappointed in Randall for this one. He had shown me this one before running it, and I told him that it was an old joke that I've seen done in a disney comic book. He ran it anyway.

  20. I would just like to say something about the whole Randall/Mr. Munroe thing:

    I don't care whether you call him Randall, Randy, Mr. Munore, or anything else. I just never like it when people address him directly with questions(rhetorical?). Things like, "Really Randall? Is that the best you could come up with?" just rub me the wrong way.

    But, hey, people running this website misunderstanding things is pretty par for the course.

  21. " I'm a bit disappointed in Randall for this one. He had shown me this one before running it, and I told him that it was an old joke that I've seen done in a disney comic book. He ran it anyway."

    he lets you edit now?

  22. I'd like to point out this edit - which has an almost identical setup but is far more interesting/funny.

  23. dragon2041,
    You think that is more interesting/funny? If he'd put that out there, you guys would be the fucking first to say, "This makes no sense. Who would do something really hard and take a picture to make it look normal?"

  24. Okay, I don't understand why anybody who apparently has ever rockclimbed or, hell, even knows a guy who rockclimbs indoors seems to be trying to defend the activity. UNDERSTAND: A picture of you playing Guitar Hero is not impressive. A video of you beating a difficult song on Expert with a handicap is impressive. It's the same with rockclimbing. The act is very impressive, but a meaningless stillframe is not.

    The real villain here is Randall, whose terrible art leaves absolutely EVERYTHING to the imagination and makes everything seem unimpressive. For all we know, the dude is blind (or has no face) and the girl is just being a dick to a guy trying to fit in. (Though not likely, because then Munroe would be insulting the Holy Order of the Vagina). Whatever. Eventually, stick figures just aren't enough for the setup.

    When are you gonna realize this, Randall?


  25. I think Randall was going for a Monty Pythonesque statement for the alt text:

    "Where did you even get this wall? Return it there and stand it back up right now."

    I just imagine John Cleese saying that, for some reason.

    Randall's recent efforts have been bad, but a boring bad, not a holy shit, this is amazingly awful bad.

    Maybe on Friday, he'll make a joke about how men leave the toilet seat up or something. That'd be great.

  26. Brutus: haha that is perfect. I can see it now. It will be all white-knighty:

    MEGAN: Why do you men always leave the toilet seat up?
    RANDALL: UGH I know! They are such inconsiderate monsters! HERE, LET ME PUT IT DOWN FOR YOU

  27. dragon - I don't know, kinda. To be fair, when he showed me the comics I was kind of preoccupied what with all my computers breaking at once, but it was basically him showing me some comics he had not run yet (and one he wasn't planning on running)

    also lol at rob

  28. When I opened XKCD on Wednesday, the FIRST thing I said was "Clerks already did this and they did it funnier."

    Yes, I know the joke has been done before, for decades, but that was just the example that stood out the most.

  29. I like that edit dragon linked, but a simpler edit would be to remove the first three panels. The biggest problem is that the story is told twice (three times with the alt-text).

    In other words, "The setup for the comic isn't so bad," and that's the problem. If you take it out, the Facebook reference is part of the story and provides context and motivation. With the setup, the Facebook reference comes after the story is already over, too little, too late. Also, it shifts the focus of the joke from the old gag to the lengths the guy will go to fake a profile on Facebook.

  30. "You think that is more interesting/funny? If he'd put that out there, you guys would be the fucking first to say, 'This makes no sense. Who would do something really hard and take a picture to make it look normal?'"

    That's... not what the picture I linked was of....

  31. "I don't care whether you call him Randall, Randy, Mr. Munore, or anything else. I just never like it when people address him directly with questions(rhetorical?). Things like, "Really Randall? Is that the best you could come up with?" just rub me the wrong way.

    But, hey, people running this website misunderstanding things is pretty par for the course."

    What does that second paragraph have to do with the first one?

  32. He just got rubbed the wrong way soooo bad that he decided to continue throwing out petty insults that we get on an hourly basis.

  33. Fred,
    I find Carl is notorious for often making huge errors in his interpretation of the comics. I feel that the majority of people complainging about the Randy/Randall/Mr. Munroe thing were complaining for the reason I stated. However, it was interpreted by many to be a formality thing. I suppose I could've stated it better.

  34. dragon2041,
    I went to (there may be typos, Vista doesn't let me copy/paste into this box)

    and I saw two comics. The upside down girl(the one I referenced), and the black hat one. The upside down girl seemed to be framed at the top of the browser, so I assumed that was the one you were referring to.

