1620: Christmas Settings
Title text: SOUND DOGS MAKE: [BARKING] [HISSING] [LIGHTSABER NOISES] [FLUENT ENGLISH] [SWEARING]
In this comic Ponytail is showing Megan around a facility where they are now reaching the "Universe Control Panel", and Ponytail points out the first panel and tells that these dials control Christmas.
Presumably the control panel is a set of panels with several dials each to control the entire universe, and anyone having access to a room with these controls would from our point of view be in a Godlike position. If such a room did exist, it would most likely be situated outside our universe. Here it would be easy for Randall to use the panel to make physics references, with dials to control the specific size of fundamental constants of the universe such as the speed of light in vacuum or the Planck constant. Instead he chooses a more comedic angle in the spirit of Christmas (as he usually does in comics released close to said holiday, this one being released on December 23rd).
We are shown only one of the dials on the Christmas control panel, the one that controls how Santa Claus enters people’s houses. The Santa enters houses through-dial has ten different possible settings. The one it's set to at this point of the comic is the traditional chimney. Among the other nine there is only one even more logical option, open window, but surprisingly there is no option called door. The other eight options, however, are increasingly weird or even impossible (though of course not for Santa, who can deliver a billion presents in one night and fly in a sleigh drawn by flying reindeer). These options ranges from the feasible like mail slot, heating vents or cat flap, to the impossible/ridiculous (some even disgusting) such as kitchen faucet, shower drain, or toilet, to the truly magical bathroom mirror , to the downright unpleasant pores of your skin. (See 555: Two Mirrors regarding the mirror version.)
In a quite unfortunate turn of events, Megan trips and catches herself on the Santa dial, messing it up by clicking it twice. To make matters worse, when Megan asks what it was set to before so as to undo the mishap, Ponytail tells that she has forgotten. So they cannot put it back right.
The dial is shown in the comic only for the reader's benefit, because as Megan tripped up before reaching it, she thus never looked at it, and as Ponytail is showing her around, it must have been Megan's first visit here. The reason why Ponytail cannot remember to which option the dial was set before is most likely because she is not part of our universe (the control panel is located outside), and also she is probably not the creator of the control panel. She is clearly disturbed when the dial is turned (she holds up her hand to her mouth), and she would probably like not to have to tell her boss about this mess up. Another explanation is that by changing the dial, Megan and Ponytail's memories of Santa's entry methods are altered, and so whatever position the dial now rests at would seem normal to them. (This could mean that history has no effect outside the universe, so the single dial controls past, present, and future Santa methods. Perhaps the dial was formerly something more logical than a chimney, like "open window," and indeed we are the ones who now live in the altered universe.)
Then, as so often seen with human behaviors (if they are indeed human beings at all?), Megan says she will simply take a wild guess and hope she get it right. As the only thing she really knows is that it is not on the right setting now, there is only 1/9 chance that she will get it right, assuming she will at least change it away from the setting it ended up on.
As we can see in the comic, the dial clicks twice, implying it has moved two positions; Megan has thus most likely changed the dial to either "kitchen faucet" or "mail slot". Or the dial was moved one click away and one click back to the original position. As we do not know which of these she will now change away from, it is impossible to guess from the comic where she ends up putting it, and all ten options are possible.
Since the comic was released just before Christmas, here a prank is played on the reader/children who believe in Santa Claus. Now that the dial setting is probably changed, one can expect Santa to enter the house in a different way. So the believer could stay up and try to find out what way it would be.
The title text continues the idea of a universe control panel by showing another possible dial, Sound dogs make, ranging from normal (barking) to cat sounds (hissing, very embarrassing for a dog), "lightsaber noises", and speech to swearing. This dial would thus give the same option of changing the expected vocal response of the dog away from (our norm of) barking, as with the other dial for the way Santa enters the house. In popular culture, talking dogs are a commonly used trope; in contrast, swearing dogs are few, the most famous being Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, a puppet created by Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel and performed by the latter.
The comic might also be a joke on real-life controls, physical or virtual, often having no clear "default" value.
