This comic does not present a particular point; it is just a picture drawn by Randall.
There is a joke in the title text that a river, made of water, is flowing through the ocean, which is also made of water.
It is also worth noting that the sketch, when flipped vertically, maintains the appearance of having the sea on the bottom and sky on top, although the setting sun is on the wrong part of the horizon.
Similar to works of M. C. Escher, this picture takes visual components of a typical scene and combines then in ways that appear to work well on a small scale, but would never combine that way in real life and do not make sense in the larger context of the image. The clouds are casting shadows on the sky.
- [A sketch of a landscape with sun on the horizon.]
- [There is text from the checkered paper at the top:]
- From Page No.__
- This was the 2nd comic originally posted to LiveJournal.
- Original title: "Landscape"
- Original Randall quote: "Don't ask me why there's a river running through the ocean. Please."
- This was one of the thirteen first comics posted to LiveJournal within 12 minutes on Friday September 30, 2005.
- 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.
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Interesting... when I first saw this sketch years ago, I assumed that the body of water was frozen and the "river" was a crack in the ice. -- mwburden
184.108.40.206 22:41, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
More likely the dark areas are the watery areas. That would explain the original comment: people asking "why the river?" were only making it too clear to Randall how he missed to convey what he meant. The confusion largely comes from the land being completely flat.
220.127.116.11 18:27, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
- Since he's changed the title text to say that the river is running through the ocean, you seem to be incorrect. Grahame (talk) 06:26, 18 October 2013 (UTC)Grahame
However, a river is made of fresh water and the sea is made of salt water. The Amazon river entering the ocean is an example.
Besides, some sea currents are called rivers. --Chvsanchez (talk) 23:54, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
I would like to point at that if you look to the left of the sunset(sunrise?) you can notice the dark branching lines that much resemble the rivers on a globe or map. --Para (talk) 20:32, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
There's an impossible figure since the rivers/cracks on the left-hand side imply that the light surface is solid, while the dark area on the right-hand side implies that the light surface is liquid (reinforced by sunset reflected on the water, and the ocean in the title). Nathan Hillery (talk) 15:09, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
With the sun directly on the horizon, the ocean wave tops will reflect the colour of the rising/setting sun. The stretch of ocean between the observer and the sun appears to be preferentially illuminated. The rest of the ocean appears to be relatively darker. The illuminated ocean doesn't have sharp boundaries. Variations in wave action, wind direction and current give shape and texture to the illuminated area. The net effect can be described as a 'river of light' on the ocean or "a river flowing through the ocean." --DP9000 (talk) 01:09, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
Should this be added towards Category:Comics with color? --Lupo (talk) 14:52, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
- I don't think the coloured stuff counts as part of the comic, it was very likely already on the paper when he bought it. Also: "to", not "towards". Fabian42 (talk) 17:53, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
- Yes the color comes from the Checkered paper which is already added as a category. The sketch is B/W and the text at the top is part of the paper. So no it should no be added to the color category :-) --Kynde (talk) 20:51, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
"The clouds are casting shadows on the sky." They do that in real life, they are called 'god rays'. Although more specifically, they shade particles in the air from sunlight that would otherwise be reflected down to the surface. 18.104.22.168 14:17, 4 October 2020 (UTC)