Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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"Frankenstein; or: A Modern Prometheus" is a novel by Mary Shelley published in 1818. In it, Victor Frankenstein is a human who creates a monster (which is never named explicitly in the novel). In popular culture, however, "Frankenstein" is taken to be the name of the monster, not its creator.
While this is an often-corrected "error", it has been argued that it is not technically incorrect to call the monster "Frankenstein" as well, since he is the "offspring" of his "father", Victor Frankenstein. Since a child usually takes on the last name of his father, it may be said that the monster's last name actually is "Frankenstein". He also refers to himself in the novel as "the Adam of your labors" - a reference to the Biblical Adam, the first of his kind - and some have taken to calling the monster "Adam Frankenstein" to differentiate him from the scientist, Victor Frankenstein.
Others have argued that the monster's namelessness is an important part of his characterization in the story, since it reflects the doctor's complete rejection of his creation. While the monster identifies Victor as his "father" in the novel, Victor does not consider the creature to be his "son".
Randall is apparently tired of hearing both sides of this argument, so he has created his own work of fiction, in which the monster is named Frankenstein. He rationalizes that it is now correct to call the monster Frankenstein, assuming that his comic strip is as authoritative as the original novel. "Canonical" (rule, standard) means that this comic should be used as the authoritative work on the naming of the monster.
The copyright on Mary Shelley's novel has expired long ago, so it is perfectly legal to create works derived from the original story. It should be noted however, that Universal holds the copyright on the common image of the monster (green skin, flat top head, scar, bolts on the neck and protruding forehead). To qualify as a derivative work the story needs to be substantially different from the original. The monster believing in moon landing conspiracy theories would probably qualify. Additionally, the original Frankenstein's monster was seen by its creator as hideous and repulsive due to its physical appearance despite the project being a success. In Randall's version, he makes the same correlation by having Frankenstein claim the moon landings were faked which by inference produces the same results in The Doctor.
The title text raises the question of what the monster's creator is named in this version, since the name "Frankenstein" is instead given to the monster. The canonical answer is that the creator is simply "The Doctor", like the title character of the series "Doctor Who". This might be a reference to similar pedantic nitpicking that occurs when that character is incorrectly referred to as "Doctor Who" rather than "The Doctor" which is in turn referenced in comic 1221: Nomenclature. As it happens, people who make that mistake can also claim canonical support, in that some early episodes of the series list the character's name as "Doctor Who" in the credits.
- [A text only panel. Between the last two lines is a lightning bolt.]
- Like many people, I'm tired of the nitpicking about Frankenstein's monster's name.
- Luckily, Frankenstein is public domain.
- Therefore, I present
- (The monster's name)
- [Cueball is turning down a lever while looking at a monster with black hair that is lying on a bed under a bedsheet. There are two wires connecting to the neck of the monster.]
- Frankenstein: Graaar!
- Cueball: Frankenstein is alive! I am a modern Prometheus!
- Frankenstein: Raaaar!
- Cueball: To be clear, your name is Frankenstein, canonically.
- Frankenstein: Graaaaar!
- Frankenstein: The moon landings were faked!
- Cueball: Wait, what?
- [Another text only panel. The first word is written between two curvy lines.]
- Feel free to call the monster "Frankenstein."
- If anyone tries to correct you, just explain that this comic is your canonical version.
- Thank you.
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