Dear Reader #6: Thing Explainer (In the Style Of)

Reader Who is a Friend to Me,

(Today’s column is written with the same vocabulary rule as the subject of the column, and therefore uses only the most common one thousand words in English. So let me get a few things out of my system before I start: this compilation of explanatory diagrams with an inventive linguistic twist is profoundly satisfying as well as educational. Ok, think I’m good to go.)

Thing Explainer’ is a book which might be comics and might not. It is words and pictures, by a comic-making man, but the words and pictures aren’t put together the way that they are in comics. But since I am the one who writes this set of words that gets sent a long distance, I get to decide whether ‘Thing Explainer’ counts as comics or not, at least for now. The next group of words will be about telling why it should count as comics, and the group after that will be about why it should not.

The idea of ‘Thing Explainer’ came from a comic that the comic-making man Randall Munroe makes and puts on a computer so that other computers all over the world can show it to people, called XKCD. I don’t know what those letters mean; they probably mean a thing that has to do with thinking about confusing numbers. But here they are the name of the comic that he makes. One day he made one that was about explaining how a space car lifter lifted a space car if the explaining person was only allowed to say the most used ten hundred words in the language you are reading now.

xkcd pic 2A lot of people thought that this was an interesting comic, and one of them was the comic-making man, so he decided to make a whole book full of pictures of things with only those words to tell how they work. So, because Thing Explainer is a book of words and pictures, the idea for it came from a comic, and it was made by a comic-making man, you might think it counts as a comic book.

On the other hand, comics usually have stories in them. A man who gives orders to soldiers and is from the country that once had a war between the north and the south will fight a man whose head is a red head bone. Or a man who dresses like a hair-having flying animal will fight a mean joke-telling man. A lady who is named after the comic-making company that makes her comic, because of a real law fight, will go to space to hit bad space guys. A man who has red skin and head points (he cut the head points off) and is from a place where bad dead people go decides he doesn’t want to kill the earth but help it instead. A guy who is made of stories will die and it will be sad. Watch out for the last group of words in case you did not want to know the thing those words told you.

But Thing Explainer doesn’t have any story in it; it just explains things, exactly like the front of the book says. You can’t say a book about what different words mean that are put in the order of the letter they begin with is the same thing as a book with a story, just because all the words in the story book are also in the meanings in letter order book. So because it doesn’t have a story, you might think it does not count as a comic book.

xkcd pic 1

But comic books also do another thing. They make you think about things that are important to think about, by telling them to you in a way that you don’t expect or that makes you laugh or both. A lot of times the things for you to think about are about who gets to run countries and decide how countries’ money gets used, but there isn’t a law that it has to be about that kind of thing. I think that the things Thing Explainer explains count, and I think the way it talks about them is funny enough that it counts as doing this thing that comics do.

So because it does a thing that comics do, and is made the way that comics are made, I decide that Thing Explainer counts as a comic. But even if it didn’t I would still like reading it, and I would still think that people who like to read the words I write to them about comics would like to read it too.

If you want to read it, you can send some money to the comic-making man here and some ladies who have only one breast will send the book to you (I will just be surprised that ‘breast’ is one of the words that the law about most-used words lets me use).

Ok, I Used the Word Comic When I Wasn’t Supposed To, But I Figure I Get One Pass

-The Guy Who Wrote This.

P.S. If you want to write like this, the comic-making man also made a way to do that here, for everyone to use.

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