Worthwhile Webcomics: xkcd, by Randall Munroe

Mama Fisi
Mama Fisi's picture

A webcomic I've heard lots about, and which has been frequently referenced by my friends, is xkcd, which is neither an acronym nor a pronouncable word, just a string of random meaningless letters, unless you like Scrabble, and then they're some of those high-score letters you hate to get because they're hard to get rid of.

That kind of sums up my impression of xkcd, the comic strip.

Once you start hitting the "random comic" button on the strip, you can get stuck there all day...

I'm reviewing it today because it's usually fairly cerebral, with lots of science references. But in all honesty, I don't follow it. I look at the strips my friends email to me, but if you asked me "well, what's the strip about?" I'd have to say, "about four inches by nine inches."

Also, it uses stick figures. The use of stick figures and lots of intellibabble text is becoming an Internet meme--if you're a clever smartass with a way of turning a bizarre or obscure concept into a wry joke, but you can't draw more than a short, straight line, you can become a web cartoonist.

I tried looking up xkcd's Wikipedia entry, and after reading through it, I felt like I had been trying to comprehend a nuclear physics manual, written in Martian. You don't have to follow xkcd to "get" the daily gag, but it's impossible to understand an overview of the strip written by someone who is clearly an xkcd geek, because it's so random.

There's no real plot, and most of the characters, besides being faceless, are also nameless. They discuss such varied subjects as love, relationships, and higher mathematics. The cartoonist, Randall Munroe, has been known to experiment stylistically with the strip; in a series titled "Time" he updated the comic every half hour or so, incrementally changing the image, over a series of days.

He could do this, because he works full-time at his strip, making him one of the few professional web comic artists out there. And not only is he professional, he seems to be quite successful, with a fierce and devoted fan base who revel in discovering his little "easter egg" logic problems written into the strip.

I can't honestly "recommend" xkcd, since I have only the most passing knowledge of it; but I will bring it to your attention, on the chance that you might not only enjoy its quirky humor, but actually understand it.