HijiNKS ENSUE Is 8 Years Old, And It Is Ending

Eight years ago today, I posted the very first HijiNKS ENSUE comic on this website. Roughly (if not exactly) one year from today the comic, as it currently exists, will come to an end.

Short Version:
When I rebooted HE in 2012, I had ideas I wanted to get out and stories I wanted to tell. Once those ideas and stories are out in the world, I am going to put the comic to rest (or at least on an indefinite hiatus). Staring today HijiNKS ENSUE will update once a week is, on Mondays, and it will end in about a year is on hiatus while I work on how and when to end it properly. I will be launching a new comic that will run 4 days a week on June 1, 2015.

Long Version:
When I started HijiNKS ENSUE in 2007, it was just a pop culture commentary strip
. I put myself and my friends into it and tried anchor the gags around this core cast of characters. That turned out to be mostly a mistake for the kind of humor I wanted to do. The writing I did back then wasn’t about characters. It was about jokes and ideas. Trying to shoehorn every joke into coming out of these 3 characters’ mouths turned out to be very limiting on my writing. That’s when I started just doing strips “out of universe.” If the joke was about a movie, I would just draw the characters from the movie. Then, when that strip was done, I’d bring the characters back. Sometimes, I wouldn’t do either of those things and I would just do a geeky pinup/mash-up. This actually wasn’t a HUGE problem until I started experimenting with story lines.

The non sequitur humor and the on-going story lines both using the same characters eventually seemed very schizophrenic to me, and probably to you. I was taking far too many liberties with what exactly HE was, and the audience got confused and shrank accordingly over time. So I decided to give up the gags and tell a story about my life, my family, parenting, etc. I wrote an outline for the basic story lines I wanted to address in the first year of the rebooted comic, finished about three of them, then sort of accidentally went back to writing gags using my characters (only now the characters were myself, my daughter and my wife). The difference is this time the gags weren’t about specific episodes of TV, instead they were about things going on in my actual life. The strip almost accidentally became a hyperbolic auto-bio comic without me noticing.

Six months went by and, while I was happy with the strips I was making, I wasn’t actually telling the story I set out to tell. Around this time, I realized that I didn’t actually want to chronicle my life, or my daughter’s life, in comic form. That sounded like a chore; an obligation. I felt pressured to touch on every major event in our lives through the comic, and that was never my intention. I wanted to tell the story of a guy (me) leaving a corporate high paying job, and pursuing cartooning full time in order to set a good example for his kid. I started off telling that story, but sort of lost the thread after a while.

Recently I sat down and wrote out all the remaining storylines I had originally wanted to tell, plus the one-off ideas that I never got around to and made a game plan for ending HijiNKS ENSUE. By my count it will take me about 50 strips. I’d like to end HE right on its 9th birthday, so that means I will being taking HE to a once a week update schedule (Mondays) until it is finished. When the story is all done, if there is interest, I will make a book of the rebooted HE comics. I will likely call it “HijiNKS ENSUE: The Experiment.” If there is further interest, and if it seems financially feasible, I would like to put out an omnibus of all of the HijiNKS ENSUE: Classic comics (a 2 book set, perhaps) as well.

About the new comic:
The new comic will not be called HijiNKS ENSUE. It will have a different name and live at a different URL. If you enjoy the humor of the current or former version of HijiNKS ENSUE, you are in luck! I have no plans to change my sense of humor or the way I look at things and try to figure out how to make them funny. If you liked the pop culture strips or the recent FANEURYSM strips, ALSO GOOD NEWS! I plan on doing pop culture comics as they strike me (though in a more general way so that my comics do not come with a prerequisite reading/watching list). If you dig my current comics about parenting, job stuff, coffee and cats, ALSO ALSO VERY GOOD NEWS! I plan to keep these threads going (in fact, I’ve already written about 20-30 strips on these subjects), just not with the same characters over and over. It hit me when drawing Joel and Josh and the coffee shop they were sitting in during the last story line started to feel like a chore. I realized that I want to draw different people and different things. I want to draw robots and aliens and weird looking old men, and giraffes and whatever the hell else strikes my fancy on a given day.

