Everything In Its Right Place

[From August 22, 2016, Replying to the comment: “Can we get any kinda status update on when/if HE or SS will ever be coming back? Or at least a “not until XX”? Are you ok? Hope all is well.”]

I’m quite well. Thank you for the concern. The truth is the ways in which this comic, or all of my comic endeavors, previously allowed me to the support my family all pretty much started to dry up at the same time. Ad revenue, convention sales and online store sales all took a STEEP dive right around the same time, and I found myself unable to continue down the same path. To do so and to continue to just HOPE it would all pick up soon would have been dangerously irresponsible for my family. So I took a job. I had been working as a freelance writer and voice actor for Cyanide & Happiness for a few years and, when I realized my current situation wasn’t stable enough, I made the transition to full time. For the last 6 months I’ve been working every day on the recently announced (as of just a few days ago) Season 3 of The Cyanide & Happiness Show. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done, but it has taken up 100% of my creative (physical and emotional) energy, and left no time for other projects.

I am grateful to anyone who is still checking this site, and still interested in seeing more of my comics. I am ESPECIALLY grateful to my Patreon Patrons. When all of my other sources of HE related income dried up, Patreon was the one thing I could count on (and STILL count on to this day) for some level of stability. I want to reward those of you that remain for your patience, persistence and… another P word. Let’s go with “pants.” I still don’t know exactly how and when I’m going to finish HijiNKS ENSUE or if I’m ever going to revisit Sharksplode. I know what I WANT to do, but I’ve finally learned to stop announcing wishes/plans as if they were concrete facts my audience can rely on. Best to announce the things I’ve already done as opposed to the things I’d like to do. Less disappointment all around that way. I know that I would prefer to be able to say, “HijiNKS ENSUE is a completed project. It’s a comic that I made for almost a decade and you can read the whole thing, including the end, HERE.” I can’t currently say that, and it bothers me. Eventually that bother will evolve into action.


[June 23rd, 2015] I’ve been spending most of the last month focused on my new comic, Sharksplode, but I’m still working on HE comics  and I’ll be uploading and backdating them as they are completed.

Figuring out what makes you feel alive is pretty fantastic. Whatever that is can, and should, change throughout your life. Hopefully you will discover multiple and varied things that bestow new enthusiastic energy upon your rapidly decaying corporeal bone bag in the time that you have. Each time you stumble upon a place or a group or an activity and that experience makes your brain scream to the rest of your dumb body, “HEY! THIS IS YOU! THIS IS WHERE YOU GO! THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE ALL ABOUT RIGHT NOW! STAY HERE AND BE THIS RIGHT NOW!” it’s like your own little personal sorting hat ceremony.

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    • Let’s assume for the comic, that she did. I decided not to use her actual derby name, team name, league name, etc.

    • Yes!

      And 99 (which I assume is a “Get Smart” reference), 007, and 42. 😀 I think I’d like these girls.

      What did she go with in the end, Joel (and your wife). Did either end up as Diagon Sally (because that was fantastic, lol)?

  1. “Figuring out what makes you feel alive is pretty fantastic.”

    “Each time you stumble upon a place or a group or an activity and that experience makes your brain scream to the rest of your dumb body, “HEY! THIS IS YOU! THIS IS WHERE YOU GO! THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE ALL ABOUT RIGHT NOW! STAY HERE AND BE THIS RIGHT NOW!” it’s like your own little personal sorting hat ceremony.”

    This explains succinctly EXACTLY what HE means to me , and Why I am a Fancy Basterd.
    Thats IT!!

    I really wish you the best on Sharksplode and hope you can rekindle whatever magic for yourself that you feel got lost here.

    But I’m holding out a Roman-candle of hope.
    I hope once you find your feet on Sharksplode, you come back Hijinx Ensue Part time.
    I’m not one of those early fans that criticized you for changing HE. Just the Opposite. I wanted you to take it in the direction you were leaning. ( More characters, more plots, Expanded Geekdom stories ) .

    Some of the later stories were the BEST HE ever.
    Ironically I was also thinking the autobiographical aspect was starting to hold you back. When you made it more realistic is shrank the scope of the comic.

    What I’m hoping for is you eventually Do HE a Few times a month that focuses on the Tagline “A grownup geek comic” . You have such an amazing wealth of Professional Geek relationships to draw on , now!
    I would expand “the Cast” to Include HE_universe Wil Wheaton, Dave Willis and really, all your professional Friends in Geekdom and Webcomicfandom.

    and I’m suggesting this purely on this Criteria ,
    Because whenever you do this “YOU ARE FUCKING FANTASTIC!!!!!!”
    ( not past-tense )

    You have this awesome sensibility that connects and webs community and geekdom and humor.
    So far this that doesnt seem like what Sharksplode is about. Maybe it will be, who knows.

