Friday, August 2, 2013

Nice writeup of Time

Everybody who knows me knows that I adore Randall Munroe's xkcd.

On the occasion of the conclusion of the astonishing work of art, Time, Wired's Laura Hudson wrote a nice piece about the work, the community that's formed around the work, and Munroe's observations about his achievement: Creator of xkcd Reveals Secret Backstory of His Epic 3,990-Panel Comic.

The obsessive devotees of the comic-within-a-comic created a discussion thread that exceeded 1,300 pages, a “Time”-specific Wikipedia, and even made a glossary of the lexicon they invented to describe the world of “Time” and their experiences with it. While they refer to Munroe simply as “OTA” (the One True Author), a “newpic” (plural: “newpix”) is defined as the unit of time that elapses between updates, also known as “outsider minutes.” True to its name, “Time”–where a single step could last an hour, and a night could last days–took on its own internal sense of chronological speed: glacially slow for animation, but imbued with a continual sense of motion that felt utterly unique for a comic.

Munroe's attention to detail, although well-known for years, is still impressive:

Munroe researched and illustrated very specific plants and wildlife to offer readers hints about the location. “I got suggestions from botanists and herpetologists, and I had a file with details on every species the characters encountered or talked about, like dwarf palms, juniper trees, horned vipers, and sand boas.”

The last few times I tried, the frame-jumping navigator was overloaded and responding very sluggishly. I enjoy the YouTube movie, although I'm not sure if it's better to watch it with the sound turned off, since the original piece is not set to music.

Munroe's epic works are not always easy to approach, and this one is no exception, but it also rewards study and meditation; it's truly a beautiful work. It's becoming increasingly clear that Munroe will take his place as one of the great artists of my generation.

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