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.
Unless...it'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
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.