|Author(s)||Ian McConville and Matt Boyd|
|Current status / schedule||Completed|
|Launch date||November 7, 2000|
|End date||September 22, 2006|
|Genre(s)||Real Life / Gaming|
|Followed by||Three Panel Soul|
Mac Hall (debut: November 7, 2000) is a webcomic which 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 fifteenth comic, McConville was joined by Matt Boyd who began to write the comic.
Mac Hall follows the exploits of a group of college students 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 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 McConville 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. In early March 2007, Boyd linked to the pair's new webcomic, Three Panel Soul, which had been updating unannounced since November 5, 2006. A note posted on February 5 welcomed visitors who managed to find the site on their own, but called it "(not) quite public yet."
The series is done in a style reminiscent of manga. A favored technique of McConville is to draw the line art on paper and color the characters in Adobe Photoshop after scanning. Characters are often highly detailed while backgrounds, painted directly in Photoshop, are often blurry. The series has gone through a handful of changes in its style, however—early episodes had a style to it that did not look similar to manga, but more like western comic strips; backgrounds were also more concrete. Over time, this changed to the manga-like style that has become the norm of the series, as well as the digitally painted backgrounds. The super deformed effect that has its origins in manga also became a regular part of the style. The characters in the series lost their black outlines over time, and were later drawn entirely without them.
Three Panel Soul
In Boyd's final Mac Hall newspost, the end period has a link to a 3 panel comic strip, showing an older representation of Boyd's comic strip persona, contemplating a lasting relationship. On December 27, Jes posted a link to Three Panel Soul in the Snafu Comics message board.
As of March 16, 2007, the front page of machall.com showed a split screen with the left side linking to the Mac Hall archives and the right side linking to Three Panel Soul. However, according to a post by McConville on March 29, 2007, Mac Hall was hacked. The site was down with a short notice posted, stating that Machall was being moved to a new server (the same one as Three Panel Soul). As of June 20, 2007, the Mac Hall archive was re-uploaded to the site's new host.
Other appearances of characters
A spin-off series called Mac Hall: Inside Mac Games was made in 2001 for the website InsideMacGames. This series involved the same characters, but focused on their interest in video games for the Apple Macintosh. The series ran bi-monthly from October 2001 to July 2002. The real-life counterpart to the character Anthony eventually assumed writing these comics.
The series has often had crossover episodes with other online comics, in particular Megatokyo. McConville has drawn a number of guest episodes for Megatokyo, and characters from both series make occasional cameos in each other's comics. Most notably, it was one of McConville and Boyd's guest strips for Megatokyo that gave Piro (Fred Gallagher) his reputation as a self-degrading artist whose "happy place" involved "sad girls in snow."
Several of the characters from Mac Hall were used in the War of the Webcomics expansion of the Internet-based trading card game, Cardmaster Conflict. The game is run by Mark Shallow, creator of such web comics as Antihero for Hire and Adventurers!.
- Ian McConville – The main character of the series, Ian is based on the artist of the web comic. His trademark look is red ponytailed hair with a backwards baseball cap and his prescription sunglasses. Sometimes a cat can be seen resting on his cap, and the cat often seems to convey Ian's expressions, a motif also used by Fred Gallagher. He is the most innocent-seeming and upbeat of the characters, though often the most incomprehensible as well. He is prone to rather odd behavior when bored or procrastinating. Though not nearly as obsessive a gamer as Micah (see below), he plays computer and video games fairly often. He's known to be terrible at cooking. In May 2006, he graduated from college, moved to San Francisco, and joined the Three Rings Design crew (reflecting similar steps taken by the artist around the same time).
- Matt Boyd – A character based on the comic's writer, Matt is an aspiring journalist. Slender of build, with medium-length black hair and a goatee, he often wears a shirt with the Bungie Studios logo on it. He seems sometimes more easily perturbed than the other characters, and occasionally less confident, but has a high regard for education, current events, and journalistic integrity. He seems frustrated fairly often by what he perceives as scientific illiteracy among the general populace. He was known to be taking, and may still be taking, antidepressants.
- JM – JM has black hair and a goatee somewhat similar to Matt's, but is rather stockier and heavier of build. He wears a shirt with a Superman-like logo on it that has an "SP" instead of an "S" on it, which stands for "SuperPimp". He is the least irascible of the characters, an unflappable young man who seems unsurprised by the less pleasant sides of the world in which he lives, maintaining a gentle stoicism and sense of humor about it. He was responsible for convincing the other characters to move into the house in which the series concludes.
- Drew – Drew is a cynical computer science major who is "permanently" angry. He is thin, has glowing red eyes (starting at comic 80), with brown hair that has changed styles several times over the course of the strip, but always has a goatee and glasses. He is dismissive of intellectual arrogance, though he does not always respond to those he considers less bright than himself with good humor. He enjoys pulling pranks on other people.
