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HijiNKS ENSUE at Fan Expo Toronto 2012

Toronto Fan Expo starts TODAY!!!  I’ll be there with Blind Ferret and booth #1244. More info HERE. The following weekend I’ll be at Dallas Animefest with Rob from Explosm.

THE END! The Eli/Boxcar Pete story is over! So is the comic! I’m done! Exclamation points! 

Actually the comic isn’t over, but I know a few of you are IN NO WAY sad to see Boxcar Pete go. Interesting thing about moving from single, self-contained gag comics to longer form stories is that when someone hates what you’re doing, they don’t just hate it for one day. They hate it, and you for days and days and days and let you know about it in the rudest ways imaginable. I will certainly be keeping the stories shorter (and possibly further apart) from now on, but overall I am pretty happy with how this turned out. I pushed myself to draw people and places I am not comfortable with drawing, and to draw poses that weren’t just two 3/4 turned heads talking at each other. Since this story line wraps up something that started in the Avengers arc (the first mini story line), I feel like the whole thing has a bit of closure. It seems like a mini “season” to me. Anyway if you liked it, I’m glad. If you didn’t and managed not to send me a rude comment or email, I’m also glad about you. You are why we are almost able to have a society. Everyone else is on my list.

I drew this comic at my friend Paul’s house in Buffalo. Later today were are going to drive into Canada to do battle with Frost Giantsgo to a convention. I know it’s sort of a throw away line in the final panel, but I have recently watched all of Sherlock and HOLYCOCKMOFFATS is it an amazing show. Really, it is just flawless. I could go on (and I intend to later) but for now it’s 5am and I have to drive across the Bifröst a regular bridge to Canada in a few hours.


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  1. My theory is that Moffat has his own Tardis and goes to an alternate time line where the real Sherlock Holmes exists and simply transcribes the adventures. Like Leela on that Futurama episode, only with more naked Irene Adler.

  2. wait, people don't like Boxcar Pete? really?
    he has some of the best lines because of just how unpredictable and ridiculously awesome he is, also, his hat is awesome.

    If i could get a set of christmas cards with only the boxcar pete variation, i totally would.

  3. Hurray, we made it! I had a great deal of fun with the whole storyline thing. Also, Boxcar Pete is amazing! In a world of not making sense, he makes even less sense and that's what makes him wonderful.

    And SHERLOOOCKKKKK! AHHHH! It's just–ugh–I–it's–the Cumberbatch, and the Freeman, and the effects, and the writing, and the camera work, and the effects, and the accents, and the acting, and the Cumberbatch. If I had to make up the most absurdly British name I could think of, it would be Benedict Cumberbatch. I think that's like 90% of why I love him. The other 10% is because he's a brilliant actor. (But that NAME!)

    Anyway, Joel, thank you.

    • His full name is Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch.

      Sit down for a minute. Take that it. Absorb it. Now squeal like a little school girl. Goooooood.

    • Never forget "Engelbert Humperdinck" when you throw that "Most Absurdly British Name You Could Think Of" category around. (NOT his given name at birth, BTW…)

  4. I like the story arcs as well as the one-shots. The stories have been a nice break from the norm!

    PS- The Norse references made my night! I've been reading myths all week haha.

    • I finished my "Myths of the Norsemen" book not too long ago, kinda crazy to realize just how many of our days of the week are a hold over from the Norse.

  5. I really liked this arc and I hope Boxcar Pete comes back. I actually liked him more than Eli during this arc.

  6. I feel that Sherlock is good for much the same reason that Star Trek TNG was good and why Game of Thrones is good; it treats itself more like a series of movies than a TV show.

  7. We're thrilled you're coming to Canada, Joel, but you have no chance at defeating a Frost Giant. Come on. They are strengthened by our Tim Bits and universal health care. Just smile and nod, and remember that when they call you a Hoser, it's a compliment, not an insult. You'll be fine.

  8. I'm cool with the stories. Always remember you're the artist, it's your art. You're making a change to get a bigger audience but that doesn't mean what you do is 100% fan service. It can be difficult to remain invested in a story that goes on for months, but if it's good enough people will read. Note Doug TenNapel's Nnewts which is all one story and gets one page a WEEK. It'll take 5 months to get through the first act.

