31: Barrel - Part 5

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Barrel - Part 5
Too good not to happen.
Title text: Too good not to happen.


This gives a happy ending to the Barrel series. The flying ferret is from 20: Ferret. The humor is derived from the juxtaposition of two unlike elements - in this case, the contemplative and even dark nature of the Barrel series being resolved through the timely intervention of a comical flying mammal.

Said mammal could also be interpreted as a symbol of hope and following your dreams, seeing as in its original appearance, its powers of flight were just that: a dream. However, the dream becomes reality to save a child from an endless sea of hopelessness.

The series is probably inspired by the novella The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Randall is well known to be a fan of this book.

Somewhere between the release of the first ferret comic in October 2005 and the re-release of that comic (and all the other from LiveJournal in 2005) on New Year's Day 2006 on the new xkcd site, Randall's brother's ferret died - as given by the new RIP comment in the title text. The sad comment in the title text of 25: Barrel - Part 4, ":(", possibly implying harm to the boy, along with this RIP comment, may imply that the boy has died and joined the ferret (in flying to Heaven). However, this line of reasoning only makes sense if the ferret actually died before the release of both the Part 4 comic at the end of October and this comic, which was released in the middle of November 2005, 1½ months before the new title text was made public.

This is the last in a six-part series of comics whose parts were randomly published during the first several dozen strips. The series features a character who is not consistent with what would quickly become the xkcd stick figure style. The character was in a barrel in parts 1-3.

After Randall released the full The Boy and his Barrel story on xkcd it has been clear that the original Ferret story should also be included as part of the barrel series.

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:


[A boy is grasping on to a piece of driftwood in an ocean.]
[A zoomed out view of the boy still grasping on to a piece of driftwood in the ocean.]
[A ferret with some airplane wings and an airplane tail flies above the ocean.]
[A shot of the ocean, now empty.]
[The flying ferret is carrying the boy to safety.]
[The ferret carrying the boy is now in the distance with the sun on the horizon.]


  • This was the 33rd comic originally posted to LiveJournal.
  • This comic kept its original title: "Barrel - Part 5"
    • The first since 16: Monty Python -- Enough (called "Support Surreal Humor" originally) that had a title without mentioning the week day.
    • Also the last until the comics began being released also on xkcd (the second of these 46: Secrets, nine comics later).
  • Original Randall quote: "The ferret got to fly, in the end!"
    • The link took the reader to the first ferret comic.
  • 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.

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this series feels like a homage to "The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry". the sketches have the same - quality ( for want of a better word) Arjunsharma (talk) 07:52, 25 March 2013 (UTC)jun

This was also my first thought today when I did look at this comic again. Maybe the Barrel is just the Meteor from "The Little Prince".--Dgbrt (talk) 21:50, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

I have to wonder if the flying ferret has anything to do with Richard Bach, a noted aviation author who published a series of flying books called "The Ferret Chronicles" in 2002-2003? -- 21:56, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Should the last trivium be put in the explanation section? 0100011101100001011011010110010101011010011011110110111001100101 (talk page) 04:38, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

Last panel reminiscent of http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/4 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)