The questions might be empty, but it’s not like they’re floating bits of intellectual flotsam in a vast and empty sea. The questions are tied to the lifeblood of our history, of our culture–knowing things about them is representative of knowing things about the world. Yeah, maybe the game show’s not exactly focused on that sort of overview, but that’s because it’s a goddamn game.
Would you say Scrabble’s built around a freakish obsessive’s grasp of the dictionary, a sign that our civilization is in a state of decadent intellectual decline?
This was a great comic! Extremely well drawn and very, very funny! I always love the ones Sphynx the best! She’s by far my favorite webcomic character. I even got a Sphynx t-shirt, which is still my favorite shirt. I know it’s been a while, but thank you again for posting my picture of me in the Sphynx shirt on the Great Wall of China!
I agree with Rutskarn. Yes, Jeopardy is a commercially-oriented game show, but unlike most such shows you actually need a brain to do well on it. Unlike, say, The Price Is Right or Deal or No Deal where all you have to do is make lucky guesses and, if necessary, jump up and down screaming like an idiot.
Also, while it’s true that memorization of facts isn’t the same as, for example, critical analysis or identification of trends in data, memorization is nevertheless an activity that’s healthy for the brain.
Of course, if the Sphynx is a contestant the above points are all moot because Trebek and the judges will simply let her win. She’d even get to say “Suck it, Trebek” and make obscene jokes at his expense, and make him laugh uproariously at them.
“Did you just determine the capital of Spain?” LOL! And I agree with your pessimism. Most of the history classes I’ve been in are the same way. Origins and trends are replaced by single events and names which only serve to misconstrue why history happens in the first place!
While Jeopardy! may be rather shallow and corporate, it does have one advantage that I’ve found. Watching it is a great way to prep for Knowledge Bowl competitions. If you can ace Jeopardy, the Knowledge Bowl is a cakewalk.
Nice effort with the Arabic writing, Though the La, Mim, Jim and Ya should be connected to their following letters. The Sphinx has probably didn’t visit an Arabic speaking country for a long, long time.
Holy F*ck Winston, all hail the WordWallScalers: it’s not possible to blow smoke up an ass that’s photosynthesising sunshine so energetically so I won’t, but I Gots Me a Tan from this comic.
I’d determined to be a detailtard to the point I made notes from the first frame (word bubble within eyeshot of schedule & clock / bored receptionist *smoking* reading Manboy while regurgitating the company line but then the
aaaahSphinx is returned.
You gave us our Sphinx. I’d’ve travelled in TRAMS to see that.
My wife keeps telling me to try out for Jeopardy!, since she’s under the illusion that I have The Knowledge, but I tell her, “Honey, I was on Quiz Show in high school. If you know the answer to any question, chances are so does everyone else on the panel. The true measure of success is if you can hit the buzzer on time. And my reflexes SUCK.”
That said, I tune in to watch Jeopardy! each and every night. ‘Cuz it’s fun.
This one is great!
When Sphynxy was figuring out Madrid, it seemed a little too drawn out, but it completely paid off when we got “Did you just _determine_ the capital of Spain?”
Plus we got to see her enthusiastic for a moment for once.
Anyway, in the midst of the “great way to get eaten” panel, I was thinking about the wallotext complaints and wondering how anyone could fail to prefer this to some typical stupid gag comic. (In the software world, there’s a now-ancient line for such a situation that goes “If you want PL/I, you know where to find it.”)
That background of Madrid sounds so plausible given the history of Spain I’m not even going to bother looking it up. That was awesome.
The Arabic was hand-lettered, wasn’t it? Assuming you aren’t actually fluent in Arabic (neither am I), it’s fairly awesome that you managed to write something close enough for knowledgeable people to criticize. It all looks like undifferentiated squiggles to me, and I actually pick up (non-ideographic) languages rather well.
THAT was funny. The last few have been introsepctive and artistic, and made interesting insightful statements. But THIS one I loved, and its the sort of thing that got me reading the comic in the first place.
