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I Got The Moves Like Xander

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Here’s a mostly true San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Story starring my good friend Stepto (who you may remember from a previous appearance). It seems that while I was decompressing from the w00stock 4.0 festivities in Balboa theater as all the performers signed things and shook hands, Stepto was across the street at the Geek & Sundry party getting his groove thing fully engaged with Joss Whedon. The very same Stepto who was in my company mere moments before at w00tstock. The VERY same Stepto who has my cell phone number and know good and well how texting works. Yes, THAT Stepto. The VERY SAME STEPTO WHO IS NOW DEAD TO ME! HE DANCED WITH GOD DAMNED JOSS WHEDON! THEIR HIPS MET IN A BUMPY FASHION! DEAD! DEAAAAAD TO MEEEEEE!

But, I digress. In addition to breaking my heart and betraying my trust, Stepto did do something very nice for a fan that night. It has become a w00tstock tradition that Stepto will find the fan with the worst possible seats, high up in the balcony, take their camera and fill it with backstage photos throughout the night. You can see the results of this year’s shenanigans here.

I have a guest comic up at Cyanide and Happiness!

Grammar Dalek Shirts should be going on presale soon. As early as Monday of next week! Stay tuned for ordering info.

People have been asking me what I thought of SDCC this year. I told one friend, “Being on the show floor of SDCC is like working in the gift shop of the amusement park.” I think that sums it up pretty well. Unlike EVERY OTHER larger show I do, comics are no where near the focus of the show. They are really an after thought and that vibe is starting to permeate my (and other artists’) SDCC experience more and more each year. You really get the impression that the attendees are going to make time for you, if and when they finish up with everything else they have planned. Namely, standing in a line for 8 hours to see a 50 minute panel, then standing in line for 4 hours to get an SDCC exclusive toy, then leaving the hall entirely to go to one of the MANY offsite activities.

The fans I met through out the week were great, but they were also few and far between. In fact, the only day that felt like a normal convention was Sunday. There was a steady stream of fans, and sales and I distinctly got the impression that most people were saving the actual COMIC portion of Comic-con for the final day. Luckily, I got the sense of this trend early in the week and basically visited the booth a bit each day then headed out into San Diego for various parties, fun times and hang outs with my friends. All things being equal I would much rather be at the booth, meeting readers and selling merch. But due to the extremely odd vibe of the show, the slow booth traffic and the VERY limited booth space we had this year, I wasn’t really hurting anyone by not being there. Sunday was basically the only full day I spent at the booth. It’s really hard to justify taking a week off of work, the travel expenses and fighting the crowds of SDCC to do what was essentially a one day show.

I want to back up and say that I am NOT complaining about having the best job in the world, but San Diego Comic-Con has changed drastically in the last couple of years and everyone I talked to seemed to be feeling the same thing. Don’t be shocked if some of your favorite artists take a year or two off. I almost feel like the comics and the movie/TV/video game stuff should be officially separated into two events. Maybe then we could get some panels with accessible comics creators instead of ABC’s newest fairy tale-based show. It feels like the entire show has finally tipped to where it is basically unfriendly to an independent comics creator and that creator’s time could be better spent almost anywhere. I don’t expect it to get any better unless they built more hall space, which would probably have to be on floating barges out in the marina. Still, it is ONE HELL of a party, and it’s the only time that nearly all of my friends are in the same city at the same time for the same reason. It is a Comic-Conundrum.

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SDCC 2012 Fancy Sketches

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I am still recuperating from SDCC. I will resume drawing Fancy Sketch Drive sketches this week, and start mailing them out as they are finished. There were almost 60 ordered so it’s going to take me a while. I appreciate your patience.

Hijinks Ensue Cyanide and Happiness Guest ComicI have a guest comic up at Cyanide and Happiness for my explosm bros (exBROsm, amirite?), who are also sleeping off one too many a San Diego fun time.

Grammar Dalek Shirts should be going on presale soon. Stay tuned for ordering info.

I had an amazing time in San Deiego, but I spent almost no time on the convention floor itself. Normally I am at the booth from open to close every day, but our limited booth space meant that most of the time I was just in the way. And when I made scheduled signing/sketching times, no one really showed up. It was a very odd convention this year and all of my cartoonist friends seemed to echo the same sentiments. People just weren’t visiting their favorite creators very much this year. I think either A) the show has finally tipped and there are only a small percentage of con attendees who are actually there to meet and buy stuff from comics creators (the rest are their for panels or other big media events) or B) There is so much off site and ancillary entertainment outside and around the convention itself, that most fans are going to the actual show maybe 1 or 2 days to see panels, then exploring the other (free-er) events surrounding the con.

