xkcd

Filed in Secant, Webcomic review

I don’t watch much television, owing primarily to the fact I don’t feel like wasting money (or time) with cable. Despite my general isolation from the massive time sink that TV represents, I’ve still come across the Discovery Channel’s commercial with the singing astronauts and various people (including Stephen Hawkings) singing about how they love the world. It’s a fun and catchy tune, one that you can end up humming under your breath at work. As with any successful television commercial, it’s resulted in imitators trying to catch a spark of what worked so well with the commercial. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the webcomic xkcd has not only succeeded in this, but in many ways surpassed the original meme.

The initial comic itself was absolutely enjoyable, with each panel representing comics or blog entries that the author has created. This alone would elevate this comic into something truly enjoyable, but Randall Munroe’s fanbase have taken this a step further, starting with an animated sequence of each panel in order, and then two YouTube videos (the second being the better of the two, though including a few additional panels and the introductory sequence from the original Discovery Channel commercial).

One fan went so far as to create a panel-by-panel link for the comics and blog entries from which Munroe had pulled various image ideas from. This shows not only the power that the original commercial has to inspire such creativity, but also how a comic of stick-figure art and geometric figures has somehow managed to capture the imaginations and hearts of dozens of fans. Fandom can be a difficult thing to predict. It’s obvious that Munroe’s imagination and his refusal to dumb down comics for the lowest common denominator has made it a fan favorite, and one well worth reading even as you hum “Boom de yada” under your breath.