Sunday, September 5, 2010

Comic 788: Death Defying

no, nothing today

[alt: I learned from Achewood that since this poem is in ballad meter, it can be sung to the tune of Gilligan's Island. Since then, try as I might, I haven't ONCE been able to read it normally.]

It's pretty clear to all of us Achewood fans out there what happened in this comic. He read a particular recent achewood comic, and it made him think about this Emily Dickinson poem and how you can parody it. Here's the relevant part of the Achewood:

The alt-text to the xkcd is basically a blatant (but acknowledged!) ripoff of the Achewood comic - and to those of us who read Achewood, it just feels pathetic. Your comic shouldn't be about repeating funny things other comics have discovered, it should be about making your own jokes. Or if you discover a basic rule (like "all poems in X meter can be sung to Y tune") at least apply it to a different poem.

Anyway, the comic itself. Once he had the poem stuck in his head, he decided it was rife with potential for humor. Alas, even if the poem is rife with humor, Randall has failed to tap into it.

The joke is almost incomprehensibly stupid. I mean that literally: I cannot tell where the humor is coming from in this comic. The poem mentions a "carriage," so what if Emily Dickinson, instead of getting in it, threw out the driver like you do in GTA? But...why? Is this comic supposed to be making fun of the poem, or the game? Neither one makes sense. If it's the poem, it's basically the equivalent of reading the first two lines and saying "OK WAIT we're going to do this differently" and throwing out the rest. If it's making fun of the game, one wonders: How? This is what the game would be like if they made an Emily Dickinson version? But why would they do that? The answer is that they would do it so that this one scene could happen, because, hey! she wrote a poem once about a carriage!

This juxtaposition is basically the worst of both worlds: It doesn't tell us anything about either of the things being smashed together, just that he wanted to smash them together somehow. The connection is tenuous, to say the least. And it's made worse by the fact that you know he just read Achewood to get this idea. I am sure Chris Onstad is rolling in his grave.

85 comments:

  1. at least he didn't make a pink floyd joke

    or even worse, a dabbing mcdonalds one. the lesser of three evils as this could have been the new 631

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  2. and by evil i of course mean "bad webcomic concepts"

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  3. You know how sometimes when you're out in a public crowd you get an insanely itchy ass? Maybe it's a rash, maybe you've got worms, maybe you just didn't wipe properly. It doesn't matter, the point is that you can't scratch in front of all those people. But then you also get a natural urge to fart and, try as you might to hold it in, as much as you realise that you can't unleash your internal horrors upon the unsuspecting public, you simply can't contain both discomforts at once. So you fart, and the fart runs long and loud with a strong vibrato-- the sensation against your long-suffered itch is pure bliss. People look, people hold their noses in disgust, but you barely even care anymore. You have traded your grace and social acceptability for the bliss of base relief.

    That's what this blog is. A public fart-scratch for the aggravating butt itch that is XKCD.

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  4. That archiwood thing doesn't even begin to work. "Because" and "Just" have a different number of syllables!

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  5. AHAHAHAHAHA GRAND THEFT AUTO: EMILY DICKINSON EDITION

    I MYSELF PLAYED GTA AND WAS FORCED TO READ EMILY DICKINSON IN HIGH SCHOOL

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL

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  6. Nobody in particularSeptember 5, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Not to mention that Randall (And, notably, some commenters) Fail to note that the POINT of that particular bit of Achewood comic is that the cat who mentions the Dickinson/Gilligan synergy is in fact a 'Tiresome Bastard'. In that such coincidences between pieces of music are stupid and unfunny, and therefore such a person who mentions these things is unfunny. Such as Randall here.

    Captcha: Typeo. Which I think that is.

    By the way, did anybody else notice that the alt text is an example of Randall saying "Get out of my head, Chris Onstad"? GOOMHCO!

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  7. Eh, a small effort:

    http://img337.imageshack.us/img337/9925/ironmaidenxkcd.jpg

    Alt-text: "Bruce, my cousin, let's find some beeg American teetees!"

    Captcha: shoutpi. Mmmm, shoutpi *drools*.

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  8. Randall Munroe's left nutSeptember 5, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Randall is just a tired hack with a geek's body & the insecurities of a guy who never did sports or got laid in high school.

    If this miserable prick was growing up as a teenager today, he'd be a self-loathing emo (probably redundant).

