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Clever or Stupid – You Decide

Today’s comic featured me being sucked into the Dilbert world. A tiny and poorly drawn version of me is complaining about violating the “third wall.”


Many readers gleefully wrote to tell me I’m an idiot and I should have said “fourth wall.” That’s what it’s called when a stage actor talks directly to the audience. The actor is violating the imaginary fourth wall between the actors and the audience.

Other people noted that since a comic strip is two-dimensional, perhaps I was intentionally calling it the third wall when it would normally be the fourth.

Was I being extra stupid or extra clever?



I can picture Scott geefully enjoying this discussion. Knowing that people are trying to guess what was on the mind of 'Humpty Dumpty' while jumping the 'third wall'. When the answer could be that he had space available only for exactly a 5 alphabet word.
Now I'll go make some modern art paintings.

I think he's being clever. Earlier the idea of him being backstage was mentioned, which is definitely an interesting concept. We never see what goes on back stage, but that is where everything is made and put together. He said he VIOLATED the third wall, he said nothing about BREACHING it. I'm thinking he meant that he revealed their backstage, by revealing himself. And to do that is exposing them, therfore violating them, but this is probably an extremely old topic so whatever.

It's hard to think outside the box when you live in a cube.

I'm not looking for a job fullfilment, per se, but at least one where I can utilize my opposeable thumbs..can you hear me?

There's a phrase we've coined, at your desk, excel spreadsheet with product X and price Y.. must move data from spreadsheet into system Z.

cut paste, cut paste, lifes a waste, dummy down, dummy down the datter.. nothing else I'd ratter.. ratter be doing.. than getting stupid.

I'd say clever. If the fourth wall is the one between the audience and the action, it seems that another wall should be reserved for the author, since he's not part of the audience. If we're sticking with the play analogy, maybe it should be the third wall (or first or second, depending on how you count it), since as a producer of the action, the author could be said to be backstage. If not, we could go with calling it the fifth wall, maybe.

First time visitor to this blog, and I'm rather amazed that there are 332 comments here, well, now, 33.

I'm going with the weasonable answer and voting "extra clever" since 1) Dogbert is weilding that paper rather omniously and 2) It never hurts to suck up to people who have more money than you do.

Too much honesty? Hrm. Well, no matter, my favorite part was following the trail of yellow stickies. What will you find at the end, a treasure, a witch, or just some sloppy janitor?

That's the real mystery!

I would point out that a comic strip has 5 walls to begin with (four at the left, right, top and bottom of the frame and one at the back that limits the depth that we can see). The person who commented that the comic strip is a representation of a 3D world was correct, but the number of walls that constrict that world is determined only by the reader.

For example, you could say that there are three walls like a stage, but that would cut the world off in three dimensions and give it height.

You could say that the world of a comic strip has only two walls, being the sides, but that leaves an infinite depth and infinite height.

I choose to believe that the world of a comic strip, much like our own 3D world, is infinite in all extents and that we are looking in on it with 4 "walls" to limit the area that we may percieve and a fifth "wall" to limit the depth that we may perceive.

While Scott (may I call you Scott? Great) was in the comic strip, he would have seen infinity in all directions. But we who look in on him can't see the entire world, only what happens in front of that window.

Ha-ha-ha! You're all wrong. Its actually a 'moveable partition'. This was pointed out in Professor Slemnecky's seminal essay, 'Are Cartoons Really The Sixth Dimension?' He argues when we are asleep we're cartoon characters and upon waking turn back into people. Therefore, no walls.

For a real breaking of the Brechtian Fourth (or Third) Wall, hunt down Bill Griffith's "Zippy" strips on the occasions where he has Griffy and Zippy break character and explain the comic's concept. (Introducing the author into the proceedings is a bit different than the Fourth Wall, as pointed out by others.)

In this case, I think Mr. Adams was attempting to be clever, but ended up being stupid.

When you are drawing the cartoon, the world you create is looking out at you and the other readers.

Your third wall is behind you. When you insert yourself into the cartoon and look back at yourself, you are looking at YOUR third wall, which is the same as the characters 4th wall. The fact that dogbert is showing you a trail backstage shows that he is the one that will eventually find his way back, and you are lost if you follow him. it may be time for you to get some help.

Dows it really matter what it's called? I think we all understood what he meant.

If it is imaginary, how do we know there is a wall and not just a fence or just some strewn about chicken wire?

To everyone who criticsed this strip. When you can write as well as Scott, you can criticise. You are the kind of people who criticise anything new or funny.

If we were all like you we would still be sitting in caves in the dark as fire would be far too new and suspicious to be any good!

Gee, Scott, I dunno. I'm as confused as you are...

Normally Google is really useful for discovering how many people make the same typos you do. The fact that googling "violated the third wall" returns "0 references found" shows you are clearly either more clever or more stupid than everybody else. Which ever it is, please keep it going.

Oddly, I myself *just* used the phrase breaking the third wall the other day.

And it was about a Dilbert strip.

From a page-a-day calendar, though, not this series. I'd never seen the current series, nor this blog before then.

Hey! Get outta my head! Or I'll sue!

(This post closed-captioned for the humour impaired...)

Personally, I didn't like this whole Oz idea. Normally I'm a huge fan, but this really doesn't do it for me. And I seem to remember something about "it's not funny if I have to explain it..." Enough said, I think.

FDR said "You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can't please All of the people ALL of the time." Dilbert is in its own class, and you (Scott) make the rules.... I thought it was clever, definately funny. My opinion dosn't really matter, but there seem to be more comics recently that follow Dilbert's pattern. (An intelligent person would input examples here but...ummm)

Well I'm certainly not going to read the previous 300-odd comments to see if anyone else has pointed this out, but, the question of whether you've violated some hypothetical "third" or "fourth" wall is technically irrelevant.

In the theater or on television, "breaching the fourth wall" is what happens when an actor playing a fictional character, already written into the show or play, turns and talks to the audience, usually in character, but sometimes out of character. This was done especially well by Garry Shandling, who used it as a regular device throughout his show on Fox in the 1980s. That show has often been cited as the most effective and memorable use of this technique in the history of show business.

What you've done this week is something entirely different. You've inserted yourself, a real person (and not just *any* real person but the *creator*), into the setting of a long-running and well-established fictional work. You've spoken directly to the audience from within your fictional creation, and interacted with your fictional characters. And it's not as if this was an established device that you've used previously, so it's unprecedented.

This is as if, after 10 or so years on the air, Norman Lear had suddenly appeared in an episode of All In The Family, as himself, and started speaking directly to the viewing audience, and then started interacting with Archie and Edith. Or, it is as if Charles M. Schulz had, after 15 years or so of drawing "Peanuts", suddenly drawn himself into the strip, as himself, and started interacting with both the audience and his characters.

It's lazy, sloppy, and egotistical, and it violates the integrity of the fictional work by destroying the suspension of disbelief.

And it's neither clever nor stupid. It's actually a little creepy.

Take a nice long vacation, Scott. You've certainly earned it and you really need one.

Since the Violating the 4th Wall term has been used in lots of 2D mediums before this. Deadpool comes first to mind as has it been done in Shehulk, and a variety of webcomics. All 2D mediums.

Saying the term is not valid in mediums other than theator is like saying that you can't use the term 'rule of thumb' unless you're actually physically beating someone you're married to.

I don't know if anyone has said this yet (I have much better things to do with my time than read 314 comments, although I can't think of any of those things at the moment), but technically the two-dimensional equivalent of the fourth wall would be the second wall. If said 2D world is just a 3D world viewed from the side, then an actor has a wall behind him, and the audience is in front of him where the second wall would be.

If, however, the 2D world looks like a 3D world viewed from the top, then the actor still has three walls surrounding him, so "fourth wall" would remain accurate. Either way, I say that the phrase "third wall" is extra stupid.

I love this. I hope you are stuck for a long time as this is the funniest plot you have had in a while. I hope Alice kills the boss. (again)

If this tale follows the form of the original, it will all end up being a dream anyway. Here's hoping for an early wake up call. All together now, "There's no place like home! There's no place like home! There's no place like home! ..."

"The 'fourth wall' is when a stage actor talks directly to the audience." While you did speak to the audience from within the comic--violating the 3rd (4th?) wall--the point of this comic is that you (the director) have entered the comic (the play) and are speaking to Dogbert (an actor). So what wall is this that you have violated? The 0th? The -1st? The Nth?

By the way, how about elbonian munchkins?

you look like mr mackey, (or his brother), the guidance counselor in south park.

I think you are clever and funny. Although only in your own mind. Which I think is a good thing. Much safer that way.

You are just wearing your pijamas, this comic must be your nightmare.

i like the way you have managed to hide the the bald spot you have writin about in a different blog entry about chirstmas time....