Love yer work. Love the Sphinx. Love the determination of Madrid and the thought of Zoroaster shrieking “Abomination!” while the Sphinx just looks one with her trade mark ennui.
8. Arm wrestling, involving only the leaders of the warring nations. Best four out of seven.
9. Face-slapping, preferably in the stereotypical “wussy” way so it’s more fun to watch.
10. Inflicting horrible live music on each other. Whoever gets hold of N*ck*lb*ck wins the arms race. Unless the other side manages to (*shudder*) clone them, in which case we have detente due to the threat of mutually assured destruction.
The comparison of humanity to someone trying to get fired from their job is delightfully and unexpectedly enlightening. I *should* expect such things from you, given the rest of your work, but I keep being surprised. Thanks for your insight! Also, I love the sphinx.
Good as always! And kudos on the Majerit origin of Madrid, not even in Spain that is common knowledge. I read somewhere that it meant “thousand fountains” because of the abundance of subterranean water. Madrid is the only European capital without a proper river(Manzanares river is little more than a stream)Also, the town´s motto is “I was built over water – my walls are made of fire”. That´s because of the walls being made out of flint stone, and they´d produce sparks when attacked with metal weapons. I hope someone finds this interesting…
Before the Islamic conquest of spain (not yet Spain), there was a Roman settlement on the Manzanares called Matrice. They got kicked out by the Visigoths who in turn got their asses handed to them by the Arabs. They changed the name to Majerit, or Mayrit, from the arabic word mayra. Not sure what it means, something to do with water or trees.
Amanda: Yeah, exactly. Let’s all memorize dates and names and ignore fundamental lessons that might actually help us in our lives. Let’s all be doomed to repeat the past!
EthZee: Perpetual war you can only do with sharp sticks and catapults, i think, since it’s over too quickly once the weapons become more efficient. A rustic, hands-on approach to war is certain to make it last, so let’s go with large-scale nude fistfights or something. Just like 3000 guys in a field kicking the crap out of each other. You could stretch that out for centuries…
Damn futuristic lazer wars are over in like 7 minutes. How about this for a Depressing Notion: We only have peace because war is too efficient now. Take away the nukes and we’d be beating the shit out of each other once again probably. THEREFORE: I propose that every nation on earth be provided with a massive nuclear arsenal!! It’s the only way to get world peace. Or global incineration, but hey, i’ll take the chance. Nothing good on TV anyway.
erik: I caught him in my garden, helping himself to an armload of turnips. I managed to chase him off with a garden hoe, but the damage was done and now i’m out for perpetual revenge. Suck it, Trebek.
Winston: Somehow, I doubt Jeopardy champions study by buying books of random names, dates, and locations, just like mechanics don’t just memorize wheels, bolts, flanges, and levers. They know the names and dates because they know history–their knowledge base is what allows them to answer specific questions.
Yeah, that’s how you cram for Jeopardy, but that can hardly be the whole of the process, can it? He knows that a few topics are going to come up, but as he said, they could really come from just about anywhere.
A base of knowledge is necessary to contend in Jeopardy, although it certainly helps to have a mind developed gathering minutia.
I thought about that “weapons making war too efficient/quick” thing. To solve this problem, we simply wait until man has perfected matter duplication, linked with remote mind-state transference technology.
Mount them in some sort of DMZ, and Voila! Respawning peoples. Simplez.
Of course, there’s the problem with resources running out after a while, and laser technology not existing, etc etc. Therefore, I can only imagine the eternal raygun-pirate-zeppelin warfare occurring in a universe where the main resource is an abundance of the rare and amazing Awesomeite (1337th element on the Periodic table!). We just need to find a planet where we can get it from, and voila! Instant free energy, incredible advances in technology and human quality of life, and a propensity of challenging (but Awesome) past-times.
Once we find Awesome-ite, things that in the past concerned us terribly (plagues, warfare, poverty etc.) will NOT disappear – they will be irrevocably changed so that they are all awesome.
Typhoid? How about – ZOMBIE PLAGUE?
