Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Click on the image above to see the large version, which makes every state perfectly clear. Additionally, Randall provides a closeup of the Colorado article.  (It is obviously a fake Wikipedia article.)
In the large version, all of the items inside the States make sense once you get your head oriented the correct direction.
There is also a pun in the image text on the word State. It is playing off the definition of the word as a noun (which means "The particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time") and the word as a proper noun as in "The State of Florida".
The United Shapes: A map of things states are shaped like
(Each state has some item wedged to stay inside its borders)
- Alabama: A moai head facing east.
- Alaska: Winne the Pooh with a jetpack and a ray gun.
- Arizona: A refrigerated shelf containing milk, bread, and pastries.
- Arkansas: A measuring cup.
- California: A vacuum.
- Colorado: The wiki article on Colorado.
- Connecticut: A train conductor's hat.
- Delaware: A meerkat.
- Florida: an eggplant.
- Georgia: Missouri.
- Hawaii: A snowball.
- Idaho: A garden gnome, sitting down.
- Illinois: A gangster with a guitar case, upside down.
- Indiana: The brush of a paintbrush.
- Iowa: A tomato, lettuce, cold cut and cheese sandwich.
- Kansas: A stand-up piano.
- Kentucky: A cloud.
- Louisiana: A boot with some gum stuck to the bottom of it.
- Maine: A Vulcan salute.
- Maryland: A howling wolf, upside down.
- Massachusetts: An elephant, being ridden by a man, carrying tea.
- Michigan: A mitten for the lower portion, an eagle for the UP.
- Minnesota: $160 in $20 USD bills.
- Mississippi: A moai head facing west.
- Missouri: Georgia.
- Montana: One half of a muffin.
- Nebraska: A blue VW type 2 with mattresses sticking out the back.
- Nevada: A clothes iron.
- New Hampshire: A tall brick factory building.
- New Jersey: A bent-over old person.
- New Mexico: A liquid container labeled for something of unusual and silly danger.
- New York: A hybrid transmission with standard manual-style gears and a torque converter sliced in half.
- North Carolina: A bouquet of flowers.
- North Dakota: The top half of an amp.
- Ohio: Underwear (Briefs).
- Oklahoma: A covered pot, dripping with boilover.
- Oregon: A locomotive.
- Pennsylvania: A very thick book with a bookmark.
- Rhode Island: The bow half of a boat's hull.
- South Carolina: A slice of pizza.
- South Dakota: The bottom half of an amp.
- Tennessee: A number of children's books, placed in a slightly askew pile.
- Texas: A dog sitting in a bowl.
- Utah: An oven.
- Vermont: A microscope, upside down.
- Virgina: A stegosaurus.
- Washington: A whale.
- West Virginia: A frog.
- Wisconsin: A skull.
- Wyoming: An envelope.
