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Randall Munroe

Randall Munroe

American cartoonist, author, and engineer: Creator of xkcd
Randall Munroe
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American cartoonist, author, and engineer: Creator of xkcd
Known for xkcd
A.K.A. Randall Patrick Munroe, Thing Explainer
Is Software engineer Programmer Comics artist Writer Computer scientist Scientist Physicist Engineer
From United States of America
Type Engineering Humor Literature Technology Science
Gender male
Birth 17 October 1984, Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, USA
Age 36 years
Star sign Libra
Mathematics and Science High School at Clover Hill
Christopher Newport University
Notable Works
The details (from wikipedia)


Randall Patrick Munroe (born October 17, 1984) is an American cartoonist, author, engineer, and the creator of the webcomic xkcd. He and the webcomic have developed a large fanbase, and shortly after graduating from college, he became a professional webcomic artist.

Early life

Munroe was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, and his father has worked as an engineer and marketer. He has two younger brothers, and was raised as a Quaker. He was a fan of comic strips in newspapers from an early age, starting off with Calvin and Hobbes. After graduating from the Chesterfield County Mathematics and Science High School at Clover Hill, a Renaissance Program in Midlothian, Virginia, he graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2006 with a degree in physics.



Munroe worked as a contract programmer and roboticist for NASA at the Langley Research Center, before and after his graduation. In October 2006 NASA did not renew his contract, and he moved to Boston to begin writing xkcd full time.


"Wikipedian Protester", published on xkcd.com with title-text (tooltip): "SEMI-PROTECT THE CONSTITUTION". On Wikipedia, semi-protected pages may not be edited by new or unregistered users.

Munroe's blog, entitled xkcd, is primarily a stick figure comic. The comic's tagline describes it as "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language".

Munroe had originally used xkcd as an instant messaging screenname because he wanted a name without a meaning so he would not eventually grow tired of it. He registered the domain name, but left it idle until he started posting his drawings, perhaps in September 2005. The webcomic quickly became very popular, garnering up to 70 million hits a month by October 2007. Munroe has said, "I think the comic that's gotten me the most feedback is actually the one about the stoplights".

Munroe now supports himself by the sale of xkcd-related merchandise, primarily thousands of t-shirts a month. He licenses his xkcd creations under the Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial 2.5, stating that it is not just about the free culture movement, but that it also makes good business sense.

In 2010, he published a collection of the comics. He has also toured the lecture circuit, giving speeches at places such as Google's Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

The popularity of the strip among science fiction fans resulted in Munroe being nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist in 2011 and again in 2012. In 2014, he won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story for the xkcd strip "Time".

Other projects

Various doses of radioactivity in sieverts, ranging from negligible to lethal

Munroe is the creator of the now defunct websites "The Funniest", "The Cutest", and "The Fairest", each of which presents users with two options and asks them to choose one over the other.

In January 2008, Munroe developed an open-source chat moderation script named "Robot9000". Originally developed to moderate one of Munroe's xkcd-related IRC channels, the software's algorithm attempts to prevent repetition in IRC channels by temporarily muting users who send messages that are identical to a message that has been sent to the channel before. If users continue to send unoriginal messages, Robot9000 mutes the user for a longer period, quadrupling for each unoriginal message the user sends to the channel. Shortly after Munroe's blog post about the script went live, 4chan administrator Christopher Poole adapted the script to moderate the site's experimental /r9k/ board. Twitch offers Robot9000 ("r9k mode") as an optional feature for broadcasters and moderators to use in their channels' chat boxes.

In October 2008, The New Yorker magazine online published an interview and "Cartoon Off" between Munroe and Farley Katz, in which each cartoonist drew a series of four humorous cartoons.

Munroe has a blog entitled What If?, where he has answered questions sent in by fans of his comics. These questions are usually absurd and related to math or physics, and he explains them using both his knowledge and various academic sources. In 2014, he published a collection of some of the responses, as well as a few new ones and some rejected questions, in a book entitled What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Starting in November 2019, Munroe began writing a monthly column in the New York Times titled Good Question, answering user submitted questions in the same style as What If.

In response to concerns about the radioactivity released by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, and to remedy what he described as "confusing" reporting on radiation levels in the media, Munroe created a radiation chart of comparative radiation exposure levels. The chart was rapidly adopted by print and online journalists in several countries, including being linked to by online writers for The Guardian, and The New York Times. As a result of requests for permission to reprint the chart and to translate it into Japanese, Munroe placed it in the public domain, but requested that his non-expert status should be clearly stated in any reprinting.

Munroe published an xkcd-style comic on scientific publishing and open access in Science in October 2013.

Munroe's book Thing Explainer, announced in May 2015 and published late that year, explains concepts using only the 1,000 most common English words. The book's publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, saw these illustrations as potentially useful for textbooks, and announced in March 2016 that the next editions of their high school-level chemistry, biology, and physics textbooks will include selected drawings and accompanying text from Thing Explainer.

In February 2019, Munroe announced his upcoming book How To, which was released in September of that year.


In September 2013, Munroe announced that a group of xkcd readers had submitted his name as a candidate for the renaming of asteroid (4942) 1987 DU6 to 4942 Munroe. The name was accepted by the International Astronomical Union.

Personal life

As of May 2008, Munroe lived in Somerville, Massachusetts.

In October 2010, Munroe's fiancée was diagnosed with breast cancer; there had been no prior family history. The emotional effect of her illness was referenced in the comic panel "Emotion", published 18 months later in April 2012. In September 2011, he announced that they had married. In December 2017, Munroe summarized the time since his wife's cancer diagnosis in a comic entitled "Seven Years".

His hobbies and interests include kite photography, in which cameras are attached to kites and photographs are then taken of the ground or buildings.


Publications by Munroe

  • xkcd: volume 0. Breadpig. 2009. ISBN 9780615314464.
  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. London: John Murray. 2014. ISBN 9781848549579.
  • Thing Explainer. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2015. ISBN 9780544668256.
  • How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. John Murray. 2019. ISBN 9780525537090.

Publications with contributions by Munroe

  • "?" chapter, in Machine of Death. Venice, CA: Bearstache, 2010. ISBN 9780982167120.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 03 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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