Two guys stranded on a desert island shtick and no gay jokes? I commend you! I was so sure one was coming that my eyes were on the verge on rolling all the way through reading the comic. I have a small headache now, but it was worth it.
And were you perhaps inspired by the order of canada deal with dr. Morgentaler? Very nice analogy regardless, and this from a guy who generally hates analogies and metaphors for the over done intelectual & expressive cop-outs that they are.
Okay, maybe my sense of humor is off today, because these are all very positive comments. But I figured out the final punchline before I finished reading the second panel, so the joke was kind of stillborn for me.
I don’t think that the joke is fundamentally unfunny; I felt like this comic ran into the same problem as “Sphinx IV”, only played out in reverse. The text-to-joke ratio was way too high, and the joke just gets drowned. I don’t see any obviously unnecessary panels or text in “Hypothetical Situation’; you’re trying to depict a stupid conversation, and you did it. My best suggestion would be to merge panels 3 and 4, and then follow them immediately with panel 9, with slight changes to the dialogue, so it read somthing like:
Man 2: … Paint me a picture, I ain’t busy.
Man 1: Paint you a picture?! Jesus Fucking Christ…
Man 1: Look, forget about it. I was just trying to say that I wish I was trapped on a desert island with a beautiful woman instead of you.
I’m not the least bit opposed to text-heavy comics in principle, so it’s curious to me that your comics can hit-or-miss so thoroughly. Rifling through your archive I found “Surprise Ending”:
… which has a very similar format to “Hypothetical Situation”. The title is accurate; the comic is pretty dry, but the end is totally unexpected AND funny in it’s own right. That is, just the last panel, by itself, is funny. Just a picture of two guys on a desert island, by itself, isn’t particularly funny, and me seeing it coming didn’t help. (Again, I admit me seeing it coming was subjective.)
“Hockey”, from a few weeks back, also follows this format well. There’s a slow narrative build up, but when the punchline hits, it hits like a brick wall. I wasn’t crazy it about, but I didn’t re-read it looking for the joke- I went and got a figurative ice-pack.
On the other hand, Andy Weir, the guy who used to do Casey & Andy (a gag strip) had a bit he talked about in his news posts where he said he was trying to get away from focusing too much on the punchline, because the punchline didn’t always work. Instead he would try and make every panel a little bit funny and not even necessarily have a distinct punchline at all.
An excellent example of this from your own archive is “Let’s All Get Plastic Surgery!”:
Now, that comic is only four panels and physically half the size of “Hypothetical Situation”, but it contains something like 10 individual jokes. The goldfish in the implant is one of my favorites. You’ve really packed that comic with as much humor as you can cram into it. Maybe it’s a bad example since it’s so different in format from today’s, but comparing the two you can really see how dry “Hypothetical Situation” is.
What is weird is, last week’s fantastic comic “o-o” appears to be really dry itself, but it doesn’t feel dry when you read it. Adrian’s narration is interesting in it’s own right; (if humorously exaggerated) I don’t spend four panels waiting for the joke, I spend four panels wondering which alleyway that bloodthirsty bastard Cubby Krickshaw is going leap out of.
I really liked this one. I didn’t see the twist coming. I think in my case what helps is the fact that the final panel is “below the fold” on my browser; I had to scroll down before I could read it. When reading multi-panel cartoons, I invariably end up accidentally glancing at the last few panels & have spoiled a number of would be punchlines, in doing so. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to one-panel cartoons–I can’t cheat & give away the ending. Once I scrolled down, I did glance at the last panel, but at least it was after reading a majority of the text.
Yes, you are almost certainly dinner. As to where the Sphynx originated, she flew out of that Oedipus comic I did and never looked back. As to where her attitude came from, I have no idea. She just kind of happened…
brilliant! the punchline was great (though I was half-expecting to see selma hayek…
Don’t give up hope yet. Who knows what the future will bring…
Robin Moshe: Yeah, it’s inevitable that some people are going to see the ending coming a mile away. It’s like back when “The Sixth Sense” came out, and I personally was all surprised by the ending, but then half the people I talked to were like [SPOILER WARNING]“I thought we were supposed to assume he was dead from the beginning,” which surprised me even more. So it comes with the territory I guess, not to compare this comic to a movie that is much better than it, that is. I don’t know if this comic even had a joke. It was just kind of a little scene that played itself out, and I’m fairly satisfied with that. That bit you mentioned about Andy Weir was really relatable. Sometimes the last panel’s not gonna be the most important part of the comic, which I realize goes against the grain. Are punchline comics better in general? Probably? I don’t know. I’m sure they’re immediately funnier, as they rely on surprise (the basis of comedy), but I don’t know if they age as well. There’s a lot I don’t know, currently. I do know that I appreciate your uber-thoughtful analysis though. Much appreciated.
You’re in your twenties, I’m pretty sure, so it’s time you learned about this.
I just wish the last panel had been posted on a separate page so that my overactive curiosity hadn’t made me look at it before I was done reading the rest… Or maybe I just need to use a smaller screen resolution so that I can’t see the whole page at once… Or maybe I need to get a life instead of being overcritical of something which is of a remarkably high quality and originality and is given to me for free every week…. Hats off as usual, Mr Rowntree.
I must be of a different sort than those of you debating the finer points of joke writing & strip drawing. All I could think was “Damn! I can come up with a whole lot of ways to have sex with Salma Hayek that don’t result in poppin’ a kid!” But, yeah, saw the punchline coming a mile away.