Died in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Comic 958: The Problem With Mr. Hat

Well, lucky me! I guess after my whining on Wednesday (I was in a bad mood then, yes, I admit it), someone decided to help me out with today's strip. Thanks, T-Jack!

Title: Hotels; alt-text: 'Rating: 1/5. Room filled to brim with semen, and when front desk clerk opened mouth to talk, bedbugs poured out.

I wish I could say that I like this comic, and I'll get to why later, but there are two big problems with it that send it straight to the "awful" territory.

One common complaint among xkcd-haters is that Randall routinely breaks the rule of "show, don't tell", which usually results in comics like this, with walls of text above superfluous doodles of stick figures sitting around. Randall, if what you've written works just as well in script format, it's not a comic. Whenever your comic features two people and at least one of the is sitting at a computer, you should rewrite, if not scrap, it.

lol sCRAP

The second problem, and the main point of this review, is the inclusion of Mr. Hat. I said that I'm torn on this comic, and here's why: This is actually something Mr. Hat would do. His being a dick actually has a point, even though it's just personal gain. But for some reason, it just feels wrong.

Now I cannot help but compare this strip to the last couple Mr. Hat strips. While there are similarities between it and the abysmal "Stud Finder Finder", like the awful hanging-around, "don't show, tell" form, but that comic fails even in the few rare things this one gets thing, with Mr. Hat being a dick just for the sake of being a dick by means of a stupid old joke. On the other hand, in the "Chin-Up Bar" comic, Mr. Hat's shenanigans lack any discernible point in favor of wreaking havoc for shits and giggles, but in spite of (or maybe precisely because of) that it's the ultimate "Mr. Hat done right" strip. Plus we get to see the man in action.

Where am I getting with this? Maybe the problem with Mr. Hat isn't that Randall can't write a good Mr. Hat strip, but that he can't write a good xkcd comic, period.


P.S. from Gamer_2k4:

For the longest time, whenever I've seen a Mr. Hat comic, I've thought to myself either, "That doesn't seem like something Mr. Hat would do," or "Finally, the Mr. Hat we all know and love!" I couldn't figure out why the discrepancy existed. I didn't make Mr. Hat, so who am I to judge when he's being a dick and when he's being himself?

But of course, this is the reason. Mr. Hat feels shallow when he's presented in a shallow strip! People act like dicks all the time in xkcd, so when we see some "lolz i'm a sociopath" text coming from a guy with a hat, it seems hastily done and out of place. It's only when Mr. Hat is actually shown in action that we can appreciate him for who he is and what he does.

Just imagine: xkcd could be vastly improved if Randall just SHOWED some more! He sucks as a cartoonist because he writes scripts, not cartoons. Yes, it takes a little more effort, but don't you think we're worth that, Randall? Don't you?

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the actual punchline. It was pretty well-phrased, and had an element of the unexpected. Switching metaphor levels is always a good thing.

    A fixed version would remove a good chunk of text. There's no need for Mr. Hat to mention using a script - he can just say he posts bad reviews. The second panel could be removed entirely.

    To show rather than tell, it would be best to set this entire comic as Mr. Hat and friend are checking out from a hotel, and spark the conversation with Mr. Hat claiming credit for a disgusted customer leaving early citing that he heard the place served human flesh in the breakfast buffet.