Warfare? We’ve already covered the lasers/pirates/tanks-that-fire-nuclear-missiles etc.
Poverty? No more poor people – simply Badass Wrestling Hobos (all wearing those top-hats with the top hanging off like a tincan lid).
Having good buzzer reflexes is vital, but I guess I don’t see how that can be the whole of it. Sure, given a group of people who all know the answers, the victor is the one with the fastest buzzer skills, but some knowledge is obviously necessary to win.
I can see your point about minutia and twitch reflexes comprising a large percentage of what it takes to win, but that’s because it’s a game. A combination of talents, (admittedly) not all of them representative of a pure intellectual grasp of humanity, are necessary to win. But the game itself does reward those who have studied human history extensively–I guess I don’t see how incorporating other elements is representative of the fact that humanity is in a state of decadent decline.
This comic reminded me of the book Civilization and its Discontents by Sigmund Freud: in the end, the Sphinx remarks our civilization seems like a man trying to get fired from his job.
It’s always interesting to note the schisms, the rough edges, that grate when man aggressive and sexual nature clashes with civilization’s demand for perfect order. In fact, it’s what gives so many artists their inspiration. In sum, it’s a large source of stress for the individual.
I think this comic is one of my favorite installations of contemporary art, and I’m glad it’s running.
However, I feel like all art that makes an impact as art, and not as the fuel for a philosophical revolution, does not ‘only’ criticize what exists, but aims to build up an epistemological structure of its own.
Anyone can be a skeptic – and certainly in this age there are quite a few – but so many good stories have incorporated a future in regards to the struggle with civilization.
It’s beautiful to praise what is there. It’s intelligence to criticize what is there. But to criticize and then praise a new beginning, that is art that will change society.
I know this sounds vague, but I’ve been reading these comics for a while now and I see within them not just criticism but a genuine optimism and understanding of the ideal form of the human condition. And an artist cannot do the same thing over and over, not that I think your caliber is diminishing, but… that’s just my thoughts. Love the new comic, though 🙂
If you consider Winston to be an optimist, I’d like you to send a message to the first pessimist you see. Just tell him there’s a guy you know named Phrank, who like him to stay to stay far, far away from him. :-p
But ideally, it needs people to run about shooting things (other people or vehicles). And tanks would be nice.
We need something like the game Total Annihilation; two arbitrary sides, both with methods of keeping population up, nanobots that recycle metal, and the ability to produce hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of tanks and robots and mechs and artillery and jets and helicopters and missiles and giant, 5-story gatling cannons.
A review springs to mind, written by Yahtzee regarding CAD. Allow me to quote you the parts I think might be of interest:
“Shakespeare wrote that ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. He did not then add ‘unless you’re writing a webcomic’. It applies to everything, and don’t tell me you’re arrogant enough to claim to know better than Shakespeare.”
“If any dialogue can conceivably be replaced with a gesture or facial expression… do so; this is a comic, a predominantly visual medium, not a fucking essay.”
Your art isn’t bad, dude (although the non-fappable – i.e. the male – characters of yours could do with more work regarding their anatomy), but you really need to rethink this wall of text thing. It’s just ugly.
Well, Winston’s text is, indeed, quite brief compared to Shakespeare’s work, so I don’t think there’s any conflict there. As for replacing dialogue with more imagery, my personal opinion is that Winston manages a perfect balance between the two, so that the images are very pleasing, and the text is very amusing to read.
You happen to dislike the walls of text. The thing is, there are, believe it or not, people in this universe who like it enough to read it, and would prefer Winston not change his ways at all. You obviously aren’t one of those people, which leaves one question, and only one:
What the hell are you doing here, reading this comic, when you clearly don’t like it?
Harrison, just go away. Stop reading. Go back to CAD. We’ve been over this a thousand times before; your points are not new, your quotes are probably not new, and everyone who came before you has not changed the the way the strip is written. You won’t, either.
If you have to stay, it might help to think of it as more of a novel with pictures to go along with the text. Or just look at the pretty pictures each week and pretend there aren’t any speech bubbles. But you’re just wasting your own time – and ours in trying to explain this to you.
