Thursday, October 28, 2010
[ALT: Don't worry! From the light's point of view, home and your eye are in the same place, and the journey takes no time at all! Relativity saves the day again.]
This was supposed to go up yesterday but I ended up not being home at all. So fuck you all etc.
Anyway! This one's pretty terrible. Like with most of beret guy's comics, the end result is usually staring at the monitor blankly, reading it another time, then blinking at the computer and saying "um, okay?" It's apparent that Randy isn't trying to be funny, but rather cute or sweet or some shit (no doubt an attempt to attract a mate)--but how? How is that supposed to be anything but a depiction of some events that happened with a guy who is apparently a crazy?
This one relies on an idea so obvious there's a Bright Eyes song* with a line on a very similar tack: "stars that clear have been dead for years, but the idea just lives on." It's used in a number of ways in its myriad interpretations: to convey a sense of our cosmic insignificance (as Megan here is no doubt trying to do), to convey a sense of the unreliability of our senses, or merely to make people sad, because stars are poetic and poetic things are sad, maybe.
Before I continue discussing the joke, we need to talk about mirrors and frames. Because the general consensus seems to be that nobody, on first reading this comic, could agree on what the fuck Beret Man is holding in the last two panels. I was one of the lucky few who saw a mirror the first time, but even the formidable talent at xkcdexplained saw a frame--beret man is framing the sky, maybe!
I usually avoid talking about the art because it's not really remarkable most of the time--sure, there's lots of floating heads and hovering chair-sitters, but the art isn't so much bad as nonexistent in most cases. Your eyes can glaze over while looking at it, and you don't need to be able to piece it together. Your mind can go somewhere happier, like a world where XKCD never existed, or where Randy is not sad, lonely, and pathetic. In this case, however, the art is bad enough that it's actively interfering with people's ability to even understand the comic. It's not that hard, Randy!
(Oh, also: when I first read the comic, I went back to look to make sure it was a mirror. I could find no solid evidence, but it made more sense than the alternatives, so I stuck with that interpretation. Since then there has been a line added to probably represent beret-guy's mirror arm! Maybe I just missed it the first time, but does anyone else remember that line not being there?)
Onwards! So beret guy is extra sad that Megan is talking about starlight dying when it hits the earth or whatever, so he runs and gets a mirror, I guess, to reflect them back to the sky, so they don't die? Or maybe so they can get back home, where "home" is "the star from which they came?"
There's not much I can say about that besides "um, okay?" It's not that I don't get it--it's clear that that's beret guy's intention. It's that I have no fucking idea why that's his intention. Which is to say, I cannot envision a scenario in which someone thinks that "I HAVE TO SEND THE STARLIGHT BACK HOME" is something that he needs to make into a comic--why he thinks it's sweet, why he thinks it's something that a character in any situation, ever, would plausibly think of as something to do.
Beret dude has always been a problematic character, since his personality seems to mostly be 'being a batshit lunatic.' The problem is I know that's not what Randy is going for. Randy wants him to be sweet and thoughtful and in the moment and existential. But these things are apparently utterly foreign to Randall, so he writes a character who has no consistent traits apart from being crazy--and not even crazy in a consistent way.
This is made worse by the fact that Randy once implied (I don't remember where--if someone has a link I'd be grateful) that beret dude was based on a real person. I can only imagine that said real person, after reading a few of the comics, got a shovel, went out and dug himself a grave, put in a coffin with special rollers, and has spent all of his free time since then rolling over in it. Because fuck, man.
(EDIT: xkcdsucks hero "ray" has sent this improvement to the art, which took fifteen seconds in MS paint.)
*with apologies to conor oberst