The Architect’s Dilemma

I’ve spent most of the last week rebuilding the site using the new design that my friend Mikey created. I think he did a fantastic job and the site looks 100 times better for it. I am still doing upgrades and tweaks here and there, so if you see anything weird let me know.

The comic pretty well illustrates what my week was like. I COMPLETELY finished the site before digging a Windows PC out of the closet so I could check it on IE 6 and 7. As soon as it came up in the browser window, it asplode. This might only be funny/sad to web designers and CSS junkies, but it’s a heart break that we all share. Cross browser compatibility is the bain of many an existence.

So…uhh… check out that banner… it doesn’t so much say “Update’s Monday and Thursday” as it says “Mon – Wed – Fri.” No, this is not new slang that I learned on the mean streets. This actually means that I’m going to be (attempting to) update the site with 3 comics a week.

How is this possible? Where did I get the sudden influx of free time? I lost my job! My day job, that is. Yes, I was laid off a week ago. So about all the big plans I’ve been hinting at?

Here’s the short version:

I am giving myself 4-6 months to try and make a living as a cartoonist through this website (or at least carve out a path towards that goal). I am going to put my all into this site and NOT look for another day job. At the end of 4-6 months I’m going to evaluate the progress and decide whether or not to proceed as a full time cartoonist, or quietly slink back into the workforce.

I say this is the short version because this is NOT the “Manifesto” I’ve been promising. That is coming this week. I want you to know why I am doing this and what this site, and you readers mean to me. I want to be very open and transparent about the whole situation and the “experiment” that I will be running.

I also need your help. Each and every one of you. If you are interested in helping… in making this lifelong dream a reality, then stay tuned. Instructions will follow. Expect something new on the site every day this week. Here’s a bit of what I have planned:

  • Continued site overhauling and graphic improvements
  • Rewriting the sections of the site to give more and better information about myself, the comic, the process etc
  • A video blog – I am going to document my progress through out the experiment on YouTube
  • 3 COMICS A WEEK! – Come back Wednesday for sure to see if I can do it!
  • More frequent blog posts

As always I want your feedback. You can either post your thoughts and feedback in the comments now or wait for the more detailed version of the announcement.

I want to add that the 11 months I’ve spent on HijiNKS Ensue have been the most fulfilling and meaningful work I’ve ever done. You readers are 100% responsible for that. Even if it all ended today I would be eternally grateful to you for this happiness.

Thank you,

Joel Watson

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  1. They should go ahead and outlaw IE already.

    Sometimes when I want a good laugh I run IE through the Acid2 test. Teehee.

  2. Boooya, the first to comment. As I watched this site completely change over the last hour or so, *franticly hits the refresh*, I knew that there had to be some epic life changing event behind it. May I be the first so say “best layoff ever”!

  3. Congrats on dedicating yourself to your craft! I too know what it its like to put yourself out to the world and hope that they approve (check out my site for more info). I've loved your comics for months and your podcast for the week that I've known about it and want to help keep you afloat (as I'm sure many of your fans do). Put the store back up quickly so that I can buy a shirt! And add a donate button. And what job did you get laid off from? I know that you're trying to keep some aspects of your life private, but damnit, we the people of the internets demand answers!

  4. I love the new design! And congratulations at making a go at this for your #1 way of making a living. I know you'll do splendidly.

  5. Like the site redesign (enjoying the subtle argyle pattern over there –>)

    "Hijinks Ensue: Now 150% More Hijinksy!" (Yay, 3 comics a week!)

    "Balls, I say to Internet Explorer" Indeed. Do people still use PCs? Why???

    Best of luck, very much so, to you in your new endeavors!

  6. Site looks great! I look forward to more updates! I imagine this time must be both inspiring and scary for you – here's to you making your own path.

  7. Since I found this comic a few weeks ago, it has quickly become a contender for my favorite webcomic (I won't tell you what the other is, but it rhymes with "Denny Arcade"). I look forward to supporting you in any way I can, but preferably in the form of buying some t-shirts in your store once it's up.