    He's got to be one of the ugliest mother-fuckers I've ever seen. Maybe he should go have sex with one of his stick figures.

    Do you guys think he ends up at least once a week with the business end of a revolver in his mouth, tears streaming down his face, saying "I just can't take it anymore...."

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  9. ^Would you say you're Randall's "right hand man"?

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  10. no but he rents an empty grave plot. it's his home away from home

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  11. Anon 11:32: You can sing the first syllable of 'because' on the note where the first syllable of the theme song is sung, and the second syllable of 'because' on the note where the second syllable of the theme is sung. It works perfectly.

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  12. You know what could've fixed this comic? Colour. "Fixed" here means "rendered usable", not "rendered good", of course. I had no idea what that circle with a branch in it was until people suggested it was the "Y" button appearing.

    ^1 Anon1228. If the one Maiden concert I've been to is enough justification, I can picture Bruce Dickinson being that bad-ass. Again, colour would help but I can hardly expect a parodist to do more work than his subject.

    Granted, I am quite biased -- I guess I am just not in Randall's "audience" today... or most of the last year.

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  13. "The alt-text to the xkcd is basically a blatant (but acknowledged!) ripoff of the Achewood comic - and to those of us who read Achewood, it just feels pathetic."

    Why? Musicians play cover songs of other musicians music all of the time. From Elvis' cover of "Hound Dog" to Jimi Hendrix's cover of "All Along the Watchtower", to present day with Green Day's cover of "Working Class Hero".

    Why are we holding webcomics to a different standard?

    captcha: folart. When you're so full that you can't stop farting.

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  14. To use the analogy that Rob used in that one terrible, terrible rant he did, those musicians stole those songs, Randall just borrowed this comic.

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  15. Why the GTA tie-in if the only GTA-related event is... well, grand theft auto (the crime, not the game)? Imagine if he'd done something like this with "The Raven" -- as soon as the eponymous bird flies into the drawing room, the narrator shoots it -- this followed by the "gag': CALL OF DUTY: EDGAR ALLEN POE EDITION. It'd be like, um, alright, you used a gun I guess, but that doesn't justify a crossover gag.

    The videogame reference would be more effective if he'd done a long, four-by-five frame comic with numerous Emily Dickinson-GTA crossover gags. Then it would at least have some intellectual appeal and some, oh I don't know, humor.

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  16. @Arthur

    Playing a cover of a song involves skill (to play the instruments) and creativity (to reinterpret the song in one's own way). Note how Hendrix's "Watchtower" sounds nothing like Dylan's. Or how most of the various covers of Cohen's "Hallelujah" sound nothing like Cohen's version or any other version. This is because, while they are not "composing" the song, they are "arranging" it, something which is really impressive when done well.

    Playing a cover of a song is really not at all comparable to the terrible, terrible alt text of this xkcd.

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  17. @Arthur: because you cannot "cover" a joke

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  18. Moreover: even for slavish covers which are pretty much carbon-copies of the original arrangement, the original writers still get paid. In this case, all that happens is people are gonna remember that xkcd told them that Emily Dickinson is in common meter. Onstad gets nothing out of the deal.

    As it is I wouldn't go as far in righteous indignation as Carl - it's the Internet, everything's free, he said it was from Achewood, it's fans' fault for being idiots rather than his necessarily. It's still 'not really on' though. Slightly out of order, perhaps.

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  19. I have to agree with Anon1119 on this. This site is more about trying to make every aspect of XKCD as negative as possible than it is about actually giving sound reviews.

    Now, don't get me wrong-XKCD isn't that good, and quite a few of these reviews have been spot on. But mostly this is just a site for being strictly negative about the comic, and that's not right.

    By the way, no, I'm not trying to troll. Just throwing my opinion out there.

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  20. 5:41
    Duck Hunt seems more appropriate

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  21. Um, it was a reversal of expectations. Duh?

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  22. It boggles my mind that people think Achewood is good, or funny, or even mediocre. It's almost as bad as XKCD, and even more up its own ass.

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  23. It boggles my mind that people think Achewood is almost as bad as XKCD, when XKCD isn't even mediocre and Achewood is good and funny.

