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).

Saturday, May 31, 2014


I'm honestly struggling to come up with words with which to fault 1374, because it was so devoid of humour and redeeming value, that any criticism I lay on it would seem petty.

Comic title: Urn

Alt text: Can this PLEASE be drawing with replacement?

It's a word play on the word 'urn'. Actually not even a word play, but more an acknowledgement that urns can be used for containing human ashes and for hypothetical probability exercises. I mean really?!? That's like if the teacher's question involved bottles, and the smart-ass student said "Herp. Is one of those bottles full of beer? If so, I drink it and get expelled from school and never have to do math class again." Or in a geography class, if a student was asked why a river forms meanders and says "Daaa. I pissed in the river. Lolololol." about If either of those jokes were told in one of my classes, it would amuse only the dumb kids. I mean, I'm all for making XKCD more accessible, but this is just stupid for the sake of stupid.

I know I've stopped doing alphabetical grades, but this comic gets an F, and a U, and a C, and a K.

Edit: has pointed out that this joke may have been in reference to the recent phenomenon of 'trigger warnings' in college campuses. If that is true, then that makes it 100 times better. It elevates the joke to something more like: "What's next, trigger warnings in high schools? No way man. The only way we'd need that is if students are emotionally retarded enough to be set off by stupid little things like this."

In case you can't tell, I approve of this alternate meaning. And I find it sad that there's NOTHING IN THE COMIC TO SUGGEST THIS. How typical of Munroe to spoil a good joke with piss-poor execution. He either thought of a funny situation to do with trigger warnings in schools, then forgot where he got the idea from and posted it without context, or he made the mistake of assuming that the news story would be so ubiquitous that everyone would know about it anyway.

Then again, I could be giving Randall too much credit, and it might have nothing to do with trigger warnings and simply be a bad joke. After all, it's unlikely that he would consciously write a comic where a female character is in the wrong.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Comic 1370: Randall's Midlife Crisis

So it occurred to me that the 1366th comic milestone went unnoticed. As of three weeks ago, there are more XKCD comics than there are horizontal pixels in my 1366x768 monitor. Moving on,

Comic title: President

Alt text: Anyone who thinks we're all going to spend the 2032 elections poring over rambling blog posts by teenagers has never tried to read a rambling blog post by a teenager.

At first sight, we have yet another preachy XKCD comic that lacks a punchline. Right? Wrong! This is a harbinger of Randall's midlife crisis. Let me explain why.

1370 picks up on a few of XKCD's common themes - the passing of time. This is something that was picked up on as early as 354. He seems surprised that [insert name of movie] came out closer to the moon landing than today. Clearly this is something Randall thinks about a lot. It's like his mind was fixed in 1999, and the idea that time has passed since then comes as a shock.

This is something that he was bound to confront eventually: the idea that he, Randall, is no longer of the young generation.

Randall has long considered himself the voice of this generation. XKCD is quintessentially a young man's comic. It makes jokes about todays technology and pop culture. And it's read by an audience of high schoolers.

Eventually though, the unthinkable will happen: Randall's XKCD will cease to be culturally relevant. It won't happen suddenly. It will be slow. Arguably it has already started to happen. Randall can't bring himself to confront that fear, so in his usual style, he wrote a comic about it.

The comic is a sincere acknowledgement that the older generation are mistrusting of the new, and handing over the world to them is a scary prospect. The little girl is here to ridicule the older woman for having these views. Randall would very much like to identify with this girl.

But on a subconscious level, he identifies with the woman. She is older, and like Randall she has felt the cognitive dissonance of time passing when you don't expect it too. Randall refuses to believe this, which is why he drew her with the blonde ponytail, a character design he usually used for his straw-men.

But make no mistake about it: this comic is a cry for help, to which I say: Randall, stop doing XKCD before it becomes culturally irrelevant.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Comic 1357: Showing you the Door

Fellows, it has come to my attention that I'm not posting reviews as often as I used to. Well today I'd like to change that. I don't know why, but I feel it's what Randall would want me to do. So here's a review for you.

