May 2008

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« Andorran Showoffs | Main | Basic Instructions, Part 4 »


Lord Jim

Calvin and Hobbes:Little Boy
Definitely no. Calvin and Hobbes is not a strip that can be condensed to one or two words. Watterson manages to convey much more to his readers other than the antics of a kid and his stuffed tiger.


What is amazing about the Perry Bible Fellowship (which was conspicuously absent from your list of "general" comics) is that it has a far larger internet presence than any other comic I can think of, and it is constantly quoted in online discussions. Yet (according to wikipedia) only a dozen newspapers actually carry it.

I hope the guy's making enough money to make ends meet...

And yes, I'd agree that "basic instructions" is a theme by itself. In a more general sense, it seems to be about his life, relationships and experiences. He goes through a life like many other people, but he sees the absurdities in everyday things; that's what makes it so funny.


I have to say its good advice to pick a theme if you really want to sell well, the problem is balancing that with the original humor of the strip. Sometimes such comics deviate too much from the original sense of humor, take Get Fuzzy for example, its noticeable that the most popular merchandise (e-cards, t-shirts, etc.) use material from the past rather than the current poor fare, though I think the problem recently has been compounded by having too many characters, which is something else that doesn't make commercial sense.

The relationship with the reader has to be there, which is why I always worry about the fact that Redmeat ( is my favourite comic.


I loved Basic Instructions so now
this regular reader of Dilbert, Get Fuzzy and Pearls Before Swine has bookmarked Scott Meyer's site.

I'm only an occasional reader of the Dilbert blog comments but I really enjoyed them this time.

I really hope Scott (one of you) will mine the feedback on "Basic Instructions" for the potential humour.

I nearly wet myself when I read the comment that while the men are OK the women need to be hotter (sorry, more 'attractive')
I suppose the commenter was aware that the characters are created by tracing photos ...
To this female reader, all the characters look like ordinary people that might be a smidge overweight.
To me that kind of depiction indicates the possibility of interesting observational humour .

Also - I really like the insight that _women_ generally prefer to look at attractive female characters.
I'm thinking that may well explain all the barely clad pneumatically breasted babes in computer games, movies and comics.
A mystery solved. Thank you so much.


Uncle Scott, you are fast turning into the patron saint for struggling cartoonists :)

I like it!

Attie Naude

Ever read Sinfest, Scott?

I love that comic and the art has a really unique style to it. But you'll easily see why that's not marketable to syndication companies, it deals with very touchy issues like God and the devil.

I bet most of your blog readers would find it entertaining.


Over here (Malaysia), one of the national newspapers slots Dilbert in the paper's tech pullout.



I remember the post in which you said that if everyone liked your product you were dead - but if a few folks LOVED it you had a gold mine.

For me the original 4 panel strip is always a standout - different, noticeable and something to hang on a cubicle wall (or a fridge).

The "normal" strip does remind me of the syndicated strips - but it's not unique enough to have me click back - the horizontal strips always come across as awkward and missing something - like a joke without the right timing.

I love how you give this strip attention - now let the genius that is Scott (the other Scott) shine through!

Oh - and Scott quit reusing art - when you use the same drawing in two panels you just look cheap! 4 panels means 4 different pictures!


That's why I so enjoy Al-Dilbert. The theme is immediately recognizable to me as a Dilbert fan and a Muslim American.


Yay. This is exciting. I think Scott Meyer's awksome. (That's a new word. It means awkward in an awesome way.)


I just need to point out to all of you disagreeing with Mssr. Adams..the advice he is providing is coming from one of the most successful cartoonists in history. Debating him on this topic is akin to arguing with Einstein that he was wrong.

Simon Gear

You two Scotts are now taking up most of my valuable shower thinking time so I need to get this off my chest and free up more time for my ruminations on early Britney.

I think the comic is great but it bothers me that all of the commercially succesful strips exploit the 'cute' (from Scott A's List Of The 6). Even Dilbert himself is cute enough to work as a poster / cover of a calender on his own without needing any dialogue. The same is true of all of the examples that Scott listed in this post.

I can't see the strip being a true commercial blockbuster until this is solved.


