Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Comic 778: Some Kind Of Horrible Mistake

whu wh whaaaaat?

[Alt: 'How about a little ... *family growth*?' 'Dude, that's not until round two.' ]

Let's talk about art. More specifically, let's talk about how comics use certain symbols to represent concepts that are inherently undrawable. For example, speech. The usual convention is that a character's speech is either contained in "bubble" which points to the character speaking it, or, there is a line connecting the person's mouth to their words. None of these bears any particular resemblance to what happens in reality when a person speaks, but it is a necessary convention in order for comics to work at all (or at least, non-silent ones). Moving on.

What happens when two characters need to say the same thing, at once? The usual convention is to have the text written only once but have it connected to both characters. As you can imagine, this can be tricky if, say, the characters are on opposite sides of a crowded room, or if the characters have other lines to say. Now, I firmly believe that a good cartoonist can find a way to make this work, but sometimes it can be tricky.

I bring this up because the first panel of today's xkcd offers a helpful example of a massive failure in this sort of problem. He has two characters, who each say one unique line and one shared line. I think a better way to deal with this situation would be to have the lines in separate panels - so that the panel with both of them saying "Wait, who are you?" doesn't have any other text. As it is, there is a continuous path going from the man, through his first line of text, through the shared line of text, into the woman's line, and then into the woman herself. This is very bad. We naturally read left to right of course (at least, when we are reading in english) and so we'd be inclined to read the text in that order - Man's Line, Shared, Woman's. The line tracing that path only makes it more natural to read that way.

But that's not the way it should be read - the shared line has to be last, because the unique lines are both said before the character realizes there's a mistake. Anyway, it ends up making the whole comic get off to a hugely confusing start.

Also, the woman has some kind of spider sponge monster attacking her neck but I assume that is just usual xkcd bad art.

The second panel, I am happy to say, is not as awful as the first. Astute readers will figure out the premise of the comic from here - that characters from different cliched pornographic films are interacting in a situation they are not prepared for. The less astute readers should hopefully understand it by the end of panel 3.

Let's pause and let me point out that, glaring flaws in panel 1 aside, this set up could be amusing. What could have conspired to have these people all in the same room, all expecting certain other people but not the ones who are there? More importantly, will anyone have sex? It must be a complicated plot - after all, all the characters are actors, knowing that they are in some kind of film. Unless the author thinks that people actually behave this way. But I doubt it. In any case, yes the first three panels seem unrealistic - but they also seem like they could be a good way to set up a great punchline.

Alas, the only punchline in this comic is the "line" that my fist traces as it "punches" Randall Munroe in the face. I'm sorry. I do it out of love.

As I tragically learned, none of our questions were answered. Instead, the comic took a jarring turn, having all the characters begin to play a semi-unknown board game. We don't find out why they are where they are. We don't see any consequences. The Jones family, whose house was broken into by these sex workers, can't muster any sort of reaction beyond the first half of a sentence, and that sentence is filled not with anger, but with simple confusion.

Now, most of this comic is not enough to send me into a spittle filled rage. But then there are those pesky little details -

Look. I'm sorry Randall. I know you are a nerd and you are proud of it. I know your audience loves nothing more than realizing that you play the same nerdy games as them ("OH EM GEES, Randall plays Settlers of Catan? I DON'T KNOW ANYONE who plays that game except the people I play it with and most of the Internet!"). But goddammit that does not mean that porn stars all love the same games as you. I don't really care why you made this comic because the ultimate feeling I'm left with is that you wanted to make a comic where extreme sexiness was forever linked with playing your danged resource-based tabletop game and all the characters suddenly start acting like socially mistaken middle schoolers and hey holy fuck! that's what your entire audience is made of!

The problem is that none of this makes sense. In the world, humans tend to make choices and actions based on the present situation as they understand it, past knowledge that they have (firsthand or otherwise) and desired future outcomes. BUT IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE THAT THREE STRANGERS, TRYING TO HAVE SEX ON CAMERA WITH NON-PRESENT PEOPLE, AND FINDING OTHER SIMILARLY CONFUSED PEOPLE AROUND THEM, WOULD SUDDENLY DECIDE TO START PLAYING YOUR STUPID GAME. that is not what happens. ever.

God, using that game is such horrible fan pandering. Why does it have to be that game? Why can't it - and again, I'm here temporarily conceding that it makes any damn sense for them to play a board game of any kind at this point in their sorry little lives - be a more normal game? One that a variety of confused stranger may actually know the rules to? Because xkcd readers won't feel special that way! xkcd readers want to come to the site to find out that their own little quirks and joys - the things that make them so unique and special in exactly the same way that every other pseudo-nerd is - are shared, appreciated, and most importantly, acknowledged as special. If the game had been scrabble or monopoly or clue or chess or checkers or backgammon or anything reasonable, then hell, anyone could have appreciated that joke! Even NON-NERDS might have laughed at it!

I'll pause to let the xkcd lovers out there have a heart attack or two at that thought.

Luckily, Randall knew to pick the sort of game that would make pretend nerds fall over with glee merely to read the name of. Do you think this does not happen? YOU ARE WRONG, MOTHER FUCKER.

But look - terrible middle school sex fantasies aside, and stupid nerd pandering aside, the biggest problem with this comic is that it simply makes no sense. We don't know why they are in the house. We don't know why they seem not to care. We don't know if they are meant to be actors or merely people acting in real life the way certain actors reportedly act in certain films. I'd be happy to suspend my incredible amounts of disbelief if it were worth it - for example, that's what I did only one comic ago. But that doesn't help! It doesn't make anything make more sense. We're still just left with confused, sexed up strangers playing games like they are at an all boys 8th grade sleepover birthday party but they are in a stranger's house. I just - I guess I just give up. This comic utterly confounds me.

Perhaps the alt-text will redeem it? Or perhaps you are a silly fool who hasn't learned the way this always ends?

Let's talk about the alt-text. I can't quite decide what the joke is - it's either that in the game you can "grow" your family my having the two parents make a child; presumably they do this through having sex (shown off screen). In that case, the alt-text is taking the concept of "having sex" and using it as a euphemism for the act of having sex. OR, it is a joke because in the game your family grows larger, whereas while having or preparing for sex, a man's penis grows larger. What I'm trying to say is that there are complex layers of humor here.


  1. Well struck, sir!

  2. I don't think Randall imagined them being actors OR being actual people. Wouldn't they just be porn CHARACTERS? People who don't know they're in a film, but still do act this way because that's how porn characters act? Of course if that's the case, it doesn't make sense that they would do anything with each other besides sex, but I guess that's why they're xkcd porn characters. Kinda like the stick figures in TGI Fridays OH FUCK WHAT HAVE I SAID

  3. I feel like they are supposed to be either prostitutes or strippers.

  4. "Why does it have to be that game? Why can't it [...] be a more normal game?"

    CARL just because you want everyone to be part of the DOMINANT HEGEMONIC MONOCULTURE doesn't mean they have to be

    I too had assumed they were porn actors (since they're all Cliche Porn Lines, hell I mean TVTropes has an article about pizza boys in porn) and assumed that the Joneses were, er, well to be honest I pretty much ignored them. Then people in the last thread started suggesting they were probably prostitutes. That made more sense in that then the Joneses actually have a role that makes sense, but it doesn't make sense in that you don't get prostitutes who dress as plumbers, usually?

    Strippers I suppose could make sense. But I'd have to think about it some more, and I've already thought too much about a comic designed to make people go "ohmigod agricola i've played that too i'm so special".

  5. strippers was my first assumption. it made sense there! they all hired someone to do stripping for them, at the same time, or something.

  6. Though I am forever shamed, because I didn't get the reference to the porno stereotypes. Had to refer to xkcd explained and here to figure it out.

