May 2008

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



As an engineer who wears a crappy silk tie that folds over itself, I can relate to the Dilbert version.

I recently got roped into chaperoning a children's summer camp. I said some things that seemed perfectly logical and helpful to me, but seemed to make matters much worse.

For example, one of the young girls tripped on the pavement during the warmup and scraped her knee. Being the closest adult, I attempted to comfort her. Having no experience with children, I was of little help. Fortunately, a female instructor came and comforted the girl for a few seconds and waited for her to calm down. Finally, she stopped screaming and stopped balling. The female counselor left and I tried talking to the girl for a few moments to get her completely calmed down and to stop her sniffling. This eventually happened and I was convinced that the girl was fine. I then pointed out that her leg had stopped bleeding and that she was now fine.


It seems that young children do not like bleeding or are even aware that they are bleeding. The knowledge that she had cut her leg made the situation much, much worse.

Anyway, thats why I fine the Adams version funnier. I can relate. Maybe when my nieces and nephews come to stay with me, I will be able to relate to the other version.

the man in the trout mask

Wake me when the topic is not Scott Meyer ... zzzzzzzzz.....


Mr Adams, I'm going to print that, forge your signatue on it and pretend its an unpublished one-of-a-kind.

You once wrote that you would verify my clam if I tried that with one of your books. Would you still verify that clam if I did it with unpublished texts that you rewrote from someone else?

Oh, and Jason is a pseudonym, so if anybody asks you if you signed Jason's copy of your original unpublished art, you'll know its me...


I agree with the other post about the multi-punchline aspect of Scott M's work. I like those under the breath or afterthought side jokes the best. Seems those would need to go out the window to keep it from getting too crammed in the panels. And the panels are getting a bit tight with the strip format.

Scott A. is right about at least exploring the standard comics format if Scott M. is to get published/syndicated. His 4-panels, while great, would take up a big chunk of space, and it would seem for a new comic strip this would be a gamble of resources.

I think you guys are on the right track though, and once Scott M. has had some time to allow this all to sink in, ideas appropriate to the strip format will start coming to him.


I think it would have been funnier like this...

I can't find mommy. I'm scared.

Relax, you're only frightened because there are about a hundred ways you could get killed around here.

There are a hundred ways to get killed?

Well that's just accidentally.

Idk or something. It just wasn't up to your normal level of humor, imo. The original from the other Scott is definitely funny. His humor is like an obtuse guy with too much energy on his hands. Tx for the post.


Seems the better cartoons are where the simple drawings of the character/s and the setting tell most of the story, not the words. More words seem to say “Hey, I can’t express it in my drawing but here is what is happening.”

This is one of the reasons why Dilbert is so good because a lot of the background and dialog are abbreviated. We don’t need and essay to have the point driven home. Like early radio shows much of their appeal was in the things that were left to the imagination of the listener. “The Shadow Knows…..”


OMFG scott that I the funniest comic I think Ihave ever seen I'm still laughing.


Can u please move on from this cartoonist mentor thing?

I liked him, added him to RSS. How about posts like bull fighting or we're in a simulation?

Dan K

Looks like someone just saved you the trouble of coming up with your own unique strip, I think the joke works just fine converted to dilbert.

I agree with the posts that state that your sunday strips tend to be dilluted in comparison to your daily strips. Seems to me a lot of comics don't run daily strips, so maybe the focus should be on formatting basic instructions for sunday only... tada, it's done with no changes from the original format (other than slappin some color in there).

A lot of people keep referring to the characters as anonymous, just because you don't know these characters doesn't mean they are anonymous, at one point you didn't know the dilbert characters... in some ways I feel like I know the characters of basic instructions better, because they are based on the people the artist knows (enough that presumably the people he knows, know which characters are them in the strip, which to me makes it a little funnier).


Are you going to run this strip?

I think you should.


this is great

scored 9/20 and feel inadequate :(

Juan Carlo Rodríguez

Scott, now you have me confused. I feel as though you've taken Scott Meyers under your wing, but you're also using him as inspiration. You seem to be helping him out selflessly, because I think you're that kind of a guy, but maybe you're exploiting him, because I don't know what kind of a guy you are. If I were Scott, I'd be trembling in a corner, feeling judged by the great and might Scott Adams. But I don't know him either, so as far as I know, he's probably in Seventh Heaven, knowing that he has caught your eye and actually find this information useful.

Dear God, man, what are you doing to me???

BTW, I like both, since your styles are so contrasting yet you have the cynism I have grown to love. I hope Scott succeeds as much as you have with your creation. (Oh, yeah, this was the part of the comment where I actually meant to say something. Darn, you draw strange charcters to this blog...)

Daniel T.

I think that having the familiar character of Dilbert present the joke does indeed help it to be much funnier. Although the original was funny, I wasn't able to associate with it on a personal level. When presented by Dilbert, I definitely was able to associate with it on a personal level. It may also help that the typical Dilbert reader will likely find a frightened child amusing (a byproduct of the cubicle mind warp). I have read the entire backlog of Scott Meyer's work and I think that he is a very talented man. The majority of his comics made me laugh out loud (at work) and I even posted the one frame of his comic on my boss's cubicle wall (the one on how to negotiate with the United Nations... Now comes the hard part, profiting from your minions hard work). Also a question, how hard is it to change a comic from the 4-square format to the compressed format? Is it possible to offer the comic in multiple formats and let the editors choose which would work best for their readers?