For all of these reasons, I spent most of the weekend hanging out with friends, going to parties (especially w00tstock!) and generally having a fantastic time (in which I earned essentially no money and probably didn’t break even on my travel costs, but hey… whatever). I was at (or hovering around) the booth for most of Sunday and oddly enough it felt like a regular convention day. There was a steady stream of fans and sketch requests, and sales. Perhaps the new thing is to save your actual COMIC-coning for the final day. All I can say is that I won’t be surprised at all if many creators take a year or two off after this year. There are far better cons, that cost thousands less to exhibit at, and are far less of a hassle from every angle.

I still think I would have gone (and will continue to go) even if I didn’t have a booth or a floor pass. There is just no other time where so many of my friends and professional acquaintances are in one place at the same time. I reconnected with old friends and made some new ones.

Also this happened: 

Joel Watson of HijiNKS ENSUE and George R.R. Martin

Chewbacca was at that party. So were Geordie and Data. Life is wonderfully weird.

COMMENTERS: What was your favorite/least favorite announcement or news to come out of SDCC 2012? Any other thoughts on the show in general?

 

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You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here

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Alternate Title: “A Shawarma Bees” – I did not use this title because, despite making me laugh for an hour, it doesn’t make any sense.

Read more about the new direction I am taking the comic in and how you can help HERE if you haven’t already.

Gigantic thanks to everyone that has donated in the last couple of days, especially to the new donation subscribers. If you enjoy HE and would like to see it continue and even flourish, I have added $2, $3, and $4 monthly donation subscription options. If you can spare $2 a month for a bunch of free comics, I would consider you to be a pretty awesome type of person.

I’m not sure a Marvel movie post-credits scene has ever gotten me quite so excited-pants as the one in The Avengers. Who knows if they will follow up that plot thread in the first sequel, or save it for a third? Either way, based on how well executed this first outing was, and assuming Whedon will he at the helm of future sequels, I have high hopes for where this is all going. [SPOILERS: It is going to space and shit is going to get CRAZY real.]

So after the post-credits scene, all the chumps (and all the teens… TEEEEEENS!) piled out of the theater like a bunch of chumps. When are chumps going to learn to stop playing themselves like chumps all the time? The post-post credits scene was… it’s basically the geek film equivalent of DaVinci’s “The Last Supper.” [no pun intended]. Note to self: Actually draw that. That would be hilarious.

On a special note, a MAGICAL thing happened to me at Starbucks tonight. My wife and I were witness to quite possibly THE WORST first date any two human beings have ever had. I live tweeted the whole thing and have collected the unbearably awkward joy for you HERE. I don’t know why I was chosen to receive this gift, but I will do my best to honor it and share it with the world.

Starbucks DateWreck Live Tweet

COMMENTERS: I’m going to tread lightly since I know not all of you have seen The Avengers yet. Don’t click this link if you don’t want the 2nd post-credits scene spoiled. So a certain type of… ethnic… product has seen a MAJOR boost in sales since The Avengers came out. Has there ever been a movie that made you aware of a food, product or any other useful and enjoyable thing that WASN’T specifically an advertisement? Did you start wearing trench coats after The Matrix? Did you start wearing cleric’s robes after The Matrix: Revolutions? What’s wrong with you?

NOTE TO RSS READERS: Based on all of your feedback I have decided to try just putting a thumbnail image with full blog posts in the RSS feed. Seems like most of you don’t mind clicking through since you are using the RSS just a reminder that there is a new comic. Here’s hoping this doesn’t impair the usability of the site for you, since it has the potential to greatly impact my ad revenue. I am also working on the possibility of a premium RSS feed for donation subscribers.

UPDATE 05/18/12: Donation subscribers of any level will get access to an RSS feed with the full comic in it.

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Waiving A New Banner

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Alternate Title: “Hunting Ruffalo”

Why are things happening in the comic that seem to relate to things that happened in yesterday’s comic and the day before’s comic? Because times, they are a changin’. Also comics. Comics are a thing that is also a changin’. Specifically HijiNKS ENSUE comics. Read more about it HERE if you haven’t already.

Gigantic thanks to everyone that has donated in the last couple of days, especially to the new donation subscribers. If you enjoy HE and would like to see it continue and even flourish, I have added $2, $3, and $4 monthly donation subscription options. If you can spare $2 a month for a bunch of free comics, I would consider you to be a pretty awesome type of person.

I wrote about it in my big Avengers review on Monday, but it bears repeating: HOLY DAMNBASKETS I LOVED THE HULK IN THIS MOVIE!!! Leave it to Whedon to take a character I have been ignoring for 20 years and turn him into the entire heart and soul of the film. Also, let me take this opportunity to address any of your reading that may work in Hollywood. I am pitching a new half hour 3-camera comedy called Leave It To Whedon. It centers around a precocious little redhead who keeps getting into all sorts of trouble because he can’t seem to work within the Hollywood machine. He keeps choosing artistic vision and thoughtful storytelling over easily digestible, mass appeal money making. Also he has a paper route and his dog dies in pretty much every episode. Usually just after you REALLY start to care about the dog. BAM! Milk truck or whatever. SPOILERS: In the season one finale he breaks the box office record for opening weekend and all of a sudden the bullies that always pick on him want to be his friend and greenlight all his pet projects. Season two will deal with the production of Serenity 2: See, You Cocksuckers? I Told You!

