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Webcomic / Hyperbole and a Half

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"Hi. I'm Allie.
If I had to explain myself in six words, those words would be "heroic, caring, alert and flammable." That's only four words. Oh well, I guess I should have thought of that before I started writing. Too late now.
Here, I drew you a picture of a unicorn."

Hyperbole and a Half is a hybrid blog/Journal Comic by Allie Brosh. The journal and its attendant comics detail the life—past and present—of its writer, in a surreal, sketchy style. The humor is random, the stories even more so, and the comics, sketchy as they are, somehow have a distinct appeal.

Read it here. Or click the link above. Either works. Also see the wiki here. Allie also created a forum where her readers could gather, though it has spun off into its own community only tangentially related, you can find it here.

Brosh also released a book in 2013, entitled Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. A sequel, Solutions and Other Problems, released September 2020.

The blog went on hiatus starting late 2013, though in 2015 Allie appeared on an episode of the YouTube Geek & Sundry series Spellslingers, where she showed her geek cred by coming within just a few HP of defeating host Sean Plott in a game of Magic: The Gathering. The hiatus was briefly broken again in September 2020, when she announced that she had completed the aforementioned second book and that it was available for sale. As of December 2023, there have been no further postings.

This work contains examples of:

  • Absurd Phobia:
    • Simple Dog flees at the sight of balloons, much to Allie's confusion and frustration.
    • In Solutions and Other Problems, Allie shares the disaster of trying to babysit a child who was terrified of dandelions.
  • Abuse Mistake: In "The Party", Allie's mother is trying to tell her that she can't attend a party because her sedation hasn't worn off...only to look up at the disapproving looks of the people nearby and realize they think she's depriving and verbally abusing her mentally handicapped daughter. She agrees to Allie's next plea to go to the party..
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Allie's mom does not usually embarrass her, but her reaction to Allie getting her first period was... eccentric.
  • Apologetic Attacker: In "How a Fish Nearly Destroyed my Childhood", Allie sees the fish she brought home flopping about after all the water drained out of its pond. After an attempt to rehydrate it, she decides she needs to put it out of its misery. Unfortunately, she's only seven and not strong enough to chop off the fish's head in one clean strike, leaving her hacking at it and screaming apologies before eventually running inside to get her dad.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The first two Games You Can Play With A Brick involve throwing bricks at people, probably causing severe Amusing Injuries. The third game is "Jump Over The Brick."
  • Art Evolution: Allie's current art style looks significantly different from the way she used to draw.
  • Art Shift: Normally, the illustrations are drawn in MS Paint with a calculated childishness, but in "Wolves", the background trees, snow and wolves are actually pretty beautifully drawn, even though they're still rough.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Allie has ADHD. On the occasions where she makes posts while off her medication, it tends to get rather eccentric.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Benny, in "Wolves". He agrees to play "Wolves" with Allie and her friends, not knowing the game was going to involve realistic attacks.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Allie is apparently obsessed with and terrified of bears. According to "The Rural Montana Survival Guide", you can fight dog-monsters and bulls, but there's no point in fighting a bear. Bears always win.
  • Big Friendly Dog: The Simple Dog, with the attendant lack of common sense.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Her excuse for peeing in the woods in "Skeleton Man".
      Mrs. Davison: Allie! What are you doing?
      Me: Looking for ants.
    • "I have a fucking trophy in my living room. For all of my accomplishments. It says "Allie: BEST FUCKING PERSON EVER!!!!!!!!!!" and it totally has all of those exclamation points too."
  • Calvinball: "Baby Uterus Wall Ball", conceived by Allie as the explanation behind one of the Google queries leading to her site being "baby uterus not sticking to".
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: The dinosaur costume in "Menace", which has a similar effect on young Allie as the Venom symbiote on Spider-Man.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The Simple Dog, who apparently cannot understand any words and thinks of shapes regularly, among other things. Child Allie as well, if her stories are even half-true.
  • Corner of Woe: When Allie is depressed, she retreats into a corner. Her inner bully takes advantage of this to mock her further.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Young Allie comes across as one remarkably often. Lampshaded in the first segment of the book, where Allie writes a letter to her five-year-old self, listing several disturbing things she's done that ordinary kids don't do and asks her to stop as it's rattling their mother.
