22: Barrel - Part 3

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Barrel - Part 3
A whirlpool!
Title text: A whirlpool!


This is the third in a five-part series of comics whose parts were randomly published during the first several dozen strips. The series features a that is not consistent with what would quickly become the xkcd stick figure style. The character is in a barrel. The full series is:


[Large vortex, spinning water covers the whole panel. A boy in a floating barrel is near the edge, apparently about to be sucked in.]

Boy: Wow!


  • This is the twenty-third comic posted to livejournal. The previous was xkcd 40. The next was xkcd 23

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Like the previous cartoons in this series, the theme is wonder. In a situation that would have almost all of us screaming with fear, this little boy somehow sees the grandeur and majesty before him rather than the danger. BinaryDigit (talk) 11:12, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

The boy expressed optimism in 'Barrel - Part 1.' In 'Ferret,' Cueball expresses his dreams. However, in 'Barrel - Part 2' the boy expressed disappointment. The first two may be consistent with 'wonder' but the last isn't. Here, in 'Part 3,' he's more likely to be expressing awe than wonder. It depends on the inflection of the word, "Wow." --DP9000 (talk) 22:30, 6 March 2016 (UTC)

Didn't anyone notice that WOW upside down is actually MOM? Thus continuing the "Barrel - Part 2"... 22:22, 14 May 2014 (UTC) Žmale

Not relevant here but see 1117: My Sky for the upside down WOW. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:30, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

There has always been an undercurrent of threat in the series. A boy in a barrel is a precarious proposition, even on a calm ocean. When that threat finally manifests, it takes the very personal form of a whirlpool. Compared, for instance, to a 100 mile storm-front, a whirlpool is only a threat if you enter the vortex. But, if you do, it will literally drag you under. --DP9000 (talk) 22:30, 6 March 2016 (UTC)

The boy in this fable is an Everyman. As the 'Title Text' from 'Part 1' implies, we all set out on the ocean of life, alone, but with hope. 'Ferret' shows that dreams and imagination can sustain us, when life doesn't go our way. 'Part 2' shows how hard it is to find a human connection and how hard we'll strive to find one. 'Part 3' represents the hazards we face in life. The personal nature of this hazard makes it more likely to have come from within than from without. --DP9000 (talk) 22:30, 6 March 2016 (UTC)