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April 9, 2005 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Will Mike Slackenerny ever graduate? It looks like long-time readers of PhD -- a comic strip about graduate students -- will have to buy the book to find out. Some people aren't taking the news so well.
posted by casu marzu (17 comments total)
Looks to me like a collision of internet cliches -- a ham-fisted attempt to execute a good idea, colliding with I-want-it-so-I-deserve-it netheads.

The idea of offering enhanced or premium content to users who purchase something is a basic business model on the net. The way this was executed feels like a 'Cliffhanger being held hostage' to long time fans, but it needn't have happened that way. Presenting it as 'The last three strips will only be available in print' frames it as something taken from readers, while "The print edition will feature an exclusive additional six strips..." users time-tested advertising psychology.

People would still complain, but that's the net.

That said, I've read PHD for years and loved it. I'm not offended or put out in the least; it's still a fun, witty strip.
posted by verb at 2:22 PM on April 9, 2005

On the one hand, the book thing is a bit shady since there was no warning whatsoever, and I don't believe that Cham had ever asked for donations before. Perhaps if he had, he would feel better compensated?

On the other hand, PhD is well-drawn, hilarious, and absolutely accurate in its portrayal of grad life. I think he deserves the income. If true fans are really that desperate to see the strip's outcome, the book price is hardly prohibitive.
posted by synapse at 2:35 PM on April 9, 2005

Wow, thanks for the link to PhD casu marzu!

feeling a tiny bit less bitter, for now
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:21 PM on April 9, 2005

Wow, grad students really are the spoiled, self-absorbed, naïve, overly-entitled brats which my anti-intellectualism has always led me to imagine. Cool!
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:46 PM on April 9, 2005

Someone provides you free entertainment for years, requires payment for future entertainment, and you act like they owe you something because you consumed their free entertainment for years?

I heart interweb. The next time I see that singing bum on Newbury Street, I'm totally asking him to give me cash.
posted by VulcanMike at 3:47 PM on April 9, 2005

thanks for the link to PhD

Yer welcome. This was the raison d'etre of the post. I did an extensive search a while back and couldn't find where PhD had been posted before, which I found somewhat surprising (any moment now, I expect someone will dig up an old post demonstrating my lack of search prowess). At that time, I decided I would post it whenever the Slackenerny defense storyline reached it's conclusion. Which it did today, in a manner of speaking. Personally, I had planned to buy the book before this incentive was added and I don't see any reason to change my plans. While I don't agree with the whining, it seemed relevant so I figured I should add it in with everything else. In retrospect, this may have been a poor decision on my part since it detracted from the focus of the post.
posted by casu marzu at 4:05 PM on April 9, 2005

I had been thinking about not buying the second book, not because of this, but because the series has become very unfocused and repetitive lately. I loved the first five years or so - I happily bought the first book, and paid extra for it to be shipped to my fiance in the UK.

But ever since Cham graduated, it seems to have lost some of its freshness and veracity. A lot of what gave PhD its power, other than the excellent art and quick wit, of course, was the sheer immediacy of it - this man not only knew what it was like to be a grad student, but he was living it right then. I have been thinking for sometime that I would have rather seen him follow his main character into postdoc life, and continue to write about his current experiences. It's not like there are many strips about post-docs either - and he'd have a whole new audience.
posted by jb at 4:33 PM on April 9, 2005

posted by fatllama at 5:22 PM on April 9, 2005

I can understand people being rather up-in-arms about the announcement, but I don't see how this is any different than, say, goats, which offers a membership package with a monthly Sunday comic strip that non-members can't access.

I would go on, but then I'd just be making fun of people, and that's not nice.
posted by muddgirl at 6:26 PM on April 9, 2005

This is different because it's being sprung on the readers without any warning. I would so buy the book if I could, I have been reading this for a couple of years now, but there's something undeniably sneaky about the way it's been presented.
posted by dhruva at 7:53 PM on April 9, 2005

aww, damn, I loved Piled Higher and Deeper.
(Props to Stanford's graduates for a great strip!)
posted by ruelle at 2:11 AM on April 10, 2005

At first I laughed out loud... then I got depressed.
(Thanks for the link, casu! Good fun new read.)

I think that the fans are irritated by the additional hassles of having to shell out cash and having to wait for the book's release plus a margin for shipping time as opposed to having the conclusion be just a few clicks away. But I really don't see how being urged to buy the book equates to being screwed over by the author, and I don't get the sense of entitlement expressed by the long-time readers in the thread linked above. Am I missing something?
posted by Lush at 4:24 AM on April 10, 2005

Conclusions to comic strip plotlines are never that interesting anyway. I think I'll pass on buying the book. I really don't care what happens to a one-dimensional character like Mike. I just want to see something funny.
posted by grouse at 7:19 AM on April 10, 2005

I'm actually rather ambivalent about the book form of this strip - isn't the point of an online strip about grad students about wasting time procrastination subconcious research?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:00 AM on April 10, 2005

Here's what I posted on their message board:

I just found out about this comic today (as in five minutes ago) and rather than burn my eyes out reading this comic online, I've decided to just simply buy the books (yes, both of them) online and read them at home, on the bus, wherever... And I'm by no means, rich or well off so there are probably better things I could be doing with my disposable income. Thenagain, getting a really cool print comic book while helping out some young entrpreneurs/artists isn't such a bad way to spend my allocated porno-mag money.

It's tough being poor, doing work that you love, while sacraficing time spent doing things you ought to otherwise be doing. Maybe instead of bitchin' so much about 12 frickin' dollars, some of you guys could get off your high horse, and realize that very little is being asked of you after you have been given so much for FREE!

posted by haasim at 1:16 PM on April 10, 2005

So that was you, haasim? Heh!

Thanks for the link, I spent my afternoon reading all the archived strips. Apparently this isn't the end of the strip; the author came onto the message board and said there would still be new strips up online as per usual. Which seems odd, but I suppose he does have a few other 'storylines' going on at the moment.

I sent some of my faves to my friends who are currently applying for grad school...
posted by somethingotherthan at 8:33 PM on April 10, 2005

I agree it's perfectly reasonable to combine a freebie thing with a for-a-few-dollars-more offer to make money. Running a storyline and then at the end saying "and for $x you can learn how it ends!" seems more like the-FIRST-line-of-coke-is-free" though.
posted by phearlez at 10:52 AM on April 11, 2005

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