      Dear five-year-old me,
      What the fuck is wrong with you? Normal children don't have dead imaginary friends. Normal children don't pick open every single one of their chicken pox scabs and then stand naked and bleeding in the darkened doorway to their bedroom until someone walks past and asks what they are doing. Furthermore, normal children don't respond by saying "I wanted to know what all my blood would look like." Normal children also don't watch their parents sleep from the corner of the room. Mom was really scarred by The Exorcist when she was younger, and she doesn't know how to cope with your increasingly creepy behavior. Please stop. Please, please stop.
    • "Wolves" features not just her but her entire group of friends acting creepy as they pursue poor Benny, who agreed to play "Wolves" with them...
    • In "Richard" (from Solutions and Other Problems), Allie narrates her three-year-old self's obsession with their neighbor Richard, which eventually escalated to sneaking into his house via the cat flap.
  • Dada Comic: There's really no explanation behind most of what goes on in the Spaghatta Nadle universe, but it resonates with people anyway.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: In "The Goose Story", after she and Boyfriend manage to trap an aggressive goose, they throw it in the backseat of their car. It untangles itself from the blanket she used to net it. Allie compares it to the urban legend of a serial killer hiding in the backseat, and the goose's appearance in the mirror produces a wave of horrible fear thanks to reminding Allie about it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Boyfriend.
    Me: The rules of Baby-Uterus-Wall-Ball are extremely rigid.
    Boyfriend: You need a job.
  • The Ditz: Simple Dog. Yes, even for dog standards. In one entry, Allie gives her a dog intelligence test and she lands in the lowest category, even with Allie dropping hints and assuming the best of her "performance" all the way.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Her dog, named "Simple Dog", as described in "Dog." She fails several basic canine intelligence tests, but nonetheless manages to be endearing. She also has another dog who seems to be of normal intelligence for a dog, but makes up for it by being incredibly neurotic. Or hating other dogs, if her book is to be believed.
  • Dog Walks You: Allie's dogs have a tendency to pull on the line, forcing Allie to explain to them that they are on leashes so that they can be protected from their own bad decision-making skills.
  • Drop-In Character: Dubbed the "Well-Intentioned Social Terrorist" in one post.
  • Emotionless Girl: What depression eventually turns Allie into. She finds it great at first, but then it gets bad. This is a common, and well-known, extension of clinical depression.
    "The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief. I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn't have to feel them anymore.
    But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there's a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don't feel very different."
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Boyfriend, Simple Dog and Helper Dog (Boyfriend's real name is Duncan Hendrick, and they married in December 2012).
  • False Cause: In "Menace", Allie gets a dinosaur costume one Halloween and hits a power high, causing her to swing at her classmates and draw on the wall. Her teacher attributed it to the candy, causing Allie's parents to forbid her any more sugar. Allie eats sugar to prove her powerfulness, further convincing her parents that sugar affects her badly. It takes a while for them to realize the actual cause.
  • Foul Waterfowl: One story tells about Allie and Boyfriend having to deal with an aggressive goose that has invaded the house. They eventually manage to trap it and carry it to the pond outside town, where Allie imagines it lurks around, terrifying the other birds and waiting for its next victim.
  • Genki Girl: Allie. Partly due to her ADHD, partly to her sense of humor.
  • Grammar Nazi: In order to repress her grammarian tendencies, she invents reasons why people on the Internet type the way they do—one of which has alot of popularity.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Solutions and Other Problems has a segment in which Allie tells the reader all her magnificent daydreams (riding dragons, winning contests, defeating haters). She admits that they're absolutely ridiculous. However, given that her dreams are probably difficult to impossible in real life and that she wouldn't receive the validation she seeks even if she accomplished them, she keeps fantasizing.
