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).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Comic 972: Introducing the "Stolen Joke" Tag!

Got another review from "sorcfs" again (the acronym's meaning keeps changing with every submission!), so here you guys go. He said everything I felt when I read the strip, and he's done it in a much more timely manner than I would have. Enjoy.

Title: November; alt-text: November marks the birthday of Charles Schulz, pioneer of tongue awareness.

Hey everyone, this is the Society Of Ridiculously Cruel Flatworm Stompers (SORCFS) returning to write another review.

Ridiculous acronyms aside, this comic had two problems. The first is fairly common among xkcd strips, so it only gets short shrift from me.

Basically, a stick figure comic is a terrible vehicle for expressing the joke here. As a comics connoisseur, I do have to give props to Randall for proper use of beat panels (read: the two in the middle) to slow the reader's perceived passage of time. But that's not why this joke should be funny. Part (and by part I mean all) of the humor derives from the terror that slowly consumes the not-hat-guy as he becomes increasingly aware of his tongue. The terror which would be best be expressed by, you know, expressions. Expressions which Randall's stick figures don't have.

Seriously. I have no clues as to what the guy is feeling. He's just there, frozen. I can imagine that Mr. Not-Hat is sitting there stoned or wishing he had coffee [or both]. And that takes away from what I'm supposed to laugh at.

Wait wait wait. I'm being pretentious. Just because I like to say I know my comics doesn't mean I should know what Randall should have done with this joke.'s already been done before?

This brings us to the second problem. This has been done before.

Read this, please. Look familiar?

That's a "Peanuts" ("Charlie Brown" to the unwashed masses) strip from an absurdly long time ago. It's a personal favorite of mine, actually, which has now been somewhat ruined by xkcd. (Not the first time this has happened) My personal feelings about this aside, the original is superior in pretty much every way--unlike xkcd, Schulz's dialogue feels natural and the wordiness of the strip helps build up Linus' sort of nervous and panicky state. And remember what I was saying about the terror selling the comic? yeah, look at Lucy in those last few panels. That growing horror is really where the joke is.

I can just bet that this kind of discussion will transpire on the oh-so-pretentious xkcd forums:

fans: OMG I read comics too GOOMHR
haters: STOLEN
fans: GTFO TROLOLoll

As an extra "fuck you" to people like me who realize that this xkcd's comic is stolen from Charles Schulz, we have the alt text. Generally, when you steal something you don't tell everyone you did it. I can just bet Randall's fans will defend him on this one, calling it a "tribute" or some other bullshit. It's not. Randall's done homages to other comics before. But this is just copy-pasting a joke into his own style. Slapping a legendary cartoonist's name afterwards doesn't change that.

Post Script: Huh. Reading over this review I appear to have gone from sarcastic in the first point to downright hostile in the second. RIP Charles Schulz.


P.S. from Gamer_2k4:

I'm a pretty big Peanuts fan myself, so here's the original strip in color:

Since we're looking at a real comic by a real cartoonist, notice how there are RECURRING CHARACTERS with ACTUAL PERSONALITIES and that's what helps make the joke? Notice how xkcd doesn't have that? (And before you mention Mr. Hat, he's just the everydick in this strip. He's not doing anything particularly Hat-like.)

You know, for what it's worth, maybe I could've excused Randall for ignorance here. Peanuts is an old strip, and not everyone keeps up with every joke. But the fact that YOU KNOW YOU'RE STEALING MATERIAL AND THAT'S YOUR STRIP is what makes this so bad!

Honestly, it's garbage like that that's made me stop reading other webcomics.


  1. Here is how my brain processed this comic:
    WTF is this, this joke makes no sense... [walk to washroom[... maybe it's about NaNoWriMo or maybe about Movember and I just can't figure it out... and what was that thing about Charles Shults... maybe there's a joke there, "Peanuts"... nope... "Snoopy" nope... "Charlie Brown"... nope... WTF I can't stop thinking about my tongue... wait a minute... Randall you Bastard!

    So... I didn't get the joke at first, the middle two panels were initially incomprehensible to me but I was, as intended, successfully trolled. So, while I will concede that your points are valid in general... in this case I personally appreciate the subtlety of the execution.

  2. I think you accidentally used "subtlety" when you meant "inability to tell a joke clearly and concisely."

    Common mistake.

  3. Well, I tried to make an improvement by stealing just a little more from the original:

    I don't mean to speak ill of a certifiable genius but... well... if XKCD if guilty of "inability to tell a joke clearly and concisely." then so is that "Peanuts".

  4. So, another comic where Black Hat Guy is basically reduced to annoying roommate status. The stud finder comic was a new low for him. I think this is worse. Why can't he go back to murdering people on escalators?

  5. Wow, it's as if Randall was deliberately trying to draw attention to the inadequacy of his work. He stole an idea that had been done well, then did it so very much worse.

    Maybe next Michael Bey will remake Citizen Kane.

  6. if XKCD if guilty of "inability to tell a joke clearly and concisely." then so is that "Peanuts".

    It's not about panel count; it's about the use of them. Have you noticed that in newspaper comics these days, most Sunday strips are only a couple of panels long? Once they were given a fixed amount of space, they no longer had to pad their jokes to fill an arbitrary number of panels.

    However, some cartoonists still use many panels, and use them well. Curtis and Get Fuzzy come to mind (and if I have a complaint about Get Fuzzy, it's that the artist spends so much time making jokes in the leading panels that he sometimes lets the punchline fall flat in the last one). Calvin and Hobbes was the same way. Sometimes a joke only required four panels. Sometimes it needed thirteen instead. That's just the nature of cartooning.

    I misspoke when I used the word "concise." What I meant to convey was that Randall doesn't know how to use space, and that often results in his comics being much longer than they should be. If a joke takes 30 panels, by all means use 30 panels, as long as you use them well. Watterson and Schultz (and other REAL cartoonists) could. Randall can't.

  7. This review was just plain wrong. Nobody calls Snoopy comics "Charlie Brown" comics.

  8. Also this ( ) is how to do homage.

  9. I know I am a year and half late, but Cueball does show some emotion. You can see him look up from his work and stare off into space as he becomes aware of his tongue. This is more accurate on how an adult would react to the situation, unlike the kids in the Peanuts strip (that's not to say the Peanuts strip is bad).

    Also, xkcd certainly does have recurring characters: Megan, Cueball (more of an Everyman, but he still has a somewhat distinct personality), Black Hat, and a few others.

  10. Its a tribute in the form of a statement from Randall to the world.
    Its not a copy - it is a tribute.

    The joke is in black hat's sentiment. he knows what he is doing..

    1. Agreed. The text given with the comic makes it clear:

      "November marks the birthday of Charles Schulz, pioneer of tongue awareness."

      At first sight, I thought "that had been done before." But making it specifically an homage changes the underlying point.