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, October 31, 2011

Comic 971: Randall's Rants

Title: Alternative Literature; alt-text: I just noticed CVS has started stocking homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labeled similarly to--their actual medicine. Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you’re not, because you want their money, isn’t just lying--it’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong.

Oh. My. Gosh. I don't know which to criticize first, the comic or the alt-text! This should even be a problem, because normally the two are at least somewhat related. Not this time!

Or, you know what, maybe they are. Maybe the comic is some sort of allegory about homeopathic medicine and how it's like reading blank books. But if that's the case, it needs a LOT of work, because no one's going to naturally assume that from context unless they've just read the alt-text (which makes a completely different point!)

See, until I read the alt-text (ironic, isn't it, that Randall adds novel-length alt-text in a comic about wordless books), I assumed he was just doing what he always does: setting up a strawman that doesn't exist and laughing at him. Look at it. Even the structure of the comic emphasizes just how clueless Randall is about what he's doing wrong. "Not true; there's some ink" and "a smudge" are completely useless to the point the character is making. Guy 1 says something. Guy 2 argues a different point. It's a perfect metaphor for today's update, if Guy 1 is the alt-text and Guy 2 is the the strip itself.

Is this making any sense? Well, at least it can't make any less sense than Comic 971. I mean, I've spent three paragraphs (coming up on four) ranting about this strip and I haven't even addressed its subject matter yet! That's bad, folks.

Look, the joke here is friggin' simple. "All your books are blank!" "My mind makes the books, and I refuse be a part of a system that says otherwise. I'm no sucker." "And you paid how much for these?" I can't stand xkcd, and even I smiled at the "Who sold you all these blank books?" line. You know why? Because that's the punch line! That's the joke! We don't need all these other panels of pointless dialogue!

Image by SinbadEV

But Randall's not content to ruin his comic with an awful setup and a too-delayed punchline. Oh no. Nope, he has to get on one of his, "Boy, people are stupid, and companies just take advantage of them. It's too bad they're not as smart as me" high horses. Carl from xkcdsucks (the original blog; remember when it wasn't awful?) said all there is to say about this sort of thing, so I'll just link to his rant here. In short, it says that people aren't stupid, they know that just because you put two different things together they aren't the same thing, and Randall's a complete douchebag for assuming otherwise.

I dunno, maybe I'm tired and hopped up on pain pills. If I'm missing some deeper point here, someone please tell me. Until then, I'm going to believe that this is just an awful, awful strip, and one of the worst Randall's done in recent memory.

P.S. I was in such disbelief when I read the alt-text, I actually screenshotted it in case Randy changes it. It's just...what was he thinking??

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Comics 969 and 970: Randall is Stupid

Still laid up from my injury, which means xkcd remains one of the last things on my mind. Again, I don't have much to say about either Wednesday's or today's strips, but they do both suck.

Comic 969

Title: Delta-P; alt-text: If you fire a Portal gun through the door of the wardrobe, space and time knot together, which leads to a frustrated Aslan trying to impart Christian morality to the Space sphere.

Oh geez I hate this one. Absolute best case for this strip: Randall's equations work, Narnia gets flooded, and the White Witch dies. OH WAIT, AND SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE. That's like saying we could have prevented the Holocaust by killing everyone in the world. Hitler would be gone, so no Holocaust, right?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next objections might be considered nitpicks, but dang it, Randy put all his equations right on the comic, so he apparently cares about that kind of detailed analysis.

  1. It's not raining so there's no portal.

  2. The pressure might just close the doors of the wardrobe, meaning that no water ever gets in.

  3. Even if the doors remain open, shouldn't the air and everything else in Narnia simply stop the water from filling it? To see what I mean, invert a cup and push it into some water. Notice how there's still air inside the cup?

  4. But okay, let's assume water does make it in, Still, time is completely different in Narnia, so the water would just trickle in, rather than the torrent Randall expects.

  5. What the heck do you mean, "space and time knot together if you fire a portal gun through the door"? The door IS a portal! You can't fire a portal gun through an existing portal!

Seriously, Randall. THINK a little before you post garbage like this.

