Who Is Your Daddy And What Does He Do?

The BIGGEST MERCH SALE I HAVE EVER DONE  is happening RIGHT NOW in the HE STORE and ends on 9/21/13!!! $10 Books! $9 Shirts! Other things! Different Prices!

This is essentially the first comic of the rebooted redirectionalized (no WAY this is a real word) HijiNKS ENSUE. The storyline before this serves as a sort of bridge between the pop culture based, continuity free strips and the new stuff. It’s not going to be all parenting stuff from here on out. That’s just how I’m choosing to start this phase of my work, because that (being a parent) was the entire reason I started the comic and eventually started The Experiment. It seems fitting that this new chapter in The Experiment begins with comics about the impetus for The Experiment itself and a discussion of one of the ideals I brought up in my original Experiment writings.

There is this pervasive idea that “artist” is not a job. A concept that in order to be an artist or a musician or an independent anything, you must ALSO have a “respectable” day job. The short version of my thesis on the subject is that art, music, comedy, drama enrich the lives of essentially every person who lives on this planet, yet most of those people would consider those professions as fake or unattainable “you’re deluding yourself” dreams. Well, that is until those careers are practiced at their absolute apex. No one scoffs at the career path of an international pop star or an Oscar winner. Yet they seem to forget that everyone they admire in entertainment started as a “deluded dreamer.” Further more, they don’t seem to realize that intense satisfaction, personal worth, accomplishment and even financial gain can be made from just doing the thing (usually the art) that you want to do for a considerably smaller audience. I, and thousands like me, are proof that this idea is outdated and irrelevant, to say the least. Yesterday my kid said she can’t decide is she wants to be “a veterinarian or a famous artist.” She pointed out that a vet gets to be around cute animals all day (plus one in the vet column), but she already knows from me selling prints of her artwork at conventions (for which she gets all of the money) that drawing something once and getting paid for it over and over is NOT too shabby of a gig. There are far worse ways to make a living.

My daughter has actually had a pretty good handle on what I do for a living for a couple of years now. She once said, “You draw pictures for your friends and if they like them, they pay you for them.” That’s not SUPER far off from entirely accurate. She also understands that I don’t to go to work away from home every day, but in exchange I have to leave for a convention 3-4 days a month. I’ve convinced her this is a more than fair trade and a small price to pay. When a stranger asks me what I do, and I don’t want to get into specifics I’ll usually say I’m a cartoonist. They’ll ask what cartoons I draw (they almost ALWAYS assume “cartoonist means “animator”), and I’ll say I do my own cartoons online. This typically ends the conversation because that sounds like I’m saying, “I don’t have a job but I fuck around on the Internet a lot.” If I just want to shut the conversation down and, say, finish my haircut in silent peace I will say I am “an illustrator.” NO ONE has a follow up question for that one. Not entirely sure why, either.

COMMENTERS: Have you ever had a hard time explaining what it is you do, or what your spouse, parents or kids do? 


If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr you probably already know that I have recently joined with Hiveworks for my hosting and advertising needs. They are a digital publisher and advertising network, AND a pretty great group of comics pros that form a guild of publishers, artists, business types and David Willis. I suggest you check out their roster of comics, their affiliates and anything else they have to offer since my current financial situation relies somewhat on their success.

I will also take this time to make a friendly reminder: If you like HijiNKS ENSUE and you want to see it continue, please do not use an ad blocker on my site. Use it for every other website (accept for those run by independent artist types) if you must, but please whitelist this site and allow me to continue making a living from the free content I give away. Thanks!

Comments (81)

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Macman's avatar

Macman · 92 weeks ago

I work in capacity planning and performance monitoring and management of IT systems. I have a hell of a time explaining my job to people…assuming I can even keep them awake long enough to get through the explanation. My son has come to work with me a couple of times, and I still don’t think he could tell anyone what I do.

4 replies · active 92 weeks ago

So…what do you do?
Macman's avatar

Macman · 92 weeks ago

What? That first sentence didn’t explain it all?

I used to performance test web applications to ensure that they can handle the expected user loads that they will experience in our production environment and also making sure that we have the system capacity on the floor to take on the new application and user loads. Lately I’ve been working more on implementing tools to monitor application performance in our test and production environments. Asleep yet?

That sounds exactly like what my buddy does. He has stopped explaining it to people. Now he just says “I work on the parts of cell phone games you don’t really see.”
Macman's avatar

Macman · 92 weeks ago

That’s a good answer, actually. I may have to steal it.
I saw this, read your follow up, and can totally relate. My wife, as it were, has the “real” job working in an office, whereas I’m an actor. I’m doing everything I can to make what I do my source of income, but people always ask me, “When are you going to get a job?” As if the acting thing is not work in itself between the auditions and classes, and doing small parts for little to no pay isn’t work, I find it hard to explain. However, I do think I might need some type of work to keep myself busy or at least to support the career path I’m carving for myself.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Stagegeek's avatar

Stagegeek · 92 weeks ago

I can certainly relate. I went to school for theatre, and haven’t done a bit of it since, working jobs to keep my head above water which did not allow the time free to act. I have now started a regular 9-5, and have started auditioning again (just this week, the Broadway Bound show “National Passtime” at Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre). My wife is an artist/creative guru. She has not held a regular 9-5 type job for 3 years now, and does her best to help out around the house as much as she can. Unfortunately, we have yet to find the market for her brand of art, which she describes as “Vividly Cheerful Abstract Art”, which can all be found available for purchase at ww.spkcreative.com.
Rich's avatar

Rich · 92 weeks ago

I (hope I) speak for everyone when I say I will continue not to use an adblocker as long as you continue not to sell space to ads that want blocking (noisy one, autoplayers, malware installers, etc). Keep up the good work (and the reasonably palatable ads) and we’ll keep up the page views. :)b
JoJo's avatar

JoJo · 92 weeks ago

i agree with the good fellow up there. i always disable adblock for the webcomics i read. as for my job, since i juggle myself between 2 or 3 jobs regularly, i say that “i do things, fix problems, know people”

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

You are obviously a contract killer.
You’re the IT guy, then
Crotalus's avatar

Crotalus · 92 weeks ago

True… but only the offspring are capable of that devastatingly vicious bitchslap to the ego.
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 92 weeks ago

You obviously haven’t met my mum…
I was gonna say… Im sure for a lot of people the ego hit would be WORSE coming from their parents. My mom has little to no idea what I actually do. She knows I draw comics and put them on the internet but I think the comprehension stops there.
Adblock disabled!

I’m a high school teacher, but when people ask I reply that I am a forensic anthropologist who specialises in embryos. “I poke your babies until they do what I want.”

mist's avatar

mist · 92 weeks ago

tends to puzzle me a bit, about the “don’t come home to a pigsty”, and when others mention childcaring with regards to laundry and cooking. Do they assume that single people doing other jobs don’t have to look after their domicile or prepare their own food?. (I know there’s more to home management than just that, but those don’t go away just because you work 10-15 hrs in a “real” job)
it’s part of the benefit of a relationship in general. If two people are working, both have to share that workload but also share in the extra money that comes in. IF one person is working the other can dedicate time to making sure the home is in great shape. Either way, it lightens the load on both. Single people just have that extra chore. They’re poorer and/or there home requires the extra work,
Leshka's avatar

Leshka · 92 weeks ago

Title: Word Processing Supervisor. Unfortunately, I don’t have a staff anymore, and I do all the work myself. What is it I do, you ask? Depends on the day. I usually say “I do the stuff no one else wants to do” but there are many jobs like that.

I went to pastry school (and huuuuge debt) just so I could say a profession in 2 words: pastry chef. Course that doesn’t pay the bills, so incomprehensible job, here I come…

dan's avatar

dan · 92 weeks ago

My father in law plays violin for one of the top symphonies in the USA. When I told my mom the was a violinist for the symphony she said the same as in the strip..but what is his real job?

Granted, I grew up in a city with a symphony that was just okay and was basically volunteer with stipend pay, so those musicians did have other jobs.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Runcibletune's avatar

Runcibletune · 92 weeks ago

Augh, the music student in me just emitted a sympathetic wail at that story.
I’m a technical writer. When people ask what that means, I usually tell them that I write all the user manuals that no one ever reads.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Hey, I want to let you know that I read them! They tell me how to not break things.