Neither. You had a good idea and a witty phrase to present it. However, the whole Dorothy-Adaption is funny and that is about all that's worth it.

But since I like phrases, there might be a fourth wall in comics. That is where the readers are lined up, some jump the wall and try to force their way through the third wall to enter their most favorite world thereby invariably violating Scotts privacy and falling under the stalking rules, others just have a quite smoke at the wall and quite a lot use this blog to propose their views without talking to each other...

I thought it was interesting plus Cubicles only have three walls.

I like the todays strip with wingend cat! The best this month so far :-)

ok, so you're in.
now what?

Wow.. just noticed that you are barefoot in the strip... what materials were your shoes made of that they weren't able to violate the wall while the rest of your clothing could?

If Mr. Adams has violated the 3rd wall, surely there is a 4th wall behind the strip. What is there ? Why haven't we been told ? Who is behind the cover up ? Who is number 6 ?

This is why cartoonists don't make good actors.

So, it must be because Scott likes attention. My local newspaper (The Sun) has an interview with Scott about this strip and the blog. Alas, he as found another way to be somewhere else in the paper.

Get yourself outta theree ASAP regardless of the walls.

I'll go with the "you're smart because you're rich and famous" argument. The same goes from Tom Cruise.

I figured you meant what you said. The cartoon is 2-D, after all.

Are you barefooted because you need some ruby slippers???

I love the strip and LOVE the blog!

Its a funny bit and all, but I thought your drawing of Dan the illogical scientist looked more like you. I could quote book and page # how far down the page, etc but that would be a little nutty.

The Dilbert cartoonist can only be clever.

However, after Scott chooses between the red pill and the blue pill equivalents supplied by the garbageman, perhaps he will discover that he was a cartoon character all along.

In the meantime, I am trying to figure out whether the cartoon version of Scott looks more like Wally or Dilbert (surely one must be his alter-ego), and hope that there will soon be an interesting encounter with the latter...

Now this is just going too far!!!!
Trying to start your own religion was fair enough (great tax breaks, lots of woman etc), but what gives you the right to pollute the sacred world of Dilbert with your presence.
Pure blasphemy. May you burn in the bowls of the accounting dept.

Everybody who responds to this looks pretty stupid...

oh wait....

What I think may have been extra absentminded was that in the previous comic, the "non-funny joke": you did that one before. I only know 'cause I have most of the collections and have re-read them a ton, but there is one where Dilbert is saying he can't get on the network and a co-worker is saying "put in a help request online" and "send me an e-mail about it." So my question is, what made it funny the first time? ;)

Maybe neither clever or stupid and just a raging ego-maniac? "Today I am going to write a comic strip about me being in my comic strip, I rock"

Of course I am just kidding, I got it and thought it was very funny.

I'm a screenwriter and teach screenwriting and I think and talk about the fourth wall a lot, and I didn't even notice that you said "third wall." So, whether you're dumb or smart, I've got no doubt which one I am.

I, too, first saw it in Sgt. Piggys (ect.). It went "Woooosh" over my head it until I read this blog.

I think it is rather clever to play off of "Fourth Wall" in 2-d by making it "Third Wall".

I haven't seen you make a stupid joke since I started reading. Maybe I don't remember a stupid strip I read...

And, yes, this does seem like blog fodder.

Yellow Sticky-Note road? WASTING PAPER, PEOPLE!!!

I think I get it. The guy with the coffe cup head is like the scarecrow. He's going to go visit the Wizard of Lanfill to get his caffine or something (as opposed to brains). Pretty clever of me, huh?

I think it is extra clever because it had Dogbert in it, and he is my King.

You always manage to be both (extra clever and extra stupid)

I'd never heard of "the 4th wall," so I had no speculations about "the 3rd wall"... I just assumed it was some sort of cartoonist slang.

I look forward to seeing how the garbage man sends you back to the real world... or, rather, to what we THINK is the real world, which isn't quite the same thing.

Since your feet are bare, does that mean you're gonna step in something icky along the way?

Yes, I thought it was funny, even though I didn't know what "third wall" meant. I thought it was about a normally 3 sided cubicle, that didn't have a fourth wall. Thanks for explaining it.

Maybe he violated the "third" (read 1/3) wall, which would be the cube door.

Too funny! Anyone that didn't get it, doesn't deserve to read Dilbert, or: even when you fu-pah, you're funny.

WTG Scott.


I actually thought it was intentional and intended to be clever (rather than "subject to horribly painful over-analysis on the Dilbert Blog" as it has become) ... but I still mildly made fun of you for it on one of those make-your-own-comic websites where the art's done and you just add the dialogue. But I'm not telling which one, because I'm mean. ^_^

Not at all funny or even clever. It detracts from my small list of daily pleasures, like laughing at Dilbert comics

Since Scott openly admited he didn't mean it to be clever it must be stupid. But by admiting it to be stupid he is being clever be drawing in people who like to read the art of morons. In conclusion he is idioticly clever. Keep it up!

Actually I'm very happy that Dilbert is not blocked on my Arabian ISP, it brings me lots of joy. It was also great to see Scott use my idea about the network down send an e mail idea that I sent him last week, thanks! As far as the walls go, I liked the movie "The 4D Man". It was so cool when the guy phased part of his hand through a block of steel and the power went out, I was squirmin as his fingers turned purple! So, what was the question?

Ok, ok, ok. I have to admit I didn't think thia was funny at all when I first read it. Third wall? gimme a break everyone knows it's the fourth wall, but then again I was thinking in 3 dimensions and must admit it is a clever play on the phrase for a 2 dimensional cartoon. Not bad.

What would make a great discussion is something I've wondered about before that really stood out to me while reading today's comic: Why does everyone in your comic lean back so far when they walk? I mean it's like their top half is refusing to move forward and the legs are moving ahead too fast for the body to keep up. It does little to add depth or perspective, sorry. Now maybe that's why I find this comic so funny . . . I think this is the real topic to be discussed. I would advise only drawing characters sitting or stanging still. Too bad your cartoon self has a long journey ahead along the yellow sticky-note road. More laughs are sure to ensue!! Thanks.

I decided to interpret it that thr fourth wall is the one between the actors and the audience, while the third is the "back" one between the author and the actors. You aren't directly interacting with the audience, but with your actors. Third wall.

I think it is quite clever.... as far as those who complain about it not being original, I bet you are among the thousands of folks who waited in line for HOURS to see the latest remake of "King Kong", went to see "Fun with Dick and Jane", and are chomping at the bit to go see "Superman".

Whether is is the 3rd or 4th wall being violated matters not.... it is where the strip leads us that is important. Based on today's comment, it looks like we are not in Kansas any more (thank god for that, I hate the Jayhawks)

Just as a follow up:
I was wondering if you consulted anybody before drawing yourself into the strip regarding what the Cartoon you would look like? i would count Sycophants, household pets (including plants and funguses), & inanimate objects as consultants if you indeed consulted them.
Also aren't you being a little generous with the hair.

I cast my vote for "extra clever."

Well I'm a technician at a theatre...and I can say the recent comics have been quite good and well drawn. So who cares about the fourth wall, think of it as a message to the readers :)

Notice how many people enjoy commenting on whether or not you are stupid.

Oh, by the way, I like the "We're off to see Prince Phillip..." song.

Come on everyone...we have to remember that art is art....but on the other hand...walls are walls...and east is east and west is west.....and if you stew cranberies like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb you tell me what you know...

clever. you can get all of us to do respond.
of course, the alternative is I go back and finish writing my Testing Strategy document...

was that shirt a Christmas gift?

I like(d) the fact that Dilbert never broke the fourth wall except in very tiny and rare references. Other than that, there is no constant bashing of Bill Gates or political figures that plagues most comics, and NO pretentious September 11th comics. I really appreciated it in this overly emo world we live in, so I find the recent third/fourth wall story arc a bit disconcerting.

Fortunately it hasn't come even near the self-stroking self-insertion level of most webcomics so I'm not unhappy with Dilbert by any means.


who cares, its just a wall!

Stupid. 2D would only have two parallel, VERY close together walls.

To all of you who are fixated on Scott's lack of shoes in the strip:

A) Scott works from home. Shoes are not part of the dress code when working from home. We should consider ourselves lucky he is dressed at all given his previous blog entry about frolicking around naked in front of the apartment window.
B) He has a 50% chance of putting the shoes on "backwards" anyways so why bother.

Well, it's your world, so you can number the walls anyway you want.

