xkcd: A Very Short Review

As all geeks probably know, xkcd is a web comic with a computer-geek slant.  Geeks are of course an SF writer’s core audience, so we do have many things in common.   Many xkcd  panels have more than one F&SF reference — this one is a two-fer and has great charm.  Others are the kind that systems engineers print out and hang on the doors of their cubicles, or email to relatives.
Writer and artist Randall Munroe is, as you can immediately see, more writer than artist.  This is not a problem, particularly in humor comics.  A greater realism would often make the comic less funny.    This is the kind of comic that is only possible because of the Internet.  It is not targeted to a broad enough audience to ever have gotten published if it had to compete in a dead-tree marketplace — although now, with a market secure, there is an XKCD book out.  But within its niche it is excellent.  Do not neglect to mouse over the various panels, to bring up assorted witty asides and comments!


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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


xkcd: A Very Short Review — 3 Comments

  1. “as you can immediately see, more writer than artist”

    Several commentators have made this point. One I’ve seen by an admirer(!) actually used the words badly drawn!

    Now I don’t do more than read it regularly so possibly I’m missing some thing an insider would know.

    I have seen an occasional offering with marvelously detailed and sometimes colored backgrounds. Does he have a guest artist visit occasionally?

  2. I have no idea, but I can supply a couple theories. The first is that stick figures are fast and elaborate drawings take time, so that perhaps you get a slew of snappy stick-figure features for every more elaborate effort. The other is that it is -thematic-. One-on-one humor (the amours of the characters, for instance) get stick figures while larger philosophical issues get a drawing.