I’m a stay at home parent which is barely one step removed from being a pan handler in terms of respectability. Easy to explain, but nobody sticks around for the explanation because they assume they know what I’m going to say before I say it.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Gah! I know this so well. My wife stayed home with our daughter for the first 5 years. She still works from home but when people would say “and what does your wife do.” I would usually say, “She works a HELL of a lot harder than I do.”
The black dog 's avatar

The black dog · 92 weeks ago

This comic reflects exactly what my boyfriend goes through sometimes since he is an actor.
Chelsea's avatar

Chelsea · 92 weeks ago

I’ve been going around and around with my husband on a similar topic. I’m currently a technical writer, but I’m trying very hard to quit that and be a full-time novelist. Husband is very supportive about the plan, but doesn’t get why I don’t want to tell every Larry, Moe, and Curly I meet that I’m writing a book. Honestly, I just don’t want to deal with the “delusional dreamer” side-eye. I figure having actual, hard-earned money to show for my work (even if it’s not very much) makes it look more legitimate from the outside.
One of the reasons I dont tell strangers I write comic strips is, “hey I had a funny thought. You can use it in one of your funny papers!”
DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 92 weeks ago

I constantly have a hard time explaining what I do. I’m a graphic designer. (yes, but what do you DO? You design graphics? –No, I design graphically.)
I don’t create advertising for a major national company – but I adjust those advertisements to specs given by individual company reps for their own personal advertising.
Sound fun? No? Tedious and stupid? Yeah, that’s about right…
Paul's avatar

Paul · 92 weeks ago

Disc Jockey. No… not on the radio…. No…. not at a concert…. no…. not at a club…. yeah…. parties…. right…. I PARTY for a living…. right…. there is never any “real” workj…. Seriously, this IS my full time gig….. it IS putting my daughter through college, feeds my 17 year old son, supports all our media habits, pays the mortgage and taxes. Sure, my wife has a Masters degree. Who do you think supported us while she did here time and now that she’s overqualified for any paying job in this town. Yep, I also get to volunteer at school during the day. DJ SuperDad
ken 's avatar

ken · 92 weeks ago

No one has a follow up to illustrator because most don’t know what that means but don’t want to admit it

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

My kids haven’t asked me this question yet. They seem to appreciate my job as an artist, especially since it means I’m home for them after school. Whenever I start to stress about not pulling my financial weight in the family, my wife reminds me of how much we’d have to pay for babysitting for all the time I am with the kids.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

When I was still working a regular job we did some math and realized that with daycare and gas my wife was only earning about $300 a month working 40+ hours a week. She quit the next month.
Tony's avatar

Tony · 92 weeks ago

Hopefully by the time I have kids, I’ll actually have to explain what I’m doing, not what I went to school to learn to do but now just get really annoyed trying to do in my free time and don’t know if I even want to do anymore. That, or hopefully I’ll have gotten good enough to get paid to draw pictures like I think I rather would, but can’t be sure of until I can kinda form any sort of consistent artistic habit.

But with everyone else, I just point to Pixar movies and say “Kinda like that.” If pressed, I can go into the differences between real-time rendering and prerendered films and all the constraints that adds, and the differences between environment and character art, and textures and rigs and particle effects, and whichever discipline I’m trying to get passable at at any given time, and the fact that the general perception in the industry is that no one wants to play a game about a talking airplane when they could be playing the next Call of Duty or Madden and how that affects the aesthetics, and suddenly the Pixar analogy is completely borked so I always pray that I won’t actually be asked to elaborate.

i stock shelves overnight at a grocery store…I make up stories as to what I do..the sad part is I can’t do anything evil overnights….so I torture my coworkers with evil geeky ideas instead
I had a new one the other day. I’m a Systems Admin in IT, but I usually just say “IT” and if someone asks me for specifics, I oblige. I said my usual “I’m in IT,” and the guy looked at me blankly and said, “What’s that?”

In all my years of doing this (15+) I’ve never had that response. I take for granted that everyone has had to deal with the IT department at some time. Apparently not this guy, for better or for worse. 🙂

That is an AWESOME job. When I was a kid I was obsessed with shows like Movie Magic. I wanted to be a prop builder or a model maker or a stop motion animator.
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 92 weeks ago

That would be my dream job! Now if only I had an once of artistic talent…
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 92 weeks ago

Ounce, dammit.
GrendelVS's avatar

GrendelVS · 92 weeks ago

I have a similar problem trying to explain “Change Management” to anyone not in IT.
theroyalher's avatar

theroyalher · 92 weeks ago

Aside from my day job of Personal/Executive assistant which is hard enough to explain because I do WAY more than either of those titles by themselves call for let alone combined I teach and coach Ballroom Dance.
I am one of 6 people on the planet certified by ALL the the organizations which govern ballroom dance and only one of 4 people who teach all styles and coach professional level couples…….try explaining that to the general populace…..usually it goes
“I teach dance”
“Like jazz and hip hop (FML) and stuff?”
“OMG like you can tango and stuff”
“And stuff”
“OMG I totally want to learn for my cousin/brother/sisters/friends wedding”

2 replies · active 92 weeks ago

I was a bit of an EA for a few years. I basically ran errands for a rich dude that used to be my boss at a dotcom startup. It was exceedingly weird.
theroyalher's avatar

theroyalher · 92 weeks ago

Weird is right. Theres all the office stuff….answering phones, emails, business travel and the like. Still a number of things other EA’s dont do and wouldnt do especially for the money I make. The real insanity comes in when you take into account that I pay all his household bills, handle all his personal properties and vehicles, buy his clothes, wine, gifts, book all his vacations, doctors…..I mean everything….I even order the coffee for his house……AND I do the same thing for his father, wife and 4 ADULT children.
Had to walk out of a restaurant last night to pick up a call about the new cooling unit for the new wine cellar (the 3rd one) and was able to pay for it over the phone because I use his credit card so much I have the number memorized.
Greg's avatar

Greg · 92 weeks ago

“I am a Field Engineer who installs, validates, and repairs automated monitoring and watering systems for Pharmaceutical, Laboratories, and Biotech.”
“I work with computers.”
“All my funny work stories involve blood.”

You and me both.

mist's avatar

mist · 92 weeks ago

Downside of vet is same as downsides for IT fixing. You only see the sick and the injured, you want to help all of them, it’s never as glamorous as it’s sounds and failure is unpleasant.

Did IT, and also security work, for many years. Kids didn’t ask much because I never got to see them that much (server downtime is often best scheduled after hours). They do remember the times (as does my ex) of having to wait outside in the car for hours on end when we got an on-call emergency on way to beach or on way back from holiday, and others were busy.
Now I’m doing FX trading for kicks, and dairy farming. No kid questions as partner took them, she didn’t like being away from her city friends, having to travel, or having a partner smell bad all the time. And I’d still never get to see the kids anyway because farmings 10-12hr days, 7 days a week. But at least I don’t have to constant put up with mismatched poorly de3signed tech, or playing constant catchup with the late$t relea$e or patche$.

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 92 weeks ago

My dad’s an astrophysicist/nuclear physicist. I haven’t a clue what he actually DOES because all the interesting stuff’s classified. He’s semi-retired and currently seeing what papers he didn’t have time to finish that are still publishable, so maybe I can finally read some of his stuff.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 92 weeks ago

As for me, I’m unemployed but I’m thinking this year I need to call myself a “moving goon”. Seems like 75% of my friends and my parents have been moving this year, and I’ve helped most of them out.
Fred's avatar

Fred · 92 weeks ago

I have Adblock turned off but I still see large empty boxes at the top and on the right, and sometimes the bottom too.


Emily's avatar

Emily · 92 weeks ago

After my dad the computer wizard passed away my mom had a discussion with the manager from his job. Apparently they couldn’t replace him because they weren’t sure what is was that he did, just that everything stopped working after he went into the hospital.

For me I’m transitioning from deli clerk back to my chosen field of childcare, so the responses are switching from “that’s the best you can come up with?” to “you’re crazy to enjoy watching kids for a living!”

KGHorn's avatar

KGHorn · 92 weeks ago

I’m a musician. My favorite was trying to explain what I do to my completely type A+, logical engineering brother and his engineering wife.

Them: “So, you’re majoring in horn performance?”
Me: “Yep.”
Them: “So, what do you do with that?”
Me: “The ultimate goal is to play my horn really well and people will pay me to do it.”
Them: “Wait, people pay you to make music? That can’t actually be a job.”
Me: “Well, there’s the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and even some smaller, local orchestras and all of those musicians get paid to play.”
Them: “But they must have jobs they do, right?”
Me: “No, that IS their job.”
Them: “Really? Are you sure? They just get paid to play in an orchestra?”
Me: “Yes, it’s a full-time job.”
Them: “Oh…….are you really sure about that?”


Gretchen's avatar

Gretchen · 92 weeks ago

I’m an author who still has to make ends meet with a day job (senior technical writer at a biometric security firm…which is every bit as boring as it sounds). I’ve been very lucky to have a supportive husband, family, and even co-workers, but every now and then I’ll get strange questions or condescending remarks. “Why are you writing stories, you already have a real job?” “Do you know how unlikely it is to get published? Probably not worth the effort.” Or my personal favorite, “I’m totally writing a book too! Well, I mean, I have the idea for a book. You know what, you could write it for me, then when it’s a best seller I’ll give you a cut of the profit.”
Neil's avatar

Neil · 92 weeks ago

Of course it’s not a real job! You enjoy it.

