We're all nerds now

By contrast, a comfort with one’s geeky side appears to distinguish the so-called millennial generation. Mr. Munroe, the author of “What If?,” who turns 30 next month, said he hoped to appeal to an audience beyond techies.

“People often say, ‘I like your comics, even though I don’t know enough math to get all of them,’ as if it’s some kind of club where they don’t belong,” he said.

“But there’s no club. There’s just lots of people who are excited about thinking, learning, joking and sometimes overanalyzing things.”

Mr. Munroe said it was healthy that the tech culture had seeped into the larger culture, and warned against the community turning inward with a “nerd pride or ‘revenge of the nerds’ attitude.” In an email he expanded further: “This can easily become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that can make a community steadily more homogeneous and exclusionary.” Mr. Munroe said he thought this was a reason that “geek culture” has had such persistent problems with sexism, and that the tech industry’s gender and racial diversity is so woeful.