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  24. Re: bands doing covers of other songs - People have basically explained already why the analogy is stupid, but I thought I would add that the better analogy in this situation is being told that you are going to a concert by band A, and when they get there, the band says "we'd like to do a tribute to band B" and then they just plug in a CD player and play some band B music off CDs. i think we can generally agree that is lame?

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  25. in case y'all haven't seen this yet, it sounds a lot like what you bang on about around here... except more general and much more entertaining.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/108-Webcomics

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  26. A (slightly) better last panel would have been a fake 'Emily Dickinson DLC' for Red Dead Redemption.

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  27. Dear Anon631: Whether or not there are Ruritanians in the country of Latveria, why would I go to Latveria expecting to find Ruritanians?

    Re789: I thought it was kinda cute, I smirked. The alt-text ruined it for me by trying to over-geek the idea of a tumbleweed shooting people. Still, points to Randy where I can give them -- you had a good thing and just took it a little too far.

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  28. Regarding 789:

    OK, last time I said that 788 was partly inspired by Red Dead Redemption. I may have been wrong, but on 789, I am sure that it was inspired by Red Dead Redemption.

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  29. Nobody in particularSeptember 5, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    Anybody who thinks that Achewood is bad doesn't like comics. And I mean that. They just like simple three-panels that don't challenge them and have absolutely no literary merit. It makes me ANGRY that they don't try hard enough to love Achewood.

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  30. @Ean: these kinds of justifications piss me off tremendously. It's like the excuse people came up with for 631: "It doesn't have to make sense, it's a comic!". Yes, comics can be nonsensical. That alone does not make a good joke. Consequently, yes, humor can be based on the reversal of expectations. That doesn't mean reversing expectations alone makes for a funny joke.

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  31. "It boggles my mind that people think Achewood is good, or funny, or even mediocre. It's almost as bad as XKCD, and even more up its own ass."

    this is a common reaction. you will not find the strip funny if you just go to random pages or the latest because you have to know the tone and characters. you will not find these "great" strips people link around funny.
    you will not find the first few months of comics up to the party funny because they suck. they just do. it took me like three tries to get through them. this might sound like i'm a fanboy but it's the truth. it is the opposite of being new reader friendly.
    it's very hard to get into but i did and i'd say it was worth it. it can make me laugh out loud consistently when it wants to be funny, reading it can make you happy and when it wants to be, it can be very creepy and quite depressing.

    i'm just saying i'd check it out again with this in mind. it isn't the greatest achievement of our time but it's ambitious and very different from any other webcomic.

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  32. oh and if you did read it and just didn't like it, uh. ok

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  33. Nobody In Particular: I think the idea that you need to "try hard" to like something is fundamentally wrong. If something is good, you don't need to "try" to see what's good about it. It's there for the seeing.

    R: I'm okay with works that can only be enjoyed sequentially, and not if you approach them willy-nilly. And I'm okay with works that start bad and get better. But works that do both are pretty much inexcusable. I have no interest in slogging through a bunch of shit in the hope that there's some corn embedded in the turds further along. There's a wealth of really awesome stuff out there, in the internet and the real world. Why would I waste my time "trying hard" to like something?

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  34. So what anonymous 12:55 is saying is that only easy, safe things that don't challenge the audience are good.

    Indeed, I have often said to myself "there is something fundamentally wrong with every film except summer action movies." I love summer action movies.

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  35. Although I get the second thing he said but hey, it took me like, 10-15 minutes to get to the party. I spent longer than that pooping yesterday.

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  36. all things start as shit. some of them get better.

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  37. oh and i meant it takes time to get, not that it's hard.

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  38. you can jump in at any point after the party arc really. shouldn't be too hard to get in touch with the characters and tone so all the comics until that point will be shit to you. it's just that the start is jarringly bad and takes a while to find itself.

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  39. There are plenty of Achewood strips which don't require a lot of foreknowledge to enjoy. However, it isn't ever going to be like the Sunday funnies, and never will be. Not all webcomics are made equal.

    Anyway, better that it's rewarding for people who put in the effort than not rewarding at all any more, like certain strips.

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  40. Another great thing about Achewood is that, unlike xkcd, it never feels like you're getting some view of the author's crammed down your throat. It just feels like a world where stuff happens. The characters may have very strong views and opinions, but this is kept separate from the author.