BasicInstructions isn't about male-femle relationships, it's about arguments and hostility towards one's boss, co-workers, friends, people we meet on the street, and one's spouse. Scott "acts casual" in front of his boss while trying to steal printer paper, he argues with a car dealer who is trying to take advantage of him, he needs a mnemonic to remember Rick's name so he comes up with "Dick", he tells a lady who asks for directions to walk through a wall, he argues with a co-worker that Leonardo Da Vinci is overrated, he can't understand why another co-worker is sad she has to quit and leave her "good friends", and he listens to his wife explain that her dream about a backpack that feels like a dead monkey and is full of poop reminds her of their marriage. Its all done with wit and insight. Male-female relationships is too narrow a theme, and showing different types of relationships makes it easier to identifier with Scott.


I read all of 'em and subscribed and such, just so you know he has some more support.


This is sad for me to read. I liked Dilbert once it could be summed up as "neurotic guy with a dog". The work-related humor wasn't funny because it described common situations (at least not primarily so), but because the characters were appealing. The human aspect of the strip has since been lost, and the characters are now mere vehicles for jokes. (How many times must Dogbert be dragged out to be a consultant? He's not quirky anymore - just sarcastic.)

Anyway - maybe I'm not the target market for a "marketed" strip but this just depresses me. It's good for a strip to have an overarching "theme" for focus or common elements but not shackles.

Lester Galaxy

I checked out his strip and as a self proclaimed comics expert it is way too wordy. Couldn't get thru two strips without givng up. He will never make it the way it is.

Billy B

What ever
Billy B


basic instructions does have a central theme: truth. Makes me laugh because it points the ovious using satire to situations i can relate to. ("most bees are only bragging").
i enjoy the format because it gives me "four punch lines for the price of one" with the whole being larger than the sum of its parts when the final part ties everything together.

on dilbert i used to get that "multi punch line" feeling only on the sunday strips. but lately they feel just like long dayly ones in color.

my recomendation to meyers is to leave the 4 pane execution as the "sunday one" and have a simpler "one or two punch line" version for a daily strip.

hope this helps.


My 2 cents worth..

1. Keep it general - that's one of its strengths. You can only go so far with the man-woman thing before you risk regurgitating jokes done by every humorist since the dawn of time.
2. Occasionally make it even darker (humor-wise). The unexpected ending of some of the strips are what made me laugh the loudest.
3. Keep up the good work. You've got an original, funny-as-hell gem in the rough on your drawing board. I look forward to the eventual TV series :)


This may be the worst comic ever to read at work. It gets everyone around you asking "What the heck is so funny?"

I honestly think this may be the 3rd or 4th best comic of all time. Although, i'd seriously begin to doubt what he can come up for instructions for after 1000 or 2000 strips. "How to plug in your toaster" can only be made so funny.... In fact, that could be hilarious, albeit very specific.

Dan T.

So here's the question: does Scott Adams really think Scott Meyer's comic is that good, or is Scott Adams just trying to see if his endorsement and advise alone can take a decent but hardly noteworthy web comic and turn it into a hit?


You once told us that for a prototype or a new idea to be successful, it should have a small percentage of people who are wildly enthusiastic about it and a large majority who hate it or don’t think it will work – the implication being that having the majority saying “I like it” is the kiss of death, and no great success will come from it.

I hope you were wrong, for Scott Meyer’s sake.


Like many others said: Its a comic about witty how-to's.

But I think Scott is at least partial right. The theme of every instruction is about relationship, the effect of something to other people. Its very Seinfeld-like. Take this comic:

The picture on your id is in itself not an interesting topic. But as soon as you reason that other people will see it and judge you, there is good humorous potential.

I only dislike the supporting cast characters. The women should look hotter and more feminine.

D. Mented

I think you're going too far with the idea of following a formula. The formula is generated by people who invented something that caught on.
Another Cathy, or Marmaduke, or For Better or For Worse wouldn't be successful because it's just like the original. The original was successful because people are able to identify with the characters and recognise the situation, and the presentation has some style, or something that makes the readers feel 'that was well- put'.
Basic Instructions has characters and situations some readers can recognise, and freight train loads of style.
The question is really - how many people identify with any of the characters and recognise any of the situations? Not how can we make Basic Instructions into another "Family Circus"?
By the way, I just saw on the news: the king rat is scurrying, the cheese must all be gone...Carl Rove is resigning!
D. Mented


the ninja with brochitis is greaat!
or else you can rip the package with a coin (should i describe how?)
without producing any noise

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