A reworking of individual comics from Randall Munroe's webcomic xkcd.com. Got questions? Go here

Friday, April 30, 2010

More on Comic #734

I don't really feel like my block of text about the format of the last comic really explained it well, so I'll devote a post to it since it's something worth sharing.

Anyways, comics are pretty typically composed of three general parts - the top, the middle, and the bottom. The eye interprets things this way. Let's divide the current comic into these three parts:

I drew these lines was based on the precedents set in the first panel. The narrative panel is in the top, the dialogue is in the middle, and the action is in the bottom. This is a fine setup, except for two problems.

First, there's dialogue in the top half. This interrupts the "flow" of the comic, and is the primary reason why it turns out so choppy. You expect that area to be reserved for narration, but there's dialogue instead. It appears messy and disorganized, which hampers the impact of the comic.

Second, the portions are skewed. The bottom alone takes up more than half, which leaves an awkward amount of white space for the third panel. Typically, "heavy action" panels work best when there's a sense of scale. For instance, the bottom panel of a comic shows a massive field with a guy shooting another guy. Usually the action will be in the middle or bottom of the panel. The point is to communicate the singularity of the moment; there's no dialogue, there's no other action, there's not even many (or any) other landmarks; there's just the two men and the single "BANG", occupying about 1/3rd of the vertical space. It emphasizes that nothing is or should be there. Think of it like an angle shot in cinema.

Conversely, the third panel doesn't have anything because there just isn't anything that's appropriate. It's just a flat shot. There's no emotion in it. It communicates state of being and nothing more; these guys are shooting a zombie. Wheeee.

Let's redo the first three panels to make this work, shall we?

A quick and dirty resizing, but I think it proves my point.

Now why did I only do the first three panels? Because the fourth panel is, frankly, completely asinine and deserves its own explanation. It moves everything around for very little reason; there's narrative on top and bottom and the figures, which until now have been entirely on the bottom, in sync with each other, are now higher up and have punctured into the middle of the comic. If the dialogue in the top half broke the flow, then the fourth panel takes the flow and shoves it up a Canadian's ass. Why is the door suddenly gone? Why are they surrounded by narration? Why is everything out of skew?

Isn't that nice and clean? Note that there's narrative in panel 3 now. You can still have narrative in a perspective shot, as long as it's the only voice. Remember, a perspective shot is there to show a situation in comparison to something else. In this case, action-heavy bottom versus no action in the rest of the panel; narrative dialogue versus no character dialogue.

Now, since the art in my remake there is admittedly shitty (quick is dirty for a reason), let's have an outside example of proper internal lateralization. Believe it or not, it comes from Garfield:

Truthfully, this is Garfield Minus Garfield, but the proper lateralization is what allows the minimalistic dialogue. There's an almost equal amount of empty area surrounding Jon on all sides; this implies to the viewer that there's a void in his life. When he says "I dread tomorrow", you believe him; you believe he leads an empty existence. Jim Davis might not know funny, but he does know how to properly format a comic (though, of course, it could be improved).

The great point we can take from this is that in visual mediums like comics, which relies on imagery to help tell a narrative (there's a reason why a picture is worth a thousand words), it's best to keep things as uniform as possible so that narrative is told smoothly. This is especially true of a minimalist comic like xkcd; you *need* to have every single element working together as flawlessly as possible. Sadly, in this xkcd it simply does not happen.

[EDIT] For funsies, let's throw in a version with only three panels:

Is it better? Is it worse? You be the judge.

Comic #734

I liked today's comic. I know zombie movies aren't known for their verisimilitude, but it's still fun to mock them every now and again. Plus! this is the first xkcd that mocks the genre, rather than throwing in some reference to String Theorists being dumb or those wacky scientists trying to get a low Erdős number.

Source Comic

Redone Comic (click for larger image)

At the same time, the comic had its flaws, chiefly that the art told the story yet the dialogue repeated it. This is an annoying convention of zombie movies, sure, but the point is that these guys AREN'T falling into clichéd traps. It's simple math: Existence of Zombie - Desire to Keep Zombie = Go grab the gun, Megan! You don't need to work for NASA to figure that one out.

