How to Visit the Mirror Universe


A while back I was contacted by a reader in the UK who was working with a new website that sells soccer (or football) related t-shirts. They wanted to know if I’d like to design a shirt for them. I replied that I know next to nothing about American football, and even less about FIFA. Indeed, I had only one idea for a shirt, which I told them (thinking it would demonstrate that I’m not the guy for this job). Instead they wrote back that they liked the idea. I was as surprised as anyone.

The shirt’s available for purchase now. I think this one's UK only (turnabout is fair play). If you have any ideas for a soccer related shirt, they’re all ears.





I promised a book contest, and here it is. I will ask a question. You will post an answer to said question in the comments section of this comic ("How to Visit the Mirror Universe"). The answer need not be correct. Heck, you don’t NEED to answer the question at all! Please do leave an e-mail address though. A commenter will be chosen at random to win a signed copy of my third book, “The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy” (which is available for sale now).

There have been several questions about the books on my bookshelf, so here’s a clear shot of them.

Now the question. Which four books on this shelf exist because of John Hodgman?

DISCUSS!! The winning comment will be chosen at random on the morning of Thursday, February 9th.

« How to Maintain a Low Profile | How to Reinvent a Classic Character for Modern Audiences »

Reader Comments (210)

Banana pudding is delightful!

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChaon

Which four books exist because of John Hodgman? The three that list him as author (Areas of my Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That is All) and Bruce Campbell's autobiography (If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-movie Actor), because Hodgman was his literary agent.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigitalbusker

Clearly, All and More. The Areas of My Expertise. And finally, let's go with The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLleu

If Chins Could Kill
Soon I Will Be Invincible

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjoe

Just a wild stab in the dark, which is what you'll be getting if I'm not the the winner (to paraphrase Edmund, Lord Blackadder):

Hodgman actually wrote "The Areas of My Expertise", "More Information Than You Require" and "That Is All".

The other book is your own "Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy". Hodgman's attempt to compile all human knowledge paralleled your own attempt to establish a set of "Basic Instructions".

Plus, the "Adventures of Rocket Hat across the 8th Dimension", which is pretty much Flash Gordon without the Queen soundtrack.

--Long time reader, first time poster--

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSven

I premise I never heard John Hodgman. I looked him up on Wikipedia thanks to this post. Now the books are, I guess: ""All"", ""More"", "The areas of my expertise" (because it's in the middle between the two) and "The curse of the masking tape mummy" (because you ask). :-)

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMattia Landoni

Trick question. All of them. Or none. I can't decide.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDevon

Well obviously he'd be reading them on an iPad

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

Re: the contest--I'm not going to over-think this (or even turn my head sideways.) There are three Hodgman books on the left. The obvious choice for the fourth work is The Curse of the Masking-Tape Mummy. Either John inspired Scott, wrote the forward, both or there is some connection that I haven't thought of.

Thanks for the bonus chuckle of promoting your anti-Amercan football T-shirt on this most holy of days. And the double bonus chuckle of admitting your utter lack of knowledge of all things pigskin. Now, excuse me. I think I'm missing some amusing ads as I write this.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSoul of Wit

The Complete World Knowledge trilogy ("Areas", "More" And "All") and If Chins Could Kill. John Hodgman is a Former Literary Agent, after all, and was one for Bruce Campbell.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick H

OK, the simple presence of this comment satisfies your requirement.

Now, for bonus points, I will guess the three obvious choices - Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All, plus your book The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Sooo many points for having a copy of "The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul".

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThipp


February 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterborn in the nineties

Are you implying that "cruel and selfish" is the opposite of "normal" in this universe?

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah909

You know, I have no idea, but I DO have a signed copy of "If Chins Could Kill" and "How to Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way." I commend your taste, good sir.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVicky

First, let me say congrats on your 3rd book. Been following and enjoying your work since "the Scott Adams episode."

Second, the answer to your question... Well, obviously Hodgman's 3 books exist because of him (Areas of my Expertise, More Information than you Require, That Is All)... the 4th stumped me for a bit. Figured I could discount Douglas Adams' oeuvre, since it was out while JH was still a kid... Same with whatever Hunter S. Thompson is behind the idol. Batman is older than JH, and Watchmen came out during his teen years, so those were out as well... Leaving Bruce Campbell's book and Austin Grossman's. Well, I knew who Bruce was, but wasn't familiar with Austin, so I turned to that great compendium of reasonably-accurate human knowledge, Wikipedia. A quick scan of Hodgman's entry didn't turn up any mention of another published work... I was about to flip a coin but then I read the Wikipedia entry carefully and discovered that Hodgman was Campbell's literary agent. Small world!

