May 2008

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

« Basic Instructions, Part 5 | Main | Slap the Monk, eh? »




your Dilbert draft also profits a lot from being placed in a concrete situation (without making too many words about it). I think Scott Meyer should consider placing all his advice in concrete situations, too. He did that very well in "How to open a snack quietly" (a visit to the cinema). In "How to calm a scared kid" the situation might be an evening when Mommy went out with her girl-friends (just my humble example).

Another thing I noticed is that both Scott Meyer's and your child look like small adults and lack typical child-like features like round cheeks etc.


On the subject of familiar = funny:

To add my $0.02 to the discussion, I think Scott's comics work best in their wordier forms, whether square or strip-shaped. He seems to be the sort of person who needs to use more words to express himself, and he does it well.

This has been an interesting series of articles to follow. I'm looking foward to seeing what you guys will do next, and where it will all lead. He's very skilled and funny, I hope he succeds. :)


I thought the second panel was a little too blunt. Dilbert sounded almost malicious instead of awkward. I know it's just a demonstration, but I thought it could use just a touch more subtlety.
That said, it comes very close to preserving the spirit of the joke with a fraction of the words, and I do think Scott Meyers would benefit from this example.


Honestly, I have to say the Dilbert one falls flat. I don't know about everyone else, but the second panel in the BI edition is the one that really cracks me up, in the sense that he has a "This is the right way to do it", and the frame is a "This is doing what I say but not what I mean" type of deal. The comic would be a great deal less funny were that panel removed.


Ha! That was pretty good. And I was prepared to dislike it just because it wasn't "Basic Instructions."


you know..i love dilbert. i get it in my email everyday and i still read it in the paper just incase someone goofed and it's different.

but this strip sucked.


In all the Mayer's comics showns so far, the drawn characters do nothing. They have no purpose whatsoever. His comics would be equally funny if only the dialogue has been published.

Try it and see.

I Dilbert, there are few things that characters convey, and this has been elaborated on (like cuteness, etc. - but his comics also do tend to show some expressions which underlines the point).

Dave Sanford

I like xkcd too, and various other web comics (partially clips) that don't try to make sense to the lowest common denominator - I'm of the opinion that these will continue to be more popular, of course they may also be pushing the envelope of 100 basic jokes too :-)


his was better.


sorry Scott A., I don't like the dilbert version as much but I know it was kinda forced so I think that's why.

I like the Scott M. wordy comics because once you get used to the charactes (or if you're lazy) you can skip the explanation and just read what the people are saying. I feel like i have that option


Man, yours was *flat*. His was fine in newspaper format. Its still not the most amazing comic ever, but I did read the entire archives. Then again, I read about 75 comics which run 3-7 days a week slightly more than half of which are syndicated, so I've got a low threshold.


As soon as your Basic Instructions project started I went to the site and read the whole archive. By the end I felt like I knew the characters. Without the benefit of seeing pictures of Scott on the site I might not know that it's him, but got to know that character.

Most of the characters in BI ar recurring. Eventually you get to know them all, at least to the extent that Scott wants us to. I know what Dilbert's like, but that's not from telling me it's Dilbert. It's from having read Dilbert. Not assiging names to the characters leaves me free to identify with them, but I also get to know them over time.


Meyer's comic was not funny to begin with and Dilbert saying it doesn't help. You're trying to help by focusing on the format; try focusing on the funny.


"How to Calm a Frightened Child" was my favorite of Scott Meyer's strips that I read. I like your interpretation too, I think it works, the one thing is that I thought in "Basic Instructions" the funniest part was the shadow panel where it becomes obvious that he was scaring the child more. While its funny either way, in Meyer's strip, I think the illustrations were funnier than the text.


I must say, as much as I am a fan of Scott's work, the Dilbert adaptation done for this blog post is unfunny.


Sorry, I just don't like Basic Instructions. Too wordy and it works too hard to set up the situation - just like you (Scott A), are doing trying to get this comic off the ground. Any chance you have some ve$ted interest in this strip? Time to move on.


It's interesting that you keep going to your blog readership for their opinions. I can envision a future where Scott M. gets some newspapers to pick up a comic that's designed based on the readership's suggestions ... and it fails miserably.

But then, I'm a cynical computer programmer. This sort of thing happens every day in my business. Users give you specs for the program that they think they want. You give them exactly the program that they asked for. They hate it, and blame it on you.

(Hey, there's a Dilbert comic in that!)


Wow. I just read some of the comments on here, and the overwhelming impression I get is that nothing ruins humor more than overanalyzing it. Of course, I already knew that, but your post and these comments really drive it home. And now for my over-analysis.

I like the original BI version of the strip, and I like the Dilbert version. But I like the BI version more, not sure why, maybe because I read it first. Now, several people have commented that the child's visible expression in the Dilbert version is important in conveying the humor, and I think that's true. I also thought the child in the BI version looked like a grownup, so my only suggestion would be to make the child more childlike and more expressive.

There is a newspaper-format magazine called "Funny Times", and they print a lot of multi-panel comic strips like BI. I don't know how they select comic strips, or what the financial deal is, but I think BI would fit right in with their format.


I've been trying to put my finger on something about Scott M., and I've come to the conclusion that he may be the Billy Connolly of comics.

Billy's comedy is story-telling that builds and builds, which is similar to the 4-panel BI layout. Scott M's formula is "simple premise, increasingly absurd conclusions." I thought when he got brief it took AWAY from what he does best.

Another example is NewsRadio. It's IMO the funniest sitcom of all time, but in all the zaniness, I can hardly remember a truly "magnificent" punchline; a lot of it was in the delivery/expressions/tone (especially regarding the late Phil Hartman). But there would be scenes that would just make me keep laughing, because they'd build and build, a little bit at a time.

Or, to use a sports analogy, maybe Scott's not a slugger like Barry Bonds, but instead he's a tenacious contact hitter like Wade Boggs. Hits fewer home runs (but still gets a few, e.g., "How to Fake a Smile"), but at the same time strikes out a lot less, too.

You, Scott (A.), I tend to think of as more of the HR hitter type. But for you it may depend on the audience more... I don't know any Loud Howards, for example, so I just find that particular character annoying, not funny.

Of course, in case my own biases might negate all that, I also tend to like my humor weird and deranged, and Scott M. excels at that, especially in the 4-panel format.


I really think switching to the regular newspaper 4-panel format while leaving ALL the words in works great for Basic Instructions. It's the perfect solution.

Scott Meyer's target audience won't mind the smaller print or the 'wordiness'. It still works, it has the same impact of his current format, and I think it's a great solution for getting the comic syndicated without having it lose anything.


The familiar characters do help.
I've just started watching "Eureka" which is basically "The Outer Limits" but with all the stories happening to the same people in the same small town. That's not the whole reason I like "Eureka" better, but that's part of it.


Scott M.'s comic would be fine in its original format in college papers. Too bad there's no syndicate for that. (?)


It kind of works because you shortened it a lot. Like I said in the previous post I didn't even read Scott's comic because it was way to wordy and small on my monitor. If he loses the context description he may have something.


I have to say the Dilbert version is much funnier. Probably because I'm already accustomed to the Dilbert characters but also I find this other comic strip very wordy. You ruin a punch line by working too hard to build up to it, IMHO.


I have to say the Dilbert version is much funnier. Probably because I'm already accustomed to the Dilbert characters but also I find this other comic strip very wordy. You ruin a punch line by working too hard to build up to it, IMHO.

The comments to this entry are closed.