May Not Be Suitable For All Audiences

hijinks-ensue-january-2015-book-sale-2UPDATE: ONLY 2 WEEKS LEFT!!!

For the month of January 2015, both of my books are only $5 each. Buy 2 of them and I’ll give you a free mystery mini print. After January they are GONE FOREVER

I am selling them at or below cost so they can go to Fancy Bastards that will appreciate them, rather than a bonfire. Grab them HERE. 

HEY HEY HEY, did I mention that I have a Patreon? I do, and because my Fancy Patrons blew past the $1500 Milestone Goal, I was able to completely redesign the website.

Everything my kid watches on the television falls into one of two categories. Pretty OK and UNWATCHABLE CUTESY SHOUTING CONTEST. The pretty ok stuff comes, as the comic above suggests, mainly from PBS Kids. Shows like Word Girl, Martha Speaks, Wild Kratts, and Curious George actually do a commendable job of blending entertainment and education while simultaneously not being obnoxious to parents.

The rest  come from all over. Nick, Disney, Cartoon Network, probably the channel where they sell knives at night, maybe a ditch with half a snake in a Coke can… just all over. I can’t really pin down the source of the annoyance other than a seemingly universal opinion among children’s television producers that kids always want to hear character screaming, shouting, shrieking, shrilly cackling or singing makeshift autotuned pop songs that are vaguely about friendship and mostly about “being yourself” and “dancing” and “dancing yourself” and “self esteem achieved through dancing” and “dance esteem.”

Adventure Time is the outlier, because it is truly phenomenal genre fiction cleverly disguised as a show for tiny children and adult stoners. Not even Game Of Thrones can match the world building going on in Adventure Time. It’s FUCKING vast. AT is also unique in the way that it has created a framework within itself where the writers are free to completely abandon the established characters and locales (even the typical time and space dimensions in which the show takes place) and just expand outward in every creative direction to tell some incredibly complex and often times bizarre stories that still manage to stay grounded in the world from which they spring. Vast, man. I am telling you. Vast.

It also doesn’t hurt that it is expertly written and voice acted. It’s genuinely funny for adults. The most interesting thing I notice while watching it with Kiddo is what makes me laugh, but not her. What makes her laugh, but only makes me smile, and what makes us both laugh heartily at the same time. SPOILERS: It’s the farts.

COMMENTERS: What things do your kids or just kids in general enjoy that you can’t stand? What gives you common entertainment ground? 

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  1. Gravity Falls! Over The Garden Wall! …I don't have much else to add other than those are two of the best kid-oriented things on the planet right now. I'd even rank 'em over Adventure Time.

    • Kiddo loves Gravity Falls but I missed the boat on starting it with her and I'm pretty sure you have to watch it from the beginning. I hope to catch up some day.

      • I've been watching it from what appears to be season 2. There's actually a LOT of stuff in every episode that you really need to record it with a PVR.

        • No kids were involved: My girlfriend introduced me to Gravity Falls. We watched the entire first season in a day. It's a good show. I am not surprised I wasn't the first to mention it.

      • It's not strictly chronological (knowing that the channel will air reruns completely randomly, they've avoiding having it *too* serialized), but hey, what better opportunity to introduce your kiddo to the geek ritual known as The Rewatch? 😉

      • Whooooa. No no, don't skip Gravity Falls. It'd be almost as bad as giving Adventure Time a pass, just because you didn't see it from ep 1. It too, is "Complex world building and character development behind the guise of simple children's entertainment". It's slightly more episodic and innocent than Adventure Time, but it can be enjoyed in the same way. And Over the Garden Wall is amazing. Children can watch it, but I'm not even sure it's supposed to be for children. It gets hella dark at times.

        But seriously, I lagged on starting both Adventure Time and Gravity Falls, and felt like an IDIOT when I watched them later. I love them both, to death.

  2. I agree with you 100%. Steven Universe is a younger show, but I think it benefited from a lot of the growing up that Adventure Time already did in its first couple of seasons, since a lot of their staff used to work on AT. Lately I'm actually liking SU more than AT, for all the same reasons.

  3. My angel/devil child is 13, so our common ground shows are now horrible reality TV monstrosities.

    Before the Logan's Run crystal started blinking and she was more pleasant to be around, we enjoyed most of the shows already listed plus The Aquabats. I think it hit her at just the right age, because she transitioned from the show to the music and they wound up being her first live show.

    Word of caution: You can do your very best to guide them towards quality, thoughtful entertainment choices but in the end they will probably pick Pitbull over the Beatles. Try not to freak out. We were lucky as children because our parents listened to horrible music and we got to rebel by listening to great music. Children today have to go the opposite way. It's not their fault that our music is great and theirs is horrible. They will come around eventually. Or we will use them as spare parts. Either way, we'll be fine.

