Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Comics 826 and 827: Bad Ideas

bad ideas

[ALT: We didn't believe you at first, but we asked like three people who were at that party. They not only corroborated your story, but even said you totally mentioned wanting to start a company someday. Sorry! If this isn&'t enough money, let us know.]

First, 826. Zach Weiner's guest comic was a lot more popular than the others. He definitely put more effort into it and had more jokes etc etc. I vaguely liked it but it was kind of underwhelming. Not even bothering with a real review.

Now for 827! As has been noted many times in the comment thread by now, this one has potential. The seed of the idea is pretty good. But somehow Randy's execution just leaves me cold. There's a lot to be said for a proper satire of the "that was my idea first" mentality--and Randy didn't say any of it. It's so close, and yet so far away.

Whenever Randy does this it seems like he tries to put the joke in the wrong place. My theory now is that he tries too hard, and kills the joke with hours of mindless revision. You know how, if you say a word enough times, that word stops having any meaning? I think Randy does that with his jokes. He revises and revises them, without any outside input, until he can no longer tell what's funny and what isn't. And then, even if it started with an awesome idea, he has something which only vaguely resembles a joke.

Maybe he just stops revising after a certain number of revisions. That seems like the kind of thing he'd do. "After exactly 50 revisions the comic will be at its best possible point," or more likely he has some bullshit formula involving diminishing returns.

Anyway, welcome back, Randy! Try not to suck so hard.

53 comments:

  1. First post. i agree with you rob, but things do seem slightly better now.

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  2. At least the premise was good.
    He's making ´progress

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  3. I'm not passing judgment on whether it improved overall or not until a week or two has passed.

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  4. My theory is that he is completely unimaginative -- he has great "ideas" but is impossibly unable to shape them into good complete packages.

    Or, like someone recently said on the xkcd forums:

    "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."

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  5. Last two panels just make it less funny. Third panel is fine as a punchline because the text on the website is fairly amusing (Be fair!)

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  6. I had the idea for this comic ages ago - where can I apply for my share?
    And I even have proof: I have sketches of this on paper that can be carbon dated to at least a month ago!

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  7. And I still don't understand why the hell that last panel is lower than the rest of the comic. If I were Arthur I'd probably be LITERALLY BLEEDING FROM MY EYES here.

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  8. "Now for 827! As has been noted many times in the comment thread by now, this one has potential. The seed of the idea is pretty good. But somehow Randy's execution just leaves me cold. There's a lot to be said for a proper satire of the "that was my idea first" mentality--and Randy didn't say any of it. It's so close, and yet so far away."

    Way to talk about xkcd 827 without actually talking about it.

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  9. I agree with Anon 4:57. Cut out the last two panels and you actually have a pretty decent, albeit short, joke.

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  10. yeah, too bad this is ripped from a Wondermark comic: http://wondermark.com/541/

    But enough of that negativity READ MY BLOG: HTTP://BEARHATFIESTA.BLOGSPOT.COM

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  11. Probably one of the best in awhile. Not fantastic, but definitely decent.

    And yeah, I don't get why the last panel is lower either. Pretty weird.

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  12. The last panel is lower because it subverts your expectations--see, you expected it to be level with the rest, but, instead, it's LOWER. Expectations: subverted.

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  13. It's funny how a dude who constantly brags about being some sort of writer, and criticizes other people's writing, has the gall to use the expression "so close, and yet so far away".

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  14. Has anyone else noticed that Randall's dialog is so consistently unnatural that no one even bothers to point it out anymore? Part of the problem with this joke is that he doesn't use a specific example, i.e. "Dude, Rentboy.com just ripped off my idea. I had that idea like 2 years ago." No one would say something as ridiculous as "some company just got rich doing it."

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  15. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 30, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    would it be okay to blame goatkcd for randalls incessant addition of ppd and unnecessary panels maybe he is just trying to make sure goatse has its own private space next to the actual joke

    not really randy just lacks fundamental comedic writing skills

    the wondermark comic posted by 11:06 is a good example of how this exact same joke actually works and um it was there first randall

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  16. It's funny how a dude who constantly brags about being some sort of writer, and criticizes other people's writing, has the gall to use the expression "so close, and yet so far away".

    That's Rob subverting your expectations of his competence. Ironically.

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  17. I'm sad to see that XKCD explained is truly done.

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  18. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 30, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    xkcdexplained is not "done"

    i still visit that site thrice a week for running commentary on the state of xkcd and it has yet to let me down

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  19. Hate to toot my own horn, Fernie, but that was me. :/ As nice as it would be to have another convert.

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  20. We don't get to see what the idea was.

    We don't get to see the other person talking.

    We do get to see awkwardly placed panels that make people with OCD go insane


    Yep. Randy is back.

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  21. I'm just going to go out on a limb here:
    I enjoyed 828.

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  22. I was surprised by how good 282 is. It had TWO punchlines that could have worked.

    My only problem with it is that either the top half or the bottom half of the comic should have gone. It could have ended on a funny note if he cut out the bottom, or if he cut out the top half. Both are workable endings/punchlines to the comic, and it seems Randall couldn't decide which one he liked better, so he used both.

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  23. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

    I actually enjoyed 828? And not just on a "better than his usual shit" note, on a "Hey, that's actually kinda funny" note?

    Love.
    Hate.
    Clouds.

    Though ending it with just the top half would have been "better than his usual shit."

    captcha: shillami
    Randy is afraid to draw shillamis.

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  24. 282 only had the one punchline, and it was a maddeningly horrible pun being recognized as a maddeningly horrible pun. I'm not quite sure why you're remembering that particular comic in conjunction with this one.

