Title text: Oh God, the tornado picked up snakes!
This comic seems to be about phobias, i.e. being afraid of specific and non-specific things like Blondie's fear of snakes.
Prompted by Blondie's admission, Megan becomes philosophical (as she often does) and reveals an unusual phobia of her own: uncomfortable with outrightly rejecting a romantic advance, she would respond to such an advance by making the excuse that everything is complicated right now. This would postpone the advance until the next year, when the other person would ask again and she would defer again, and on and on until one of them dies or moves on. This is what Megan states she is afraid of.
After Megan has said this, Blondie thinks for some time (in the beat panel). When she finally decides to ask Megan something (perhaps to go out on a date), Megan cuts her off. It seems that Blondie has misread the situation, having guessed incorrectly that Megan is romantically interested in her. In fact, Megan is not. Rather than risk having to reject Blondie in the manner described above and beginning the cycle of annual rejections she so fears, Megan prevents the inquiry and interrupts Blondie to say that she wants to be a storm chaser.
Given that Blondie believes Megan may have feelings for her, it is understandable that she follows Megan's ambition and together they become storm chasers—individuals who pursue severe weather conditions, for either scientific investigation or providing media coverage, or simply for adventure. Ironically, chasing adverse weather, especially tornadoes, is more dangerous than the source of either character's original phobia. Indeed, one's ability to control the risk while being near a tornado is far less than one's ability to control the risk of being bitten by a snake; the tornado is violent and unpredictable, while snakes only attack humans when they feel threatened. Additionally, one needs to deliberately expose oneself to the snake in order to have any risk of being attacked.
This comic is related to the movies Snakes on a plane (snakes), Twister (tornadoes and storm chasers), and Thelma & Louise. The last of these movies has two women friends on a road trip, and in the end they kiss, and there have been several discussions on whether one or both of them are lesbian or not.
In the title text, Megan and Blondie notice that the snakes have been picked up by the tornado they are chasing; so now, in addition to the violent weather, they are also exposed to the danger of snakes falling from the sky. (This is similar to the plot of Sharknado, although that movie was released several years after this comic.)
This is the third comic about tornadoes and storm chasers, a recurring subject on xkcd. These were first mentioned in 402: 1,000 Miles North, and first shown in 640: Tornado Hunter.
- [Blondie, with extra long hair and Megan in the background of the image observes a long snake on the ground in the foreground.]
- Blondie: Whoa, a snake!
- Megan: Cool!
- Blondie: I'm afraid of snakes.
- [Zoom in only on Megan's upper half.]
- Megan: I'm afraid of saying "everything's complicated right now, but maybe next year" until there are no more years left.
- [Slim panel with a zoom to a full picture of only Blondie as she considers this. Beat panel.]
- [Same type of image of Megan, who cuts Blondie's reply (from off-panel) off in mid-sentence.]
- Blondie (off-panel): Do you-
- Megan: I want to be a storm chaser.
- [A black tornado reaches from the black storm clouds to the earth, kicking up a sizable cloud of debris at its base. Blondie is at the wheel of a car, with Megan hanging out the window and holding a camera.]
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"This comic may have references to the movies: Snakes on a plane, Twister, and Thelma & Louise."... and Sharknado. -- 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Sharknado wasn't around at the time of this comic, so I removed it from the explanation. Although Randall seemed to predict it or inspire it. 184.108.40.206 02:18, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
I read this as Megan possibly wanting a 'more than friends' relationship with blonde-hair, but never having the guts to say anything. Her expressing this fear is the closest she has got to saying anything, hence the awkwardness in the following panel. When blonde hair start to question Megan, she quickly interrupts and decide to go do something crazy together. I think I might be reading into things too much... --Pudder (talk) 09:25, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
- That's pretty much what I thought. I read it as the blond thought Megan was hinting at something more than friends, but she actually meant she was putting off her desire to become a Storm Chaser. Randall Monroe? Want to shed some light on this?220.127.116.11 19:02, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
- Maybe 'I'm afraid of snakes' is another lesbian reference... --Pudder (talk) 09:26, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
The "romance" interpretation is entirely optional; I'm planning to update description to make that clear. "Everything is complicated right now" can apply to anything, and represent a psychological obstacle to taking up a new career or hobby, just as much as it can be an excuse to not pursue a romantic prospect. --mezimm 18.104.22.168 20:27, 3 December 2021 (UTC)