May 2008

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


rita mae

Back to work from the weekend.
Scott M.'s stip has the kid too big and lacking facial expressions.
Too wordy.
Scott M's work belongs in his original format. Doesn't seem to work as well in the four panel style.
This is like comparing apples and oranges.
Let's get on with it.
Make a decision and go.
I like Scott A's work and I like Scott M's work. But they are different. Different is good, right?

Scott, still love you, but still too old to stalk you.

Rita Mae

Dilbert's Rabbi

What makes this so interesting is that I ALMOST understand EVERYTHING that's going on. It's tantalizing to be an ALMOST-insider-but-not-quite. I'm sure that the two Scotts are really jazzed at the synergy of likeminded creativity. The rest of us can ALMOST taste that synergy... but not quite.

Maybe this is the attraction of "reality" programming...

Urban Koda

Interesting... Both comics use the same humor, but my reaction to them was different.

I felt I could relate more to the basic instructions one, maybe because I was putting myself in the role of the father. I think I've encountered this with my son a couple of times!

With the Dilbert version, it was as funny, but I felt more as though I were watching it happen in the Dilbert world, rather than relating myself to it.

Can't fault either of them though!

And I do enjoy the new format for BI - seems to make it a longer comic somehow! The 4 square block made it seem shorter.


Getting the point across in the shortest way is better. To the point, and dont have to search for the needle in the haystack. Less is more in this case.
I agree with alot of other comments here about a more graphic "scared face" on the child, and the child being younger, makes it more plausible.
A picture paints a thousand words so a scared face will say more.
So in conclusion, I think Scott A's worked better. Like i learnt in marketing - the K.I.S.S rule - Keep It Simple Silly

Simon Jester

Curiously, the sample Dilbert strip opens in a significantly larger window (800 x 271 pixels) than yesterday's sample BI strip (600 x 189 pixels).


A message to Scott Meyer... enjoy the publicity, capitalize on it as much as possible, and don't change your style or content because it's terrific as is.

Finally, publish a book so I can buy it.



While I thought that the Dilbert comic was funnier, the Basic Instructions comic is closer to what I would do with my own kids. Incidentally, the comic would have worked just as well with Wally or Alice or Dogbert, but they would require a little tweaking to make it their own. You could probably get a weeks worth of strips if you developed it a little more. I could see the PHB showing the kids around the office and showing them Catbert's kid torture chamber, put them in product testing, or have them run on hamster wheels. Then showing the kids scrambling, running for their lives....


Now that we have given enough advice to Scott Meyer to become a multi-millionaire, can we move on ....


I would love to see the kid continue to go around the office and get "comforted" by Wally, Alice, Asok, PHB, Catbert and ultimately Dogbert. They each would have such different disfunctional advice for the kid. It would be great. And best of all, we should never find out whose kid it is.

George Frost

Strip format or not, I think it would be better without all the text at the top of each window. And without that text, it could probably fit into a strip if needed.


My son was supposed to come to work with me today, but didn't get up in time. He was still sleeping when I left. Dilbert with a child in it is kind of creepy.

A new suggestion (from me) for the other Scott; don't put so many good jokes in each strip, stretch them out so you can get more out of them.


Richard Clarke

Hey Scott!

Give up please and go back to writing something funny or thought-provoking. I hate to say it but this comic strip author is not funny.


I agree with you Scott that the other Scott's Basic Instructions is to wordy. I think he should omit all the background/supportive text and just stick to the character's dialog. You can still get the point without having to wade through all the muck.


Meyer's was funny. The Dilbert copy is just cynical. But I see the point you're trying to make, and it's a valid one. Whether it matters or not is a different story.

All you've really shown in this whole experiment is that it's better for Scott Meyers to not try to be Scott Adams, but to be himself, and vice versa.

Newspapers have "square" strips also (The Far Side, Family Circus, etc.) BI would fit in one of those as-is.


Or, so I hear. Ask a lemming. Or some other monkey.


I'm interested in a cartoonists take on these other authors' work.
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Rick Miller

I haven't seen the other Scott's "frightened child" comic, but the bit about a kid being afraid of being killed is pretty clueless.

First of all, most kids are oblivious to their own mortality. They may be frightened by threats of harm but it's extremely rare for children in our society to even consider the finality of death.

Second, offices full of cubies are far more safe than any child's own home. How would a kid get killed in an office?


