Sunday, July 18, 2010

Comic 767: Getting Angry

rip mr. rogers, you will always be in the neighborhood of my heart
[Alt: Mr. Rogers projected an air of genuine, unwavering, almost saintly pure-hearted decency. But when you look deeper, at the person behind the image ... that's exactly what you find there, too. He's exactly what he appears to be.]

Given that some people - including me - didn't even realize that this comic is meant to be making fun of the recent news of Mel Gibson's rather horrible fights with his own wife-like-friend, I think this is a comic that will not age well. Like a few other comics he's made (making fun of the Obama inauguration, the death of Gary Gygax, etc) this one offers no real context on its own (heck, even the date is not easy to find), so a reader in the future will not have any way of knowing what this is making fun of.

So let's look at this the way a viewer in the future might: He sees a comic devoid of art, just text, that shows Mr. Rogers arguing very politely with his wife. Actually, scratch that - it refers to "Fred Rogers," which a viewer will have to realize was Mr. Rogers' first name. I didn't know that, at least not off the top of my head. I mean, I figured it out, but not everyone is as brilliant as me.

Anyway, the joke is powerfully lame. The joke is saying this: "Mr. Rogers is so nice..." "HOW NICE IS HE??" "He is so nice...that even when he argues with his wife he does it in a nice manner!" Really. That's all there is. And then when you read the alt-text, there it is again!

Yes, it's meant to contrast with the Mel Gibson tape, but a) that only works for those people familiar with the tape, and b) it's a stupid contrast. Of course Mr. Rogers is different from Mr. Gibson! Mr. Rogers is a lovely children's television host, and Mr. Gibson is a crazy psycho racist. That's true no matter what.

The amusing contrast would be to compare one of these men's public persona to a fictional, contrasting one. So you'd have either Mel Gibson secretly being really friendly (unlikely, because we all know it's not true) or the secret dark side to Mr. Rogers. That last one is a funny idea, all the more so because it violently clashes with the image we all want to have of him. Of course, it's also the subject of several well known urban legends, so it wouldn't be very original.

In short: A lazy current events comic that says nothing new about its subject. xkcd has been having a very bad few weeks.

update: I totally forgot! It's the latest in a long string of comics for children!


You'll also see that there is a link to the store at the top of the site. There's no new product that he's advertising, so one might suspect that he just wants to counteract falling sales. No matter. The point is that I went back to the store to check it out, and found, for the second time, a Breadpig product that annoys me. This is a good time to say that this has nothing to do with xkcd; breadpig is run by Alexis Ohanian, a very friendly and thoughtful dude who sent me my review copy of the xkcd book and also took some time to have a very long conversation with me when I objected to another breadpig product. (that was the spiderpig shirt, still for sale, which i object to because it is a joke that the Simpsons made and breadpig is jumping on to make their own product).

ANYWAY the point is, they are selling this Animal Farm poster and related t-shirt. And I know it's going to seem strange to ask for self-censorship in the context of a George Orwell book, but I think it's bad form to take a popular book, still under copyright, and excerpt parts of it for a product you sell. I know it's just a short quote, but it's an iconic one, and I can't help but feel that if I were to write a book and someone who liked it made something like this, I would be annoyed. The author of the work, or whoever controls his estate, should be the one who benefits from the effort put into writing it and coming up with classic lines like "some animals are more equal than others."

I don't know. It's not as clear cut at the spiderpig case, but I still think it's a bad trend. an ORWELLIAN one, at that.


  1. breadpig is just another attempt to cash in on internet culture. Typically late to the game, but always misguided.

  2. Carl, I have to disagree with you on the poster issue. George Orwell has been dead for sixty years now; there is no good reason that his estate, or any estate, should be able to control intellectual property for that long.

    Of course, this is viewing the issue from an ethical standpoint. I don't know enough about Fair Use to say whether Breadpig is legally in the clear. And the poster is boring.

  3. Why come up with something of your own when you can pander to nerds? Xkcd does it, breadpig does as well. Scumbags are scumbags.

  4. It's kind of a moot point, right? I mean, is anyone actually going to buy that poster?

  5. From the site, under the Animal Farm Poster:
    "100% of profits donated to the ACLU Foundation[...]".

    Do you really hate the poor and disadvantaged that much, you Fascist cow?

    That said, it's ugly and surprisingly uninteresting. I would never buy this, or any other item on that page.... well, I MIGHT buy some Spam Fortune Cookies as a novelty.

    Captcha: cibuxim. How to deserve a girl with sizable(but sensibly so) attributes

  6. It explicitly says "Fred Rogers" in the text under the comic.

  7. Oh, and anyone who says that Randall "ran out of time" and put this up to avoid having to draw an actual comic.... how long do you think it takes him to make a regular comic?