    So while Nobody in particular said: Not to mention that Randall (And, notably, some commenters) Fail to note that the POINT of that particular bit of Achewood comic is that the cat who mentions the Dickinson/Gilligan synergy is in fact a 'Tiresome Bastard'.
    I would disagree.

    If it has any point at all, it's not to make some blanket statement that if anyone does stuff like these musical observations, they're a tiresome bastard. The point is that Roast Beef believes Emeril's being a tiresome bastard, at this point in time.

    (Besides, if anyone can appreciate these kind of "tiresome" observations, it'd be Onstad, I imagine)

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  41. 789: Try switching panels 3 and 4. That sort of gives the strip a punchline.

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  42. I thought 789 was actually fairly amusing. But like 3:45 says, it would be better if 3 were 4 and 4 were 3.

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  43. ScottMcTony said...

    So what anonymous 12:55 is saying is that only easy, safe things that don't challenge the audience are good.


    Obvious Strawman is obvious.
    The point is not that something shouldn't be challenging. The point is that challenging shouldn't mean bad or pointless.

    As an analogy: I'm currently playing King's Bounty, which is a pretty difficult game. It is challenging, but good, and the fact that it takes a while to get into the turn-based strategy is offset by the fact that you can clearly see that there's a solid, complex game there that you need to get used to. Challenging and good.

    On the other hand, if I was constantly being faced with cheap, fake difficulty in the form of arbitrary constraints, if I had to sit through long hours of drawing magic FF VIII-style or similar, that would be challenging, but bad.

    A good work in any medium can be challenging, but that challenge needs to be enticing to the target audience, not frustrating.

    For the record, I tried reading Achewood and didn't get past the first 30 or so strips. Maybe I'll try again someday, who knows. That hurdle of bad strips at the beginning is too high at present, though.

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  44. After it shoots the cowboys, the tumbleweed should make a bad joke, like "now you two know how it feels to be blown away", and then one of the dead cowboys should blow past to symbolise nobody laughing at the tumbleweed.

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  45. I think I might enjoy achewood a lot more if I had even the slightest clue of what is actually going on in the last eleven panels or so of that Gilligan comic.

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  46. yeah it's confusing. that arc was kind of crap.

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  47. As per anon's suggestion with some modifications: http://img843.imageshack.us/img843/7555/xkcdbetter.jpg

    Not great, but still better than the source material if you ask me.

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  48. 789 felt a lot like chainsawsuit. Which may or may not be a good sign.

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  49. "it is the wild west"
    "two people are ready to duel"
    "there is a tumbleweed"
    "it shoots the two men"
    That's the joke.


    The alt-text is even worse. It's "the tumbleweed tried to go into the sunset, but couldn't because the wind was not blowing that way". Only with a lot more pseudo-science (yes, pseudo-science. Just because the prevailing wind travels in a certain direction doesn't mean the local wind does too) pretentiousness about something he learned in Geography in Grade 7/8. Once again, Randall panders to the high-school audience. Once again, Randall proves he's a dumb-ass who only tries to sound smart.

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  50. I like how in the last panel of the shoot out, Randall has to change the angle of the picture because he (one assumes) couldn't manage to draw two people falling toward and away from the camera.

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  51. Right. Well, while I liked both of the last two*, I think everyone here has missed one specific problem with the achewood homage/parody/ripoff/your-flavor-here...

    That strip was published just over a month ago. Does Randall really read "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" as often as the alt-text implies?? It kind of sounds like he's saying he's been going back and reading it every day or two to try not to read it as lyrics. I think, for most people, this would be a "Oh. Huh." moment of realization, then if the poem ever came across their path again it'd be a remembering. But after only a month, there's a tinge of "seeking it out" coming through.

    Also, completely agree with Anon 6:09.

    *(more than some other recent ones)

    Ed: captcha: crias. People crying in a Boston accent?

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  52. of course he doesn't! It's poetry. It's LITERATURE! but the only literature is stuff like The HitchHiker's Guide To The Galaxy, or Ender's Game because that's about SCIENCE!

