Randall Munroe

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Randall Munroe

Randall speaks at MIT 2007-05-14. (from Wikimedia Commons)
First appearance 120: Dating Service
Known appearances 30
I'm just this guy, you know? I'm a CNU graduate with a degree in physics. Before starting xkcd, I worked on robots at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. As of June 2007 I live in Massachusetts. In my spare time I climb things, open strange doors, and go to goth clubs dressed as a frat guy so I can stand around and look terribly uncomfortable. At frat parties I do the same thing, but the other way around.
—Randall Munroe, about xkcd
Randall Munroe's signature, with the stick figure

Randall Munroe is the creator, writer and artist of xkcd. He has a degree in physics from the Christopher Newport University and prior to his career as a professional webcomic artist, Randall was a roboticist independently contracted with NASA. Since his contract was not renewed in 2006, Randall has supported himself primarily through xkcd, selling books and merchandise among other income streams. Randall also blogs (on the Blag) through the xkcd website.

Randall has drawn upon his experience at NASA and his physics background for many xkcd strips. Randall also began writing a weekly webcolumn called what if? responding to theoretical questions (many of which are physics-based, but some of which simply cater to his skills in research, and general scientific and mathematical knowledge and logic). In March 2014, Randall announced that he was writing a book based on his what if? column. The book was released September 2, 2014. Later, on February 5, 2019, he announced he was writing an additional book, titled How To. It was released September 3, 2019.

The content of xkcd tends to stem from Randall's thoughts and experiences. Often strips are based on his frustrations or things he finds ridiculous. He often writes strips in the first-person and even uses the Cueball character on occasion to represent himself (such as in 541: TED Talk). That said it is likely that many of these strips are not factually based on Randall's real life; for example, the My Hobby series appears to be written about Randall's own hobbies, although it is likely that few if any are things Randall has ever done himself.

Randall announced in June 2011 that his then-fiancée had been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. They married in September of that year. As with other elements of his real life, the cancer diagnosis was the subject of a number of xkcd comics in 2011 and beyond.


Date Event
October 17, 1984 Born.
September 30, 2005 xkcd.com is launched.[1]
2006 Graduated from Christopher Newport University with degree in Physics.[2]
October 2006 Contract with NASA ends, is not renewed as they ran out of money to rehire him. Started working on xkcd full time.[3]
May 2008 Started living in Somerville, Massachusetts.[4]
[?] 2008 Nominated for "Outstanding Use of the Medium", "Outstanding Short Form Comic", and "Outstanding Comedic Comic", and won "Outstanding Single Panel Comic" in the 2008 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards[5]
September 2009 "xkcd: volume 0" released. Six months after release, the book had sold over 25,000 copies, with all of the publisher's profits donated to Room to Read to promote literacy and education in the developing world.[6][7]
June 2011 Announced that his fiancée was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.[8][9]
August 2011 Nominated for "Best Fan Artist" in the 2011 Hugo Awards[10]
September 2011 Married fiancée.[11]
August 2012 Nominated for "Best Fan Artist" (again) in the 2012 Hugo Awards[12]
September 2013 An asteroid was named after him.[13]
August 2014 Won the Hugo Award for "Best Graphic Story" in 2014, for "Time"[14]
September 2014 what if book released.
November 2015 Thing Explainer book released.
September 2019 how to book released.
September 2022 what if? 2 book released.


Presentations, talks, and interviews featuring Randall Munroe discussing xkcd.

Abstinence from Explainxkcd[edit]

Xkcd has inspired a wiki of its own, Explain xkcd, where fans dissect every comic and share their theories, including about Munroe himself. On the talk page for the “Randall Munroe” entry, one user speculated that Munroe pranked Wikipedia editors into putting the fact that he was raised as a Quaker in his bio to illustrate the fake-news cycle of “citogenesis,” a concept perhaps explained best by Munroe himself. “No, I was really raised Quaker,” he said bemusedly, when I asked him about the speculation. (He hasn’t spent much time on Explain xkcd, believing instead in “the death of the author.”)

— Marissa Martinelli (September 6, 2019) "Xkcd Creator Randall Munroe on the Joys of Overthinking Everything," Slate.

See also[edit]

Books and articles[edit]

These are links to pages right here on explain xkcd that cite books and web pages by Randall Munroe that are not xkcd.