Clever, you don't write the strip and send it straight to the publisher. EVEN if it was originally a mistake, you don't strike me as the kind of guy to surround himself with "yes" men so someone would have pointed it out to you. So either you intended it to be clever, or you had a typo that turned out to be clever. And,if it does turn out to be stupidity, you can always use your millions to pay everyone around you to say you meant to.

Oddly enough, I thought the comic was incredibly stupid ... until I was ASKED if I thought it was clever or stupid. I'm embarrassingly humiliated to admit that being asked if something I knew was stupid was actually clever caused me to reconsider my position and wonder if I was the idiot instead of Scott. Please, please, please don't ask if the sky is blue or purple, as the end result could be that I will write a best-selling book filled with mindless psychobabble that will be lauded as supremely brilliant by the general public. I'll make millions, quit my job to solve world hunger (since I'm so brilliant), and then have to start a comic strip to fill the pitiful void I call a life.

If I was in your shoes, I'd do self-indulgent stuff like this, too. Unfunny comic strips become more interesting when you are the subject matter.

I thought I had been struck stupid! Because of the holiday, our local paper ran the strips on the same day, but in the wrong order.

I think you mailed it in for a couple of days with this story line. With a little detective work, I say this was done around October or November. When was your last vacation?

A 3D space has 4 walls (if you don't count floor and ceiling). But how many walls a 2D space has? One. And may be not even that. In any case, talking about a third wall a in 2D space may not be expecially clever.

Actually, I thought you'd meant the third panel rule - the one where you were allowed the two panels to set up the third, but when you entered third panel and were seen with the characters you became trapped.

As long as you're in there, watch out for Alice's fist of death. I'm waiting to see if the wizard will be Catbert or the PHB, but I think Topper would be funnier than the two of them put together (that's nothing, I once got trapped inside one of the letters of the artist's signature).

My guess is that you didn't really stop to think about it when you wrote it. The "third wall" popped up in your head and it made sense and sounded ok, so you used it. And the joke works, and that's what matters. And in this strip, the "wall" thing is not what makes it funny (in my opinion). This strip is about Toto and yellow sticky note road :) It would be just as funny if you had chosen the fourth wall or any other similar thing that explains why you'r inside the strip.

These gags in comics where the characters violate the third/fourth wall are my favorite of all. Jim Meddick who used to do Robotman (which evolved into Monty) regularly did that. I miss Robotman :(

Now all you need, Scott, is for Dogbert to mug you and escape to the real world and start drawing Dilbert. You could have some fun with that.

I don't care whether it's third or fourth wall - it's still funny. People who get hung up on such technicalities are living in

The fourth wall seems to me to be a reference to the number of walls that a room has and not to the number of dimensions that the representation of the room has.

THIS MINUTAE WARRANTS DISCUSSION? Geez, why not discuss boxers vs briefs?

I think you were just being extra weird.

You broke the 7th Dimension of Humour, the secret one which you didn't mention when you spoke of the 6 dimensions of humour. Ooooh.

Or you just made a mistake.

I just thought you were taking a few too many blog comments to heart, that and the shirt obsession and getting married. It appeared that this all got to you and you're having a mid life crisis.

So it's good that it's not the case and there is a method behind it. It's curious that the Blog is becoming a significant connection to your work.

Since reading this blog I enjoyed re-watching the few fuzzy 80MB Dilbert wmv files I have on my computer. Are they still making Dilbert TV episodes? I'd buy a DVD of new ones. (As it would be ages before Australian TV gets it. Plus funny cartoons like the simpsons and futurama have a high rewatchable value especially in the no rating season. Although there is no point buying DVDs of those because the Simpsons will still be repeated on channel 10 8 times a week in 2030 long after DVD players are obsolete.)

I thought it was intentional, although not so funny or insightful. As other pedants have pointed out, "third wall" has been used many times before in reference to comics and cartoons. So it was neither stupid nor clever.

Someone else asked why you're barefoot - the only possible conclusion I can make is that you're......secretly Canadian? Canadians don't wear shoes indoors (in our homes, at least) and some of my friends don't believe that Americans wear shoes all the time ("oh, that's just on TV", they say). If you work from home, that would explain things *perfectly*.

Extra-stupidly clever. When I read the comic in the paper, I misread it as "third law", and just thought it was something you made up. I didn't realize that it said "wall" until I read this blog entry.

I'm interested to see how you're going to write your way out of "Dilbert-land", or if perhaps this is a metaphore for your real life and end up being a permanent member of your own comic strip.

Actually if you have read God’s Debris you will discover that Mr. Adams and Occam’s Razor have a complicated relationship. Whether the number of walls was a stupid mistake or a clever idea is another matter.
I imagine the number of comments generated must be great for Scott’s self esteem and therefore lead to a certain amount of happiness, therefore, mistake or not, he was clever.

Stupid or clever.. Jeez man, get a grip, HOW THE HELL ARE YOU GONNA GET OUT OF THERE? (Oh, let us know if you meet any nice chicks in there)

For some reason I thought you meant third LAW (of thermodynamics).. through the Looking Glass you see.

I just want to know, you that uyou've you've moved on the Sticky Yellow Note Road, will you meet Dilbert? And will Dilbert attack you for giving him a miserable love-life?

It reminds me of the movie Last Action Hero.

That sucked too.

I'd go with the guy who said extra unfunny. The first cameo was funny; I can't see this sticky road series leading anywhere remotely funny. Wait, is a coffee-cup-head wally a funny thing?

I think you made an insignificant mistake (that could have happened to anyone) and you don't want to admit it, so you try to make it look like a smart move. Of course, you don't say that directly, but you allude to it indirectly and you let your fans do the work of fleshing it out.

I quickly scanned through the comments section, and - although a number of readers pointed out your little mistake - nobody called you an idiot or wrote "gleefully" as you suggested. Actually, a number of readers pointed that out quite respectfully. I think that is telling about how you deal with critical comments.

So, to answer your question: your original mistake did not make you look stupid to me. Your reaction, though, did.

Hey look !! Scott has his shirt on backwards in today's strip ( 4/1/06) !!!! =:)

You were being iconoclastic FFS!

Well, when I read the comic, I understood you meant the 2-dimension aspect. So, I'll go with: extra clever! ;O)

I think it was clever, if you'd have put "fourth wall", personally, i probably would have thought "Hang on, it's 2D..." - on a side note, I like where you went with it. you did a post that was dumb, with you in it, just to put some crappy joke, then went off on a tangent (which you do better than most alive today!) and got yourself trapped (what's it smell like in there?!) - I hope it doesn't run on too long and get boring, because It struck me as hilarious that you had gone SO bizarre and random for a little while (on that level, you've got me reading pearls before swine as well now (you should get royalties for a while!) and they ran a strip recently about running out of the letter "A" so all the dialgue had "A" missing, it was really funny, especially when the sheep used the remaining ones with a single "BAAAAAAAAAAH!") - gott love the absurd side of comics lately!

Thank God you don't draw in 3D or people would be saying "Wasn't it the 6th Wall and 4th 3rd Dimention you violated and not..."

Thank God you don't draw in 3D or people would be saying "Wasn't it the 6th Wall and 4th 3rd Dimention you violated and not..."

very simple answer:

boolean clever = true;
String scott_adams_intentions = "fourth wall";

scott_adams_intentions = "third wall";


/* capricious lemon-eaters assumed it to be a 4th wall */

third wall or fourth wall? Duh! Who doesn't have a life? Uh, that would be me ...dang! Scuse me.

Well, if you had been clever in the first place you wouldnt care being recognized as such, so since you're asking one deduces you were stupid.
But you're actually leading us into the discussion trap, casting doubts where there should be none, and hey that's damn clever!

Schroeder's piano. Frieda's cat.

It's >Schroedingers Cat<.
Sorry, but this just drives me nutts.

Well, of course you can't read this, 'cause you are still stuck in the comic, but I have to plea anyway: PLEASE don't put us through the whole "scott in wonderland"- story. If I’m counting correctly we have about 5 or six comics ahead. Please don’t do this to me.
What do you mean by “#!%$” in todays comic? The only swearword with four letters, I can up with is butt. Holly butt? Maybe Alice the courageous co-worker can help…

Greetings from Germany

One word: Genius!

I just noticed someone said "Schroeder's cat". Ahhhh, it is to laugh. I assume that's the invisible cat from peanuts that sits on the piano, right?

The "third wall" thing threw me for a second, but I still figured it out before moving on to the next panel. It was obvious that you meant the wall between the cartoonist and the strip, rather than the wall between the strip and the audience (the 4th wall). I thought it was mildly clever.

Since I deliver newspapers and I have my January 4th bundle showing up in thirty to forty-five minutes (my other job has had me up all night so I cannot really go back to bed now...) I merely note that I think you are being clever in this one. This is actually a story arc I guess I have been deep-down inside me waiting to see happen. Since you did these strips months in advance I am curious to see how your creation from the mid-to-late part of 2004 turns out. Who knows? Perhaps this will wind up being in the vein of "Doctor Who"?