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  53. 789: not a dreadful joke, but pretty poorly executed: panels 3 and 4 should not both be there. We know after seeing that the tumbleweed has guns that it is going to shoot them, thus making panel 4 PPD.
    Unforch just having the tumbleweed have guns is a pretty weak punchline. Combine panels 3 and 4 into one panel where the tumbleweed whips out guns and shoots the guys. Joke = well executed.

    edit: yeah or do that http://img843.imageshack.us/img843/7555/xkcdbetter.jpg thing that works too
    (fuck you fred)

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  54. I have to agree with 6:09. I can't even begin to comprehend what's going on there. It seems like it's just random panels thrown in among repeating panels, with unintelligible dialogue. I get the feeling that I might enjoy achewood, because I loved the characterisation of the annoying "to speak on a subject..." character, but after that strong start it just degenerates into (to me) meaningless gibbering.

    We often give Randall a lot of shit for his poor presentation, but holy crap what the fuck is going on in those panels?

    I don't know. Maybe some of the achewood fans here can point out what on earth we're supposed to make of it, so that we can perhaps also enjoy it?

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  55. 788: You can also fit the Gilligan's Island theme song to the tune for Amazing Grace, and vice versa.

    789: because stick figures are a shit way to do any sort of art that requires perspective, angle, whatever, and because most people are right-handed and put their holsters on their right side, I thought both cowboys were facing towards the camera. I know that "lern 2 art, randall" is one of the most common complaints, but it's also one of the most necessary.

    Captcha: "intesses," a small and confusing anatomical feature that all med students hate because they can't find it.

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  56. Achewood has long, involved, story arcs that require knowledge of the characters. Jumping in on this strip and saying "I don't understand any of this!" is akin to jumping into the middle of any book or graphic novel and saying "WHOA WAIT who are these people." Achewood's characters have very long histories. It's not necessary to pass a test on Ray's Favorite Alcoholic Beverages to enjoy Achewood, but it would behoove anyone trying to get into it to read, say, the Badass Games arc or the The Great Outdoor Fight arc. They don't take a whole lot of time to get through, are excellently written and quite funny, and give a good introduction to the various characters.

    XKCD is a gag-a-day strip. Gag-a-day strips don't have the some restraints that story arc strips do--characterization isn't as key, for example--but the jokes have to be tighter and leaner. XKCD's jokes aren't tight enough, lean enough, or based on good enough ideas to be funny.

    Yes, Achewood does ramble at times. There are times Chris Onstad uses a whole lot of text to convey his ideas. However, in a story arc strip, this is not nearly as detrimental and is actually sometimes helpful. Dialogue and thought processes let us get to know a character.

    That being said, the whole arc behind Nice Pete and his van is one of my least favorite Achewood arcs of all time, and I can't wait for Onstad to wrap it up and get on with something more wholesome. (That being said, taking a bath in a kiddy pool full of vaseline would probably be more wholesome than the current story arc.)

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  57. i agree, this arc does suck. also i wish he'd stop with the roomba strips.

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  58. One of the reasons I love the Great Outdoor Fight (the obvious things aside) is that, for once—just once!—Roast Beef lays off the broody, self-absorbed, depressed routine for a little while and becomes a truly intriguing character.



    ...and, yes, I will freely admit that I have very little patience with any arc that has extended amounts of Roast Beef's stilted monologues and nonsensically melancholy thought processes

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  59. the discussion on getting into achewood and the first few months of strips inspired me to reread it from the beginning, and you know what? the first few months are actually hilarious. i kind of wish chris would do more, shorter comics again, with more gags between his story arcs. his arcs are usually fine, but this one is taking him inexcusably long to wrap up.

    but back to the first few months. i think that maybe it's like the rest of the strip, where it's only funny once you've internalized the characters' distinct voices and discovered a feel for onstad's timing, but they are all exceptionally good gag comics. really! the timing is superb, even if (or especially if) part of laughing is realizing "THIS is the punchline?" like when cornelius pulls his robe out of his ass. and despite being proto-achewood, onstad still has a good ear for dialogue, especially with philippe.

    it just makes you wish other webcomic artists (COUGH RANDALL AND ALSO THAT DUDE BEHIND QUESTIONABLE CONTENT) could write in any voice other than their own

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  60. Achewood has long, involved, story arcs that require knowledge of the characters. Jumping in on this strip and saying "I don't understand any of this!" is akin to jumping into the middle of any book or graphic novel and saying "WHOA WAIT who are these people.

    Now wait a second. Not knowing who people are and why they do what they do is one thing, and yeah you need to know the characters and setting to jump in at the middle of a story.