- Micah Chang – Micah is a usually-cheerful young man who is given to impulsivity at times, such as jumping off a second-story balcony while imitating the famous music video for Fatboy Slim's song "Weapon of Choice". He is the most obsessive gamer of the group. He has longish black hair, is at least half-Chinese, and usually is portrayed as wearing a mostly-black, Asian-style coat with two white bars on the collar and voluminous sleeves. He started out as a compulsive EverQuest player, in which he plays a gnome, but switched to World of Warcraft later on in the strip. His courtship (in a fairly loose sense of the word) and relationship with Helen Richter was one of the strip's themes for some time, though she has since broken up with him.
- Helen Richter – Helen is a former architecture student, generally cheerful but with a tendency to be quite sarcastic when annoyed, and is the only major female character of the series. She has long brown hair, a slender build, and is known to be quite physically attractive; she often wears a pink-and-white T-shirt with a deranged-looking smiley face on it. She dated Micah for some time, but eventually broke up with him. However, while they were together, Micah convinced her to begin playing EverQuest with him, though at Ian's suggestion she switched to World of Warcraft, and she is now a regular player of that.
Much of the costume/visual iconography of the characters was based on their real-life counterparts and/or their suggestions.
- Alan – An aggressive rival of Drew (though not always antagonistic to him), Alan is often the victim of Drew's pranks. He tends to hang out with either Jon or Drew.
- Jon – A college failure (he was kicked out for poor grades) who still hangs around the dorm. He sticks around the campus to play video games and use the college's high-speed Internet access.
- Mike – A friend of Helen who works at the college's sound studio. Popular with the ladies, but only when he isn't trying. He hasn't appeared in the strip for several years.
- Helen's mother – An attractive older woman who seems to take life as it comes, who usually appears with Helen's sister in portrayals of Helen's home life.
- Helen's sister – A bright-eyed little girl with a shock of wild red hair. She is in grade school, and does not always seem to enjoy the best or most forward-thinking teaching by her instructors, which has formed the basis of a few strips.
- Jason – Helen's ex-boyfriend, who resembled a classic nerd stereotype, thin and weak-looking with thick glasses and a pocket protector. He broke up with her because he thought they should see other people, which made no sense to the other people at the campus.
- Anthony – A somewhat violent friend of Ian's from back home and a self-described "car-ninja".
- Cthulhu – An H. P. Lovecraft character who pops up in the story now and then.
- Ren – Ian's character in the Morrowind video game. She is a moogle who sometimes appears wearing armor and carrying a sword.
- Prof. Dave Theison – Better known as the 'Hawaiian-shirt professor' who teaches one of Drew's classes. He hired Drew as his assistant because they share the same cynical outlook on life. He was based on the University of Maryland professor of the same name who died in 2003.
- Jes McConville – Also known as "That chick with Mac Hall", is the real life wife of artist Ian. She appears in many convention reports and escapades, especially in Three Panel Soul. Jes is also the business manager and convention coordinator for the comic and a more reliable member of the team to reply to emails. Ian has recently proposed to Jes. This comic shows a joke used in previous comics to show it, and a rant later posted by Ian shows that he used a videogame he created to pop the question. Ian then asked Matt Boyd to be his best man. More Screen shots of the game here and here. They were married on December 20, 2008.
- Ice Nine – Based on Ian's friend and former roommate Seth Geib. Ice Nine (Seth's online gaming name) appears in only a couple strips, the occasional photo, and a strip named after his character. Known only for having one line in which he says "Damn you McConville!" (comic 114)
A notable in-joke with Mac Hall revolves around an attention grabbing gag involving Digimon. Early on, Boyd and McConville noted that the top three search engine terms that led people to Mac Hall all had to do with Digimon-related pornography. So the joke was made that in order to boost traffic they would pander to the tastes of those people. As a result, a large number of websites of that persuasion linked to the comic, much to the chagrin and amusement of the authors. This particular gag sticks out, most likely because of its sexual content. However, it does not accurately reflect any of the comic's material.
As an April Fools prank in 2002, MacHall changed their frontpage to what initially appeared to be a Digimon Erotica page.
Mac Hall has released one book, Mac Hall Volume:1, which covers the first 19 months of comics published by Mac Hall.
- Mac Hall: Volume Whatever (vol. 1); August 25, 2004 ISBN 0-9746966-3-3
- List of webcomics
- List of comic strips
- Marathon RED, a computer game mod produced by the comic's author
- McConville, Ian. "Hitch Hiker's Guide to MH". Machall.com. 2001-11-29.
- "My Apologies To Drew". Mac Hall. December 4, 2000. Retrieved 2006-11-07.
- "Childish Things". Mac Hall. September 22, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-22.
- Three Panel Soul :: Archive
- Three Panel Soul :: News Archive
- "Testcomic". Mac Hall. December 1, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-01.
- "Fan Service My Ass". Mac Hall. August 23, 2001. Retrieved 2006-07-29.