Comic 970

Title: The Important Field; alt-text: I hear in some places, you need one form of ID to buy a gun, but two to pay for it by check. It's interesting who has what incentives to care about what mistakes.

This is a straw man attack if I've ever seen one. Yes, most registration forms require you to enter your email address twice. You know why? BECAUSE IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT FIELD. If your email is wrong, you don't get registered. Now, compare that to something like the comments box for this blog. You're asked to enter your email once. You know why? Because it's NOT important! Who cares if your email is wrong there?

The situation in this strip is a total fabrication. It's so contrived it hurts. THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. It's like saying, "I really think the US government should take down How stupid are they to just offer that up to anyone?" He'd be making a good point if that was how things worked, but IT'S NOT.

I think there's a lesson we can all learn from this: Don't be a retard, Randall.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Comic 968: Tact? What's That?

Hey, all. Sorry in advance, but this post isn't going to be especially timely (as you already know) or hateful (as you're about to find out). The main reason for both is that I broke my pelvis in a climbing accident on Saturday and haven't really felt like running a blog in the meantime. (The meds I'm on kind of leave me fuzzy too, so there's that). Maybe I'll try to get Ann Apolis to finish up the reviews for this week, or if any of you want to send a guest post my way, that would also be fantastic.

Still, let's give this review a shot.

Title: Everything; alt-text: I wanna hold your hand so I don't fall out of your gyrocopter.

I honestly can't tell if this is really sweet or really cold. On the one hand, he's saying, "I know I'm not hopelessly and delusionally in love with you, but I still love the things you do." On the other hand, it also sounds like, "You really mean nothing to me personally, but at least you're entertaining." I think Randall's going for the first, but it comes off as more of the second.

Either way, what it boils down to is that Randall has absolutely no filter between his mind and his mouth, whether it's concerning his odd fetishes (which should be kept inside his head to spare the rest of us), his views of other sciences or professions (which should also remain under wraps because they make him look like an arrogant dickhead), his ideas about relationships (which bare his creepiness to the world), or how he honestly feels about people (because, believe it or not, tact is a virtue).

Some might say that this is just a persona of Randall's creation, or his characters talking. I say that when you present the same mindset frequently and consistently over the span of six years (or whatever it's been), especially with as little self-awareness as xkcd has, you can no longer pass it off something fictional. That's YOU, whether it's intentional or subconscious. Randall's an ignorant, arrogant, tactless creep.

Who knew, right?

P.S. Some people say this is a reference to one of Shakespeare's sonnet's, but that can't be right. Do you really think Randall would soil himself with the liberal arts?


Friday, October 21, 2011

Comic 967: Making Stick Figures Look Even Worse

Title: Prairie; alt-text: Colorado is working to develop coherent amber waves, which would allow them to finally destroy Kansas and Nebraska with a devastating but majestic grain laser.

I was just playing this song on my piano today! GOOMHR!

(No really, I was. Weak.)

Okay, first of all, the observant of you will notice that I've applied the label "art failure" to this review. "Why?" you ask. "That prairie looks pretty good!"

It does. So why the heck do I say it's a failure? Well, just look at it! Because xkcd is a "stick figure webcomic," Randall has to cram his stick figures in there, just like he did with Comic 941. No! You made something nice, Randall! Why cover it up? Why make it ugly?

I know I stopped doing xkcd Sucks Less, but please, for this one comic, take a look at what could have been:

If not for that, this wouldn't be a bad comic! Randall (for once) assumes his readers are smart enough to get the reference, and the alt-text is good alt-text. The joke isn't especially funny, but it's nerdy for for the sake of being nerdy, which is what I'd expect from xkcd. I'd like it and I'd call it a good comic.

But Randall had to ruin the strip. Again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Comic 966: X Knows - Controlled Demolition!

Yeah, yeah, worst backronym ever. Too bad.

Title: Jet Fuel; alt-text: The 'controlled demoliton [sic]' theory was concocted by the government to distract us. '9/11 was an inside job' was an inside job!