    Only a comic that made absolutely no sense before I knew he was referring to porno stats still made no sense even after I knew it. I was so lost I was even trying to figure out a hidden meaning to the name of the owners of the house, "Jones." I mean, surely there is a joke somewhere? SOMEWHERE?


  7. Right, no, hang on, think I've got it: pornos are happening in real life, but all in the same place. Pizza guy is meant to turn up to the daughter's party and sex her cos it's like if real life was like porno, and Mr Jones is meant to come home early and sex the maid cos that's probably some porno thing too, but they're all happening in the same place and without the Joneses actually being there! So then the Joneses turn up later cos they weren't aware of the whole thing for some reason and AAARGH KILL KILL KILL

  8. Oh, yeah, and the art is really really awful, obv.s. It looks like the door in Panel 5 is the same as in Panel 1, so you come to the conclusion that the Joneses keep their copy of Agricola behind the front door. Probably cos it's so great that they play it loads and have to keep it somewhere where they can easily get it next to the front door, amirite?

  9. I thought it was a fridge. Thus Agricola was some kind of weird indie brew. I then realised it was a game like Settlers, so the door was just odd.

  10. the goatkcd version has an actual joke.

  11. Best part? The French Maid starts out having a distinctive (well, cliched) speech pattern, and then immediately loses it when she has to say a line that it'd be more difficult to write in that pattern.

    Agricola is apparently a real game, and I would like to nominate it for shittiest game title ever.

  12. Oh! Oh, oh, oh... I get it.

    Remember a few comics ago, when Randall was going through college websites? Well, apparently Randall's webcomic enterprise does not generate money enough for a college tuition, so he's working as a gigolo to make money for his education.

    Hey, this is funnier than the comic itself, you can't deny!

    Coming up with crazy theories on each XKCD,


  13. It's a pretty crap game too, so I hear. Too long and not awesome enough to justify the length. Oh and it's not like Settlers, Settlers is a trading game, Agricola is a building game. So yeah.

  14. This is some angry ranting from Carl. I approve.

    "The problem is that none of this makes sense."

    Cue the inevitable "It's a comic, it doesn't have to make sense!" response. No, it indeed does not have to make sense, if the nonsensical part results into something funny. NOTHING THAT IS HAPPENING HERE IS FUNNY.

    It's like the *shudder* TGI Friday's comic all over again. "Why are they doing it in a public restaurant? Who knows? That's the hilarious part!" No, it isn't. It'd be hilarious if you had, through the magic of an actual joke, found a way to link these two unreleated and illogical things together so that we can derive humor out of their unexpected linking.

    Also the whole fanboy swooning at the mere mention of a game somebody knows is sickening. Hey guys, guys. Sit down and prepare for this: I occasionally play Babel, and if I'm feeling frisky, some Arkham Horror! Aren't you glad you sat down before you fell down?

  15. Finally looked up Agricola, and it judging by the way it's described ("you play the farmer AND his wife! But will you have kids??? lololol") I think Randumb Smunroe was going for some sort of irony here - the fantastical sex workers apparently enjoy Agricola because it involves male-female relations and potential copulation, even though it's family-friendly? I dunno. I don't think he does either.

  16. Hey, I think the joke is that they all got the address wrong, and those aren't the Jones' at all coming in at the end. At the Jones' house, their daughter is having a party (without her parents' knowledge) and invited a "pizza guy" over. Mr. Jones, however, will be returning home early (to a party he doesn't know about) and hired a "maid" to wait for him there. On top of all this, Mrs. Jones has hired a "plumber," potentially assuming the Mr. Jones would be returning home late from work. What a WACKY set of circumstances! Well, that is, if Randall had properly set up an actual punchline in there.

  17. so, next up: xkcd.productplaceme.nt

  18. The problem is that it is not consistent. Maybe he was going for an 'off-the-wall' comic - normally this would be switched to a bedroom farce, with both Joneses trying to hide their respective porny visitors, but that would be well beyond Randy's skill as a comic writer.

    And the comic is shit. And Agricola, fuck off Munroe. Monopoly or Guess Who would have made more sense. Even D and fucking D would have been recognisable, but nooo. You had to go for a game that would make mouth breathing basement dwellers feel superior.

  19. The worst part is that I actually found myself going "Hey, Agricola. Nice refer... dammit!"

  20. The cupboard he finds agricola in is practically identical to the door. As we've just seen the character at the door, it made it look to me as though he just picked agricola up off their doorstep.

  21. Interestingly enough (and this may provide some insight into Randall's Ideas of fun) I regularly attend a gaming club at my local college (we, too have colleges in middle-of-nowhere, California) and out of all of the different board, card, and role-playing games they have to offer (such as: Arkham Horror, Puerto Rico, Settlers of Catan, Descent, RA, Roborally, Zombie rally, Munchkin, Chrononauts, etc. ... Cred: ESTABLISHED) Agricola is the one game I haven't yet played because it seems incredibly boing. Way to go Randall, pick the one game that an experienced gamer thinks is to boring to even try as your obscure reference. Of course, that could just be a product of my specific taste in games. Meh.

  22. If he had any sort of talent Randall would've at least have the plumber find Agricola on a shelf or something to avoid the whole similar door thing.

  23. I have no idea what Agricola is. I thought the plunger was part of the game, like Battleships of Four In A Row. Coupled with the name of the game (Agricola is Latin for farmer) and dialogue (grains etc.) I concluded that Agricola is the weirdest game ever. Maybe if it was a more popular game I wouldn't have been confused. Here's an idea: make the game Monopoly, and make them have an arguement. It's not original, but it can still be FUNNY.
    Also I don't watch much porn because I have the libido of a deckchair and I'm pretty sure I skipped panel 2 so I either got the porn thing in panel 1, panel 3 or OFF THE SCREEN. Whoa. Oh, and I didn't understand the dialogue in the 1st panel until Carl explained it to me. Thanks, Carl!

  24. The title "Scheduling" is confusing as well. Does this imply there's been some kind of schedule mix-up amongst the pornstars? Why isn't this explained in the comic? How would the joke be any different if they were all, say, burglars who'd broken into the house, and decided to play Agricola?

    The whole pornstar aspect of the comic serves no apparent purpose apart from to intrigue the reader with a premise that might, just might, lead to a promising punchline, but OH WHOOPS GUESS YOU FORGOT YOU WERE READING XKCD, HERE'S A NERDY REFERENCE FOR YA, HOPE YOU WEREN'T EXPECTING A JOKE.

  25. Conclusion: Randy fucking fails again.

  26. So... is this going to be part of the "Rob's Angriest Rants" (even though it was written by Carl)? Like, "that fucking nerd game shit" or something? Because it seems pretty venomous to me.

  27. You're mixung up "Rob's Rants" with "Angriest Rants". This felt like an angriest rants contender to me.

  28. GUYS when did 631 come out? It was either September 2nd or August 31st. I can't figure it out from Carl, Rob and Jay's bizarre post schedules.

  29. Also Carl did you ever post Dr. Horrible's IRC chatlog with Randy? You said you'd post it eventually.



  31. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 12, 2010 at 6:03 AM

    i do not know why people are so worried about how he is holding the pizza box if you are familiar with the cliche you would know that it is not really a pizza he is delivering it is his erect penis

    seriously there is so much else wrong with this strip that worrying about how the fake pizza guy is holding his fake pizza box which probably contains nothing except for a hole in the bottom is a little ridiculous

    maybe i watch unhealthy amounts of campy porn but judging by your collective obsession with imaginary pizza your habits are a bit more unhealthy than mine (i am saying that you are fat because you eat too much)

  32. See, all your problems is that you seem to feel like XKCD gets better than an alright set up that doesn't go anywhere good. 'Cause it hasn't done that in about 3 years. I liked his set-up for once and stopped analyzing there. Well, after I figured out how the fuck he wanted me to read panel 1.

