xkcd: volume 0

XKCD: Volume 0 at long last!

By Cory Doctorow

Breadpig Publishing were kind enough to send me a review copy of xkcd: volume 0, the first-ever collection of strips from Randall Munroe's fantastic, unrepentantly geeky webcomic XKCD: A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.

I've been a fan of XKCD since I happened upon his Help! I'm Trapped in a Universe Factory strip, and Randall was kind enough to write a fictionalized version of me into later toons. We got to meet last summer at a science fiction convention in Springfield, Mass, and hit it off like a house on fire.

So I was delighted to find myself holding an actual book -- cover price $18, portion of profits goes to building schools in Laos through the Room to Read charity -- and turning the pages. Randall once told me that he'd rejected earlier book offers because his older strips were only available at a very low resolution, and it seems like many of these were included on the basis that they're funny and interesting enough to overlook the lower-quality reproductions. The tool-tips -- hidden punchlines that show up if you hover your mouse over the XKCD strips -- are included as small-caps print tucked among the frames, and this is nearly as good as the screen experience.

The book is full of eastereggs; the pages appear to be numbered in ternary. There is a cryptographic puzzle hidden in the margins, along with many small, Sergio-Argones-like doodles and gags. More than anything, xkcd: volume 0 feels like it is a part of the XKCD continuum, a mix of blog, webcomic, doodle and tweet, handsomely presented and long overdue.

xkcd: volume 0

Published 6:00 am Mon, Oct 12, 2009

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About the Author

I write books. My latest are: a YA graphic novel called In Real Life (with Jen Wang); a nonfiction book about the arts and the Internet called Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age (with introductions by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer) and a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.

17 Responses to “xkcd: volume 0”

  1. Obdurodon says:

    Actually the numbering is not quite trinary; it’s something a little more complicated than that, but I won’t spoil the joy of figuring it out.

    The book is awesome, just like the strip.

  2. jaguarcy says:

    Ordered mine sep 16th, and still waiting for it to get to the UK… Hope it’s not lost in the mail, can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    • Anonymous says:

      Randall said that they got so many orders they’re having trouble responding to everyone. I wouldn’t worry, mine shipped only a couple days ago.

  3. geobarefoot says:

    My love for this man’s work is too great to let this pass — it’s ArAgones.

  4. Neill S Mitchell Esq. says:

    Yeah, I would love this book… But as I said before, the shipping options to ‘The Rest Of The World’ are more than a little crappy.

    $15 shipping to the UK, and 5-7 WEEKS!

    $21 for the poor old Aussies.

  5. Daneel says:

    I just got this last week. Haven’t had a change to go through all the footnotes yet, just browsed through a few of the strips, but I love it, and the way he dealt with the tool-tips.

  6. Jardine says:

    It’s $9 to ship to Canada. Which isn’t bad compared to some shipping rates I’ve seen from the US to here. Thinkgeek’s shipping to Canada seems to start at about $25 for a single item and goes up from there.

  7. Glenn Fleishman says:

    “Actually the numbering is not quite trinary; it’s something a little more complicated than that, but I won’t spoil the joy of figuring it out.”

    Yeah, I’ve read the book a couple of times, and have been starting to untangle some of the stuff in it. I fear that it might become a full-time occupation: that Randall has embedded a mind virus to destroy us all. Or his black-hatted friend.

  8. willhopkins says:

    I was lucky enough to get one of the first three signed copies he gave to his family (through his grandmother, an old friend of my grandmother, and his father, an old friend of my mother). The book is wonderful and as much like the comic as a print edition could be. Not to mention breadpig is a great way to publish. Anyway, enough bragging about my good fortune, since I doubt anyone will believe it :)

    Plus, who doesn’t want comic strips about Cory Doctorow in a handy book in their very own home? It’s probably the best comics compilation I’ve ever read, edging past some great Foxtrot books.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I bought this for my library’s graphic novel collection (I’m a librarian). :)

  10. Aloisius says:

    I love XKCD, but I have to say that the book had some real issues.

    Some comics were really low res. Someone told me that it was from losing the originals, but he could have at least cleaned up the text so it wasn’t blurry (e.g page 11001).

    The margins seemed just totally random for some pages (e.g. page 100100, 101100, 101101) with large amounts of whitespace in the middle and comics shoved to the top and bottom.

    The font was *way* too big for some of the comics (e.g. page 111, 110011). To read them I have to hold the book waaaay back.

    I feel like Randall just got tired of never getting this book done and decided to cut some corners. I hope there’s a .1 release to fix the bugs.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I got mine a week ago. My fiance refuses to participate in the interpipes as she feels there’s no substance to it. So when I got my copy I let her loose on it and she didn’t put it down from front to back. Reminded me a lot of when I first started reading after seeing “Graduation”. And then I had to read several hundred more, and then I had to re-read several dozen more. There are some that still do my head in. I like that.

  12. Xenu says:

    Mine arrived the day of the official release party (coincidentally?) at 111 Mina in SF.

    It’s great so far. I wish I had more time to read it, but I’m too busy posting snarky comments on the internet.

  13. El Scorcho says:

    I got mine a couple days ago and couldn’t be more delighted! It’s a perfect way to preserve Randal Munroe’s legacy. My favorite comic is on pg. 1100.

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