I'm going to have to go with clever. Not extra clever, but clever; mainly because I didn't get the joke until after it was explained.

I'm trying to think of a pun involving the phrase "third-walled country" ...



Nope, not coming.

I think you were being inadvertently clever.


Pretty dang stupid gettin' caught in a comic strip and all... Give the pointy headed guy a wedgie for me while your in there and keep your eyes open for portals to the real world and such. I just can't figure how you draw as a two dimensional being of your own device. I have heard of "you are what you make of yourself" but this might make Grandma's head explode.

It's neither extra stupid nor extra clever. But it sure is extra YAWN.
You better quit drawing yourself before its too late and every fan of dilbert dies a horrible death of boredom.

I'd say that you think it is stupid, and that is why you invited people to discuss if you were smart or stupid, rather than admit that you were stupid. Very sneaky - I approve.

If you violated THE WALL, I think Pink Floyd would be upset.

Well I thought it was funny as heck, but I write software for nuclear power plants so I'm not wrapped too tight.

Of course I didn't have a clue what the heck a 3rd wall was, and wouldn't have gotten it if you'd said 4th wall either.

No, it was the "Toto" comment that got me. I can see it now... Opening on broadway soon... Alice as Dorthy, Dilbert as the Tin Man, Wally as the Cowardly Lion, and PHB as the Straw Man (Needs a brain after all). Oh and Catbert as the Wizard. Guest starring Dilbert's mother as the good yet extremely sarcastic witch.

I'm already standing in line for my tickets, this'll be bigger than King Kong!

Um, at the risk of sounding cliche: I'm with stupid. Then again, could you really have expected this much backlash?

Yeah, you could, you stupid lemon eater.

Alls wall that ends wall

Scott didn't draw himself with a bald spot. He's so preoccupied with it in his books that I'm surprised he didn't have one in the cartoon.

Hey Scotty,

Must say you are Photogenic!
Are u getting a hair-transplant done or what?


Somehow the comment with my name is not mine. I said "clever," the comment attributed to Moriah. This was under my name and I did not write it:

Stupid. Comics, while two-dimensional, are representations of a three dimensional space, with the panel itself being the "fourth wall". "Third wall" makes no sense geometrically when applied to a two-dimensional space, since a wall would be a planar object, and the only plane is the cartoon panel itself. And there's only one of those for each 'unit' of time.

So, stupid. Maybe not /extra/ stupid, but definitely not very clever either. ;)

Also, I'm going to make a wild guess here and say that you didn't really know you got it wrong when you wrote it - but after getting so many complaints, decided to make it seem clever?

Ooh, creepy ain't it.

Lmao. I totally loved this comic, Scott. I'm not too sure about the third or forth wall, since I've never heard either expression before..But it doesnt bother me. The best pasrt was you meeting Dogbert. Priceless!

i like that you're barefoot! i laughed at your bare feet. it was funny.

Dios mueve al juagdor y este la pieza,
qué dios detrás de Dios la trama empieza
de polvo y tiempo y sueños y agonías?


Too deep for me.

To answer this question, you have to think of WHY it's called the fourth wall in theatre. It's a term that relates to "box set drama." A box set represents your standard 4 walled room, but only show 3 of the walls--the "back" wall and the 2 sides. The other wall (the 4th wall) is implied, but not present, so the audience can see into the room. There should be 4 walls, but they only show 3. The "fourth wall" is the invisible wall that exists for the characters--in general, the actors are supposed to behave as if the wall is there (except when they "break" the fourth wall), even though it's not physically present. So the wall is "there" for the characters, but not for the audience.

Now, as anyone who ever worked in a cube farm knows, cubicles only have walls on three sides in reality--the other side is open to the "hallway". So, in a "cube set drama*," clearly if there's a wall of the cube that exists for the characters but is invisible to the audience, there would be only 2 walls left. Hence, the invisible wall--the one that you'd "break" to talk to the audience--is indeed the third wall.

QED, Scott did something clever. Obviously, this is unintentional.

* I use "cube" in the phrase "cube set drama" as short for "cubicle," as opposed to refering to a mathematical cube. Yes, I'm aware cubes have 6 faces. Shut up.

You forgot your shoes in the first frame and your fingers violated the third wall in the second frame. We will see if you are extra clever once it continues.

Ah! Now I get it.

Stupid. Not because of saying third wall instead of fourth, on which I have no firm opinion, but rather because of using the sort of material that's suitable for non-syndicated webcomics that nobody reads. Unless you have a really fantastic punchline planned.

I think it's accidentally smart, and anything that can be found as smart should be reaped of all it's benefits until someone finds a flaw in what was previously smart and now looks as if a trouser wearing cat had made it up, so then it should be blamed on someone else who also thought it was a great idea and hasn't yet found out it's fatal flaw.

It's also funny because you have no shoes on. And Dogbert seems to be in a cheap rip off of an over ripped off movie.

And the whole third wall thing works, there's the two walls on the side of each comic strip box, a ceiling and a floor, so assuming the panel that we would be looking through is a wall, then you have indeed "violated" the third wall, it just sound funny because violating any inanimate object has to be funny.

Do you realize how there are so many people who will do as you command them to. You ask them to discuss and they - discuss. You ask them to comment and they - comment. You ask them to create a ruckuss in their next family gathering and they do it blindly. I think you might be Osama. Mr. President - are you listening ?

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say it was an incredible compliment to your fans.

No, really.

As you previously mentioned, there exists in theatre the idea of a fourth wall that separates the audience from the performance. In refusing to recognize that fourth wall you are saying that your fans play the most important role there is. They are not separate from the performance (your comic) but are actually a vital part of it.

Thank you for the kind acknowledgement, and you're welcome.

Don't you mean you violated the CONCEPT or RULE of the third wall, not violated the wall itself?

I mean....if you actually violated a wall.... In some states that's a felony.

Unless it was consensual of course.


Cubicles have four walls and a floor. You violated the sixth wall.

today's comic wasn't merely clever ... it was a brilliant take on the illusion of perception and the precariousness of existence ... dilbert's actions are controlled by a comic book artist ... but just one layer removed, aren't the cartoonist's actions the artifact of environment and neurons?

Um, what?

God does play dice with the universe, Schroeder's cat, and Scott's intelligence.

So it was both stoopid and extra clever, but it was also neither.

"And now for something completely different"

Sorry MP

If it's about dimensions, then it should be the only wall because the rest are just lines. The only wall that can exist is the wall between the comic and the reader. Make sense? So it shouldn't be third or fourth wall but just THE WALL.

"I violated THE WALL and now I can't get out!"

An entire topic - I was SO HOPING it would come to this! >

Actually, I figured it WAS intentional, but I couldn't resist posing the question earlier. My own theory about why you did it is based on your pet peeve about people who use common expressions incorrectly. I'm reminded of the "one bird at a time" PHB comment from an earlier strip, and the general content of the various DNRC newsletters over the years. I figured you meant it as a hyper ironic twist - you, in the strip, doing one of the very things that you make fun of most often.

Extra, extra clever: you used the term because you knew that thousands of so-called fans would immediately seek to show their superiority by pointing out your mistake, thus driving huge traffic to your blog site.

This strip might be a useful vehicle for retreading old Dilbert strips in the visual style of other cartooninsts who fill in for you while you're trapped in your own cartoon.

I vote for Ziggy.

It was a mistake, and you are trying to save face. The term 'fourth wall' has been widely used in your medium and has a well-established meaning. This will work for your sycophants, thanks to a process you have referred to as "cognitive dissonance" (i.e. they will find ways to call anything you do clever and funny, even when it isn't) but not for others.

Also, it wasn't funny.

There, I feel better now.

You are stupid because, uhm, you are stupid, and that's why you are always stupid.

Clever in the comment… not so clever in putting yourself in the comic.

Extra stupid with the fortunate consequence of appearing extra clever.

Neither - not even original...

Google found 3,710,000 pages with the text "third wall comic"

Fingers crossed tomorrow's comic is funny....

Clever, but not for the reason you've put forth. I think this is all an elaborate scheme so that you can wear ruby red shoes in a (more) socially acceptable manner.

I say you were extra tired and didn't edit correctly.

It's a good thing you drew yourself with a neck and mouth, otherwise I'd have thought you were Dilbert but drawn by someone with little artistic ability ;)

As a jaded art school grad (no drawing, just photo), I can say from experience that what you say about your creation becomes its truth. "Of course I intended that!" was heard from every student presenting his work for critique, no matter how outlandish the claim. Because I could argue well, I did well on every critique, regardless of the artistic merit of my work. Hence, jaded.