    The answer obviously lies in the fact that he used up his art budget for the week with Wednesday's update, and had to scale back Friday to keep costs down. HIS COSTS WERE THROUGH THE ROOF, GUYS, GIVE THE MAN A BREAK!! THIS IS HIS JOB/LIVELIHOOD WE'RE TALKING ABOUT!!

    captcha: cleryli. Cleryli, Randall's looking out for you, the viewer, by keeping his costs low and giving the savings directly to you! [in as far as you, too, will not have to spend more than 2 minutes looking at this comic]

  8. "So let's look at this the way a viewer in the future might"

    Why? We're not viewers from the future. Granted, its true that a future viewer probably wouldn't understand this, but how could that possibly make the comic any less funny to a current viewer? When ever you see or hear something funny, do you really stop and think; "wait, before, I laugh at this, I need to consider whether or not this will still be funny ten years from now."? This is kind of like saying you don't like ice cream because someone who was lactose intolerant wouldn't enjoy it very much.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Being British I have no idea who this Mr Rogers is thus making this xkcd doubly, no make that triply shite. Well done Randall.

    Apparently removing your post doesn't remove your picture, never mind.

  11. Your criticisms are usually pretty spot on in my opinion; however, I'd disagree about what you say about the lasting effect of this. The comic has developed as a way to poke fun at (or talk about) contemporary events. The internet has the disadvantage of being permanent, while the yesterday's funny pages are usually at the bottom of the trash can.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is that making a comic about something happening now is in no way bad, maybe viewers in the future will be confused, but he's surely making the comic for his viewers in the now. I have no idea how big Munroe's ego is, but surely he must not believe that he is creating these things to be viewed again and again.

    P.S. I thought the Gygax comic was good.

  12. I feel like this would've worked a lot better if the setup came first. I can imagine Family Guy making a cutaway joke like this. And, well, it's not really that funny, but it works better.

  13. The comic not only fails to stay fresh over time, but also in space. I've never heard of Mr. Rogers to even suspect what the heck was this about. Though it's easy to see the point is that he's such a nice guy, I admit. It's a point dragged all over the place like there's no tomorrow!

    Now, about the art... seriously? How many people can actually make a comic composed of(allow me to enumerate!) 1. Text 2. A black panel with "[NO VIDEO]" written in the middle and get away with it? And I laugh at the face of people who suggest he might be getting late. No, really? And you never noticed? I wonder what Randall has been doing that's more important than, say, his job! Also, how much time you think it takes to create an xkcd comic? I bet one hour, and I think I'm erring for excess.

    Finally, Cuddlefish4:59, sure, not being fresh in, say, a couple of months, doesn't really matter for the funniness of the comic now(not that it is that much funny now, btw), but it's a point to consider when criticizing a comic. Or you think that's not relevant to the quality of a joke at all?

    And thus, my time has come,


  14. at least you can tell that randall does not bother to read any comics that are actually funny and well made or there is no way this latest abortion would have ended up on the internet

    just kidding of course he read it

  15. Gemma, your picture is there for everyone to see. FOREVER.

  16. The art on this comic is bizarre. The "[NO VIDEO]" part just distracts from the joke. Why is it there? It's like he couldn't think of anything to draw, but yet he didn't want to draw nothing, so he drew literally (almost) 'nothing'.

  17. Along with some of the previous post's commenters, I think there was actually a decent joke somewhere in here. Mel Gibson is a mean-spirited dick, while Mr. Rogers is a really nice guy both on screen and off. It's worth a chuckle if done right, and there's also little-kid nostalgia for much of Randall's target demographic.

    But he didn't make the joke. He just said--repeatedly and clumsily--that Mr. Rogers is a REALLY nice guy. If he wants us to laugh at the contrast between Mr. Rogers and Mel Gibson, he needs to show us the contrast. Either show us (maybe using, I dunno, more than one panel?) Mel Gibson AND Mr. Rogers, or re-word Mr. Rogers' argument so that it obviously evokes the Mel Gibson tirade. Otherwise we're forced to guess at the joke, which is hard to do when the joke isn't all that funny to begin with.

    Oh, yeah: INCLUDE SOME ART NEXT TIME. The sad thing is that a stick-figure, cardigan-clad Mr. Rogers would have probably been endearing. Maybe it would have helped those of us who grew up with Mr. Rogers to forgive Randall for sketching female genitalia in a TGI Friday's. Instead we get "[No video]", which in addition to making no sense is nothing short of a cop-out.

  18. Omg, Graphic Calculators! I used those back in grade 12 Math! GOOMHR! 1996? I remember having technology then!

  19. I had no idea there was some sort of current event related thing going on with Mel Gibson; I don't keep up on stuff like that. I therefore thought this was just a generic Mr. Rogers thing--as stated above, the target xkcd demographic is about in that age range to have a lot of fond memories and nostalgia for him. Hell, even I was almost tempted to overlook the lack of art and just happily acknowledge the warm fuzzy feeling people like me get from remembering Mr. Rogers. I was all set to use words like "heartwarming" to describe the alt text and everything... but then I remembered the excellent point made on this very blog about the difference between making references and having anything of your own to offer, and the problem with taking credit for the feeling of humor/satisfaction/whatever from "oh man, I recognize that reference." Randall didn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy like that; Mr. Rogers did. I looked forward to reading this entry so I could see him excoriated for attempting to hijack my love for Mr. Rogers into a lame attempt to make me like his comic, only to find... something about this actually being a Mel Gibson reference. Huh. Shows what I know.