  • Hero of Another Story: Duncan (her boyfriend and later husband). It was his attentiveness and caring that helped pull Allie out of her depression enough to get treatment for it.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Self-inflicted. Her parents tried to raise her well, but Allie managed to get into all kinds of hilarious and mildly traumatic trouble as a child. See The Fish Story, The Easter Bunny Story, The Party, The God of Cake, Bicyclenote , and Wolves, to name a few.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: "The Scariest Story". Allie attempts to scare her little sister by telling her the scariest story she can concoct to make her flee to their parents' bed so Allie can follow her. Allie terrifies herself and her little sister loves the story so much she wants to hear more.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Poor Benny... apparently, when six year old Allie and her friends play "Wolf Pack", they take it rather seriously. Benny, a thirteen-year-old who agreed to play with them, ends up getting dragged to the ground and bitten, more than once.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In a desperate state of thirst while on a morning run, Allie pauses to drink from a neighbor's sprinkler. Only after consuming a fair amount of sprinkler water does she realize that the hose is attached to a container of pesticide, resulting in "a blur of shame, panic, and pesticide burps" followed by a call to Poison Control.
  • Identity Amnesia: Happens to Simple Dog after being terrified of a statue of a horse, running off and having an adventure that completely displaces her former memories.
  • I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: In her depressionblogging, she describes one of the effects of antidepressants as this trope — she rediscovered the emotion of "crying", not to be confused with "sadness", because crying doesn't really have a reason and just kinda happens.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: The yellow triangle on young Allie's head isn't a hat, but her intentionally bad representation of a ponytail.
  • I Was Told There Would Be Cake: "The God of Cake". Allie's mom made a cake for her grandfather, but made it with multi-colored icing and decorations, thus rendering it irresistible to Allie.
  • Implausible Deniability: Allie lists two ways the Simple Dog and the Helper Dog try to trick her, which are impossibly stupid. One is denying that they tore up a piece of clothing with the remnants all over their faces, and the other is pretending she hasn't fed them after quickly eating all the food she just gave them.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In one childhood story, she had a birthday party on the same day as major dental work. During her state of heavy sedation following the surgery, she manages to mortify her mother in public with her drugged-up antics.
  • Journal Comic: Posts vary between funny stories from Allie's past and Allie's latest hijinks. Downer entries include several dealing with her depression.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • Or at least have very twisted ideas of fun games. The "Wolves" example is especially weird, since the kids absolutely love the guy for playing with them and even make sure he gets an extra-large slice of cake as thanks.
      Unfortunately for Benny, we had not yet developed the ability to empathize with the pain and suffering of other people, and his terrified fleeing was pretty much the most fun thing that had ever happened to us.
    • And from "Please Stop":
      When I was a child, one of the things I enjoyed doing was hitting other children with a stick. Many of my classmates also enjoyed doing this. We would walk through the forest in back of our school, trying to find the biggest stick we could feasibly wield as a weapon. When we found the right stick, we would lure an unsuspecting child out of the teacher's sight during recess and attack them. We called this game Stick War and it was the best game ever as long as you weren't the one being beaten mercilessly.
    • Allie's little sister's relationship with her best friend Becky seems to consist of nothing but finding increasingly weird, sadistic ways to torment one another, like the time the little sister duct-taped Becky to an office chair, wrapped a blanket around her head, scribbled on her arms with a ballpoint pen, then forced her to stick her hands in a bowl of raw eggs while screaming, "FEEL THEM, BECKY! DO YOU LIKE THEM?!" Allie never gets context for why this is happening.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Allie almost always draws herself wearing the same pink sheath dress.
  • Mad at a Dream: In one early post, Allie tells about being angry at her boyfriend after having a dream that he killed her pet unicorn, Phineus. She admits it doesn't make sense, but she still feels mad and asks him why he did it. Her boyfriend understandably isn't sure how to handle the situation.
  • Make a Wish: One post tells about Allie seeing a shooting star and making an off-the-cuff wish for her life to be awesome. She then spends some time kicking herself over how easily that could be twisted into something horrible, before she realizes that she's fretting whether some being that may or may not exist might twist her wish.
  • Memetic Badass: In-Universe, with Kenny Loggins. Allie's family goes off on a tangent of all the remarkable things he can supposedly do (like reading minds) to tease her, which exasperates her no end.
  • Mercy Kill: "How A Fish Almost Destroyed My Childhood". Allie accidentally leaves a pet fish out of water. After failing to rehydrate it, she decides to end its misery with a knife. It goes wrong when she can't quite cut its head off. Horribly, hilariously wrong.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: When three-year-old Allie casually mentions that she's been "hanging out" with their neighbor Richard, her parents can't imagine any scenario in which a three-year-old can "hang out" with an adult male neighbor other than he's a predator, leading to a very tense confrontation with the neighbor, who is only marginally aware that they even have a kid. Turns out Allie's been breaking into Richard's house without his knowledge via the cat door.