    In other words, do what YOU think is the right decision for storytelling. If you know a story is dragging kill it early, if you think you've found a vein worth mining, elongate. The only advice you should really listen to is what your gut tells you. Don't let a story go on that YOU think is beginning to drag. "It's brought the pace to a screeching halt but I'm almost done, only 3 more strips to go" That line of thinking leads to the dark side.

  9. I liked the arc and yes, the last few days – even though Boxcar is my least favorite character. How? How could I like a strip that includes a character I don't like at all? Am I insane? That's beside the point… I like the story format as long as it's funny. And I like Eli (and Josh and the other one). So, even though Boxcar was in it, I got to Eli being all Eli-y. And Eli got to be the focus instead of playing second fiddle to that other one. With the beard. And that little hair flippy thing. You know, Whatshisname.

  10. Haha! Did my request for you to draw John and Sherlock being best bros in the Fancy Sketch Drive get you into that series? If so, that's awesome! It is seriously one of my favorite shows of all time. ALL TIME.

  11. Fun Norse/Buffalo connection: One of the bridges from Niagara Falls to Canada is actually called the Rainbow Bridge. It goes right over Niagara Falls, but I'm not sure where Idris Elba stands on it…

  12. I must paraphrase "Damn it Joel! I hate (whateverwhoever), you need to do (this stupid thing) with "your" webcomic from now on! Be more funny or I'll take my condescending advice and get my free entertainment elsewhere!"

    The next hater to post should be checked against the donation list. If your only contribution is bad advice and complaints about your free entertainment, then step aside. Creativity is coming through and it is not expected to stop or veer course for you.

    Seriously, stop listening to these people Joel. You created a hilarious universe with genuinely funny characters, and this is all yours, yet you share it for nothing. I still can't believe that I am getting this entertained for free! (My guilt over this will probably spark a donation soon!)

    • Since when has he been listening to them? If he'd been listening to them, wouldn't he have stopped the Boxcar Pete storyline? I admit I wasn't the fondest of this arc, but I'd rather sit through a long, hard-to-follow plot than see Joel compromise his artistic integrity.

  13. Excellent work Joel. I meant what I said during our brief conversation at Comic-Con (rudely interrupted by that guy Wil) that your struggles with this new format have inspired me in my own work and I think you are doing the right thing. Keep it up.

  14. Even if I were paying for this comic, and I'm not (sorry, broke), I wouldn't have the gall to insult you. You put "fuckdrive" and "skankcar" in the same goddam sentence, a $49.95 value, absolutely free. For this and many other delicious new phrases I keep coming back, as I will continue to do. The content on your site is just that good. Please don't let people drag your art down or cave to their stupidity.

  15. Boxcar Pete is spot on with his description there. Thanks for distracting me from my work day with thoughts of Sherlock……

    Ahem. Yes. Well.
    Thank you for making funny. Keep it up.

  16. The twitterpated look on Boxcar Pete's face is PRICELESS! Also, nice job on Eli's pose in the second panel… that kinda shit is always a nightmare for me to draw, but you nailed it 🙂

    Anyone else think that Martin Freeman and Jeremy Renner are long-lost BAMF!brothers?

  17. I really enjoy me some HijinksEnsue, but I can't help but notice that every single one of these 'extended storyline' bits end with you commenting, "Gee, I'm sorry."

    I get the desperate oh-crap-people-aren't-reading-need-money thing. I really do. Been there. But the art (and I don't mean the drawings, those are consistently fantastic) is really takin' a hit from all the clinging.

    The strip just reeks of PLEASETAKEMESERIOUSLY. I get that being taken seriously is certainly a good thing, and maybe people need to be shocked into giving you more money to continue entertaining them, but it just feels all wrong. You've got a store, a wish list, 7 separate banner ads, 2 donate buttons… and one 3-panel strip. The blogs are dominated by apologies for the money-grubbing and writing learning curve. The feed reminds me that I could be getting a better product if I shelled out for it.

    The funny gets sucked straight out of the best jokes because the site, the feed, the ads, and the strip keeps reminding me that All is Calculated and Weighed for Maximum Revenue.

    Anyhoo, I love Hijinks Ensue, but you seem determined to drive me away. I don't think that's your intent, but it's happenin'. I've come so close to deleting the feed from Reader a couple of times now, but then I feel bad, and keep the strip in my lineup for one more week. But that's not gonna last forever. Sorry, man.