If the rest of us are going to be miserable in our day to day lives, then we’re sure as hell not going to accept that it’s possible to be paid and not be miserable!

Neph Sy's avatar

Neph Sy · 92 weeks ago

My job isn’t hard to explain, but people don’t understand how I can support myself with it. I am an artist, but for the last ten years the focus has been jewelry, as a craftsperson.
“Where do you buy……” – I make it all
“Do you have a store?” No.
Or if I’m at a craft show – You’re in it right now.
“So what stores can I buy your jewelry at” – None
Or if I’m at a craft show – This is the store
“Can you fix this ….(piece of junk jewelry that is not made by me)” – No
“Can you engrave/size my ring/repair (an expensive piece of jewelry not made by me)” – No

I do tire of people thinking that I am a repair shop, must have my own physical store or be selling in stores across the country to be able to support myself. They just don’t get that there are many business models out there. Just like Joel, I’m home working most days, but go out of town to craft shows 1-3 times a month. I can really relate to “the experiment”, and the roller-coaster ride that is being self employed.

At this point my family is pretty much used to the idea that this is my job, but they still keep offering me money. Since I live frugally, it looks to them as if I’m in debt, and poor, but that is not the case. Seriously my parents try to pay me for picking them up at the airport, or mowing their lawn, because “we would of paid someone else to do it”!

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 92 weeks ago

I’ve got a lot of friends at Intel. Some of them run the machines that make the chips, some of them fix stuff that those other people break, but anyone I mention it to assumes they sit in a workroom designing computer chips instead of the reality of “stare at this monitor and do something if this light comes on.” I suppose I should take it as a compliment, I look like someone who has smart friends.

…not to say my friends are stupid, particularly if they read this. There’s just a lot more going on at those companies than the big sexy TV depiction.

MrPlow99's avatar

MrPlow99 · 92 weeks ago

I’m a software engineer. I generally find that the only people who ask for more details about what I do are the ones who would understand my answer anyway.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

lou's avatar

lou · 92 weeks ago

Reminds me of the many MANY times my dad would get my major wrong when he talks about me to people. He says Computer Science, when I actually studied (and got my B.S. in) Computer Engineering. One time he dropped an f-bomb after I corrected him (not for the first time).
werwolf's avatar

werwolf · 92 weeks ago

i really wrestled with myself to try to take the high road and add something reasonable or sensible to this comments thread, but… what the heck!
uwg's avatar

uwg · 92 weeks ago

You’ve probably heard some version of this joke:

The teacher is asking the kids what their parents do for a living. After a bunch of the usual responses, Little Johnny says, “My daddy plays piano in a whorehouse.” The teacher, flustered, quickly changes the subject. Later she makes a call to Johnny’s father and asks, “What’s this I hear about you playing piano in a whorehouse?” Johnny’s father replies, “Oh, that. Actually I’m a corporate attorney, but you can’t tell that to a 6-year-old kid.”

I’m an herbalist.

If you can understand what that means…you’re probably also an herbalist. I am so sorry for you.

lou's avatar

lou · 92 weeks ago

My dad is a mortgage broker, a branch of the real estate tree who helps you pay for the house you want to buy. It’s pretty confusing to me, but the best I can describe to those who ask are he’s a go-between from customer to bank.
Joel, the next time your daughter asks what you do, just say, “Daddy occasionally draws gay bearded dudes getting it on, and it is glorious”.

Oh, and I whitelisted the living shit out of this site 8^)

Well, thats all recursive cool-ness and all,
but we are all really on the edge of our seats for when you SORAS this kid into the comedy-laden teen years, ( next week? )
and introduce Cousin Oliver.
meagankn's avatar

meagankn · 91 weeks ago

This is exactly what I face as an actor pretty much constantly. Along with being consistently asked to work for free. I once tried to make the analogy that you would never approach a chef that you have no previous personal relationship with to cater your wedding for free. No amount of “it will look great on your resume” or “it’s a wonderful learning experience” will get them to say yes. Somehow with the arts it is completely different. And it sometimes sucks. So glad you’re doing this and doing so well at it! And I’m excited to see where the new style will lead!
Deadboy's avatar

Deadboy · 8 weeks ago

I’ve got a slightly different problem. I’m 30 and a punk (big Mohawk, leather jacket, piercings etc), so most people who met me end up asking – “when are you going to grow up and get a job?”
– “I have a job. I work in IT. In an office.”
– “What looking like that?” 0_0
– “Yes, because I’m good at what I do and what I do and my boss isn’t prejadisted.”

Open Your Eyes


 The feedback and support for the new direction of the comics has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you, Fancy Bastards, for letting me know I’ve made the right choice. I wrestled with this decision for months, but (coincidentally enough) it gave me the same “You really should do this, you know you want to, you know it’s the right time,” feeling that I got both when I decided to propose to my wife and tell her I wanted to talk about having children. When it’s right, it’s right.

My daughter comes up with these hyper-specific, ultra-complicated rules for games and playtime events and spits them out like they’re totally common sense based, and everyone should probably already know them because… see the earlier thing about common sense. Unfortunately my dad brain has a hard time with, “and if any two ponies are in the pony jail at the same time, then one person has to run into the kitchen and make the other person a snack, but only if the first pony is a pegasus…” etc, etc. She often starts these games with either only the title or the first couple of rules in mind, and ABSOLUTELY no idea what is supposed to happen after, say, the first 30 seconds. I should just throw my hands up at the beginning and walk directly into pony jail.

COMMENTERS: What convoluted games do your kids make up? Did you have any of your own as a kid? One time, me and kiddo made an actual board game that you can print out and play with your kids.

Have you seen my wife’s latest geeky jewelry creation? DNA Necklaces! 

DNA Necklace on Etsy


Comments (43)

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the lampshading here is kind of ridiculously fun.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

I’ll be moving on and never mentioning it again very shortly.
Jason's avatar

Jason · 92 weeks ago

I really like the idea that Joel has had a family this whole time just off screen. Bully for you, Sir.

4 replies · active 92 weeks ago

I BRIEFLY considered the “reveal” being panels from previous HE strips where you only saw Josh from the waste up where you can now see that the kiddo was running around his legs the entire time.
I want to see this so badly.
Gretchen's avatar

Gretchen · 92 weeks ago

Oh, that would be amazingly hilarious!
nenslo's avatar

nenslo · 92 weeks ago

Hyper-specific, ultra-complicated rules for games made up on the spot? Has Kiddo been reading Calvin & Hobbes? Because that sounds like the guiding principle to Calvinball!

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

as probably any parent will attest, Watterson was “reading” kids.
lou's avatar

lou · 92 weeks ago

As a kid, Calvin & Hobbes was a HUGE influence on my young, sponge-like brain. Every Saturday or Sunday, my brother & I and whichever friends/neighbors available would try our hand at Calvinball. The only rule: make up your own rules. We used the books as guides on how to play, and bounce our own rules off those, but I can’t recall how many times I won.
Kids are always saying stuff like that.”Become rage, Daddy! Become the cleansing fire! Bring forth the 100 tailed scorpion prince that will rule from beneath for one thousand years!”

You know. Kid stuff.

Fren's avatar

Fren · 92 weeks ago

That was mostly my favorite part about raising kids.
HikingViking's avatar

HikingViking · 92 weeks ago

So what you’re saying is that your daughter might have dabbled in Mesopotamian myths. Got it – very advanced for a six year old.
psuedoname's avatar

psuedoname · 92 weeks ago

5 year old step daughter, playing in the conservatory, ask her what she is playing, says ‘bare club, thats where all the barbies go, where they can take their clothes off if they want, small boobies, large boobies, all are welcome’. Me and the wife were laughing for a good five minutes after that

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Ashamed's avatar

Ashamed · 92 weeks ago

I’m trying real hard to like the new direction. Honestly, I am.But the honest truth is I come here for Geek jokes and references to other Geek stuff. Not to read about Joel’s personal life.

I’ll keep on struggling on for the time being. The the honest, ashamed truth is, it is becoming a struggle.