Well, this being a "My Hobby" comic, it means that Randall avoids his usual pitfalls of long, convoluted setups and post-punchline dialogue. This being xkcd, it still sucks.

This isn't much of a comic, which means that this won't be much of a review, either. 9/11 jokes are just old now (it happened TEN YEARS AGO), and this one isn't especially funny. It's an okay (if utterly pointless) idea, but that's the best I can say about it.

Sorry I don't have anything else in this review, but I've been starting at the blog editor off an on since I got into work today, and this is the best you're going to get. Maybe next time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Comic 965: A New Guest Poster Appears!

If it wasn't apparent from the title, today's review is not my own work. It comes from a fellow (a group?) called "sorcfs," which I'm told is an acronym for something horrifying and unnatural. Just kidding!


Anyway, I get a day off, and you get a review that's timely! Everyone wins!

Title: Elements; alt-text: Of all the nations, the armies of the ununoctium-benders are probably the least intimidating. The xenon-benders come close, but their flickery signs are at least effective for propoganda.

Ooh, color. You know what that means: the forumites will be raving over how "beautiful" it is, as is bound to crop up every once in a while. Nevermind all the other comics that use color all the time and have several metric buttloads better art and jokes and aren't goddam scripts with oversized margin doodles.

But hey, pop culture references! yeah! I mean, that makes everything better, right?

No. No it doesn't.

Okay, first off, this joke has been done to death. I’ve seen plenty of things making fun of the fact that ancient cultures thought that nature was made up of 4 or 5 or whatever number of primitive elements as compared to our modern-day periodic table. Just after ten seconds of thinking, I was able to come up with this example from Order of the Stick (a not-terrible stick figure comic). I'm sure there are other places it's been done. But, to give Randall some measure of credit, it's a fairly common sense joke. It's the kind of joke that people make independent of each other over and over again, just like jokes about erections and the underwear of every superhero ever.

So, let's give him the benefit of the doubt on that. And while we're here, let's also say some positive things. The art is at least workable in this comic. It's properly minimalist, with the characters being recognizable to those who can recognize them. So that's an improvement over it just looking lazy.

My beef with this comic is the alt-text. I probably would have just turned my computer off and gone to sleep instead of spending an extra few minutes banging out this review had I not seen the alt-text.No, it's shockingly not Post-Punchline Dialogue this time. Well, maybe PPD. But more importantly, Post Punchline Contradiction. Is there a thing for that yet? Or is it just a subcategory of PPD? Screw it. To get to the point:

Those who want to bother with all those superfluous extra lines of alt-text will notice that the premise of the extra joke is about the scarcity of certain elements. Now, in the Avatar universe, you need some of the element you want to bend before you can actually, you know, bend it (except firebenders. But they were villains, so screw them.) Apply this to the real world, and yeah,it would suck to be a bender. Scarce like, you know, polonium. a quick jump down to Wikipedia (obviously chosen for being an XKCD favorite) shows that polonium is pretty damn rare. As in, poke around in a metric ton of uranium and you'll get something like a hundred micrograms of polonium. Pro fact: uranium ain't that easy to find either. So unless there was randomly a lot of polonium lying around because, I dunno, a zombie ate the guy carrying it, polonium is not a very sensible element to attack the avatar with. And if you're going to make an alt-text joke, make sure it doesn't mess up the joke you set up earlier.

And no, I'm not the only one who saw this. Halfway through writing this I decided to check if any forumites had made the same observation. Lo and behold, 5 posts down we have this.

Oh, wait. The forumites say there was an Avatar marathon on TV yesterday? That's suddenly...unsurprising.


P.S. from Gamer_2k4: The tag "factually wrong" isn't QUITE accurate, but I wanted something besides the new guy's name marking this post. Besides, it's more reusable than "contradictory in a way that shows ignorance of facts."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Comic 964: Dork Side of the Moon

Sorry this review is late. I had a few things I wanted to say about Friday's strip, but no desire to actually put them into complete, well thought out paragraphs. If you want that, you'll have to wait for the guest review of 965, which I'll post this afternoon or evening.

