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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 and Matt, for example, 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 (Ky.) 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.

Tropes used in Mac Hall include:
  • 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.
  • Author Avatar: Ian and Matt
  • Calvin Ball: Australian Indoor-rules Quiddich. From the rules: "The winner shall be the one who wins."
  • The Chick: Helen, who later becomes a Gamer Chick.
  • Con Recap
  • Cowboy Cop: McGillicutty, poster boy of said trope.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A shorter list would be who isn't one.
  • 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.
    • "Inconvenient"? They sic a deathbot on Ian because he played a borrowed CD. The strip doesn't seem to be as anti-piracy as that summary makes it sound... rather, it points out the problem of digital distribution and peer-to-peer, while also pointing out that the industry and government seem to be willing to cross the Moral Event Horizon in punishing pirates and legitimate consumers alike.
  • Escalating War: A "whiteboard" war, which was ultimately and cruelly subverted after only two volleys.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The titular MacDonald Hall dormitory, where most of the comic was set
  • Face Palm: Helen's reaction when her little sister is sent home early because she drew a picture of a duck wearing pants, which according to the teacher might cause trouble.
  • 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, later.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Drew.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Ian has a Good Conscience (an angelic Ian), and Cthulhu.
  • Head Pet: Ian has one in-universe (see Real Life Writes the Plot)
  • Life Embellished
  • 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.
  • 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; Micah, who went rage-mode when he first encountered the couple, nearly went prompt critical because Jason was so stupid.
  • Only Sane Man: JM
  • Recap Episode: Various convention recapping, as well as other trips or delays in updates.
  • 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.
  • Road Trip: A spontaneous road trip, at that.
  • 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.
  • Schmuck Bait: The above "Buttsex" storyline. Ian warned the guys not to talk about...
  • The Slacker: Everyone in the strip has this by degrees, some more so than others.
  • Slasher Smile: Look at Ian in this strip. Now look at the dummy.
  • 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.
  • Teeny Weenie: Micah, at least according to his ex-girlfriend's blog. (Helen says she thinks it's cute.)
  • 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 DOGE[1].
  • Unsound Effect: VOIP and VERY ADVANCED VOIP
  • The Verse: Mac Hall is part of a pseudo-canonical "Macverse" with Megatokyo and Apple Geeks.
  • Wildlife Commentary Spoof: "You English majors can all blow me!"

Notes

  1. Deficiency of Goddamn Everything
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