3 replies · active 92 weeks ago

Shannon's avatar

Shannon · 92 weeks ago

I understand where Ashamed is coming from, I think if I didn’t have a child I might even agree. But, ever since I had the sprog I find myself more drawn to parenting jokes. I think what humor we enjoy us based on where we are in life. I for one was getting bored of one-off geek jokes and am super excited that one of my favorite webcomics is growing and developing with me, rather than staying a stagnant reminder of what life was before the all consuming child.
That’s basically where im coming from. I cant keep making the same jokes, or the same types of jokes over and over when my mind and my reality are focused elsewhere.
if the worst that happens is you got 6 years of free entertainment on the subject matter than you liked, then you are certainly no worse for the ware. however, these first few strips are there to establish the new elements of the universe. it isn’t going to be parenting stuff all the time, just like it wasnt Doctor Who stuff all the time before. The bottom line is Im going to do what Ive always done, which is make the comics that I want to make. You are welcomed to come along for the ride at no cost, and you are welcomed to get off at any stop you like.
Laura's avatar

Laura · 92 weeks ago

I’m enjoying (and I mean this completely sincerely) how their eyebrows have almost completely detached from their heads by the last panel. Like they’re separate entities, exiting the mothership.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

I really like drawing crazy floating eyebrows. I think I got that from FLCL (The only anime I have ever really enjoyed).
I love how you explained the sudden appearance of a daughter. Well done! 😀

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Drew's avatar

Drew · 92 weeks ago

The lesson here for potential superheroes is, to quote Edna Mode, “No capes!”
When my wife was a small child, she apparently straight up convinced the babysitter that she had a brother and a sister. But that her mother didn’t trust the sitter with the other children. The sitter confronted her mother about it. Hilarious!
Or your kid has a ghost cat.
Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 92 weeks ago

Heh heh. New direction. Heh heh.

2 replies · active 92 weeks ago

took me a minute.
Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 92 weeks ago

Not gonna lie, I’ve been giggling like a four-year old for the last few days. But good on you for taking the plunge. I’ve been noticing similar changes in focus in a number of the long-running comics I follow. When you’ve been at it for a while you have to change what you’re doing; to do otherwise is to refuse to grow. But I think it’s brave to risk a change like this. A lot of people are afraid to do it, and have the Fonz jump his motorcycle over a shark tank instead.
Yeah, this is really familiar. My 4 1/2 year old is really into dinosaurs, and BBC documentaries about dinosaurs, and he likes to enact dinosaur-documentary-type scenes (which he narrates. In Kenneth Branagh’s voice. we live in the USA so the English accent is extra hilarious.) and frequently asks us to play with him, but if we don’t do exactly what the script in his head says he gets angry and accuses us of messing with him “on purpose” (as opposed to accidentally messing with him?). He also sings/hums background music and has different music for feeding scenes, chasing scenes, attack scenes, etc and will yell at us if we don’t pick up on his music cues.
And a true geek is born!
Chelsea's avatar

Chelsea · 92 weeks ago

My niece is five and basically arranges the rules of any game – made-up or commercially available – around the one central, all-encompassing, grand master rule: she wins. One time, we were playing a match game with penguins and she decided that she gets extra turns every time. She couldn’t explain WHY, but it had to be so. It frustrates my husband, a devout board game geek, to no end. Every once in a while, he’ll either make her play the official rules or start making up his own to even the playing field. Neither choice ends well.
Justplainsomething's avatar

Justplainsomething · 92 weeks ago

I don’t know if this counts as convoluted, but I used to put couch cushions at the bottom of the basement stairs (which were just concrete) and see how far up I could jump. I think I was about five then. The fact that I never broke any bones growing up is a goddamn miracle.
evildan's avatar

evildan · 92 weeks ago

while babysitting my brother’s 6 year old, he had me playing “Zombies vs. Ninjas”. We, as the Ninjas, had to fight invisible Zombies. He waved vaguely at one part of the yard “this is my base”. at another part of the yard “this is your base”. So I asked him ” where is the Zombies base?” “the Zombies don’t have any base.” he replied. “then how do they drop the beat?” I asked. He looks at and with a deadpan voice said “just play the game.”
Pandelon's avatar

Pandelon · 92 weeks ago

I hate to say this, but for a few moments I genuinely read “chicken-duck” as “chicken-dick”.
Mathis Phoire's avatar

Mathis Phoire · 92 weeks ago

My cousin and I used to play a variation of Don’t Touch the Lava (which I’m surprised no one has mentioned yet) called “Don’t Touch the Ground or You’re a Green Pig”Don’t ask me why or how we decided you would turn into moldy swine, nor why it was a bad thing because I don’t remember. Best bet is Dr. Seuss had something to do with it.

Nightsbridge's avatar

Nightsbridge · 20 weeks ago

I liked the old direction and found it amusing, but I tend to like comics with more narrative drive more anyway, so I’m excited.

The Birds And The… Sometimes It’s Just Birds

I LOVE the argument from homophobes that goes something like, “How am I supposed to explain to my children that their teacher is gay?!” Have you tried? It’s super easy. It goes something like, “Sometimes a boy falls in love with a girl and sometimes two boys or two girls fall in love.” The kid’s response (precluding any prevoius long term exposure to any ignorant hate-speech) typically goes something like, “Ok. I want more chicken nuggets.”

Those interested in goods from The HE Store should watch this space. I’m not saying the biggest blowout sale I’ve ever run is around the corner, but that is exactly what I am not yes are too saying. I’m saying that.

I think our daughter was four and a half when we  laid the awful truth of the homosexual agenda on her. I believe her exact response was, “I might want to marry a boy. But I MIGHT want to marry a girl.” We told her that in some states, especially the one she lives in, two boys or two girls aren’t allowed to get married even if they love each other. Her response was, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!” She says that a lot, but that time she was extremely correct in her assessment of the situation. My hope is that within 10 years the idea that two people in love can’t have that love legally recognize and be afforded the same rights as any other married couple will be a thing of the past. My kiddo will roll her eyes in disbelief at how backward things were in “my day.”

Confused? Read this comic and blog post to see what’s going on with HijiNKS ENSUE. It’s exciting stuff!

COMMENTERS: Has a kid ever floored you with how easily they grasp a seemingly complex argument or situation? They tend to cut through the BS pretty quickly and expose your hypocrisy with reckless abandon.

Have you seen my wife’s latest geeky jewelry creation? DNA Necklaces! 

DNA Necklace on Etsy


Comments (88)

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morgan's avatar

morgan · 93 weeks ago

I love this. Your comics always make me happy and I’m super excited about this new direction.

5 replies · active 93 weeks ago

Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 93 weeks ago

For various reasons, any time I see or hear the phrases “new direction” my brain translates it to “nude erection”.
seriously's avatar

seriously · 93 weeks ago

Thank you for that, I have a meeting on Monday with a boss who uses that phrase a lot and now that image will be stuck in my brain.
Richter's avatar

Richter · 93 weeks ago

Especially when my wife made me watch Glee.
Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 93 weeks ago

I suspect the writers did that deliberately.
My mind keeps registering it as One Direction, and then I’m left wondering what a quintet of fey British guys grabbing each other’s crotches has to do with jokes about Dr. Who and Star Trek.
As a Guest's avatar

As a Guest · 93 weeks ago

The hairy, chunky, delicious birds. It’s really nice to see a comic with a gay character AND a bear without needing to be an awful, shallow, subculture pandering mess.

2 replies · active 92 weeks ago

So much this. Though I wouldn’t mind a little fanservice now and then, like when Josh bedded that dude from the rave. 8^)
well, see that sort of thing would be MORE likely to happen in a story centric HE.
Jordan's avatar

Jordan · 93 weeks ago

So very excited to see the comic heading in this new direction. I’ve always been a fan, but the introduction of mini-arcs last year had me hopeful we’d one day get a larger web of continuity-driven storytelling. Glad to see it’s off to a strong start!
Rich's avatar

Rich · 93 weeks ago

You know you’re a high school science teacher when your first thought on seeing that lovely piece of handicraft is “She should only use four colors for the bases, and use them in pairs.”

4 replies · active 93 weeks ago

You know you’re a Jonathan Coulton fan when you see it and thing “yep, the necklace has cancer”
GAH! We thought about making it super accurate, but it wasnt as pretty. Maybe back to the drawing board.
Kassandra's avatar

Kassandra · 93 weeks ago

Could always argue it’s not human dna.
Chris's avatar

Chris · 93 weeks ago

You know you’re not a mature adult when your first thought is “I can make DNA necklaces too! The palette is much more monochromatic though”
But you ALWAYS need the giant space laser!
lou's avatar

lou · 93 weeks ago

Giant Space Lasers: There’s no problem they can’t solve!
….was that an option? I’d like to know more!
BoldlyGettingThere's avatar

BoldlyGettingThere · 93 weeks ago

I was listening to Podcast #18 at work last night and Joel started talking about how he’d never make the HE crew have real lives or storylines. I love seeing how organically you’ve changed your mind on that, and I’m super excited about the new direction!

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

It was more of a necessity than anything. Old me didn’t have that need yet.
I’ve always been a fan of your daughter (man, that sounds weird) from things you posted on Twitter, and LOVE her in the comic. Great start to this new direction, I’m loving it.
deadrobot's avatar

deadrobot · 93 weeks ago

My Positive reinforcement gland secretes it’s juices all over this website!