Title: Dorm Poster; alt-text: I was going to record an album with that cover under the name "PINK FTFY", so it'd come after them on the store CD rack. But at this point music stores are just rooms where CDs are set out to age before they're thrown away, so probably nobody would see it.

Okay, first of all, you don't need a convex lens for the rainbow light to refract back into white light with a second prism. Newton didn't use one. Yes, it wouldn't converge as the image shows without the lens, but if you want to delve into minutia, the light lengths are uneven (between the lens and the prisms) and it should be diffracting inside of the prism, not outside. Guess you didn't really "fix that for you," did you Randall.

And while we're referencing the alt-text, get off your frigging elitist high horse, Randall. More people go to record stores than read your stupid webcomic. Just because you and your fanbase all use iTunes or torrents or whatever else doesn't mean that the rest of the world does. I have friends and family with shelves full of CDs. I own a binder full of them myself. Yes, they're not doing as well these days (naturally), but people still do visit them. Sheesh.

Finally, it's nice to see Randall's as timely as ever with his "moving into college dorms" comic. Guess when people started college, Randall? NOT LAST WEEK. And does it seem odd to anyone else that neither person says a word to the other? Yes, the comic is better for it, but it just feels...weird. Maybe Randall should have thought the setting through a little more before writing a comic with it.

P.S. I'm told there was a pointless stealth edit to add glasses and a goatee to the roommate. I don't have a source for this besides the forums, but come up, Randall. Really? Why?

P.P.S There are two oddities that bear mentioning in passing. First the guy's backpack gains a ridiculous level of detail between panels 1 and 6. Second, who the heck carries a poster unrolled?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Comic 963: Graphing the Cavemen

Today's guest review comes from a fellow named T-Jack. Enjoy.

Title: X11; alt-text: Thomas Jefferson thought that every law and every constitution should be torn down and rewritten from scratch every nineteen years--which means X is overdue.

As you may have noticed in the short time I've been a guest reviewer on this blog, I usually try to build my reviews in such a way that they end with a general idea of why the strip in question sucks (or, rarely, doesn't suck) and set forth a sort of a guideline on how to make better comics. I don't have to do that here, though, because any reader will immediately know what the major message of this review will be: Graph comics aren't funny! They have never been and they never will be hilarious, funny, amusing or even fucking chuckleworthy. Unfortunately, there is still much more wrong with the comic, so let's get started.

Basically, what Randall is saying here is that the longer he can go without having to configure X.Org Server, the better he feels about himself, the joke (why bother with the quote marks?) apparently being that the configuration file is so mind-numbingly difficult that it saps happiness out of any poor schmuck who dares to work with it.


That's not funny. It wasn't funny the first time this joke has been told (it went roughly like this: "Ug hate banging rocks together to make fire. It make Ug want to kill himself.") and it's not funny now, no matter what the context. It's just nerd pandering.

Randall also shows his ignorance in the alt-text, where he characterizes X, which is a GUI development software, with laws and constitutions. Do I even need to explain how stupid that is? Software is neither a law nor a constitution and doesn't go away when you "tear it down and rewrite it". Instead you end up with two versions of a program, both of which are going to be used by people around the world. It won't get rid of your problem, Randall.

So what's the lesson today? I'll tell you: No graph jokes, no old jokes and especially no graph jokes ABOUT old jokes. That's all.
by T-Jack

Monday, October 10, 2011

Comic 962: Randall Discovers Wingsuits

Title: The Corliss Resolution; alt-text: And no avian society ever develops space travel because it's impossible to focus on calculus when you could be outside flying.

I get what Randall is trying to say here. Problem is, it's wrong. I'm not trying to nitpick here; I'm really not. I know that sometimes you have to make some allowances for the sake of humor. But I can't do that in this case. It's just so blatantly false that I can't even consider the attempted joke.

To begin with, wingsuits are not new. Decent ones have been around for about a decade. Randall acts like he's just discovered the answer to Fermi's paradox, when in reality, if this was the answer, we would have had it for at least ten years.