Here’s a big Avengers related link dump: 

COMMENTERS: Has there ever been a film, Tv, comic or other media adaptation that turned a previously hated character or franchise around for you? I was NEVER a fan of DC comics at all as a kid, but Batman: The Animated Series really got me into the characters and (besides just being a fantastic show) ended up being an easy entre into an intimidatingly large world of characters and continuity. After that I got into a few DC titles following the death of Superman. I still think their animated stuff is top notch. Young Justice is probably the only show besides Fringe that I get excited for each week. OK, now I’m super off topic, so go back and read the question and answer away!

SIDE NOTE: Based on all of your feedback I have decided to try just putting a thumbnail image with full blog posts in the RSS feed. Seems like most of you don’t mind clicking through since you are using the RSS just a reminder that there is a new comic. Here’s hoping this doesn’t impair the usability of the site for you, since it has the potential to greatly impact my ad revenue.

UPDATE 05/18/12: Donation subscribers of any level will get access to an RSS feed with the full comic in it.

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Of Tradition And Obligation

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Did you know I have published two books of my comics containing NEW COMMENTARY for absolutely every comic, embarrassing stuff I drew in middle school and high school, and LOTS more extras that have never been published online? Well, I did and I’m really proud of them and they have funny names and I think you should buy them.

First things first: The Cabin The Woods is really good. I mean REALLY good. It’s original and exciting and fun, and funny and SO VERY Whedony. The smart dialog is there, the heartbreak is there (in spades), as are the characters that you either love immediately, hate immediately, love to hate immediately or can’t wait to see get eaten by something terrible. At it’s core it is a horror movie, but in a world of Saws and Hostels and torture porn films that only exists to up the gore on their previous installment, The Cabin In The Woods takes the genre and turns it back into an actual genre of film making. It isn’t just a series of stabbings strung loosely together with nameless knife fodder characters. It builds a world, sucks you in and tells a real story. Also it’s hilarious. So funny that it could almost be classified a comedy before a horror film. Almost.

Every review or tweet I see regarding Cabin seems to emphasize, “GO SEE IT BEFORE SOMEONE SPOILS THE CRAZY TWIST!” I feel like that only applies to the average movie goer. A Whedon fan, sci-fi junky or geek aficionado should have the “surprise” figured out mere minutes into the movie. I actually pegged it during the opening credits. That isn’t to say it isn’t a fantastic premise or even that it’s well trodden ground. On the contrary. I just don’t believe there was a “I NEVER SAW THAT COMING!!!” moment, especially if you are already immersed in genre fiction. With that in mind, I can honestly say that no horror movie has ever taken this particular angle in terms of what the “big bad” actually is. Like I said, Cabin is original and refreshing and 100% worth your time and dollars.

I almost felt it was too meta to do a comic about a “Save Cabin In The Woods” campaign, since the film was actually shot in 2009 and sat on the shelf for 3 years. There was a time when it would have likely never seen the light of day. I am certain that Chris Hemsworth and Joss Whedon’s recently rising stars have more than a bit to do with it finally getting released. I imagine some studio exec looked at it like an investment portfolio that had suddenly matured. Odd that both Whedon and Hemsworth are now legitimized by the same franchise, if not the same movie.

I hesitate to say we’ve reached a point where our Whedon no longer needs us to save him. I would like nothing more, but I think the knee jerk reaction to get up in arms over his projects being treated unfairly by Hollywood will be with me for years to come. It’s probably a good thing I don’t know him personally, because I have a feeling I would cause a scene if we were at Taco Bell together and he asked for a chilli cheese burrito and got a regular bean burrito instead. He’d be all, “It’s not a big deal. They have basically the same ingredients in a different configuration.” And I’d be crying havoc and letting slip the dogs of war at a $6 an hour taco-teen with a caulk gun full of sour cream. What do you do when the guy whose back you have made it a habit of having, no longer needs your unwavering devotion? I’m sure there are others out there that need our collective complaining power on their side. Maybe we geeks should just adopt the slogan: “SAVE WHATEVER SCI-FI SHOW IS ABOUT TO BE CANCELLED!” 

I am going to be at Calgary Expo this coming weekend with Blind Ferret at booths 925/1025! The whole cast of Star Trek: TNG is going to be there as well, but you are probably more excited about seeing me or whatever. Right? RIGHT?! Well, you know who AIN’T gonna be there? Lieutenant Barkley. Fuck that noise, Space Admiral Dickhole. Broccoli or GTFO. MORE INFO HERE.

HijiNKS ENSUE At Calgary Expo 2012

COMMENTERS: Feel free to give your SPOILER FREE impression of The Cabin In The Woods. NO SPOILERS AT ALL PLEASE.