Monday, 16 May 2011


Tellingly, the word "emotion" never appears explicitly in the internet's current top comic strip, xkcd (A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language). "Fiction" appears rarely, as in the title of the analytical strip above: Fiction Rule of Thumb. Despite the unlikely focus for this publication on a text where "statistics" and "probability" are so much more common than emotion and fiction, I'd like to highlight xkcd's minimalist use of line and metaphor as remarkable illustrations of how little ink (if considerable skill) it takes to elicit significant emotion from readers.

Admittedly, Randall Munroe, xkcd's author, (and for full disclosure, I should admit that Munroe has the current distinction of being my youngest hero, and also that xkcd competes with OnFiction in my weekly reading -- not only for the comics, but also for the fantastic info graphics) has recently been drawing readers' sympathy with his poignant stick figure representations of medical worry (under the simultaneous ominous and innocuous heading of "probability"):

However, even when conveying less worrisome prospects, Munroe's stick figures are remarkably evocative -- and given the detailed analysis bestowed on most strips by Munroe's devoted and verbally fluent mathy fans, I hesitate to even make such a trollingly basic observation, but I suspect that many emotion and fiction readers may be likely to overlook the value of simple line illustrations.


Jim Murdoch said...

Well that's him got one new subscriber and I just shared this on Facebook.

Markus Appel said...

Thanks. Didn't know xkcd before and like it a lot!

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