417: The Man Who Fell Sideways

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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The Man Who Fell Sideways
Strop originally conceived in conversation with Jeph Jacques. Soon to be a major motion picture.
Title text: Strop originally conceived in conversation with Jeph Jacques. Soon to be a major motion picture.

Explanation

This comic may be seen as a reference to the short story The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button to which a movie was to come out later that year. Just like the man in this comic the protagonist Benjamin suffers of a 'desease' physically not possible. Benjamin gets younger over time and the man in this comic gets pulled sidewards.

A different reference is given by 'over land and sea', a line from the song 'Nature Boy' from Eden Ahbez. Nat King Cole sung about 'A very strange, enchanted boy. They say he wandered very far[...], over land and sea'.

Transcript

[A man standing, with a dotted line perpendicular to him and a 30 degree angle going downwards]
Narrator: From a young age, gravity pulled him wrong.
[The same man bouncing around his house]
Narrator: Sometimes east, sometimes west. When he was restrained, it grew erratic.
<WHAM> <WHAM>
[Man bouncing
rolling on the ground]
Narrator: So he fell.
Man: AAAA
<THUMPA> <THUMPA>
[Man bouncing
rolling on the ground in a desert]
Narrator: Constantly
Man: AAAAAAAAA
[Man bouncing
rolling off a rock on the ground in a desert]
Narrator: Over land...
Man: AAAAA-<THUD>-A
[Man bouncing
rolling on the ground in the desert]
Man: AAAAAAAAA
[Man bouncing
rolling on the ground in the desert]
Man: A-<THUD>-AAAAAA
[Man bouncing
rolling on the ground in the desert]
Man: AA-<THUD>-AAAAA
[Man under the surface of a body of water]
Narrator: And sea.
Man: AAAAAAAAAAAA
[Man still under the surface of a body of water]
Man: AAAAAAAA
[Man temporarily standing on the surface of the body of water]
Man: AAAAAA
[Man under the surface of the body of water]
Man: AAAAAAAA
[Tree in the savanna, with the man off the panel]
Narrator: He found, where he could, food-
Man: AAAAAAAAAAAA
[Tree in the savanna, with the man still off the panel, but zoomed out so that part of the man's bounce
roll path is visible]
Man: AAAAAAAAA
[Man upside-down, still bouncing
rolling in the savannah, with a gazelle galloping away from him]
<GALLOP> <GALLOP>
Man: AAAAAAAAA
[Savanna with a tree in it]
Man: AAAAAAAAAAA
[Woman standing, with the man off screen]
Narrator: And love.
Man: AAAA-<THUD>-AAAA
[Woman standing, with the man off screen]
Man: <THUD> ACK <CRASH>
[Man crashing into woman]
Woman: Hiwhat'syourname-
<WHAM>
[Woman on the ground, with the man off screen]
Man: AAAAAAA-<THUD>-AAA
[Woman speaking to another man]
Woman: I met this guy. He knocked me over and tumbled into the distance.
[Woman speaking to the same man from the previous panel, with the man's hand to his mouth]
Woman: We only shared a few seconds, but in his panicked scream I heard something beautiful.
[Woman speaking to the same man from the previous panel]
Woman: I think... I think I'm...
[Woman speaking to the same man from the previous panel]
Man: Falling for him?
Woman: I wasn't going to say it.
[Woman at hospital with doctor, giving birth]
Narrator: She never saw him again. But nine months later...
Doctor: Okay, push!
[Woman at hospital with doctor and new baby, who is bouncing
rolling away]
Doctor: It's a gir-
Woman: !!
Doctor: Whoops!
Baby: Ga! Ga!
[Baby bouncing
rolling out of hospital]
Baby: WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE
[Baby bouncing
rolling in front of a sunset]
Baby: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Narrator: The End


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Discussion

I feel like the child should fall at a shallower angle from horizontal. There must be some way to do a punnet square for these things... BruceJohnJennerLawso (talk) 22:47, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

But then he/she would actually hit the ground at some point. It would make for a pretty boring sequel. 108.162.216.113 03:24, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

The "when he was restrained, it grew erratic" seems to imply that gravity always pulls him horizontally to the surface he's on. Otherwise, he would be able to stand on a wall, instead of bouncing around. This is one weird kind of gravity.108.162.219.7 20:10, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Any thoughts pertaining to Megan being the victim of rape in this strip? 108.162.250.210 01:10, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

If it was unintentional rape, does that make it ok? Answer: probably not, but maybe we should not read too much into the comic...108.162.254.66 16:24, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
"He found, where he could, food and love" - that sounds entirely intentional. Also, considering this entire website is set up to discuss and analyse XKCD comics, saying "we should not read too much into the comic" when the subject of rape arises is pretty shocking.108.162.250.210 11:52, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

The transcript of this comic says that Cueball is under the water for three of the four "water" panels. However, based on the wave visible in the first two panels, the splashes caused by his feet in the third panel, and the lack of a wake in the fourth panel, I believe that Cueball is sliding across the water on his feet, instead of being submerged most of the time.Codefreak5 (talk) 16:57, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

This sounds more like a parody of the general plot of The Time Traveler's Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger) than anything. Or perhaps the book is more like this... 108.162.216.113 03:24, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

It kinda sounds like http://xkcd.com/1524/ is referencing this comic (X & Y being the much less plesant dimensions to be pushed through). Slang (talk) 02:58, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

This is also the major device in the novel On by Adam Roberts https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_%28novel%29 141.101.99.38 19:57, 8 January 2016 (UTC)