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‘Three Panel Soul': Existential crises are magical


Three Panel Soul was created by Matthew Boyd and Ian McConville, the same team behind the classic webcomic Mac Hall, which ended in 2006. It’s a natural transition, as Mac Hall was about a group of slackers getting through college, and Three Panel Soul is about the life after. The somewhat-autobiographical slice-of-life webcomic ruminates on careers in the software industry, families, and soul-crushing existential crises.

The structure follows the limits of its title: Every strip is three panels, no more, no less. Its artwork is dominated by shadows: Three Panel Soul is heavy on the inks (there are exceptions, and they’re typically spectacularly rendered and exclusive to video game gags). The use of negative space gives the webcomic a contemplative quality, reflective of the isolation of the soul. Characters sometimes seem tiny and insignificant when they’re drawn against the vast emptiness around them. It’s as if Boyd and McConville feel the suffocating grip of a life where you’re too old to change but too young to be completely obsolete.

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