xkcd: Master of Shortform

I have never been in the habit of reading web comics.  While they can be entertaining, I usually don’t find them as compelling or fun as regular comic books or graphic novels.  In any form of entertainment, not just comics, I prefer the long form style of writing.  It lends itself well to writing developed characters and interesting stories.  However, I make an exception for xkcd, a web comic created by Randall Munroe.  Like many web comics, xkcd does not have an over-arching linear story, or even consistent characters.  Rather, Munroe focuses on exploring what-if concepts and making fun of social phenomena, often with wordplay.   actors                                                     surface_area     xkcd frequently switches between multiple-paneled and single-paneled comics, usually only using multiple-paneled when characters are having a conversation.  Munroe often experiments with the extremes of concision; many of his comics are as minimalist as possible, using even the titles and captions as part of the story.  Other times, the comics are extremely (and unnecessarily) complicated.   orbital_mechanics                                   movie_narrative_charts_large   The comic series is random; its topics cover anything from chess player statistics, to movie tropes, to sci-fi scenarios, to google trends.  The themes constantly shift between high-concept science, day-to-day realities, romance, social satire, and many others.  Munroe will often simply post graphs of something he was curious about and researched.  xkcd has a feel of a stream of consciousness from day to day.  Instead of a story about specific characters or situation, the comic is about a person’s internalizations.  Many web comics are like this, but xkcd is almost self-aware in how it presents it. clumsy_foreshadowing     What I appreciate most about xkcd is that it can give you something interesting to think about in as little as one panel.  It comes to you in a style that already feels like a thought or fantasy that you can expand on.  It is short form distilled into incredibly concise and witty writing, and for that it is easily my favorite web comic.  I highly recommend it.


All the images here are taken from http://xkcd.com.