    Also, if you don't like shops making profit by slapping someone else's catchphrase/work/etc. on a t-shirt and selling it, may I suggest never ever visiting Scott "VG Cats" Ramsoomair's store.

  20. typo in today's alt text:

    "...I have fond memories oi TI-BASIC..."

  21. I recall there being something current-event related with TI. Possibly on Engadget or something, which would make this a late joke, not an obscure one.

  22. "which would make this a late joke" assumes that there is, in fact, a joke.

    there isn't.

  23. In response to the new comic: is anyone else getting the feeling that this is just a "Hey!!1!1!1!!!11 I recognize that!!1!1! OMFGJFIGHPODKEAK!!! NOSTALGIA!!!!! (begins drooling uncontrollably)" fan boy comic? The joke is basically there was technology in 1996. It is far more expensive and inferior to current technology. Isn't that fucking hilarious?!?!?!?!? And with that said, WTF is with the alt text? How desperate for human contact and pity are you Randy? I mean there is a fine line between funny self depreciation, and ... just... God. Figure out how to retroactively give yourself a hug or something. Jesus.

  24. I was going to say sarcastically "GOOMHR I SAW A CALCULATOR TODAY TOO" but then someone on the forums said it and was actually being serious.

    Fuck I hate this comic.

  25. At least he's making fun of himself

  26. Meh, I chuckled at the self-deprecation mixed with the 3-d graphing and stuff. Probably just because I've always been super impressed with people who can actually get TI-##s to function properly.

    Not sure what the actual joke was about, though... Wait, just re-read it; I thought it had said $1110 (derp) and I thought, "Well, that's a pretty good price drop. Seems reasonable." Now, as someone who used the damn things quite recently, I've gotta go ahead and say it: I agree with him. They suck and are way too expensive considering their limited capabilities. Not sure that it's funny (observational humor?) but I can definitely see where he's coming from.

    To make this comic better, let's see... I'd remove some or all of the techspeak abbreviations. The comic feels too crowded with them, and dialogue rarely reads properly with abbreviations thrown in unless the character is literally saying MHz as "mmhuhzzz". Which would actually still be awful. Oh well.

  27. It's not self-deprecation though, it's "Hey, look how attractively geeky I was" masked in conceit.

  28. Please explain to me comic 768. Wikipedia says T.I. is a rapper and TI is a Taiwan Independence.

  29. I thought the last one was ok, and I've thought the last few weeks were godawful. He's right about the stupid TI calculators. A nice CAS is great and all, but get with the times. A bit more power would make them so much nicer for engineers. Finally, the joke was in the realization that the third panel had more than one meaning when you consider that it costs that much these days. Granted, Randall managed to fuck it up again by adding one more panel to spell it out for you, but give credit where credit is due.
    And the "Hey, look how attractively geeky I was" just sounds like you would criticize whatever Randall does out of spite. It wasn't self deprecation as much as it was "hey I might sound like I'm bragging here, let's make sure I don't sound like I take myself too seriously."

  30. Oh man, I've bought a graphing calculator before too! GOOMHR!

  31. It's not much of a joke, but those of you saying it's just a nostalgia comic about old stuff seem to be missing the point; that while technology has steadily advanced and prices have dropped, the calculators retain exactly the same technology and the same price. Surely that's the obvious intention of the comic.

  32. Did you know that XKCD had a store? Just in case you forgot, XKCD has a store! And there are things in the store! Things that you can buy!

  33. I don't have fond memories of programming graphing calculators because we weren't allowed to use them in high school and therefore I never had one.

    I've got to give Randall some credit though. The first two panels I thought this was just a standard "haha, technology in the past sucked" observation, but it was actually more of a "the more things change, the more they stay the same" joke.

    Hardly original, but at least there was more to it than I originally thought. It's kind of sad though that the best thing I have to say about the comic is that it didn't disappoint as much as I expected. ;)

  34. This one is actually topical, believe it or not. TI currently has controversy over the fact that they're trying to make their calculators /even less useful than they were in 1996/ at the same (or higher!) prices. Would have been nice if Randall had made mention of *that* fact rather than implying they just haven't moved forward, though, so this might just be a coincidence (GOOTNHR (Get Out Of The News' Head, Randall)).

  35. B, I think most people saying that didn't even make it to the last panel. I know I might not have, but I was waiting for a sandwich to finish grilling and xkcd filled those last 14 seconds.
    I actually liked the punchline but I think it took too many words to get there.

  36. @anon 6:42 yeah, that was very funny and well made. No way anybody could criticise that. I mean, it's a person being enraged by something trivial and thinking it's justified! Look at that string of abuse. Edgy stuff. A hilarious joke. Very clever. I'm being completely sincere right now. Seriously.

