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, September 16, 2013

Reviewing The Classics: 77, 72, 12: Black Hat Guy Begins

No one can agree when Classic Xkcd finished, and when the new comics started sucking. The original xkcdsucks blog started at comic 409, a comic most, if not all newer readers, would assume belonged to the 'Classic Era'. But everyone always seems to agree on one thing: 'Xkcd was at its best before I started reading it.' That of course varies depending on when you started reading it. When you're browsing through the archives you can press the 'Random' button as many times as you want and skip past the bad comics. But once you slow down to three new comics a week, they start getting 'worse'? Mishegas I say! Xkcd has always sucked. And here I am going to prove it for you by giving you my honest opinion of three such 'classics'. Kill me before I use inverted commas any more.

Comic 77: Bored with the Internet

'But that was one of the best Xkcds!' I hear you say. Stop kvetching. I'm the one writing the review. The fact is, this would not pass as 'good' if it was released on today. At most, it would get a 2-page thread on the fora and a footnote on xkcdsucks.

Oh, and don't be thrown off by the appearance of Black Hat. He doesn't do anything Black-Hat-ish in this comic.

First, let's get the obvious things out of the way. C+ for artwork. Yes, The landscape is impressive, but only if you haven't read any other webcomics. It's just that every other panel doesn't measure up to it. Panel 3 gets a particularly crudely drawn crinkly line to represent a mountain range. F- for visual consistency. Furthermore, he can't seem to draw stick figures when they're walking. That is why they appear to be standing still in most panels, but Black hat is tripping over his own foot in panel 2, and doing some kind of athletic stretch in panel 3.

Now, are the two lines of dialog in panel 1 realistic? No, but at least it has few unnecessary words. And at least you can tell who's saying what. The final panel just has a line suspended in mid air, appearing to come from no one. D for clarity.

And I'm not sure if people thought this was fresh and original back in 2006, but I certainly don't. The joke is that someone tries to live without the internet, but can't. He actually did this joke again in 597, which was significantly funnier than this one. F- for humour. Don't worry Randall, at least you're not getting worse.

And the alt text? 'I used to do this all the time.' Really? I doubt it. F for lying.

Comic 72: Classhole

Uggh, a comic about two stick figures standing and talking in what may well be a white-coloured void. F-- for artwork, and I don't need to explain why. Oh, you want me to? Fine. It's that old rule of 'show, don't tell'. Randall never actually actually drew Black Hat's exploits. Rather he has Black Hat say what he's done. This, my friends, is bad writing. Couldn't Randall draw a rock, or a styrofoam cup? Of course he couldn't, and he still can't.

The dialog is stilted beyond belief. The like 'How did you spend your morning?' is a really poor exposition device. Its only purpose is to prompt Black Hat to deliver a fountain of exposition. And 'I am in awe.' is something no one would ever say. F-- for bad dialog, and F for wall of text.

And It bothers me that one of Black Hat's plans has the result of causing dumb people to have more babies. F- for bad family planning.

Most people think this is the first appearance of Black hat. But they are wrong. That honour goes to...

Comic 12: Poisson


A stick figure can not be a poisson distribution. Why should I even have to say that? And Black Hat made the poisson distribution guy... die? Disappear? Did he just frighten him away or what? And what's wrong with negative numbers. We don't know until the alt text EXPLAINS THE JOKE.

F+ for artwork. It's two stick figures meeting in a white-walled void. But it's worse because it's drawn on SQUARED PAPER. Even when he was doodling in class, he couldn't man up and get some plain A4. Even so, there are Photoshop filters that can remove blue lines from an image, have been for years. What is wrong with him?

He only gets the '+' because one of the stick figures actually appears to have a face. But that face is gone by the 3rd panel, and Black Hat never even had a face. So again, F- for visual consistency.

It almost goes without saying, but F- for Black Hat character consistency. He was flawed from the start.

There is no reason why he had to reference an obscure statistical concept for this. D for standalone value. I myself have studied poisson distributions at A-level, and there's nothing inherently funny about applying them to a negative value. It has real-world applications, so it would be like saying 'I have flipped a coin -1 times'. 

