Poll: Is Hyperbole and A Half a webcomic?

I’m still on break, though right now I’m in the more “trying to catch up with reviews” phase than the “kicking back and soaking in the rays” phase. So, I thought I’d hit y’all up with a miniature interactive update. A while ago, a co-worker and I got to talking about webcomics. (Webcomic discussion in a non-internet setting? Inconceivable!) Anyway, among his recommendations was the extremely popular Hyperbole and A Half. The minute I clicked on the site, I knew I’d seen it before … but I hadn’t considered it a webcomic. It doesn’t look like one in a traditional sense. Which begs the question: is my rigid definition of what is and what isn’t a webcomic wrong and out-of-date?


Posted on April 18, 2011, in The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Poll, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. HA! I’d forgotten about Hyperbole and A Half. Thanks for sending me back to it. It’s a cartoon on the web, it’s sequential storytelling with images and text. It’s a webcomic. Sorry.

    Would it be better with refined artwork? Nah. The childlike visuals contrasts with the adult text about the pictures. It is what it is, very, very enjoyable.

    Rod Salm

  2. I consider it to be a blog… I’d only classify it as a comic in the sense that it is actually “comic” and has pictures, but they aren’t able to tell a story without the supporting text. Comic or not, it’s pretty great :B

    • I think if this medium had a name it would be an “illustrated blog”. You’re right, the necessity of the writing to understanding the pictures is important to what it is. You could take the pictures away and still get it, but you can’t go without the words.

      I think the whole question here is silly.

    • In my opinion, “disposable pictures, indisposable words” isn’t how you determine whether something’s a comic or not. I mean, strictly speaking, the only formal difference between Hyperbole and a Half and one of the more text-heavy installments of Dresden Codak is that in the latter, the words are embedded in the jpeg. Does the relative quality of DC’s art mean that it’s somehow “indispensible” to the comic, while H.5’s scribbles “rely” on the text?

      I dunno. I only know that I like to quibble over definitions of things, particularly when such definitions don’t really matter in the grander scheme. I’m kind of silly that way.

  3. I’m minded to call it a blog as well. A very good comedy blog at that.

    There is quite a fierce debate over what constitutes a webcomic…Surviving the World anybody?

  4. No, but just barely.

    Very funny site though.

  5. I’d say it counts. It’s still a bunch of sequential images strung together to tell a story, be it text heavy or not. Plus, if it were JUST a blog, it wouldn’t be as good.

    In fact, it used to be not as good! It USED to be a straight-up blog, and while it was still pretty funny, it didn’t send me into such severe fits of laughter.

  6. Woah I just split the vote. But yeah, not a comic to me.

  7. Her twitter feed is great too. The other day she posted a photo of the two dogs.
    Guess what! They look EXACTLY like the drawings of them. Crazed expressions and everything. It’s uncanny how much like the cartoons they are.

    Whatever Allie Brosh is doing, it’s the 21st century version of what James Thurber did. His stories are nowhere NEAR as funny without his scribbly cartoon dogs and people, either. I’m not sure it’s “webcomic” exactly but it sure is part of the genre “sequential art.” (I voted for #3)

  8. It’s a webcomic. Darryl Ayo has spoken.

  9. It is a blog with comics on it! A lot of the content is comics, but a lot of the content is not comics. It’s okay for something to have comics without being a webcomic! You can have a blog and say “Hey, people, today there is a comic!” and then “Hey, people, today there is a story with some illustrations!”

    So I think calling it a webcomic is limiting the definition of what it is because it is a more eclectic creative outlet as far as I am concerned. Can webcomics encompass what it is? Maybe, but I think there is probably a better term that expresses the freedom and fluidity of this type of pictorial blogging.

  10. Things can be more than one thing.

  11. I voted for new art form. I didn’t want to call it a de facto webcomic, but I didn’t want to call it a picture book (so cruel, El Santo! haha)…
    But then, I think back to some of the old-time comics, and some of them were more like “picture books”…yet we still call them (proto) comics.
    AND YET, I personally believe the art form has since evolved and to really be considered a comic, the text has to be within the comic and not ancillary to it. Like The Oatmeal, which is similar in style to Hyperbole: text heavy as well, but he integrates his text into the comic itself, so it gets to be called a webcomic.
    Eh, I guess I am of two minds about this thing. I’m a huge HAAH fan regardless!

  12. I think this is a silly question. I took a drawing class once that I found annoying. I like drawing, and painting, and many other things, but am not a fan of sculpture or most three dimensional art forms, I like seeing them but not making them. Anyway, in this art class our teacher had us start out drawing, as expected, but once we had done a little of that he wanted us to “explore the definition of ‘drawing'”. Before we knew it he was having us making paper sculptures and painting on three dimensional objects.

    What he didn’t get that most artists should understand, is that there’s nothing clever or groundbreaking by exploring the in-betweens and halfway mediums between different types of art. It’s like exploring the colors in between green and blue. Green is already in-between blue and yellow on the color wheel, so just because we don’t have a name for a particular pigment between blue-green-green and blue-green-blue, there’s no reason to ask “is it really blue? Or is it only green??” Forget this sort of speculation, it’s all nonsense.

    In the same way comics are a combination of mediums, writing and drawing, used to create something altogether new, a medium we know as “comics”. A blog is format for writing. Hyperbole and a Half is simply a blog with comic panels thrown in to help illustrate a story. This is done in children’s books all the time, so why is this new? Because it’s done with a blog?

    So this isn’t anything to speculate over. It’s not a webcomic, no, though it does contain pictures. It’s an ‘illustrated blog’ if you want to give it a name, but being a ‘new art form’ is not what makes it so popular and funny. It’s not a new medium, it’s just a mix of them.

  13. i reject labels, and i’ve always considered myself a “label rejector.”

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