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Maybe you should get that looked at…
Gretchen's avatar

Gretchen · 93 weeks ago

Love the comic and the new direction, but I have to say, your wife is an evil genius (by which I just mean genius) with all things jewelry related! I love her designs.

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Im sure she will appreciate that. thanks!
This is why you never overreact when a child trips and falls.
Don’t overreact, and the child gets back up.
Overreact and the child begins to cry.

Children are very sensitive to people’s reactions.
If you treat homosexuality as being a hush hush subject, they will think something is wrong with it.
If you treat it as a matter of fact and no big deal, they will not see it any differently than anything else that takes place in their world.

Great comic today! 😀

2 replies · active 93 weeks ago

Exactly! They mirror your reaction to nearly everything. Except they amplify it.
Toon's avatar

Toon · 93 weeks ago

Very true. There’s a fine line between “not overreacting” and “underreacting,” and I usually try not to cross it by providing immediate-but-cheerful attention when a kid trips and falls. “You’re okay? Just a bump? You’re okay.”
PokeyPuppy's avatar

PokeyPuppy · 93 weeks ago

I used to teach dance classes. I remember finally being pushed to my limit with one song on a CD that was pretty misogynistic (don’t remember the song, as this was 12 years ago). I told the class of mostly 8-yr-olds that I just didn’t want to play that song again, and when asked why, I said the lyrics were saying women were there for men to play with. The righteous indignation from the whole class made me so incredibly happy. 🙂

2 replies · active 93 weeks ago

I took my kiddo to kids karaoke when she was maybe 4. Kids were singing Tea Pot and Old MacDonald and such. She sang Video Killed the Radio Star. Then a little girl, maybe 7, sang that Ke$Ha song about brushing your teeth with a bottle of jack. Her parents were just cheering along.
MrPlow99's avatar

MrPlow99 · 93 weeks ago

In their defense, JD is probably pretty good at killing the bacteria that leads to tooth decay.
It does seem like certain groups are a little obsessed with the *mechanics* of homosexuality, doesn’t it? They can’t stop focusing on the buttsex…the dirty, filthy, delicious buttsex…

Looking forward to the new buttse–I mean DIRECTION! Looking forward to the new direction!

3 replies · active 92 weeks ago

I wonder if they know straight people can have the buttsex too?
The Unknown FB's avatar

The Unknown FB · 93 weeks ago

No…they seem to skip over that aspect of ‘ro sex…especially if it involves any discussions of “pegging”.
And no, not the pirate kind…unless that’s your kink too.
In Texas, they sure did. Thats why Buttsex was specifically allowed ONLY for Straight people.
Justplainsomething's avatar

Justplainsomething · 93 weeks ago

I remember being four (this would be circa 1989) and having a conversation with my black neighbor around my own age in the Chicago suburbs about how weird it is that black people are called black when they’re actually lots of different shades of brown. Actually a pretty nice discussion.

6 replies · active 93 weeks ago

As far as I can tell, my daughter doesn’t know the terms “black people” and “white people.” We’ve never said anything to her to make her think people with different skin colors are especially different from each other. I know someone is going to come along and ruin this pretty soon, but for now she (correctly) believes that everyone is the same and everyone has a somewhat different skin color (same as hair color).

It just hit me for the first time how much emphasis we put on skin color and how little we put on hair color. Huh.

I was about three when I was out with my mother, and a African American mother and daughter walked into the same store we were in, and I said to my mother “Mom, that girl looks like Rudy!” (This being the height of the Cosby Show era). My mother, holding back the feeling of being mortified for a minute, worried I was going to say “because she’s black” was amused by my response “because she has the same hair style.”
Im in the same boat with my six year old. I know she’s going to start hearing “black people” and “white people” at school and then our magical utopian dream is going to be over.
mist's avatar

mist · 93 weeks ago

often for young children ANY difference is room for riddicule… yet they’re to young to do it for cultural or systemic reasons. a comment on skin colour is just as deep as being tall or short
I like the way your kids describe people, we can learn lots of things of their innocence. Badly, we lost it as the years pass by.
Great comic!
Dave's avatar

Dave · 93 weeks ago

Daniel Tosh has a bit on this that is pretty on the nose. Goes something like this:

“There was a commercial in California by those against gay marriage that had a little girl who said ‘Mommy! Mommy! Teacher says I can marry a princess if I want to’ WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN YOUR CHILD SAYS THIS’ and every parent in California said “Whoa! We have to TALK to our kids? F that, sorry q***rs”

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Maybe they’re just against Revolutionary Girl Utena?
So, the alt text means that Dr. Robot is exactly like Rudolph, except where Santa never asked him to guide the sleigh.
Christina's avatar

Christina · 93 weeks ago

I think parents aren’t afraid they won’t know how to explain homosexuality to their kids, they’re afraid their kid will say what your daughter did – that they might someday want to marry a girl. Because deep down, they recognize that homosexuality isn’t a choice, it’s just part of who you are, and they want to shame any homosexual tendencies out of their child early on. :/ Extremely depressing.

3 replies · active 93 weeks ago

seriously's avatar

seriously · 93 weeks ago

@ Christina

Some folks MAY be that small-minded and assholish, but I’d think a larger segment of those unwilling or unable to talk plainly with their kids about homosexuality just aren’t equipped to answer any questions their kids have without giving them bad info or confusing their kids.

Their own fear and confusion will be amplified when they explain it to their kids. They need to get educated first, THEN teach their children. The same goes for essentially every issue.
So, you’re saying that parenting can be hard and requires actual work? I don’t think that’s really gonna fly…
Some comedian’s answer went “How many people’s lives do you think it’s worth ruining so you to not have to sit down and talk to your ugly kid for five minutes?”

As to the question, not very often. I try hard not to underestimate anyone I talk to, and kids are no exception. Last summer I had a fun hour teaching the basics of chaos magic to a seven year old, no problems at all. I left out the masturbation parts, but I’m pretty sure she figured it out anyway and played along to ease my embarrassment.

It may actually be harder to explain this to adults cause they usually assume it’s either not real or not meaningful. You try mentioning the phrase “imagination technology” to people and see how fast their eyes glaze over

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Beth's avatar

Beth · 93 weeks ago

Excellent and totally correct with kids. We brought it up in a “Families are wonderful because they can come in so many different ways. A Mummy and a Daddy (we’re in the UK hence Mummy and not Mommy), Two Mummies or Two Daddies.” To which my four year old replied “OR TEN DADDIES!” …apparently he thinks families without a Mummy are the best because then “They can do whatever they want!” ….I think that says a lot about my household.

6 replies · active 93 weeks ago

seriously's avatar

seriously · 93 weeks ago

“To which my four year old replied “OR TEN DADDIES!” …apparently he thinks families without a Mummy are the best because then “They can do whatever they want!” ….I think that says a lot about my household.”

That, or your kid walked in on something pretty interesting one weekend while you were away.

Beth's avatar

Beth · 93 weeks ago

Dude weekend away? What’s that? . A different day he said I could be eaten by a Tiger so he and Daddy could do whatever they wanted. I reminded him that Daddy doesn’t make cakes with him but I do. He replied “You can help me make a cake and then get eaten by a tiger.” I can’t be too upset though, he did buy me flowers today because I was poorly.
We read “the day I swapped my dad for 2 goldfish” and my 4 1/2 year old said he’d swap his dad for 2 goldfish– or even 1 goldfish– but he wouldn’t swap me for anything because “SOMEONE has to make me BREAKFAST!” and he wouldn’t swap our housemate for anything “because I just love him SO SO SO MUCH” (dude draws him realistic dinosaurs stomping on houses to color). Kids!
Last night she asked us about who could have a baby. So we had to explain:

-A man and woman can make a baby
-A woman can have a baby on her own if a man or a doctor helps
-One man, one woman, Two men, Two women OR A man and a woman can adopt a baby
-Two women can have a baby if a man or a doctor helps

It was tough coming up with all the options on the spot.

Toon's avatar

Toon · 93 weeks ago

That was pretty well done. Although you could theoretically have cut it down to “Anybody can adopt a baby if they can take care of it, and most women can make babies on their own if a man or a doctor helps.”
Jeff W.'s avatar

Jeff W. · 93 weeks ago

DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 93 weeks ago

I remember being 4 years old when my parents (due to important television like “Roots”) tried to explain racism to me. “Some people think they aren’t really people.” “But they LOOK like people.” Lots of stuff I completely didn’t get.
Lots of stuff I still really don’t get.
First time I heard my grandma talking a “colored boy”, I imagined purple, green, orange – it sounded so cool!

