Wednesday, November 9, 2011
[Comic title: Occulting Telescope; alt text: Type II Kardashev civilizations eventually completely enclose their planetary system in a Dyson sphere because space is way too big to look at all the time.]
The most remarkable part about this comic is how incredibly boring it is. I don't mean that in the sense that this one is abnormally boring--God knows Randy is good at making mind-numbingly boring comics. No, I mean that this one doesn't feel like it's even trying to be interesting, even though he is working with such ripe source material.
Comics in the key of "the universe is huge" usually attempt to invoke a sense of something. Sometimes it's meant to invoke a sense of wonder, sometimes it's meant to invoke a sense of cosmic insignificance. Sometimes it's meant to invoke a Lovecraftian sort of terror--the universe is huge and could destroy us at any moment and we wouldn't even know why, etc. But it's always meant to invoke something.
This comic, in contrast, does not attempt to invoke anything. It sterilizes the concept. The character describes his fear in the vaguest, most boring way possible. But it doesn't feel deliberate in the least. It feels, rather, like Randy has decided to take it as a given that if you say "the universe is big," readers will just fill in the gaps and feel the appropriate emotions, and laugh knowingly along with the quirky scientist's attempt to hide from its immensity. No attempt is made to sell this point to the audience, anymore than you need to attempt to sell Randy on the virtues of breastfeeding (even if he is unclear on why there always seems to be a child involved, hogging all the good milk).
I'm also getting some deja vu on this one, but I can't remember the last time he did this. Anyone?