  35. "dragon2041,
    I went to (there may be typos, Vista doesn't let me copy/paste into this box)

    and I saw two comics. The upside down girl(the one I referenced), and the black hat one. The upside down girl seemed to be framed at the top of the browser, so I assumed that was the one you were referring to."

    the upside down one was the one I was referring to...

  36. Anon 2:46: No, what you could've done is posted two things that have any sort of correlation together. In your first paragraph you complain about the way people address Randall when they ask a rhetoric question, and in the second you complain about the way Carl misunderstands stuff. If you're going to complain about this blog or insult people, try getting on a single train of thought first, and then post.

  37. @Anon 9:41 - Just holding onto a vertical wall doesn't make for an impressive still-frame, yeah, but still-frames involving huge indoor overhangs are a different story.

    Somebody once took a photo of me climbing an overhang, and anyone who saw it was stunned by how SCARY it looks and how STRONG you must be to pull yourself up over the top oh my GOSH!

  38. Fred,
    For a website that commonly derides Randall for spelling things out, I'm surprised I have to go into this much detail.
    From the post:
    "with Mr. Munroe (Randall?)"

    Statements such as this are commonly made on this blog ever since some people complained about addressing Randall directly. However, that statement was not addressing him directly. So, dragon2041 misinterpreted the meaning of that complaint. Carl often misinterprets things that happen in the comics*. Both of these things are misinterpretations that happen often, hence my correlating the two.

    This is my major gripe about this blog. It has a noble purpose, but so often it reaches and seeks out things to find wrong. And often the things it finds wrong are merely misinterpretations at best.

    As I said, I could've done a better job of explaining my earlier post. I thought y'all could put the pieces together.

    * - Offhand, the Erdos number one. Carl claimed that scribbling math symbols was not authoring a paper, when that panel was, albeit very very basically, representing the authoring of a paper.

  39. kk, so are we all in agreement to ignore anon 4:02?
    at least until he starts using a name?

  40. @Anon 4:02: Great, now you just explained the "misunderstanding things" part of your post. All that stuff still has nothing to do with your apparent personal gripe against people addressing Randall, and in no way explains how they are related.

    Because there is no correllation. You're reaching in order to prove me wrong. You are just mentioning two separate things, namely the way you are annoyed at the way some people address Randall, and the fact that people on this blog misunderstand stuff. Only now that I ask what the connection is do you go "Er, I'm using both of them in a sentence, so now there's a correlation."

  41. Okay, I don't understand why anybody who apparently has ever rockclimbed or, hell, even knows a guy who rockclimbs indoors seems to be trying to defend the activity.

    Who is trying to defend the activity? All I'm seeing is people saying "Uh, rock climbing walls aren't just for kids." Which is what dragonwhatevers post was wrongfully claiming.

  42. OK I think I know what's going on.

    Anon is saying that calling Randall by his first name in general doesn't bother him, but addressing him directly as Randall does. He thinks that other people feel this way, and that when they were complaining about it we misinterpreted it as saying calling somebody by their first name is rude. He goes on to say it doesn't surprise him, because we misinterpret stuff a lot.

    If that's the case, I'd say most people probably don't agree with you. I can certainly see why people would think calling somebody by their first name is rude in some cases, because it's informal and doesn't show them the respect they deserve. I don't agree, because in this case I don't think Randall deserves that much respect. (This isn't about not liking his comic. If I'm sure people know what I'm talking about I call the guy who makes Dinosaur Comics Ryan, and I like Dinosaur Comics.)
    But for the life of me I can't see how whether or not you're addressing him directly makes a difference, especially since the likelihood of Randall reading reading this is very small so it's not like we're actually talking to him. I also can't remember anyone making that distinction before, just cries of "calling Mr. Munroe by his first name is rude!"

  43. I call most people by their full names. THE MORE YOU KNOW

  44. Fred,
    Can I boil it down for you?

    People who run this site lack basic comprehension skills.

    You've done nothing but proven that.

  45. Fred does not run this site.

  46. If a single commenter, INCLUDING THE ANONYMOUSES THAT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO COMMENT ON THIS BLOG, does something, it represents the ENTIRE BLOG'S PHILOSOPHY, without fail.


  48. i remember the joke in #655 from a monty python sketch, except there it was actually funnily executed.

    i don't get the alt-text in #656.

    hey, comic #666 is just a few weeks away. i wonder what paragon of hilary randall will have for us then?

  49. On the rock climbing comic:

    I liked it, I think I've already said. That's not to say it's not an old joke or anything else, but I laughed. That being said, I posted an idea as anon that said I would have preferred he be found by Mr. Hat and Mr. Hat use a crane to lift the whole thing into the air by the top (the wall would then be airborne and vertical) via crane and forcing the character to hang on. That would be followed by some line reminiscent of when he cut the guy's hand off for the word joke. I forget the comic number.

