Friday, August 7, 2009
We can't pronounce this word
Well I guess it’s that time again. Time to chip away at the source of my material, time to write yet another article on one of many webcomics that everyone should be reading. I must stress though that you’re probably not the same as me. Everyone’s got different tastes, so maybe you just can’t dig whatever I tell you to read, and it’s cool, because that’s just how we are.
Anyway, that’s just me stalling for the purpose of being wordy. Today, I will discuss the uber-popular and uber-awesome xkcd. Is it silly to review a webcomic that everyone has heard of? Maybe, but it was this comic that got me into the whole scene in the first place, so it holds a place that is near and dear to my heart. The first page I ever viewed was this one, about Ender’s Game, and I thought, “Wow, it’s just so nerdy!”
That’s probably the thing about this comic that will slam you in the brain the moment you start reading: to get any enjoyment from it nerdiness is a strong prerequisite. I’ve heard mixed definitions of the word, but it makes me think of someone who loves sci fi and might just dabble in theoretical physics for kicks and giggles. I know that certainly describes me to a large extent, so anyone who reads the comic might feel like they’re coming home for the first time.
It’s a tough comic to classify. It’s not exactly a joke every four panels, because you’re not guaranteed four panels, much less even one. Not every comic is even funny for that matter, but oddly enough, you don’t feel like the comics need to be. Anyone who reads it looking for a real good “LAWL!” every day had better search elsewhere. My favorite comics are the ones that give away something about the writer as a person, for example, his endless obsession with Summer Glau and Firefly as a whole, or his adorable sense of what’s romantic on a nerd level. Gentlemen, take your cues from this guy. He probably has a girlfriend, which is more than a lot of us nerds can say.
But enough insults, let’s get back to the material! I highly recommend reading the comic from the very beginning. The about section of his (I keep using impersonal pronouns… His name is Randall Munroe) website tells us that random drawings from earlier days first inspired him to write the comic, and that a link to his server flooded him with a bunch of accidental readers, whom he of course had to keep happy. The early comics aren’t about much; they’re interesting drawings with even more interesting titles, a combination that drops an overwhelming sense of intrigue on your shoulders. As the works progress Randall leans towards characterization, which seems strange at first, considering that all stick figures look pretty much the same. After a while though, you’ll get the feeling that it’s the same three or four people every time, and you’ll grow to like them as if they were your friends.
What would a webcomic be without some ridiculousness? XKCD has its fair share, from presidential candidates traversing the country in giant blimps, to hoverboard races against Nathan Fillion. Does it have to make sense? It’s a much better comic for the madness, so don’t knock it until you try it!
XKCD is for the nerds among us who love to have our favorite things endlessly referenced and respectfully made fun of. (If that makes sense…)
XKCD gets a record high 9.9 out of 10.
I sure hope Mr. Munroe answers the email I’ll be sending! Until then I’ll try and stall for more related material. I guess this just means I need to read faster.
PS: I can't believe I almost forgot this. Don't forget the alt-text in every image!!!