I thought this situation was kind of interesting. I’ve read a lot of webcomics over the past year or so, but I’ve read fewer discussions of those webcomics. I know many sites have forums where folks can get together and discuss them, which is totally fascinating both from a marketing/advertising standpoint and thinking about reader-response. Many of the webcomics I follow have blogs or forums or some way for readers to post and discuss.
That said, I don’t know Randall Munroe’s xkcd very well. It’s always been one that’s highly regarded and comes well-recommended. An associate recently pointed me at the Pandagon blog, particularly a recent post where author and cultural critic Amanda Marcotte posted (it’s titled “Musing on autonomy”) a piece writing about the panel you see above. It’s an exceedingly interesting and well-written piece, and I was struck by the discussion.
The xkcd forums for this one comic include a very wide range of comments, but many of them don’t have too much in the way of analysis. (Which is fine; the forum isn’t so much the place for that?). Pandagon, however, is. I think Marcotte’s post is right on, and it’s fascinating to see how very much these straightforward, simple lines are charged in this particular context.
What I mostly wanted to highlight with this post was how evocative this specific xkcd piece is; I mean, look at all these posts about this very spare composition which all elicit this kind of wide response. That’s the mark of doing something well, I think, and I wanted to make note of it this week. There are many folks out there reading webcomics, and when a debate goes this wide-ranging, I think it’s good for webcomics as a whole.