    As for today's, meh.

  50. 656 is funnier if you don't read the text, because then it looks like some dude in a trenchcoat is knocking on people's doors and flashing them when they answer.

  51. People who run this site lack basic comprehension skills.

    You've done nothing but proven that.

    Like R. said, I do not run this site. Secondly: that only boils down your second paragraph, which still has nothing to do with the first.

  52. Anon 4:02, just because you explain something--something that Fred has not asked you to explain--repeatedly does not mean that we lack basic comprehension skills. It kind of means you do, especially when you start using your non-reasoning to show how other people can't comprehend things.

    relatedly: someone complained that they hated when we addressed randall by his first name. how were we supposed to know that this meant we weren't allowed to address him in the first person? also how is addressing someone in the first person disrespectful? lastly, how is interpreting "I hate when you guys refer to Mr. Munroe as Randall" as "don't use his first name" lacking comprehension skills? it appears you are an idiot.

    Andrew L are you my boyfriend and if so, what were you doing commenting here while we were talking on oovoo hmmmmm?? (if not i know that Andrew is a very common name, and i suppose L is a pretty common last-name starter)

    anyway i thought the halloween one was funny, ish.

  53. No, this is the Canadian Andrew again.

  54. The forumites don't like the most recent comic, but I do. Nice to have the tables turn sometimes

  55. I like how one forumite went "GOOMH Randall, I'm thinking about Halloween too!" one day before Halloween.

  56. Let's see what's new on xkcd...

    Hm, not horrible. There's at least a setting this time, instead of a white background with barely a horizon line(granted, the cut view just doesn't work with the door in perspective). A Halloween comic was just expected, and I think I got the joke here(and it's pretty bland). The alt-text isn't just continuing the dialogue on the strip, which is better than the last instance.

    Now, what really bugs me is that, suddenly, Randall portrays clothes. Of course you can't do Doc Brown without his coat, but this makes it appear that Stick Boy is naked under that coat... and that is surely makes no nice mental image.

    I guess that's all for now. Have a nice "Halloweeneen".

  57. It took me a while to get the comic, mostly because Back to the Future is an item in my "List of Annoying Nerd Clich├ęs I Want to Stay the Hell Away From", somewhere below Portal, so it took me a while to get the reference; and then I spend a few more minutes wondering just for how long Randall can simply keep lazily combining nerdy elements with mundane things for humour.

  58. Mole,
    This is one of those times where I think the criticisms you guys are giving are horseshit. You're griping that the stick figure, under the added clothing that is used to identify the character, doesn't look like he has any clothes on? They're fucking stick figures. Maybe that's why they don't look like they have clothes on. Do you think the rest of his comics where there are rarely any clothes on his character that they're all nudists?

    It's a good movie. You should check it out.

  59. Basileus, please, don't insult my intelligence, and yours along. Of course I don't think Randall's stick figures are naked(it'd be rather disturbing, in many cases), but it does look odd when the artist suddenly protrays one detail, neglecting all the rest. It's just like that time when he tried to emulate SamueL L. Jackson's face, or the fact that only some people(especially women) are portrayed with hair on their heads. Or that time when he shifted from "stick mode" to "anatomy mode" *shiver...* . It stands out, and in this special case, Randall always portrayed (presumably)naked and dressed people alike, so it does look weird.

    And, just in case you didn't get it: that little bit about him being naked under that coat? Joke. Not serious. I'm sorry I can't put inflection or a humorous expression on this comment box, maybe I should abuse of emoticons...

    ...And, yes, it is a good movie. You should check it out, Fernie.

  60. I feel the current comic could have been pretty funny as a commentary - almost a "my hobby." It's ruined by the presentation of it as a scenario. If it was:

    I wish:


  61. Ahh, okay. I didn't read the sarcasm in that last paragraph. I tend to both write and read things in an extremely straightforward manner.

  62. 656: Best xkcd in the last couple hundred. Actually laughed out loud.

  63. Regarding the film, it's not that I think it's bad or anything. It's just that it's not my kind of thing, and these things that get extreme overexposure in "nerdy" circles already sort of puts me off. It's damaging even when I *am* interested in it, like with Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.

    Also, as I'm thinking a little more about this comic, it's the kind of strip that is not necessarily bad, or offensive, or nagging. It's just sort of lazy, you know? It's boring. It's a kind of joke that, standing on its own, doesn't do much. At least there *is* an actual, sort of witty joke, which couldn't be said about Wednesday's strip.

