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Webcomic / Mac Hall

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Mac Hall was created through a bet between the creator, Ian McConville, and a friend who claimed he "couldn't make a comic like Penny Arcade". After the 15th comic, McConville was joined by Matt Boyd who began to write the comic. It follows the exploits of a group of college students, Ian, Matt, JM, Micah, Helen, Drew, and to a lesser extent, Jon and Jason, who are typical slackers. The series primarily focused on the events that occurred between classes and after hours, and only rarely references actual class work. The comic takes its name from MacDonald Hall, a dormitory at Bowling Green (OH) State University. Later in the series, the cast moves into a house, where they reside until graduation, and the comic's conclusion.

Mac Hall concluded on September 22, 2006, with Ian explaining that creating the comic was no longer fun. He also mentioned that the comic would continue in a new phase in October 2006, and after some delay a new project began. Thus, Three Panel Soul was born.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Artefact Title: The name of the strip became outdated around the mid-point of the comics run, as the cast moved to off-campus housing, and thus didn't live in Mac Hall anymore. Exaggerated once the creators, and thus the cast, began to graduate and thus weren't even college students anymore. The comic ended very shortly after Ian's graduation in 2006.
  • Art Evolution:
    • The strip started out with thick outlines and went through many different styles (often for only a few comics) before gradually moving to its final style, which is reminiscent of Samurai Jack.
    • Drew was an especially notable case; late into the strips run, he suddenly stopped wearing glasses, his face got thinner, and he grew his hair out long. He essentially looks like a different person by this point.
  • Author Avatar: Ian and Matt
  • Calvin Ball: Australian Indoor-rules Quiddich. From the rules: "The winner shall be the one who wins."
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Chad, Ian's original roommate, who appears all of once, in the first comic, then disappears, never to be seen again. Eventually, Matt takes his place.
  • Con Recap: Began popping up once the comic got popular enough for the creators to begin attending conventions.
  • Cowboy Cop: McGillicutty, poster boy of said trope.
  • Cue O'Clock: It's Shirtless O'Clock.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A shorter list would be who isn't one.
  • Deus ex Machina: How Matt's unemployment issue is solved after he quits his office job. Lampshaded here.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Arguably justified. A three strip arc, which points out that while anti-piracy measures may be inconvenient, all the blather pirates throw around doesn't change the fact that they'll pirate from anyone, bad DRM or not. The strip was done in 2002, and still remains relevant.
  • Escalating War: A "whiteboard" war, which was ultimately and cruelly subverted after only two volleys.
  • Evil Twin: When JM briefly shaved off his goatee, Ian assumed JMs evil twin. When JM pointed out this should make him the good twin, Ian then theorized that JM's evil twin had left to conquer the universe.
    Drew: Have you been sniffing your art supplies?
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The titular MacDonald Hall dormitory, where the cast lived when the comic began.
  • Face Palm: Helen's reaction when her little sister is sent home early because she drew a picture of a duck wearing a bikini, which according to the teacher might give people "bad thoughts."
  • Faux Symbolism: In-Universe: At one point, Ian's art teacher asks him what the significance is of the runes he's added to one of his drawings. Ian tells her that the significance is that he thought it'd look cool if he added some runes to the drawing, much to the teacher's disgust.
  • Fictional Sport: Australian Indoor Rules Quidditch. About the only thing true about the name is that its played indoors.
  • Forgot to Pay the Bill: Ian neglects to pay the electric bill in lieu of buying some new video games. Oops. (Of course, in a later strip when the power goes out again, Ian is immediately blamed, even though that time it isn't his fault.)
  • Gamer Chick: Helen, after getting hooked on World Of Warcraft. Originally, she only tangentially fit this trope due to her love of Tetris, but no other games.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Drew, used to illustrate his "evil" nature in comparison to the other characters. In reality, he's just kind of an abrasive jerk Surrounded by Idiots.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Ian has a Good Conscience (an angelic Ian), and Cthulhu. Cthulhu, as can be expected, is less than helpful in matters of human morality
  • Head Pet: Ian has one in-universe, an unnamed cat that does not actually seem to be his if one strip is to be believed. Its based on a convention anecdote where someone placed a plush cat toy on Ian's head during a panel, and he didn't notice for hours.
  • Life Embellished: The comic was loosely based on the main characters college days, with added fantastic elements such as a chibified Cthulhu and an invasion of monkeys.
  • Logic Bomb: In one strip, Helen's sister asks her teacher how to spell a word; the teacher tells her to look it up in the dictionary. The poor girl is left crosseyed.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Prior to moving to off-campus housing, the guys dorm room was an affront to Man and God
    • One of the reasons JM talked Ian and Matt to move out with him was because he was sick of pretty much the entire dorm being like this.