I don't think there was a fourth wall in the first place. It's just a term used by actors to make them sound smart, because frankly, their job is to pretend to be someone else. In their world, that's 'acting'. In our world, that's 'schizophrenia.'

But assuming that a fourth wall did actually exist, I would vote that Scott probably knew what he was talking about, but it was more of an inside joke for people who actually knew what this babble meant.

Hell, I'm in a play right now, and I didn't even know there was a fourth wall. Maybe it was appeal to someone hot...maybe he's trying to get a date with Jennifer Aniston. *trying to refrain from Hollywood media joke*

I just think that drawing yourself into the dilbert world is a bad idea... pretty ego-centric... before i started reading this blog, i did not even know who you were as a person, i only actually cared about the comic... any reader who reads dilbert for the first time and sees you in there will not have any idea who the hell you are...

i don't really want to see you in the comic, i'd rather just read this blog if i want to hear from you...

just my humble opinion

I'm going to go with "clever". When it comes to the Dilbert strip, 90% of the time it's clever, so I'm giving this one the benefit of the doubt.

This plot arc reminds me of the last time Scott encountered Dilbert. He cameoed as a cartoonist at a tech expo Dilbert was attending in a strip several years ago. As I recall, Scott was signing The Dilbert Principle at the expo when Dilbert asked him about the stress of always being funny, causing him to develop spirals of confusion in his eyes.

Well, I interpreted it as the back wall between the strip and the cartoonist, whereas the fourth wall is the one between the strip and the audience.

Scott didn't violate the third wall. He violated the third DIMENSION. Which, however, is not so funny.

"Violating a wall" sounds bizarre therefore funny.

It was being stupid. Comic strips, while two dimensional, are drawn in 3 dimensions, kinda like drawing a cube (or cubicle) on a piece of paper.

However, mixing up the third and fourth walls were not as stupid as that joke with Toto.

I know your buddy Stephen Pastis (from Pearls Before Swine) uses the "third wall" expression in his first treasury (Sgt Piggy's etc.), although that is the characters themselves realizing they are in a comic...

The way I see it anyone arguing either the third or fourth wall is missing the point. Clearly, the comic is drawn in a four-sided box, so it would be the fifth wall that you violated.

Well it seems that you didn't know what you were doing when you said "the third wall" (otherwise, you wouldn't question your intentions) so you were being extra stupid by using the wrong term unknowingly. Your cover-up, though, creates the illusion to readers that you were actually trying be extra clever.

Conclusion: Extra stupid
(I still like the self portrait even though it does has eyebrows)

All i know is that you get paid for writing comic strips, and i dont, so you must be clever!

It made perfect sense to me. Given the 2-D nature of a comic, it would be the third wall. Clever.

Who was it again who wrote that book "it's not funny if I have to explain it"?

I'm not sure if you've jumped the shark with monday's strip : and frankly, who am I to judge. You're the millionaire, after all.

Stupid, clever.......whatever. I suggest you hide from all the characters except for The Garbageman. He is your only hope (your Obi Wan Kenobi if you will).

Looking back at this again, I do think it was clever - and now await the certain-to-come Wizard of Oz parody. My only question will be what you will call yourself while still in the strip: Dorothy or Scottbert?

I think you probably did it deliberately - that seems more likely than you being familiar with the meaning of 'fourth wall' and yet thinking it's 'third wall'. If you know what it is (which you seemingly do), you probably know what it's called.

So deliberate, yes. As for stupid or clever, those are relative terms. But going by the standard displayed here on the internet, just for example, I'd say you were extra clever. :-)

Major problem. You could go into the third wall and then erase you grandfatherbert before he gave birth to your inklingbert and then you would never be drawn. In which case there would become two seperate comic strips, one with you in it and one without you in it. This would change the whole future of Dilbert as we know it. or something like that.

If you were thinking in Flatland terms, you wouldn't be able to recognize Dogbert, he'd look just like a line of a certain length, depending on the angle he was presenting to you.

None of your characters should be able to see each other in 3-dimensional terms if that were the case.

My head hurts.

D. Ox

Hey, it's OK. Joe "Babylon 5" Straczynski was once guilty of "fifth estate".

comic strip or theatre a fourth wall is a fourth wall. third wall doesn't mean anything.
this is a great example of breaking the fourth wall in a comic strip:
and i guess you know this artist cuz dilbert appears in some of his strips.

Since cubicles don't have full walls, violating the 4th wall of a cubicle only adds up to violating the 3rd normal wall.

Thepis was supposedly the first actor BECAUSE he spoke to the audience. Why is it bad to speak to the audience? Some of the best plays (or even just scenes) involve the characters communicating with the audience.

Clever -- but it wasn't you, it was Dogbert.

I think saw you and saw his chance. He was looking for a way to pit your blog readers (the only intellegent people on the earth) against each other so that we would destroy ourselves, thus leaving no opposition for his rise to Supreme Dictator of the Earth.

A clever little dog he is....

Regardless of your own cleverness, anyone who writes in assuming that you've mistakenly subracted one from a phrase that you've obviously known & understood, then wrote into a widely sydicated cartoon without checking or running it by someone, is stupid. I guess you might call it cleverness by relative association :D

Immensely clever obviously. You were clearly not referring to cubicles, as your character addresses the reader from the edge of the comic, not the "door" of the cubicle. So, you must have been making a joke about the "4th wall" being a 3rd wall in a two dimensional world.

I had never heard the term "4th wall" but I assume that an erudite fellow like yourself knew the term and made a clever joke of it.

You weren't the first person to think of this. There's been a web comic online for a long while entiled "No 4th Wall to Break." is where it can be found.

Actually, you're just being cute.

By the way, the strip that started this - with the unfunny joke - you've already written that strip. I've got it back in one of my old Dilbert compendium books, it's really old - 90's I'm guessing. It goes something like the following:

Dilbert (standing in the cubicle of the local IT guy): "My Password for the network isn't working"
IT Guy (not looking up): "Fill out a help request online"
Dilbert: "I can't, since I can't get on the network"
IT Guy: "Send me an email with the details."
Dilbert: "I CAN'T SEND EMAIL!"
IT Guy: "Geez, you're worthless..."

The thing I notice in the offending strip is that you have your shirt on backwards.

Hmm... at first i laughed, and thinking about it, it must be because it confused my brain. that makes it stupid, because i'm very clever, unless it's more clever than i, so it must be clever, no wait...

I agree with the guy who said the 3rd wall was in refrence to the cubical wall. Either way, I like it and find it funny.

When I first saw today's strip I thought: "Well, now...that's stupid. What the heck is he talking about? 3rd wall? This makes no sense at all!"

Now, after seeing this blog, I understand a little better. I still think it's stupid, but I can chalk it up as Ratbert messing with the text.

Hey, nice shirt. Where did you get it?

Who cares! You're obviously not extra humble! Just stay out of my favorite comic, you lemon eating cartoonist!

Why didnt you draw yourself a pair of shoes?

Third or fourth wall aside, I'm disappointed, I never thought you resort to the cartoonist's equivalent of the Fonz jumping the shark.

We think it should be the sixth wall: there's background, and each of the four walls of a panel, leaving the imaginary 6th wall standing between the cartoon world and the reader world.

People will comment on anything it seems... you are a genius.

D. Ox

I have the perfect answer!

You were trying to have an alliteration to reference the "fourth wall" in acting. So you were being clever, so that only a few of those acting nerds would get it. You were being clever in an stupid inside joke way.


It was a total accident and you really didn't think of anything other than the eraser you were chewing on.

To tell the press, pick the first. But, you can admit how pink and chewy erasers are to your blog readers.

I thought it was hilarious!

I'm waiting to see how you get out...

I read this while drinking my coffee, yelling at my kids and pretending to listen to my wife and I remember thinking "huh?". I passed it off as a bad strip. Now that I know it was supposed to be the writer trapped in the strip with a play on words I still say "huh?". You are trying to be too clever, Adams. Just make me laugh, not think. Thanks.

You're the one who got sucked into the comic, so you get to tell us how many walls there are. When these people sidle up next to doonesbury then they can put their two cents in. Just an example of ppl wasting energy arguing about something trivial.

Yesterday I thought you were being clever, just popping into your strip to comment on being pestered with suggestions.

Today I think you may be suffering from some form of Clive Cussler Disease (named after the techno-thriller author who has begun to write himself into every new story). I just hope you can both be cured. It's not as charming as either of you might think it is.

