xkcd (capitalisation frowned upon) proclaims to be “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language.” It is also constantly imaginative, witty and at times, touching. Which is not to say it is not funny, something a lot of clever webcomics forget about. With millions of readers every month, I probably do not need to be selling xkcd, but just in case you haven’t come across it, this is why you should start reading it, pronto.
- The spice of life
Though webcomics with a formula have their place (the often brilliant Dinosaur Comics, for example), xkcd has a great range of tone and format. Rather than falling into the trap of being constantly cynical, as many comics do, xkcd covers a range of emotions, from romantic to the oddly poignant. Format is also variable, sometimes foregoing a strip in favor of a diagram or even a pancake menu. This variety gives xkcd more depth than other comics, and prevents staleness setting in.
- Pythagoras’ webcomic
As it is written by a physics graduate, it is perhaps expected that xkcd often aligns science with everyday social situations. Though these scientific references are sometimes advanced, the meaning is rarely lost, and the more humor and science meet, the better.
- Roll over here
Arguably as good as the comic itself are the mouseover lines on each issue, discovered by those who hover the pointer over the strip. These are usually one-liners relating to the strip, and without them the comic would now feel incomplete.
- The here and now
Though some issues deal with “timeless” issues (i.e., romance problems, social occasions), others cover current events, from the presidential election to the release of Kindle 2. I find them to be funnier than many of the labored cartoons published in a lot of newspapers.
It’s an obvious point, but one of the things which first attracted me to xkcd was how clean it looks. Whereas some other webcomics seem to focus more on visuals rather that whether the writing is actually any good, xkcd has its priorities straight. Yes, it is basic, but that just highlights the stellar writing.