    Captcha: Spore. ... seriously? I was playing this game two nights ago! CAPTCHA, GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

  64. I didn't like Back to the Future, honestly. I also didn't like The Goonies, which officially makes me some sort of heathen against my generation.

    I did think today's comic was kind of cute, though.

  65. I guess it's my turn not to get why the latest comic is getting all the praise here. I think it's a very cheap joke presented with trademark wooden dialogue.

    Also, I love Back to the Future. And the Goonies. Aloria, why must you hurt me with your words?


  67. Isn't this an old joke? Come on now, back to the Future came out in 1985, it's almost 25 years old, this can't possibly be the first time someone's pulled a Halloween joke like this.

  68. it's not old, just not terribly creative either. it's fairly obvious

  69. Hullo Canadian Andrew!

    aloria stop hurting fred plz

  70. captain tacos (the lesser)October 30, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    Not only is it not creative because it's been done since the 1960's, there is currently a commercial, for beer I think, with the exact same premise. This post would be a lot more compelling if I could find it, but alas, I cannot.

  71. To me, it's just yet another comic that makes a reference for the sake of making a reference, without attaching a solid joke to it.

  72. Person #1

    So he showed you "Climbing" before he posted it and a few others too?

    Is the future of xkcd bright or just as grey and shabby as it's been of late?

  73. Dude, wtf is wrong with you? If you don't like xkcd, don't waste time critically analyzing every freaking comic in detail. That'll only make it worse.

  74. You know what? I saw "75 comments" (it was 74 previously) and thought "I bet this one's going to be from a pro-xkcd cuddlefish", paraphrased.

    I knew.
    I just KNEW.

    True story.

  75. Carl, shut down yo' blog. moon clearly brings up a great argument that nobody has ever used before. It's totally refreshing. Like sierra mist.

  76. moon:
    Critical analysis is the basis on which things get better, not worse.

    For sake of example, imagine you were building a house, and you had forgotten to put a washroom in your blueprints. No one said a word, no one cared. You went on to build your house, and to your immense surprise, no one buys it! What does this tell you?
    First: You're an idiot.
    Second: Critical analysis is a good thing.

  77. but like a HOUSE is different from a JOKE! jokes ONLY EVER GET WORSE if people understand them.

  78. And Randall's jokes ONLY GET WORSE if people look at them for more than five seconds.

  79. Dan - he showed me 3 comics. Climbing and the wifi one. And another one which he didn't plan to release.

    He's also shown me some sketches, particularly how he tried to set up that 9/11 one. Originally it was this woman in a halloween set up asking "where's your costume, what's so scary about you?" and the kid giving the response

    he also had another one but I don't remember that

  80. I'm very careless about my responsibilities as universal XKCD Sucks ambassador.

  81. Rereading todays, I get the joke a little bit more. I thought the alt text was entirely unrelated, not realizing that the guy was supposed to accidentally be Doc Brown, not some kid trying to get candy early. The real problem here is the contrived dialogue. I feel it would have been much better as:

    "Trick or treat!"
    "you're a day early"
    "Great Scott, I must have overshot!"

    Everything else works, except for the fact that who really says "Great Doc Brown costume?" it seems that Randall just doesn't trust his own artwork - which actually I wouldn't. and in fact, I probably wouldn't recognize that as doc brown anyway. so i'm not sure I could do better

  82. I thought this comic was totally ruined by the forced, poorly-written dialogue. I haven't seen the joke before but the writing still killed whatever visual humour I could have got out of it.

  83. I didn't really get it til he said Great Scott, and it came rushing back.

  84. The thing with the "Doc Brown" line is that nobody knows him as "Doc Brown". He's "the (crazy) professor/(mad) scientist from Back to the Future" to most people. If that remark were left out, the costume would be no less recognizable; it's the "Great Scott!" that will ring a bell.

    I thought it was Einstein at first.

  85. I understood it immediately from "Doc Brown" and I've seen the movie twice, last time was over 2 years ago.

  86. Um, guys, the alt text is self-parody. It's like "Ok, Randall, this is bizarre, where would someone trying to make this kind of fake photo come up with a horizontal climbing wall in the first place?" - "Aha! The guy's has fallen so low as to actually steal someone's wall and put it horizontally! Ha, get it? It's absurdist humour!"

    To be fair, horizontal wall climbing _is_ absurdist humour, old as it may be:

  87. If that was like, a REAL MOUNTAIN, I think the effect could have been better.

  88. While I agree that this comic could have been WAY better, is it really that important that the head is half a milimeter off the body?

  89. Wolf from Gladiators made this EXACT same gag. Ten years ago.