Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Comics 823-825: Guests Guests Guests

Not going to reproduce these here because fuck you.

Look, I'm just going to say this up front: guest weeks are boring. I know I wrote in favor of them and blah blah blah but they're not very interesting times to be a comic reader, and even less interesting as a comic reviewer, especially if for some reason you have a blog devoted to a single comic, and your reviews have a context of several hundred other comics from the same person.

With that said, my thoughts on each of these comics:

823: While this one is pretty lame, it does, at the very least, capture the essence of XKCD (which is, I guess, lameness). Why are they on the moon? Why is she holding it steady? Why are they a spidermonster? What is the point of this comic? Why is it so lame?

824: Bill Amend, eh? Impressive, Randy! I can't tell if this is making fun of XKCD or what. They are all XKCD-grade jokes (though I can't resist fat jokes, so, you know, the first one has a special place in my heart), though mostly on the higher end of XKCD-grade. They seem more XKCD-like than XKCD. I can't put my finger on why I feel like they're making fun, but I know I'm not alone here.

825: I love you, Jeffrey Rowland, but this one feels phoned in. I think it's the lack of context for the wacky ideas--there's usually a sense there of a reason for the craziness in Overcompensating, whereas these appear to be "here are some wacky ideas I had." They are amusing wacky ideas but I want stories.

Are you all excited for Randy's glorious return?

95 comments:

  1. Show of hands, who looked up the Wikipedia article on Necrosis?

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  2. I already knew about that, so not me.

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  3. 824 (Bill Amend) shows very xkcdish humor, and is actually funny. Like a reminder of what I expected and found in xkcd much earlier.

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  4. Ryan North's new book has an introduction by Randall Munroe!

    WHERE IS OUR GOD NOW

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  5. I'm pretty sure that gravitational pull shit was making fun of Randal and his verbose=hilarity attitude

    Guh. It's just like The Big Bang Theory all over again only shit

    Played a drinking game last week where we'd read every XKCD comic in order and if we laughed we took a shot. Impressively, Randal got me drunk

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  6. @Sherlock: for a second I thought about looking it up, but then i was like "reverse psychology GOOMHR".

    btw we need a goatkcd guest comic.

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  7. Are you implying the Big Bang Theory isn't shit?!

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  8. @ 12:49 I totally agree. I loved Amend's guest comic, and I had exactly the same thought- "This is what xkcd was like back when it DIDN'T suck."

    823 was horrible. The joke wasn't even remotely funny and it was overall...yeah, lame is exactly the right word to describe it. And doesn't "dump my notebooks" sound really awkward? Dump them WHERE?

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  9. RYAAAAAN WHAT HAVE YOU DOOOOONE?

    no worries, the new book will probably be as shitty as his old one

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  10. Is it really a picture of Jeffrey Rowland's leg illustrating the wikipedia article on necrosis?

    "Played a drinking game last week where we'd read every XKCD comic in order and if we laughed we took a shot. Impressively, Randal got me drunk"

    I had an even funnier night. I'd read every xkcd comic in reverse order and drink a shot each time I didn't laugh. I got so drunk I puked inside my mouth, swallowed the puke and puked the puke again. And I soiled myself.

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  11. I did look up necrosis... thank God my food is already well on its way to digestion.

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  12. Yeah, not a fan of today's.

    Also, for the last time, Amend's jokes are intentionally bad because they make [i]jason[/i] look stupid, not randy or his audience. Firstly, this kind of construction (Jason fills in for someone and does a shitty job) is a frequent joke in foxtrot. And, as much as I wish it weren't so, Bill is a big fan of xkcd. He'd never spend a guest appearance ripping on a comic he likes.

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  13. Rochambeau: but did you PUKE out of your EYES?

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  14. "Is it really a picture of Jeffrey Rowland's leg illustrating the wikipedia article on necrosis?"

    yes. it is from where he got bitten by a brown recluse. that is why he draws himself with a red scar on his leg also

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  15. From the talk page for Necrosis, after someone requested a protect given xkcd had linked to it:

    "xkcd is not 4chan. It is a nerdy comic about math, physic and sometimes love, not necessarily the fields of interest of a troll/vandal."

    XD

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  16. "Also, for the last time, Amend's jokes are intentionally bad because they make [i]jason[/i] look stupid, not randy or his audience."

    The bizarre thing is many of Randall's fans are praising the jokes as if they were actually funny! They can't even recognise an intentionally bad joke because LOLZ ITS LIEK SOO *NERDY(!!

