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).

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


  1. Dude, thanks a ton for the mention! It's pefect timing since I finally feel like I'm beyond the awkward "getting my footing" phase that was really obvious in my earlier reviews. If I'm allowed to suggest comics for you to talk about from my position as junior hateblogger, how about you check out 1357?

  2. TBBT is all right if you watch it as (perhaps self-deprecating) humour - geeks do absurd things - and acknowledge that the science references are deliberately simple because it is designed to appeal to a wide audience. TBBT isn't attempting to make you feel like one of the club, but poking gentle fun at people who think they're part of it. Sheldon's an aspie who's also a bit of an asshole; Raj is a trustafarian; Howard's a chauvinist Jew with a domineering mother; and Leonard's a chronic hypocrite who (like all hypocrites) is more successful at getting the poon than anyone who is honest about themselves. I suppose you could counterargue that we should then hate the show because HIPSTER IRONY, but while irony is necessary for hipsterism, it is not sufficient.

    xkcd, on the other hand, has an author who considers himself elite, and a fanbase which genuinely judges itself smarter than the average ape. It gets its mileage not from its audience's enjoyment of the product, but from the audience's feelings towards everyone else. It is a wonky treehouse. It is a secret handshake that everyone knows about. It is a participation reward disguised as an achievement.

    So, really, they're arriving with entirely different premises. I find TBBT relaxing, though hardly amazing. But I hate xkcd.

    1. The show is not self deprecating. The geeks are supposed to be adorable and quirky. They don't "think they're part of it." In the show, this is what "it" is. People who don't identify themselves with this construction of a geek subculture smile indulgently. People who do identify with it smile self-indulgently.

      It shares this significant flaw with xkcd, but is made more digestible for an even lower common denominator.

    2. Bazinga!

      *canned laughter*

    3. "xkcd, on the other hand, has an author who considers himself elite, and a fanbase which genuinely judges itself smarter than the average ape."

      To be fair, that's much of the audience of TBBT too. People think watching it makes them smart, because they laughed at something "sciency." Like xkcd, TBBT falls flat if the "nerdy" jokes don't impress you, but at least TBBT has characters to fall back on (which I guess is what Jon said in his review anyway).

  3. Also, dangling participle in the first panel. Not a very important one, since it doesn't matter which one of them is staring at the ceiling, but still. Even this early on, it was obvious Randall needed an editor.

  4. Please review 1366. :)

    1. I'll review it for you.

      Randall's mind has developed to that period of the teenage years in which it is not yet ready to part with the self-centred childhood years and makes one final attempt to cling to solipsism. In 1366, he shares the resultant insight. Unfortunately, he forgot to make a joke about it, possibly believing there is enough whimsy in this tired shift of perspective to keep the comic interesting. Depending on their respective temperaments, the audience is left to either browse elsewhere in order to alleviate their profound boredom, or rush to the xkcd forum in order to weave this sparkling new sequin into their partial grasp of Newtonian physics and relativity.

  5. I noticed 1367 is a metaphor for Randall's comic career (comical career?): Not coming up with any original ideas, and not adding anything to what has already been discussed concerning existing ideas.

  6. Missed you guys.