It's no secret that cubicle life can be pretty boring at times. Between water cooler conversations, memos and endless meetings, more than a few office employees spend the bulk of their work days counting down the hours. Much like Peter in Office Space, some employees simply "space out" during work. One of the many ways in which they do so is by reading comics and cartoons at their desks. Taking solace in the jokes of Dilbert or ExtraLife, your employees systematically avoid much of anything resembling real, actual work. Below, Focus opens your eyes to 12 cartoons to get you through the workday.
No comprehensive survey of employee time-wasters would be complete without the crown jewel of them all. A staple of newspapers nationwide (and widely available for free on the web), Dilbert is an ongoing cartoon strip depicting stereotypical office situations with irreverent wit and sarcasm. Everyone from the clueless boss to the backstabbing co-workers to the bureaucratic HR personnel are present, while Dilbert himself is seemingly the lone sane employee who is simply trying to get his work done and over with as efficiently as possible. Office employees the world over have turned to Dilbert for comic relief and quick laughs for years, and you can bet that more than a few of your own are perusing Dilbert on a regular basis.
Written and maintained by former NASA contractor Randall Munroe, XKCD bills itself as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." The comic is widely hailed and has appeared in such mainstream publications as The Guardian and The New York Times. Don't waste your time pondering the deeper meaning of XKCD, as Munroe conceeds that there is none. Like PC Weenies, XKCD is updated three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The cartoon is acted out using stick figures, but nevertheless deals with complex subject matter including fractals and other scientific subjects. Additionally, XKCD is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.
The Oatmeal is a unique comic strip focusing on extremely succinct and sarcastic depictions of life and workplace situations. Some of the most popular strips include "How to Suck at Facebook", "The 10 Types of Crappy Interviewees", and "10 Reasons to Avoid Talking on the Phone." Still others include "5 Reasons Pigs Are More Awesome Than You" and "Why I Believe Printers Were Sent From Hell to Keep us Miserable." Besides the sarcasm, The Oatmeal is perhaps best known for its beautiful, vivid and saturated graphics.
Dinosaur Comics is a constrained cartoon that is also known as Quantz. Unlike the other cartoons discussed above, Dinosaur Comics all feature essentially the same artwork, with just the dialogue changing. It is also a far more free-ranging cartoon, tackling such diverse topics as "ethical relativism, the nature of happiness, and the secret to being loved" according to Wikipedia. Cracked.com has named Dinosaur Comics one of the eight funniest comics online, while The Webcomics Examiner named it one of the best comics on the web in both 2004 and 2005.
User Friendly is another corporate comic which claims to have been "impairing productivity since 1997." While it appeals to the same corporate audience, User Friendly is a bit more offbeat and unconventional than Dilbert. The cartoon's fans describe it as "neat and philosophical", as well as "surreal." Corporate bureaucracy and ladder climbing are frequent targets of jokes and abuse from the popular comic strip.
PC Weenies is a tech cartoon that has been syndicated online since 1998. According to the comic's creator, Krishna M. Sadasivam, the "primary audience for this thrice-a-week comic are technology enthusiasts, engineers, systems administrators / IT, and software developers." Today, employees are tuned into PC Weenies via Twitter, e-mail alerts, RSS feeds, podcasts and normal web viewing. With a backlog of literally thousands of cartoons, you can be sure your employees have spent (or wasted) considerable time perusing the PC Weenies archives!
From the creator of PC Weenies comes Uncubed, a cartoon focusing on storytelling and multi-panel comics. Whereas PC Weenies deals strictly with IT-related office gaffes and situations, Uncubed serves as a vehicle for Sadasivam to experiment with "some slice-of-life type strips, some autobiographical pieces, some action and adventure, and whatever else strikes my mood." The cartoon has been published and updated since about 2007 and has quickly gained a following as one of the more popular cartoons among office employees nationwide.
The self-proclaimed "most addictive comic on the web", Toothpaste For Dinner centers around the adventures and goings on of the "Inter-Net Superstar" known only as "Drew." Unlike some of the other comics, Toothpaste For Dinner does not focus solely or even mostly on the workplace. Rather, readers witness Drew poking fun at cultural norms, common behaviors and just about anything else the author finds worthy of targeting. Also unlike the others, Toothpaste For Dinner does not go out of its way to be the most graphically impressive cartoon around. Instead, all effort has been directed to the jokes since the comic's arrival in 2004.
ExtraLife is an ongoing cartoon strip dealing with the geek lifestyle. Created and maintained by Scott Johnson, much of its content focuses on video games and how obsessive geeks can become while playing them. The runaway success of the comic has spawned ExtraLife Radio, a podcast hosted by Johnson which has reached number 1 on Yahoo's highest rated podcast list several times. There is even an ExtraLife iPhone app, making it all the more convenient for your employees to neglect their responsibilities in favor of the side-splitting laughs this comic provides.
Another popular cartoon strip penned by Scott Johnson (pictured above) is A Mission Deep. Unlike ExtraLife, A Mission Deep deals more with sci-fi themes, frequently featuring aliens, UFOs, space missions and the like. Employees looking for a way to kill some time and have a few laughs are sure to enjoy the offbeat humor that A Mission Deep has quickly developed a reputation for delivering.
Joy of Technology is a good-natured cartoon focused on all manner of tech topics, including obsolesence, product launches and office humor. Published with the slogan "laughter is the best tech support", Joy of Technology is a mainstay in the bookmarks of office employees everywhere. The creators of the comic are avid Mac fans, a fact reflected in how frequently Apple products are featured in Joy of Technology's story angles and cartoons. Joy of Technology is also focused largely on current news-making events in the tech world.
BugBash has a rather unique story. While it (like all the comics above) is a time-wasting favorite of employees everywhere, BugBash actually began life as a "comic strip in the company newsletter of a large northwest software company" according to the creator's website. The name of the company is not officially revealed (though it is said to "rhyme with Microsoft"), but over time, the comic has come to resonate with a great many tech employees and managers. As creator Hans Bjordahl explains: "My hope for Bug Bash is pretty simple: If a large part of your job entails rolling up your sleeves and thinking about technology and talking to customers and moving around the bits and bytes and getting the developers and the testers to play nice, you'll find a few comics in here that hit home."