  • Mushroom Samba: Matt goes through serious withdrawal at one point due to having to go cold turkey off his medication after an insurance screwup, and experiences very vivid hallucinations.
    Matt: Did the whole world just magnify and go "Whuuum"?
    JM: No.
    Matt: Then the next few days are going to be very unpleasant.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Helen's boyfriend in the early strips, Jason, who is a total nerd, and not the cool kind of geek, either.
    • Helen and Jason stop dating because Jason wanted to see other people; Ian, who was both impressed and resentful when he first encountered the couple, nearly went prompt critical because Jason was so stupid.
  • Only Sane Man: JM is by far the most well-adjusted member of the cast; he's the only person in the comic who's had normal romantic relationships while at college (aside from Helen and Micah), he works to help Matt overcome his various social problems and phobias, he's the one to encourage everyone to move out of the dorms to get away from the squalor, he's the one who does the house-hunting, and he's the one who enforces the chores at their new place.
  • Put on a Bus: Micah and Helen both basically vanish from the comic after they split up (though Micah does get a cameo in the Spiritual Successor Three Panel Soul)
  • Recap Episode: Various convention recapping, as well as other trips or delays in updates.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Drew, usually when enraged or about to do or say something "evil". Which is pretty much all of his appearances until the Art Evolution described above.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter An unnamed cat appeared on Ian's hat for a while. This was started after one convention, when someone placed a kitty plushie on Ian's head at his booth and Ian forgot it was there for three-and-a-half hours.
    • Chibi Chtulhu who appears in a few strips.
  • Road Trip Plot: A spontaneous road trip, at that. The guys spend the entire trip talking about buttsex, to wear out the subject before they get to the party they're crashing.
  • Running Gag: People apparently come to the Mac Hall Web site looking for Digimon porn. When the guys mentioned it, the relevant hits went up. Repeat.
  • Sadist Teacher: This being a college comic written from the point of view of the students, college professors tend to range between this and simple idiotic incompetence.
  • Satellite Character: Alan, first appearing in this strip. Despite frequent appearances early on, he barely gets any dialogue, and disappears entirerly after the main cast move out of the dorms.
  • Schmuck Bait: The above "Buttsex" storyline. Ian warned the guys not to talk about it, but never said anything about Helen, who promptly gets the meme right as they arrive.
  • Shout-Out: Micah re-enacts the music video for Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim, until he jumps off a balcony forgetting that he, unlike Christopher Walken, cannot fly.
  • The Slacker: Everyone in the strip has this by degrees, with Micah and Ian by far being the worst offenders. Micah succumbs to malnutrition at one point due to being too lazy to leave his computer for food, and Ian once forgot Thanksgiving, and attempted to subsist on Tic-Tacs so he wouldn't have to get up and eat.
  • Slasher Smile: Look at Ian in this strip. Now look at the dummy. Scary as hell.
  • Spiritual Successor: Three Panel Soul
  • Sunglasses at Night: Ian wears them. Justified; they're prescription sunglasses and Ian has to wear them everywhere. Yes, even in real life.
    • Joked about in one strip when he accidentally walks into the girls' bathroom because his sunglasses makes it hard for him to read the signs in the dim dorm hallways.
  • Teeny Weenie: Micah, at least according to his ex-girlfriend's blog. (Helen says she thinks it's cute. This is of no comfort to him)
  • That Came Out Wrong: "Yeah, so after I took two in the ass, I realized this wasn't for me, but by then it was too late to pull out..."
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Jon, a student who dropped out of college during freshman year, yet still hung around Mac Hall, mostly to mooch off their broadband and video games. He even came along when the rest of the cast moved to off-campus housing!
    Jon: My dial-up sucks and there's no one to play video games with, so I thought I'd drop by!
    Ian: Don't you live in Chicago?!
    Jon: I mean, my dial-up really, REALLY sucks!
  • Too Dumb to Live: A brief series had Ian trying to subsist on nothing but Tic-Tacs. The doctors say he has every single nutritional defect, including a few which hadn't been discovered yet, which they end up classifying as a new medical condition called DOGEnote .
    • Micah at one point jumps off a three-story balcony because he's in the middle of dancing to "Weapon Of Choice" by Fatboy Slim and forgets that he can't fly.
  • Two Gamers on a Couch: Played straight mostly in the early strips.
  • Unsound Effect: VOIP and VERY ADVANCED VOIP
  • The 'Verse: Mac Hall is part of a pseudo-canonical "Macverse" with Megatokyo and Applegeeks. It's also directly followed by Three Panel Soul.
  • Wildlife Commentary Spoof: "You English majors can all blow me!"
  • With Friends Like These...: Ians pre-college crew, Brocky, Anthony and Matt (not that one). While Anthony appears several times, neither Brocky nor Not-Mac-Hall-Matt appear again outside this strip.