May 2008

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« Dilbert rerun? | Main | Basic Instructions, Part 6 »



unfortunately... i think less words would sell better. Sadly i would reach the most people that way. I love the humor in the strip but i think that the average person who reads comics in papers, do so quickly

Chris Hehman

Almost as good as the original square format, far better than the first strip format attempt.

The 3rd panel works better in this version. Fewer words are better for this joke.
The 4th panel works much better in the square version -- the "I have podlings!" throwaway was the best line in this comic.

The "instructions" at the top take up a lot of space. They could be cut in half without being confusing.

the man in the trout mask

Who cares? - advice and encouragement is well intentioned but,come on! - enough is enough already.
Methinks thou art obssessed with the Meyer wunderkind


I read the comics in my paper pretty religiously -- all of them. I subscribe to the Chicago Tribune, so that's two full pages of daily synicated features. I find some of the comics unfunny (Watch Your Head) and/or tedious (Dick Tracy, Brenda Starr), but using my slowly failing, 53-year old eyes, I read them all.

Except one. Sylvia.

Even though I enjoy Nicole Hollander's senibility and sense of humor, on many days -- the wordy days -- I find it just too hard to slog through. Admittedly, it's not just the density and small letters, but the typeface itself.

So I'm not a big fan of the high-density format. Scott's lettering is at least pretty legible, so it's not as bad. But to have a comic with the actual Drawing portion forced so far to the background is kind of, IMHO, antithetical to the whole "comic strip" concept.

This version is a very poor compromise.


The comic is funnier in the original format. It is also much easier to read. Conformity is not going to make this guy a better cartoonist. Lots of comics are syndicated "Sunday Only" and have a totally different format. Maybe he should try that.


Non Sequitur also tends to be wordy on occasion. It works.


It's possible to make that strip a lot more concise.


Basic instructiond is indeed consistantly funny... and this new format is the best compromise yet. As per the comments above, a little thinning of the text and it'll work.


It doesn't work, the text was hard to read and I had to concentrate on it to follow. Even if sight was the only problem I think the majority of the population won't read it because of the density of text.

I would try to compact the language more. I think your coffee swilling beaver is very relevant, and aptly timed. You were originally going for a beaver hyped on decongestants. Speed was an option, but out of the question for you syndication. Decongestant didn't word because it was too long a word and too far out there to make an immediate impact. Identical situation here.

Here's what I recommend next. Have Scott draw a strip in the normal fashion as he has been doing. So its brand new and the readers haven't scene it. Then take it and put it in the 4 box format and reduce the text by 60% or so. See if the funny stays and post that comic. Do NOT post the original. Lets see if that is funny enough to be syndicated. Or take the original and see if it works broken up as a 2 part strip.

Personally I think the 3-4 panel would be great for dailies and he could do a 4-6 panel in color for Sundays.


I don't read newspaper comics, I'm sorry to say. Calvin and Hobbes was the last one worth its salt, and Watterson's battles with the newspaper form factor are well-known. In short, newspapers blow. Keep it on the internet and don't dilute the humor.


Hey, Reek, who said humorless seniors? I don't plan to be humorless in 25 years . . .

I do not think the density (word or humor) should be compromised (and I did vote for Bush), but I, at the tender age of 40, find the print size in this format borderline annoyingly small.

I'm wondering if RKM is onto something: two panels somewhat larger with the full word density, and then an extended version online.


I looked back at the original version of this strip: it was A LOT better. A lot of the humor is in the details, and the small version misses on too many of them.

Curtis Sawyer

His original format is still the best. My eyes tend to glaze over with comics in the "standard" format with these many words. I'm not that old, but that many words crammed into the standard format is just painful.

I wish I had a better answer. His original format really is the best for his humor.


I like the amount of words. It's a very intellectual humor style, and part of it's excellent use of sarcasm and irony is it's wordiness.

D. Mented

I'm afraid that although dumb sells, it's usually successful when written by somebody who has a feel for dumb humor.
For an intelligent cynic to try to ape dumb humor would probably not hit the right notes ....and then there's the best argument for keeping it smart, and you already said it:
This might be just as successful in this generation because the Doonesbury generation was very politically involved and had high hopes for change. These days people vote out of fear of what the 'greater of two evils' will do, with little hope for improvement, and want to escape politics for fun.
Basic Instructions has that "I don't give a shit what you think, this is how I see it" edge, plenty of style, and addresses everyday life subjects. I don't know if it can be successful, but I'm pretty sure dumbing it down will guaruntee failure.
Thank you for promoting other comics here. Plenty of successful people out there take the policy of "I've got mine, now slam the door"
D. Mented


I like it better in the original format. Like this, it looks way too crowded and you lose the visual.

Ernie Oporto

I like his original format. This is too squished.
I think this guy is hysterical and have him in my RSS reader to catch the latest strip every morning. Is chasing the dead-tree format really that worthwhile? Look what Penny-Arcade have done without newspapers. Newspapers are so ... 1850s.

Dr. K

The original is twice as interesting and entertaining as the new version modified to fit the comic page format. Part of that is more content in the original. Of course the goal is for Scott to be syndicated, so I'm not sure if the original format is even an acceptable option, right? I mean, unless you're Bill Watterson, who gets away with trashing the sacred comic strip boundaries?! Not even our host, Scott Adams, I dare say.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure what some of the cranky comments are about. This is amazingly fresh and funny stuff. Best new thing I've seen in a long time.


"The family circus" often uses a circular format in newspapers...just as on example of a comic that didn't stick to the traditional format.


it's perfect!!! leave it just like that!


Augh. This many words compressed into a small space makes me anxious. I feel like I must rush through the words, and the artwork is marginalized.

Bottom line: I prefer the original balance of text to graphics. Scott's drawings are quirky and fun. I don't want to miss them.

Sorry. I know I'm making life difficult for all of the Scotts.


Well, I did like the way the child advisor guy crouched down and put out his clawish hands at the kid ...
but no, it doesn't work.
Frankly, if it appeals to my sense of humor, it's already so far out on the edge of the bell curve that you've lost any hope of entertaining a large audience anyway.


I actually like this version of the strip the best. The format was large enough to read and the content was funny. For those that have trouble seeing it, there are new vision technologies called contacts and glasses that will fix the problems :P


It just doesn't work for me. This version is bland, it's simply not as punchy. Even if it's the same basic joke, it just didn't make me smile. Parts are missing that were in the original, and when I went to look up the original version, it made me chuckle!

This is an important point, so allow me to reiterate:

1. I read the original couple of weeks ago.

2. Today I read the abridged version here, immediately recognizing it from before, but didn't find it so funny. I thought it's because I already knew it.

3. Then I read the original again. Keep in mind it's basically the third time I'm reading the same joke, and the last two readings are immediately one after another... yet the original made me laugh again!

I guess much of the humour lies in his wordiness, it allows his sharp wit to shine through.

On the other hand, a blander comic might be more palatable to the general newspaper-reading public? In his case, it may come down to a choice between fully expressing himself or getting rich. But what do I know...

P.S. I also had a similar feeling with the earlier attempts to shorten the comic, but didn't care enough to post a comment at the time.

Chris Greiner

Its fine I love it and thanks to the paramedics I didnt die laughing.

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