The other, more fatal flaw was that the first two yellow panels are too far apart. When you read through it, your eye is focused on the storyline transpiring below the box. You see a yellow box of narration, then you four panels of an event, then you notice the other yellow box and your mind physically has to recall that there's narration. It *might* have been just fine, except that there's dialogue in the general area of the yellow boxes, which *definitely* breaks the format. It's choppy. By simplifying it to two panels you remove the unnecessary dialogue and artwork while simultaneously keeping the two yellow boxes next to each other and thus much easier to remember.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Comic #733

Source Comic

Redone Comic (click for larger image)

So yes, I ripped the Megan model from Angular Momentum, but I warned you this would happen. I figure that since I mock up enough crap using existing pixels (like BHG's hat in the last comic) I can assume I'd eventually mock up a Megan model. It would take awhile, and it probably wouldn't look as good, but oh well. Besides, it's only the model.

Now watch, in six months I'll be splicing together six comics and including models from twelve others and justifying it with "I would have mocked it up anyways!"

Monday, April 26, 2010

Comic #732

Today's comic wasn't too bad. But, of course, it could be BETTER. Namely, with some BLACK HAT GUY!

Source Comic

Redone Comic (click for larger image)

The hat and the lines were ripped from the HDTV and the comic border, respectively. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to make them look more natural (the room's border lines are too thin).

Also, BHG will be back more, most likely. xkcd needs a more solid cast of characters with firmly delineated personalities. It started off as conversations between a couple random dudes, then it expanded to include BHG, then Megan and Beret Dude, now it's just the Rob and Megan Show. All this switching can really get on an audience's nerves. I'm thinking of keeping it to Rob, Megan, and BHG. Beret Dude, if he shows up again, can be replaced with either Rob or Megan depending on the situation (Rob will like pastries, Megan will be random). I'm debating if this means I should keep a Megan model handy. Hopefully I don't have to.

[EDIT] Oh yeah, Rob is just the traditional stick figure, which is why I wouldn't need to keep a model of him around.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Comic #731

Another day with no remix. Randall is slowly killing my trade with detailed, visual comics.

Source Comic

aeonite from the xkcd sucks IRC channel (#xkcd-sucks on Foonetic) had a good idea for a Lost remix that I sadly don't think I can adequately do in Paint:

"(Text inside the comic) 'Episode VIII: The Phantom Island. Turmoil has engulfed Oceanic Airlines 815. The taxation of trade routes has led to an invasion of squid creatures from the core of the planet. Two Jedi, Jack Starkiller and John Lock-Narr, are dispatched to the island to oversee the negotiation of....'

(Text below the comic) George Lucas can ruin ANYTHING."

aeonite also wrote a rather interesting article for The Escapist on lightsabers. Check it out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comic #730

No remix today. I deliberated on it all yesterday and came to the decision that this is one of the comics that isn't suitable for remixing (it's posted today because I was away from my computer).

Source Comic

You can probably imagine why I decided to abstain. The whole comic's really, really messy; it has a bunch of really weak jokes scattered everywhere without any real purpose. I'd remix it to have a meta-joke about non-electrical engineers being overwhelmed by complicated circuit diagrams, at the very least. Or I'd come up with a comic that wasn't retarded.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Comic #729

Source Comic

Redone Comic (click for larger image)

Today was a cop-out. I pretty much just removed extraneous frames and laser beams, which I suppose makes it objectively "better". The comic was just mediocre enough to warrant editing without being crappy enough to inspire me to think of something decent to make out of it. Not to mention that there wasn't a lot to work with, either. Randall gets points for showing instead of telling, at least.

FYI: The "hmm" in the last panel is meant to be ambiguous. Is he curious about the cat's dream? Is he thinking about torturing the cat with the pointer? Is it both? IS IT, IN FACT, HIS OWN DREAM? So many possibilities.

