17: What If

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For other instances of this title, see What If (disambiguation).
What If
I once made an anniversary card for my then-girlfriend with this layout.
Title text: I once made an anniversary card for my then-girlfriend with this layout.


This comic features a man and a woman in a romantic setting, surrounded by a fractal combination of love and doubts; an arrangement based on the Apollonian gasket construction. Three circles are drawn tangent to each other, then additional circles are added that are tangent to three existing circles (without overlapping), ad infinitum.

Randall's character design wasn't yet fully settled. Considering that Megan arguably was introduced two comics ago, and that the man has some hair, the couple might or might not be interpreted as Cueball (or maybe even Hairy) and Megan.

Randall's later blog and books have the same name, what if?, though with very different meaning.


[A large black circle (drawn on grid paper) with white bubbles inside it, filled with hearts, question marks, and stick figure couples. The hearts are colored red.]
[Bottom left circle - stick figure couple with a heart]
[Top right circle - with couple:]
what if this isn't everything it should be?
[Two circles left of top-right:]
i'm not even sure how i feel
[One circle right of top-right:]
what if i'm making a mistake?


"One of my best friends just got engaged.
I really, truly think they're going to be very happy together."
  • The friends referred to are Scott and Sarah.
  • This comic was posted on xkcd when the web site opened on Sunday the 1st of January 2006.
    • It was posted along with all 41 comics posted before that on LiveJournal as well as a few others.
    • The latter explaining why the numbers of these 41 LiveJournal comics ranges from 1-44.
  • One of the original drawings drawn on checkered paper.
  • This comic resembles the Gallifreyan text in Doctor Who shows.
  • The title this comic received when posted on xkcd is almost the same title (except the question mark) as the blog.