    And even though you already know it, "18-24 year olds are greatly overrepresented at Males are overrepresented at People browsing from school are greatly overrepresented at".

    Oh, and I thought strippers as well until the plumber came on. I mean, I have no interest in a plumber stripper. Although he could also just be a guy with a plunger and toolbox, so who knows, and the real problem is that without any actual physical characteristic [like a hat or skirt] I can only assume he is really geeky looking like I assume of every other XKCD character, and not in a a good way.

  33. It was kinda funny. I didn't really feel they needed explaining, it was just a parody of how it could happen in real life. (I have no idea what that game is, so I don't think the reference is what's got me.)

  34. Personally, I liked my incest theory.

  35. UndercoverCuddlefish:

    In the first panel, the pizza box has little squigglies coming off of it, which is meant to be steam, indicating the box is hot, which indicates there is, in fact, a pizza in the box.

    The thought of holding a pizza that way is so incredibly annoying I could barely make it halfway through the comic as is, and there's no point in complaining about all of the other flaws when Carl already touched on them.

    (I am saying you're a douchebag)

  36. Even -if- you're okay with the setup and didn't care about the game: how in holy hell is the joke 'they stop what they were doing and start playing a board game' funny?

    And if I'm oversimplifying the joke, please by all means, tell it in a more elaborate manner that would make it funny.

  37. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 12, 2010 at 7:30 AM

    i am sorry to say that randall not having any idea what he is doing does not make you any more right

    i am also sorry to strike on the issue of your obesity with such a lack of diplomacy but have you ever considered not eating as much

  38. @UndercoverCuddlefish
    Yes, you apparently do watch way too much porn. I didn't even get the "it's porn" thing until the second time I read the comic, because it failed to make any sense on the first read-through. (For that matter, I also entirely missed the game reference, because I GO OUTSIDE. I'm not stuck in my basement with a bunch of kids playing tabletop RPGs.)

    For the record I'm definitely not fat - in fact I'm very fit, 60kg, and I bicycle / run / work out on a daily basis. I do find it rather annoying when delivery personnel of any sort are amazingly careless with what they're delivering, such as in this comic. The guy delivering the pizza was about the only thing in this comic that made the slightest bit of sense to me, so pardon if I belabor the point of it being appalling that he would be holding his pizza sideways.

    The fact that you've an apparent obsession with claiming obesity of random people on the internet whom you have not seen is indicative of your lack of self-image, if not your own weight. The excessive porn you're watching probably isn't helping you, either. But I'm not here to judge, I'm here to bitch and whine about a terrible web comic that's unfortunately stuffed down my throat regularly by idiots who happen to find it hilarious for unknown reasons, and I imagine you're in roughly the same situation, so let's cut these petty differences and do what we came here for.

    Fuck you very much, Randall.

  39. (And I am not the other anonymous poster, to be clear.)

  40. Charles Augustus FortescueAugust 12, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    I don't think this comic merits such an angry rant. I quite liked it. It makes several points:
    - how addictive those kinds of board games can be, or how certain people tend to get unreasonably excited about them (though I haven't played the one in question)
    - how people tend to overestimate the amount of sex that others are having, when in reality they're likely to be doing something far more mundane
    - the absurdity of cliched porn movie situations (by having three of them try to happen at once in the same house).

    I also had no trouble following the dialogue in the first panel, and I thought the pizza guy starting to say "hot sausage" was a nice touch, similar to the unfinished list of hazards in the Depth-first comic.

    In summary, while Randall hasn't hit it out of the park with this one, it should at least be chalked up as a short single or perhaps a leg-bye.

  41. Anon 8:07: The pizza guy is a porn star, he is not there to deliver a pizza; therefore, he does not care about how he holds the pizza, because it does not matter to him. If it were an actual delivery person, then him holding the box like that would bug me. However, he is not a delivery person, and he isn't getting paid for delivering the pizza.

  42. @ Fred

    "Even -if- you're okay with the setup and didn't care about the game: how in holy hell is the joke 'they stop what they were doing and start playing a board game' funny?"

    The discrepency in the rapid transition from pornography clich├ęs to obscure board games, with an element of "random-is-funny" thrown in.

    It's pretty weak though.

  43. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 12, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    @8:07 nice psychoanalysis of me but i think you got a few parts wrong here let me try you and hopefully it will not be too inaccurate

    you are the sort of person who takes yourself and many other things in life far too seriously even to the point of defending somebody that is upset because a person who is not a pizza delivery man is not delivering a pizza correctly (no shit) from somebody who already made fun of himself in the rant that spawned the "argument"

    you proceed to project your own insecurities onto me as an explanation for why i am being blatantly offensive (in a manner that should be fairly easy to brush off for any well adjusted individual) and even go so far as to insist that i am wrong and that you are not actually fat like i really believed or cared that you were or something because you are obviously haunted by self image issues from your recent past and want to be sure that nobody on the internet really thinks you are still an ugly slob

    i hope that was close

    i guess thanks for taking me so seriously but you will go a lot farther in life if you stop taking obvious bullshit at face value


  44. Oh, yeah: also, I think you should add a new "repeat offenders" strand: going out of his way to pander to faux-nerds. I mean really.

  45. I hate to say this, Carl, but you missed a big part of it. To me, it seemed like the girl called for the pizza and the plumber and dressed up as a French maid intentionally. Whether she was going for sex or Agricola is beyond me (as it was the pizza boy who found the game and proposed playing it.) If anything, this makes it even more nonsensical.

  46. The most depressing thing about the Agricola shout-out to me is that the game is not a classic (like Settlers of Catan), nor is it a hot new thing (like that stupid Tesla reference he did for the sunset comic). It's from 2008. That, to me, is kind of depressing, because it corresponds exactly with Randall 1) hearing about the game, 2) deciding to buy it, 3) forgetting about it, 4) seeing it two years later, 5) finding out it was fun, and 6) deciding to plug for it.

  47. @10:45

    I like your theory regarding the 6 steps Randall took to get "inspired" for writing this shit comic. It could also be this:
    1) Go on because there's loads of geeky goodness there!
    2) See the link for their show "I Hit it With My Ax"
    3) Decide to copy the premise of porn stars playing tabletops, the way he copies/steals from everything/one else online.

  48. ray is right, dungeons and dragons would have made a better comic

  49. The people in the comic aren't supposed to be porn actors or real-life prostitutes, they're supposed to be porn *characters*. Essentially, this comic is porn crossover fanfiction. The derailment into board games is supposed to be a subversion of stereotypes and thus funny, but actually looks like yet another expression of Randy's awkwardness with sex and is thus unfunny.

  50. Guys since you all like Monopoly and hate Agricola, you would definitely enjoy my new webcomic Blub Cheese, which is undeniably funny and not terrible at all!

  51. Re: Achewood

    Fucking FINALLY

    re: 778

    The reason it was porn characters and not burglars, or some other equally (or even more) reasonable premise is because this is sexkcd, where 'romance' apparently means 'graphic sex shoehorned into every possible situation, and several impossible ones'.
    Case closed.

  52. @Alsworth
    Thanks, I didn't realize that from the huge fucking rant discussing porn actors and the like, or from any of the other comments here. Especially since, as someone pointed out already, THE PIZZA IS CLEARLY HOT.
    "Porn star" does not immediately come to mind unless you are already quite familiar with the pizza-delivery-porn-star thing, which I was not. (I would have been entirely happy keeping it that way, now I'm just grossed out with the idea that someone might have stuck their cock into a pizza. How greasy and disgusting.)

    I am greatly amused by your reply. I make a point of working out because I am inherently far too scrawny, not because I was ever fat (and that's because I used to spend too much time in the basement playing games, for the record). I don't care how far I get in life because I'm way too busy enjoying what I have to get wrapped up in silly insecurities. Cheers.

