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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, or SMBC for short, is a webcomic by Zach Weinersmith.[note 1] In its current incarnation, it was started in September of 2002. Early strips were simple, usually only one panel, and focused on black comedy, shock value, and irony. Later on, the comic began incorporating skeptical and scientific themes, discussions of religion and philosophy, and social commentary. This has been coupled with a tendency to produce much longer strips, which the author has noted and often joked about. Several recent comics depict a contrived dystopian scenario to make the joke.
In addition to the main comic, most strips made since 2008 or so have a "votey," or bonus panel that can be accessed by clicking the red button below the comic proper.[note 2] The bonus panels were traditionally additional jokes in the same vein as the main strip, though lately it has become more common for Zach to break the fourth wall and comment, usually in a self-deprecating manner, about the strip. When he draws himself in these voteys he is almost invariably naked, for no known reason. His wife Kelly also appears on occasion.
A side project called SMBC Theater, now headed by James Ashby, publishes satirical videos that keep the style of the comic. It referenced the origins debate on several occasions.
Good and bad elements
SMBC is a generally pro-feminism, pro-LGBT comic. Although these issues are seldom at the forefront of any particular strip, representation of women and gays is remarkably high for a comic written by a straight man. The comic from December 28, 2010, for instance, is about a gay couple, but it didn't have to be to make the joke work – Zach just feels free to include gays when context doesn't require them to be straight. This is something Zach has grown into over time; in the commentary for that very strip, he said "let's see if I can get away with [this]...", though in later strips he has shown no such hesitation. Ditto with representation of women; he has even gone so far as to depict female presidents. He occasionally depicts black and female presidents as well, though the black ones always come with a beard, presumably to avoid the implication that he's commenting directly on Barack Obama.
In some strips, such as this one, he uses generic blue stick figures instead of fully drawn people, as a symbolic way of including all humans regardless of race/gender/etc.
Plenty of the more elaborate comics indulge in really juicy "purple prose," or over-the-top literary language. When combined with the right comic tone, the result is brilliant and uniquely hilarious. After all, where else but here can you find a dog thinking "Oh, memory! You are a palimpsest, where I have written good upon evil again and again and again, ah! But how ink fades." Recurring characters include philosophically literate children, aliens from the planet Zorblax and sentient robots. Much like xkcd, SMBC indulges in quality geek humor from time to time. The author is an admitted fan of xkcd, and vice versa. The author is also a fan of Cyanide and Happiness, and they are fans too, though that comic is less geeky and typically employs forms of Dada and black comedy.
Also, Christians without a thick skin may want to exercise caution when reading, as there are a surprising number of jokes about the Crucifixion. Seriously. No matter how many jokes you think someone could possibly make about the Crucifixion, this comic has more.
Overall, the good far outweighs the bad. Read it!
Highlights from the comic itself:
- SMBC on epistemological anarchism
- SMBC on theodicy
- SMBC on meatland
- SMBC on opportunism
- SMBC on true peace
- SMBC on AIDS relief
- SMBC on science advocates & scientists
- SMBC on free will
- SMBC on the problem of evil
- SMBC on the Stanford prison experiment
- SMBC on the ontological proof
- SMBC on how you should respond to people saying that "love is just chemicals"
- SMBC on evolution and thermodynamics
- SMBC on Roko's basilisk
- SMBC on Autism vaccine hysteria
- SMBC on the "five stages of grief"
- SMBC on "X causes cancer" news stories
Highlights from the SMBC Theater:
- Born Zach Weiner, added the "-smith" later, a decision which he has joked about from time to time.
- The word "votey" reflects the fact that the button originally linked to another website that had a "best webcomic" poll, in which Zach encouraged readers to vote. The poll has long since ended but the tradition has been maintained.