Early in my career I learned that whatever brain defect makes a person become a cartoonist is the same defect that prevents that cartoonist from having the same sense of humor as the general public. In other words, if I make a comic that I personally feel is hilarious, the public will be disappointed in it. They might even hate that comic. I've discovered that the most successful cartoonists have learned to write for the readers and not their own sensibilities. Normally I try to do that too.

The problem is that no jail can hold art. Sometimes I simply . . . have . . . to . . . create comics that I love and you don't. That happens about five percent of the time. And those comics probably appeal to no more than five percent of the public - the people who have similar brain defects.

The Dilbert comic for 2/13/13 is a perfect example. You can see from the online comments that the public isn't impressed. Personally, I find this sort of humor hilarious.

I'm generally attracted to humor that involves wrongness, rule breaking, or inappropriate behavior. The adult comic-reading public is mostly interested in humor that has the "That happens to me too!" element. To put it another way that is less flattering to me, I enjoy the same sort of humor that children do. All I've done is transition from fart jokes to indirect references to erections. It's the adult version of childish humor. I'm not proud of it.

I felt an explanation of this phenomenon was necessary because people act puzzled when one of my comics seems to miss the mark by a mile. One would think that after all of my practice even my misses would be near-hits. The reason for the bad misses on some days is that I can't help myself. Sometimes the comic is just for me and the few freaks that never lost their childish sense of humor.

For what it's worth, I consider it a failure of professional discipline on my part. But I can't promise it will improve.

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Mar 15, 2013
i always knew i was defective ... i think 2/13/13 is hilarious.
Feb 19, 2013
hmm, maybe that makes the adult comic-reading population extra self-absorbed...
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Feb 17, 2013
I suppose I'm normal then. I didn't even get the joke untill you explained it here. The topic is just so out-of-place in the Dilbert-surrounding. Personally I find nothing turns me off more in that sense than office-stuff. Now that I know what it is about, I think the 3rd panel is quite funny.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 15, 2013
I don't understand - I loved it.
Still grinning when I'm browsing back to it.
Feb 14, 2013
I thought it was funny. That is how the brain works in a senior manager, and I used to be one.
Feb 14, 2013
I must have a defect then, because that is effin hilarious.
Feb 14, 2013
The great success of Dilbert world wide is in the recognisability of the work based situations. The stupidity and greed of management and the ground-down feeling of being a powerless drone. Your fart-based sense of humour probably finds a more receptive audience here in the UK where we have no trouble with double entendres (or even single ones come to think of it).
Feb 14, 2013
Honestly, I knew something was up with your sense of humor being weird when you said you enjoyed "This is 40."
Feb 14, 2013
I love a little naughty humor - keep it up! No wait...I didn't mean...oh, you know what I mean.
Feb 14, 2013
On some previous occasions you've mentioned this, and I've agreed... not very funny. However, in this particular instance, I love the comic.
Feb 14, 2013
Perhaps you can make two Dilberts a day. One for yourself and folks like you and the other, more professional one, for the newspapers. Yes, I am trying to make you work harder. You've said before that you like work, right? You're welcome.

Feb 14, 2013
These strips are so close to the truth in my experiences in a county Police Force that Scott Adams must surely have been sitting on my shoulder for about 20 years.

The pointy haired one is the epitome of so many Chief Superintendents ... it surely can't be a coincidence.

Before I retired I used to print out the very best cartoons and pin them on the station notice boards ... do you think they understood what I was telling them ... not a chance.

If you don't believe me then I suggest you look at the cartoon for March 3 1993 ... truly a masterpiece amongst masterpieces.

Feb 14, 2013
By now Scott, you should be successful enough to be able to write the comics you find funny rather than the ones that will sell.

Remind the newspapers how easy it will be to find a replacement artist who can produce 365 days a year, let alone produce consistently witty material.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 14, 2013
I also suspect that there's a little schadenfreude involved on Scotts part. He probably knew that it would catch those preferring pure office humor completely flatfooted, and took delight in it : P
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 14, 2013
I personally found that strip to be hilarious.
The way I explain it is that its precisely because it came out of nowhere.

