The new XKCD "Click and Drag" comic may be the most impressive submission yet from Randall Munroe, whose popular daily webcomic is billed as a story of "romance, sarcasm and math."
Today's comic, titled "Click and Drag" features a typical stick figure floating on a balloon and apparently describing his experience of floating around the world, ending with the line "I just didn't expect it to be this big." But that's not the end of the reader's adventure. It turns out you can click and drag your way through the final panel, exploring a massive world full of activity and other stick figures. I personally spent over an hour exploring the two dimensional world's surface and maze of underground passages before finally coming full circle. You can see the entire world here, but we recommend exploring it for yourself first.
The comic is in fact over 52 gigabytes in size, and makes use of somewhat antiquated click and drag technology in a very interesting way. Eric McClure offers an explanation of how the comic works, though he's heavy on the computer jargon:
The collage is made up of 225 images2 that stretch out over a total image area 79872 pixels high and 165888 pixels wide. The images take up 5.52 MB of space and are named with a simple naming scheme "ydxd.png" where d represents a cardinal direction appropriate for the axis (n for north, s for south on the y axis and e for east, w for west on the x axis) along with the tile coordinate number; for example, "1n1e.png". Tiles are 2048x2048 png. images with an average size of 24.53 KB. If you were to try and represent this as a single, uncompressed 32-bit 79872x165888 image file, it would take up 52.99 GB of space...
If Randall spent, on average, one hour drawing each frame, it would take him 9.375 days of constant, nonstop work to finish this. If he instead spent an average of 10 minutes per frame, it would take ~37.5 hours, or almost an entire 40-hour work week.
Basically I'm saying Randall Munroe is f---ing insane.
"Click and Drag" is a departure from XLCD's usual fare, which is generally better contained within its panels. However, Munroe has been known to push the boundaries in the past, both intellectually and visually (for example: by creating a map of the entire universe from the human perspective). XKCD launched in 2005 and has since been covered by a number of news publications including the New York Times and The Guardian, even gaining a book deal whose profits went Room To Read, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy in developing countries.
Check out the full XKCD Archive for more great webcomics.