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  17. The scary thing is some people are saying that XKCD done badly on purpose is "like old XKCD, when it was actually good".

    wtffffffffffffffffffffffff

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  18. I must point out that the moon moved so much, as can be seen by looking at the stars and trees.

    Thus, the girl was not only commanded by the boy, but completely failed at what she was told to do. As such, David TVTroupes completely failed at capturing what xkcd is all about.

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  19. Zach Weiner even draws better stick figures. Go figure.

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  20. Loved Zach Weiner's. Would be nice if Randall ever put this sort of effort into his own comic (other than when he draws giant posters, presumably to sell later)

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  21. IMO, SMBC is the best comic on the interwebs. And it updates everyday.

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  22. I'm impressed by the scale of Zach's comic alone. It got a few chuckles out of me. The problem being that most of them are pretty terrible and/or clichéd jokes, but they are ignorable as they aren't the only thing there. Zach is a relatively good artist, for one.

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  23. Holy shit, easter eggs- is that Cory Doctorow near the northern entrance?

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  24. So Zach has the opposite problem of floating heads...necks that have been crunched into the heads and torsos.

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  25. At 10:39:
    It got a few chuckles out of me as well. Did we laugh at the same ones? Unlikely. Being bombarded by jokes isn't a bad thing and i enjoyed the interactive popup element- made it exciting :)

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  26. @Michael: Actually I believe Zach did that on purpose to differentiate back of the head from the front. Like Anon @10:14 said, Zach Weiner even draws better stick figures than Randall.

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  27. I thought 826 was a great comic. None of the individual jokes were hyperventilate-I-am-laughing-so-much, and Randall probably would have just had one, put it into a couple panels with some post-punchline dialog and been done. The way he takes them all together and presents them in an interactive map of a museum makes it pretty fun to click around and see the different elements. It's the most entertainment I've had from a webcomic in a long time, even if it didn't leave me gasping for air.

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  28. xkcd is so bad it can make good webcomic artists suck. Except for Zach Weiner, apparently, because he's just too friggin' awesome.

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  29. The only problem with weiner's is that alt text that keeps getting in the way.

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  30. Rob, the Amend comic was explained like a thousand times on your own damn comment thread like a thousand times.

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  31. okay! I don't really care, but thanks for pointing that out, I guess?

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  32. Holy balls...Zach's comic is freaking impressive. And now no one can ever say, "Well of course XKCD isn't especially artistic; it uses stick figures" because Zach's stick figures are amazing. I especially liked the kid sitting on his dad's shoulders and the dad's gesturing in the helium exhibit. See, Randall? It's very possible to make a stick figure comic and still put a lot of effort into it!

    Also, "Now with more goo in your eyes. Same as every other creamery." made me laugh out loud.

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  33. If you think about it, it makes sense. To echo the comment someone made on the QC guest comic, it's sad when guests (with little time to think ahead) make significantly better comics than the original author. Although I am not blindly devoted to Randall hate; I'd actually rather prefer he come back and start making some top-notch comics.

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  34. I'll be the first to say that I thought the SMBC comic sucked balls. I don't care how many jokes you've got if they all suck. I'm not even sure they were jokes.

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  35. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 27, 2010 at 1:32 AM

    the individual exhibits in weiners comic were not really individual jokes in and of themselves

    the exhibits are interesting details but the only "humor" there is either goomhba fodder ("omg my dad told me that when i was a kid goomhzw") or due to sheer absurdity

    for me the real comedy was in the idea of dads taking their kids to a museum that says "hey everything i ever told you was just an amusing lie"

    the fact that all of these disparate details actually share a common theme which unites them into a coherent whole is the real joke of the comic and is a fair summary of why i like zach weiner and despise randy

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  36. You suck

    Sincerely Anonymous

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  37. Sincerely AnonymousNovember 27, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    Why do I suck? And what's up with the line breaks? Also, put in some punctuation next time, 'kay?

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  38. Gonna have to second UndercoverCuddlefish on this.

    Zach's had no joke and was completely terrible.

    Captcha: Partme

    Part me, part you.

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  39. Sincerely Anonymous

    You suck because nobody likes you

    Line breaks are cool

    Punctuation is for suckers

    Sincerely Anonymous

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  40. It's; true,-( I !love punctuation.?

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  41. Now why on earth would I ever like sincerely anonymous?

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  42. UR NAME IS NOBODY LOL

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  43. Anon 5:17 is right - we've never appeared in the same room together onscreen!