I'm a picture-thinker and pattern-recognizer, so my preferred type of humor is the random, completely-nonsense kind that totally blindsides you. Because that's the thing a pattern-recognizer isn't really unable to predict: stuff that is random. That's why I love e.g Spongebob Square Pants and Joe Cartoon, and black, slapstick humor in general.

The randomness has to be a surprise, so just doing nothing but randomness isn't funny; at that point the randomness will become expected. Its a specific pattern of having non-randomness punctuated by randomness that does it.

The opposite is true as well. If you have a bunch of randomness, that is suddenly punctuated by something totally non-random, you pretty much get the same effect.
Feb 14, 2013
I think it was inspired, more so than today's which was essentially a generic version of the same gag. Perhaps I enjoyed it more because I once worked with managers who made a mantra of "customer obsession."

It worked on multiple levels. Wally finds a way to embrace the CEO's command with no actual work, a character speciality. It entails a satirical commentary, since fantasizing an emotional connection -- even without sexual connotations -- is probably as effective and doable as any concrete business strategy to that end. And who's to say Wally ISN'T fantasizing about empathizing so strongly with end users that he will produce superior products for them? An innocent reading is still funny; the CEO wants to move because Wally is subverting his message by literalizing it. Using his great power to move just one seat away from a subversive gadfly succeeds is being arrogant and ineffective at the same time.

Of course double meanings are likely to trigger mirth, especially if one of the meanings transgresses respectable norms for that context (either the meeting room or the very medium of the comic strip). We get Wally expressing something his coworkers don't want to be aware of in any form. The CEO switching to another chair -- and insisting an employee be closer to the source of ickiness -- implies he expects something more than Wally's imagination coming into play. And Wally's closing line is the perfect double-entendre for the occasion.

By comparison, Dilbert taking "how are you" as a serious request for information is mild and familiar. What would have been funnier -- and completely in established character -- would be the pointy-hair individual stopping Dilbert mid-rant, explaining he was simply feigning an interest in an attempt to be a good manager. And then adding, "Did it work?" (The pointy-haired one will often defeat a personal strategy by explaining up front his cynical new "management technique.")
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 14, 2013
This was an LOL comic for me, too. But then, Wally is my hero.
Feb 14, 2013
LOL. Apparently the word e-r-e-c-t-i-o-n gets censored too. How long can I keep this up? How about 'turgid member'?
Feb 14, 2013
FYI, apparently the word b-o-n-e-r gets censored. I guess I should have said !$%*!$%*!
Feb 14, 2013
There's nothing wrong with crude humor (I myself tend to prefer it) but it needs a little bit of cleverness to go along with it. In fact, I'd argue that adding crudeness raises the level of required cleverness: the lower you sink with the crudeness, the higher your cleverness needs to soar in order to make it [the crudeness] palatable. I suspect that it's the balanced combination of the 2 that makes crude jokes extra funny. In addition to the actual punchline, your brain gets an extra little jolt when it realizes what you just managed to sneak past its etiquette filters. It's the mental equivalent of spending 5 minutes unwrapping an elaborate gift only to find a dog turd inside.

It's a little like cooking in that regard. You can put nominally bad (ie, bitter/sour) flavors into a dish as long as they're wedded to other complimentary flavors. And just like cooking, the right ratio is about 1 part bad to 4 parts good. A little bitter goes a long way.

The problem with the 2/13 comic IMO is that it's not clever at all. It comes across as nothing but an excuse to make a !$%*! joke.

My guess is that Scott finds it funny because he had to sneak it past the censors. That required cleverness. So while the rest of us just see "!$%*! joke", Scott sees "!$%*! joke that I managed to get millions of people to read." The comic has a level of cleverness that only he can perceive.

Does that ring true, Scott?
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