He could have made the same joke about a more well known mathematical function, like a square root, which also does not work on negative numbers, and it would have lost none of its original meaning. G- for humour. G-- for explaining the joke. Erase those awful doodles from your notebook right now!


  1. I will be doing more of these in the future. So if there is a comic that you really want me to review, request it here.

  2. Good post idea. But IDK, the first one was pretty good. Hm, how can I say it. If one of my imaginary friends told me that, I'd find it funny, and would go "aw man you're such a nerd!" And we would laugh and go get an ice cream or something. That is true friendship, Jon. That's what I aspire to.

    You might argue that the problem is that usually you wouldn't write a comic about it. But it doesn't change the fact that it's enjoyable.

    I'd like you to review that one comic where I'm doing a threesome with two prostitutes, and then your mom tells your sister "I know it hurts sweetie but now we can go meet Mickey! And Pluto, you like Pluto don't you? He's always so funny!" And she pinches your sister's cheeks, and I her lips (the inner ones).

    1. Wow, you have imaginary friends too?! I shouldnt be surprised, its more common than youd think. Anyway, how many of them are there? I have at least three imaginary friends, including Roy, Charlotte and Carina. They are aged 12, 9 and 8 respectively. There's another one who doesn't want to be named. He's looking over my shoulder right now. Did I mention the time he saved my life? I hope to hear back from you soon. And I'll leave you with one more question: How do you know youre not the imaginary one?

    2. Imaginary friends of my imaginary friends are my imaginary friends. I know Roy, decent guy if there ever was. Nice to meet you TK.

      The friendship you have with imaginary friends is itself imaginary. Friendship is mutual. Hence I am as imaginary as the little fellows. That is immaculate logic. Any other question?

    3. I'm sorry TK, but I'm afraid your mother too is imaginary.

  3. Replies
    1. I would like to know why you saw fit to tell us about your life.

  4. ".......Even when he was doodling in class, he couldn't man up and get some plain A4......"

    In the revolted colonies?

    Mishegas I say!

    And regarding Comic 12. Have you not understood the significance of the use of a minim and beamed pair of quavers as 'dialogue' in the ultimate panel?
    You, Rob and that Carl cunt are far too thick to really appreciate the true genius of xkcd. AND therefore, much too stupid to critique it correctly!


  5. I like the idea of going back and reviewing the classics. I'd like to see number 13, "Canyon", reviewed.
    In #13, the problem with second person's answer is not that it's boring, it's that the answer is not helpful. Also, why would Person #2 think "now" was the least boring. I can think of a few less boring examples: "Variegated lemon" would have been an interesting play on words.
    The alt text is either sarcastic, in which case, it's pretty conceited, or he actually is dissing his own art. But saying that your own art is bad/ambiguous does not excuse the fact that he decided to publish it "as is" instead of drawing it again in a way that is more understandable.
    Sorry, I got a little carried away there.

  6. I always thought that 12 was his first stab at the crusade against "woo random yay I'm so raaaandddddooooooooom", where poisson subs for "just anything random".

  7. this took me back.

    i remember a time when Xkcd was new to me; it was refreshing to see references to nerdy stuff in a comic because i hadn't yet seen it 100s of times before.
    but even at that time, i thought that the "Poisson distribution" comic was low effort & yet still not worth it

    i think early Xkcds' sucked, then there were some quite funny ones, since that time there has been stagnation in mediocrity.
    fans who are sticking around are most likely there for the company, much the same reason why i still read xkcdSucks

    1. "i think early Xkcds' sucked, then there were some quite funny ones, since that time there has been stagnation in mediocrity."

      Think again. Classic Xkcd is a myth. Here is a little thought exercise for you. Click the random button on (it helps if you don't look at the number in the address bar). Now look at the two comics either side of it. That's your week's worth of comics. Is it a good week? Odds are that one of the three will have missed its mark, whether you picked three comics from the 200s or the 1200s.

  8. At least if it had been done with imaginary numbers, BHG could have said, "I'm the root of -1," and then disappeared because LOL IMGINARY and never ever featured again.