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<   No. 4055   2019-08-09   >

Comic #4055

1 Shakespeare: So you not only accidentally invented time travel, you built a time machine over the weekend?
2 Mercutio: We already had the machine. The huge server farm for CGI rendering.
3 Mercutio: The time travel part is all implemented in software.
4 Shakespeare: What? How is that even possible?
4 Mercutio: It’s five layers deep in Blender custom shader maps. I haven’t the foggiest.

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I originally wrote the punchline as: "It's five layers deep in abstraction. I haven't the foggiest."

Then I realised it might be more amusing to choose something more specific than "abstraction" - something notorious for being difficult to comprehend. Aha! The Blender user interface!

And then I realised that it's CGI rendering hardware that is running the time travel code! Perfect! (Since Blender is a graphics rendering engine.)

My only concern was that by referencing a specific piece of software and one of its notorious quirks, I've reduced the audience who will understand the joke. So I had the age-old dilemma of comic writers everywhere: broader audience but less funny joke, or narrower audience but funnier joke?

My first step in resolving this choice was to confirm that the more specific joke was actually funnier to other people and not merely in my own mind. I showed both versions to my Comic Irregular friends, and they agreed with me that the Blender version was indeed funnier.

So I did as I often prefer to do: picked the funnier joke, even if it means a smaller number of people will fully appreciate it at first glance.

One final step was to change the screenshot on Mercutio's machine, replacing a fairly generic IDE[1] with an actual Blender screenshot for bonus authenticity.

[1] TIL[2]: IDE stands for "integrated development environment", not "interactive development environment" like I always thought.

[2] Today I Learnt.

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