    If none of this is even on your radar, I apologize for being a sociopath. I don't feel like I'm stepping out of line here, or being offensive or hateful. So, again, that's not my intent. If that's what you get out of this, I must be an awful writer. Apologies for that as well, if necessary.


    • This is not the overall impression I get from reading the comic. While there are plenty of entreaties to the readers to donate, I just don't feel like it sucks the fun out of the strip. Perhaps that's a personal difference, but it seems Joel is stressed out by trying to balance the desires of the readers with the desires of the artist, which not the same as producing lowest common denominator entertainment for profit maximization. Learning to create a new kind of comedy storyline just takes patience on his part and ours, although I'm already enjoying the arcs.

      My personal suggestion is having a few gags between each storyline, which allows for variety and needed snark on topical issues (unless that's the whole purpose of the low-fijinks). And to continue developing the characters' personalities, which are beginning to show. They used to be interchangeable vehicles for joke delivery.

      • PS: I just wanted to say that even when I'm lukewarm about a story or joke, the dialogue and neologisms in this comic consistently make me snicker like an immature 12 year old.

      • Oh, dear, I didn't mean to imply that the new content was LCD pandering. Not at all. It just seems to be motivated by a desire to do *something* different, because funds are low, and age is old. Rather than a gee-that's-funny-I-should-write-about-it place, these strips seem to be coming from a I-must-produce-o-god-I-must-be-funny sort of place. It's taking the old characters and instead of laughing while they describe silly things, now they actually go and DO crazy things, and helicopters, and catchphrases, and blood goes splurting in slow motion.

        I was only trying to say that I enjoyed the old Hijinks more than the new one. I was in no way attempting to construe Mr. Watson as deficient of character.

        It's the just that stress you were talkin' about. The only cure for which, is to be less stressed. Which sucks.

    • Dude you are SO FAR off base that I don\’t even know how to respond to you. Pretty everything you have assumed is going on in my head are things that have never even crossed my mind. You are having both sides of an imaginary conversation and you\’ve drawn some pretty insane conclusions. My motivation to make a living from my work has never been factored into the content of the strip. I wrote comics that make me laugh or interest me. That\’s it. Everything else you\’re reading in are your own inventions. All of those ads and links to stores, etc are what allow you to read the comic for free. If you have no intent of supporting my efforts and can\’t seem to ignore my ads then you are far too jaded by the amount of free content you consume on the Internet. In short: you couldn\’t be more wrong and if I had the ability to take this nonsense seriously, I would be incredibly offended.

      • OK. I was wrong and I'm sorry I drew the wrong conclusions and had such a misinformed and wrong view of your work. Definitely guilty of creating your side of that conversation you were talkin' about. My bad for reading stress into your blogs and makin' an ass outta mahself, assuming that that imaginary stress would effect your work.

        Hope I've properly apologized there. No "I'm sorry for saying the wrong words," from this reader.

        I'm sorry I haven't been able to offer financial support. I appreciate that you produce this content and then let everyone (regardless of payment status) enjoy it. I've wanted a My Axe shirt fer a while now, and I actually think I can afford one, next paycheck.

        So, running low on funding for the strip and completely changing directions character/story-wise has no effect on your writing ability? More power to ya, if that's so.

        I recognize of course that I am not privy to your thoughts or your counsel, but is papering the site with banner ads the only way to go? Are there no other options?

        I'm stickin' with you fer now. I've reset my perception of HE, and you'll have my continued readership (and hopefully shirt-custom) for the foreseeable future.


  18. My only complaint regarding Sherlock is there isn't enough of it. I could roll around in a giant vat of the writing/acting/general awesomeness from Sherlock and never get tired of it.
    On a related note, you might want to hunt around for a copy of something called Crooked House by the co-writer of Sherlock, Mark Gatiss. He's a bit of a secret treasure, he's written a lot of incredibly good stuff for the beeb over here but not much of it has gotten any attention internationally. Crooked House is a pretty damn scary group of ghost stories that he wrote then aired over Christmas a few years ago (why Christmas I'll never know, but actually – getting the wind put up you while sat in a room full of mid-winter merriment was kind of like that unexpected yet welcome sour taste in the middle of some otherwise massively sweet dessert).