I'd like to see Scott use alt text. It's a device that some of my other favorite webcomics use. It's an html tag that displays a line of text if the image cannot be viewed, or can be viewed by hovering your cursor over the text.

Some use it as a supplement to share an added idea of the artist, or an inside joke to the readers who think to check it. Others are more dependent on it, which makes it a little less acceptable.

consider these two - I like them, and also think they offer a contrast to the dependency point:


For the record, can this reality thread be moved to its own blog so we can get our usual stuff back please?

Demetri T.

ARGHHH.... scott... please no more.... i like dilbert and your thoughts on random things... part 6 of basic instructions is getting mind numbingly boring... i feel like im missing out on a big part of my daily computer life without a real post from you.


Isn't one of the reasons we appreciate Scott Meyer's work that he really can fit four jokes into one four-panel cartoon? Now it's also well proven that Dilbert is one of the most successful strips ever, and everything Scott says about the science of cartooning is likely true, but ... but ... well anyway I guess it is easier to get ahead without mounting a revolution unless you really have to. But Li'l Abner and Doonesbury, both with fairly dense print and too many ideas, were both successfully syndicated weren't they?

I think I agree with the people who've suggested a two pronged strategy of going with Scott's generous help to win syndication for BI while maintaining as well, for online readers, the original format version that many of us seem to think is pretty damn good.

There's normally a difference between the smaller market for what's most brilliant and the larger one for what's most saleable. Maybe Scott2 might join Scott1 with feet in both camps.


i never read comics with too many the purpose
and i m only 22
thts why i love dilbert

Jed Snole

There are only a hundred or so jokes. There is a well-established format for a strip, which is virtually mandatory if any newspaper is going to accept it.
Why do I get the feeling that there is a finite number of possible ideas for any given comic strip? You could have a computer just write them all. Think of the characters and settings as objects. You just write the right code for the base class for these objects, and then you set the properties of the objects, call generate(), and you're done. This is probably why the longer running strips have had to bring in new characters, age the existing characters, or do something else to change the properties of the objects, so they could generate some new episodes.

The Far Side had new characters in each strip, but their characters weren't very well developed, so many of them were functionally identical. This caused them to lose the benefit of multiple objects. Still, they had a pretty good run.

Peanuts characters never changed, and they had very few new characters. If you catalog all the episodes, you will find there were a lot of repeats. Charles Schultz simply ran out of combinations of input parameters.

Dilbert brings in some transient characters who only last a week or two. There are also some jokes that depart completely from the central theme of the strip. This buys some time, but the main setting and characters are still being used up gradually. As the pool of available combinations dwindles, I hope Scott doesn't do something foolish, like giving the boss or the company a name. I remember the Dilbert TV show, where they decided to give the company a name, and all I could think was that some hot shot writer with a PHB mentality probably read a week's worth of Dilbert strips and then decided he knew exactly what to do to improve on it. Charles Schultz knew better than to show us the little red haired-girl. The makers of the Winnie the Pooh videos made one where they showed Woozles and Heffalumps, and I'm sure they regretted it. When Dilbert's time is up, he should go out gracefully or get transitioned into a new setting. Don't violate the fundamental principles of the strip just to keep it alive a little bit longer.


I think I've finally worked out what's bothering me about Scott M's comic strip. The setup is longer than it needs to be, even with the lack of established characters.

Let's try taking it to the other extreme. The Far Side doesn't need established characters. It's humour is based on something else. I would call it "post-situational".

Larson's single frame format generally captures the aftermath of a funny situation, or a home truth, and the captions are often written in the past tense. This allows the reader to fill in the blanks with their own imagination and experiences, making the humour more personal, despite the use of animals as the players.

It may be worthwhile for Scott M to experiment with the single-pane format, and focus on the aftermath of something funny. If the theme is relationships, it's something we can all relate to and the single pane could depict a situation aftermath or one of those awkward moments we recall from our own lives in a humourous way.

- Damien in Sydney

Sweet Pea

Scott, Scott (Meyer) is awesome -- remember that comic strip about a fitness center and a chicken you "helped" out of business? Maybe it would be better to let this poor man be funny on his own. If you want to help, write him a letter of recomendation to a syndication, or better yet, send money. Various people have tried to "help" me with words during my life, and the only help that has ever helped has been the tangibles -- food, recomendations, a job. Let the poor man be.

antony wardle

I think that the dilbert one works better because the kids is much smaller than the one in the other strip.

He looks too big to be scared by monsters



i "love" the responses treating todays post as some sort of competition. i can only assume that people wouldn't recognize the highest form of creative-process-roundtable nurturing-and-development if it bit them in the ass. or appeared in their beloved blog.


I liked your version better. It had better pace and a cleaner look.


Another vote for the original being better. Scott A's strip is shorter because it contains less jokes, and thus, is less funny. I like the "multiple punchline" style of Scott M's strips.

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