Abstruse Goose Proves That Even The Worst Comics Can Get Worse
Based off my well known hatred for the web-comic known as “xkcd,” you’d be forgiven for thinking that xkcd is, in my opinion, the worst comic out there. But it’s not true! I read about 30 comics regularly, and xkcd is not the worst of them (it is second worst). The worst comic, for sure, is Abstruse Goose. This comic is terrible. It’s particularly sad because, like xkcd, it had a strong start, though it fizzled and died far faster than xkcd did.
[before we get any farther, I'll mention that the reason xkcd got a hate blog from me and AG got basically nothing was that while AG's crappiness overshadows xkcd's by a moderate margin, xkcd's popularity and drooling fanbase vastly outnumbers AG's. that's why.]
Anyway, Abstruse Goose seems to generally be about one of a few things: Explaining in excrutiating detail how some random technological process works, some faux-eloquent explanation of a simple mathematical fact, or, if those fail, something, anything, to show that scientists are better than you. AG manages to combine a huge amount of “I-know-more-about-science-than-you” with startling quantities of “but-I-am-painfully-unfunny” into a breathtakingly inane, self-important sludge that my usual rule of thumb was to simply never discuss it publicly.
And yet, occasionally a comic can be so terrible that it simply can’t go unmentioned. This happened earlier this week with the following abomination:
So, the infinitude of primes. This proof, oddly, was the subject of one of the worst xkcds in memory as well. I don’t know why this proof (which a friend tried explaining to me in 7th grade, though I didn’t understand it till several years later) is such a problem for nerd webcomic artists, but apparently it is.
In this case, the proof is represented visually by a chess board, whose pieces are saying the proof out loud. Ha ha! it’s a KNIGHT and a ROOK and they are PROVING that PRIME NUMBERS go on FOREVER! GET IT? Also there is a KING and he represents SOMETHING and he is saying “shit.”
ALso there is a pawn. As the alt-text makes clear, the pawn is not important for the chess game – the king is in checkmate with just the knight and the rook. It’s true that the pawn is saying “pwned,” which sounds a little bit like “pawn.” I think this must be where the joke is supposed to be. What else makes sense?
But this doesn’t make sense either. For one thing, it has nothing to do with the proof about prime numbers. I guess if the characters like, made some bet about whether there were an infinite number of primes or not then you could say that with the proof, the pieces were “pwning” the king. Or something. But again, if you just want to make a “pawn” / “pwn” pun, (ARGH), forget the damn numbers and just have the pawn move up a space, put the king in check, have him yell “PWNED!” and be done with it. Short of proving that you know a moderately simple, 2000 year old proof, I don’t see what this gets you.
The caption makes it really irritating. You go to the caption for an explanation or a punchline, or something to make the whole experience of reading the comic worth your time – except in this case, where you get an explanation of the math and nothing else. It’s fantastically boring.
Abstruse Goose is a terrible comic and I hope I am the only one who reads it. I wish I could stop, but I can’t. As to why I can’t stop reading comics I dislike – that will have to wait for another day.