  37. @anon 11:42
    what are you even talking about clearly the comic is talking about the 83 line and not the nspire so it is not at all topical

    this goes back to something randall seems to have an unhealthy fixation on since he mentions the pixel count specifically (and incorrectly)

    seriously randy some people do not care about their screen resolution and just want their displays to be functional

    nobody really thinks that your impressive cell phone screen is ample compensation for your small penis so just give up already

  38. @cuddlefish12:45 it's like you realized the truth then decided to veer away from it at the last second so you could be a condescending asshole

    I originally linked that comic as a relevant example of displaying audio in a format that isn't lazy or retarded, but now that you mention it, the comic (which mocks Mel Gibson by having his "sympathizer" use a completely trivial justification as you so deftly pointed out) is also pretty clever

  39. "i could make anything... but friends" is obviously a joke but the way it's worded makes it sad

  40. "thee CCTV cameras surrounding the barn are a particularly nice touch"

    ..that have fuck all to do with Animal Farm.

  41. 764, 765, 767, 768.

    Carl, you need a category called "soapboxkcd".

  42. It's not topical, but I bet it was inspired by that article.

    I actually like this one.

  43. "..that have fuck all to do with Animal Farm."

    Yes but look at how Orwellian it is.

  44. I'm always amazed at how George Orwell is the free-thinking internet's number one sweetheart and yet nobody seems to realise how Animal Farm covers a completely different subject than 1984.

  45. 767 was completely meaningless to me, living in a country that is not the US. I've only ever heard of Mr. Rogers in the context of that flash video, The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny. Go figure.

    768 was just too wordy and preachy. As usual. I don't doubt that you could make a joke out of that premies, but the excecution is just pathetic. The first panels are an ok setup, but the punchline is completely devoid of any kind of punch.

  46. Ironically, knowing your way around a TI-83 was actually a decent way of making friends. Uploading Super Mario Brothers for people to play after maths exams was a surefire way to earn some high-school cred.

  47. I feel like this could have been a lot funnier as a contrast-and-compare strip. There could have been three split-panels, one with a 1996 technology, one with a 2010 technology, each complete with price tag. In the last panel, the 2010 calculator has a price tag that says "Absolutely no effing change whatsoever! Identical crappy graphics! Same high price!"

  48. The problem with 768 is that every HS student forced to buy a graphics calculator thinks the same thing. It's blatant fanbase pandering.

  49. @1:01 Fuck how I wish there was a Penny Arcade hate blog somewhere so that I could really cut loose about how utterly inane 70% of its jokes are.

  50. 767: I have no idea who Mr Rogers is, most people outside the US don't. I have no idea what the premise of the joke is, I don't know why there is no video or why he is arguing with his wife. I don't know the details of the Mel Gibson fiasco and I don't care. This comic is a spectacular failure on every level, not to mention this comic has nothing to do with math, quirky relationships or even memes. This is like the opposite of CAD: instead of having a really lame joke then explaining why it is supposed to be funny, Randall makes a really lame joke that only he gets.

    768: The first three panels are totally unnecessary. All you need is a stick dude saying 'TI calculators haven't changed in 14 years!' then the punchline, which is quite lacklustre after all the build-up. Another example of pandering to the 'I HAD A CALCULATOR ONCE, GOOMH!' forumite imbeciles.

  51. Cuntlefish 4:43AM

    70% inanity is a vast improvement over the 99.99% we're experiencing with Eckkayseedee.

    Plus they can draw an audio/visual player that looks like it might exist.

    [NO VIDEO]

  52. @4:43 You should make one. You can sequester yourself inside (if indeed a blog can be interpreted as a place), muttering to yourself as you compose diatribe after hateful diatribe. If you are consistent in your lambasting of a perfectly respectable web-comic, your blog could end up exactly like this one, except without the valid points or the people who agree with you.

    And fuck those guys for running a great charity despite only getting like a third of the traffic that Randy's crappy stick figures generate. Who do they think they are? Somebody definitely needs to put them in their place, and I think that person should be you.

    Even if you don't find the comics universally funny, you can't argue that they aren't at least putting effort into them, with great art and accompanying blog updates that are typically both entertaining and insightful. If only 70% of their jokes are "inane", they're doing way better than xkcd lately (and by "lately" I mean the past several years).

    Go ahead and "really cut loose"; I could use another source of amusement.

  53. I can't get over the box in the first panel. Who the hell labels a box full of magazines as "misc"? Why is it sitting there? The man's dialogue indicates that he's been pleasantly surprised by its appearance; perhaps the setting is meant to be his attic, and he brought the girl up to tie her to a roof support beam and have his way with her, only to be distracted by his own collection of the very material that turned him into a peerless monster in the first place. Hoist by his own petard!

    Also, did anyone else immediately think of replacing all the dialogue with webcomics?

    "Look at these old Penny Arcades! The art sure has improved."
    "Yeah, and check out Scary Go Round. Great transitions between different styles, wouldn't you say?"
    "Oh man, and look at these xkcd archives... wait, this is from last month."

