4chan parodies Scott McCloud's Google Chrome comic

We didn't comment much this week — well, at all — about Google's Chrome browser. That's not to say we're not interested: just that Scott McCloud's 38-page "Google Chrome" comic was just so insufferably smug, self-important and impenetrable that we're still trying to knead out the resulting big rubbery one long enough to actually install the damn thing. And that there's no Mac version doesn't help. McCloud's comic was so filled with ill-defined, meaningless technobabble that it made a complete mockery of his masterpiece, Understanding Comics. Valleywag's Paul Boutin brilliantly observes that the whole thing reads "like the middle of a Neal Stephenson novel." It was obvious McCloud had no hand in writing the thing... the Google Chrome comic served one and only one purpose: to set Firefox engineers indignantly afroth in spittle-flecked apoplectic fury. Which it did very well, thank you very much, so mission accomplished, Google! So 4 Chan to the rescue, to make the Google Chrome comic for the rest of us, and Valleywag has rounded up some of the best of them. Genius. Now this is a comic that would make me install a browser. Uh Oh: The B-Tards Got heir Hands On Google's Chrome Comic [Valleywag]
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14 Responses to 4chan parodies Scott McCloud's Google Chrome comic

  1. shMerker says:

    I can see how someone who isn’t well versed in the technologies behind the web might not have gotten the book, but as a web developer it was pretty clear to me. It is a good browser too. I still have to use primarily Firefox for development since there are more tools available for it, but I suspect that Chrome will be able to replace that soon.

    I think the comic was more directed at Microsoft than Mozilla anyway. The problems they tried to solve are much worse on IE than on Firefox.

    The comic said that it was written by the Google staff and not by McCloud.

  2. 36 says:

    As a web developer I found the comic very clear and extremely well explained, the same as I found Scott’s other books. I thought the comic made quite a dense and difficult to follow technical subject a lot more intuitive than a plain essay or article could have done, although I was coming from the background of understanding what terms like ‘thread’, ‘process’ and ‘sandbox’ mean.

    As for ‘McCloud [having] no hand in writing the thing’, Scott’s website has a page on the comic that explains:

    “I helped conduct interviews with about 20 engineers who worked on the project, then adapted what they said into comics form. Some paraphrasing, lots of condensation, and one or two late drop ins, but basically it was a very organic adaptation and I had a lot of latitude.”

  3. Peter S. Conrad says:

    Is this a good time for me to mention my own McCloud parody?


  4. Jeff Kramer says:

    McCloud’s comic was so filled with ill-defined, meaningless technobabble that it made a complete mockery of his masterpiece, Understanding Comics.

    Wow, why the hate John? Do the Disney WW2 films make a mockery of Snow White, or is it just a different side to an artist?

  5. acb says:

    Actually, I thought the comic was good; it went into considerable detail about the rationale for Chrome, and was right on about what’s wrong with existing browser technologies, and IMHO, McCloud presented this information quite approachably.

  6. TharkLord says:

    I must agree with the negative evaluation.

    The comic creates a sense of vague unease. Is it the odd, persistent shade of blue? Is it the calm, yet earnest prose? The eerily familiar hipster characters? How many different hairstyles are there?

    It has this weird 1960’s Highlights for Children/Soviet Propaganda/Religious Tract quality, filling me with dread that there will be an appearance on the final page of Satan dragging Firefox users down to eternal damnation. (while the story characters sadly shake their heads)

    It skirts the borders of “yeah, we meant to do it that way” and “the smooth, comforting quality of committee consensus”.

    Or maybe its not the comic, maybe its me. Maybe I’m the problem.

    Its all very troubling. I think I’ll just wait for the Larry Gonick upgrade.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who was the audience of the comic? As in, who actually was sent the comic book?

    I was under the impression that it only went to Web developers – it certainly was written like it targeted them, and not Web consumers like Brownlee. Third-party blog Google Blogoscoped scanned and posted it, and that’s been what’s linked by everyone, Brownlee included.

    If he didn’t get a copy, it probably wasn’t directed at him. I mean, if Scott McCloud illustrated a Firefox devlopers’ mailing list, would Brownlee flip out that he couldn’t understand what it was talking about?

  8. Phobot says:

    I’m a non-geek girl attending junior college (to study art no less) and I “got it”. I mean, it’s really not that complicated. You don’t have to be a web developer to understand the comic, you just have to be interested. If you’re not, that’s fine, but don’t make it out to be lame because you didn’t feel like looking up a few definitions.

  9. John Brownlee says:

    The difference is that Disney’s WW2 cartoons are brilliant, although offensive from a contemporary perspective. The Chrome comic is not brilliant in the slightest.

    I think it’s telling that all of you guys who think the comic was clearly explained are professional software engineers, where as every person who isn’t a software engineer I’ve asked about it was just like, “Uh, what?” three pages in. “Understanding Comics” was not aimed at comic creators… it was aimed at Joe Reader. “Understanding Chrome” is only aimed at beardos.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The problem was this cartoon was aimed at regular people, but clearly the only people who’d read it and care about what it says are web designers/developers / huge geeks, to whom this style is needlessly pandering and drawn out. (THIRTY EIGHT pages, THIRTY EIGHT!!)

    The excessive use of marketing buzzwords doesn’t surprise me from the mozilla team, they’ve been “harmonizing proactive synergy strategems” and so forth since the late 90’s… Honestly the comic wasn’t all that bad, but it’s PRIME material to lampoon like this.

  11. snej says:

    “ill-defined, meaningless technobabble” ??

    It seemed accurate and meaningful enough to me. But then, I’m a software engineer, not a gadget hawker.

    …Which is not meant to sound elitist on my part. I’m merely pointing out the anti-intellectual underpinning of your statement: that if something sounds complicated and you didn’t understand it, then it must be meaningless and stupid. That’s bullshit. Doubly so in the era of Wikipedia, where you could find out what jargon like “thread” and “sandbox” means in about fifteen seconds.

    I thought the comic was great. So did my 13-year-old son, a budding cartoonist and geek who has all of McCloud’s “___ Comics” books. We read the whole comic online together and had a great time.

  12. bitrott says:

    This is probably the best example of venomous “luddite” spew that I’ve had to read in a while. Seriously, the comic was entertaining, interesting, well drawn, and… what’s the opposite of “Self-important”? I sent the comic to some seriously computer illiterate ppl and watched as the lightbulbs turned on in their head. They got it. What’s your problem?

  13. sisyphus says:

    Not to tear ya down, Brownlee, but up until, I dunno, page 30 or so, I was following most of the “meaningless technobabble” and I’m perpetually perplexed by that sort of thing. I didn’t have a comprehensive grasp on what it meant for the web or Joe User, but I was pretty enthralled with the possibilities of “multi-threaded processes,” Incognito mode, et cetera. (Incognito from everyone except Google, who would very much like to make recommendations based on one’s incorrigibly debauched and degenerate porno browsing.)

    And oh yeah, that 4chan parody is hilarious. “What do you think about this sweet goatee?” Beardos indeed!

  14. Halloween Jack says:

    McCloud has also written other things besides Understanding Comics, some of which (at least, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics) aren’t written for the general reader. This is no more “insufferably smug, self-important and impenetrable” than Will Eisner’s M-16 rifle manual. That’s not to say that I understand everything in McCloud’s comic, any more than I know what Eisner is talking about, never having ever touched an M-16 myself, but I don’t feel compelled to snark just because one of my favorite cartoonists illustrated something for a bunch of techies.

    Now, you want a bad McCloud comic? Try this one, which even McCloud describes as a “noble failure”.

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