2459: March 2020

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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March 2020
"I've traveled here from the year 2020 to bring you this vaccine!"
Title text: "I've traveled here from the year 2020 to bring you this vaccine!"


This comic is another in a series of comics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

This comic shows 15 calendars and Cueball next to them. The first three months on the calendar are January, February and March 2020. It would be expected that the months would increase in order, but the calendar month stays at March 2020 until the final panel of the comic, where it switches to May 2021, the month this comic was released, indicating that Cueball is "stuck" in March 2020 for more than a year. The COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States in March 2020 and Cueball (probably representing Randall) may feel that he has been unable to move on with life, or that time was at a standstill until he was fully vaccinated. It is plausible that Randall was past the two weeks after his final vaccination when this comic came out. He has made several comics centered around that of being fully vaccinated in the weeks up to this comic. Specifically 2450: Post Vaccine Social Scheduling and 2454: Fully Vaccinated in April.

In the penultimate 2 panels, Cueball is shown getting his two doses of the vaccine, with Ponytail and Hairy administering the vaccine. Also these two panels are in March 2020, but in reality they are most likely in March 2021 and April 2021, as there are typically 3-6 weeks between first and second dose depending on the type of vaccine. In the final panel, the calendar has switched to the current month, May 2021, showing that Cueball can now resume life after getting vaccinated, and most likely having passed the two weeks after final shot mark.

The title text references 630: Time Travel, another time-related comic. While it’s technically true that the vaccines were brought from the year 2020, it was through the ordinary “one day per day” form of time travel illustrated in this earlier comic.

Interestingly, there are only 15 panels, so if the 'normal' months increased in sync, it would "only" be March 2021, not May 2021. This may refer to the strange distortion of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly 17 panels would have made more sense when counting months, but the point here is that time has been at a standstill the last 14 months from March 2020 to April 2021; how many panels represents those 14 month (14, 12 or 10) is not important. Using 15 panels, makes the first 3 and the last 3 stand out from the 9 in the middle, which makes sense from the flow of the comic.


[In a 3 column by 5 row grid of panels, 15 monthly wall calendars are shown. All calendars have a large header with month and year given on two lines. Below this is a black border with 7 white lines, for each day of the week, and below that 5 rows with 7 columns, making all calendars the same, with 35 spaces. Nothing is shown in these grids. Next to each of these calendars Cueball is shown. In the first 12 panels, Cueball is standing next to the calendar, in only slightly different poses. The text on the calendars only change in the top row, then it stays the same for the next nine panels:]
Calendar: January 2020
Calendar: February 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
Calendar: March 2020
[In the bottom row's first panel the calendar is, as always, to the left, but now Cueball is wearing a mask and sitting on a chair leaning a bit to the left while he is being vaccinated by a masked Ponytail to his right. She is inserting the needle into his left arm. To the right is a tall but small table with the vial from which she has drawn the vaccine standing next to the lid of the vial.]
Calendar: March 2020
[The bottom row's second panel is similar to the previous with Cueball wearing a mask and sitting on a chair leaning a bit to the left while he is being vaccinated - although this time by a masked Hairy, standing to his right. Hairy is also inserting the needle into his left arm. To the right is a different small table, with only one leg. On it is a vial from which Hairy has drawn the vaccine. Also some other black things are lying on the table, maybe other syringes for administrating the vaccine.]
Calendar: March 2020
[In the final panel Cueball again stands next to the calendar, but finally the text has changed.]
Calendar: May 2021

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Depending upon the local vaccine-tied gap between the two jabs, the span of time across those frames could easily be 12 weeks (1 actual month of stasis plus almost 2 more, that are not illustrated) or 8 weeks (1+1ish months between, then you may assume another unillustrated extra buffer after the second before 'normallity resumes'), making the resumed month correct after all. (Also, March being 31 days long, recycling it in a 'perpetual calendar' way would shift the month-boundaries over by ¿9? days, which might factor in. Although that'd make it hard to make it so the end of the final March ends exactly a day before the continuation-May is supposed to start for all, without some other finagling.) 05:23, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

In the US, the two multi-dose vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, require 3 weeks and 4 weeks, respectively, between doses. Unsure of the reason for why there seems to be a "time jump". 06:23, 6 May 2021 (UTC)
I think the only reason there is only 15 calendars in stead of 17 is because he could then make a 3x5 grid. (A 4x4grid would also be one too little). And also I think it could have made much more sense to put on all 17 months, to avoid this confusion. But I do not think he has made 15 for any time reason. If he had done this in April, and made a 4x4 grid it would have been nicer, but then there would have been a standing Cueball in the first panel of the last row. But the last month would have been April which would fit with a year plus 4 months. But having the calendars months shift through the top row works great, which would not work in 4x4 grid. And since time stood still for Randall during those 14 months, then having 12 or 14 or 10 panels doesn't really matter. The important message is that time was at a standstill until May 2021. (He also needed 14 days after the last vaccine to be fully vaccinated). In Denmark where the AstraZeneca vaccine was taken out of use, after many had only the first shot, the second shot will be with another vaccine, and will be administrated 12 weeks after the first AztraZeneca vaccine. I know, I'm one of those that will have my second dose this way, in a few weeks time. --Kynde (talk) 09:36, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

Anyone else noticed all calendars seem to be empty, even the May 2021 one? -- Tobias 09:53, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

"Fifteen" days to slow the spread? More like 416+ (Yes, I'm counting...) Wilh3lm (talk) 10:16, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

Should the calendars be seen to represent Cueball's social life / social engagements? If so, pre-pandemic he had nothing going on. During pandemic, he (and everyone else essentially) had nothing going on. After full vaccination, he still apparently has nothing going on... Or, do the calendars merely represent time passing, and Cueball's life "froze" in March 2020, and only just resumed its normal flow following his second vaccination, making May 2021 his first "return to normal time flow" month?

There are not enough calendars. It feels like it has been March 2020 for about 10 years, so there should be about 40 more rows.

Not sure that MacGuffin is the best analogy to use in the explanation. As I understand it, a MacGuffin is just a symbolic item, with no function except as a goal. Whereas the vaccine has a clear function in controlling the pandemic and (in this case) allowing time to progress. 18:36, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

He's not saying that it's a MacGuffin in this case, but it's often a MacGuffin in the movie trope that the line is patterned off. Barmar (talk) 19:41, 6 May 2021 (UTC)