2 replies · active 93 weeks ago

I can’t even imagine my daughter’s reaction if I tried to explain racism to her right now. She probably wouldn’t believe me.
The Unknown FB's avatar

The Unknown FB · 93 weeks ago

Imagine growing up listening to your grandparents using the “older” terms for various foods and things, especially when a term started with the “n” word.
That always made for awkward hilarity at family gatherings.
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 93 weeks ago

This is probably my favourite comic so far.
And that includes all Firefly references.
Justplainsomething's avatar

Justplainsomething · 93 weeks ago

One of the many reasons I’m avoiding having kids (besides not being ready at all) is that my boyfriend and I really want to raise our kids to not feel like their family will judge them for their sexuality or how they express themselves, gender-wise. But my parents are very conservative and while she is very loving, my mom tends to make comments about gender that I know would just cut my kids to the heart. It’s one thing to have to deal with your kids having to encounter prejudice outside the home, but it would break my heart to see them happen within my family. Again not the ONLY reason I don’t want kids by a longshot, but definitely something I’ve thought about.

4 replies · active 93 weeks ago

Im not suggesting your rush into having kids before you’re ready, but waiting until the world changes is probably not the best way to go. Putting more people in the world that are raised by kind, open minded people goes a lot farther to improving things than trying to outlast all the hateful people ever could. My mother and my wife’s extended family are extremely conservative and homophobic. I promise you can still raise a loving and intelligent child in spite of all of that.
Did you grow up sharing the same conservative tendencies as your family, and if so, what made you more open-minded?

BTW – That comic was so adorable. You’re making it really hard to hate this new direction. (j/k – I don’t hate it, but I am mildly cautious)

I was blindly conservative/christian/homophobic/pro-life/etc until my mid teens. Then I started to feel torn in a bunch of different directions by what I was taught to believe and how I was actually perceiving the world. Little by little it all melted away. Every year I was a little less attached to the things I was raised to believe and more to what I saw as being the truth of the world and the universe. By the time I was 25 or so it was all gone.
So it was just a gradual shift in your attitudes and beliefs, not a sudden epiphany? Was there anyone or anything that helped nudge you along?
Tom's avatar

Tom · 93 weeks ago

You simply rock. Love how you explained it to your daughter. It’s things like that that give me hope.
vanessa's avatar

vanessa · 93 weeks ago

Hi, I am really enjoying the comic lately. I was wondering when you were finally going to get the family in it – that kind of story interests me – maybe because I have kids. And geez, after recent Dumbing of Age strips, it’s nice to see some cool parents!
I’m enjoying your new direction and, as a parent, I love seeing comics about parents and kids. Your anatomy for Gracie is oddly off, though, and she looks less like a child and more like a middle-aged Little Person. I think a big part of it might be how you’re drawing her glasses? IDK.

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

well, ive drawn her twice. Go look at my early drawings of me.
Beth's avatar

Beth · 93 weeks ago

My kid was talking to me about being scared and I in a desperate attempt to find something to comfort him taught him the “now I lay me down to sleep” prayer despite the fact I’m an atheist (he goes to a Church Of England school and his dad is Christian)

A couple of nights later he said he was still scared and I said “But you ask God to watch you” and he gave me such a disdainful look and replied with “Mum. God isn’t real. He’s just pretend.” like I was a massive idiot. I really couldn’t argue with that.

He still says the prayer sometimes though as it makes him feel safe but yes. Apparently my four year old decided he’s an Atheist.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Teach him the Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear., modified for kids
Then he’ll want to read Dune.

“Fear” ” is.. —the little Death—– ” Nope, too scary.
“is like leaving your shoelaces untied, and they get caught in your bicycle and make you hit the ground. BOOM.

MrPlow99's avatar

MrPlow99 · 93 weeks ago

I emailed a link to this comic to a friend of mine, and I wanted to share what she posted about it on her FB page:

“Got this from a friend today. Passed it along to another friend, who apparently really needed it. Life sometimes overwhelms me by falling so perfectly into place for tiny little moments before slipping back into craziness. These little happenings, so beautiful.”

Thank you so much, Joel.

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

hey neat! Thanks!
mist's avatar

mist · 93 weeks ago

At five, I asked my Mum why boys married girls and not other boys.
I was told that was called homosexuality and told it was not allowed by law. I said that was silly.
I would appreciate that you keep my illegitimate children in Mexico out of your stories but the time I killed that Space Man is still ok to tell
FSilvermane's avatar

FSilvermane · 93 weeks ago

Well adjusted kids usually do grasp the whole “live and let live” idea alot better than some adults. Example being I was working a Medieval Faire in OH a few years back and witnessed a girlof maybe 6-7 floor an entire audience at a stage show. Kid wanted to be at the show but Dad did not [understand Dad was being a bit of a rude patron]. Dad was complaining about the cost to get in and the cost of food plus the “freaks playing dress up” during the stage show. At one point, what was obviously a man in a dress [long beard and hairy arms like a gorilla], comes on stage introducing himself as Olga the Milk Maid. Dad pops off quite loudly about “freaks” when the kid stands up and says “Dad, your right thats a Man in a Dress,…. and that guy over there is in a wheelchair with spikes on it [was made to look like a Chariot], and that lady there is wearing a metal bathing suit [chain mail Bikini],… but you are the only one here that looks like butt. Lets find Mom so you will stop embarrassing me”. At that point the entire audience just about gave the kid a standing ovation,….lol.
monogodo's avatar

monogodo · 92 weeks ago

Back in 2005 when Texas was voting on Prop 2, my coworker’s reason for voting for it was that he didn’t want to have to explain to his kids if a married homosexual couple were to move in next door. I wondered how he’d handle it if an unmarried homosexual couple were to move in next door.
Kaeltik's avatar

Kaeltik · 92 weeks ago

I’ve always liked this comic. You are threatening to make me love it.

It’s Called A Changeover

Those big changes I was talking about, the new direction for HijiNKS ENSUE? This is them. These are it. Well, this is the beginning of it anyway. For the past 6 months or so (maybe a year), I’ve been feeling like I wanted to do something different with my comics. I’d get ready to write a comic pointing out how a thing in a movie was like another thing in a different movie or in some way connected to a seemingly unrelated thing and I would realize that I had already made a similar joke about a different film or TV show. The entertainment industry is cyclical and I was starting to feel like I had done every kind of gag I could do poking fun of TV and movies over the last 6 years and now I had looped back around on myself and my subject matter. I could either keep doing the same thing over and over, driving myself and my audience to apathy, or I could stretch my creative muscles in a different and challenging way.

Those interested in goods from The HE Store should watch this space. I’m not saying the biggest blowout sale I’ve ever run is around the corner, but that is exactly what I am not yes are too saying. I’m saying that.

I was also getting the nagging feeling that I wasn’t being super honest anymore with my comics. I’ve always made a point to write about the things I care about the most. Whether the joke hits home or not, the honesty and genuine emotion behind my comics is usually pretty easy to pick up on. The problem was that the things I cared the most about, being a father, raising a young geek, figuring out how to be a parent while still being myself, weren’t represented in the comics at all.

When I started doing short story lines in the comics a little over a year ago I’d find that when a story line ended, I didn’t really want to go back to pop culture jokes. I wanted the stories to keep going. But I always tread very lightly and made sure not to get too bogged down in continuity. The more I did this, the more I realized how limiting it was from a creative standpoint. I couldn’t teach you, The Fancy Bastards, how to love or hate or latch onto a character if they didn’t have any real… character! If they were just soundholes through which jokes were projected, they were completely interchangeable and indistinguishable. But in my head they are VERY different, nuanced and complex. I wanted to share these aspects of my characters with my readers in a meaningful way.

After a life-changing conversation last March with my friend Josh Cagan in a hotel lobby over a bottle of Brandy, and a few follow up creative brainstorms with David and Wil (3 writers and storytellers who I admire a great deal), I decided this would be the year that I took the plunge. This would be the year that I established continuity in HE, and gave my characters actual lives, friends, jobs, love interests and started telling stories as well as jokes.

The humor and the geekiness that the comic is built around will stay the same, but the tone with certainly shift. There will be dramatic and heartwarming moments along with the jokes. I know that sounds pretty basic, but for me it’s a MAJOR undertaking. I am going to be talking about fatherhood, marriage, and delving into the pasts of the characters that lead them to where they are now. I am going to touch on aspects of The Experiment in comic Joel’s life, and how those choices made him the man and the father that he is (or at least put him on the path to be the man and father he wants to eventually be). I have never done anything like this before and it’s super terrifying. I am prepared to lose half, if not all of my current audience and rebuild from the ground up if it means staying honest and not getting stagnant and bored with my work.

From a logistical standpoint, the first 3 or 4 HE books will encapsulate the “pop culture days” and a new book will eventually start with the comics you are reading now. The next few comics will be spent establishing a sort of fixed point in time from which to build off of. I’m going to be reintroducing the characters in a way that hopefully doesn’t feel forced.