    • I wasn't allowed to enjoy any of the music i liked as a kid, so my only real hope here is to introduce her to the things I love, let her know why I think they're important, then sit back and let her figure out what SHE actually likes. If there's overlap, great. If she wants my opinion or guidance on entertainment options, I will oblige. If she likes something I think it TERRIBLE, I'm going to practice restraint as long as it isn't inappropriate. I'll be honest and let her know when things aren't my favorite or just aren't for me, but I'm really going to try not to make her feel bad for what she likes or tell her that her music is awful, because I remember what that felt like and it was devastating. Music was the only thing I cared about as a kid and being told it was wrong or bad was the same as tell me I was wrong and bad. I don't want to pass that on.

      All of that said, I will always try to introduce the things I love into her life. Even if she doesn't show immediate interest. Sometimes you plant seeds that don't grow for years.

  4. Your dishwasher is top loading?

    Also, I've never tried to get into Adventure Time. Perhaps I have been fooled by the children's show exterior. Or maybe the animation just doesn't do it for me. Every time I see an add for it, it makes me miss the Toonami of my childhood (Dragon Ball Z, Gundam, Tenshi Muyo and so on). I dunno. Maybe I should give it a shot.

    • HAH! I meant "washing machine." Now I have to decide whether to change the words or the art.

      I have no idea if a 90's/2000's anime fan would be interested in Adventure Time since I wasn't one myself.

  5. The best nerd show ever for kids was Jonny Quest, the 60/70's version. Sadly they only made a few dozen episodes. Showing my age…

    The new site is spiffy, and the expanding logo at the top is cool. On Firefox, though, the logo is covering the title.

    Also – is there a way to go right to the latest HE or do you always have to click through the home page first, now?

    • The johnny quest revival in the 90s was pretty good for the first season or two before the creators were fired and studio types put in. Complex stories and characters and before the change in show runners one of the better female characters in animation.

      • I barely remember that show, but I do remember liking it. It had something to do with always going into "cyber space" via virtual reality if I recall.

  6. I was raised in the era of brightly colored, 20 minute toy ads (like He-Man) and cocaine-fueled fever dreams (Turbo Teen), but I was also fortunate to be a teenager when Batman: The Animated Series and Pinkie and The Brain were on air.

    What were your favorite cartoons as a kid? Which ones do you wish could be rebooted or brought back for the new generation? I would love if Jem, Spiral Zone, SilverHawks, Bionic 6, and Galaxy Rangers got modern-day reboots.

  7. Joel's bubble in panel 1 is basically me anytime someone says "YOU WATCH CARTOONS?!?!"

    (Also, FYI, the new re-sizing banner thing at the tip covers up the title of the comic)

    • Only if you are using Ad-block. I'm not going to tell you how to internet, but I would appreciate it if you whitlisted my site on your adblocker. I will try to fix the problem regardless.

    • Nope. You're missing the point and being rude. When my monthly Patreon reached $1500, I said I would redesign the site and make the comics bigger. That's what happened and that's what I did.

  8. Much of the programming on Sprout makes me want to declare my home a no-television zone just to stop the abuse. Caillou is the main culprit. It doesn't help that they show the same 5 episodes on repeat.

    My kiddo and I agree on Phineas & Ferb, Teen Titans, and the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I can watch and enjoy each of those as much as he does, for different reasons.

    • I haven't seen the new TMNT but I will *almost* watch Phineas & Ferb without the kid (I probably would if I didn't already have a backlog of other stuff I like better).

    • I got into Phineas & Ferb while spending one summer semi-babysitting the neighbor kid. I haven't seen an episode in a couple of years, but I do have a stuffed Perry the Platypus on my desk in my office (very happy he survived the department move), and it's always a kick to get a student coming in and squealing, "You have a Perry! I LOVE Perry!"

    • I have yet to try the new TMNT, mostly because it's been retreaded so many times I'm afraid it will burst. My luck, probably while I'm at full speed on the freeway. Did all right with most of the DC stuff on Cartoon Network, and one of my top-five sad days of life was the day the CW finally gave up the ghost on Saturday morning cartoons. Now no one does it, save Cartoon Network, and that's just not right. Arcades, video stores, Saturday morning television…what will we pass on to our children?

      • I miss Saturday morning cartoons. And arcades…fond memories of arcades.

        I was hesitant about the new TMNT to the point of being anti. I grew up on the late 80s/early 90s series and it lives fondly in my memory. So, when my son wanted to watch the new version, I had my hardcore snob on, prepared to hate every minute of it. You nailed it–how many times can you retread something before just beating it into the ground? It took an episode or two for me to get used to the animation style, but I fell in love the writing. I can excuse just about anything if there is a good, core story that pulls me in and makes me care about the characters, and it totally does. While I'm not crazy about all the choices they make, I love how the writers depict the importance of family and personal choice. I also really like the allusions they make that no kid is going to get–the dream beaver episode is a mash-up homage to 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. My son did not get why I kept laughing.