  54. You know, looking at that Animal Farm poster, my first thought was "What's with the sideways people? Why are they reading newspapers?" Then I read that they were CCTV cameras. Huh.

  55. The way I interpreted the Mr. Rogers comic was kind of a reversal of a reversal. The joke that Mr. Rogers has a secret dark side and its variants are made so often that the reader expects it. So to create amusing contrast, the joke is reversed again and now Mr. Rogers in private life is exactly as he appears on screen.

  56. I think the worst thing about comic 768, not counting the regular art/pandering/soapbox stuff, is that the joke was literally nothing more than "TIs haven't changed in years"... but that it /should/ have been more! Look back at the comic, and think about how much better the third panel would have been if you knew the specs on new TIs were just like that, and the fourth panel was something along those lines. If Randall was in some way a half-decent webcomic artist, he would've at least done that. But no, instead we have the joke bluntly said in panel 4 and panels 1 to 3 serve no purpose other than being "OH LOOK COMPUTER STATS! THIS SHOWS THAT THIS COMIC IS SUITED FOR YOUR TASTES!"

  57. "And fuck those guys for running a great charity despite only getting like a third of the traffic that Randy's crappy stick figures generate. Who do they think they are? Somebody definitely needs to put them in their place, and I think that person should be you."

    I really don't think the charity (which is obviously a good thing and I shouldn't need to state this) should excuse everything they do. His comment was about the comic, not the creators. Remember the school in Laos?

    That PAsucks blog would be much less amusing than this one. There aren't really any hardcore Penny-Arcade fans claiming the authors as gods and spamming it on every forum thread ever. It's just a gag comic to them.

    The creators are also much more professional than Randall so you're less likely to see floating heads or typoes or missed deadlines.

    And also xkcd just generally sucks way more than penny arcade, which I don't really care for.

  58. I guess randall does not quite understand that manufacturing cost(or specs) is sole determiner of price.

  59. er, that would be because that is wrong.

    (um try picking up an economics textbook some time)

  60. I'm sure this came up in some previous discussion of the Spiderpig t-shirt, but although it may have been released to piggyback on the Simpson's movie, the art is a direct rip of Marvel's own Amazing Spider-Ham. Making the t-shirt exponentially less original.

  61. I- I have an admission: I quite liked 768. It rather impressed me, actually. randy stumbled into an acceptable comic by mashing together two of xkcd's most annoying tropes (I Know Nerdy Stuff Too You Guys + obvious soapbox) and coming up with something not altogether good, but at least pleasantly surprising. I read the first two panels thinking fuck, another one of these wankfests where he just rattles off a bunch of references instead of saying anything. But lo to my surprise, he took a sharp left turn and turned it into a hamfisted criticism of TI graphing calculators! Holy shit, look at that! An actual punchline! Not a good one, mind you, but a punchline! God, I can barely remember what that's supposed to look like it's been so long.

    Yes, it's fanservice throughout (and the alt-text, Jesus God he hasn't pandered to highschoolers this hard since the robotics comic), and it's not anything novel or particularly clever in and of itself, but goddammit randy finally did something right. Even if it's only successfully subverting expectations, and even if those expectations were only there because of the otherwise constant and predictable shittiness of his comic.

    Baby steps, randy. Baby steps.

    Captcha: Manto. Isn't that the name of a harbor? Port Manto? :rimshot:

  62. It would feel really weird to cut the joke off at the third panel. The fourth one isn't even too bad.

  63. @R.:

    I didn't mean to use the charity as an excuse for their comic's quality, however bad it might be (I typically enjoy it, but opinions are like assholes, et cetera); it merely served as a point of contrast between Penny Arcade and xkcd, in light of the fact that my good friend Cuddlefish expressed a longing for the exact blog you just described.

    Perhaps I am just a cynic, but there seems to me a world of difference between founding a charity to improve the lives of sick and dying children through donations of toys and games, and donating the profits of your book's sales to a charity in an effort to get a school named after your webcomic. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that Randall decided to leverage his fame for a great cause, but I'm a little hesitant to call it "selfless" because of the clear "give and get" nature of the donations. I happen to feel that the folks at Penny Arcade have been doing a lot more leveraging, with a lot less fame, and there is no question whatsoever that they're working hard for a cause that they really believe in and support.

    Questioning the creators' attitudes about the comics they create seems perfectly relevant to me, especially with all the ridiculous soap-boxing about trivial bullshit that Randy's been up to recently. Penny Arcade doesn't attract nearly as many haters primarily because they come across as genuinely nice guys who put together a web-comic as a means of communicating ideas to their audience, while Randall comes across as a smug dick who says whatever he thinks will make his audience adore him, and doesn't seem to put much effort at all into actually doing anything meaningful with his ridiculous level of fame.

  64. A better comic

  65. I'm going to agree with Ves here.

    768 wasn't terrible. Reading through the old stats of technology gave the impression that he was going to go the route where "Wow, look at how much everything CHANGED." He then took an object which hasn't in 14 years and mocked that it doesn't follow the trend. That is funny, if only pure observational humour and could be derived by any person who's struggling with a TI.