  53. I have no idea what the fuck this comic is about.

    And XKCD is so unfunny these days that it's not even worth putting in the effort to figure it out.

  54. I didn't get the porn references until I read xkcd explained. Maybe that is because I never watch porn... with plot.

  55. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 12, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    @11:35 it is pretty cool that you keep making a point about being too socially active to be aware of the pizza delivery guy cliche because it is so ubiquitous that even my stepdad who has been on the internet like twice in his life knows about it (you probably did not know that plenty of people watch porn regularly with their friends for entertainment value and not because they are lonely and socially inept) and he has never fucking heard of xkcd so your shit seems to be on a little backwards

    it is also pretty cool that you are too busy enjoying life to care about how much of a gullible sap you are but not too busy to make uninformed and absurdly defensive comments on an internet blog

    overweight and underweight are two sides of the same coin but that is okay i will try not to poke fun at your obvious insecurity any more because you are clearly trying way too hard to distance yourself from the scrawny nerd you once were

  56. "Also I don't watch much porn because I have the libido of a deckchair" This is infinitely more funny than the comic ever was. Thanks.
    I also did not get the porn reference. I guess I'm just a lowly innocent girl. I was trying to figure out why the pizza guy had just let himself in and why Mrs. Jones was dressed like a maid and why speech bubbles had suddenly become characters with speech bubbles. It was miserable. Then I couldn't figure out why the heck the pizza guy was looking in the Jone's closets. But I played Settlers of Catan last weekend, so GOOMBR (Get out of my basement, randy!)

  57. shrub; I'd like to give you a delivery of hot sausage pizza. Then I'll clear your dirty drain with my throbbing erect plunger.

    What I mean to say is I'm going to force my flaccid cock into your mouth, and then plough your arse with my erection. Whether you like it or not.

    That's basically porn.

  58. I think the comic is boring and unfunny.

    However, Agricola is a lot of fun. I highly encourage folks interested in Euro- or German-style board games to check it out. It is very much a 'gamer's game', though. It takes a bit to learn, although I didn't find it too complicated. Other people's impressions vary, of course.

  59. What's with all the Agricola hate? It's the #2 ranked board game on Board Game Geek (out of tens of thousands of games), and fun stuff. The comic is kind of shit though

  60. D Ham:

    The same reason that people rant on and on about QC's art being terrible: hate by association.

  61. Ehh, at least this POS comic gave eurogames some exposure, albeit to high schoolers.

  62. Cuntiung Cunter: Thanks for that imagery. I think I find it nearly as creepy as the idea of randy actually being in my basement.

    captcha - ourrossa: whatever comes after what Cuntiung Cunter did?
    re-captcha - renitt: what Cuntiung Cunter would have to do after what I do to him for what he did to...

  63. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 12, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    i like agricola except for the fact that the end game mechanics basically turn the game into a mad dash to scoop up a bunch of crap you never actually needed right at the very end but this is basically just a personal gripe

    my favorite board games right now are small world (it is apparently number 36 on that list) and hive (number 91)

    i believe most of the complaining is because agricola is not popular with anybody other than board game enthusiasts (read geeks) so it is obviously an attempt by randall to pander to that part of his fan base and possibly build up some nerd cred when he easily could have picked something more universal that any three random people might conceivably actually know how to play (bear in mind that changing the game would still not have made the comic funny so the point is sort of moot)

  64. Actually, come to think of it: randy delivering pizza to my basement in a maid's outfit and us also getting him to fix the toilet while we play Catan... seems like decent idea.

    captcha - rocked: that's what I said.

  65. Not only does Randall fail at teh joekz...he also fails at Agricola. Family Growth becomes available in STAGE 2, not ROUND 2. Noob.

  66. Good lord. I thought this one was both clever and funny. I mean, if you don't, okay (though I don't think you have any business complaining just because you didn't get the porn-oriented set-up--it ain't exactly subtle), but when you respond to something like this with such self-consciously over-the-top rage, you seriously devalue the actually deserved rage at the many, many genuinely awful XKCDs out there.

    And that is this site's problem in a nutshell.

  67. Gryffilion, you retard, people hate QC's art because it is fucking ATROCIOUS.

  68. Honestly, I read through the whole comic and it didn't occur to me AT ALL that they were supposed to be porn cliches- I had to find that out from this site.

    I guess it's because I don't watch porn at all, except for yaoi. So if the characters had been a feminine-looking guy, a tentacle monster about to grab the guy, and a guy wearing cow horns next to a milking machine, I would have gotten it. Come to think of it, that would have actually been funny- the tentacle monster sitting down to play a board game at the end with the guys. No? Just me?

    Anyways, as it was, this comic merely confused me. Now that I understand it, it's still not funny. And I've never even heard of Agricola. I too assumed the plunger was some part of the game because of Randall's bad art.

  69. @faster, harder, using played out song title for my name:

    just because you like it doesn't mean it's still not shit.

  70. ...but because you DON'T like it, it definitively IS shit. Hurrah for oblivious solipsism!

    (I have NO idea what "song title" my username is allegedly referencing, incidentally. I mean, yes, it's an obscurish pop-culture reference, but song title? I'm drawin' a blank.)

  71. Even if pizza guy's just a stripper or escort or whatever, and not a real delivery guy, holding a pizza like that would still have to feel awkward.

    Oh well, at least there's a new Achewood to read, thanks for the heads-up, Ves.

  72. Does anyone agree that the joke would have been much better if the board game was something extremely childish like Hungry Hungry Hippos?

  73. GeoX:

    Just because Anon thinks it's a reference doesn't mean it is, but this is what he was thinking of.

  74. Really, bringing up "pseudo-nerd" references like Agricola would be okay, if there was actually any humour beyond them. There's nothing wrong with an artist putting some of himself in his strip, the problem is in XKCD it's *all* that gets put in.

  75. I thought the stick figures were supposed to be Real People that the Porno Cliches are based upon. Then the pizza guy held his pizza sideways, it transformed into a boardgame hidden behind the front door, and ...

    Yeah we all know this is a shit comic.

  76. I hadn't actually heard of either definition of "backscatter". I'm willing to believe that it's conceivable that if you already knew both, this would be a clever juxtaposition...well, okay, I'm not really willing to believe that. I'm willing to believe that Randall thought that, though. Which... I don't know. I don't know what he's doing anymore.

  77. Can someone fucking explain today's comic to me? Is it basically a joke about how people are afraid the backscatter machine will reveal their tiny penis? Surely not, because this is the comic that had a strip wherein the character pointed out how lame jokes about penises are, and asked everyone to stop making them.

    So what am I missing?

  78. I thought those machines automatically censor the images before people look at them

    captcha: commo, the Spanish male comma

  79. Nevermind, apparently the machines do not censor. And to Tyler, I believe the point is that the hatted man wants to make the security guard uncomfortable

  80. #779: first laugh-out-loud XKCD comic since as long as I can remember. If only he could do this every strip.

    Then I realize he just copied the signature SMBC formula: the single panel with conclusion and exposition inverted, the exposition being the punchline.

    That's kind of stretching, though. Good comic.

  81. Backscatter def'n 1
    Backscatter def'n 2

    this comic alludes to both, but in the same panel!

  82. That's still a dick joke, isn't it.

  83. Goddamn its amazing what people will laugh at these days.

  84. I like that one guy trying to down the water in his bottle. A moment of reality-based humanity. The rest, I'm not sure about.

    It took me a while to work out what the hell was going on. I assume that Hatman is selling Viagra to help men avoid the adverse judgment of the security personnel? Is that it?

    I don't know. It's not BAD, really. It's just whatever.