  8. Not that I'd ever give up visiting the site (especially with the nice new design), but you might consider throwing a smalish ad or two on the RSS feed – not sure what income that produces, but several of my feeds have them and I suspect that every little bit helps… Good luck with the experiment!

  9. The image for this comic shows as broken over the feedburner feed in firefox for me. Wonder why that could be.

    Also, I am not seeing an obvious way to find the first comic you posted here, and catch up on everything in your archives. I will keep looking. Sigh.

  10. It takes a lot of courage and faith in yourself to take a real shot at what you love doing. If your previous HE work has all been part-time, I can't wait to see what comes next!! Good luck, and figure out a way of doing that whole "exchanging money for goods and services" thing, OK?

  11. Good luck trying to live as a cartoonist, and god speed you fancy bastard.

    Only fagg0rs and grandmothers use internet explorer.

  12. Congrats Joel! As a fellow 'got let go, hey I'm gonna stay home and make a living doing <insert jobhere>' guy I wish you all the luck in the world. Won't be easy but hang in there – it will be worth it!

  13. Wow. Apparently the comment don't show up at all at work. I have to route through the proxy in my apartment. I was wondering why all the comment fields were missing.

    The new layout is kinda..wide. I don't normally keep my browser over 1000 pixels because there is other stuff I want to see on my screen. I just need a higher resolution monitor really since everyone expects you to keep a full screen browser these days. My buddies in the cube next to me used fixed width and I always use variable. (you can see examples in the portfolio in the blog URL) It's like the damn vi / emacs wars. Fixed is easier I will say. Variable is a pain in the ass and I know all about those damn IE/Firefox CSS issues.

    In Linux I use ie4lin scripts to run all the versions of IE in wine. There is a Mac version too but it doesn't seem to work as well. And even in Linux it doesn't emulate everything, so I have to end up starting VM ware just to test my sites (or waiting until the next day when I'm at work)

    Sorry about losing the job man. A lot of people have ended up living off their website merchandise including the Brothers Chap from HomeStarRunner, the guys from Red vs Blue, etc. You've got good content, the comics are funny. I've only listened to two of the pod casts (I started on podcast 02…dude the restaurant was a bad idea; couldn't hear a damn thing) and they're pretty damn funny.

    BTW, about podcast 08, I went to college for computer science and learned a lot more than I would have out of books and even just experience. Still, there were people who graduated who knew dick. You get out of school what you put into school. My parents had a college fund so I didn't have any debt, but for graduate school I'm running close to $20k total. It doesn't seem worth it at times, but looking back I really did learn a lot. Then again my boss never graduated from college. Eh…it just depends I guess.

    Good luck man. I'll be sure to buy a t-shirt..or..something. After you make 100 comics, you should get a book of them self published like Diesel Sweeties did..included some limited edition stuff. Oh oh oh…you need action figures. Dude I would so buy some over-priced action and/or inaction figures!

  14. Welcome to the world of sink of swim freelancing. Don't worry, you're in a nice sort of whirlpool. Much luck to you, sir.

    The site does indeed look good. I generally approve of argyle in nearly every form.

  15. Suggestion!

    If you're going to be blogging more, it might be a good idea to separate blog posts from comic posts, not unlike the xkcd "blag". Whether or not you want to lump the video posts in with that or not would be up to you, and would probably depend on your "vision" for the content of the videos. It would just be nice to be able to separate delicious and juicy comic posts from textier bloggier posts. Just like you separate desert from the rest of the meal. Also, I can't see "blag" without hearing it Howard Dean style: "BLEEEAAAARRRG!"

    Hope the lay-off wasn't traumatic, but they always are. I hope you look back on it as freeing you to do say and think the things you always wanted to. Now that you're no longer with %BUSINESS NAME%, could you tell us what sort of work you were doing for them? Without burning a bridge…. If you're not private about it, that is.

    I'm looking forward to new and delicious video posts.

    Maybe make sure the site works consistenly with Opera, as well? I love the UI on it (mouse gestures ftw!) but sometimes have trouble posting my comments on the site.