    That's one thing. Another thing is that it's impossible for me to tell WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON in the first place.

    It's akin to jumping into a novel and going "Wait, what the fuck does it mean when it says 'After ray (or whoever he is) got in the van he saw a half eaten burger. He thought of a black and white diagram of his head spinning and him eating the burger or something and smelling it or whatever that last picture is supposed to be. He heard a cough from behind some sort of panel behind the seats and realised Téodor was in the van too. Then he suddenly said 'Brisket36' to another character that he was with earlier but did not go into the van either but suddenly is there anyway, to which the character replied 'hayup'. Soon the hayup character had disappeared again and it was night or something and nothing had realy happened? they were still in the van.'?" And you'd be TOTALLY RIGHT TO ASK THAT QUESTION.

    I don't know any of the characters, true. But what's that diagram? Why did the headphone guy suddenly return in the van? What does "Soon." mean when nothing appears to have happened? Why is there a panel randomly placed between the panels about Gilligan and the dabbing speech? This has nothing to do with not knowing the characters and prior history, and everything to do with not understanding how this style of storytelling is supposed to work.

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  61. "He thought of a black and white diagram of his head spinning and him eating the burger or something and smelling it or whatever that last picture is supposed to be."

    Of Teodor's head. His bitemarks on the burger. I didn't get this at first either. The random panel shows Teodor in the back of Nice Pete's car after... Something. You probably wouldn't want to know what.
    The 'brisket36' thing makes a bit more sense (but not a lot really) if you read the next strip and understand that Emeril (the conspiracy theorist) is paranoid and shit, and also that Nice Pete is a psycho.

    This arc is definitely not the best.

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  62. Apologies, Fred. I read your comment and replied about five minutes after I woke up. I'm used to people who don't like Achewood complaining about various aspects of the presentation, so I'll hope that my comments make more sense in light of that.

    As it stands, yes, that's a confusing strip. The whole brisket36 thing is ad hoc at best, the panels are confusingly laid-out (I don't know why there's a flashback panel of a bruised and bleeding Teodor), and the last panel with "SOON" is so small that Nice Pete appears to resemble Emeril.

    As I said before, I really can't wait for this current arc to stop slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.

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  63. What irritates me most is that the term Grand Theft Auto is applicable only for motor vehicles, which a carriage is not.

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  64. Just sayin: http://www.viruscomix.com/page326.html

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  65. It's not so much that the Achewood strip in question is incomprehensible. It's that the whole arc is. Every now and then I find myself pointed to the middle strip of an Achewood arc, and once I get back to the start of it and read along, it makes sense. This one... not so much.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a regular reader, so I know less than nothing about any of the characters. Most of the storylines are still pretty clean once started in the right spot.

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  66. Of Teodor's head. His bitemarks on the burger. I didn't get this at first either.

    Ah! See, that makes a whole lot more sense. It's pretty unclear though, and to be honest it's the sort of thing we'd give Randall unending amounts of shit for.

    The random panel shows Teodor in the back of Nice Pete's car after... Something. You probably wouldn't want to know what.

    Okay. But why is that panel suddenly there? Does the theme to Gilligan's Island invoke a flashback to that event in Ray's (or whatever his name is) mind? That can't be it though because he doesn't find out Teodor is in the back of the van until later. So.. why is that panel suddenly there?

    The brisket thing, I see how I don't get that if it's a reference to something else. But why is Emeril suddenly there again for two panels if he didn't get into the van as well, as evidenced by the surrounding panels?

    And what is "SOON" all about?

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  67. good points. it was probably there because onstad couldn't find anywhere else to put it. and it doesn't look like beef ever actually entered the van. don't know about the soon thing.

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  68. @ Anon 9:48. Nice catch. Yeah the new comic is pretty much that in reverse.

    I don't think it's that bad though. If you take out the third panel of the new one it gets a lot better.

    So of the last five, three of them were alright and amused me. Not bad Randall. Not good either mind you, but not bad.

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  69. Wow. So much confusion over a very easily read comic strip. As has been stated, it might be hard to follow if you don't know the characters, or Onstad's style as it has developed over the years, but the entire thing is readable if um... you actually know what you're doing.