  85. Maybe it's just because I used to work in a pharmacy, but it just seems so ridiculous that someone could stand in an airport and sell prescription drugs (for *way* below cost) without being dragged away in handcuffs. It completely ruins the joke.

  86. Viagra costs more than 20 dollars a dose? Wow.

    Anyway, about the right/left complaint - comics frequently have speech bubbles in descending order on alternating sides. Admittedly this isn't the best way to do it, but it's not as if it's some novel, never before done thing either.

  87. Also, one of the women has see-through luggage.

  88. If XKCD explained doesn't put penises on every character, I shall be disappointed.

  89. "I like that one guy trying to down the water in his bottle. A moment of reality-based humanity. The rest, I'm not sure about."

    That'd be a nice idea, but since he's right next to the Viagra stall, I think he's taking the pills he just bought. No, this is just an extended dick joke (in every sense of the phrase). Sad times.

  90. I still don't really get it. The best explanation I saw was further up the page, when someone said that now the guard will have to look at tons of erect penises through the X-ray machine. Is that the joke? Cause I guess it's a little funny in that regard, but it seems kind of tortured.

  91. In the new one, surely the guy downing the water is taking a viagra pill he's just bought

  92. Jacob: DING DING DING we have a winner

    Black Hat is selling everyone Viagra so they'll all have erections when they go through the backscatter machines so the guard has to look at everyone with erections. This makes him feel uncomfortable. So he says "Oh God".

    (Now as it happens I believe the viewing of the images from backscatter machines - you know, the nudie ones - is supposed to take place in a separate room, to prevent people just walking round and going "haha, I can see you in the nude". I've not actually been to an airport where they have one, though, I'm going by the news coverage of their introduction.)

  93. Is looking at a bunch of naked dudes with erections all day really that much worse than looking at a bunch of naked dudes?

  94. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 13, 2010 at 3:02 AM

    i refuse to go to the xkcd site to observe the comic but based on what i can tell from your comments i have a question

    why are these guys buying and taking viagra in the first place (especially from some random dude)

    maybe this is an obvious thing that i will realize when i actually see the comic but i am having a hard time imagining any valid reason for a bunch of guys at the airport to want to have erections

  95. Sole intent is to freak out the customs guy.

    It's pretty weak.

  96. Heh, it's not a bad strip. Nothing to write home about, but not bad.

    The only thing that works against the joke is, well, why would people take Viagra in an airport? Just to horrify the security? Well, does Randall really wonder how it must be to sit around in an airport with an erection that won't go away? And worse: knowing all the guys around you are in the same situation?

    It's that kind of thing that makes me wonder if Randall willfully breaks common sense for humour, or if he is just THAT screwed up and/or stupid.

    Captcha: laties. All the single laties, put your hants up.

  97. Randall is insecure about the size of his penis and it being seen on the scanner. Randall assumes everyone else has the same insecurity. It's not just about freaking the customs guy out, or else the comic wouldn't be called "Anxiety".


    Better than some of the recent ones, but still only really manages to induce a feeling of jaded ambivalence in me towards it.

  98. One positive thing I can say about 779 is that Randall does okay on the alt-text for once.

  99. I love how nowadays in XKCD the only way to figure out the punchline of a comic is via careful analysis of the title.

  100. Wait, did I say "love?"

    I meant hate.


  101. Heres my take on 779: a single blank panel with "LOL DICKS" written in it.

    Simpler than the original. Also just as funny, just as clever, and took nearly as long to draw.

  102. I have one problem with 779: PEOPLE DON'T TAKE VIAGRA WHEN THEY'RE BOARDING A PLANE! PEOPLE TAKE VIAGRA WHEN THEY'RE PREPARING FOR SEX! I mean, would YOU take the pill in the situation described in the strip? Sense, Randall, pls to be making some!

  103. I can't help but think it'd be funnier if BHG was using the insecurity of all the men to prey on them in a manner other than taking $20 from them.

    Like, say, the viagra was actually not viagra but laxatives. I know, cliche, but this is a dick joke. Might as well turn it into an explosive diarrhea joke.

    Plus that way the security guards fears were unfounded and the men that thought they were one upping him will actually be the ones suffering later on.

    But alas, its not.

  104. I liked the new one more when I didn't have a clue what the "joke" was. It's far, far worse now. So people will pay $20 a pop for the jollies of another guy looking at their erections?

  105. And that's not considering the alt-text, where some people get those jollies without paying anything at all.

    Pass the brain-bleach, please.

  106. Fist off, I just want to mention that I hate this site. It just seems so unbelievably stupid to waste your time reading, analyzing, and then writing about something that you don't like. If you don't like it, don't read it. Focus on something you DO like. Get a life, and then get on with it.

    Now, at this point I'm sure you're asking, "well then why are YOU," meaning me, "reading THIS site?".

    I read XKCD religiously. It's not always great, but it's usually a decent chuckle in the morning. However, after reading the absolute train-wreck of a comic that this XKCD turned out to be, I was just curious what the folks over here at XKCD Sucks had to say.

    My thoughts on this horrible piece of comic fail: The characters are not porn actors, nor even porn characters. They are some combination of strippers and fantasy role-players. Most likely the pizza guy is a stripper who was hired by the Jones's daughter for a party she was throwing while she thought her parents were going to be away; the maid is a woman Mr. Jones is having an affair with, who thinks he's coming home early for a role-playing rendezvous; and the plumber is a man Mrs. Jones is having an affair with, who also thinks she's going to be home while the husband is out, so he's showing up for some role-playing fun. They're all acting out porn fantasies.

    The part that really makes no sense at all is that the daughter isn't even home for her own party, and the Jones parents, who each aren't supposed to know the other is coming home, arrive home together.

    This leads to the idea that perhaps all three came to the wrong house, meaning that the "scheduling" title is particularly stupid. If that's the case, then they must all be strippers, for the maid and the plumber would surely know where their lovers live. But it makes no sense for the stripper to be in an empty house before anyone arrives. This would also be true if they were porn actors. And if they were porn characters, the couple at the end make no sense, since the real Mr. Jones, Mrs. Jones, and the Jones daughter should be the ones to arrive.

    Basically, every possible scenario has a hole in it. There is no scenario that works with all of the pieces.

    Anyway, I just had to vent a little. I'll now leave you all to your fun, and won't bother you again.

  107. I don't even understand this. You, personally, don't go through an X-ray when boarding an airplane; you go through a metal detector. Your bag is the thing that goes through the X-ray, right? I fly a lot, and I always assumed that the gate thing just beeped if it detected metal, not did a full-body scan

  108. So you (anonymous 7:12) just wasted your time reading, analyzing, and then writing about the comic YOU don't like after saying how stupid it is?


    Sorry. Couldn't resist.

    Thought the joke was okay, made me smile at least. Although it is increasingly annoying me that Carl can legitimately use the "sexkcd" tag more and more often.

    The last one was the same way - fairly funny (although Agricola was unnecessary and something like Hungry Hungry Hippos would have been a lot funnier, as somebody else mentioned), but reliant on sex humour. At least it was funny to me, because the whole "roleplaying escort service/strippers" premise clicked straight away, so confusion didn't taint my amusement. Looking through the comments here, I was apparently very lucky.

    Prostitutes don't normally roleplay, true, but some higher-priced ones will if the arrangement is made beforehand. I wouldn't know, I'm too poor to afford more than an old, fat woman ruined by crack and ebola.

    @Anon 7:12
    The title can tell you how the scenario might "work", if you accept that all the people in the comic maybe just got the day wrong. So the Joneses coming home together works, because it's the wrong day anyway. Bet you didn't expect that justification on THIS site! HAHAHAHAHHAH!!! I RULE!!!!!

    Oh, I'm a sad little man.

    I'm not even going to say anything.