Why should any sort of rules apply to a comic anyway? Why should a comic be less of text and more visual… anything that can be funny yet insightful is as much a part of a comic as the drawing.
I think this one is an awesome take on TV shows and general knowledge.
Even in schools, we are taught certain things in certain fixed ways. Why can’t we be taught to derive things with some basic knowledge of basic facts?
As much as we enjoy you telling us that a reviewer who is ridiculously long winded would potentially disapprove of this comic because he disapproves of other comics and points out that there’s a trait about them that, among other things, he doesn’t like that they have a lot of words, because in his opinion (which is apparently the word of god himself, who has sent an angel to descend from the heavens and disguise himself as a fairly popular video game, and apparently webcomic, reviewer and use his position to declare to the masses that if you’re going to draw pictures and put them up on the interwebs they better not have a lot of words because it isn’t to his taste) they can and thus should convey the generally simple ideas through pictures rather than words.
But here’s the catch – it’s harder, and takes a very gifted individual to convey complex ideas and irony through facial expressions alone, in fact I’d say that since most people can’t read faces well enough to derive anything far above “I am in pain”, “I am surprised” or “I am happy”, or a combination of those emotions, it would be impossible to convey that someone has not anticipated that hundreds of years into the future the currency has changed and that person’s quest to kill an oversized american president in the past has been hindered once again and as a result he and his dull witted companion will have to resort to fruitlessly demanding change from strangers.
But if you find some sort of facial contortion that fits the bill, draw it, and post it here.
Hm. One thing I dislike more than the people complaining about the walls of text, are the people who post walls of text rebutting the people complaining about walls of text. We get it, Winston can do what he likes, it’s the limitations of the artform, there’s no strict one-size-fits-all rules blah blah blah. Just siddown and read the dang comic, fer chrissakes!
Although this now makes me a person who writes a wall of text to complain about the people who write walls of text rebutting the people who complain about the walls of text oh no I’ve gone crosseyed.
MNov = Please, for the love of god, never write anything again. Reading that post was just painful. That entire first paragraph is one sentence long and never finishes itself. Holy shit man. I mean there’s only three periods in that rambling monstrosity. Then topped off with a condescending intellectual air. AHHH!! BRAAIINN BULGIIINGGG..EYES MELLTTTIIINNGG…AH…AHH…AHHHHH!!!!!!
There was something else I wanted to say, though. Now, what was it… ?
“Just siddown and read the dang comic, fer chrissakes!”
We did. And then we read the comments. And responded to the comments.
Although, I don’t know about the others, but I wouldn’t call it a “dang” comic, and I most certainly did not read the comic for “chrissakes”, and I don’t even know what “siddown” means, so I guess I failed you there.
I’m sorry. Can you ever forgive me? 😦
Line Noise: sometimes the simplest of jokes are the most hilarious. DAMN YOU TO HELL FOR MAKING ME LAUGH!!!!!
Dear Mr. Rowntree: I have recently found your webcomic, and I am pleased to note that the following line has won me over, probably for life:
“Did you just DETERMINE the capital of Spain?”
I also like “Reception!” Well done sir.
One reason our culture has become like someone trying to get fired is that we don’t believe in jobs, or in firing, anymore, metaphorically speaking. All things are utterly arbitrary. No meaning = no purpose. As per Sartre, the only meaningful question is getting fired, or suicide. Bleak but unavoidable result of the worldview. But people will do anything to avoid ‘work’, and would rather embrace this lunatic worldview than consider others which lead to different conclusions.
Anyway, I can’t stop reading the comic. Strong work!
It’s a prideful boast that I just read 123 of your comics in one sitting, but let it also reflect on the quality of your work. At times satirical, meta, poignant, and powerful. Admittedly verbose, but occasionally pithy. And balanced aesthetically and intellectually. A very well done comic. If I gave you any more praise I’d be fawning, so I’ll stop.
Did you intentionally develop your writing skill or did it grow from repeated practice?