  • Mundane Wish: After Allie has the revelation that her depression means she no longer cares what anyone thinks of her and she can do anything she wants, she... rents six horror films and buys dozens of bags of Skittles.
  • Nature Tinkling: Allie becomes convinced that the "Skeleton Man" (a monster from a scary story one of her teachers told the class) lives in the bathroom, so she sneaks outside to pee until caught by one of the teachers.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Allie accidentally gave her little sister a thirst for scary stories while trying to terrify the latter into fleeing to their parents' bed at night.
  • Noodle Implements: Allie mentions during a discussion of things Simple Dog is and is not afraid of that clipping her nails requires three people, a towel, and a can of spray cheese.
  • "No" Means "Yes": While Allie is discussing misconceptions with her dogs, she points out that they don't seem to understand the word "No", to the point where they sometimes interpret it as encouragement.
  • No Name Given: She refers to her dogs as Simple Dog and Helper Dog, and her boyfriend as Boyfriend (although his real name is occasionally mentioned). She also mentioned the simple dog's name here. It's Kellie, but nicknamed Roo. In a Reddit thread, she gives a name to the helper dog: which is Nyah, but nicknamed Toady.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: As Brosh's art style evolved, her human figures became a bit more realistic (if still cartoony), while her extremely slapdash depiction of herself remained the same. For example, most human characters have solid arms and legs while Allie's avatar still has noodle limbs.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted; Allie wrote one post about getting her first period, which she did not only before any of her friends, but before her mother had even thought to tell her about menstruation. That in itself would be bad enough, but her mother organized a 'moon time' party with the mothers of all Allie's girlfriends, and all of her friends found out about it because one mother hung the invitation card up on her refrigerator. She also wrote another post about having extremely painful periods (caused in part by severe endometriosis) and she actually threatened her uterus in the post, saying she could make sure it would "not come into contact with so much as a single drop of semen for the rest of your natural life."
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: "Tricera-topless."
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Tired after the first couple rounds of "Wolves", Allie and her friends resort to stealth to hunt down poor Benny. He hears twigs snapping and growling sounds in the shadows, but sees nothing. Allie hypothesizes that the anticipation of the attack was almost worse than being attacked.
  • Older Than They Look: In Texas, Allie tried to buy beer to celebrate for her 21st birthday, but the gas station refused to sell to her even with an ID because she "looked like a goddamn 16-year old." Eventually, one of her friends had to buy booze for her - a younger friend, with a fake ID.
  • The Punishment Is the Crime: Allie tells Simple Dog she doesn't understand why she needs to warn her against trying to eat bees, because the behavior carries its own punishment.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: A story of her younger self who devoured an entire cake and was sick for the rest of the day. She obviously considered it Worth It.
  • Quizzical Tilt: In the book, The Simple Dog tilts the head in response to the confusing "sit" command. The tilt eventually overwhelms the body, causing it to spin on the back.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Described here as the end-point of a "sneaky hate spiral" (e.g., what happens when one too many things goes wrong on a bad day). The sufferer keeps dealing with continuous small annoyances until one which provides no target for the rage (e.g., insomnia) occurs and the camel's back is broken.
  • Reactive Continuous Scream: Or rather, reactive continuous dog freak out.
    When we were loading the dogs into the car, the constant, high-pitched sound emanating from the simple dog finally broke the helper dog. The helper dog wailed in anguish, which alarmed the simple dog. In her surprise, the simple dog let out a yelp, which further upset the helper dog. And so it continued in a wretched positive-feedback loop of completely unnecessary noise.
  • Realistic Species, Cartoony Species: None of the pictures are drawn completely realistically, but the animals (usually dogs) have a tendency to be drawn with more complexity than the humans, who can look like they were drawn by a five-year-old.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Her coping mechanism for poor internet grammar involves inventing the "Alot," a strange creature that resembles "a cross between a bear, a yak, and a pug," with whom people declare their interactions. ("I like this alot.")
