551: Etch-a-Sketch

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Surrounded by boring mysteries.
Title text: Surrounded by boring mysteries.

[edit] Explanation

Cueball notices that if you draw a lot on an Etch-a-Sketch, the aluminum powder in it can be cleared from enough of the screen to allow a view of the interior (as seen here).

Cueball then proceeds to clear a window into the device, which shows him that there's a girl, Megan, inside whose job is to act as the stylus for the Etch-a-Sketch. She suggest that they be friends, and little hearts pop up.

As the dream clears, it then becomes clear that this is just a fantasy, and Cueball sighs at the rather more mundane reality that the lines get drawn by a stylus moving on a simple arrangement of rods. The comic ends with Cueball shaking the Etch-a-Sketch (perhaps in frustration or anger), which resets it and will re-conceal the mechanism.

The title text notes that sometimes the mysteries surrounding us turn out to be much more boring than we dream they are.

[edit] Transcript

[Cueball is sitting on a bench playing with a pink Etch-a-Sketch.]
Cueball: Hey. If I draw enough lines, I can see what's behind the screen.
[Close up on the Etch-a-Sketch's screen.]
Cueball (off-screen): Oh man, almost...
[Cueball looks at the Etch-a-Sketch.]
Etch-a-Sketch: Hi!
[Head of Megan appears in the black hole Cueball has drawn on the Etch-a-Sketch screen.]
Megan: You're cute!
[Cueball is looking closer on the Etch-a-Sketch screen.]
Cueball: Wha—
Megan (out of the Etch-a-Sketch): I'm the one who draws when you turn the knobs.
Megan (out of the Etch-a-Sketch): It's lonely in here.
[Cueball holds the Etch-a-Sketch further away from his head.]
Cueball: It's lonely out here too.
Megan (out of the Etch-a-Sketch): I'm glad you found me, then!
[Cueball holds the Etch-a-Sketch very close to his face. Panels start to break away into thought bubbles.]
Megan (out of the Etch-a-Sketch): Let's be friends
Megan (out of the Etch-a-Sketch): And never be alone again.
[The next panel is almost gone in the thought bubbles. In the remaining top left corner there are three pink hearts, the top one of these looks like it was drawn on an Etch-a-Sketch.]
[From the last two panels the above turns out to have been a fantasy of Cueball. There is a rather large break between the first three lines of panels to the last line. Between the previous line of panels (from the middle panel ) to the last line, there are three large circles, which then continues with seven more inside the next panel down to Cueball sitting with the etch-a-sketch.]
Cueball: *Sigh*
[Close up of the Etch-a-sketch where the black hole Cueball has drawn shows what is really behind the glass; just the mechanics of the machine, with a pin that moves on a cross and removes the sand from the screen.]
[Zoom back out to Cueball who shakes etch-a-sketch above his head.]

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


I always thought he was shaking the Etch-a-Sketch in anger at finding out what was actually inside as opposed to what he thought was inside. Zowayix (talk) 02:21, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

I just thought the same actually; and "proceeds to draw something else" is just plain wrong, because the story ends before that. 12:27, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?