Of course, this isn't the answer. High-adrenaline activities have been around forever (it's worth noting at this point that wingsuit fliers still have parachutes, so it's no more dangerous than basic skydiving). However, that rush and that sense of achievement will never be more "fun" than survival (except in very rare cases). Besides, thrill-seekers and scientists are rarely the same people.

The alt-text takes Randall's fallacy even further. To avian societies, flying would be commonplace. It's only special to us because WE CAN'T DO IT. You don't get a thrill from driving your car, do you? Of course not. Most people do it every day. But to someone who's never done it, it might be very exciting (just ask your dog).

The main problem with this strip (or really, most of xkcd), is that there's no self-awareness. There's no feel of "this is being said tongue-in-cheek." Obviously it IS (I really hope), but even if I give Randall that, it still seems like he thinks he's the first to ever come up with that idea. It would be like if Wednesday's strip talks about how McDonald's is going to have some booming business now that so many cats "can haz cheezburger." It's a half-kidding response to an old thing as though it were new, and that's just not funny.


P.S. I've stopped doing "xkcd sucks less" because it just didn't get enough attention. A couple of weeks were really good, but lately I've just been getting submissions from SinbadEV and no one else. Maybe I'll try again once the blog gets bigger.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

xkcd Forums Bingo: Weeks 18 & 19

What, you didn't expect this to come back, ever? Let's see, we've got quite a lot to catch up on.

950 - Mystery Solved

You wouldn't expect people to question the science in a comic that's so obviously meant to be absurd, but the xkcd fans did.
951 - Working

Of course they were going to argue about the maths in this thread. But they didn't have to use that stupid JSMath font that causes the entire page to freeze for a while. I hate that.

I... I'm speechless. This post is 2719 words! Some people have way too much free time.

952 - Stud Finder

Goddamn, this is a stupid comic. There was plenty of G5 and O5 from those who didn't get it, those who expected a deeper meaning (this is xkcd after all) and those who over-explained it.

Now let's take a moment of silence to reflect on the depressing fact that the stud finder article on Wikipedia was randallized.

… …

953 - 1 to 10

One fan's opinion on this comic (I hope he was joking):
"Binary jokes are the cutting edge of internet comedy. Nonsensical ones even more so."
Naturally they stopped talking about the comic quite early on, and went on to discuss grading systems and the semantics of binary numbering OH GOD, I DON"T CARE ANY MORE!

954 - Chin-up Bar
Eight page thread, this had better be good!

And the first page was full of the usual xkcd forum tropes. We've got a promising line of three developing already.

The most amusing bit was where some people were offended by the comic. This guy even called it the worst xkcd ever. They were talking about this for the rest of the thread.

By the time I'd started the fourth page, I had three almost-lines forming.

End of sixth page - come on! Just a maths or language post to finish one of those lines off... Aha, found a language post! Which makes the following line:

I1 (I laughed (out loud).) - Plenty of examples. This is the best one.

I2 (Lagnguage/grammar) - someone on the seventh page pointed out the difference between meters and metres, for which we are forever greatful.

I3 (I think this thread is the winner) - Hasn't happened in a while, but here we get a reference to the thread creation process.

I4 (I wish this comic was true!) - a disturbing case considering the comic's subject matter.

I5 (Haters are trolls) - This post gives us a typical fanboy defence to the people who were offended.

On top of that, there were four near-misses. One can only imagine the epicness if we had got a double, triple or quadruple bingo. Maybe another time.

955 - Neutrinos
Oh boy, classic xkcd thread. Lots of boxes ticked. I don't believe it, another bingo!

B2 (I loved the alt text!) - Not a common square, but luckily we had this geologist who totally liked the alt text.

But there was also another geologist who hated the alt text.

I2 (Language/grammar) - This one for pointing out a typo in the alt text.

N2 (LONG post (500+ words)) - Phew, only just! We had this post with 501 words.

G2 (Maths/physics) - Needless to say, the thread was full of it.

O2 (Not funny, but made me think) - Screw it, I'm counting this for O2.

