DARKNESS, BY JERIAH:
LIFE IS EMPTY
I'M A LEFTY
HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST?
ONE TIME I ATE A ROCK.
- Jeriah in 9/4/02's comic
Men in Hats is clever, abrupt, seemingly random, and one of the funniest online comics ever. Drawn and written by Aaron Farber (who previously did Pentasmal), it generally has no continuous stroy line and instead forms very unique jokes on strip to strip basis. The characters have a couple of specific traits each, and they follow them pretty consistently:
Aram (black suit and top hat) - Happily sadistic, Aram finds self-gratification in other's suffering. Most strips have him threating or attempting to take the lives of others.
"The knowledge that you exist is a burden on my soul."
"I'm bored. Jump around with this scorpion on your face."
"I don't even care anymore. Here, catch this match with your face."
Samuel (red striped suit) - Being the only religious character, Samuel believes himself to be superior to the others. Most jokes involving him focus on his absurd evangelism and how much God hates him for it. Unreserved cracks on Christianity abound.
"Sometimes I wonder what the point of it all is. ... And then I remember. AGRESSIVE EVANGELISM"
(after being struck by lightning for the third time this week) "Test of faith, thank you very much!"
(after being told the Hand of God is giving him the finger) "Yeah, it does that."
Beriah (bellboy outfit) - Described as mildly retarded, Beriah fills out jokes by saying generally random and incoherent things. Also, sometimes engages in discussions on theology and the meaning of life with himself.
"Well, I was walking on that plateau, minding my own business, when suddenly I tripped on a rock and fell off the side. As I was tumbling down, something lodged itself into my skull ... AND IT TURNED OUT TO BE A QUARTER!!"
Jeriah (clown outfit) - A depressed, angst ridden clown, Jeriah enjoys writing poetry and eating sandwiches. Quite possibly a goth.
"I cry while the world laughs."
(after being asked how it's going) "Not too good - still alive."
Mayor Jeb (straw hat, overalls, and a "Mayor" sash) - An illiterate drunkard, Mayor Jeb plays a very minor role in the comic. Most of his dialog is less coherent than that of Beriah.
(after being asked his name) "'Course, you can just call me Machina. Deus Ex Machina." (...) "Well I wanted you to call me Jesus, but apparently you wouldn't do that either."
Gamal (brown bowler and oversized red tie) - The only well-adjusted character, Gamal is often described as boring. He is usually seen with Aram and tends to provide visual cues for the punch line (e.g., raised eyebrows or a furrowed brow). Also a pacifist and an insurance salesman.
(after being told he was a little melodramatic) "I prefer to think of it as Reality+"
(Aram tells him tommorow is the first day of the rest of his life, but today you dance for my amusement) "Man, tomorrow's gonna be sweet."
Ramath (gray clothes and cook hat with a grayer apron) - Appearing less often than Mayor Jeb (a total of once), Ramath seems to own a food stand, and he runs it with as much of a no nonsense attitude as you can have running a food stand in a barren desert.
"Last time you tried to steal a sandwich, so I had to break your legs."
As an added bonus, the art has improved greatly since Pentasmal. The strips are more colorful and have full backgrounds, and the characters' facial expressions and body language are clear and easy to read, adding much to the delivery of the punch lines.
Men in Hats can currently be found at the Keenspot hosted http://www.meninhats.com. There was an extended hiatus from December 23, 2002 to August 11, 2003, but the comic is running steadily again.