Regardless of whether it actually corresponds to how many walls are in the medium, self-referentiality of this kind is called "breaking the fourth wall". Something with three walls would have to be triangular prism shaped, not flat; to be flat, the comic must have two walls with the world sandwiched between them. So if you really wanted to be clever you would have called it breaking the second wall. Even that, however, would have gone over most heads, and I think it is a little pathetic.

Hmm, you seem to have gone through the fourth wall backwards. In the 'unfunny' comic, none of the comic strip characters actually addressed the audience, only you. This would be the comic strip equivalent of the director coming out before the show to address the audience (in my high school theatre days, the director would do that to stave off any anticipated controversy about the content of the show... or maybe just to get alittle attention)

Of course, after today's strip where you speak with Dilbert, I'd say you have been spending too much time with that Pastis character.

Dimensions don't have anything to do with it. After all, TV and movie images are no less 2-D than a comic strip. All of these use a 2-D image that creates in our minds a 3-D representation of space.

The wall's position is relative to the person breaking it. For example, if Gary Shandling speaks out to the studio audience in the middle of his sitcom, he is speaking out toward the camera, so "out" toward the tv viewer is the fourth wall. That would make the third wall the opposite wall, i.e. the one furthest from the viewer.

The person breaking the fourth wall is breaking toward the real world, "out" of the created world and toward the viewer.

The cartoon is being viewed by the reader. The fourth wall of the cartoon is the one closest to the reader. The third wall is furthest from the reader. But in this case, Scott has gone from reality TOWARD the created world, away from the world the he and viewer occupies. Had he left his cartoon and come toward the viewer, he would be breaking the fourth wall. But in going from reality, away from the viewer, and toward his cartoon, he has broken HIS third wall, the one furthest from the viewer and closest to his cartoon world.

Relative to the cartoon world, it is the fourth wall. But relative to Scott's normal world, it is HIS (and our) third wall. When Scott speaks back to us from the cartoon, he is breaking the cartoon's fourth wall. But his act of intruding into the cartoon's world in the first place broke his third wall, the wall furthest from the viewer and deepest in space.

You have a dent in the back of your head.

Oh, and nice shoes.

Just a comment about the whole "he made it up as blog fodder" idea: umm... Based on what he said earlier about when the contest comic would run (and assuming he tried to fill in the blanks himself and it took him at least a day), did he even have a blog when he wrote this comic?

Homer Simpson (n) A person who succeeds in spite of overwhelming stupidity.

The joke worked.

Well Scott, obviously you THOUGHT you were being clever when you wrote it, otherwise, logically, why would you have wrote it?

But as to the question of whether or not you actually are clever, that's a bit harder. Is there some kind of external standard by which these things are judged (cleverness vs stupididty)? Not that I know of.

And since I'm fairly certain that my opinion doesn't mean much to you (well why would it, really?) then the best answer to the question is your own answer, since we can probably safely say that your own opinion is that which matters the most to you. Which I have already figured out by a process I like to call logic.

See above. Uh, ok then. I think we're done here.

Since I was one of (if not THE) first comments to mention 2D vs. 3D, I figured I'd put my vote here (where it belongs, as opposed to in the wrong topic).

I think Scott was being extra clever, and that he was indeed deducting one wall since the printed comment is a 2-D representation.

well as I had never heard of the 4th wall before, this was never clever or stupid, just confusing.

It seems apparent that by saying "third wall" you were referencing the "fourth wall" of acting. Otherwise, to what other two walls would you be referring? Thus, I'd say it was clever to project the fourth wall into a two-dimensional strip.

How easy (or time-consuming) is it to draw a cartoon version of yourself?

I honestly had never even heard of this whole 4th wall thing. Also, why are you asking us? You obviously know exactly what you were meaning. Why don't you just tell us?

Extra stupid or extra clever, third wall or fourth wall - who cares? What's funny in the strip is you've got your shirt on backwards.

I work with engineers .. and I am so used to hearing 'stupid' .. that the 'third wall' thing whizzed right past me.

Excuse me while a go find a quick and painless way to die.

The real question is whether your poorly drawn shirt is on backwards or not. I see no tag rubbing your chin, but yet, it looks awkward.

I personally think that you were being quite clever, as no-one short of president bush could possibly be that stupid/mentally handicapped

You just draw whatever you want to draw, and we'll laugh at what's funny. That deal has worked so far.

I can't see that anyone has posted this yet, so I have to say, I'm confused. On a theatre stage it makes sense with the "fourth wall", since the actor is talking through what is pretended to be a wall in a room. If a comic is 2-dimensional, then there should only be one wall, and you have violated the second. No?

I'm sorry I'm only trying to make up for the fact that I didn't understand the third wall thing at all until I read this.

Does it make any difference if some of the walls have been sprayed with a special thickening agent? So that they seem the same, but everyone then knows how thick you are?

If I were you, I wouldn't follow that Dogbert guy. He's usually up to something. Most likely he'll find a way to trap you for good so that he can take over your strip. Funny, he's always wanted to take over the world - now maybe he can. The comic strip world anyway.

Debating this is like my husband yellng at the movie screen at a Sci-Fi movie when the main character dies immediately from a knife wound. It's a comic. Don't read into it.

Very funny btw. I always wondered what Scott would look like in comic form.

OK, Now I understand - You can disregard that email I sent you this morning : D

As always, Chant "Hare Krishna" and be happy!

~Gopal Das

Totally Off-Topic, but why do they call it 'Final Fantasy'
when they keep coming out with new versions?

I think you were being Extra Virgin Stupid. But at least you taste good on a salad.

Does it matter? I'm way past the point where anyone reads these comments.

I agree with Lenn above ("cleverly stupid"). Although it could be "stupidly clever". Either way, still funny. How long are you going to be stuck in there?

Love it! I regularly laugh at Dilbert comics, but I haven't laughed this hard in a while.

The first three walls on stage are stage left, upstage, and stage right. If the imaginary wall in a comic strip is the third wall, what are the first two?

If you consider the comic strip as two-dimensional, each panel is bounded by four walls. The comic is seperated from it's audience by a dimension, not a wall.

It's hard to imagine the comic as two-diminsional, the first and third panels both show depth.

I don't think your editor would let the "third wall" phrase slip by on accident, unless he's routinely doesn't get the joke. That's likey with Far Side, not so much with Dilbert. So if you are being extra stupid, so is your editor.

I was confused when I first read the comic, and I'm even more confused now.

By the way, why are you barefoot?

When an actor brakes the 4th wall, he is not adding another dimension to the space in which he exists. Nice try!

I think Scott was just feeling a little frisky, thus he violated the wall.

Clever. Clearly Clever. The factual argument of cartoons being 2-D is un-debatable. Thus, the next wall is 3, not 4. How could one possibly argue for 4? Somehow this reminds me of 8 minute abs vs. 7 minute abs. Where 7 was clearly not long enough.

Clever, stupid, whatever. It was pretty freaking funny.

extra stupid attempting to look extra clever by way of polling his adoring fans who will obviously think he was being extra clever and say so in the comments section, which pans out to be mildy clever.

Neither. You were just making up something you thought would be funny, regardless of whether or not it made sense. (I've noticed your trend.) Violating is always funny, and so is Dogbert, and so is sticky notes, so what the heck! If something's being violated, why not the third wall? Personally, I thought it had something to do with some office lingo or new business management trend and just assumed it was clever and over my head. However, now I know better.

I still love you though, Uncle Scott.

So long as you're not violating any farm animals, it's fine by me.

I actually assumed it was a reference to cubicles, and the fact they have 3 walls. You have to be able to get in them. Perhaps in the future there will be a kind of automated 4th wall gate, to shut us in here until our work day is done, and they will pipe in the coffee.

I think some people should get a life instead of complaining about a comic... (I thought it was funny btw)

Well that all depends on your perspective. A two dimensional world has no walls, and to a two dimensional character a three dimensional object will only make itself known in two dimensions at a time. For instance a sphere would look like a circle, where the sphere is intersecting with the two dimensional plane. And if the sphere was traveling through the two dimensional space the circle would start off as a point and get bigger and then return to a point. What is my point? Am I being clever or just talking mumbo jumbo to get a comment posted?

I think you were being "cleverly stupid". You knew that calling it the "third wall" would spawn lots of comments, giving you a fun and exciting new topic for your Blog.

Mission accomplished... good job!

I vote extra clever. I have never read Dilbert for extra stupidity. I get mine from watching Beavis and Butthead reruns.

Humility is one thing, self deprication is another. If you are seriously baiting some sort of majority consensus over this so called "third wall"- Stop it! As you have observed before, your humor only connects with a minority of readers at any given moment. As you would like to believe that your readership is a more elite and cosmopolitan group, you should expect that whatever you do will be percieved as wrong for the most obscure reasons.
Don't Kowtow to this snooty strain of rabble rouser. Do what Dogbert would do. Copyright the phrase and take all the credit for this leap genius in your chosen form of expression.
Unless some one has already beat you to it, in which case accuse your ditractors of arguing against a misrepresentation of what you said and tell them to go beat their drum elsewhere.