    I suppose if you're used to three or four panel one-offs, you might question some of Achewood's panel layout. Why is the panel of Teodor in the back of the van suddenly there? Because Onstad likes to make comic montages. It demonstrates simultaneity, and shows us Teodor's (the central character of this arc) current state. It is not a flashback. It is not imaginary.

    The whole Teodor's head biting the hamburger is also clear if you know Roast Beef's character. Besides there's a whole establishment shot of a burger with a bite taken out of it, and the diagram has arrows pointing towards Teodor's mouth, and it's the only part of the diagram that actually changes.

    Last, and I can't believe you don't get this, no one is in the van except for Nice Pete until the last panel. Roast Beef is looking inside the van from outside, as the establishment shot... um... establishes at the beginning of the fifth line, and is then reestablished at the end of that same line. Emeril is not "suddenly there again for two panels." In most Western countries, we read from left to right, top to bottom. The panel layout flows naturally if you are actually literate.

    The last thing that happens is the "Soon." panel (farthest right, at the bottom... imagine!). Onstad uses this device all the time. In a comic, it is not particularly easy to show a passage of time. "Soon" informs us that some time has passed, and if you're not an idiot, it's easy to tell what's transpired. Roast Beef got in the van, Emeril and the other guy (can't remember his name at the moment) are not in the van, so we can assume they've gone elsewhere. Brisket36, despite having never appeared before in the comic that I can recall, is clearly a code word. The only open question, really, is what Brisket36 is a code word for. And since Achewood has the value of actually having story development, that question is answered in the next comic.

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  70. So much confusion over a very easily read comic strip

    No it isn't. The fact that apparently people aren't getting it means it's not "very easily read" for them. The rest of your explanation can fuck off with a patronizing introduction like that.

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  71. Fred did you ever consider that maybe you're just dumb

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  72. The Teador's head thing is also a lot easier to figure out if you know who Teador is and can recognize at a glance what his head is shaped like.

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  73. http://www.boingboing.net/2010/09/06/xkcd-cake.html

    ...

    I feel sorry for the poor cake decorator.

    As for the Wild West comic, the smoking gun alteration makes it work perfectly. It sets up the expectation and subverts it.

    Whereas the normal version is presented as "wouldn't it be funny if a tumbleweed shot the two people in a Wild West duel". That's it.

    I think it could have been akin to Gilliam animations if Randall had drawn the bit with the tumbleweed trying to roll into the sunset. But that sort of thing is intentional Post-Punchline-Dialogue because the Python guys were annoyed with the strict punchline format. It takes the idea far enough to become something new.

    Randall is in this in-between state, where he's mucking up the punchlines, but not taking the idea far enough to turn it into something else.

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  74. I agree with the inanity of the GTA:ED part, but "ripping off Achewood"? That's not what he's doing at all. He's REFERENCING Achewood because it's a COMIC that he LIKES.

    He does something about a poem and that poem was mentioned in Achewood, so he commented about it. You may as well say Achewood was ripping off Gilligan's island for including the music and lyrics to their theme song. They were referencing it. They didn't make that, Randall didn't make this.

    I've read about how you aren't biased against xkcd and I will agree with you that some of them are pretty bad/inane, but this is pretty biased right here.

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  75. You know, they way you guys talk about Achewood is pretty damn similar to the way you talk about XKCD: yeh it used to be good and there was some really awesome stuff in the past but . The only difference is that no one's given up on Achewood yet. Why is that?

    Is it because Onstad has persistent characters and storylines that make you more attached to the strip, even when it goes through long sucky phases? Or is it the perception that Onstad is doing his own thing, as opposed to Munroe's populism? Or just that you put higher standards on XKCD because it's more popular and uses miimalistic art and layouts? I'm genuinely curious to know.

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  76. " You know, they way you guys talk about Achewood is pretty damn similar to the way you talk about XKCD: yeh it used to be good and there was some really awesome stuff in the past but . The only difference is that no one's given up on Achewood yet. Why is that?"

    except nobody is saying "Achewood used to be good" here, so. not similar at all really! everyone I've seen talking about how they like Achewood here still likes Achewood. they aren't saying "but it's sucked recently" or whatever, just "it's hard to get into."