I don't think this other Scott actualy exists. It's just another persona of the original. He obviously just wants to get syndicated twice. What next?
Scott K Rowling writing books about a wizard?
Scott H Christ publishes the third testament?

Greedy w*nker.


Wordy complex strips. I wonder of Pogo would make it today.


One solution to the wordiness-format-problem is that Scott nr 2 changes his strips into the sunday format. The strips will be less wordy, easy to read and... he won't have to produce as many strips (he might consider that an upside and newspapers might accept that).


Well..uum, I think "Basic Instructions" works better with more text than the "dilbert style"- text. When I first started reading "Basic Instructions" I expected a fine drawing and complex write...because the artist is giving us "instructions" about life.

Anyway, my opinion is: works really well with newspaper strip dimensions, and complex text.

[For statistical porpouses: I´m young, I´m Spanish, and I usually read this kind of strips at Internet]


uk mender

Scott M's BI strip is actually a series of four one-liners, in the American mold, each of which would have happily stood alone. The Dilbert strip, however, is a short story, in the British tradition. Build-up and punch line, 'BAM'. Which I suppose is why I prefer it. Also, it takes a lot less effort to read, and I am basically lazy.


To date the humor of Basic Instructions has been built on the ironic contrast between the good sense of the advice given in the text and the inept or counterproductive behavior of the people in the pictures. Any reformatting needs to preserve this dynamic because without it BI would become a different comic.

The explicit contrast creates ambiguity. Is the author of the advice illustrating each point by showing the problem to be avoided? Is he fixing the advice in the readers' minds by humorous misapplication of the advice? Or is he just cynical about the abilities of humans to actually follow the advice? What is the motivation of the people in the pictures: are they morons or misanthropes? As a result there is an intellectual complexity which is part of the "richness" to which other commenters have referred.

So the text is necessary even though the reader can deduce what the characters are doing from the pictures and dialog because BI is not just about some doofus characters performing inept or slightly malignant actions. Its humor requires simulation of a serious discussion about principles of behavior. Removing the text would completely eviscerate its impact.

Since the word "verbose" refers to excess, BI is only slightly verbose; with careful revision each bit of text could be made a little shorter, but there is a limit. All the ideas present in the text are necessary because an "instruction manual" needs to discuss matters in detail (to give detailed advice) and the detail drives the content of the pictures.

In this light, comparing BI's "How to Calm a Scared Child" to the Dilbert treatment of the same concept is worse than comparing an apple to an orange; it's more like comparing an octopus to a clam. Both are excellent critters, not too distantly related, but they are quite different.

The wordcount is not reduced by the familiarity of Dilbert but by the different background, conventions, and goals of the Dilbert universe. Scared children are pretty familiar and even children scared by violent movies, so an "established" character or setting is not needed to give context to the idea.


Your version sucks and if you think it proves a point then it's just your imagination. It's come to a point where it seems like you're exploiting this guy's work for (crapy) blog material.

I just noticed, the only way you DO help the guy is by exposing his work to a crowd. Your advice are worth shit!

Kevin Kunreuther

Folks, this isn't a case somebody tells the joke better than another person, it's a matter of comparing and admiring both approaches. Consider this: the comedy in Dilbert is a distillate, boiled down haiku, Basic Instructions is a series of comedic jazz tone poems ( ). They both work very well, it's a matter of personal taste.
Scott Meyers would like to experience some of Scott Adams success, (worldwide daily syndication) but does he need to change stylistic horses, abandon his broader observations and laser in on a more clearly defined aspect of human relationships, for the filthy lucre (woo-hoo!ka-ching!) offered by family newspapers? As seen in examples, Scott's attempts at syndicate style strips can be likened to Thelonius Monk trying write a pop song - not impossible, but not as entertaining as one could merely hope - because it's being done as an exercise. With perseverence and patience, he could find his voice in the new format. Or Scott Meyers could fall back into the skin he feels most comfortable. For Scott Adams, the three panel strip is perfectly natural, easy as breathing, water off a duck's back, but only because he focused on that format, and figured out to tell jokes with that medium - and figure the focus of the strip - here's reminder of how Dilbert started out( )
Personally, I do prefer Scott Meyers current style, and would dearly love to see that in my daily rag that instead of Marmaduke, Heathcliff, Garfield or some dumb soap opera strip. But if he can't buck the odds and get the comic syndicated on his terms, there's no shame in making that slight paradigm shift, for a chance at wider circulation, wider acclaim, etcetera.

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