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).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Comic 980: "Money." It's what Randall wants.

UPDATE: xkcd forumite JiminP was kind enough to host a full-size version of the image. Clicking the thumbnail below will take you there.

Title: Money; alt-text: There, I showed you it.

Good [morning/evening/whatever time of day you're reading this], everyone. The Somewhat Organic Robots Campaigning For Sobriety (SORCFS) is back to write yet another review.

But before that, I should rant at you a bit about Garfield. Why am I starting with Garfield? Because I am, that's why.

As I've alluded to in previous posts, I'm actually a pretty big fan of newspaper comics. Some of them, anyway. Hell, throw me any story told in sequential art and I'll probably read it. Webcomics, comics books ("graphic novels" if you're a snob and in denial), newspaper strips, whatever. And as someone who's tried my hand at many variations of the art myself, I can tell you personally that it's not something easy to do. So I try to not judge too harshly when it comes down to what qualifies as "good" to me. At the end of the day, there are only two or three things that really matter to me when I try to say if a comic is objectively "good" or not. And the biggest thing to me is one simple question: why does the author draw his (or her) story?

To me, the "right" answer to the first question should really be that the author enjoys doing it (even if they work at Marvel or some other big company. They should be there because they enjoy their job. Hating editors and current storylines is permissible, I guess). For example: love me, hate me, curse me out in the comments for deigning to mention it, but I think Dominic Deegan is actually a decent comic.Okay, so the storylines are shaky and the characters aren't the best fictional people ever. I'll give you that. But you know what? I can tell that Mookie, the author enjoys drawing it. That, to me, is the most important thing in the cartooning profession.

Which brings me to Garfield. You know why I don't love Garfield? Because Jim Davis (AKA the guy who draws him) doesn't. Jim Davis freely admits that he created Garfield to be a "good, marketable character." And so Garfield has shambled along since the late 1970s being a perfectly boring character in a perfectly boring strip. But hey, the merchandise sells. To contrast this with some of my favorite strips: Calvin and Hobbes author Bill Watterson slowly turned against merchandising because it seemed "against the spirit of the strip." And Berkeley Breathed bowed out of drawing his newspaper strips because he felt like he'd prefer end his characters' story on a lighter note.

If you haven't already guessed, I'd feel justified calling Xkcd (I refuse to capitalize it properly) the Garfield of the webcomics world. High-profile, boring art, sells well. I'm not the only one who realizes this--according to the forums, the poster of today's comic was up in the stores before the actual comic was. That tells me a lot about the motivations of one Randall Munroe. And, if you ask me, it's a cardinal sin of cartooning.

Yes, I recognize that he needs money to survive. But that doesn't make Xkcd a good comic.

Okay, now that I'm done calling out the comic in general, here's some specific complaints about comic 980:

  • It's a chart comic without a joke. Need I say more?

  • Randall missed his normal deadline by something like 10 hours. Which, if he actually had a syndicated strip or something, would make him worthless as a cartoonist. Hell, it'd even be that way with his now-regular delay of a few hours past 12. I could have sworn that the "about" page of Xkcd used to say it updated at 12PM EST... (ed. note - I could've sworn that, too...odd.)

  • In a few years this will be inaccurate or otherwise irrelevant. It's boring now and it'll be boring & wrong later.

  • GOOMHR-Bait: Okay, maybe this really applies to any given Xkcd strip. but I'm betting that merely mentioning the fact that something is wrong fiscally with the country and world will set off this huge discussion by fans in the forum who think they're smart because they were already aware of this fact and can quote wikipedia. Here's to betting that at least one will claim there's a simple solution.

  • typos: Well, apparently. I can't find them yet and they're sure to disappear, but the forumites are noticing. (ed. note - I didn't look at the entire image myself, but I did notice a discrepancy between EU's GDP and Europe's GDP. The forums say there are a lot more like it.)

  • Size. This is too big and unfocused to be actually interesting in terms of content. To crib a post from the generally vitriolic but accurate Xkcd forum poster SirMustapha:
    Reaction of xkcd fan:"Wow! This must have taken so much time, it's no wonder the comic is late!"
    Reaction of xkcd hater: "This comic is so completely worthless, it's amazing that Randall should spend so much time in it!"
    Reaction of both: tl;dr"

Alright I'm done here. To sum things up: 980 is a big boring chart that seems like it was created mostly for the purpose of money. As a comics purist, I find this to be a bad motivation. As an artist, I fing the comic to be poorly executed. I therefore feel like I am correct to repeat the title of this blog: Xkcd sucks.