  110. A Viagra joke? Is this 1998?

    A Viagra joke based on popular misconceptions about what Viagra actually does? Randall has all this nerd-rage about east/west, north/south, millions/billions, etc. Yet this comic is based on a moron's idea of what Viagra does.

    Anon@4:04 gets it (at least what Randall is shooting for with the anxiety title). Sorry Jacob and Ann Apolis; you're thinking about how Viagra really works. In the real world, Viagra gives you an erection (assuming you're aroused) and the security guy would have to see look at all these erections. In Randall's "Anxiety" world, Viagra makes your dick bigger (and that's not just due to it's becoming engorged with blood; it actually increases the amount of blood the dick can hold).

    The idea isn't to freak out the security guard by making him look at lots of erections, it's to make all the passengers feel less anxious about their penis size by making their dicks bigger. Having a visible erection is kind of embarassing/anxiety inducing. I'd rather go through the machine with a huge flacid penis than a normal size erect one, but Viagra doesn't work like that in the real world.

    Pay a little attention to the next "herbal Viagra" spam you get, or try and figure out what is being vaguely promised in an Enzyte commercial. It's not erections per se, it's bigger dicks. And there are plenty of idiots (Randall included apparently) out there who think that's what Sildenafil does. Google "female Viagra" for more misconceptions about Viagra (hypothetical female viagras are supposed to create arousal/desire for sex, not just enhance sexual function)

  111. See, I did consider that, but I couldn't see the point of the TSA guy's line if that was the case. Why would he be saying "Oh God" in exasperation?

    Then again, any argument from "this must be what the joke is supposed to be otherwise the comic is really badly written!" is pretty much a bust with xkcd.

    captcha: "cocti". Heheheheh.

  112. I was never going to figure out this comic myself. I got lost thinking "backscattering scanner" must be a scat joke, and started imagining the machine pouring urine all over the people going through it. Although I think the scat pun might be the alt text joke.

    Then I saw black hat man selling viagra, but thought it was just some wacky antic similar to 434. I didn't realize there was a connection to the left hand side of the comic. I also didn't understand why there wasn't more than one wacky antic in the line.

    Maybe the comic is a fusion of Ann and Sepia's theories? Like in that old Seinfeld episode, where George doesn't want ladies to see him when he's experiencing "shrinkage". Similarly the men in this comic want to be seen as erect and manly as possible, so that they're not embarrassed in front of the TSA man.

  113. 779... what? Why would people actually pay money for the privelege of sporting an erection for the x-ray guy? Why would the guy fear said erections? Why do the women in the queue make any difference one way or the other, given that they would not be visibly aroused under x-ray in any event? Why is someone videotaping the Viagra dealer? How does Black Hat Guy (who is about as close as XKCD ever gets to a "character") have anything to do with this?

    The entire strip appears to be "ha ha, what if the guy on airport security had to look at people's boners all day long?" and the idea slithered half-formed from brain to MS Paint...

  114. Regarding 778:
    Nothing about this comic makes any sense whatsoever. Everyone here has done an excellent job in explaining what I think is wrong with it.

    Regarding 779:
    Whatever happened to his comic that said "Penises. They are about this big. Now can we, as a society, move on?" So he's backtracking on that for a cheap joke. While the joke itself isn't bad, I feel like this observation (haha they'll see your ween) has been made by better people at a more topical time.

  115. @Coren: I think if you look at comics where someone used alternating left/right speech bubbles, and it worked, you would find the panels would be taller and skinnier than this one is.

  116. 779: Yep, that's a shitty dick joke.

    I don't read SMBC, but if 779 is a good example (or similar to) of what it's like, I'm glad i don't bother.

  117. @Sepia:

    I just watched a movie that was made in 1998 last night! GET OUT OF MY HEAD.

    Also, if the joke is that they all get erections, why is the comic title "Anxiety?"

    BUT, if the joke is that they're anxious about their peniz sizes, how the hell does the alt text make any sense?

    Good lord randy.

  118. Gotta say, the shared speech bubble problem in 778 was not a problem to me, because I read from left to right before skipping down to the next row. Like in text. In books. Although I have to admit that in comics things are frequently less obvious than that, so it's a matter of expectations.

  119. PS, I love correct placement, of commas it's so great.

  120. Okay, explanation of newest xkcd:
    The "backscatter" X-ray machine is a very rare machine used in airports. Unlike regular airport non-image metal scanner, and unlike regular x-rays, this scans a person and shows a skin-deep image of them.

    There's multiple problems with this comic:
    1: AFAIK, it's only used as a secondary scanner if the metal detector goes off - basically a replacement for patting down.
    2: All images must be from the front and back, and intentionally distorts genitalia, so erections wouldn't show up at all.
    3: Viagra takes 30 minutes to act, not 30 seconds.
    4: Viagra is a prescription drug. Trying to sell it like that in public would have you instantly arrested.
    5: Viagra is not a drink.
    5: And the most frustrating one - those people have absolutely no reason to be drinking Viagra whatsoever!

    It's a joke, but it's so horribly unrealistic that it's not funny anymore.

    It does try to have pacing, spacing out the "oh my god" from the actual thing he's looking at... but it's ruined by the fact that he's not actually looking at the thing, so it just ends up being confusing instead.

  121. Nobody in particularAugust 13, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    Was I the only one whose biggest problem with this comic was that twenty bucks seemed like way too much for such a trite joke?

    I mean, assume viagra works that way (It doesn't, we know) and assume that those scanners work that way (they don't, we know) and assume that showing your penis to the innocent working man whose job it is to see penises all day is a hilarious joke (it is not, and that is not his job, we know) then STILL I would look at black hat guy, make a real lame joke along the lines of "Wow, EVERYTHING is overpriced at these airport stores!", giggle a little, and then walk through the scanner, my junk unchanged.

    Twenty bucks? Seriously Black Hat. Basic economics, man.

    On that note, is economics a stupid, not-real science, according to Randy? I think it might be.

  122. XKCD is almost always terrible these days but 779 is pretty amusing as far as I'm concerned. The black hat guy is playing on people's insecurities by selling them essentially a placebo. For the purposes of the comic it doesn't even have to be real Viagra.

    1: AFAIK, it's only used as a secondary scanner if the metal detector goes off - basically a replacement for patting down.

    2: All images must be from the front and back, and intentionally distorts genitalia, so erections wouldn't show up at all.

    Legitimate points, but who cares? For a site that calls Randall an Asperger's patient at every opportunity, you guys are unusually hung up on insignificant details.

    3: Viagra takes 30 minutes to act, not 30 seconds.

    As I said it doesn't matter what really happens after they take "Viagra"; the joke is the fact that people are buying it anyway, and that the black hat guy is enough of an asshole to exploit their anxiety.

    5: Viagra is not a drink.

    Don't you take it with water? It's a pill, right?

    6: And the most frustrating one - those people have absolutely no reason to be drinking Viagra whatsoever!

    That is kind of the point.

  123. I think for someone as manly and hetero as Randall, the worst thing ever would be to see another man's erect penis. Thus the TSA guy's reaction.

    And of course, for someone as manly and hetero as Randall, the best thing ever is for another man to know that you have a huge erection, a bigger dick than his. Thus all the men in line.

    Which is why you always see men in line at airports, before they go through scanners, taking out copies of Penthouse (or surfing porn sites on their iPads) just to make their cocks hard when they go through security. Right? It's totally what Randall, being manly and hetero, would do.

  124. hey randy, penises are only so big. can you get over that fact?

  125. This comic is mostly confusing in that Randall conflates "large penis" with "erect penis". What's up with that.

    The scanner anxiety joke works fine! I feel no compulsion to nitpick about the details of backscatter scanner displays. But still... it just doesn't work with the alt-text and it just doesn't work with viagra.