  16. Oh, Joel! I have a feeling this will be good.

    And, you're actually in good company! A lot of people I know are being fired or quitting their day jobs to pursue freelance or home-based businesses, so you're in good company! I've been living entirely off my freelancing work since college, so if I can do it, I'll bet you can too.

    You're a clever guy. If you can make this work for you, that'd be a huge success. Even if it doesn't work, it takes a certain amount of courage and strength of character to even attempt it. Just make sure you're always moving forward, innovating, and for goodness' sake get an accountant!

  17. Congrats on going full time! Sorry about the job. I just discovered HE 3 days ago, and I've spent those 3 days catching up on what I've missed. Can't wait to see what will result from your new-found free time!

  18. Joel-

    First of all, good luck! I visit your site almost every day and think your podcast is hilarious. Keep up the good work! I will continue spreading the word for your site. 🙂 I also am contemplating jumping ship from the workforce and working for myself, so I understand how fucking scary it is. I feel your pain about IE. I've uttered the phrase "Fuck Internet Explorer! Fuck it in the ass!" on more than one occasion. The last frame of the comic made me bust out laughing. Thanks for all the lol-ies!

    Godspeed you fancy bastard…


  19. Speaking of Internet Exploder, I found myself having to download FF to be able to leave a comment on here (I'm on my work computer).

    I'm really excited for you Joel! I wish you best of luck and I wish you lots of win and prosperity!

  20. The first new shirt you have to make: "It's candy mountain rambo" with a strange unicorn rambo hybrid thing with it
    Glad to hear your trying 3 pages a week, that will be great, and my thanks to your friend, the new layout is awsome

    Hope everything works out for you!

  21. That was needlessly blunt.

    What I had typed up, before the OpenID shenannigans ate my original post, is kudos to you. Both times I lost my job I spent the next 6 months playing some iteration of MechWarrior4 instead of being productive or dream-chasing.

  22. Sean, thank you for the encouragement. HE has always been full time (just not during the day). Ive literally been working two full time jobs for the last year. This should give me the chance to take HE where Ive always wanted to without putting it 2nd to my day job.

  23. Andy,

    Its sort of like that now. If you click on the "blog" button you will just get all the blog posts. The home page has the 5 most recent so they are easy to find. I think the videos are going to go in with the blog posts but also have their own category so they are easy to find.

    The layoff was a blessing. I was tired and burt out and depressed at that job. I was in sales for a web design firm. I needed a change and getting fired was the kick in the ass I was waiting for.

    Will you be my Opera test monkey? Let me know if something is out of wack.

  24. Believe me, I have an accountant. Best decision Ive ever made. PS I am ALL FOR doing freelance illustration. If you have any contacts that might need my talents without taking working from yourself, please let me know.

  25. Chris, A KINDRED SPIRIT! What type of work are you hoping to do? As part of the experiment Im going to be delving into the reasons people never get to have their "dream job." What stops us, how we can do it, etc. Stay tuned.

  26. Heres my thoughts on the width. More and more people have widescreen monitors and laptops at hi res. So If Im going to redesign Im going to get all the real estate I can. If it ends up being a problem I can change it. Variable is not a possibility with this theme so thats ruled out.

    Thanks for the encouragement. I dont think we'll do any more lunchcasts because of the bad quality. The new podcast will go up tomorrow I believe.

    Sounds like you had the ideal college experience we were talking about. Its just not an option for everyone. Im certainly not anti college. I just want kids to know that there is more than one way.

    ACtion figures would be tits but they are super expensive. The store should (hopefully be up this week). Thanks again for joining the HE team/mafia/whatever. I really do appreciate the support.

  27. I am trying to start a tech support and web design business. I've had a few tech support jobs in the past (mostly in the education sector), but I haven't had that kind of job in some time and I really miss it. I've been doing it as a sort of side business based solely on referrals of friends until now, but I'd really like to make it my day job. At some point I'm going to have to quit my "real job" and make the leap and hope it works. *crosses fingers* After thinking about your situation, it seems like being forced into the situation, though scary as shit, might be the motivation people like us need to actually get over the fear and make the leap. Here's to conquering our fear of the unknown….