Oh, wait... the answer need not be correct? Well damn...

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I have no idea, so I guess I'll have to buy my own copy of the book, but... is your idol giving birth?! To what?

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate

John Hodgman was one of the Illuminati! Therefore, none of the books could exist without his approval.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Your books don't appear to be organized by either title, author, or colour and this bothers me more than it probably should.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey

I'm going to go against the grain and say that John Hodgman is the true name of both Douglas Adams and Hunter S Thompson. So, those are the books that exist because of him.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason T

Well, the three books by him, of course... I'll just guess "Watchmen" assuming I'm wrong.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Boyko

Trick question! Its the Idol right?!

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon

3/4 are the books written by John Hogdman. I will also guess that the 4th is The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIan Menzies

I'm going with the three he wrote: ("Areas", "More" And "All") and If Chins Could Kill, solely on the basis of two other comments claiming John Hodgman was Bruce Campbell's literary agent. I trust you guys!

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjjfoley

None of them. He may have written the words to some of them, but the actual production process was down to a ton of other people, most of who remain unmentioned even w/in the publications, from printer-shop factor workers, and wood-pulpers, to the more likely to be credited editors, publishers, but also including the freight shippers to get them from the factor to your book store or online supplier and the employees of the same who helped change your money into the finished product. So you can see Mr. Hodgman's contribution to the production of any of these books, even the ones he authored, is relatively slim.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYanni

I always thought "Dirk Gently's" was better than "Long Dark Teatime", but you have them both so you win.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSKX

Hmm. Is it "Mauve"? No, wait - "Periwinkle"! Yep, that's it - periwinkle.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

If Chins Could Kill
Soon I Will Be Invincible

Love your stuff man!

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCody

Man, that's a clever strip. Bravo!

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric Phillips

I have no idea who John Hodgman is in reality, but he's the boss of Hobopolis in the Kingdom of Loathing, an imaginary hobo city you access from the sewers in the clan basement. Oh, you really don't need to hear any more. However, I do appreciate all the Douglas Adams books on display, and have read all of them -- several times, in fact. And that's about all I have to say. Thanks for your comic. I think it's grand!

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEleanor

None of them. John Hodgman had nothing to do with any of those books. Everything is a lie.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJesso

Re: Contest: The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, That is All and, my random shot in the dark, Soon I Will Be Invicible, since that would seem right up Mr. Hodgman's literary alley. I've only had the pleasure of reading the first book and unfortunately not even heard the audio version of it. Johnathon Coulton's random stylings makes it all the more worthwhile. :3

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCieyrin

And of course, Jon Hodgman makes regular appearances on The 700 Club. Scott, how do you notify us that we won if we don't leave an email address? And, if I leave an email address on the comment form, will it be accessible to everyone, or kept private?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBasicLaugh

I don't know. But I can't help but admire your taste - not only Hitchhiker's Guide, but both Dirk Gently novels as well.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary Manning

Okay, my book's not on that shelf, and even in the mirror universe it wouldn't be -- 'cause in that universe, I'm doing something else.

In this one, I haven't written it yet.


Stay crunchy.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfilsmyth

All of them in the mirror universe

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

Your football shirt is hilarious and I say that as a fan of all three kinds of football (soccer, American, and Canadian).

And for the contest I'll guess the 4 standing books on the left (no real clue here).


February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreg E

4 of them?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwielguism

Areas of my Expertise, More Information Than You Require, That is All, and If Chins Could Kill.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster would want you to pick me as the winner, Scott.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I've often wondered if I live in the Mirror Universe... it would explain a lot of things. And I do sport a goatee. Hmm...

As for the books, the three on the left, obviously, and though I like the idea that your latest book was inspired by the same, I'll go along with the others who suggested Bruce Campbell's book. (I'm WAY behind in my reading, but I like Bruce Campbell, so I presume it's well worth the read... should I bump it up to the top of the 'to read ASAP' list?)

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCR
Editor Permission Required
You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.