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  44. 827: Randall is back on form. A mildly amusing idea, maybe (MAYBE) enough to serve as the kernel for a comic, executed horribly. The punchline is the second panel. That's where all the funny happens and there's any more to the comic than "Hey, what if this situation could happen". But we have to suffer through two more panels of tediously inevitable events before we can take it in.

    This is why SMBC sometimes puts panels out of order with "earlier..." prefacing one. Sometimes good comedic timing is not chronological.

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  45. You probably never read these, but I shall comment nonetheless. I would like to spend a great amount of time critiquing, in detail, your critique of another man's humor. I really would. But I have better things to do.

    Maybe you want more of a storyline from xkcd. Maybe you dislike that it rehashes old jokes. Maybe you dislike the crude humor.

    What issue have I with this? Lack of a unified plot, no new ideas, crudeness - that is not xkcd. That is the world. Media is running dry, reporting stories no one cares about because everyone is sick of all the dead people. Movies are hacking ideas together from idiotic sources that are, at best, long shots. People are crude. People are ugly. Since when was the world artistic? Since when does anyone try?

    I have seen better things than what xkcd used to be transform over time into worse things than what xkcd is now. What world do you live in that some website is constantly shoved under your nose, forcing you to retch in hatred? Why do you bother? Perhaps xkcd sucks. Do we care? What about the countless other horrible things that all the little sheep follow? Anything from a bad but popular book to a war between countries.

    Do we care that something sucks? No, we do not. Why should you expect anything better than what is there?

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  46. Can I be the first to say that the new comic absolutely sucked?

    I'm disappointed that after a 2-week break, the new comic is even worse than usual.

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  47. @Anon 9:47 tl;dr i stopped reading after two lines.

    also 827 sucks ass.

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  48. @Anon 9:57, I was being ironic. Randall is symptomatic of the great decay and stench of modern society.

    LLR!

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  49. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 28, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    the great decay and stench of modern society can be summed up in three lines of dialogue:

    "[ignorant and poorly thought out comment]"
    "dude that is fucking stupid"
    "i was being ironic"

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  50. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 28, 2010 at 11:34 PM

    though i do love the new comic, it's great to see old randall back.

    let's hope he can keep this up!

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  51. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 28, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    basically nobody is sincere any more what the fuck happened to accountability

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  52. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 28, 2010 at 11:41 PM

    P.S. I am gay.

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  53. I quite liked the new comic. In fact, more than any of the guest strips aside from Zach's.

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  54. I'm gonna agree with 9:45 here. Taking it a step further, if you reversed the panels on this one and had an "earlier..." in each one, taking the reader through the events in reverse, you'd have a halfway decent comic. While that kind of thing is a little rare and not necessarily the most elegant way of telling a joke, it'd still be significantly funnier than what we have here.

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  55. betting pool on 9:47's age

    i'm guessing 14

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  56. Do we care that something sucks? No, we do not.

    Don't lump me in with your apathetic brethren, you pseudointellectual twit.

    The third panel in 827 is genuinely kind of funny. I'm not sure it really feels like a return to form, though. The "like" and "I was all" are a change of pace from Randall's stilted diction.

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  57. Oh, fuck right the hell off, Randall! These last two weeks actually gave me a little bit of hope.

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  58. Anon 10:47 - "LOL I TROL YOU"

    Now, this new comic... are you ready? SUCKS.

    I mean... he had a meh-ish joke up to the second panel, but then he ruined it all with his fantasy fulfilling. Isn't it sad, Randall, that someone decided to get that idea you were too slow to actually put in practice and make money out of it? Lol, how cool it'd be if we could actually claim that we had this idea sooner and get our share of the money for DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

    And I don't even need to go to the forums to know the fans are GOOMHing like there's no tomorrow.

    Last qualm: why is that panel lower than the rest? There's no reason for that, it doesn't make a point, it doesn't convey any meaning. Maybe it means Randall finally started making comics drunk.

    CAPTCHA: ruffie. ...dude, creepy.

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  59. R.: Is this a guessing game or an under-over? Also, is it "Price is Right" rules or not?

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  60. In the event of the latter, I'll say 1 year old.

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  61. Let me distill the essence of this comic:

    "Wouldn't it be great if you could get paid for coming up with poorly thought out ideas, but never having to actually do the work of executing on them?"

    This isn't wish fulfillment. It's an autobiography.

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  62. Why hello there xkcd, looks like it's back to 100% suck.

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  63. Hmmm, I thought the joke was a bit deeper than that: isn't the "good idea" that the stick figure had the idea that you should be able to get paid for good ideas? And now (don't ask me how) someone else was making money with this bogus patent system? And the joke is then that it backfires against them?