    I also know that the last panel was purely for making goatkcd awesome. IT SERVES NO OTHER PURPOSE.

  66. @R and Anon. 839:

    What you're misreading [I don't blame you, he didn't make it very clear] is that the school was funded with 100% of the profits of the PUBLISHERS -- not a cent of Randall's profits. Heaven forbid we threaten his livelihood.

    From the store:

    "The book is published by BreadPig, a company founded by my friend Alexis, and THEIR portion of the profits will go to build a school in Laos" [emphasis added].

    Randall keeps his portion of the profit, and the selfless publishers send their profits to help build a school in Laos, and they also agree to let XKCD take the credit since it is the medium of Randall's book that allows them to perform this charitable act.

    And on the flipside, Randall lets (??) his publishers give their profits away to fund a school IN HIS WEBCOMIC'S NAME, while as a side-effect helping some Laotian kids. And it's not even like some grand multi-millionaire corporation, this is the company "run by [his] friend, Alexis" [comma added for grammatical hilarity]. I know Carl that fascist cow thinks that Breadpig is evil/scummy/communist/whatever, but they/he/she have willingly donated 100% of their profits without more than a line of credit in small print from quite possibly their largest item of sale to help Laotian kids while essentially giving the credit to Randall Munroe.

    Webcomic be damned, it's scumbag moves like this that make me hate Randall as a person.

  67. @Fred 10:01

    One thing you didn't change is the order of the dialogue vs. the caption, which is the first thing that I would change. Because the whole, "Children's show performer is secretly an asshole," thing is such a common joke, that there's potential in reversing that, but it doesn't work when you do it backwards.

  68. Its unfair to judge this comic based on how a future user would perceive it. Editorial cartoons always pertain to current events, and they don't have to explain themselves. Reading old comics means you won't always get the joke. That's life.

    That doesn't mean this comic is necessarily funny (although I thought it was kind of good in a nostalgia-way), but your first point is off base.

  69. You know what else hasn't changed in 14 years? Digital watches
    Microwave ovens
    Stereo amps/receivers

    If an electronic product does its job and doesn't have increasing software demands placed on it, there's no reason why it should follow Moore's law. Yeah, TI calculators have pretty low graphics resolution, but mostly they're used for drawing lines. A line should be 1 pixel wide, but the pixel should be big enough that you can see the line. Cell phones have the resolution to display a movie, but it's completely wasted. Who watches a movie on a 2 inch cell phone screen?

    That being said, the 2 MHz TI81 I had in the 90s was pretty slow to run complex programs; but the latest model is 90 MHz, and a 15 MHz model came out in 2001. And it's not like PCs have really gotten much higher clock speeds in the last 10 years. 1+ GHz CPUs were available in 2000, and there's still nothing over 3 GHz, is there?

  70. 768 isn't even right. Sure the specs are essentially the same, but MHz are only a small part of a CPU. TI has improved the effiency of their instructions and gates over the years which increases the speed (I don't have raw figures). The CPU is designed to be blazingly fast as a calculator (all things considered), but nothing else. Making the CPU faster, adding more memory, a larger resolution, etc would only serve to increase the cost of the calculator and sap the battery life at virtually no benefit to the user.

    TI has also added tons of (really obscure) functionality. Only a couple of people in the world see that part because for most of us (especially if you're in school) we would never need or want it.

    Didn't Randall used to poke fun of statements like the one in 768 with statements like the one I just made? Can't think of one off the top of my head - anyone?

    PS I have a feeling this is going to post five times like my last one - apologies in advance.

  71. This comment has been removed by the author.

  72. Penny Arcade has made vast efforts to improve their art--and improve the art has, as a cursory glance through the early years (1998-2002 or so) will show. Gabe has polished and refined his style--it just happens to be cartoon-y and, well, stylized, and some people aren't into that. A subjective assessment of something ("I don't like this") and an objective evaluation ("This is a bad webcomic") are not the same thing.

    Penny Arcade is not a bad webcomic. Many people dislike it. XKCD is a bad webcomic. Many people like it. Using subjective assessment to measure quality is akin to fixing a wristwatch with a ballpeen hammer: wrong tool, wrong job.

    CAPTCHA: myopi. Hey, just because I wear glasses is no reason to call names.

  73. No please, continue, I just love the sound of you stroking your undoubtedly MASSIVE cokc.

  74. I just wanted to point out that I'm the regular Fred and have nothing to do with that 10:01 impostor and his comic.

    The proof of this is that I'm too lazy to sign into my blogspot account.

  75. And I have no affiliation with the unsigned blogspoter who doesn't have a link under his name. Obviously there are too many Freds in this world.

    Regular anonymous posting gave me an error.

  76. What is this insanity re: fred's real identity

    I dont know what to believe anymore

  77. Fred, hmm? Last name....Rogers???


  78. Carl said: "The amusing contrast would be to compare one of these men's public persona to a fictional, contrasting one. So you'd have either Mel Gibson secretly being really friendly (unlikely, because we all know it's not true) or the secret dark side to Mr. Rogers."


