Prewriting Assignment #1

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Prewriting Assignment #1

Post  KyleWagner on Mon Sep 15, 2014 2:00 pm

Prewriting Assignment #1

My comic of choice is XKCD, which a comedic, stick-figured based web-comic. Much like the art style of XKCD, the website is minimalistic, directing the reader to the main content which is the comics. XKCD doesn't draw readers in with vibrant colors and beautiful art, in fact the comic is primarily black and white and often is simply a chart or graph with annotations. This simple art style leads to the comics being fairly text based, often relying heavily on nerd vernacular and scientific terms. The vast majority of XKCD's humor is referential and reliant upon outside knowledge of scientific concepts, space missions, video games, historical figures, etc.

Based on my description above it would be fairly reasonable to assume that XKCD readership is made up of a fairly small group of exclusionary individuals. However that is not necessarily the case. Although XKCD primarily appeals to young adult nerds the community is inclusive to all, even those who don't understand all of the humor. Since XKCD is so laden with all sorts of referential humor it is nearly impossible for even the most avid fan or most intelligent individual to understand all of the jokes and references. XKCD readers don't necessarily have to like or even understand every comic. While XKCD at first might appear to be made primarily for nerds it is really open to anybody willing to learn new things.

XKCD readers tend to congregate in 2 primary locations online, those being and the subreddit r/xkcd. Both of these meeting points are incredibly active, with hundreds of thousands of posts in each category of the forums, and over 48,000 subscribers to r/xkcd. The primary topic of discussion is explaining the comics, both r/xkcd and the XKCD forums have at least one thread for each and every XKCD comic, and often even more than that. Since the comics oftentimes deal with very complex concepts, online discussion tends to be focused around the expertise of a few individuals being used to teach those who aren't as knowledgeable of certain subjects.

The creator of XKCD, Randall Munroe, tries to interact with the audience a lot, but it can be difficult when dealing with such a large group of people. One of the ways Munroe interacts with XKCD readers is through a series called "What if?", in which Munroe answers absurd questions from readers using math and scientific principles in the form of an essay accompanied with XKCD styled drawings. Munroe also interacts with the XKCD audience through large scale addresses such as TED Talks and panels at nerd gatherings such as Comic-Con.


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