82: Frame

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Title text: ...


Cueball is standing in the middle of the first square panel, but then the panel's frame starts warping away from being square and starts to form into tendrils that move toward him, then slowly wrap themselves around him, and finally retract, reforming the frame again, but pulling him apart in the process, in a rather macabre comic.

Typically, the frame on a cartoon is used to separate different periods of the action. Here, this has been subverted by the frame becoming a character, the main protagonist, and sole survivor of the strip.

There is some indication that Cueball is also just part of a drawing, since his upper torso, with parts of each arm, is left hanging in the air without any tendrils touching it. If it was not stuck in the center of the image, it would fall down, but more importantly, even if all tendrils pulled very fast at the same time, it is highly unlikely that they could pull so precisely that the body would split in four pieces around this remaining body cross, and one of the tendrils should have pulled this part along with either an arm, the head, or the lower torso. This could be some comfort for those who think that this is too much. Of course, it could also just be something that Randall did not think was important in such a surreal comic.

Comics often use artifacts on the frame to add mood to the comic. This comic then makes those artifacts a major feature of the comic, like a Chekhov's gun ("If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.") The use of creative panel layouts and effects was first made possible in newspaper comics at the insistence of Bill Watterson, author of Calvin and Hobbes (which it is known that Randall has been influenced by), requiring lengthy negotiations due to the printing technology of the time. The creative use of panel layout and effects is thus part of the artistic legacy of Calvin and Hobbes. xkcd, among others, has continued along that path of pushing the boundaries of the medium.

The title text "..." could indicate that Randall wasn't being very serious about this comic. But perhaps it was an idea to creatively use parts of the comic nobody thought about, and it spoke for itself and needed no extra comment. The three dots also indicate that something more will happen soon. The reader may visualize the final result and empty square panel, ready for the next unfortunate person to walk into this trap. Alternatively, it could mean that Randall found the comic so bizarre, even he couldn't comment on it (see Trivia section).


[Cueball stands alone in the center of this almost normally framed panel. But there are four small indentations two both left and right and maybe also one top right.]
[Tendrils from the frame develop and grow inwards while breaking the outer frame down. The tendrils comes close to Cueball. There are 13, three from three of the four sides and four from the right.]
[The tendrils have now completely broken the outer frame down and 11 have reached Cueball and these begins to wind themselves around him. There are tendrils around his forehead, neck, cheek, left arm, left wrist, left hand, right wrist, right hand, lower torso, left leg and right leg. Those around his legs spiraling almost up to his crotch. 14 other tendrils have not reached him yet. All those reaching him was among the 13 from the previous panel. Only the two from the bottom right corner did not make contact. The other 12 not reaching him where new.]
[Finally the 11 tendrils that have reached Cueball retract along with the other 14 tendrils back to the frame, tearing Cueball apart in 9 pieces, leaving one central piece (his upper torso with a part of each arm) floating in the center without tendrils on it. His head has been split in two by three tendrils, that keep the parts close together. The left arm with one tendril has been split from the hand with two tendrils, whereas the two holding the wrist and hand kept their part of the arm in one piece. The two legs have been separated from the lower torso at the crotch, and they as well as the lower torso is all being pulled away by one tendril. The other tendrils have almost reached the frame, three of them are already gone leaving 11 near the frame. The frame has also nearly reformed it self again.]


  • This is one of two comics featured with Blue Eyes: The Hardest Logic Puzzle in the World, the other being 37: Hyphen.
  • The concept of a panel frame destroying its characters would be reused in 240: Dream Girl
  • The title text "..." has been used twice later also with somewhat surreal comics, both about the black hat of Black Hat; 412: Startled and 455: Hats.
  • There is a striking similarity to the opening scene in the movie Hellraiser (1987) (read the plot here - Spoiler).
    • The way the room resets after killing the person in it also reminds of the opening scene in the movie Cube (1997). Although it is a very different way of doing it, that person is also divided into small pieces.
    • Although the Hellraiser trap also resets, it is not like it is a room that does the damage or resets, so there is reason to compare to both movies.

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Might be far-fetched, but this one reminded me of meiosis [1]. - XHalt (talk) 08:59, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

It's more the opposite.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:35, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

It reminds me of smoking DMT.

This reminds me of the "Cube" movie series. 21:31, 7 October 2013 (UTC)BK

Or Hellraiser (cue the Cenobites)Squirreltape (talk) 18:52, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
Hellraiser makes more sense. 22:04, 14 April 2014 (UTC)BK
Yes there is a scene in Hellraiser that reminds of this, but the idea that the room resets afterwards to be ready for the next "client" is reminiscent of Cube. --Kynde (talk) 21:37, 23 July 2016 (UTC)
What indicates that the room resets? In my imagination, the body parts keep hanging from the frame at the end. Also, the best Doctor Who episode ever also has a resetting trap: Wikipedia: Heaven Sent (Doctor Who) Signed: Fabian42, who is tired of being logged out almost every time he visits this Wiki.

Regarding the incomplete tag: Is there really anything to explain? Anonymous 21:13, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

There had to be one. It's probably just not known yet.Pacerier (talk) 18:06, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

It feels like the third paragraph (origins of creative use of the frame) should really be in the Trivia section, rather than the explanation. 17:02, 12 January 2018 (UTC)

My assumption, upon reading this strip, is that it's a representation of mental health: the universe pushing into you and pull you apart at your seams. It's very evocative; it really seems to me that it represents an abstract feeling. Maplestrip (talk) 09:00, 28 March 2022 (UTC)