    Seriously, the gimmick of subverting our expectations about the private personality of a public figure is super fuckn predictable, on par with things like "What if Elmo were EVIL? LOL!"

    What little humour there is in this XKCD panel comes from subverting the expected subversion.

  79. Penny Arcade sucks and is even more soapboxy than XKCD. "Here is Tycho's latest thought on current gaming events, with a little exaggeration in there for 'humour'!"

    Every second fucking comic you have to click and read the latest 1000 word essay from a guy trying to sound smart by raping a thesaurus just for it to make any sense.

    And then it turns out it is just "hey guys I was playing Modern Warfare 2 but everybody is using knives what an EXPERIENCE" or "This was a real conversation and it turns out my girlfriend doesn't like me talking about drinking milk out of her tits".

    Or when it's not being wanky soapbox or "here is the latest conversation I had in my life that would make a good comic" it goes into bizarro psuedo-artistic world where Gabe gets to let loose and Tycho mangles anything he creates by spamming stupid shit all over it.


    Hey guys do you like words. This is words and its humorous.
    Here is a hilarious conversation we had guys.
    Here is a hilarious conversation we had about D&D guys.
    Here's a comic about the time I called a store and they ran out of iPhones.

    But, when Penny Arcade is good, it's pretty damn good. I gotta admit. And like, even when it's not funny, it's telling better stories than XKCD is. But, I don't get how it's one of the most loved webcomics while CAD is one of the most hated, despite the difference between them being shockingly slim (except maybe in art, thanks to Buckley's copypasta)

  81. No one said Penny Arcade was perfect. That's not the point of saying that Penny Arcade is objectively good. It's objectively good because there has been definite improvement. The art has become polished. The jokes have gotten better, tighter in format and not drawn-out or clumsily executed.

    The point of the newsposts is often tangential or only vaguely related to the comic. Tycho will often give a nod to the comic, and perhaps say a few words about the context. Occasionally he does more, when the situation warrants it, but often he'll move straight off into other topics.

    Yes, he does use a lot of big words. Yes, he is a pedantic, mildly snobbish writer. Sometimes that's fun. His sentences are well-crafted enough to indicate that he knows what he is talking about and did not simply do a frantic search for synonyms for "ugly."

    Again, there is a big difference between a comic (or any work) being objectively bad, and said comic not appealing to a person, or a group of people, or any larger group or meta-group beyond that. XKCD is bad, not because it doesn't happen to appeal to certain people, but because its ideas are badly communicated, the jokes are written poorly, and the art fails to portray things realistically or add to the (lack of) humor. Penny Arcade may not be the paragon of webcomic perfection, but its ideas--both in words and art--are communicated effectively and clearly.

  82. But, I don't get how it's one of the most loved webcomics while CAD is one of the most hated...

    If you're going to complain about the occasional wall of text in Penny Arcade, and yet can't see what people hate about CAD (or, at least, one of many things on a very long list), then I'm seriously at a loss for words.

  83. @ Anon 5:35

    I thought that "Incredible Savings" strip was pretty funny, actually. But it's definitely more of a laid back "some conversation we had" kind of strip, which I know can be a matter of taste. I have a personal bias for liking these kind of strips... (which is why I love Achewood too) but they fail utterly in XKCD, as we already went over in the metaphor-sandwich scenario.

    Simple moments without obvious punchlines can work if you actually care about the characters. XKCD has almost no characters, so it's obvious why it doesn't work there. As for CAD, I just don't get a sense of the characters being realistic or interesting, so maybe that's why I never find it anywhere close to as good as PA. And I don't even read PA very often, so it's not like I go looking for every little nuance of their characters and shit like when I read Achewood. They just feel far more interesting than anything from CAD even at a first glance.

    Look at how this simple "two guys sitting around talking" strip actually has some interesting details to it. For one, they're at a pool instead of hanging around the apartment playing games on the couch. It's like there's actually an outside world out there! And Gabe's absent flick of his foot through the water shows they can actually move and behave like human beings! And Gabe looks actually ready to swim while Tycho's still fully dressed and wearing a whole helmet for some reason. As I said, I don't read PA often so if this is some kind of running gag I don't get it, but even with no clue about why this is, it gives me another interesting layer for my brain to wonder about.

    I think the art does make a big difference. An artist's style is a huge part of how you interpret the "feel" of the characters and the whole setting they inhabit. Even in a simple strip like this one, PA has little details that make it a more interesting world. Meanwhile, CAD's B^U characters look perpetually bored and slack-jawed. So even if you put some great dialogue in those mouths, I'd still hear it delivered in a droning voice and it'd probably fall flat.

    (on that note - while Buckley's copy-and-paste method does bug me because it's just so blatant and obvious, what bugs me even more is that the stuff he pastes isn't even worth copying. If you're going to keep reusing one expression all the time, why make it the B^U face?!)