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  25. Also, the stat sheet joke was nice.

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  26. I NEED ME SOME RE-decuts!

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  27. 828: Starts out as a simple deconstruction, suddenly dialogue carries it into a funny joke.

    The art isn't bad! The panel layout is logical! The dialogue isn't artificial! The stick figures convey some sort of body language! My only complaint is that the order of the lines in the final panel was a bit confusing at first.

    But whatever. This is a small miracle.

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  28. I'm kinda impressed by the background art, and the dialogue sounds like normal people talking for once! And it's a legitimate thought he didn't think the funny out of!

    I may have to sit down.

    (captcha: burhedro. A burrito with lots of angles.)

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  29. Randall needs to stay the hell out of medicine and clinical psychology. Anything that's not physics isn't science and has no place in xkcd.

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  30. To the people that "like" 828... are we reading the same comic? It is utter shit. Sorry, your opinion is wrong. 827 was better than 828 and 827 sucked.

    Have none of you seriously never this very common twist on pessimism and optimism before? It's similar to procrastinating procrastination. Fucking height of comedy right there.

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  31. 828 was awful save for the stats on the computer screen.

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  32. I didn't mind 828, but the fact that he's doing this just after the whole illness thing makes it a little uncomfortable.

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  33. "The art isn't bad!"
    http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/6196/whatisthist.jpg

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  34. "Also, the stat sheet joke was nice."
    "828 was awful save for the stats on the computer screen."

    I don't get it.

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  35. @11:19 Wow, actually taking a close look at that... I can't actually tell how the person's sitting, but it looks to me like their left leg is bent in the air with their foot flat on the bed and their right leg is bent at an extremely uncomfortable-looking angle on the bed. For whatever reason, the right arm is quite a bit longer than the left one, and of course the head is floating several inches from the place where their arms meet the very top of their torso. Also, even ruling our the horrible art, who would be sitting like that on a hospital bed? Most people would be either sitting or laying in the bed itself... I... I just give up.

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  36. @Rochambeau

    The abbreviations on the computer screen stand for character statistics used in Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games.

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  37. 828: reverse logic shit mixed with some BAAAAWWWW MY CLOSE RELATIVE GOT AIDS, PLZ PAY ATTENTION.

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  38. no p. sure his girlfriend has breast cancer, actually.

    which honestly sucks, cancer is a huge bitch and i hope she recovers fully. so um probably let's not be dicks about him having to take a break to support his girlfriend, ok?

    -serious sam is serious

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  39. congrats randy on not sucking for once

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  40. People who are saying 828 sucks are just hating xkcd to hate xkcd. It's pretty obviously better than average, in art (there is a background, even one in perspective, and the position of the stick man on the bed conveys actual emotion), in dialogue (doesn't sound retarded), and in humor (doesn't sound forced and I didn't have to root through the comic to find the joke, no PPD).

    It's a simple joke, sure, it's far from genius, but it's well-executed, which is most of Randy's problem in the first place. Give the man some credit when he actually, against all possibility, gets something the fuck right.

    What the fuck is WRONG with you.

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  41. am i the only person here who is annoyed by this whole cancer-shit?
    i wish randall himself had cancer so the cancer of a comic that he is spreading all over the web would finally come to an end.

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  42. Nah, anon 8:47, I loathed those messages at the top of those three "five-minute comic" comics. Felt like he was milking it for all it was worth. Couldn't have just said "five-minute comics", it had to go into "waah illness" too.

    That said, no one thus far has agreed with me.

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  43. No shit chief, it's cause you sound like a douchebag.

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  44. #828... I'm not very impressed. The writing is cool, the background is a nice addition, the person isn't floating over the bed, the D&D stats on the screen are silly-funny, and I guess I could say it looks pretty polished and well made. Which would mean, yes, Randall is improving.

    But I really need to say: complex poses don't work with stick figures. I looked at panel 2 and wondered why someone would bend their leg outwards like that, then I looked at if for a few more seconds and realized that was the OTHER leg, bended inwards. In fact, I don't know why that pose was made, on the next panel the person is back to the original pose so it just distracts me.

    But all in all, it's giving me hope. Randall has salvation, after all.

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  45. I liked 828.

    Only critique: Panel 2 looks like a womb, with the IV/wires looking like the umbilical cord. Which is creeping me the hell out every time I look at it. I am not going to XKCD again until Friday, fuck you all.

    Captcha: Slecome. How you greet your brethren in the rich mostly-non-Arabic-speaking portion of Aleppo.

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  46. I agree with Dr. Skullthumper. I even said something similar in one of the comment threads. Don't remember which one. One of the last 3. It really wasn't necessary for him to say it every 5 minute comic.

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  47. The King Of The InternetteDecember 1, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    "Captcha: Slecome. How you greet your brethren in the rich mostly-non-Arabic-speaking portion of Aleppo."

    To the day, the best captcha I've ever read.

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  48. ...I think it's be easier to know whether you did that or not if you weren't, you know, Anonymous.

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  49. Sorry Mole, I forgot to type in my name.
    -CARTER

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  50. To the day, the best captcha I've ever read.

    Once you learn that there are Armenians next door you sorta stop caring about learning actual Arabic, and suddenly "Salaam Aleikum" becomes too long a phrase and you start Slecoming your neighbour every day. Also a must know: "In Sha'allah" (which is the answer to each and every request/query in Syria).

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  51. Rob is getting more and more like Carl with each post.

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  52. @4:25

    This blog is like the One Ring, everybody eventually turns into Gollum, "a small slimy creature", "rather like a spider himself, or perhaps like a starved frog." AKA webcomics.me

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