    Or am I reading too much into the comic and you're all right that it sucks giant donkey balls?

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  64. I have literally no idea what is in (and falling from?) the protagonist's right hand in the last panel.

    Is he pulling money from the box with telekinesis?

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  65. @Anon 6:29

    No, he's just sloppily pulling out the bills because it is SOOOOO MUCH MONEY.

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  66. I can't believe I'm saying this, but what amused me the most about 827 was imagining the guy's lines spoken in a hyper-teenager kind of way. "LIEK, TTLY!!!11"
    Not that it got anything more than the hint of a smile out of me; it's only by comparison to the rest that I can call it somewhat amusing. The concept was overall not TOO suck-ish...until I got to the last panel. I mean, what kind of lame-ass ending is this?

    Okay, okay, let's go back to the beginning. Apparently the first guy here thinks he deserves a share of some company's profit because he came up with their idea fist. Alright, fine by me. It's not like I expect to read about completely normal people, after all.
    So after the other guy lets him know that that's not the way it goes, the first guy presents us with a website where he can ask for the percentage of money he believes he should be getting. Huh...bizarre. I wonder what kind of unexpected result this will have after he clicks "submit"!
    ...
    .....
    He recieves the money.
    He recieves the effing money! The only way this plot could end up being funny would be if the ending was surprising and random! But noooo, we get the most boring thing that could happen...the unusual expectation of the guy is actually met.
    I want 30 seconds of my life back, Randal.

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  67. I was underwhelmed by today's xkcd. I supposed it goes without saying that merely having an idea means nothing; the ones who are successful are the ones who actually realize those ideas. They get rich because they put in effort. "Wouldn't it be cool if" is not effort.

    And for what it's worth, the guy is using a Mac. (Actually, strictly speaking, it looks like he's surfing on a mobile device based on the screen size, but the iPhone's browser doesn't have those circular icons as far as I know.)

    In fact, the problem here is that the guy is being made out to be kind of dumb (all the "likes," Apple user, etc.), but then he gets what he asks for! What the heck is the point?

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  68. "The Department of Ideas" is conceptually the only funny thing in this comic. It's a pity that they seem to be particularly unexciting.

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  69. Which is to say, I don't understand how you can come up with "The Department of Ideas" as a concept and not make it funny. I.... I just don't understand how this went wrong....

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  70. Gamer_2k4, I didn't expect it to have a point to be honest...something silly but amusing would have been enough for me. But not only do we get a universe where people can get rich simply by filling in a couple of blanks online, but there's also nothing funny about it!
    I was probably optimistic to the point of stupidity to be expecting something better after all these days.

    (by Anon 6:45)

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  71. Oh boy.

    This one's obvious: it's bald-faced sarcasm. Randy is trying to do a Hipster Hitler. Whether it works or not is anyone's guess. I'd say it's just trite and obvious.

    Guys, you can stop pretending it's anything else now.

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  72. Eh, I thought it was mildly funny. I went to see the facebook movie last week and the whole time watching it I was thinking "But you can't copyright an idea you can't sue over that this whole premise is bullshit".

    So today's xkcd kinda worked for me.

    Grade: tolerable.

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  73. RE: 827
    Classic xkcd: a gem of a good idea and a decent punchline buried underneath maddeningly shoddy execution. I think this idea could be fairly funny, but Randall's lack of competence in constructing it ruins the whole thing.

    File this one under "Reasons Randall needs an editor" alongside most of his comics. *sigh*...

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  74. Wow, the new comic was actually pretty decent.

    I don't get how some of you think the end was foreseeable and boring. Don't you think it makes more sense that he WOULDN'T get the money? If he didn't get the money, that would be quite boring, as that's what would happen in real life. But the joke here is that he DID get the money, and it works.

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  75. But that's not a joke! That's literally "Guy thinks he deserves money and gets it." Yes, sometimes it's possible to subvert expectations by playing something completely straight, as in the joke, "Two guys walked into a bar. The third one ducked." But even that plays on multiple meanings of the word "bar," and how the one used is not the one the listener expects to be used. Randall just said, "If there was a system for getting money for ideas, people who used that system would get money." The setup and the punchline are exactly the same. That's why there's no joke, and that's why this is boring.

    You say the strip would be boring if the guy didn't get the money, and I agree...IF Randall used the same approach he did with this ending. If the last panel was just a guy saying, "You really can't get money for having the same idea as someone successful," yes, it wouldn't have been funny. But that's why a webcomic author should play with it! If you have an inherently boring situation, either make it funny or don't use it!