I want to stretch artistically, but I also want to be able to put out lots of comics every week. That means I need to A) be excited about what I’m actually drawing and B) not be drawing so much. The style (which I am working on refining right now) will be simpler, but not lazy. It will be more cartoony, less detailed, and probably more fun to look at. (My Patreon Patrons got a sneak peek of the new style HERE and HERE) I hope to launch the new comic with 10-20 finished strips uploaded to the site, ready to go. I’m hoping the decreased time it takes to draw them will allow me to update 4-5 times a week and actually create a buffer. Fingers crossed.

What about my Patreon?
Once the new comic is going strong and HijinKS ENSUE is working steadily towards its end date, I will revamp my Patreon Goals and Rewards to reflect my new project. I’m playing with a lot of ideas, but right now I’m thinking of settings goals for: Adding alt-text to all HE comics from 2007-2010, republishing those comics online in a bigger format, starting a new podcast, doing more live drawing sessions, creating/recording some music, performing some music live for patrons, and lots more. I still plan on putting out eBooks of convention sketches, and doing more Patron Only Hangouts. I’ll be posting more pre-release stuff for my new project for my Patrons as often as possible before the new comic launches.

What about “HijiNKS ENSUE”?
I’ve considered using HE as my personal umbrella for all projects I work on in the future, but I do not plan to call another comic by that name. It’s already been the name of two different webcomics and a podcast. Perhaps in the future “HijiNKS ENSUE” will just mean “a project by Joel Watson;” sort of a production company monicker. “HijiNKS ENSUE presents A NEW PODCAST or SOME OTHER COMIC or A LINE OF PERSONALLY TAILORED LAVENDER RAINCOATS.” Who knows? I might just slowly divorce myself from the name and let it come to represent the things I made during the first decade(ish) of my career as a guy who makes things and puts them on the internet.  Luckily, this is not a decision I have to make now, or even soon.

The bottom line is I feel the need to do something different. I feel it in my dumb guts. I’ve was thinking about how long I’ve been making this comic (in its various incarnations) and I couldn’t foresee a possible future where I just kept plugging away at it for another decade. I believe creative projects need to start with goals in mind and conclude when those goals are completed. HijiNKS ENSUE has allowed me to accomplish nearly every goal I had when I started creating it during my lunch break at my old job. It allowed me to leave that job and support my family doing something that I loved. It allowed me to travel the country, meet people who enjoyed my work face to face, and meet all of the people that I now consider my best friends. Creating HijiNKS ENSUE has opened so many doors to experiences, relationships and opportunities that I had previously only considered impossible fantasies. Starting this comic fundamentally altered the course of my life for the better. Without HE, I would have continued to dream big while wallowing in mediocrity and dissatisfaction. I am so grateful for what the last 8 years have given me; for what you Fancy Bastards have given me. I certainly do not make this decision lightly. I just feel like I’ve done what I set out to do, and I’d rather end this project before I (and you) get bored with it.
I cannot promise that, 6 months after it ends, I won’t miss HijiNKS ENSUE terribly and start updating it in some fashion again. I don’t REALLY see that happening, but I refuse to rule it out completely. I can say that I know I’m doing the right thing, because I am not at all sad about this decision. I am excited. I am CRAZY SUPER BANANANPANTS EXCITED to get to work on my new ideas and start sharing them with you. I am also exited that the “ending game plan” I’ve written out for HE is making me feel much more focused about where it’s going, and what I need to accomplish with it before it ends. My hope is that the 200 or so strips that will eventually make up “The Experiement” portion of the comics will introduce a cast of characters and use them to tell a cohesive, assuming story. Were they all in a book, I want that book to be a satisfying read. I want it to perhaps inspire other people to seek out uncommon lives, take weird risks and chase happiness over money. More than anything, I want it to be something my daughter can read when she is older, and understand that she was the catalyst that set this entire experiment in motion.
So don’t delete your bookmarks just yet. Stick with me for the next year, and be ready to click super hard on a link that I’m sure to be flooding all forms of social media with on June 1st.
Thank you and Godspeed, You Fancy Bastards
-Joel
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30 Comments

  1. Congratulations on such a run, Joel. It's been a pleasure following the comic and your art for this long, and your openness about your life around the comic (perhaps due to the nature of the original Experiment) has only brought more life to it. Looking forward to the new strip, and definitely count me in for a book/books; it needs to join the first two volumes on my funnybook shelves.

