On a completely unrelated note, goddamn do I hate Windows Update.

(From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Click for full-sized unnatural selection.)

Sometimes I think SMBC is a little too mean-spirited for its own good.

Oh, those kooky alternative medicine users, with their disdain for things like “evidence”! It’s not as though a substantial portion of what was once considered “alternative medicine” has since become backed by that “evidence” thing, with acupuncture being the most famous example! And it’s not as though a lot of what’s considered “evidence” for mainstream medical practices today is surprisingly sketchy, or as though science in general as practiced today isn’t surprisingly prone to subconscious researcher biases!

And it’s not as though the record of what constitutes valid “evidence” is centered around the Western cultural record to the exclusion of other cultures, and is subject to Western cultural biases! And it’s not as though the practice of science itself is based on the fallacy that it’s possible to isolate and atomize the effects of any one thing in exclusion to any other thing, an atomist view that a lot of “alternative medicine” is fundamentally opposed to!

Christ, I’m not even into this kind of thing, but the least Zach Weiner could do is know his opponents.

(And damn I hope reading the Comics Curmudgeon regularly doesn’t turn me into a John Solomon clone…)

Zach, if you’re not going to include the red-button panel on the RSS feed, at least provide an alternate feed with just comic links.

(From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Click for full-sized reality.)

I don’t have much more to say about Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal than I did back in March. I was trying to avoid saying too much about it then, to avoid giving away too much about the review now, but what is there to say? It’s a modern The Far Side crossed with xkcd, to the point that, while the comic I reviewed in March may have been xkcdlike, I have since found a number of comics in the archive that are out-and-out the same as an actual xkcd comic; compare this SMBC, only a year old, to this xkcd. But that’s not necessarily a knock against it, and in fact I’m about to say something that may come off as blasphemous:

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is, in fact, a better comic than xkcd.

xkcd is the vanilla ice cream of webcomics (much as I hate how “vanilla” has become synonymous with “plain” when it isn’t, it just doesn’t change the color of ice cream): it’s safe, inoffensive, and wholly middle-of-the-road and unremarkable. It plugs out a new comic three times a week without affecting much of anything whatsoever. In this analogy, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is more like chocolate ice cream: just as middle-of-the-road, but with significantly more flavor. Zach Weiner isn’t afraid to go with off-color humor in every other webcomic, make his opinion on religion very, very clear, or be far nerdier than almost any xkcd comic I’ve ever read. SMBC simply has more bite than xkcd ever had, and the result is that it’s more consistently funny than xkcd. Few comics have had me giggling as much as SMBC did while I was reading it.

But when I started reading it as it came out, I found that there, it had the same problem as xkcd. It doesn’t provide enough bang for the buck for me to consistently follow it every single day. Often it’s just a single panel, or a short progression of panels, and there just isn’t enough there to make an impact.

This may partly be because the comic is read better several at a time, but it may also be because the comic is pretty hit-and-miss, and may in fact have declined in quality just within the last year. It may also be a comic you can’t have too much of. Certainly if you’re the sort who hates Ctrl+Alt+Del, there’s certainly ammunition here for you, as the vast majority of comics will generally hit one of a few points: jokes about naughty bits, religion, academia, “graph jokes”, and at least for a while, out-of-order jokes, with the chronologically earliest panel moved to the end to change the experience of the comic. So you could say the comic is repetitive and that Weiner falls back on a few crutches.

On the other hand, it is a daily comic, so you probably can’t fault Weiner for resorting to those crutches, especially since it’s a strict gag-a-day comic with no continuing characters or storylines, meaning for all its repetitiveness, it can still shift topics on a dime. Besides, it still has those moments of humor that can reach a higher level than xkcd. I wouldn’t say SMBC is for everyone – if you get offended by certain sorts of jokes about God and religion (especially Christianity), SMBC isn’t for you, and the same goes if you’re offended by jokes about certain parts of the human anatomy. If neither of those weeded you out, and you happen to already like xkcd, I’d give SMBC a shot and see if it’s right for you.

That may sound like damning with faint praise, and you may have noticed that this post reads substantially shorter than other recent reviews. Well, I never liked xkcd that much, though my opinion of it has softened as time has gone on, to the point that I’ll admit that SMBC never quite reaches the sublimity that the occasional xkcd comic can. As such, I find I don’t really have an opinion about SMBC that much and I’m not confident of the opinion I do have. I’m conflicted about it, because I certainly enjoyed it, but I’d certainly never read it on a regular basis. It’s not really for me. Maybe if it’s for you, you’ll enjoy it and have a new favorite comic, but I’m going to go back to reading Order of the Stick, becoming addicted to Questionable Content, and trying to finish Erfworld before it comes back from hiatus.

Don’t worry, I’ll have a less lame excuse to continue the streak tomorrow. Look for an MSPA post, god willin’ and the creek don’t rise.

(From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Click for full-sized dick facts.)

At some point this year, I fully intend to do a full review of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Most of the time, I would probably describe it as a modern version of The Far Side, with more off-color humor.

This comic, though, I would probably describe as something more akin to a poor man’s xkcd.

With more off-color humor.

In fact, this comic is one that I would not be remotely surprised to see as an xkcd comic. I don’t know whether that says more about xkcd, SMBC, or this particular comic…

(For the record, and just as another tease, I haven’t changed my stance on xkcd – and I’ve realized that even without the same volume of overly technical jokes it’s often had a reputation for, I still find myself going to the forums to get the joke – and I don’t think I find SMBC a superior product, nor am I likely to start following it… but I don’t want to commit myself to that at this early date, either. How’s that for you?)