I would have to say clever. I personally would have said "4th wall" since I acted in High School and am familiar with that term.

Since this is Scott Adams we're talking about, he would have definetly thought about the 2d aspect.

Extra stupid maybe? But then clever by attempting to cover it up with a blog post :))

Seriously, i had to read the blog post to understand the comic. I know nothing of stage...

Extra clever.
With fries.

My vote was for clever. I have heard it called the fourth wall on reality TV, but I assumed you adopted the phrase and had a very clever line of reasoning why it was the third wall in the comic strip universe.

Your the professional comic so you must have said 3rd wall intentionally due to the two dimensional nature of your world. You are extra clever.

Why can't it be both?

You were being cleverly stupid to see if anyone could detect the subtle cleverness shrouded in apparent stupidity with the advantage of being able to later claim you were being clever or stupid, depending on polling. Next stop, political office! :-)

thanks for explaining it.
is there any connection between third wall and third world?
I mean is this a financially/culturally deprived cartoon?

Scott, your question is akin to a woman asking a man "Does this make me look fat"--the answer is not important, it's the exercise in vanity that is the issue. If one answers that the third wall reference was due to your ignorance, you can gleefully tell whomever that THEY are ignorant of the nuances of your razor wit and quirky humor. If another applauds your efforts (as we well-trained minions are prone to doing), it is an ego feast worthy of Catbert's purr. Either way, I thought the strip was funny, whether by accident or design.

Scott, I would say you are both genius and unstable. It again depends on your viewpoint. From the view of the two-dimentional comic strip Scott, he would be looking at us through the third wall (dimension). However, from the viewpoint of the rest of us who live in cubicles with a wall missing, we see you addressing us through this fourth wall that would usually contain a door.
In addition, this has many of the same hallmarks as the "third wheel" vs. "fifth wheel" argument. No one really knows.

Since you're stuck in a world ruled by cubicles, perhaps you violated the door, and not any wall at all.

Neither. Dogbert violates the 4th wall when it talks to you...

I have to say you were neither...

How is anyone BUT an actor supposed to know that?! I mean, can ANYONE understand Tom Cruise (choose your topic)?

If you knew about the 4th wall then I vote for you THINKING you were being clever. Unless you wanted us to think you were clever so you set it all up.

My vote is for Extra Stupid.

First it was Stephen King who wrote himself into his own book, and now Scott Adams? I hope this is not becomming a popular trend. On the bright side, I can think of a several comic strip authors who I wouldn't mind seeing killed by their lame characters.

Clever. But shouldn't the "fourth wall" really be "sixth" (the stage is an open cube, after all)? Then the box around each frame puts a "fifth" wall between us and the actors in a comic strip.

Or is it too early in the day for a "fifth"?

Extra clever. I dont think you would have used those words if you didnt mean it. Right?

Whatever. The real question was - is it funny? The real answer - no.

My first thought: Wow that's clever the way he knew that cartoons are two dimensions and thus it would be the third wall, not the fourth!

The strip originated in a cubicle, which has ~3.5 walls. So maybe you violated the third and a half wall?

That's deep

Can a two-dimensional space really have walls? I thought it only had borders.

Anyway, perhaps you were just disoriented by the sudden black and whiteness of it all.

Extra clever. I'm sure that it was just you being extra clever, you'd never, ever, make such a mistake as to say the wrong wall unless it was on purpose. You are god!

Bow down to Scott Adams!

"Was I being extra stupid or extra clever?" - Scott Adams

Extra-stupid. But it has nothing to do with a number of the walls. You succumbed to the tempation of becoming a greater star than your creations - like the producers of a star-singer or a band who think they should be more spotlight on them. It just doesn't work (even if that's reality and they really are more deserving of someone's success than that someone).

You're lucky the second strip is funny. Otherwise I would really have to insult you.

Is your head really that big?

The clever thing to do here is to say that you were being clever, when really you were probably being extra stupid. You always have to claim abstract intentions to save face.

I'd say I am not given enough information as to vote on this one! ;-)

I notice you didn't draw in that bald spot you're always talking about. Did you think we wouldn't notice?

Can't it be both?
I think it's more clever than stupid.

Clever or Stupid?

We'll find out when you're invited "Inside the Actor's Studio ("

Can't it be both?
I think it's more clever than stupid.

I really didnt care about that, I just think that was hilarious... Totally unexpected and I hope there will be some more of those

Scott, with all due respect (you decide how much is due, and send me a bill) I've learned over the years when dealing with people, that when in doubt as to stupid or clever, you can never go wrong with stupid. Never underestimate the stupidity of the person you've just met. When I write code, I've given up trying to make it idiot proof. There is a never ending supply of super-idiots. At best, I aim for idiot resistant.

I for one got a real laugh out of it. I'm calling extra clever.

Hey I thought you were already in your comics. Aren't you Dilbert?

I just want to know why you aren't wearing shoes. Do the customs agents for the third wall confiscate those?

Totally stupid, anyone that can't figure out the difference between 3, and 4, should be shot, except, you, YOU should either be let off with a warning, or shot MANY times.

Which reminds me of my favorite quote:

There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary, and those who don't


I think you did it on purpose so you'd have blog fodder.

Stupid. Comics, while two-dimensional, are representations of a three dimensional space, with the panel itself being the "fourth wall". "Third wall" makes no sense geometrically when applied to a two-dimensional space, since a wall would be a planar object, and the only plane is the cartoon panel itself. And there's only one of those for each 'unit' of time.

So, stupid. Maybe not /extra/ stupid, but definitely not very clever either. ;)

Extra clever, to atone for the help desk strip. A joke’s never funny when everybody’s heard it a gazillion times, in real life.

It's still in the same genre, and you're simply a character in the strip, albeit a slightly less focussed one. I don't think it will ever change genre no matter what you do. It doesn't rely on a fiction, as theater does.

I'd suggest interviewing for a job with the pointy-haired boss, just so you have something to do there. Getting coffee or something.

The difference between extra stupid and extra clever is often so small that most of us are too dim-witted to tell the difference and, consequently, think it is like us: extra stupid. The truly clever people are the ones who understand how clever the comic strip really is.

Clever is a really funny word after you say it too many times.

Was I being extra stupid or extra clever?

Can't you be both?

It all depends .. If this is the "third wall" then what is the fourth wall in comic terms?

And there has to be one because you need 4 walls to represent a room even in a comic ..

.. and yes that does make sense!

I took it as a reference to the third cubicle wall; you know, the one with the invisible door in it. You walked out. Now get your cartoonist ass back in there and do some more 2-of-6 stuff!

You're a smart cookie!


Thinking about walls in a 2d-world is confusing me. I think I need to review the Calvin comics where he turns 2d. :)

In the immortal words of software departments everywhere, "It's not a bug, it's a feature."

I'll say extra clever and hope that it makes up for the fact that I didn't catch the joke (or mistake) in there. I was too busy wondering who would be in the Lollipop Guild if Dogbert is Toto. Here's what I came up with

Dorothy: Scott
Toto: Dogbert
Scarecrow: Bob the Dinosaur
Tin Man: Timmy, the toilet paper roll
Lion: Ratbert
Glinda: Alice
Wicked Witch of the East: PHB
Wicked Witch of the West: Phil, prince of insufficient light.

Oz: Catbert

And then in a weird twist of fate at the end Catbert would be revealed to be an animatronic cat, controlled by.... the Garbage Man!

But the lollipop guild would have to be Wally, Ted (the generic guy) and Asok. Except Wally would have convinced Ted and Asok that they don't distribute lollipops to the masses, they steal them from those Jerry's Kids donation boxes in restaurants and give them to Wally.

Okay, now that I have proved my deep knowlegde of obscure Dilbert Characters do I get a prize?

I got it right away, comics are (usually) 2D...

It's the third wall because there are only three panels.

My rule. I made it up.

Extra clever. I love the dimensional trancendentalism.

I take it your going to go go for weasonable doubt.

Scott, you showed yourself clever and worthy by pulling a trifecta with you "third wall" wording:

1. You stimulated discussion
2. You created a topic for your blog
3. You completely freaked out the anal retentive unemployed people who are, even now, trying desperately to call you to tell you about the "fourth wall" terminology.

Nice save (it was a mistake, though).