  2. Well, you can count me among the readers who have been enjoying comics since the beginning, and who has enjoyed all the directions you've explored so far.
    So yeah, I'll be ready to click that new link hard, I'll click it so hard my mouse may report me for domestic violence (yes my mouse is my spouse… don't judge me. {don't worry mouse dear, that was just a joke, I'd never hurt you… unless you freeze up again while I'm gaming, then you brought it on yourself } )

    I'll be sad to see Hijinks Ensue go, and I can understand why some fans get upset when one project ends or even just changes, change can be scary. If you love something and then the creator says "glad you're enjoying this so much, now here's something different" it can leave a fan feeling like "but, but… I like this, I want more of THIS!". But the flip side is, that if the content creator is staying true to their style, and voice and level of quality, then chances are the fan is going to love that new thing too.
    As much as HE has changed over the years, I feel like you've held onto your core perspective and sense of humor, while growing in how and what that perspective expresses.
    As I said, I've enjoyed going along for the ride (as much as one can call; "periodically aiming your eyeballs at the free content beaming at them" to be "going along for a ride") so far.
    You've definitely earned my trust & loyalty as a customer/reader/pair of eye balls at the other end of the internets. So I shall keep said balls of the eye variety open for what you're going to beam their way next.

    {p.s: A VERY serious question though. You're going to be giving the next comic a new name, but are the readers still going to be known as Fancy Bastards?}

    • I've given your question a lot of thought over the last couple of weeks and I don't have an official answer. I guess we'll have to see who comes over from this comic to that one and how much of the audience is entirely new people. I'm going to try NOT worrying constantly about things like my twitter handle, Facebook page, tumblr and everything else tied to the HE name for now, and just sort of see what happens.

      • Well, if the Fancy Bastard "nickname" does fade into the past, I'd miss it. Because I can get called a bastard anywhere, but being called a Fancy Bastard, now that only happens in the context of being your reader.
        I don't want to go back to being just a plain bastard.

  3. I've been following HE for the last five years and this announcement is an ending that will be a big change – like graduating high school, everything will be different. Not bad. Just different.

    If it lubes your gears and gets up excited, again, I'm all for it.
    Good work, Joel.
    Sleep well.
    I'll most likely kill you in the morning.

  4. Congratulations on making a major decision about the direction of your art. It can be such a tough challenge to see beyond what you think you want to be doing, and start to figure out what you actually want to do. I'll be coming along for the journey. Onwards and upwards!

    • I was just thinking along the same lines. Girls With Slingshots recently came to an 'I don't know what to do with this comic any more' kind of ending, and it seems more will.

    • I don't think it's that there aren't many left. There just aren't a ton left that started in the mid 2000s. Webcomics were a certain kind of thing then, often created by a certain kind of person of a certain age. A lot of those people grew up, matured and moved on to other projects after about a decade. Seems like that's a good time to re-evaluate your goals, and shift focus creatively. Plus, there are literally thousands of new webcomics, hundreds of good ones and dozens of high quality ones. Check out http://www.thehiveworks.com if you are looking for something new to read.

  5. Joel, you're a super wonderful person and no matter what you do it'll be a success. Good luck, and keep having fun! Can't wait to see your new comic.

  6. I am feeling so many feelings about this! I'll be sad to see it go, but I can't wait to see what else you've got in store. In the…six-ish?…years I've been reading, you have consistently put out quality content and that's no small feat. I'm sure you will continue to do so in whatever form it takes!

    No matter what you're doing, your brain craves variety and new challenges. Artists are especially lucky because you can create this for yourself rather than just growing stagnant. It's a lucky thing and good on you for recognizing it! Best of luck!

  7. So I just noticed this now, and seeing as how it's ending soon I should probably ask sooner rather than later: What's up with the weird capitalization in HijiNKS Ensue? Why is NKS capitalized? I CAN'T NOT SEE IT ANYMORE!

    Looking forward to your next comic.

    • The "iji" started because in the original logo font, the three dots lined up perfectly and I thought it looked like three heads representing the three characters.