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: While she and Boyfriend are watching a horror film, Allie hears a sound which resembles metal grinding against metal. Initially, she's relieved when she finds it's only a honking goose, but then she remembers how aggressive geese are. Things go downhill from there.
  • Slain in Their Sleep: In "Six Fake Advertisements Based on Real Products", an ad for Yay Clusters appeals to the reader's fear of being killed in their sleep by a monster (because somehow eating the right cereal will protect you.)
  • Spiders Are Scary: Allie is terrified of spiders and wrote an entire post on this fear being okay.
  • Stalker without a Crush: Three-year-old Allie becomes obsessed with her adult neighbor, Richard, because he's the first human she's seen that doesn't live in her house. She spies on him and even steals his things (and leaves some of her own), but it's more a weird fascination than a relationship.
  • Stick-Figure Comic: Not exactly, but pretty close. Just look at the page image.
  • The Straight Man: Boyfriend, almost to the point of The Comically Serious. Well, at least when not on a sugar high...
  • Stylistic Suck: The artwork. She often draws the same illustration ten times just to get it to look the right kind of terrible. The effort shows — the poses, expressions and so on are often perfect in a way a genuinely bad artist could never produce on a regular basis.
  • Subbing for Santa: In "The Year the Easter Bunny Died", Allie bursts out of the house early in the morning to capture the Easter Bunny and she spots her mother putting out eggs while wearing rabbit ears. For some reason, she concluded her mother had killed the Easter Bunny and made a headband with his ears. Allie's mother tries to tell her she was just helping the Easter Bunny, who was sick today. However, Allie won't believe her.
  • Sugar Causes Hyperactivity: In "Menace", Allie swipes at her classmates and draws on the walls in a power high after getting a dinosaur costume for Halloween. Her teacher assumes it's due to the holiday candy consumption, leading Allie's parents to forbid her candy. Unfortunately, Allie then rebels by eating sugar anyway, perpetuating the misunderstanding.
  • Sweet Tooth: Allie as a child, big time. In "God of Cake" she recounts how she went to absurd lengths to get to a cake before it was supposed to be served, and then ate all of it.
    My need for sugar would become so massive, that it would collapse in upon itself and create a vacuum into which even more sugar would be drawn until all the world had been stripped of sweetness.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: In "How To Make Showering Awesome Again". The post is full of ridiculous shower products:
    • The "Shower Hammer", which works by bleeding the germs off.
    • "Hammerspice Deodorant: More extreme than skateboarding in front of a surfboard in front of a flaming mountain while shooting arrows out of your armpits at a shark!"
    • The vaguely defined "XTREME MUSCLE PRODUCT!!!!"
      "Thanks to Xtreme Muscle Product, I can explode a seagull with a single punch!"
  • Toilet Horror: After hearing a scary story, Allie thinks the monster is hiding in the school bathroom. From then on, she tries her hardest to avoid the room.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: In Allie's book, she identifies her favorite food as nachos, which comes up more than once in said book.
  • Unaffected by Spice: Subverted in the book. Allie admits that she first feigned a love of hot sauce to impress a family member and has been caught in the Snowball Lie for decades since, even receiving hot sauce for Christmas instead of toys.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: "The Milk Crisis of 2005" story has Allie trying to deal with an older man who is not happy with his drink. The restaurant only has two sizes of glasses; the big one is too much milk and the small one is too little milk, and he won't accept a big one filled up partway. She ends up trying to make a medium glass by cutting some of the top off of a styrofoam cup. It does not go over well.
    "NO!!!!! LESS MILK THAN THAT!!!"
  • Verbal Tic: Spaghatta Nadle, the main character of a series of nonsensical comics with the same name, replaces most vowel sounds with "A".
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Allie drew a picture of Simple Dog tossing her kibble in "Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving."
  • Word Salad: One of the Google search queries that led to her site was "i drew pictures of sharks instead im sorry for calling you small", which Allie claims to have kept her up all night searching for meaning.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Benny in "Wolves", which leaves him at a distinct disadvantage. He doesn't want to punch or kick a group of little girls (Allie and her friends) but they have no scruples about manhandling and biting him.
  • Writer's Block Montage: In one sequence. Unlike most writers' blocks, though, Allie's is obsessed with bears and outer space.