The comic 1756: I'm With Her where Randall made it clear that he endorsed Hillary Clinton right before the election that Donald Trump won in 2016, was followed by some negative comics culminating in the one that was directly called Sad,1790: Sad, released early in 2017. They all came after the election of Trump in 2016.
Over the months after the election (at least up till just after Donald Trump’s inauguration) Randall has posted (at least) four comics that could be interpreted as him being sad/angry or that people around him are acting in such a way:
Not since Randall's wife's cancer diagnosis has there been so many sad/negative or depressing comics. During a two year span there were only five decidedly sad cancer comics. There has now been four "sad" comics in a little more than two months (November 18th 2016 to January 25th 2017).
As a comparison the year before the first of these sad comic came out there were no really sad, and only one (for real) scary comic: 1732: Earth Temperature Timeline. That comic has just been made more scary as it now seems the doing nothing is no longer the worst case scenario given that Randall did not expect Trump to win. And his policy of denying climate change will probably make it even worse than if we did nothing.
Note that none of these sad comics directly mentions Trump at all. But the connection is though not only inferred from the mood of the comics. The comics where released close to some important day on Donald Trump's way to becoming president or on New Year Day, thus representing going into the year where Trump actually becomes president.
After the inauguration the sad comics related to the election stopped, but in August 2017, a week before the solar Eclipse, the election was mentioned in 1876: Eclipse Searches. Another few comics came out later with reference to the election: for instance 1898: October 2017 (at that time) and, in January 2018, about two weeks before Trump had been president for a year, a comic which clearly tried to show that he was not the popular vote winner: 1939: 2016 Election Map. And there have been several comics that relate to the general political mood in a negative way. Below is a list of such comics, with more information also about the four sad comics mentioned above.
The year 2017 also became the first year without an April Fools' Day comic since Randall began that yearly trend in 2011. And he took it up again from 2018...
Here below follows a list of the comics related to these sad comics and election of Trump.
Relations (if any) between the release day and the comics will also be listed. The links here points here below to an explanation why each comic is listed here:
- I'm With Her
- Focus Knob
- Location Reviews
- Vomiting Emoji
- Security Advice
- Identification Chart
- Eclipse Searches
- October 2017
- 2016 Election Map
- I'm a Car
- Biff Tannen
- Text Entry
- Imagine Going Back in Time
I'm With Her
Released 2016-11-07: The day before the election
It all began when Randall urged his American viewership to vote in the election the day after this comic was released. Here he clearly showed his endorsement for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in the election. Although this is not directly sad, he included two weapon carrying defenders on either side of the comic. One of these was Ponytail with a ray gun (the one she also wielded in 322: Pix Plz). The gun is for melting computers of persons that make snide remarks at women, clearly a reference to Donald Trump's sexual harassment of women in general and especially to his grab them by the pussy comment.
Randall has often made comics against women harassment before. (For a great example see 1027: Pickup Artist).
Released 2016-11-18: Ten days after the election.
This is the first really sad comic in which Cueball actually begins by stating that: I feel sad! a clear relation to 1790: Sad (the fourth sad comic after I'm With Her, see below). This is likely due to all the angry and scared comments of Cueball’s Facebook friends, and he thus decides to blame them rather than what they are angry about.
It took some days before Randall posted anything that could be said to have relation to the election, but the defeat of Hillary may have taken some time to digest. Also the reactions to Trump’s victory on Facebook needed to build up over time before this comic.
Furthermore there was also some uncertainty to begin with if some states would call for a re-vote etc. Still it was only the fifth comic after his campaign for Hillary failed.
The first comic with a really negative title. (Like Sad (see below), although Blame is of course a negatively loaded word, the comic did not need to be as sad as it was).
This comic and Blame could be seen as a small series as Cueball blames his friends on Facebook in the first comic, and then goes outside to avoid all the negativity online in the second, probably worsened for him after he blamed his Facebook friends because: Bad thing are happening. Only it does not work because even the grass is after him.
At the time of the comics release there was still some rumors/hopes that the some of the electors would not vote for Trump. (But only two changed away from Trump!)
Released 2016-12-30: The New Year comic – a transition to the year when Donald Trump would become president.
Even the comic "celebrating" New Year was depressive and it was the first time that a New Year comic had such a depressive mood. Cueball and Megan discuss if 2016 could end up as having been better than 2017 since all the bad thing happening in 2016 would first really take effect in 2017.
The biggest of these would be Trump becoming president, but also Brexit and a lot of dead famous people would be troublesome. None of these events (or any other specifically bad event of 2016 are cited in the comic).