      It's been so long that I can't remember if that's the real answer or the fake answer I made up to tell people during interviews.

  8. Hi Joel, I am two years into my own 'experiment' and have found your comics really encouraging and inspirational. I can't wait to see your new comic, thank you for this one.

  9. Glad for the change. Considering the sporadic updates and the work going into the strips the feeling that the comic was becoming a chore was showing. This reader wants simple consistent fun, excited to see what you come up with (and the Patron will be maintained!).

  10. On the one hand, I'll be sorry to see the strip end, but on the other, I look forward to seeing what you come up with next–just as I was sorry to see Ugly Hill and Shortpacked and Starslip and Goats (effectively) end, but I still enjoyed Rex Splode and Reptilis Rex and Dumbing of Age and Broodhollow and Scenes from a Multiverse.
    I'll be here through the end of HE, and I'm sure I'll be there for what follows.

  11. Good for you. Absolutely important that what you do be satisfying for YOU, and something sustainable for your family. I'll tag along to wherever you go, to the best of my ability (as a student, I'm sort of an "ignore it for three weeks and then read nineteen strips in a row" kind of girl).

    And I'd be VERY interested in a personally-tailored lavender raincoat, so, you know, let me know when THAT happens.

  12. This sound cool man you are awesome and the second webcomic I picked up in year eight it has been a ride

  13. Joel, I've been with you from the very beginning–Back when Battlestar Galactica references were still hip and fresh. I'll admit, I fell off a bit over the past few years and pretty much missed the reboot. It wasn't you… it was me finishing an MBA and getting married and having less "fun" time online to read comics.

    But now I'm back and super pumped to see what you have for us next!

  14. I'm kind of sad to hear about HE ending, I've been a reader since 2010 and this has always been one of my favorite webcomics. However, if you say that the new comic is gonna be awesome, I trust you 100 percent, and you can count on my support when that link goes up. Please, keep making comics as long as you can!

  15. Good luck Joel! I remember when fans bewailed the end of "It's Walky" and Dave seems to be doing quite well for himself. Not everyone is satisfied with being a Jeff Darlington…(and my God! He started GPF just as I graduated college!)

    Whatever works you create will be appreciated by your fans!

  16. I wish you luck, though I don't think a more simplistic style necessarily saves you drawing time! If anything, I found in my own work, it required a higher degree of symmetry and color theory to look nice, and at the same time, people tended to assume I put less work into it. None the less, I hope it goes well for you! I look forward to reading your new thing. Your jokes seem better when they're in context with other things! I loved the arcs and mini-arcs of HE!

  17. Imagine how Jim Davis feels.

    Personally I really enjoyed the comics with you and your family. You’re a very likeable guy and seeing into your life was always a great part of this strip.

    Will be sad to see it go, but am sure the new stuff will be great too.

    • I don\’t think Jim Davis has actually drawn Garfield for a very long time. I know PAWS Inc employees a number of cartoonists. Perhaps they just do the calendars and other merch, but I thought they wrote and drew the comics now too. I could be wrong. Regardless, thank you for the encouragement.

  18. This is very cool to read. As an avid webcomic reader I've seen a lot of strips change over the years in various different ways, but for the most part they all seem to stay the same. I like that you are trying to evolve your comic and continue forward with what it is you would like to be doing.

    I do have to say, when the Patreon came out and reached a goal of a regular comic schedule and it didn't exactly pan out that way I was a little down – I love your humor and was super excited to see it coming on a regular basis. As a very private artist though I completely understood that it does NOT come easy and it isn't something that can just be pumped out on a regular basis because a certain number of people pledged for it to happen. I know that there were some naysayers along the way and I wanted to let you know that regardless you have an amazing fanbase and I for one will continue to be an avid reader of your works no matter what direction you take.

    It makes me very happy to see that you want to progress your craft and evolve it in a way that suits what it is you set out to do – and for that I just wanted to say that I'm really excited to see where this goes and I wish you the best of luck! You have a very unique style that stands out significantly from the rest of the pack and I'm always ready to see more of what you can do!

  19. I'm all for it. Sounds like a great plan. Good luck and you have a fan here that will follow you great work.

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