SHORT VERSION: HE has continuity and stories now. The geek humor and what not aren’t going anywhere. The hyper-specific references to certain TV shows that most people probably don’t watch are gone (and pretty much have been for all of 2013). Timely pop culture stuff will still be explored in the Lofi Comics. If I get better and telling stories and faster at producing the comics as a result of the momentum, I will do everything in my power to produce more than 3 HE comics a week.

Commenters: Here we go. I hope you trust me enough to stick around. I think it’s going to be fun.

Have you seen my wife’s latest geeky jewelry creation? LIGHTSABER NECKLACES AND EARRINGS! 

lightsaber necklace and earrings

Comments (94)

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Taop's avatar

Taop · 93 weeks ago

“Be authentic to your dreams. Be authentic to your own idea about yourself. Grind away at your own minds and bodies until you become your own invention. Be Mad Scientists.”

― Warren Ellis

I am really quite glad to read this announcement.

I wanted to leave that Warren Ellis quote because it made me think of it.

Andy's avatar

Andy · 93 weeks ago

I like this. I liked the comic and found it funny but the lack of continuity stopped me checking in often. Can’t wait.
Not going anywhere. Looking forward to the new content.
JonS253's avatar

JonS253 · 93 weeks ago

Or a Thin Mint, or something… 🙂
Gerald's avatar

Gerald · 93 weeks ago

I’m in it to win it, and by “win it,” I mean “keep reading.”
@TheJoshAtkins's avatar

@TheJoshAtkins · 93 weeks ago

Is this now The Experiment 2: The Quickening?

I’m in.

3 replies · active 93 weeks ago

it IS essentially the next phase of The Experiment.
J.P.'s avatar

J.P. · 93 weeks ago

I vote for The Experiment 2: Electric Boogaloo, because that’s not overdone at all.

I’m also in. Way in. Especially, Joel, if you can walk the rest of us through this parent/self conundrum. Please. And soon. You know what I’m saying.

I expect it will be a major theme for the months to come.
Sckazinski's avatar

Sckazinski · 93 weeks ago

A looong time ago I asked you on twitter when would you daughter appear on the comics, and you said “Never”. HAH!

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Im sure that was the honest answer back then. Eventually a gut feeling starts to nag and nag and eat away at you until you’re forced to act on it.
Alex's avatar

Alex · 93 weeks ago

That’s great news!! I’ll be sticking around. I’ve enjoyed your comics before and I’m sure that won’t change with more story driven content! Good luck, Joel! I know it will be great stuff.
I’m fairly new here, I’m staying. It’s exciting to be around an artist who is ready for a change and eager to get started. LET’S DO THIS (by which I mean, “Do this! I’ll watch from over here with my toast and coffee.”) Good luck.
I’m excited!
It’s been interesting to see the comic change, not just the development in art but in your storytelling skills as well. I love the longer arcs, keen to see what the addition of Kiddo brings to them!

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Wesley's avatar

Wesley · 93 weeks ago

Oh my god, how could you do this?! Continuity? Actual character development? OMG..

Just kidding. This is only the next logical step, and I’ll be sticking around. It’s not really surprising either.. the arcs from before felt way more inspired than the one-off gags that came in between and it’s been clear that you have a very deep understanding of how your characters behave and on what basis. The interaction between the foreground and background in the “Why do you buy dvd’s”-arc made that especially clear.

I’m very interested to see how this works out and love the fact that you decided to add continuity. Also, I’m pretty sure you’ll rock it.

JoJo's avatar

JoJo · 93 weeks ago

whoa, great news!! long time reader, and i can’t wait to see how this is going to develop! 🙂
Catjuju's avatar

Catjuju · 93 weeks ago

I’m going to comment as part of the readership you are prepared to lose. That other half that say ‘I liked the repetitive in-jokes, the recycled geek memes, and they are going away? I hear you say you’ll be doing a strip about fatherhood and heart warming stuff, no way!”

Because that was my initial reaction. However, even as that guy I still have enough faith in your talent to keep going. You are the guy that did the Experiment, so if you did any less than follow your real calling I would be truly disappointed.

Also as a long time reader I have seen your behind the scene nature come through in all the aspects of the work that is not just on the comic. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have shown that you have a great family and a great, geeky life that is worth representing.

Then, after just a little reflection I find all my cynicism has melted away and I am riled up for you DO IT! Huzzah for the continued and expanded Experiment! Three cheers for Joel!

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

That was a harrowing emotional journey you just went on. Thanks for sticking around!
This is fantastic news! You should develop your comic in the way that makes you happy, and we’ll all be pleased to stick around for the ride.

I am definitely excited. You’re gonna kill it (in a good way).

I am actually delighted by this. HE has always struck me a bit as a comic which is swinging around, trying to find its direction. Sometimes there would be self-contained storylines with continuity and then sometimes right in the middle of those there would be gag-a-day strips. It was a bit jarring sometimes, but I stuck with it because I love your artwork and your sense of humor.

Now, it sounds like you’ve finally settled on where you want to go and what you want to do with the comic. Far from being upset, I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do with these characters. The comics I love the most these days are the ones with plenty of continuity and backstory, where there’s a continuous and ongoing story, where the characters (and sometimes the artwork!) grow and change and evolve.

Can’t wait to see how it turns out! And because it bears repeating — we Fancy Bastards are here for you, supporting you all the way. Go now, and Write, and Draw! We’ll be here, cheering you on.


6 replies · active 92 weeks ago

“a comic which is swinging around, trying to find its direction.”

Yep. No argument here. I almost want to wipe out the previous 6 years of archives and start over.

Hell, don’t do that (yeah, I know you said “almost”, and weren’t serious). It was a part of your artistic journey. Be proud of it because without those six years you wouldn’t have discovered what you wanted. 🙂


Still though, I will probably make a distinction in the archives between the current comics and the “early years” so new readers dont get confused.
You could always divide the archives up into “Phases,” and then of course sub-divide chronologically, so people won’t be forced to always start at the beginning of Phase “X.”
something like that. Yes.
This strikes terror in my heart!
will's avatar

will · 93 weeks ago

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. I have enjoyed your comic for the past 3(?) years or so, and I’m Damn well looking forward to what the future will bring from you. Keep doing what you love. If you are honest to that, everything else falls into place.
I think this is fantastic! Your characters are a lot of fun. But I really wanted to get to know more about them. I can’t wait to see where you go as you dive into their backgrounds. 😀
Best of luck, Joel – looking forward to seeing how this new iteration evolves!
Sherry's avatar

Sherry · 93 weeks ago

I think this is a wonderful upgrade, and I’m not one that typically likes the things I love to change. I think your honesty and courage should be applauded (loudly!), and I look forward to what the future of HE will bring.

Congratulations on a wonderful new era, Joel! I’m here to stay!

I’m excited as hell.
I plan to delve into some of that with the new comics. The life I used to live, how I got here, what changed and why. I think it will make for some interesting story telling if I do it right.
Chelsea's avatar

Chelsea · 93 weeks ago

I’m excited! I think it’s great you’re doing this, Joel, and I’ll be sticking around to see what happens.
robert's avatar

robert · 93 weeks ago

Well, I’m a little suprised that the comments are all positive. I’m excited for you, and I’m not likely to stop tracking the comic. However, it would be dishonest to say that I’m excited about the child. I hope you prove me wrong.
Biscuit Eater's avatar

Biscuit Eater · 93 weeks ago

This looks fun and new and fun! I’m looking forward to it. Good luck, you fancy bastard!
Karen's avatar

Karen · 93 weeks ago

I consider myself to be a relatively new reader since I just discovered HE a couple of years ago. Your geek and pop culture commentary is some of my favorite in comic form. I enjoyed the change to small story arcs you did last year. As long as there are still silly references in there occasionally I’m in for Experiment 2.0.
Rebecca's avatar

Rebecca · 93 weeks ago

I will be sticking around, for sure. I’ve told you before how much it warms my heart (and makes me call my dad) to know that you are raising geeky girl child. I’m glad that you are making changes that are meaningful to you, and I’m confident that the comic will only improve because of that.
Fren's avatar

Fren · 93 weeks ago

Sounds good to me, man. You keep on posting ’em, I’ll keep on reading ’em, nobody gets hurt.

And raising a geeky girl child is the best thing. I adore mine to bits and trip all over myself to indulge her nerdy whims.

HE with continuity?

Consider me terrified but curious.

