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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Comics 68 and 1390: About as Far Apart as Megan's Legs

Today I'm going to do something a little different - a comparative review. Because my fanbase can't legitimately decide on which comic they want reviewed. That's alright. I'll review them both.

Comic title: Five Thirty
Alt text: The 8th panel is my favorite

Eight years later...

Comic title: Research Ethics
Alt text: I mean, it's not like we could just demand to see the code that's governing our lives. What right do we have to poke around in Facebook's private affairs like that?

At first sight, these comics aren't really comparable at all, which would make this a very quick review, and I could go back to writing my slash fiction. But here at Xkcd-sucks we always strive to go beyond the call of duty, so I'm comparing them anyway.

Now that I think about it, they are both representative of their respective eras. 68 came from a simpler time, when xkcd.com was not even two months old, Randall was not put on a pedestal, and nobody actually expected him to be funny.

Similarly, 1390 is an archetypal modern XKCD. It comes from a time when Randall Munroe is a god among men, who turns everything he touches into comedy gold.

Normally I'd shy away from this kind of retrophilia, as I think XKCD nostalgia is for the most part mistplaced. XKCD was best before you started reading it, when you could flip through the entire archive, button-mash the random button and see a new comic every time. It becomes a lot easier to ignore the bad to mediocre comics and focus on your favourites than when they are reduced to the glacial trickle of a MWF update schedule. Far easier to be disappointed with a Monday comic when you spent the last three days waiting for it. But I do think 68 is legitimately better than 1390.

For one thing, it's actually funny. Why? It's funny because it's stupid. I can't explain why stupid things are funny (besides, the Nostalgia Critic said it much better than I could) but they are. It does lose a little of its impact by deliberately going out of the way to be stupid. But I it's way better than what XKCD usually does.

On the other hand, 1390 does what XKCD usually does - jumping on a popular topic, and stuffs it into a conversation. In fact it's more of a monologue than a conversation, but I'll overlook that detail for now. It starts by taking a popular opinion, and attempting to subvert it, and ultimately goes nowhere. And then people praise it as being original, even though it forgets to be funny.

One reason why 68 is funny has nothing to to do with its actual quality, or the fact that it came out closer to the release of Jurassic Park than the present day. It has twelve panels. So while the first panel does nothing for me, the second is actually quite funny, but I am irrationally annoyed by the third. I also think 'fuck the cosine' is brilliant, and so is 'stretchy death'.

Do you see what I'm getting at? 68 is more than just representative of early XKCD. It's representative of all early XKCD. When you read, it's like to being able to push the random button a few times until you find one you like.

1390 is similarly representative of recent XKCD. It's all buildup and no payoff. It's a point without a point. It's a phoned in piece of crap, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Alt text wasn't bad though.

LEGAL NOTICE: I should mention that my review of 1390 is in no way biased by the views of our parent company Facebook Inc, nor does it reflect the views of Mark Zuckerberg or associated persons. The opinions expressed in this review are mine alone.

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Whoops, forgot to log out.

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  2. Yeah! Do 1393...

    LEGAL NOTICE: I'm not associated with Jon Levi and any similarities of me to any other living or dead person is purely coincidentally.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Don't do 1393. It's actually kind of amusing. Stick to comics that we can ridicule and demean.

    So do all the rest of them.

    ReplyDelete