Stay Sober,


  1. typo: "2010 presidential campaign" with 2004 candidates listed

  2. Funny that you should mention Garfield.
    There was a time when Randall thought his comic represented all that Garfield was not.

    Perhaps not so much these days.

    I think Garfield was a pretty good comic around 1980. Simpsons and the like owe a lot to Garfield. But there's wisdom in quitting early. If Garfield had been terminated around '84, it might be now enjoying a cult status.

  3. Definitely a candidate for Randall Munroe's Illustrated Picto-Blag™

    Also: I found it interesting that he included "time cost" in the meals section, a concept he had alluded to in an earlier comic

  4. Dagnabit Sam, you beat me to ranting about the time cost over here. The meal costs was about all I could see with that horrible interface, but the whole looks pretty boring otherwise.

    Randall, I know you're a man child who'd love nothing better than eating McDonald's for every meal, but your asinine justification for why it's cheaper than a homecooked meal fails any semblance of real world logic. Cooking rice and beans takes 5 minutes of active prep for any normal person who has the ingredients on hand, not two hours. If you're counting opportunity cost in such a stupid way, you need to factor in the hour that eating in a sit-down restaurant (Outback Steakhouse) takes, and account for there being two adults on the restaurant expedition.

  5. Holy crap. The big version of the poster goes for a whopping $150. Who in their right minds is going to buy that?

  6. RE: "Who in their right minds is going to buy that?"

    No one. But if you take "in their right minds" out of the phrase the answer becomes "a lot of xkcd fans".

  7. SinbadEV: Good luck editing this one.

  8. Making rice and beans costs net 41 dollars?! The hell?! Soak beans, boil beans, ricecook rice. Total active time is 3 minutes tops.

    Not to mention that base 10 dollars for beans and rice is ridiculous. Three cups of dried rice is like a dollar, two cups of dried beans is 1.50, and I seriously doubt four people can go through 15 cups of rice 'n beans.

  9. If I was SibadEV I would just write out the lyrics to "Money" by Pink Floyd. I couldn't be bothered working out whether Randall was trying to make a point, but the song probably makes as good a point and in any case is way more entertaining.

  10. Jim Davis gets paid to make Garfield.

    That, uh, sort of makes the rest of the argument moot?

    Even the deadline bit. Front page says "comics updated Monday, Wednesday, Friday". Seems like the comic went up on Monday to me. What deadlines are you talking about?

  11. Before I even got to the "comic", the thing that really bugged me about it today was the alt-text. "There, I showed you it." ? Really? That's how 4-year-olds speak. Try, "There, I showed it to you" if you want to sound like an adult, Randy.

  12. I am hoping I'm not the only person who got the "This comic is the answer to the question posed in 1996 by Jerry Maguire?" subtext?

    The joke is that there is a huge convoluted stupid chart comic and we spend all this time trying to figure out weather its accurate and blah blah nerdrage/nerdgasm etc etc... all for the payoff of the "punchline" in the alt-text... Randall is trolling us again.

  13. Gamer, you fucking plum, the EU and Europe are not the same thing.


  14. Right; the EU is a subset of Europe. The discrepancy was that the GDP of the EU was three orders of magnitude greater than that of Europe, which shouldn't happen if Europe contains the EU. It's like saying the GDP of North America was 10 billion, and the GDP of the United States was 10 trillion. I'm guessing that Randall just forgot three zeroes for Europe's GDP, but that doesn't make it any less wrong.

  15. I noticed that the "Dinner for Four" is heavily slanted toward his own justifications for not learning how to cook. You don't need "two hours of shopping, travel" for EVERY meal for one, and for two, rice and pinto beans are stupid cheap: you can't take the 'price for one' and then just multiply it by 4, especially when that price for one (2.32) is slanted toward the high-end for small servings that tend to be higher than bulk.