Fuck yeah. I’m in.
I’m thrilled with this new direction. I started reading HE because it was SO different from other webcomic formats, but I’ve come to realize that what brings me back day after day to many comics is the continuity. It’s a good thing. I can’t wait. Thanks for staying so open & honest with your fans; it means a lot. You continue to be a creative inspiration to me. God Speed, Head Fancy Bastard.
Hey, Joel? I’m absolutely looking forward to this. No joke.
bubujin_2's avatar

bubujin_2 · 93 weeks ago

Joel, I’ve only been reading HE for the last couple of years or so but have enjoyed it so much that I;m always disappointed when there’s no update. So I’m in for the long haul. Keep in mind that your snarky, humorous geek references are like a PSA to me. I live outside of the U.S. and your pearls of wisdom and nerd-filled comments help lead me to movies and TV shows I hadn’t been aware of previously or overlooked or neglected to consider.
Carol Elaine's avatar

Carol Elaine · 93 weeks ago

You’ll be keeping this reader. I’ve loved reading HE the last few years, even though there’s been no continuity, because it’s freaking hilarious. But I love continuity and character development. I love becoming invested in the characters’ lives to the point where I care about them. Combine that with your awesome humor and I am doubly there.


Mike's avatar

Mike · 93 weeks ago

Sign me up. Always interested in a good Dramady.
I gotta be honest with ya. You won’t be keeping me as a reader. You’ll be gaining me.

I’ve been dabbling at the edges of HE for a long while. I like the format, and I enjoy just about every webcartoonist you’ve associated with on Twitter and conventions. You even drew a lovely sketch for me in Chicago of Uhura doing her fan dance (I tipped well, I suspect), but in the end, there wasn’t a sense of growth or progress about the series that grabbed me. But I always saw the talent and (I know you’ll hate this word) the potential in this series to be more than just jokes. With this announcement, I’m now committing to your series. I have that much faith in you. Plus I know Willis will now REALLY let you have it if you screw up!

2 replies · active 93 weeks ago

I appreciate the candor. I suspect you are indicative of a large percentage of my former audience. Those who liked something about what I was doing but never got that something with enough consistency to really latch onto it.
Galley Slave's avatar

Galley Slave · 93 weeks ago

I for one am SHOCKED and or APPALLED! I’m leaving and NEVER COMING BACK UNTIL YOU CHANGE IT BACK!…Or TOMORROW…Which ever comes first ;p ;p ;p

But seriously, as long as you are making changes to your comic, could we get a G+ button?

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

The big green sharing button in the navigation under the comics has a G+ button in it.
David's avatar

David · 93 weeks ago

Fancy Bastard checking in. Not going anywhere. I love a good storyline so I’m curious to see where you’ll take this.
HikingViking's avatar

HikingViking · 93 weeks ago

I think you’ll keep a lot more Fancy Bastards than you think Joel. One of my favorite things about getting older, and maturing, is watching artists that I like do the same. Be it musicians, comic artists, actors, or authors, I find that the creators I like the most are the ones who grow and change. I’m happy that you’re making the leap.

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

“One of my favorite things about getting older, and maturing, ”

Its probably that I was just delaying that as long as possible.

Conrad's avatar

Conrad · 93 weeks ago

Here to stay, Joel!!

Keep going where YOU want to go!!

FuryOfFirestorm's avatar

FuryOfFirestorm · 93 weeks ago

Whenever a TV show starts to get stale, they usually add a cute kid to the mix, like Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch, or Olivia on the Cosby Show. Hmm…I’m sensing a pattern here…

How about naming the kid Olivest? She’ll be even more Olive than Olivia and Oliver combined!

2 replies · active 93 weeks ago

FuryOfFirestorm's avatar

FuryOfFirestorm · 93 weeks ago

BTW – I’m sticking around. My remark was playful teasing, not butthurt nerdrage, so keep those pistols holstered, OK?
Im not “adding a kid” as much as Im “adding a life” and she was the first step.
Jason's avatar

Jason · 93 weeks ago

I’m in. Loved Hijinks Ensue so far and I am excited about the new direction. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us Joel!
I’m in for the haul, Joel. Excitedly curious to see where you take this.
Rikonius's avatar

Rikonius · 93 weeks ago

Looking forward to seeing where this new direction takes Hijinks Ensue. Also wondering whether you’ll toss a “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN-tinuity!” joke in there.
The apathy thing is hard to hear but impossible for me to ignore. I knew people felt this way whether they were saying it or not. We’re moving in the right direction.
I’m really excited about this! You’re an awesome dude, Joel, and I wish you the best of luck in this next phase of The Experiment. Being true to the changes you feel you should make is really important, and I think it’s also pretty brave. Kudos, sir!
Blahman's avatar

Blahman · 93 weeks ago

Blah blah blah nothing but support blah.
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 93 weeks ago

Nice try, but it takes more than a little continuity and real life to get rid of me!
I’m in, and I know you were waiting with bated breath for my opinion, right? Right? Joel? Joel? Anyone?
Fred's avatar

Fred · 93 weeks ago

“I could either keep doing the same thing over and over”

It worked for Peanuts for 50 years… and Family Circus.

Your insecurities are kind of cute… I can’t really imagine that many if any people will stop reading your fine comic just because it will be story-based.

It would take a complete disaster for me to stop reading… and you are more than capable to not create a disaster.

On the other hand, maybe I am not a good judge… I mean… I still read Looking For Group, for chrissakes.

#1 thing IMO you can do to build and keep your audience happy- establish a consistent posting schedule. Get a backup built up.

Good luck!

3 replies · active 93 weeks ago

“establish a consistent posting schedule”

my biggest failing for the last 6 years. I know how important it is and yet Ive never been able to keep to one. We’ll see if it works this time around.

“your content has mainly been a reaction to something to this point there is no real way to store it up.”

You just summed up my ongoing dilemma for the last 6 years. Cant have a buffer because the stuff Im going to make fun of hasnt happened yet. NO MORE!

I honestly feel so much more free not being bound to scouring geek news sites for inspiration.

WaytoomanyUID's's avatar

WaytoomanyUID’s · 93 weeks ago

OMG! Hijinks Ensue has jumped the aardvark! Caught Jaws Syndrome!

But seriously, it’s your comic, do what you want. At the worst you’ll provide us with fodder for CAD style memes. Hopefully it will be more like Girls with Slingshots and Something Positive

As long as you don’t try to convince me that any new arrival is the Key transformed into human form by a group of monks, I am totally okay with this.

(Who am I kidding – I would probably also be all over that.)

Well, I’m glad that you’re taking your work in a new direction! Not that I had any problems whatsoever with the previous directions the comic was moving in; far from it! I just hate to see an EXCELLENT comic get bogged down and static, never changing, never improving. I like to see art and content that evolves over time; If most of the many webcomics I read never changed/evolved from the way they were at the beginning, I would probably stop reading them. I LOVE watching the art & writing improve over time; to me, it proves that the creators give a shit about their creation!
Wikipediocracy's avatar

Wikipediocracy · 93 weeks ago

Now I have something to come back to. I have been bookmarking your comic this year. I am now a fan.
A more important issue is why your doorbell goes “doorbell sound” instead of just ringing or buzzing. Where can I get one of those?
psssst… don’t tell anyone… it’s because I have always been terrible at drawing women.
BUT, But …
There are no “fixed points in time” for ComicLord Victorious. Allon-Sy
I AM re posting this from G since its a Fancy Desert there:
*So, dont miss the woof for the warp—or the Warf…*

Just Dont throw away the Girl scout, out with the Non-thin mints .

First, as a long term reader, I want to validate that some of your instincts are spot-on. Character development was missing in the before “The Experiment”.
I actually got some of the characters mixed up sometimes, because you used them as interchangable joke tellers.
BUT, it always seemed this was a _rather small_ flaw.
Since the characters were all real people I just had to read your other media.

But heres is what I think you are missing now: the role your comic plays in readers lives. Just as your real life was opaquely missing from the strip, paradoxically in a semiautobiographical strip; You are in danger of overlooking all the very non-superfical ways you HAVE been connecting to your readers the whole time.

First, the strip works as a fantastical reflection of your life, your Geek Life.
As long as you keep it a fantastical reflection, it should still work.

While you _now_ perceive the original run as superficial pop-culture, there is a LOT MORE depth to it. While it wasnt primarily about plotting or characters, IT WAS ABOUT PURE IDEAS. And Friendships.

I am glad you talked to WIl, because, he is, like you and a handful of people, creating geek-culture centered art & content. You have ALWAYS had a bigger cultural footprint than you imagine. I could write entire essays in your role as an gay- ally in culture , and your role in normalizing the life-experiences of the peripheral and invisible ( to popculture ).
Was riffing on pop-culture EVER really _the message_?
or was it the medium of a cultural ambassador?

Because I ( like most, I suspect ) read the blog strips below the strips, It doesnt seem weird to have your child in the strip.
( You didnt need the feather to fly, Dumbo ) —- but it especially would have worked Post-Apocalypse, as a cultural criticism of Marvel ( post- “House of M” and DC ( “the new 52” ).

So, dont miss the woof for the warp—or the Warf. What to you, seemed like a vast missing universe that you want to make up for, looks to us, long-term readers of the comic/blog, just like a few missing pieces.
Or so I hope.
Good luck.