Title text: And the journal is filled with all the things I'd say to her if I were nice like you. I burn it when it's full.
Black Hat isn't the type of person to keep a journal, so Cueball is understandably surprised when he sees Black Hat's journal. Black Hat lives up to his reputation though, as it turns out that the journal is just part of a plot to hurt innocent, preferably shy, girls.
He explains his scheme to Cueball, about how he sit in a train and writes in the journal while sitting across from such a girl. His intention is to make makes eye contact with her, only to look bashfully down. This is construed to make her believe that he is an emotional guy, that is embarrassed, both about writing the journal, but also because she has caught him staring. He also tries to let her believe that he may be interested in her. He is just waiting for her to start smiling, and then he gets to the point of it all. By rolling his eyes at her while giving her a quick glare only to resume writing he attempts to make her feel alienated. Black Hat assumes that this felling will stay with the poor girl for the rest of they day. The only thing Black Hat gets out of this is the knowledge of having ruined the girls day. As he says It's great!
Cueball thinks Black Hat is sickening. And exclaims that: This is why they can't have nice people. This is probably a reference to the meme This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things. Because of Black Hat, Cueball think that he cannot invite any nice people home to their place. Thus indicating that they somehow live together (a possibility which is reinforced in 542: Cover-Up).
Black Hat excuses himself for doing this because it is so easy. He mixes two different concepts together while doing so. Shooting fish in a barrel is an idiom, describing an effortless or simple action, with guaranteed success. So that is easy pleasure. The adding of lonely angsty makes the fish sound more like teenagers. The girls Black Hat targets are probably best described as lonely angsty teenagers which may be a way to describe several young people. And they are the easy targets, i.e. the fish in the barrel, for him to shoot. And this is just so easy and so fun that he cannot help himself.
The title text implies that Black Hat actually does write in the journal, filling it with the kind of things a nice guy like Cueball might wish to say to a shy girl. But that is only so he can burn it when it is full, thus again cementing the fact that he is a complete sociopath.
It is clear from the comic that he has already done this several time with great success, but where this comic might be interesting in it self, it was actually only the setup for introducing Danish, whom we meet for the first time in the second installment of the Journal series, of which this comic was just the first. Danish turns out to be a match for Black Hat in every way of the word. If you want to see how Black Hat's scheme worked on Danish, check out 377: Journal 2, released the following week after this one.
The whole "Journal" story are:
- [Cueball picks up book from a table, as Black Hat turns his head towards Cueball while sitting at his desk with his computer.]
- Cueball: Since when do you keep a journal?
- Black Hat: Oh, I pretend to write in it on the train, and wait for a shy-looking girl to sit across from me.
- [Scene change to inside a train wagon with two poles and two rows of seats facing each other across the central pathway. Black Hat writing in his journal is sitting to the right across from Megan to the left who sits with her arm on her handbag standing on the seat next to her. The windows of the train are completely black. The door to the next wagon can be seen at the back of the wagon. Black Hat is telling the story from the previous frame, so the text is written above the two characters but does not belong to the Black Hat in the panel.]
- Black Hat (narrating): I glance up and wait for her to make eye contact, then look down bashfully and, if I can, blush.
- [Scene back to original room with Cueball looking down while holding the journal down, and Black Hat has turned around in his chair to face towards Cueball. Black Hat leans back on the chair with both arms behind him.]
- Black Hat: Then, when I see her start to smile at me, I roll my eyes and hit her with a quick glare, then resume writing.
- Black Hat: The alienation stays with her all day. It's great.
- [Cueball looks at Black Hat who has turned back starting to type on his computer.]
- Cueball: You're sickening. This is why we can't have nice people.
- Black Hat: I can't help it. It's like shooting lonely, angsty fish in a barrel.
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