    On a Cumberbatch related note, I cannot wait for Cumberbatch and Freeman to begin verbally sparring as Bilbo and Smaug in the second Hobbit movie – that is going to work on so many levels!

  19. Just want to say, this arc is my favorite set of HE comics for a while. Most of them made me giggle out loud, which is not something I do often when I'm alone. I really think this whole plot thing is working.

  20. I have to say that I've loved the longer stories you're working on these days. I don't have a whole lot of free time, but I make sure to read Hijinks Ensue at least once a week. Even when I don't get the joke (usually due to extreme sleep deprivation), or when the focus is on a non-favorite character, I can always find something entertaining in your work. So, thanks for all the laughs.

  21. My theory on why SHERLOCK is so awesome: It's written by Stephen Moffat, so that Sherlock is basically channeling The Doctor, with Watson as his exasperated companion.
    So the Eli-vs-Pete arc's over? That's a clever twist at the end, but I thought it was building up to a more action-packed crescendo. But Eli ruled in the starring role!

    • I assume then, that you got the same vibe I did that Moriarty is basically a human version of The Master. I decided after the third episode ended that I would have a lot more fun with Sherlock (then I already was, mind you), by just pretending it was Doctor Who if everyone was human.

  22. I used to find Benedict Cumberbatch vaguely creepy. Then I saw Atonement, and I found him super creepy. I still love Sherlock, though. I'm not sure if it's because of the writing, or Cumberpants is just that good of an actor…whenever I see a picture of him smiling, or without dark hair, I think "eurgh creepy gtfo," but when he's being Sherlock, I don't mind him. And the show is fantabulous. Whenever Moffat is working on Sherlock, I'm all "ugh please go back to Doctor Who, I'm tired of waiting" but then when it's Whotime, I pine for Sherlock!

  23. I super <3 Sherlock. I have never ever been giddy over a show but I go to pieces with this one. The actors are amazing and I've always love the text or visual clues given to illustrate thought processes. I also love that though everyone always implies that Sherlock and Watson are more than friends the acting never comes across to me like going gay for each other is a possibility. There's no wink-wink nod-nod at all that I can see. And I adore that. Does anyone else feel this way or even the opposite?

    • Weren't paying close attention, were you? There is some aside in the first season about this matter. Sherlock implies at some point that HE could go for men, if he weren't so completely disinterested in relationships. But Watson, on the other hand, is pretty clearly into the ladies. In the original stuff, I think Watson was married.

      • But he clearly is not disinterested in relationships in the second season. He went half way across the world for Irene Adler. He chose to fake his death to save Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade.

  24. In answer to your question: I DON'T KNOW BUT I AGREEEEE!!!!!!!!! Ugh it is so so good. A friend recently made me (read: encouraged very gently) watch all of Sherlock and I'm SO glad she did. Then we went and watched Cumberbatch play Frankenstein's monster in a streamed-to-movie-theatres National Theatre performance and HOLY CRAP. Just… I would have gone to see it again (he and Johnny Lee Miller alternated Dr. Frankenstein and the monster on each night) but I couldn't have withstood having my heart ripped out and stomped into teeny pieces again.

  25. Uh.. About that comment trying to poke fun at Canada for being cold and snowy, I think people really need to drop it. As early as May we had temperatures that rivaled Arizona's heat and suffered through a major drought from June to August.

    • Wow. You apparently have no sense of humor. Of course it's not snowy in Canada in August! I live in S. Ontario and this has been the hottest summer on record. It's called a joke. sheesh. Thinking about snow helps me survive the heat!

    • Unfortunately there are too many people that seem to think that the second you cross into Canada it's a snowy wonderland 24/7. I went to school in Indiana, PA and talked to a girl working at a local McDonalds… she insisted that she and her friends were going skiing up in Niagara Falls, Canada. She refused to accept that Niagara Falls, Canada had the same weather as WNY (where I had just come back from visiting home on the weekend)…it was a warm winter. She was all set and determined that Canada had snow just because it was Canada. But yeah, seriously…it's just a joke…relax.

      • Yeah, I worked at a McDonald's in Ontario in high school, and one July these 2 guys came through drive-thru with skis strapped to the roof of their car and asked me where all the snow was. I suggested they continue driving north for another 15 hours or so. Morons.