The Universe Control Panel is also referenced in 1763: Catcalling.
Options for Santa
- Below is a table with the ten possible settings for Santa enters houses through...; starting with the originally chosen standard option and going clockwise through the rest:
|Option||Normal Entry/Exit for...|
|Chimney||Santa Claus typically comes in this way (see him here in a Victorian roof-top song and dance number). Also big bad wolves use this entrance in Disney’s cartoon.|
|Shower drain||Dirty shower water. Evil clowns.|
|Mail slot||Letters, post cards and small presents delivered by the mailman.|
|Heating vents||Hot air used for central heating, but it is a common trope for the hero of an action film to climb through such a vent.|
|Bathroom mirror||See Candyman, or Bloody Mary (the latter has been used in 555: Two Mirrors).|
|Pores of your skin||Sweat leaving the body.|
|Toilet||Human waste and life-term prisoners (at least through the sewer).|
|Cat flap||Domesticated cats and dogs.|
|Open window||Burglars and other criminals. Also often used as an exit by teenagers in movies and other film media, or by people who have locked themselves out of their own house.|
Options for dogs
- Below is a table with the five possible settings for Sound dogs make; starting with the current and continuing with the order in the title text:
|Option||Normal sound for...|
|Barking||Dogs current standard sound in our universe...|
|Hissing||Typically a sound attributed to snakes, but also sometimes cats are said to hiss, for instance as a reaction against a barking dog. It would thus be very frustrating for dogs if their noise was changed into that of their arch enemies.|
|Lightsaber noises||A lightsaber makes a unique sound, and as they are one of the most known props from the Star Wars universe, it is very relevant as the newest Star Wars movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released a week before this comic. Star Wars was also a major theme a month ago in the comic 1608: Hoverboard, the coin collecting game that celebrated Randall's new book.|
|Fluent English||Speaking dogs are a common trope as are talking animals in general. A person who is native to a country where they speak English will usually be fluent in speaking English.|
|Swearing||It would be unpleasant for people who dislike swearing, and a big problems for movies such as Lassie where most of the soundtrack would have to be replaced by bleeps. Swearing "dogs" are few, the most famous being Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, a puppet created by Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel and performed by the latter.|
- [Megan and Ponytail are walking over to a console, Ponytail points towards it. They are drawn in a panel that is only half the width of the next panel below]
- Ponytail: Over here we have the universe control panel.
- Ponytail: These dials, for example, control Christmas.
- [A dial is shown. There is a label at the top and then there are ten settings, five symmetrically on the left and right side, but no setting straight up or down. It looks allot like the dial on a washing machine with different programs. The dial points towards the top left setting. All settings are labeled and there is a small line going to the point on the dial connected with each setting. The line at 3 and 9 o'clock are straight the other 8 are divided in two, where the first part goes horizontally and then bends either up or down, to end in the right position. Here the labele at the top and then the setting labels clockwise from top right, thus ending with the one the dial is set to:]
- Santa enters houses through...
- Shower Drain
- Mail Slot
- Heating Vents
- Bathroom Mirror
- Pores of Your Skin
- Cat Flap
- Kitchen Faucet
- Open Window
- [Ponytail is passing by this control panel looking back at Megan who trips and falls towards the console.]
- Megan: Whoops!
- Megans legs: Trip
- [Megan catches herself on the dial of the control panel and accidentally turns the dial. Ponytail has taken her hands to her mouth.]
- Dial: Click Click
- [Megan is standing in front of the console looking at the dial, Ponytail is standing behind it.]
- Megan: What was the Santa dial set to before?
- Ponytail: I forget.
- Megan: I'll just guess
- In the original version of the comic Ponytail erroneously said: These dials, for example, controls Christmas.
- This was soon changed to the current (and grammatically correct) version without the "s" at the end of controls These dials, for example, control Christmas.
- Thus proving that it was intended that there were more than one dial, we just see the one that Megan later changed by mistake for the sake of the joke of the comic.
- The "Universe Control Panel" is later featured in 1763: Catcalling, but is referred to as the "Universe Control Console" instead.