  126. You know what would be funny? If the black hat guy was punching everyone in that line. Get it, PUNCHLINE! Actually I came up with that a few days ago when I was brainstorming my new webcomic BLUB CHEESE and even drew it. Cutting edge humor! Good thing I canned that idea, so now you get jokes about hipsters and stealing panties instead.

  127. "Fist off, I just want to mention that I hate this site. It just seems so unbelievably stupid to waste your time reading, analyzing, and then writing about something that you don't like. If you don't like it, don't read it. Focus on something you DO like. Get a life, and then get on with it."

    I can't understand this mentality :(
    i mean have you seriously never enjoyed tearing something terrible (a person, a movie, whatever) apart? mystery science theater 3000? every internet reviewer ever? with your friends?

    or are you just making an exception because the target is xkcd?

  128. i mostly agree with this:

    captcha: filing. wow. that could almost be a real world.

  129. This (779) is one of those XKCDs that make so little sense that re-framing it in a typical situation is so absurd I can;t help but laugh; for example

    "As he waited in line to be checked through security, he noticed a deep rumbling-
    With a crash, the bodily hulk of a morbidly obese man wearing nothing but a Hassidic Jew hat and a raging erection crashed through the wall, scattering brickwork everywhere-
    "SCANNERS! he raged, frothing slightly at the mouth.

    The line of men waiting in line fell deathly silent, everyone avoiding the crazed man's roving eyes- all except one unlucky member of staff

    It only took a split second, but the man in the hat captured the gaze of the security worker, and held it- as he began to waddle his voluminous bulk towards the unfortunate man, his erection sprouting an extra three inches and leaking a translucent mucus.

    Fatty broke out into a run, his stiff lance thrusting ahead of him;
    "NOW YOU SHALL SEE IT!" he screamed,
    The last thing the officer saw before he was skewered on the ten inch cock were the words
    "property of Rob" written on the shaft of the offending member"

  130. To everyone who says the joke isn't "that bad":

    You're wrong. The joke is awful. You can tell, because no one is able to agree on what the "joke" is, and every time someone voices their opinion on the "joke" someone else comes along and tells them why their version of the "joke" doesn't actually work/make any sense.

    If a person manages to tell a thousand jokes with one comic strip, and each of those jokes is a pile of shit, then that person has fucked up on a galactic scale.

  131. Because all the men in this piece of crap look the same, I just read it right-to-left as a chronology -- on the right of the girl with the ponytail there is BHG and four chronological poses of our "Victim": Observe, Consume, Delay, and React.

    Look at the version immediately behind said girl, and tell me he is not overcome with... something. He kinda looks like he's having a stroke. The guy between the chicks is [as far as I can tell] looking back confused/ disturbed/ fucked-if-I-know-'cause-he-has-no-face.

    The Security man is saying "Oh god" because he regrets the decisions in his life that led him to this job, realizing that he should have become a physicist for NASA like his mother suggested, of course.

    I don't want to know what this backscatter thing is. In airports I remember giving up on tossing out metal things to avoid beeping and just submitting to a pat-down to get it over with quicker.

    You know, the concept of airport lines/security checks is chalk full of double entendres, couldn't he have just picked on of those?

    Oh, and "Nobody in particular": Economics for the most part is just applied math. Stats/Probs or Lin Alg depending upon your specific focus. ...But it is a SOCIAL science [in as far as counting people goes] and there is some lingering uncertainty in regards to certain issues. So, he probably looks down on it except when it gives him a chance for a cheap joke. Then it's exciting and there's a whole wave of nerds saying "I'm going to read a book and know all about economics! It's just like math so I can SOLVE the Economy!" who get distracted in a few days by something shiny, or the next subject-of-the-week... I used to like calling myself a nerd, but now I want to see "Geek" become a synonym for "pariah" again.

  132. @lollyroffles

    THAT WAS AWESOME. I laughed my ass off.

  133. Say what you want about Penny Arcade's drop in quality or sharkjumping or whatever, the fact that they can come up with a line like "Raped to sleep by the dickwolves" and instantly have a thoroughly divided fanbase on their hands is on a level so far above Randall's that he won't attain it even if he gets a hundred editors.

  134. When I first read this one [779], I thought the titular "anxiety" was referring to the TSA agent. He is, after all, the one to get the thought bubble with an anxious "Oh God." So I thought he must be nervous or uncomfortable that he is going to be looking at erect penises. However, it seems that to most people here the "anxiety" refers to the men in line who are anxious about going through the scanner with a flaccid penis, I guess. I'm still not sure what the intention of this comic is.

  135. "Raped to sleep by the dickwolves" is a fucking amazing line and I wish people said it more often.

    well. maybe not because that actually happened but maybe as hyperbole.

  136. why should he care that he has to see erect penises and not flacid ones? who cares?

    lamest blackhat ploy yet.

    captcha: befooffe

  137. @R.:

    There's always at least one idiot who gets on here and assumes that anyone who dislikes something enough to write about it must lack a life. Their stupidity, while depressing, is so ubiquitous that sooner or later you become inured to it.

    @Whomever it was that thinks QC's art is terrible:

    It's not. It's mediocre. There's a difference.

  138. QC's art was improving. It's humour, on the other hand, seems to have drifted away from "randomy indy references" to, as sums it up quite succinctly [get it? "short and brief"?] "COCKCOCKCOCKCOCK!" with some weird nerd pandering inserted lately. I dunno, maybe that changed in the past few weeks -- I don't want to check.

    You guys ever hear of the "24 hour comic"? I'd like Randall to do one so that we can figure out what he's doing all day [because it clearly isn't his webcomic]

  139. Aw, you guys are making a cuddlefish out of me. Here's the joke:

    1. Black hat man gives out viagra to men in the security line.
    2. Those men get erections.
    3. The security guard is "anxious" because the backscatter scanner will show him image after image of an erect penis, something he doesn't want to see as a heterosexual male.

    This is funny because backscatter scanners have recently been controversial for making *passengers* uncomfortable, but this situation "turns the tables" and makes the security guard uncomfortable instead!

    The situation is contrived, and the joke isn't all that funny, but it's not bad, either. Sure, it has problems (viagra doesn't work that fast or uniformly, backscatter scanners are designed to obscure genitals, etc.), but those problems aren't outside the usual realm of suspension of disbelief.

  140. The comic was terrible. Just so the people talking about it know, the backscatter machine is used in the Boston airport on all people going through the line, unless they opt for a pat-down instead. It isn't common in most airports, but Randal has probably gone through one as part of the normal screening process.

  141. This was actually kind of a "get out of my head" for me. Agricola had recently become my group of friend's board game obsession, and my boyfriend and I are trying to write a skit that's supposed to look like a porno at the beginning but then turn into something else. I know that's not exactly what's going on here but I still found it startling when I first read it.

  142. Maybe the guard is gay, but insecure about others finding out about it, and so his "Oh God" is anxiety at the prospect of having his OWN boner appear in the presence of others!


    The guard is gay, and very happy at the prospect of seeing so many boners. So much so that he is already feeling some sexual thrills, and his "Oh God" takes on a creepier tone!

    This comic has so many interpretations! Like Inception! Randall is now as great as Christopher Nolan.

  143. Am I the only one who noticed that recently (in the past couple of days) Randy has changed his preferred comics list (the 5 comics at the bottom of the page that he thinks are the best xkcds or whatever) from comics that are nearly all in the 0-200s to include some crappier, newer ones?

  144. Uh, as I understand it, it's not a film, it's... well, more like hookers being called over? Only no-one's home, so they get confused and play a board game I've never heard of.