    • I live in the least snowy part of Canada, where any snow we get usually melts after a day or two even in the middle of winter, and I still thought the Canada-is-cold cracks were funny.

  26. Glad to see Boxcar go. Never understood him – I just figured it was your way of dealing with some tragic hobo event that occurred in your childhood. Would like much more to see a comic where kittens are fused to George Lucas' head.

  27. Benedict Cumberbatch's mother is the utterly lovely Wanda Ventham, who played SHADO's Colonel Lake in Gerry Anderson's "UFO" back in the early '70s….. so the geek-pleasing roles span the generations….

  28. I just wanted to say I'm loving the continuity. I came for the gag-a-day (long time fan) but I think it's all awesome, whatever you want to do!

    I find things just turn out better if the creator enjoys making them. It's like baking. You could keep turning out the same cookie recipe forever, and cookies are still awesome, but if you get bored, you won't pay as much attention to the recipe, and toss cookies out without much thought. Sometimes you just want to make something big, like a cake, something that will take multiple sittings to eat. Cookies are still awesome, but so is cake, and it can be invigorating to expand into other recipes.

    I never got the 'stale cookie' vibe from this comic, so it's not a perfect analogy, but there it is.

    Semi-related, why does it feel weird to say nice things? So weird. People need to say nice things more often.

    Anyway. Yeah. I'm off to buy some shirts now. Keep up the good work, and all that.

  29. Hey guys, this is kind of off-topic (but still really geeky) but is doing another fund-raiser– this time to buy Nikola Tesla's last laboratory and have a museum built on it. Details here:

    You guys should probably check it out. It's running til the end of September so there's lots of time to do so, even with the con and all. But it sure would be cool if you'd all help to spread the word. We're building Tesla a museum, yo! 😀

    (I have nothing whatsoever to do with the campaign; I just think it's really, really awesome.)

  30. I actually like the fact that series-wise Sherlock is so short (but the episodes last an hour and a half! That's a proper feature, isn't it).
    Then you have no choice but to re-watch (over and over again) and analyze the hell out of every perfect detail, gesture and background item. Hell, people are writing essays on the wallpaper! And yet The Grand Moffatt will troll us with "LOL U MISSED SOMETHING CRUCIAL AND I'M NOT TELLING IT UNTIL NEXT SERIES HAHAHA"

    I'd join in to praise Bendy Cheekbones and him off The Office, because that's what people do, but everything about them has been said already. But the supporting characters and their actors are amazing as well. Here's to Gatiss' Mycroft, silver fox Lestrade and the best Moriarty ever!

  31. I’m not saying that there aren’t perfectly horrible shows in the UK, but they seem to- plain and simple- be more okay with the idea of having a show that isn’t a load of steaming, pandering dog doody. Good writing and scripts where thinking is required are allowed, and they tend to choose actors who can act. Even if it means they have a big mole on their chin, or strangely gaunt appearances. (Donna, Sherlock.) I think this is just one of those cultural divides which, if we buy and watch enough British TV over time, might catch on over here one day.

    • There are some horrible shows in the UK, but the best ones get on USA networks, so it makes it seem that all British shows are awesome. I do believe that the BBC does allow it's show creators less interference than many US and Canadian networks….so they can work on their vision without others mucking it up. Also most UK series are short, I believe that makes it easier to have a quality program if you don't have to make 6-10 episodes a year instead of 24. The budget for 6-10 episodes is such, that the BBC is willing to take a chance on more unusual projects.

  32. I cowrite the Sherlock reviews with my friend Julia and the first few emails back and forth with each other talking about the episode always end up being, "OH MAI GOD!" "I KNOW!" "WATSON WAS SO ADORBS!" "AND SHERLOCK WAS ALL QUIPPY!" "OH MAI GODSKDFSDJKLF!"

    We're very serious professionals, you know.

  33. Everyone should give JEKYLL a watch if they enjoy Sherlock, it was also written by Steven Moffat and is wonderfully acted by James Nesbitt. I also enjoyed his comedy series Coupling (UK), the USA version didn't last long here.

    If you like Mark Gatis, I would recommend some off-the-wall tv series stuff he has done – The League of Gentlemen, and Psychoville.

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