I am writing this from the middle of a fucking desert where there is NO INTERNET. I had to borrow the wi-fi password from the hotel across the road. And Blogger’s interface has been translated to Turkish*. I clicked on whatever the translation for ‘new post’ is five fucking minutes ago, and the page still hasn’t loaded. FUCK YOU TOO, SHIT DESERT WI-FI.
I am in a really bad mood, so I should be perfect for reviewing some xkcds, IF THE PAGE ACTUALLY LOADS. Oy vey.
Comic 1261: Shake That
As much as I wanted to start with a strongly negative review, I'm afraid to say that I actually liked this one.
I hate nightclubs. I too hate it when the lyrics to popular music are thinly veiled pornography written, by an egomaniac, and sold by corporate scholbs. Get out of my head, Randall. So I like the way he is mocking the trend, by interpreting the lyric literally, thereby robbing it of all its erotic surtext, and reducing it to absurdity. A+ for creating a joke that appeals to my cynical self.
I also quite like the artwork in the first panel. Okay, so the first panel is showing off. But still you can quite easily see that she's in a nightclub, and what is happening in each panel. No space is wasted. So the artwork is good enough to convey the joke well. B+ for artwork.
And just because I'm feeling mean. I'll give it a G-- for standalone value, because I'm assuming 'Shake what your mama gave you' is a reference to a lyric that I haven't heard. And if I haven't heard it, then it is NOT OKAY for Randall to make an xkcd about it. You're welcome to disagree.
Comic 1260: LD50
This... I don't know what to say to this. D- for standalone value. By my guess, half of the xkcd readership does not know what LD50 means. LD50 is not an obvious acronym. It means the minimum lethal dose required to have a 50% fatality rate.Those people will not understand the joke, unless they look it up on Wikipedia. That's not good enough.
The joke itself is... kinda cheap. It's the sort of joke you'd crack a laugh at if you saw it in a scientific article. But that's because you're not expecting a joke. Humour is derived from the subversion of expectations. But people visiting xkcd.com are supposed to expect humour (so I am told). So this gets a mere D+ for humour.
Comic 1259: Bee Orchid
Ah, the golden child of last week's xkcd comics. The perfect analogy for this comic is James Cameron's Avatar - it really enthralls you for the duration it takes to watch/read it. You think it's really profound, and you're willing to forgive the clunky exposition because it looks so pretty. But a few days later, you start to think about it too much and you see all its faults. It's kinda depressing. The environmental message falls flat when you realise it is scientifically inaccurate at best.
Surely it would have already gone extinct by now? Surely if Jake Sully had told the natives that they were in danger, then he could have avoided the destruction of Hometree? Surely Beret's memory is worth nothing if he doesn't also take a photo for others to see? Do the Na'vi even deserve to live if they put their faith in a leader like Randall Munroe... wait?
limp-dick science major Anonymous 7:17 rightfully pointed out, the bee orchid does have living pollinators. So you know what that means? Z for accuracy. That's right. I used the last letter of the alphabet. Weep in shame, Randall. You couldn't even earn your legs back.
Now for the artwork. I'm not going to pretend the artwork is not good, because it is. But xkcd produces good artwork so rarely, it's always an unprecedented surprise. This is not a good thing. The point being, there are 10 panels in this comic that don't have artwork of this quality. I know it would be impossible for Randall to produce every panel to this quality. But Tom Siddell manages to do it.
Every panel of Gunnerkrigg Court is of this quality in terms of artwork. It got noticeably better when Siddell went professional with GC (about a year ago) but it was pretty good before then. And it has the same M-W-F schedule as xkcd. So don't praise xkcd for good artwork without seeing the big picture. This comic gets a B+ for artwork, but only a B+.
Pacing of the comic leaves a lot to be desired wall of text occupying the first four panels. Let's just give it a D for pacing and be done with it.
Also, someone on the forum suggested that 'painting by a dying flower' means that Randall's wife did the 5th panel. If that is true, then it gets an A+ for subtlety, but an F- for playing the cancer sympathy card.
*Fuck you too, Google. Just because I am browsing the Internet in Turkey, does not mean I speak fluent Turkish.