The End of Time
July 29, 2013 6:28 AM   Subscribe

Spanning more than four months and 3,000 individual panels, spawing more than 50,000 posts and 1.4 million views on the official thread in the XKCD forums, and generating countless fan theories and speculations, Randall Munroe fame has brought his epic "Time" to an end. posted by brentajones (30 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
 
Reading along with this was such a fascinating, almost meditative experience. It's really cool that he wrapped everything up by the end, but I'll miss the frequent, sometimes next to unnoticeable updates.
posted by harujion at 7:07 AM on July 29, 2013


Glad that it's finally over so that I can read it. (Just call me only-watches-TV-shows-when-the-season-has-ended guy.)
posted by Going To Maine at 7:34 AM on July 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


For comparison, the 7-minute Steamboat Willie has about 11,000 frames.
posted by straight at 7:54 AM on July 29, 2013


It's about time.
posted by srboisvert at 7:56 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


AND the geekwagon site seems to be down.
posted by KathrynT at 7:58 AM on July 29, 2013


I find myself wondering how the hedgehog made out. And the cat, too, despite everything.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:01 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very interesting. It's not quite a movie and not quite a episodic comic strip. It's sort of like a movie with a variable frame rate. Has anyone done something like this before?
posted by demiurge at 8:11 AM on July 29, 2013


This is an alternative interface for viewing the comic in case that the link in the post is unresponsive.
posted by ltl at 8:15 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The animated versions I have found blast right by the dialogue.
Can someone give the plot synopsis for those of us that missed what they are saying?
posted by Theta States at 8:15 AM on July 29, 2013


List of the panels with dialogue.
posted by ltl at 8:19 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, what am I doing wrong? In two different browsers, the animated playback gets "stuck" on a frame and won't advance, both in the slideshow and in stepping through the frames.
posted by KathrynT at 8:23 AM on July 29, 2013


The animated versions I have found blast right by the dialogue.

The geekwagon link in the original post has an option to pause for a number of seconds at important frames (like dialog).

In two different browsers, the animated playback gets "stuck" on a frame and won't advance, both in the slideshow and in stepping through the frames.

At the geekwagon link, try using the Preload All button before playing; that fixed the stuck frames problem for me.
posted by kokaku at 8:38 AM on July 29, 2013


What a great way to illustrate what it must have been like to live through the Black Sea deluge.
posted by MikeWarot at 8:39 AM on July 29, 2013


I got so far beyond being unable to believe it was going on so long that I'm finding myself fairly shocked that it actually ended. Following it on and off, there were a lot of delightful moments, like the night sky, some of the tiny creatures, learning to communicate with the fortress people. What an awesome and surprisingly immersive piece of art. The geekwagon site grew into a great tool as well.

> For comparison, the 7-minute Steamboat Willie has about 11,000 frames.

Is that true? It seems like a really high figure.
posted by lucidium at 8:51 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that true? It seems like a really high figure.

Yeah, that's almost certainly off by a factor of 2. Traditional animation, especially early animation, is usually shot on twos, meaning there are only 12 distinct frames of animation per second, each of which is shot twice to arrive at 24 frames of film per second. I can't find confirmation that it was shot on twos, but Steamboat Willie likely has something like ~5000 frames of animation.
posted by jedicus at 9:00 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. I had the aubronwood bookmark on my desktop, and I've been faithfully reloading it every day, stopping the animation, closing my eyes, backing up a few dozen frames, and then playing back the last few day's developments. Strange to imagine that I won't have any more developments to follow, but what a journey!

[Spoilers, possibly?]

There was some chatter last time about how the encroaching tide washing away the sandcastles was a metaphor for cancer changing the lives of Randall and his partner. (See, e.g., 931 and 1141 among others.) A journey without maps, finding help, an attempt to return to their past lives, and finally a new shore with a new life to figure out... Sort of fits, I guess? But that's just readers projecting meaning that may or may not have been intended.

In any case, what a fascinating use of the medium.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:06 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


AND the geekwagon site seems to be down.

Time keeps on slipping.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:44 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still have the reflex whenever the hour changes over to check for the new frame. It feels like a friend has moved away...
posted by mephisjo at 9:51 AM on July 29, 2013


> I can't find confirmation that it was shot on twos, but Steamboat Willie likely has something like ~5000 frames of animation.

Add to (or subtract from) that they were looping cels whenever they could to save time and effort.
posted by ardgedee at 10:17 AM on July 29, 2013


Also, if you were to make an actual animated film out of this, you'd probably have 6-12 frames minimum between each of these, sometimes a lot more, depending on how many of the discontinuities you'd interpret as camera cuts.
posted by straight at 10:46 AM on July 29, 2013


There was something particularly delightful about the coordination between the level of effort Randall put in and the readers' willingness to spend equal effort working things out. Put in an accurate sky some 10K years in the future? Readers notice and start trying to work out the exact date. Create an brand new alphabet/possibly language? People will work to figure out the structure. And so on.
posted by tavella at 10:54 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


blag post (spoilers for anyone who has not read the comic)
posted by leviathan3k at 1:11 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]




Interesting that he hadn't in fact drawn it all ahead of time, which had been my assumption. I wonder if he compressed the ending more than he originally intended, or if it was exactly at the pace he meant to do.
posted by tavella at 3:04 PM on July 29, 2013


Huh. I wasn't interested enough to follow it all the way through, but the end result is pretty interesting.

I'm really interested in the language/script that gets used for the castle-people. Are there any more details about construction/syntax, other than what's on the wiki?
posted by mikurski at 8:00 PM on July 29, 2013


Wow - from the blag:
I wrote the whole story before I drew the first frame, and had almost a thousand panels already drawn before I posted the first one. But as the story progressed, the later panels took longer to draw than I expected, and Time began—ironically—eating more and more of my time. Frames that went up every hour were sometimes taking more than an hour to make, and I spent the final months doing practically nothing but drawing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:45 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of Randall's classics. Fortunately I discovered the aubronwood and geekwagon sites early on so I didn't have to wake up and check every hour.

It had the honour of a few Reddit threads, wikis and even a small cult.

There was visible character development with Meagan and Cueball, a few false ends, and many subtle references. I won't miss it, but it was a great journey.
posted by arzakh at 10:51 PM on July 29, 2013


The first question, I think, is this:

"Why ask questions?"

And the answer comes always in strange ways, unbidden. The key is to see that the "why" is not an immutable thing: that the purposes to which we direct our questions are shaped from the first by the questions themselves. The best questions are not of use, but they create the uses to which we direct ourselves. They wash us in truth and swaddle us in conviction, just as the best stories do.
posted by curuinor at 11:28 PM on July 29, 2013


XKCD is kind of proof that one doesn't need very much raw artistic talent to do interesting and innovative work in a creative field. Just dedication and imagination.
posted by empath at 12:59 AM on July 30, 2013




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