XKCD's New "Click and Drag" comic has shattered the record for biggest web comic (and broken my heart) in really serious ways by boasting a panel whose image filesize is over 52 gigabytes large. In it, the artist utilizes standard click-and-drag technology that's been around for quite some time in a revolutionary way that makes it seem like the very last word in cutting-edge interactivity.
I know what you're thinking: what the heck does any of that mean?
Here's Eric McClure's breakdown of what this all means in computer-geek terms:
The collage is made up of 225 images2 that stretch out over a total image area 79872 pixels high and 165888 pixels wide. The images take up 5.52 MB of space and are named with a simple naming scheme "ydxd.png" where d represents a cardinal direction appropriate for the axis (n for north, s for south on the y axis and e for east, w for west on the x axis) along with the tile coordinate number; for example, "1n1e.png". Tiles are 2048x2048 png images with an average size of 24.53 KB. If you were to try and represent this as a single, uncompressed 32-bit 79872x165888 image file, it would take up 52.99 GB of space.
Holy smokes. Just about 53 GB of black-and-white nostalgia that puts the reader/clicker-dragger on the same journey as the stick figures in the piece. If we wore hats, they'd be off to XKCD.
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Let's take a look at how this comic progresses. We have our typical XKCD protagonist, a stick figure without a face, talking directly to the viewer.
All of that's above a large, rectangular panel, where the stick figure proclaims:
It's a cute, little story in and of itself. But what exactly does it mean, especially in relation to its title?
If you aren't paying attention, you could've missed this entirely. You can actually click within the bottom panel and do some dragging to change the image so much so that the picture you saw above becomes this:
A desolate landscape that reminds be very much of "the saddest landscape that [Antoine de Saint-Exupery has] ever seen" on the last page of The Little Prince. In fact, much of the landscape in the vast universe contained in this one panel reminds me of that beloved childhood favorite through their shared sense of magic (albeit in this case, all magic comes from this ingenious use of IFRAME technology), as well as loneliness and intimacy and the inevitability of loss and unfulfillment.
Go a little farther right, and just past an ink-black fountain, you see a boy and a girl who are just into the first steps of their journey. They talk about maybe turning back, but then decide to stay the course.
You see the terrain in front of them become inhospitable for a moment, and that element of danger creating an obstacle that the two overcome together. We promise not to get too sappy with this one, but it's looking more and more impossible with each scroll.
Here, the unexpected surprise of a beautifully rendered tire swing hanging from a perfect tree made me so nostalgic for being a child, spending all day in a backyard, where my biggest challenge was how to full the doldrum between lunch and dinner.
There are things floating in the sky, too, like this jet black jellyfish, with all of its tendrils perfectly textured. It's one of the little secrets that the map has to offer. We'd call them easter eggs, but the format encourages spending hours hunting through the universe for similar secrets.
All of this, need we remind you, is contained inside one. single. panel.
And these are just a few of our favorite things. We've been scrolling for forty-five minutes in one direction, and we're still not at the end. And that's just one direction! We haven't gone up, down, or left.
But if you want to spoil it for yourself and see the whole ambitious world within the panel, click here and zoom out.