Please direct any flaming about the lack of bingo for over a month into the comment thread below. I have been busy with college and all that. Just doing this has taken me at least three hours.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Comic 961: In Memoriam

Title: Eternal Flame; alt-text: There's always the hope that if you sit and watch for long enough, the beachball will vanish and the thing it interrupted will return.

I held off on reviewing this because I thought that maybe, MAYBE, Randall would do his tribute on Thursday and post another update on Friday. Silly me.

Still, what's to say about this? Not much. It's well done. It's simple. There are no wasted words, no forced punchlines, no irrelevant setups, no art failures, no nerd pandering, and the timeliness is spot on. It reminds me of classic xkcd, before Randall started trying too hard.

It's a good comic.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Comic 960: FedXkcd

Title: Subliminal; alt-text: Once you see it, you can't help seeing it every time. Until your body finishes metabolizing the mushrooms.

You know what, let's start this thing off on a good note. Randall shows instead of telling! The guy sees crazy stuff, and Randall shows us the same thing! Oh. And then he has to tell us what we're seeing. Well, scratch that, I guess.

The main problem with today's strip is that it has no substance. This is essentially equivalent to someone saying, "What do you think that cloud looks like?" and someone else responding with something wacky. If Randall had started there, he would have realized that that's no joke. Problem is, he didn't start there.

No, this joke likely came from Randall discovering the FedEx arrow for the first time and thinking, "I bet I can make a comic about this!" (You can tell by the way he tries to hide it with the line, "I thought everyone knew about it.") Further evidence for this theory comes from the fact that the setup, focus, and punchline of the joke are all distinct from each other (and I'm giving him a lot of credit by not counting the "medication" line as post-punchline dialogue).

Think about it. Subliminal messaging (in this case, the FedEx arrow) is one distinct concept. Seeing shapes and images where they don't exist ("pareidolia" for those of you interested in the so-called "soft" sciences) is one distinct concept. Blaming medication for something is one distinct concept (seriously, think of how many jokes that punchline could finish). Ever seen the "Cartoon Wars" episodes of South Park, where Family Guy jokes are constructed by manatees matching up several random "idea balls"? That's what this is. This is a manatee joke.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Comic 959: Point, Counterpoint

First of all, let me apologize for not posting a "Sucks Less" for this week. It's just kind of turning into "XKCD SUCKS, SinbadEV Edition," and while I don't have a problem with that (I'm glad that he still puts in the effort, and I like his submissions), I don't feel as motivated to update when there's only one submitter to choose from. I imagine you're also feeling let down from the lack of bingo, in which case talk to Jon Levi. I don't know what's happened with that.

However! Today is kind of special, because we have not one, but TWO guest reviews! One is in favor of today's strip and one is against it, so you get both sides of the story. We're nothing if not objective here, folks. I'll start with the positive review, move onto the negative one, then post my own thoughts afterwards. Enjoy!

Title: Caroling; alt-text: For a thousand generations we vowed never to forget how his soldiers feasted on our brother Stephen.

Comic 959: Does Randall Read This Blog?

I like this comic. I mean, it's by no means perfect, but hell, I'll take it.

The setup is simple: Some kids are singing Christams carols (presumably on Mr. Hat's doorstep; I'll get to this later), and Mr. Hat stops them with a cruel remark. And it works. This is exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned the "show, don't tell" rule in my last review: Don't have Mr. Hat talk about how he's being a dick, SHOW him being a dick.

The strip avoids the usual pitfalls: It's short, to the point, has no post-punchline-dialogue and even makes effective use of a beat panel. I could argue a case of bad history (King Wenceslas didn't actually massacre anybody), but since this is Mr. Hat ruining a carol for a bunch of kids, it can be written off as a creative lie.

The art is also passable. The kids apparently exist in a featureless void (seriously, some background would be nice), but as Randall has proven multiple times now, he's good at shading. I, for one, would like to see that in more strips.

The alt-text... Well, I'm not really sure what to say about it. It doesn't really do much more than broaden the strip's punchline, but to be honest, it DID get a chuckle out of me. Maybe you people will have more to say about it.

