Title text: My brother had a ferret he loved which died since I drew this strip. RIP.
Cueball's (Cueball-like) friend makes fun of his imagination that involves a flying ferret, and then suggests to go play video games instead. This shows the irony of his definition of "imagination." He makes fun of Cueball's creative fantasy while instead opting for a mass-produced fantasy.
The fact that Cueball lies about his goal could be a commentary on abandoning dreams to avoid confronting societal expectations.
The title text refers to the fact that Randall's brother in real life had such a pet ferret. Originally, Randall drew this comic while the ferret was still alive. And then it died in between his posting it on LiveJournal and reposting it with a title text on the new xkcd site. He now wished that it will rest in peace. "RIP" stands for "Rest In Peace", from the original Latin "Requiescat in pace" as derived from a traditional Catholic burial service. The initialism or phrase was commonly placed on gravestones to indicate the hope that, in whatever existence the deceased now finds themself, they may have peace. It has become a frequent motif in cartoons to indicate the death of an individual or character, which has likely contributed to its widespread use to denote the passing of a person, pet, or even an abstract concept in popular culture, outside of Catholicism.
The ferret returns in 31: Barrel - Part 5 and did in this way become part of the Barrel series. This has also been canonized by Randall as can be seen on this web-archive version of xkcd: The Boy and his Barrel.
The full series can be found here. But below they are listed in the order Randall has put them in his collection linked to above:
- 1: Barrel - Part 1
- 20: Ferret
- 11: Barrel - Part 2
- 22: Barrel - Part 3
- 25: Barrel - Part 4
- 31: Barrel - Part 5
- [A color drawing of a ferret with airplane wings and tail on it.]
- [Cueball and his Cueball-like friend (to the left) are talking.]
- Friend: Why on earth did you make those wings? You don't seriously think they could let your ferret fly, right?
- Cueball: I... of course not.
- [They continue to talk.]
- Cueball: That would be pretty dumb. It's just, uh... ...a Halloween costume.
- Friend: oh, okay.
- [They continue to talk. But now the head of the ferret can be seen to the far right on a table.]
- Friend: Besides, who would want a pet to fly anyway?
- Cueball: Yeah. Pretty lame, huh?
- [The friend leaves the frame while Cueball stays. The ferret cannot be seen,]
- Friend: Anyway, let's go play video games.
- [Cueball stands behind after his friend has left. He looks back towards his Ferret which can be seen more clearly this time standing on the table.]
- [Cueball imagines ferret flying over the ocean near the beach using his makeshift wings. The imagination is in color]
- This was the 19th comic originally posted to LiveJournal.
- Original title: "Friday's Drawing"
- Original Randall quote: "My brother has a ferret. He holds it like that and generally adores it. I have to concede that it's pretty cute, if smelly."
- This comic was posted on xkcd when the web site opened on Sunday the 1st of January 2006.
- It was posted along with all 41 comics posted before that on LiveJournal as well as a few others.
- The latter explaining why the numbers of these 41 LiveJournal comics ranges from 1-44.
- One of the original drawings drawn on checkered paper.
- A tank-top shirt based on this comic is available in the xkcd store.
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