  84. B^U is the emoticon for Buckley's characters. B is a pair of sideways, heavy-lidded, stoner eyes. The carat is the nose. U is the slack-jawed, droning mouth, text-walling us into a state of helpless oblivion.

  85. @Ex-ambivalent- This is the helmet reference:

    Ooh, my first post. Long-time lurker, but first time poster. Perhaps I should create an account at some point.

  86. you don't need an account. you can just make up a name.

  87. I like the alt-text in the new one. Dislike on the comic itself though.

  88. Oh, well that was easy. Thanks, Rob.

  89. Rob is lying. It actually causes him intense physical pain every time he does anything that's not for his own self-interest.

  90. The PA Hater anonymous here :O

    I didn't complain about PA having walls of text. I said Tycho writes wall-of-text newsposts that are often necessary for the comics to make sense. That says nothing about the text in the comics themselves.

    The point is, I don't think PA has improved. Just as XKCD disappeared up its own asshole, so has Tycho's writing and the content in a lot of the strips. They've become convinced that their random little conversations are worthy to be turned into comics. Well, if so many people love the strip, maybe those conversations really are *that* worthwhile?
    Then again, XKCD is loved also, and we all know about it...

    When Penny Aracde does genuine humour, it's not bad. But that happens far less now than in the days when a lot of people got into PA. I think that's basically undeniable.

  91. Looking at the CAD site he seems to have stopped the copy-paste mentality lately, although I can't say how new this is... and honestly, I am only sporadically enjoying it, and then only when it is topical. His characters are little better than cardboard cut-outs on their own.

    Fun stastic. The Y-axis is "Reach", measured as a percent of the internet viewing the site on a given day. Note that in late 2008 XKCD had less Reach than CAD. Also note that the particular comic "Loss" was put up on June 2nd, 2008. Apparently in late 2009 he switched to another website.

    And no, I won't stop whoring for

    Captcha: Alsoo. The second Also, sorta like the second post script PPS, right?

  92. "What you're misreading [I don't blame you, he didn't make it very clear] is that the school was funded with 100% of the profits of the PUBLISHERS -- not a cent of Randall's profits. Heaven forbid we threaten his livelihood."

    I know, and I considered mentioning that, but I decided not to for irrelevance and being a dick move on my part.

  93. It is interesting to note that recently Buckley has tried to vary expressions, this does not help that he has no natural sense of humor or a well made metaplot.

  94. guys, you all have to shut up. the only commenter who is allowed to speak anymore is Simon Roberts.
    Simon: your comment is excellent. please keep making comments.

    anon who dislikes PA: try watching some PATV, especially 4th Panel ones. You'll see that they actually have hilarious conversations. I think so, anyway.

  95. @R: This is the internet-- irrelevance has never stood in the way of new posts/comics. Nor has being a dick-move. Hell, that INCREASES likelihood of posting, really, and I felt it quite justified given the situation.

    @Carl: Some of their conversations that they've willingly censored on the grounds of not being "good enough" for a comic were actually pretty entertaining. E.G., I actually Laughed Out Loud at their discussion over the English Language. Dare I say I had a GOOMHPA moment.

    That said, I am commencing shutting up.

    Captcha: colic. Relating to Bile -or- abdominal pain, apparently.

  96. Looks like some commenters are created more equal than others. How...Orwellian!

  97. Not relevant to the current comic, but I just found this:

    Does anybody else find it absolutely foul that the man was asked to do a guest comic, and decided that the comic should be all about how amazing, clever and wanted he is?

  98. I'm annoyed when people are so insecure that they think people like Randal are "so much smarter than they are".

  99. I'm surprised you didn't mention the urban legends about how Mr. Rogers always wears sweaters because his arms are covered in prison tattoos or about how he was a Navy SEAL and killed hundreds of people in Vietnam. Or that he was a child molester. Or that he was secretly a Nazi sympathizer. The idea that Mr. Rogers is actually some kind of secret bad-ass or horrible criminal is a prevalent and well-documented myth, though utterly false. I don't think this comic can be fairly examined without at least some consideration of these myths; it would be like discussing a comic about alligators in NYC sewers without any knowledge of the "flushing baby alligators down the toilet" myth.

  100. except, there are no alligators in the NYC sewers--the alligators' exclusive origin story is being flushed down the toilet to get there.

    Mr. Rogers, on the other hand, exists independent of his myth. it is, indeed, entirely possible to know Mr. Rogers without having heart the myth. he in no way relies on the myth to exist, nor does his friendly persona rely on that myth.

  101. Rob, you ignorant cow, Mr. Rogers only exists in the minds of those who truly believe.

  102. Plus Carl already did mention those urban legends:

    "The amusing contrast would be to compare one of these men's public persona to a fictional, contrasting one. So you'd have either Mel Gibson secretly being really friendly (unlikely, because we all know it's not true) or the secret dark side to Mr. Rogers. That last one is a funny idea, all the more so because it violently clashes with the image we all want to have of him. Of course, it's also the subject of several well known urban legends, so it wouldn't be very original."