    I want to be clear. I’m not putting you down in anyway. I’m not going away as a reader. i’m not telling you that you were only good in ancient History. From my perspective you get better than ever, but only recently, lost that thread or something.

    Maybe you are just uninterested on doing all those kind of stories anymore ( everyone you put in Fancy Photocomics would make a great expanded FB characters. )

    Thank you Joel for your hardwork.
    You made me feel like I belonged somewhere.

    ( Even when you were just doing popculture jokes with interchangeable characters; —-and I was sick homeless, couch-surfing and couldn’t afford to see movies you making jokes on. )

    I know you are sensitive to criticism.
    But I really cant shake the feeling you are suffering from insufficient praise of how totally sublime HE got.

    Its like When Firefly got cancelled. ( yes I went there! )
    We still got Serenity. ( and we ought to have gotten 2 and 3 ! ) .

    I’m hoping You Keep HE for expanded Geekdom life ,and professional relationships and cons stories and trips. Even if its a once or twice a month thing.

    I’d even love to read “Hijinx Ensue: the KId years” THAT WOULD BE AWESOME. Stories about you and friends growing up are hysterical and would make great comics.

    I want to read Hijinx Ensue: when you take your daughter on her first trip .

    But if none of this is ever going to happen, thanks anyways. But Im not giving up hope yet.


    Your friend and Fan ,

    • I really do appreciate your perspective and the kind words. There are some fundamental aspects of HE that make me feel like it should end. I enjoy writing it (a lot), but I do not really enjoy drawing it any more. Drawing the same characters over and over in the style that i’ve established has started feeling like a chore. I also don’t feel like I own the characters since they’re all based on real people. I feel unable to truly decide their fates or make them do things their real life counterparts wouldn’t do. Given a time machine, I would go back and AT LEAST give them different names. I really do love telling stories about what it’s like to be an artist, a father, a traveling geek, and someone that actually gets to do what they love for a living. If anything, I hope I can find a way to continue doing this in some capacity, but I doubt it will be HijiNKS ENSUE as you know it now.

      You are correct that Sharksplode is not designed to scratch the same itch that HE is. Right now I just want to tell jokes/gags and draw weird and different things every day. I’m burnt out on repetition. I was just talking to my wife today about how there was a time when I hit the perfect balance of making a thing that a small passionate group of people really enjoyed, creating an enthusiastic community around AND somehow making it my job. When I noticed the community and the “special feeling” from fans that surrounded HE was starting to fade away, I tried many times to get it back or recreate it. I eventually realized that this was something that just happens when the conditions are right and it cannot be forced. I decided to stop chasing that goal and just be grateful for the time that it existed. The “1000 true fans” kept me going for years and it seemed like anything was possible, but now it seems like I couldnt even get enough people interested to make publishing a new book worthwhile. The internet changed, I changed and my audience changed. I’d rather figure out what’s next than constantly try to recapture what I used to have.

      Still, if there’s a way for me to still be excited about making HE comics, I’ll try and find a way to do it. I’m not promising or even planning anything.

      Thanks again, for caring. People like you are the only reason I was ever able to be a full time cartoonist.

      • Digital high five man. Some commentators won’t get it, but as Roosevelt put it (or Kipling..) you are the man in the arena, you struggle, you create, you labor, you live. Also, F#CK EM IF THEY CAN’T TAKE A JOKE. (Especially a free one…those cockwomblers.)

  2. Loved HE, both its old and the newer ways of going about it. I’ve looked at Sharksplode, and while some of the strips make me smile, it’s not as consistently good at doing so. I respect that that’s where your heart is at right now, though.

    That said…once a week HE, eh? It’s been almost 3 since this strip was posted with no updates…I’m kinda sad that it seems like HE fell by the wayside so fast since this strip took several weeks to get posted, too

  3. Sporadic listener, first time caller.
    When I found Hijinks Ensue a few years back, it was just around the time you wrote 4 Year Experimentiversary. I had already begun going back and reading previous strips but once I read the Experiment writings and was privy to why and how and the struggle behind the scenes, the HE became that much more interesting to me.
    (As I’m sure a number of your readers have, I dabbled in webcomics years back, but quickly hit a similar wall of realizing the man hours necessary to something that couldn’t make any money without X amount of eyes on it. Loving an artform but not knowing if you can sustain yourself from it.)
    If you are wrapping up the HE, I know I would be greatly interested in a final installment to the Experiment section– a post-script of sorts to the whole process. The highs and the lows. Everything you learned. I know I’d find that a fascinating read.

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