In view of my last review, it seems to me that Randall does indeed read the blog and is willing to learn from our criticism. Maybe I'm wrong and this is just a coincidence, but if not, well... More power to you, Randall. Cheers.
by T-Jack

Comic 959: Winter in Coming

When I woke up this morning I brewed myself a cup of coffee and headed down to the computer in the basement that is good for little else then to browse web comics and blogs and loaded up xkcd-sucks because I hoped Gamer2K4 would have posted a "Sucks Less" for last week. Because there was none, I skipped over to xkcd itself to see how much it sucked.

The short answer was "a lot" and so I left for the bus doubly disappointed.

On that trip I briefly entertained resentment to Gamer2k4 for not having posted a "Sucks Less" despite me having submitted numerous options for him to choose from. Then I thought to myself, "Perhaps he is busy. I could be proactive and send in a guest review and then he would have time to post my amazing 'Sucks Less' entries." I tend to be long winded so, to this point, I have typically refrained from doing so but... this comic was particularly ripe for criticism.

To begin: Randall is making a joke about a Christmas carol on the first weekday of October which makes me think that he has had this joke in his mind for quite some time and thought that it was now close enough to Christmas to post it. Sadly, this indicates that, in his mind, this joke was so astonishingly funny that he could not wait a minute longer to share it.

Next: It is not even funny to begin with. This "joke" is very similar to how, when people make jokes about person's parents and then the person says, "My father is dead." to ruin the joke. This is not humour, this is buzz-kill.

Also: While I feel like Mr. Hat (who I like to call Black Hat Guy [or BHG for short]) is being a dick who doesn't care about social mores for personal gain... he is again doing so in a way that feels (as mentioned in the 958 blog) to fall short of his character.

Finally: The alt-text IS the joke... it took me a coffee and a half to wake up enough to get it but, given that it is likely the only enjoyment you will garner from the comic I will leave puzzling out the terrible pun as an exercise for the class (which is elitist intellectual for "let you figure it out for yourself").

While the pacing is well done, the comic shows instead of tells and the expressive use of the traditionally minimalist style is put to good use... the lack of "funny", post punchline pun and "not quite right" use of BHG causes the whole experience to fall flat.

In short, xkcd 959 sucks because it is disappointing.
by SinbadEV


And now for my own thoughts. First of all, thanks to both T-Jack and SinbadEV for their efforts. As I say in the blog header, this comic wasn't supposed to be a one-man effort, and if we can get the community involved (the REAL community, not the 4chan wannabe cesspool in the xkcdsucks comments that Rob and Raven call the community), so much the better.

Secondly, I have my own opinion on this strip. It sucks. A lot.

The two aspects of the comic - the context and the joke - are both out of place. We JUST hit October; it's not even close to the right time of year to be posting Christmas comics. But the joke somehow manages to be worse than that! T-Jack is right (to some degree) that this is technically showing, not telling, but it's "showing" a conversation in progress. As in, it's doing the same thing the "stud finder finder" strip was. And THAT'S where Mr. Hat always falls flat.

The strip itself is ridiculously forced. I imagine Randall read something about the "Feast of Stephen," thought, "ha ha wouldn't it be funny if it was actually about eating a guy named stephen," and extrapolated that to "oh man what if that made wenceslas a mass murderer." KOMEDY GOLD, right? I know! But how would he get that across to his adoring fans? How could he make yet another of his "what if instead of this, that" strips? That's right: by putting those words in the mouth of Mr. Hat and making the strip about caroling.

That's why this feels so out of place, and that's why today's strip is so terrible. Randall's no stranger to writing jokes that require stupid, contrived setups, but here he goes so far as take someone who is canonically a saint and by all accounts was a great person, and portrays him as a mass murderer for the sake of a joke. Yes, I know. Mr. Hat is LYING. That's what he does. But still, without the alt-text to make the joke (as SinbadEV alluded to), this just comes off as lying for the sake of lying. Imagine this comic as follows: In the first panel, people are waving "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS" signs. In the second, Mr. Hat says, "Marines eat babies." In the third panel, the sign holders are kind of standing there, stunned.

IT'S THE EXACT SAME COMIC. And it's just not funny.