Comic Title: Free Speech

Alt text: I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.

Whoo, six panels! The aforementioned Mr Munroe must have spent a full ten minutes on this one. I jest, I jest. But you know what? The comic doesn't. Because in all those six panels he forgot to include a single joke.

"But Jon, you magnificent yid," I hear you say. "It's not supposed to be funny. It's supposed to make a point." Good point, I say, but that doesn't mean it doesn't make its point in the most obnoxious way possible. For those of you keeping track at home, that double-negative means it does go about making its point in the most obnoxious way possible, even more obnoxiously than the way I'm making this point right now, you schanda.

Public service announcement: prefacing your webcomic, or anything for that matter, with the words "Public service announcement" is a bad start, because those three words are shorthand for: 'This is something important that I think everyone really needs to know right now because I am a smug arsehole.' Thank God he went with the shorthand. The wall of text is large enough already.

The further you go through the comic, the less necessary each panel is. Consider that the comic would have still worked if you got rid of the last panel. In fact you could have cut it short at 5, 4, 3 or 2 panels and it would have made its point just as effectively. Even the first panel would work as a standalone, and that's because he makes the point in the first panel. The other five are taken up with directionless ranting.

Again, the artwork is awful because it does nothing. Aside from an unnecessary picture of a door, the other five panels are just Stick-Randall talking. And for some reason he zooms in and out every other panel, like it's a TV show that has multiple camera angles.

There's a reason why TV stations do the thing with multiple zoom levels. It's because people on TV have faces. You see more detail when you zoom into a face, but when you zoom into a white circle on a white background, all you see is a larger circle. Fuck.

I have often accused XKCD comics of being smug, but frankly this outclasses anything I've seen recently. It doesn't even try to make a joke by cutting off a guy's arm.

Finally, let it be said that free speech doesn't shield Randall from criticism either. If he truly practices what he preaches, then everyone is equally fallible and can be called out for their bullshit, except for me. I have been posting bullshit on this blog for over a year now, and no one has ever called me out for it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Comic 69: It's better if you imagine it with canned laughter

Comic title: Pillow Talk

Alt text: Maybe I should've tried Wexler?

I don't think this comic was very good. It's not very bad either, which is why it took me two weeks to think of anything to say about it. Next time, suggest a more interesting comic, you schmucks.

Let's start with the joke. I'll give you that there is some mileage in the whole 'nerd in an awkward romantic situation' setup. But the more and more I think about it, the more find myself comparing it to a throwaway line in said on something like The Big Bang Theory. It sounds like something Leonard would say, or Howard, or Raj, or Sheldon. Ah heck, they're all the same character anyway.

If I had to say which is better, XKCD or TBBT, it's not a clear-cut decision. On one hand, you can read three panels of XKCD in 10 seconds, whereas an episode of TBBT has a run time of 22 minutes plus ad breaks. So with XKCD, the pain is over faster.

On the other hand, TBBT at least has the semblance of characters you can relate to and care about what happens to them. And they will at least try and work that joke into a storyline. So at least TBBT has that. Whereas XKCD presents only the bare bones of the joke, with only the most rudimentary setup.

Speaking of bare bones, the artwork in this XKCD is drop-dead awful. I know it's early XKCD, but oy vey! The only artwork is a faceless stick figure, who doesn't change pose in three panels. And Randall doesn't even do the thing he does in later XKCDs where he uses their arms to express body language.

In fact this comic is scarcely more than a tweet. Perhaps Randall could have just posted it to Twitter and saved us the bother (note to editor: did Twitter exist in 2006?). If only it was 11 characters shorter.

PS: I know I haven't been giving you much in the way of actual thought-out critique. If you still crave a timely review of the latest comics, I suggest you check out XKCD's newest hate-blog on the block: XKCD Isn't Funny