  28. Woohoo!!! I mean, the losing the job thing sucks major balls, but since it was the catalyst for pursuing your dream, perhaps it's not such a bad thing. My husband and I try to live very closely to our philosophy, "That which matters most should never be at the mercy of that which matters least." Which is why choosing your passion and dedicating it to yourself full-time is something I really admire. That and the fact that I've been working on my first book in every spare hour from work and I'd dearly love to just chuck the job and write full-time…watching you do it may just give me the inspiration I need to take the plunge.

    Much good luck and best wishes to you. (With the added bonus that we get another HE comic a week…it's the highlight of my LJ f-list.)

    [cross-posted from LJ, in case you don't get notification of comments there]

  29. No lie, dawg.

    I be straight frontin' from da—-

    Okay, so I can't speak Homey.

    Yep, I started reading when you first posted to the LiveJournal communities, so I first read your LOST comic then went back to the first to get myself better acquainted with you kooky kids.

  30. Haha, I had to do it man, I actually made this to roll the site I admin (mission accomplished), but I jumped at the chance to get you of all people. But seriously, fantastic job on the site.

  31. I think I found it through Whedonesque as well, when I was tracking down all the Dr. Horrible rumors. BTW, I am so glad to find someone else who has the terrible luck of falling in love with shows tha tare ultimately cancelled within a season! And I didn't think anyone else knew about Wonderfalls!

  32. Me too — I found it through doing some random JoCo Googling. JoCo decapitating zombies with his guitar had me hooked.

  33. I'm sorry to hear about your lay-off situation, but your loss is our gain. 3 times a week! Woo-hoo!

    BTW, why don't you have a "get Firefox" banner somewhere? You oughta. Everyone oughta, really.

  34. I've already been turning friends onto the site and podcasts. You get some "Godspeed you fancy bastard." T-Shirts going and I know I can get those sold. I quoted that at a party last week and everyone started cracking up.

  35. I just donated money to your paypal–which means I'm going two months without my online gay-porn subscription! -Seriously, it's a sacrifice. But if an office-manager for a library can't live vicariously through an internet comic-strip author; what's the point? Suffice: I hope you make it!

  36. Wow. Im sitting here just stunned looking at the email. Your generosity is overwhelming. I am rolling out an donation incentives program this week. You're a bit early but rest assured you will be included in it. Im actually talking to my wife right now about what all will be involved. Regardless, please accept my most sincere thanks.

  37. Yeah, I realized my idiocy after I posted that *facepalm*.

    I've had awful jobs before, too… although probably not as many. You have my sympathy.

    Maybe my fellow test monkeys have different experiences, but when I hit "post" it spins its wheels for a while and doesn't show that it posts it, so I have to open the same page in another tab to verify that it actually posted. But that's GOT to be the comment structure that you seem to have outsourced, so that may be a step to far to try to fix for the time being.

    Now I'm going to have to check and see if the new page looks good on my Wii ^_^.

  38. yeah. PA has games covered, but what about my broader geek-lifestyle needs? PA dominated at first…. but that was before the podcasts. Now this site has not only become my primary webcomic, but also my main comedy venue in general. I tell everyone about this site because I want them to be in on these jokes… I mean…er… I tell everyone about this site because I want to be Joel's favorite! LOVE ME! I NEED LOVE!

  39. The full version is generally referred to as "The Irish Blessing". Figures a guy named Sean would post it.

    May the road rise to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your face
    and the rain fall gently on your fields
    And until we meet again
    May the Lord hold you gently
    In the palm of His hand.

  40. HAHA that is hysterical, I feel like you just chronicled my life! This is the first comic I have read here but I am sure I am going to read many more now! Btw, vmware fusion is awesome for testing in ie on a mac!

  41. Thanks for the kudos. I havent used VMware but I have played with Parallels. Ive thought about just using for IE testing. Funny thing is, THIS site has been busted in IE for months and no one has ever complained.

  42. See, there ya go! Conform your site for FF or Chrome or whatever have you. Put on the top of the page "Click here for an IE optimized version of this site".

    BAM. Instant Rick-Roll.

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