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Hooray, another comic that only Americans will get. Randall, some of us live in *other* parts of the world. Davidy22[talk] 13:47, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Wait, so an American addict with a mostly-American audience is supposed to limit himself to cartoons that everyone can understand? And people say AMERICANS are the arrogant ones. 184.108.40.206 07:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Could someone please explain the stereotypes? I'm American and I don't really see any jokes. As far as I can tell, he just picked images that fit in each state. -- 220.127.116.11 (talk) 07:59, 24 March 2013 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
We still have to fix this thumbnail issue. --Dgbrt (talk) 16:47, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
For the most part I don't think the shapes have anything to do with the states other than what happens to fit. The Louisiana "boot" and Michigan "glove" are commonly used to describe those states shapes. 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
People in Michigan actually say things like "I live in the thumb"
22.214.171.124 05:18, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure how this really constitutes an explanation. The current text seems to amount to "Yeah this comic is all perfectly clear and logical everyone gets all the references alright I gotta go have fun now!" I think this needs an incomplete flag, but I don't know if someone who isn't a moderator can do that? --Mynotoar (talk) 22:32, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
Could the signature in Wyoming be Randalls own one? Compare it to 1005: SOPA. --126.96.36.199 09:06, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
He does lotsa comics the rest of us can undrestand, too. After all, though, he IS American. Texas: that's a cat? 188.8.131.52 16:26, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
<rant> The bear in the state of Alaska is NOT Winnie the Pooh. The most recognizable version is yellow with a red shirt. The original illustrations didn't have a shirt, but were still yellow. Further more, there ARE other cartoon bears to choose from, or it could just be a non-affiliated one that Randall created for the sake of fitting in the state of Alaska. Add to that the fact that Winnie the Pooh never had a jetpack OR a raygun and there is a pretty solid case for that bear NOT being Winnie the Pooh. </rant> Anonymous 04:51, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
- I did correct a former typo done by Randall himself, but Winnie the Pooh is just what he was thinking about. Please start a discussion on such an edit first, maybe we can say Randall's painting is bad, but that's what is on his official transcript. And SO this does only belong to the explain, the transcript is just only a transcript of the ORIGINAL comic. I'm sorry, but please don't change this until you know what you are doing, please ask for help first. You will get kind answers by many people here. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:29, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
- Undoing edits
I expanded a bunch of descriptions, especially with an eye for people who may not be able to see the comic. This was the "incomplete explanation of the day" comic the day I started adding to the wiki. For example, Utah was described as "An oven." I changed this to "A white stove" because the entire appliance is called a stove (an oven plus drawer below, cooktop above, and upright piece with controls at the back of the cooktop).
Dgbrt undid all my changes without explanation. Would someone please explain what, if anything, I did wrong? I know I'm new here, but I did look around before making any changes. Is there an "o
Corollary question: Someone also removed the actual text that appears in the various images.
Is there an official-from-Randall transcript somewhere?
Thanks. Karenb (talk) 21:48, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
- Dgbrt replaced the transcript that was present with the transcript that can be found here, or in the page source of the original comic. It's not always perfectly accurate, but I usually just trust in it since Randall probably knows what he drew. If you feel that there's a typo/stuff-up somewhere, feel free to change it. Accuracy trumps the original transcript. Davidy²²[talk] 00:48, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
- Thanks, David! That makes a lot of sense. Karenb (talk) 01:37, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
- I disagree. The transcript here should explain what is in the comic. Randall's transcript (if there even is one) is often not very complete, and he doesn't use the names we have here. If he has drawn something that is clearly not what he writes it is, then it should be corrected in this transcript. --Kynde (talk) 10:14, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Is this ready for the incomplete flag to be removed? Explain section has been updated to explain the shapes that can be explained.Tornadowrangler (talk) 03:35, 3 April 2014 (UTC)Tornadowrangler
A note about Maryland -- the transcript description is incomplete, because the wolf (main part of the state) appears to be howling at a full moon (across the Chesapeake Bay). That bit of land is referred to as the Delmarva peninsula, because it includes nearly all of Delaware, the eastern part of Maryland and (not indicated on this map) the southern tip belongs to Virginia. 184.108.40.206 04:13, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
I always thought NC & SC look like a bird beak & VA looked like a bird in flight Beastachu (talk) 19:35, 8 November 2015 (UTC)
I halfway fixed the issue addressed by the incomplete box. I have nothing to contribute to the current spotlighted explanation, so I am working here. I will finish the job later if I have time. I also added some more possible explanations to the chart, such as Washington D.C. being a star because that's how capitals are shown and the somewhat weak explanation of Maine's camp sunshine holding an event to appear in a Star Trek film.
220.127.116.11 16:04, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
I believe the transcript is now complete.
18.104.22.168 15:08, 22 April 2016 (UTC)
After some more additions to the transcript I removed the incomplete box. The only thing left is the comic explanation, and finding possible explanations for all of the shapes. Despite what the current description says, Randall just picking shapes based on shape is very unlike him.
22.214.171.124 22:19, 25 April 2016 (UTC)