Randall tries to make a happy twist by saying that maybe some unexpected good would come in 2017 as most of the sad events (just mentioned) was not expected to happen. But hoping for this in the face of what awaits is difficult so he retorts to just hoping they won’t cancel the 2017 solar eclipse.
Fearing (for real) that astronomical events like this being canceled would call for you to be very depressed. Of course Randall doesn’t fear for this in real life, but it puts a perspective on the other parts of the comic. Although the eclipse will certainly happen on August 21st 2017 Randall may still miss it, even if he is in the right place, as the weather could always be overcast and then ruin the experience. So the worry that he will miss it is real and had also been mentioned three years earlier in 1302: Year in Review.
2017-01-25: Five days after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
This was the comic that sparked this page, with the title really being Sad.
The title "Sad" is a common interjection in Trump's tweets. The time-frame of "the past few months" from the first panel is consistent with this, as the election was on November 8, 2016, and the comic was posted on January 25, 2017 four days after Donald Trump's inauguration as 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. This was only the second comic released after the inauguration the Friday before this comics Wednesday release.
Although it could be said that Trump first took office Monday (before this Wednesday comic) he already began signing decrees (or executive orders) on Friday January 20th within a few hours after becoming president. Most of these would make it even worse for those already sad about him becoming president, because they could now see that he really meant all the things he promised (which is not always the case in politics!)
Up to the day this comic was released (January 25th) it would already be drastic things like the Mexican border wall (on the day of the comics release), the withdrawal of Affordable Care Act, the approval of the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL pipelines (which would be troublesome for an environmentalist as Randall as both oil pipes have environmental issues) and the Mexico City Policy regarding stopping any help to poor women abroad with regards to information or any other way helping with abortion.
The actual reasons for Ponytail's frustrations and depression aren't dwelt on and the focus is on her retreat into video games and the damage it's doing to her work projects. The video game she plays is referenced again only seven comics later in 1797: Stardew Valley, thus showing this game is on Randall's mind, and that he might be using this to avoid thinking of the things that makes him sad.
This fits with the next sad comic mentioned below, coming out just before Stardew Valley, where Randall focuses on his e-mail settings rather than the big picture.
It might appear to be non-political, the reference to PolitiFact, however, makes it clear that she is thinking on politics, and the fact checking of most of Trump's claims. This is another indication that one of her troubles is Trump's leniency with the truth in both election campaign and after, to the point where lies are now on a daily basis just called alternative facts or post-truth. His statements would often turns out to be Pants on Fire! on the PolitiFact scale. See more on Politifact.com the earlier comic 1712: Politifact from during the election campaign
Apart from the Politifact comic and I’m with Her then the only other direct reference to the election during the election campaign was in 1748: Future Archaeology, where Randall expressed interest in knowing the result of the election in advance.
Seeing that this comic is about Ponytail being sad, the Ponytail who in "I’m with Her" was standing with a weapon to defend herself against condescending men (like Trump) and that one of the first decrees Trump signed, was regarding removal of support for abortion abroad, she can see that she still have good reason (especially as a woman) to being sad as she has been these past few months.
2017-02-08: Less than three weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, only six comics after the previous Sad comic.
Although this comic may look like an easy joke, there is panic and existential paralysis if you turn your focus more than two thirds towards the big picture (of the world). For instance during the days just before this comics release an American judge (February 3rd) and two days later several big companies went against Trump's decision of banning people from seven countries from entering USA.
There have thus been many reasons to panic since his inauguration if one follows the news in any way. In the comic the detail oriented side is indicated to be a focus on his e-mail settings. But as it was shown already in the next comic 1797: Stardew Valley, there are also video games that can help you take your mind off the real world. This also relates back to Sad where the same game was mentioned a week before.
2017-02-22: During the days before this comic, Trump has promised to make a related Executive Order regarding the banning of people from the same seven countries from entering USA, as was ruled illegal around the time of the last of these comics.
The sadness is not so clear in this comic, but the conclusion in the title text that it is both bad to hear all the scary news and to disconnect in order avoid them seems rather sad. It is a lose/lose situation.
This also seems related to the problem of finding the right balance mentioned in Focus Knob. The idea of going for a walk with the phone, thus not avoiding the news feed, is the exact opposite idea of Negativity, where going outside was to avoid the negativity on the internet. Neither of the idea seems to work.
2017-02-24: Second comic in a row, this one could be a reaction to the cold relationship between Russia and the United States, that became worse a few weeks before this comic.