I had the same idea: it should be the Fourth Wall!
But I didn't call you stupid; instead, I thought: hey, I never criticized Al Capp or Charles Schulz or Bill Watterson so even if he don't draw so good, who am I to criticize Scott? It's HIS WORLD, HE INVENTED IT, HE CAN DO ANYTHING, even reduce the number of dimensions. After all, the characters, even his personal icon, are funny because they are one-dimensional, so...

Happy New Year

It made me laugh. It's good. The third-wall is OK.

My cubicle has three walls - in order to talk to my neighbor I need to prairie-dog over the third wall.

I'm sure you were simply leveraging the 2-dimensionality of comic strips against a stage metaphor to confuse people.

I will say that either the well was quite dry the week you decided this plot line or you've had the ego episode that seems to befall all comic strip artists at some time or other in their career. :)

I think you made a mistake. As you look at the cartoon page you feel restricted by the two sides of the page (that's what limits the scope of your creation) and you see into the page so, for a moment, you thought of "inwards" as being the third direction.

Third wall...fourth wall...
Who cares?
It's still funny. :)

I thought you were taller.

I think it's quite silly for -you- to ask us to speculate what you were thinking when you made the comic. Maybe you should remove the request then let us discuss it so it won't be so contrived.

You are always extra clever.

As witness the book Gods Debris...

Jez I know...most cubes only have 2 "real" panels??

I thought it was because you asked for an extra wall for your cubicle... "Three walls?! What are you, VP of Walls?"



You weren't clever or stupid...merely not paying attention!



I heard "third wall" and for some reason thought "cubicle", since the only ones I've been in don't really have more than three "walls" (the fourth I consider a partition because it has no actual door, just an opening - though I will admit that the cubicle I work in is at least made of better stuff than that pegboard junk they use upstairs).

But trying to think of something as a third wall in a two dimensional world makes my head hurt trying to come up with exactly what that would mean.

And sadly, after four years as a theater geek I never learned the term "fourth wall". But you want to talk about violating the fourth wall, a couple years ago I saw a production of Romeo and Juliet where a drunken Mercutio fell on members of the audience. Was the most memorable and least boring Shakespeare interpretation I've ever seen.

I'm voting for extra clever. I don't think it has anything to do with acting or three dimensional portals. I think there is some kind of meaning to it, however. I think it has to do with squirells, but I'm not sure how.

It's quite possible you were being clever, by mistake.

Well, I for one was not 'gleeful' when I wrote you, I was actually confused. Then again I am just getting to the coffee now.

I'd say "fourth wall" is correct.

If you were to *record* a stage actor talking to the audience and watch the recording, he would probably still be violating the fourth wall. Conseqeuently, if you were to *draw* a stage actor talking to the audience, he would be violating the fourth wall as well.

The medium of the comic strip may be two-dimensional, but the plot depicted isn't.

BTW, Wikipedia has an excellent article on the concept: - I think it supports the idea that you are clever. The "Fourth Wall" is used as a general term which includes literary usage, so it would be appropriate for you to use it in the context of the Dilbert comic. But I think you knew that, and chose to use the "third wall" to reference the two-dimensional aspects of the comic, and to introduce some stupidity in order to enhace the humor. So maybe you're being cleverly stupid? Or maybe you didn't know this, and are in fact stupidly clever?

Being neither a comic strip writer nor an actress, but instead just another engineer, I was completely lost on that strip until I read this blog. I want to say its stupid, but that would mean that not only could I not figure out the joke, but I couldn't even figure out a stupid joke. So I have no opinion on your cleverness, but I can tell you I am feeling extra stupid.

I doubt many people have gone broke gambling on the stupidity of others. Nevertheless I'd like to vote for clever, please. I didn't really get your first cameo yesterday. You rehashed an idea that was funny the first time, and by making it unfunny you were being...funny? Whatever, I love the yellow sticky note road. I now have "Follow the sticky note road" in my head. "We're off the see Prince Philip, the wonderful Phlip of Heck. We hear he is a heck of a jerk, a heck of a jerk is Phil, etc..." Thanks. Where's a pencil I can stick in my ear?

Yes, of course you were!

I vote you're being extra stupid by saying "third" instead of "fourth"...regardless of what you "meant".

Add it to the DNRC newsletter as an induhvidual quote and call it absentmindedness.

I vote for extra stupid!

"Was I being extra stupid or extra clever?"

Is there a difference?

In theatre, what are the first three walls?

Are they somehow analagous in such a way that a comic strip obviously has only two of the three walls?

A comic is two-dimensional, and theatre (occuring in the real world) is three-dimensional. So if these "walls" correspond to the visual dimensions of the medium, then perhaps you are clever.

Who cares?! :)

If you were being extra clever, you'd have called it the wall of Pi or something. We've already established you're not extra stupid neither, because that would make us even stupider than we really are for reading this blog, and that would never do.

I'll shut up now.

it depends. see, there was no wall on the left of the panel, so...maybe...

okay, you messed up. time to hang it up, get a real job. maybe dentistry.

I don't think we can discount the posibility that you were multitasking and accomplished both at once.

Either way, you are a nice person. Therfore you are my God. It logically follows that all this wall business is just to keep us busy. But I will not be fooled, I am praying to an idol of you while standing upside down wearing only a single leaf.
No, actually, I'm just thinking... that Scott really is a nice guy, despite being funny and smart (and wealthy).

Was Scott clever or stupid? It is a question that has plagued mankind since the beginning of this particular post. On the one hand we know Scott is clever because he is rich. On the other hand he hasn't demonstrated a really solid grasp of quantum physics (that I am aware of) so that indicates at least some level stupidity. Despite contrary evidence on both sides I think (i.e. my spidey-sense says) he is clever. Now the question becomes "Can a clever man do something very stupid"? Or perhaps the question becomes "If a clever man tries to look stupid on purpose is he really being stupid"? Yes. I believe that IS the right question. Now is the right answer, yes, or no? I would say "no" strictly on the fact no comes before yes in the dictionary.
So there you have it.

Being your average Jane, I didn't really notice the third/fourth wall complication, but I loved how you took what you did yesterday, and turned it into an intriguing and potentially awesome storyline. Just before I switched over I was muttering "how clever!" and then I read the title of your blog. That's eerie. No more reading minds.

Well you regularly wobble between the two states on this blog so its hard to say.

How about a third choice?

Extra unfunny?

taking into consideration that you are not an induhvidual i will say that you are being extra clever

I believe that you thoroughly enjoy the discussions that result whenever you pose a question to the readers. And so, your use of "third" vs "fourth" had nothing to do with (mis)understanding any literary terms, but was a deliberate attempt to produce fodder for your blog. Its quite possible, as well, that you did not get any emails from those you call "readers", and have just made that statement as a way to bring this issue to the blog.

I leave it to the others to discuss my theory, rip it apart, bash me, bash you, bash each other, and somehow relate this entire issue to either creationism or Jesus vs. Santa.

Personally, I don't think Jesus and Santa would duke it out because they are all about love. I can see it now, Jesus - either the one from South Park or the one seen in the upcoming Book of Daniel - will say "love you, man" and Santa will repeat and then they will hug in a manly sort of way. Can you say 'awwwwwwwwwwwwww'?..*G*

Clever, as per your own explanation.

Please understand that it's hard for us normal humans to understand existence when limited to only two dimensions. Super Humans, such as yourself, aren't limited in such ways.

I think it was always! Now tell me, how can I make money from the internet?

I went through exactly the same thought process you describe above. My theory is that you initially made a mistake, but when it was pointed out to you, you immediately thought of the 2D argument & just went with it.

Still.. I don't know that the 2D argument really works because it's just a 2D representation of a 3D world - it's not like Dilbert & Dogbert (and you, now) are living in Flatland - you can go 'behind' each other...

So I fear that I must put 60% of my vote in the 'you're an idiot' camp, but you get a bonus 10% on top of the remaining 40% for the cleverness of recognizing the 2D aspect & making up a viable excuse for your wrongness. Therefore, I have offered 110% of my opinion. Now who's the idiot?

Dogbert's use of the "Occam's Razor" principle would suggest that Mr. Adams was extra stupid. Being extra clever would involve a significant amount of insight and complexity. Not that he's incapable of such, but sticking to the theory (well proven in personal use, by the way) leads us to stupidity as the simplest explanation.

What's the opposite of "extra"?

Accidently extra clever!

Frankly, I just assumed that you wrote this strip while you were high on pain pills from your nose job - er, I mean, deviated septum surgery.

But it does explain why your body hates you... if you drew me to look like that, I'd hate you too.

By the same token that poor people are "weird" and the wealthy are "eccentric", as a published author and celebrity you would certainly be "extra clever". Take away your cash and fame and you are back to "extra stupid".

You have been absorbed by your work. You need to get out more.

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