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.

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Reader Comments (210)

It's interesting that Rick has a darker shirt in the mirror universe.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDusk Eagle

Naturally, the three he authored (Areas of my Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All) and te one he, uh, agented (If Chins Could Kill)

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFancycwabs

I think it's safe to assume that we can hold Hodgman responsible for his own 3 books: The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All. (All excellent books, by the way.)

I'm pretty sure the 4th book we can give him some credit for is your own The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy, given that you recommended The Areas of My Expertise back in June 2008.. and, now that I think about it for a bit, I can easily see how that book could've been an inspiration for Basic Instructions.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Oh, man. For a minute there I thought you were asking which books were created by Joel Hodgson, not John Hodgman. I was all excited, thinking the guy from MST3k had written a few books. As it turns out, they're completely unrelated! One isn't even a larval form of the other, despite what the names might imply.

In summary, I have no idea which books were created by John Hodgman. I'm glad you said the answer doesn't necessarily have to be correct... Still, I'll give it my level best:

My cat's breath smells like cat foot.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSaela

So that means WE ARE THE EVIL UNIVERSE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


Actually, never mind. I think I can live with that.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

The Areas of my Expertise, more information than you require, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. He is the author of the first three and the final is his biography.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIsaac

I was about to comment on "If Chins could Kill" as well. That book will probably will reign as my favorite biography of all time.. well until Scott writes his.

Also loved two Dirk Gently novels. For all the love that the Hitchhiker trilogy gets, Dirk is #1 in my heart.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Definitely the three on the left. Since I have the hindsight of all the previous commentors, I would say Bruce Campells book, since JKH was his literary agent.

p.s. I've been reading your strip for a bit now, and it's fantastic stuff (and no, this is not an attempt to massage the ego of the author)

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric

The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy
The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy
The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy
The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy

Did I get it right?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDamien

That is one terribly ugly idol.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDRS

Simple. It's a trick question.
After all, John Hodgman is actually causality itself. If it weren't for his continued existence, none of those books or indeed the universe itself would exist.
This comment brought to you because John Hodgman allows it to maintain causality.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWaladil

I'm not a football fan at all but I have always wondered about a cricketer's version of The Bat of Knowledge T-Shirt... ideal for people who are feeling a bit stumped.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAncient Brit


February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4d99b3df817342d8a3936be224

I agree that banana pudding is indeed delightful.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFiremeier

Will this universe have a "Spoonketeer"?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

I'm with Thipp, points for "Long dark Teatime of the Soul". Also Watchmen, but I probably look so mainstream for saying that. And so many people have already answered the question I'm not gonna bother, I'm just gonna post a pointless comment for my entry. :]

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLythande

I'm only posting to enter the competition, however, you display good taste with 'If chins could kill' one of only 4 biographies i own the others being Micheal J Fox and Mick Foley's 2 'have a nice day' and 'Foley is good', all good reads and Micks ones are funny even if you don't like wrestling.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

No idea to the question either, but the footie website says they offer free worldwide shipping, so if you happen to live anywhere that prefers football over the american thing they call football you might be in luck.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom

I don't know.

Do I win?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergoosemonster

Erm, I'm going to say the Hodgman books and the Campbell autobio because digitalbusker sounds convincing.

But more importantly--HA! I always KNEW I lived in the mirror universe! But I only confirmed it after my grandfather suddenly grew a goatee ...

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebekah

"Mostly because of the art" :D

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanne


Hah, see what I did there? ;)

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrbp

Few people know that John Hodgeman was the original Rorschach.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaptain Etiquette

Tecnically none, because I assume he didn't print them himself. The existence of the physical copies of those books is thanks to the people in the printing industry.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpenna

this comment has been left intentionally blank

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHodgy

I know John Hodgman used to be a literary agent, so @digitalbusker must be right. But now I'm going to lie awake all night wondering: how and why do I know that John Hodgman used to be a literary agent?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I see "Dirk Gently" on your bookshelf. You may be interested to know that "Shada", an episode of Dr. Who that was never completed, has just been completed (sort of). I've gotten the video (which I haven't watched yet) and the book is on pre-order. What is "Shada"? It is an episode written by Douglas Adams, which was the original idea behind what eventually became Dirk Gently. Professor Chronos is a Time Lord.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Great strip, hitting on all four panels. Did you lose a bet to Rick or something? Is Rick sick?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfrank

The correct answer is "All", "More" "The Areas Of My Expertise" and Watchmen. Alan Moore famously travelled through time to get completely wasted with Hodgeman, which led to a bong session in which Alan Moore had visions of the end of his comic.

Not many people know this.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRowan

I want a book!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Trick question. The photograph is the result of reckless time travel in which Hodgeman became his own father and was thus born with horrifying genetic defects, preventing him from ever so much as holding a pen. If you want to get technical, Douglas Adams thought it was hilarious and encouraged such behavior in his Hitchhiker's Guide, but the books you think were written by John Hodgeman are the result of a parallel reality where Hodgeman dealt with his Oedipal complex in therapy instead.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Without John Hodgman's invention of the alphabet, none of those books except Watchmen would exist. (Alan Moore, of course, invented the alphabet before John Hodgman, but famously failed to publish.)

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteven desJardins

Getting on a bit of a self-mockery streak here are you?
Anyway, great comic as always. :)

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoris

Obviously, all of them... Or else the question wouldn't have been asked!

(On the other hand, "because of" could imply that the ones written by him aren't included...)

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBalentius

I'm going to steal an answer from above:

Banana pudding really IS delightful!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBri


February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWJ

Er... yes!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFuss

John Hodgman who?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVladimir

The 4 in the picture

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChip

I'm not too well read, in fact the Douglas Adams books you have are the last things I really got into. But I do know who's responsible for t-shirts that all 4 of my kids got last christmas. Just today my son posted a picture and he's still wearing your infinitee. So if by books you mean t-shirts and if by responsible you mean I forced you to do it by pay, then the answer lies somewhere in North Dakota frozen in the tundra.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterST
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