Two weeks prior to this comics release Russia Deploys Missile, Violating Treaty and Challenging Trump. In this comic a Nuclear Launch Facility is reviewed on a Google Map and the last of the reviewers pleads Please don't launch these. Another notices the lack of security as there is a hole in the fence. (See more in the reviews explanation and here).
In this comic six vomiting emoji has been created. Most of them can be connected to the situation in USA.
- A vomiting cowboy, could represents the Americans that votes for Trump but now has regretted it.
- Vomiting Statue of Liberty speaks for it self...
- Vomiting peace dove a clear reference to the fear of Nuclear War, as is the rocket below.
- Vomiting Moon, the only one that is not clearly connected in any way with this situation. Although Randall has expressed fear that the moon will be gone before the Eclipse this summer, see above.
- Vomiting rocket ship, see peace dove above.
- Vomiting Hand, could be a reference to the way Trump always holds up his hand in a special way, which is likely to cause nausea in those that really detest what he stands for.
2017-03-24: On this day Trump failed to get a vote through for removing/changing Obamacare which was expected. But had it succeeded Randall might have wished for a departure from Trumps states (see below).
The comic depicts a flag similar in style to the Stars and Stripes, and explains he was asked to create it for a new country. This seems like a reference to the fact that some have talked about states leaving the USA due to the election of Trump (California for instance).
This flag with three stars could thus be Randall's thoughts on this, maybe the three small states in New England; Massachusetts, where he lives, Connecticut and Rhode Island could break free and form their own small state union.
2017-04-05: No special event seems related.
There are two references to what to do when crossing a border, and especially that last tip could be related to the increasing border control caused by Donald Trump's election: "If a border guard asks to examine your laptop, you have a legal right to challenge them to a chess game for your soul.
2017-04-17: No special event seems related.
Once again reference to the military like in Location Reviews. In the title text hostility between fighter-plane like birds that are territorial are mentioned.
This is not a sad comic, but it refers directly to the election day regarding media interest and searches on Google, which makes it the first in almost four month referring back to the election or the result of said election. For that reason alone it is included here. It seems that Randall has stopped focusing on Trump and his actions.
The comic mentions a movie that is already 7 years old, to make one feel old. But in the title text it refers directly to the election stating that so much has happened (because of this) that it is hard to believe that not even a year has passed since the election itself. However Election 2016 includes the active campaigning which led up to it, starting well before the first state primary election in February 2016. It thus still seems that Randall can be sad about the election results, although it was only the second reference to it in almost half a year.
2016 Election Map
2018-01-08: Released close to a year after Trumps inauguration. Could be related to the news that Trump Disbands Commission on Voter Fraud, five days before this comics release.
The comic displays the distribution of voters across the US in much more detail than the Choropleth map used during the election, which makes large states with small population seem more important and also removes any sign that a state is more of less split in half between red and blue. Thus the comic displays that Trump did not win many states by a large margin, and it has been known by everyone except Trump that Hillary got the most votes, in spite of the allegations of Russian involvement in the election trying to get Trump the win.
This is the first comic after Donald Trump became a candidate for the presidency, that the name Trump is mentioned in xkcd. Soon after his full name was used in Text Entry.
Randall is clearly still sad about the election results, almost a year after Trump became president.
I'm a Car
The comic reminds people to register for voting. It is generally believed that many of those not voting would have chosen democrats on election day. Also, shortly before this comic was released, the header text at the top of the xkcd page was changed to "Check your registration and find your polling place at vote.org."
The comic is not sad but refers back to the election two years earlier.
This comic was followed by two more comics about the upcoming Midterm election, 2066: Ballot Selfies and 2067: Challengers. On the release of the last the header was updated to also include link for what is on the ballot.
2019-01-28: Released 3 days after the rights to the film referenced in the comic - Back to the Future Part II - were bought by Netflix.
The book that Cueball wishes to parody, Hillbilly Elegy, has been interpreted as an explanation for Donald Trump's election, and Biff Tannen from Back to the Future trilogy is loosely based on Donald Trump. The comic is thus not sad, but refers back to the election two years earlier and how it could have happened.
2019-04-15: Seems there was no direct reason for the release day?
While primarily a comic about text entry, it also mentions how weird Randall finds the fact that Donald Trump is president. For the first time in a normal xkcd comic Donald Trump's full name is used (it has been used in 980: Money, but good luck finding it). His last name Trump was used in 2016 Election Map.
Imagine Going Back in Time
This is just a reminder that Randall is unhappy with the fact that Trump is president and that someone actually wishes that he becomes reelected. And also a reminder of how strange he thinks it is that Trump was elected in the first place.