  9. Listen, it is not too late to get into Steven Universe. The plot is starting to pick up speed and it's going to be big. Just start watching now, catch every episode you can, and hold on tight. I'm pretty sure it's gearing up to be one of the most important kids shows of this decade.

  10. Just an FYI, the auto resizing Hijinks Ensue banner is covering up the title and top edge of the comic for me in Firefox (and the banner only resizes when you scroll down to far to see the top of the comic)

    I'm not complaining (I like the site changes so far), I just thought I'd point it out since I wasn't noticing this happening a couple days ago.

    (p.s, since I'm already sticking my nose in the topic of the site redesign: Are there going to be "LowFijinks", Con sketch/photo comic, guest strip, etc archive categories?)

    • That error is only if you are using ad-block. See my reply to a previous commenter on this page.

      All of the different comics types have always had archives pages. Click on comics -> archive in the menue and scroll down until you find the comic you want.

      • That is odd, because I do have ad-block, BUT I have it disabled on this site (and any other webcomic I visit regularly).
        I'm back to seeing it display normally tonight though. So I guess it was just some quirk on my end

  11. I grew up with Square One TV and Bill Nye (the science guy). PBS is awesome. We'd watch science and math after school, then spend dinner discussing it with my physicist dad.

      • They're not CG (as much as anything is these days, anyway), and I don't like them. They're cliche, predictable, and just don't make me laugh. They tried to go back to the roots of Mickey's and other characters' design, and that I don't mind, but Goofy's current design is just SO ugly, even compared to some of the older versions.

  12. Just had a look at the voice cast for Adventure Time on IMDB- wow! A host of major voice talent including some with additional geek cred (STNG, Firefly etc.). Also, farts are guaranteed laughs.

  13. My 6 year olds asked me once why we never watched tele-tubbies, so I showed them (insert evil laugh here). They now believe me when I say you won't like that and we move on, together. I did not see anyone mention regular show or star wars rebels yet, wee like both in our house along with a myriad of others including those mentioned as well as fairly odd parents.

    What I have failed to embrace is the live action buffoonery on disney/nick they are starting to watch – kicking it was my downfall this weekend… Stupid Bucky Kentucky!

    • The live action stuff is a whole different circle of hell. Kiddo is watching "The Haunted Hathaways," which is about a family of humans that lives with a family of ghosts, only ghosts don't appear to be the souls of dead humans and are instead their own species that reproduce. They live in Ghost world, but come to our world to… play jazz sax? And scare people? NONE OF IT MAKES SENSE. It follows the standard Disney/Nick live action formula where kids are awesome and adults are idiot bafoons and EVERYONE is constantly shouting and mugging for the camera. The best I can tell, the acting coaches they hire for these shows only gives the kids one note: "BIGGER!" It's like Harold Zoid directs these shows.

      • "Ghost World"? "Jazz music"?

        Are there two mopey girls in it that resemble Thora Birch and Scarlett Johanson?

  14. I got into Adventure Time late, but it is amazing. I dig Regular Show as well–I honestly think RS would work as a primetime series on another network. I watched the first couple of episodes of each on Netflix recently and was astonished at how they're pretty much fully-formed from the beginning. The characters go off-model a lot (especially early-episode Finn), but the tone of each show is right there at the start. RS might work better for older kids, and that's just fine.

  15. Not sure if it's just my phone (iPhone 5) but the alt text is unreadable on mobile as it cuts off half of the text bubble. Might I make a suggestion that for smaller phone sizes you use a Javascript 'alert("text goes here") instead of a custom modal dialog? That way you don't have to deal with resizing it and handling scrolling if the text is long, etc…etc… If you need any help with the Javascript for that feel free to e-mail me, I'd be glad to help =)

  16. This is the most succinct explanation of why I only call myself a fan of animation in the right company- you know, with people who "get it", like other nerdy types and patient family members, who will listen to me explain my specific list of shows- that I have ever read.

  17. " 'Porpoise Washing Machine and Babyzilla' , coming soon to Nicktoons! What? You think we'll just let Cartoon Network have all the weird stuff? We were first! Remember Ren & Stimpy, and Rocko's Modern Life, and CatDog? That was us."

    But back on topic, I am a 30 year old man with a job in the tech industry, and I still watch Adventure Time. Not since Ren & Stimpy have I seen a show meant for kids that so liberally uses the word "sucks", or has so much on-screen vomiting! That, and the intricate backstory of the world and its characters unfolds over the course of the series. A bit like The Venture Brothers.

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