  145. @Jacob
    As long as we are inventing ways of reading the comic to make it better, maybe Black Hat knows that the guard is gay, and is passing out his oddly fast acting viagra in an attempt to "out" the guard in public, thereby ruining the poor man's relationship with his conservative parents and peers. This painful experience, which the guard has spent his whole life trying to avoid through denial, nevertheless sparks a period of unprecedented personal growth and, eventually, the guard comes to a kind of contentment and sense of self worth which he never before suspected possible, having come to truly accept himself.

    XKCD, a very special episode.

  146. Oh, and I just read that "Fifteen Stupid Responses to Criticism". There are some good points, but let me just point this out.

    "Constructive criticism" is surely the worst mass hallucination since consumer capitalism, or the resurrection of our Lord, or the Democratic Party. For one, it's inimical to the purposes of criticism as art. I'll say it again: the point of criticism is not to improve you, but to express me."

    That is not at all what criticism is about. Fucking narcissistic, nave lgazing fucks. am so sick of this "self-expression" garbage. Do you produce some form of art for the purpose of self-expression? I have news for you. You are not interesting. I don't care to see you "expressed". If you have something insightful, witty, original or wise to say, or even just an interesting, original or particularly skillful way of saying something that's been said before, I'll be glad to have a look at your art. If you expect me to "appreciate" your shitty poem about how it felt when your chubby, boring, heavily idealized girlfriend left you, just because it came "from your soul", I'd rather you just gave me a good kick in the balls. I'd enjoy it about as much.

  147. @Gray

    You're making the very strange assumption that anyone cares about your opinion.

    Indeed his very point is that he doesn't give a shit what you think of his work. Your opinion is worthless.

  148. Wait, wait, wait.

    You are criticizing my criticism of a critic, on the grounds that the critic doesn't care about criticism, and all of this is occurring on a blog devoted to criticism.

    I confess that I am baffled.

  149. Gray: The moral is that critics are full of shit and don't take shit from anyone, even when one one gives a shit.

    OR: Excuse to be able to say anything you want and justify it as "epicurean pleasure" somehow.

  150. Oh my goodness, 779 is just unbelievably shitty on every conceivable level. It is the epitome of shit. It should win a shit trophy from the other shit for being the shittiest shit ever to shit.

    In short, shit.

  151. If the backscatter machine is designed to obscure genitals then if I were a terrorist I would just cut off my penis, then put a penis-shaped bomb in my pants.

  152. obscure =/= erase, while they can't gaze longingly at your cocks, there's still enough resolution to see if you're wearing a dynamite dong

  153. @Gray

    Let's examine exactly what you said with a "critical" eye.

    "If you have something insightful, witty, original or wise to say, or even just an interesting, original or particularly skillful way of saying something that's been said before, I'll be glad to have a look at your art."

    Indeed, the only reason you cited that an artist should strive to improve his craft is so that you'll be glad to look at it.

    How fucking self aggrandizing is that? It is not anyone's job to make you glad. You are not king, and no one is your jester. Yet you have the nerve to call anyone else narcissistic?

  154. "Indeed his very point is that he doesn't give a shit what you think of his work. Your opinion is worthless."

    Except when it turns out that the criticized is, in fact, wrong, and the critic was attempting to point this out to him/her.

  155. he's a dick, i know. some of his responses to the comments are right though, and i couldn't be bothered putting them in my own words.

  156. @Alsworth

    Gray didn't criticize anything. Instead he invented a strawman of the Terrible Poet. This Terrible Poet believes that his work is purely for his own self expression and yet, paradoxically, he desperately needs Gray's approval.

    Except there is no paradox. Gray has simply invented a universe where he is the center. Our universe has no center.

  157. I know it's late for this, but in the 778 the maid looks like she's doing the robot in panel one.

  158. The fact is that I frequently encounter artists (poets especially) who behave exactly as I described. They are desperate for approval and if they don't receive a positive judgement, they will angrily cite "self-expression" to counter any criticism. Sometimes it is, in fact, my approval. Sometimes it is not, but the pattern remains the same. People cite self expression whenever they want to assert that their "art"--and the critic did say he saw criticism as art--is valid and good no matter what other criteria is brought to bear.

    For instance, the "constructive criticism" argument suggests that the criticism is not useful unless it can be reintroduced into the art creation process--by the original artist or by another--and aid in the creation of a work free of the flaws the criticism addresses. The above critic says "Nu-uh, this is my self expression and it only matters that it comes from me!" and yet they still expect others to want to read it. You may not agree that criticism should necessarily be constructive (I would wager that most here don't) but citing self-expression is lazy and a bit pathetic.

    If Randall were to cite self-expression would everyone here just stop? I think not.

  159. I wonder: Is your advice to the Terrible Poet that he should write about panda bears, instead lost love? Maybe you like panda bears, and prefer poems about them. That's nice. It is, however, not a valid criticism of Terrible Poet's poem. You are simply imposing your preference of subject matter onto the artist.

    Similarly you may prefer constructive criticism to harsh, biting criticism. This is not however a valid critique of Bond's work. It is, once again, you imposing your personal preference.

    Let me draw a parallel using xkcd. Bond has no store, and no advertisements on his site. Similar to Maddox from, he does this so that he can have complete freedom over his own content. He doesn't have to insert "constructive criticism" simply to please your pathetic needs.

    On the other hand, Randall's work is clearly not for self-expression. Indeed his very livelihood depends on his website being popular. We see this reflected in his recent work: the references are obscure enough to give a nerdy flavor, but are still accessible to the average high school nerd. The reason is obvious. The larger his reader base, the more money he makes. He has sacrificed his artistic integrity in order to please his base. It is this, not art for self-expression, that is truly pathetic.

  160. So, Gray, what you're saying is, Maynard James Keenan: Pathetic, Justin Beiber: Not pathetic. Melora Creager: Pathetic, Lady GaGa: Not pathetic. Master of Puppets era Metallica: Pathetic, St. Anger era Metallica: Not Pathetic.
    Am I correct so far?

  161. You are correct on the Maynard James Keenan part

  162. While that may be personally true, the man is hardly artistically pathetic.

  163. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 14, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    what the fuck is this dumb shit

    criticism is not art it is criticism

    your writing is absolutely a form of self expression but the criticisms contained within should be anything but personal

    if your criticism only rings true for you then it is not real criticism it is just your dumbass opinion and quite frankly if anybody can read your criticisms and interpret them to mean something that you might not have intended (a quality i find important in actual art) then you are a piss poor critic

    re:"constructive criticism" this asshole rambles on for far too long when all he really needs to say is "all criticism serves a constructive purpose for a good artist"

  164. The wheel of time turns, and ages come to fart.

  165. If the criticisms are accurate, then no matter how they are delivered they should be helpful, I agree with U.C.

    Like, "I think that the lack of faces in XKCD severely limits the ability to convey expression"
    and "What the fuck? I can't even tell if this douchebag's being an sarcastic asshole or some kind of choir boy genuine faggot these damn stick figures need faces I can't even tell what way they're facing, fuck."

    Are basically the same point, just delivered differently
    but if you say
    "OMG rob is a huge ass queer-boy fatty McFatterson faggoty smelly bitch- so his writing sucks"
    that's not really criticism of his writing, that's just saying nasty (true) things.


  166. Wait a minute... the pizza boy's first instinct when realizing that he's been mis-scheduled is to look for a board game to play?

  167. Only 8th graders play board games? *Fuck* you.

  168. Is it me, or does #780 very much resemble #70?

  169. I don't quite get the Agricola hate either, I had never heard of it until this strip but I was able to gather it was a geeky boardgame of some type just fine. I also didn't think it was pandering, but then I know zilch about xkcd fans. I kinda just figured he wanted something that sounded zany and wouldn't have been expected, plus given the sort of people who read comics on the internet I don't think it's too far-fetched (myself, who has played Settlers and a few other geeky games admittedly, as something of an example).

    I agree with pretty much everything else though, I definitely read it following the dialog line first.