[EDIT]: Alt-text is active! Hooray for figuring out a very simple HTML command! Alt-text remixes are officially back, I guess.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Comic #728

I fell asleep before the new xkcd was posted so here it in the morning.

Source Comic

Redone Comic

Fun fact: I almost constructed an asterisk for the last panel OUT OF HER ARMS. I decided not to because having a "*cry*" image wasn't worth the weight on my conscience.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Comic #727

Source Comic

Redone Comic (click for larger image)

New Layout

After considering some very useful feedback, I changed up the formatting for xkcd remixes. I now also post the source image for easy comparison (still linking to xkcd itself) and, since it looked really awkward in the new format, did away with redoing the alt-text (plus I'm laz- I mean, the concept of alt-text is mildly retarded ANYWAYS...) (as of this post alt-text remixes are back).

You can view this new formatting for Comic #725

If you're one of the three people who reads this blog, please tell me what you think.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Comic #726

There is nothing good or salvageable about this comic. It's not worth a remix, nor is there anything *to* remix. This is worse than the Tetris comic, which I wasn't sure was possible.

Randall, you've outdone yourself. Congrats.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Comic #725

[EDIT] Shortly after posting this I realized that neither my comic nor the original had a proper end. Oops! Doing things hastily can sure lead to mistakes, huh Randall? Thankfully, this has now been rectified.

Source Comic

Redone Comic (Click for larger version)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Comic #724

This comic has no substance. It was not fun remixing it.

Alt-Text: At least it's consensual.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Comic #723

Alt-Text: I, personally, have never seen someone tweet from a phone within arm's reach of a computer, but I suppose it could happen. Also, TWITTER TIME!


Comic #722

Alt-Text: All he does is watch cats; he really shouldn't be surprised.


Comic #719

Alt-Text: This alt-text is questionable content.


Comic #716

Alt-Text: At least he didn't try to work out how to learn C++ in 21 days.


Comic #706

Alt-Text: What one man can do, another can do. Ah, Anthony Hopkins, you sage.


Comic #705

Alt-Text: Man, these guys planned for EVERYTHING.


Comic #703

Alt-Text: Strangely, they had a very convincing mission statement.


Comic #701

Alt-Text: He still wants to be friends...


Comic #699

Alt-Text: Sometimes all it takes is one question to instill fear.


Comic #697

Alt-Text: I hadn't even installed the space-elevator music!


Hi Everyone

The purpose of this blog is to redo individual xkcd comics using only assets within the comic. No images from other comics (within or without xkcd), no images created by me, no original text; just good old select, copy, paste, arrange. In other words, MOVIE MAGIC.

[EDIT] As of this comic I've started including Megan and Black Hat Guy character models in order to redo xkcd with a core set of characters in mind. A further explanation can be found here.

Soon-to-be Frequently Asked Questions

-Isn't this copyright infringement?

No. xkcd is listed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Generic License, which means it's fair game for remixing. I'm required to give proper attribution, which I do - each remix has a link to the source comic within the post.

-Why are you doing this?

First, because I enjoy it
Second, to show that xkcd could very, very easily be made into a better comic.

-What do you use to edit the comics?

I used to use MS Paint, but when i got my Mac I switched to Paintbrush (which sucks) for one remix and GraphicConverter (sucks slightly less) for the next. It looks like I'll be using GC until something better comes along, which I'm not crossing my fingers for.

Also, if some of the early comics look pixellated, it's because I foolishly saved them in .jpg, not knowing the error of my ways. I now save in .png exclusively.

-Are you going to do all the comics retroactively?

No, I'm much too lazy for that. I'm also not going to do every comic he ever releases. Some of them (comics 696 and 713, to list a couple recent examples) just aren't able to be edited without either mangling it or turning it into something it isn't (which is a kissing cousin to mangling it). For those ones I'd either openly mock it or just give a text description of how I'd change it. Or both.

I may just mock them anyways.

(Also, some comics are legitimately good, in which case there's no need to edit them. These instances are rare nowadays.)

-What do you hope to gain from this?

Hookers and blow.