    "Is it because Onstad has persistent characters and storylines that make you more attached to the strip, even when it goes through long sucky phases?"

    this would definitely redeem XKCD a lot more. he does a lot of jokes that would work okay as character jokes but end up just falling flat. the long-form format changes what a comic needs to be successful, because it is no longer a gag-a-day comic.

    comparing a long-form to a gag-a-day is just not very applicable except in very specific circumstances--the only similarities they really share are superficial.

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  77. Rob, there's like a million people in this and the last comment thread whining about how much they wish Onstad would finish the current storyline.

    So.. apparently we've been reading different comment threads?

    "comparing a long-form to a gag-a-day is just not very applicable except in very specific circumstances--the only similarities they really share are superficial. "

    Funny, everyone keeps doing it anyway, to point out how shit xkcd is.


    Disclaimer: I've read The Great Outdoor fight and thought it was pretty neat, I've read other parts of Achewood and found it meh, and I really do think that xkcd sucks. I'm just bewildered by the prevailing attitude of "Achewood is awesome even though some of these story arcs kind of suck" as compared to "xkcd sucks even though it used to be consistently good and occasionally has some ok strips now"

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  78. the storyline would be more bearable, even good (uh, minus the cat cock) if it updated more. the brisket strip was posted last month and it has updated twice since, and one of those was a roomba comic. there is a lot of shit in the archive but it gets forgotten in favour of the sheer numner of good things. i don't pay for the fanfeed which probably updates more than the comic so i don't know if there's anything good in there.

    achewood has gone downhill (it was at its best from 2004-6) but it's still pretty good and the characters are still amusing/consistent.

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  79. apparently! your thread appears to be fictional, unfortunately. or perhaps you're conflating "two people, including an anonymous poster (who therefore doesn't count as a real human)" with "everyone?" or maybe you're just a moron, as seems to be the case.

    "Funny, everyone keeps doing it anyway, to point out how shit xkcd is."

    cf. "very specific circumstances," eg "when xkcd is directly applicable to a specific comic from said long-form comic." which is to say, you compare things when they are similar. I do not compare XKCD to long-form comics because it does not do long-form comics--though it is categorically inferior to SGR and GC, it is not in the same category and thus it is not comparable.

    "I'm just bewildered by the prevailing attitude of "Achewood is awesome even though some of these story arcs kind of suck" as compared to "xkcd sucks even though it used to be consistently good and occasionally has some ok strips now" "

    apparently you're a moron? long-form strips are significantly different than gag-a-day. it is very possible for a storyline to be bad without people saying "FUCK THIS COMIC I HATE IT AND AM NEVER READING IT AGAIN," or, at worst, to tune out until the storyline is over. even if a storyline consists of a hundred strips or so! in contrast, with a gag-a-day strip, if you write 100 consecutive bad comics, you lose you readers.

    there are a number of reasons for this, pretty much all of which are based on the format, and the difference between "story" and "strip." I'll leave you to do your own research as to the difference there--mostly because I get the feeling you've got about a fifty percent chance of demanding an explanation as to what the difference is, and that will be hilarious.

    there is also a difference between "I'm not feeling this recent arc" and "this comic has been completely and utterly infused with distilled essence of shit." maybe you're not bright enough to understand that the world doesn't exist in binaries, and that it is possible to think that a thing is not good without thinking that it is literally spawned from Satan's perineum.

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  80. Anon 0010:

    Wanting Onstad to finish the current storyline, and thinking that the current storyline is awful, are not the same things. Onstad has proven himself a skilled storyteller. I actually hold out a bit of hope that he has some interesting subversion or twist to the whole thing.

    Randall, on the other hand, has proven that he has a tin ear for humor and dialogue and generally has no idea how to set up or finish a joke. When he does, it seems to be the result of luck or chance, and not much else.

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  81. Apparently Randall harbors this fantasy that a friendless shut-in could secretly become an ass-kicking thug when called upon.

    I wonder why...

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  82. I understand Anonymous's point. That Achewood comic doesn't line up the words with the notes correctly. The section of the song it shows should end with the word "stopped."

    Also, wherever it has a pair of eighth notes in the Gilligan's Island theme, you have to sing that as a single quarter not for the Emily Dickinson poem.

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  83. In Randall's defense, he did make Dickinson moderately interesting, as opposed to the anti-intellectual pile of crap that it actually is.

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  84. Am I the only one who thought "GG Randall, Red Dead has been out for a while now."

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