    Anyone who was shopping smartly knows that a middle class family of four's monthly food budget is generally between 400 and 600 dollars. In a thirty-day month, that is 90 meals. That comes to around 4.44 to 6.67 per meal for everyone, and that INCLUDES fancy or substantial meals. It is certainly possible to live super frugally on beans and rice because those would last for a very long time; you can get enough rice for a month for like $10-20.

    At most, it requires between 2 and 4 shopping trips depending on your storage capacity or proximity to a grocery store. If you already know how to cook, most meals take only 30 minutes of preparation, some more some less, and cleaning up dishes is probably 10-15 minutes if you have a dishwasher, or 15-25 minutes if you don't. So let's cut the difference and say that Randall means that a shopping trip takes an hour and 40 minutes, which seems about right if you're loading up on groceries, or possibly visiting two stores. So if you visit the grocery store four times a month, that is according to his calculation $91.112 to do the shopping for one month, or adds about $1 onto every meal, NOT 32 DOLLARS.

    In addition, not every family is worth $16.27/hour, but let's forgive this as it is the median income. The problem is, most families are worth $16.27/hour for only 40 hours a week. People don't work perpetually; it would only really count if time was taken off from work in order to get the shopping done.

  16. Sorry, I forgot to add cooking time into his 'two hour' calculation, but it's still not a whole lot.

  17. I tried reading reading the infographic and listening to Money at the same time. Trouble is, the song is only 6:22 long. It takes much much longer than that to read the full infographic.

  18. Not an X fan, but...November 30, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    This "review" is so RETARDED.

    First, you say that an "objectively good" comic is one that the author enjoys drawing, and you add that you "can tell" when some guy enjoys doing it. I don't know if you also "can tell" that R. Munroe doesn't enjoy drawing xkcd, so it would be an "objectively bad" comic.

    What you say instead is that xkcd is the Garfield of webcomics, after having said that Garfield was created "to be a good, marketable character." Do you HONESTLY believe that the straw people at xkcd were created to be good, marketable characters? Do you really consider xkcd to be "high profile"? If you consider its art to be boring, how can THEN its characters be marketable? Try at least to keep some coherence, PLEASE.

    You don't seem to realize that R. Munroe is NOT getting paid for drawing xkcd, and that if he sells posters, t-shirts and whatever it is because a) people like what he sells, and / or b) they want to support him so he keeps making the webcomic. And even if he keeps this "pay-if-you-like" business model, you insinuate that his motivations to create xkcd are financial? That is not only stupid and false, but also rude.

    And, since you say that the fact that he needs money "doesn't make Xkcd a good comic", are we to assume that you "can tell" that he doesn't enjoy making it, and that, therefore, it is "a bad comic" according to that rule you just made up? Can't you find something that resembles a reason?

    Then you go on with other LAME points:

    "It's a chart comic without a joke".
    Yes, and you know what? It's XKCD. That's the kind of thing he does from time to time. "Oh, look, a batman comic where there's a flashback of his parents' death, wasn't this about his adventures?" You DO need to say more, but please, put some sense in it.

    "Randall missed his normal deadline by something like 10 hours."
    Seriously, get a life. Are you so obsessed with attacking xkcd that you have an estimated of its deadline, and check the website continuously to know when it's late? Wow. Then you try to make its author look bad by saying that "if he actually had a syndicated strip or something, would make him worthless as a cartoonist". OK, if you say so, but… he doesn't. Maybe he is not in this for the money? That would render pretty stupid something that you wrote above.

    "In a few years this will be inaccurate or otherwise irrelevant"
    I am sorry, is this particular chart meant to be sent in the spaceship with all the other objects that are representative of human history and culture? Then what gives? Or perhaps you go like that in life wondering if everything around you will be someday "inaccurate or otherwise irrelevant"? Seriously, stop it.

    "typos: Well, apparently. I can't find them yet and they're sure to disappear"
    OMG this Randall guy, did you know? He makes mistakes sometimes! What a despicable person. And you know what's worse? He later CORRECTS them. This xkcd webcomic sucks!

    This post is lame, which is not surprising, but saying that xkcd "seems like it was created mostly for the purpose of money" and defining yourself as a purist to attack it makes you look like you really have to make up "reasons" to justify your blog's title.