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  76. @Gamer 2k4

    I see where you're coming from. However, I think the joke here is that the ending is essentially the same as the beginning. Although it's pretty boring, like you said the other approach would have been boring as well.

    I think with either endings, there would have been flaws with the comic. It's an okay comic. Not great, but it gets the job done.

    I actually thought of something-what if Randall showed the same comic twice in this submission, but made different endings? That could have put a whole new spin on it, and may have worked better.

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  77. Today's xkcd comic was about having a good idea, but not putting any work into it, and expecting/receiving a reward.

    Which is a good idea at its core, but it just doesn't seem like Randy put any work into it. Yet he still expects, and will receive, plenty of money through store purchases.

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  78. Several years ago I drew 3 installments of a horrible stick figure comic that wasn't funny. I posted it on a forum so those guys can totally back me up, and I even still have the jpg files.

    Randy where is my money

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  79. I realized today what 827 seemed to be copying: Jay Barnes. I have no idea if Randall's heard of him, or would want to copy him, but the style is certainly similar.

    Some of his stuff is here, and here. He was funny enough when I was in college. I suppose that, at the very least, he's not offensively bad at humor.

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  80. Whyyyyyy is the last panel on a different line? Seriously, why?

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  81. hey c'mon he's got a SICK FMAILY MEMBER it's not like he has TIME to open up paint and move the panel into a non-retarded spot

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  82. @Chaos

    I had the idea for the exact same comment when I read the comic this morning. But I figured, hey, I'll post it later!

    WHERE IS MY MONEY!!!

    No, seriously, the idea is good, it's just... poorly executed. But it's got real potential. Randy does have good ideas for comics. He should work with someone who knows about the rhythm of jokes.

    The joke is basically in the first and third panel. The rest is useless. It would have done a good one panel comic à la Zach Weiner (who RULES.) For example a guy in a courtroom saying "I had the idea like three years ago. I told my friend Mike, you can ask him. I was like, you know what would make a great business idea?" And then a caption saying : "ultimately, we were forced to give him the 500 millions dollars."

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  83. xkcd #827 is the most boringest thing since my son.

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  84. Sigh, xkcd's back to sucking boringly again. I guess the alternately-horrifying-and-vaguely-amusing 5 minute comics got my hopes up that at least maybe it would at least suck interestingly for a while. Oh well.

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  85. XKCDexplained is gone forever! Panic button has been engaged!

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  86. 827 is about a ridiculous premise (getting paid for ideas which you did nothing to promote). That was the comic. It's a ridiculous scenario. The guy doesn't deserve the money, Randall knows that, anyone who reads the comic knows that, the whole point is that it is ridiculous to expect money for your idea you did nothing with.

    What is wrong with you people who thought he was being serious? Did you even read it? On the third panel as "proof" he says "I told my friend Mike..." Seriously, it's not that complicated.

    As for the joke of the comic, it's also blatantly simple. A stupid aloof guy does something stupid, the straight man (the guy who says "Wait, what") witnesses this stupid guy doing something which should in all cases lead to failure. However, in this crazy fucked up place the straight guy's world is TURNED UPSIDE DOWN because this stupid aloof guy's idea actually works. The joke is on the guy playing it straight and his "What!" reaction. The last three panels are just playing it out to show that the guy is actually getting the money for his stupid idea.

    It's a simple joke that I'm sure has been told many times before in many different variations (i.e. Frank Grimes in the Simpsons).

    As for the quality of the comic, I sort of liked it. It had a joke and was fairly well executed (who cares why the last panel is down a little bit, it is still readable and understandable. Maybe he's just trying to change up his style a little to see what works and what doesn't).

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  87. WHAT IS SUBVERSION I DON'T UNDERSTAND

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  88. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 30, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    @egg you forgot the part where that sort of comedy only works when it actually subverts expectations

    unfortunately this is xkcd where ridiculous nerd wish fulfillment is the norm so everybody with an ounce of intelligence went into this knowing how it would end

    you also forgot the part where comedy duos only work when you have actual characters and not just a handful of forgettable stick figures (which one is the randall proxy today i do not know)

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  89. @UC: Randall is the one who made a box-load of money because he refused to accept the possibility of a valid "adult" job. Look at it. Look at his success and stand in awe.

    I'm going to go shuffle some papers around, flirt with some colleagues, and go home knowing I'll get a regular paycheque, everyone okay with this? 'Cause I'm still doing more work than Randy does.

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