I Shouldn’t Laugh: The Parking Lot Is Full, 1993-2002

The web comic The Parking Lot Is Full debuted on October 29, 1993, and its last comic was published on May 5, 2002, twenty years ago.  For early users of the World Wide Web, PLIF was a rite of passage with it’s “It’s funny, but I shouldn’t be laughing” style of dark and disturbing humour.

PLIF’s creators Jack McLaren and writer Pat Spacek started like most web comic writers and artists, at a university newspaper.  Their grayscale single panel comics suited the WWW and quickly became a staple of many Gen-Xers and early internet adopters.  It was sad to see the comic come to an end, but it was a fun and wild ride while it lasted.  The original PLIF website has long gone, but a fan-run archives preserved most of the comics and can still be viewed.

From TV Tropes .com:

Webcomic / The Parking Lot Is Full

From 1993-2002, The Parking Lot is Full was the comic strip love child of artist Jack McLaren and writer Pat Spacek. Starting as crude little strips published in their university newspaper, the comic quickly took on a life of its own, eventually becoming one of the most popular and infamous comic strips on the internet. After nine years of ups and downs, the creators decided that they’d said everything they wanted to say, so the comic was wrapped up and all the toys put away.

This joke-a-day webcomic show a very dark sense of humor and is very macabre. It still remains one of the best old-school webcomics ever made and is definitely worth a try.

The original domain name has expired, but you can find the full archive on the memorial website. Some comics have been removed, for various reasons, from the archive. Most of these missing comics can be found on this blog.

From Comicmix:

Webcomics You Should Have Read: ‘The Parking Lot Is Full’

What made ‘PLIF’ (get used to this folks, cause “The Parking Lot Is Full” takes a while to type) so enjoyable was it’s fascinating combination of Gary Larsen-esque illustrations combined with sharp writing and a touch of the macabre. Unlike several previous recommendations here on ComicMix, ‘PLIF’ had no continuity really to follow. Yes, there are a few reoccurring sock puppets in the later half of the series, but there’s no backstory to follow (well, anymore…). And to be honest, the really juicy strips are true non-sequiturs.

I’ll be frank, folks, this strip features some of the most laugh-out-loud-but-frankly-I-shouldn’t-be-laughing strips I’ve had the pleasure to read for free on the ‘inter-webs’. There’s no need for lengthy exposition on the progression of the art; It’s crude, in gray tones, and unpolished as my car in February. There’s no need to wax poetic about the subject matter; Generally ‘PLIF’ stuck to a cycle of topics including childhood, sex, religion, and conspiracy theories (sometimes in the same strip!). Simply put, if the ‘Far-Side’ was rolled through a plate of broken glass, you’d have “PLIF”. Suffice to say the content can disturb as much as it can inspire fits of laughter… and that’s what I appreciate about it. 

I wholeheartedly (or blackheartedly) agree with that description.

Below the fold are a few select favourites.  If you don’t know PLIF, be prepared to be disturbed. ^o^

My all time favourite, and potential theme for FtB.  Note how the sky’s shading changes, and their backs.  This is typical of both their “in your face” comedy with subtlety in the same frame.




  1. jenorafeuer says

    Oh, yes, I remember The Parking Lot Is Full quite well.

    Over two decades later, the one I always remember has a picture of a young teenager walking down a grungy-looking street with something attached to his head and whistling past blank outlines of a fight going on and someone leaning against a lamppost. The caption:

    Not satisfied with protecting children from bad media influences, parents install chips in their kids’ heads which block out violence and sex in real life. Cut off from much of human experience, an entire generation grows up to be moral infants.
    You cannot imagine what kind of creatures their children will be.