10:23 Challenge 1984 Aesthetics Alastair Reynolds Alban Berg Albert Uderzo Alexander Nehamas Antikythera Arrugas Art Asterios Polyp Asterix Babylon 5 Bernd and Hilla Becher Bible Bill Viola Brad DeLong Bruce Sterling Buddhism Carl Sagan Center for Inquiry Charles and Ray Eames Charles Burns Charles Yu Cheryl Morgan Chris Mooney Chris Ware Círculo Escéptico Clarkesworld Comics Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Cristóbal Vila Cyberpunk Dan Nadel Darick Robertson Dario Robleto Darryl Cunningham David Mazzucchelli David O'Reilly Dmitri Shostakovich Ed Docx Einstein on the Beach Engaget Eric Brown Errol Morris Etérea Studios Fantasy Fractals Frank Stockton Frankenstein Free Will Gary Wolfe Greece Hans Rosling Harry Frankfurt Hergé Hiraki Sawa Hiroshi Sugimoto Humor Ian Bertram Iliad Jaq Chartier Jason Yungbluth Jennifer Bartlett John Baldessari John Martz John Scalzi John Sculley Jorge Luis Borges Jose Pérez Joseph Lambert Joyce Carol Oates Jules Feiffer Julia Galef Justin Whitaker Karl Stevens Kasimir Malevich Ken Dahl Komar & Melamid Language Lord of the Rings Luis Alfonso Gámez Macintosh Marcel Duchamp Margaret Atwood Mary Shelley Massimo Pigliucci Math Maurizio Cattelan Michael Benson MoCCA Modern Times Museums Nancy Fulda Nancy Kress Neil Gaiman Neil Tyson NK Jemisin NYRSF Optical Illusion Orson Scott Card Paco Roca Pascal Girard Paul Hornschemeier Paul Kurtz Pepo Pérez Phil Moriarty Philip Glass Philosophy physics Plato Podcast Post-modernism Quay Brothers Rage Comics Ray Bradbury Realism Religion Rene Goscinny Richard Dawkins Richard Feynman Robert Rauschenberg Robert Wilson Roger Ebert Sam Sykes Samuel R. Delany Science Science Fiction Sean Carroll Secular Buddhist Association Shaun Tan Sixty Simbols Skepticism SMBC Star Wars Statistics Steampunk Steve Jobs Steven Pinker subBlue Tara Donovan Tatiana Plakhova The New Yorker Theodore Sturgeon Tim Minchin Timothy Callahan Tintin Tom Gauld Tomas Saraceno Transmetropolitan Ursula K. Le Guin Video Vija Celmins Warren Ellis Watchmen Wikileaks Will Eisner William Gibson Wine Writing X'ed Out XKCD

Entries in XKCD (3)


XKCD on the Pace of Modern Life


My only quibble with this piece is that he could have found many more, many earlier quotes on similar topics. E.g.,

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words.
When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.

XKCD, Randomness and Life

This has been making the rounds, from XKCD:

Link -- xkcd: Sports

Although the comic appears as a dig at sports commentators (and others in the rollover), in fact it's an example of Borges's Lottery in Babylon. Life is nothing but an infinite game of chance out of which humans build narratives.


Something New Under the Sun: Grassroots Internet Comics

Emoticons predate the internet, and humorous internet memes have tended to include both graphic and written elements, from All Your Base Are Belong to Us to the O RLY? owl to the 900 pound gorilla, LOLcats.

It was only a short distance from these grassroots picture/word mashups to crowdsourced internet comics. Perhaps the most interesting are the so-called "Rage Comics" that, like most of these memes, began on 4chan.org and are now most visible on social news sites like reddit.com, the most famous of which is the "FFFFFFUUUUUU..." comic. (Though really one particular template, it now appears as a synecdoche for all Rage Comics).

The phenomenon is interesting in at least a couple of ways. First, because it spawned websites like ragemaker.com where a complete novice could put together a web comic in a matter of minutes. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the practice spawned a number of pre-drawn 'rage faces' to use in stock comic situations. Much of the humor of these comics comes from the (re-)use of these images, many of which are well drawn and of high emotional impact.

NB: only a partial list

I don't know a great deal about recent analysis of comics, so I'm sure I've missed out on the relevant discussions within industry and academe. That said, I fully expect that many professional comics artists will reject the grassroots as artless, amateur and juvenile. Most of them are. But after all, one of the most basic aims of comics art is to be topical, personal and funny, and the reason memes like these Rage Comics persist is that many of the best of them are topical, personal and very funny indeed. If you don't believe me, look at some of the tops from reddit.

Still don't agree?

I wouldn't be surprised to find the stable of pre-drawn faces and other comics furniture to expand over time, making the job of the amateur writer more a work of stage setting than one of drawing. Doubtless many will lament the downside. But then, one of the most popular, funny and trenchant internet comics, XKCD, is itself composed of stick figures and barely drawn back- and foregrounds. Humor doesn't require visual complexity or originality. Perhaps one can lament its absence, but these grassroots comics wouldn't exist but for the simplicity of production, mediated by the comics production engines.

Hat tip to Spain's El País and their recent story on the Forever Alone Rage Comic meme for getting me going.