Eight years ago today, I posted the very first HijiNKS ENSUE comic on this website. Roughly (if not exactly) one year from today the comic, as it currently exists, will come to an end.
When I rebooted HE in 2012, I had ideas I wanted to get out and stories I wanted to tell. Once those ideas and stories are out in the world, I am going to put the comic to rest (or at least on an indefinite hiatus). Staring today HijiNKS ENSUE
will update once a week is, on Mondays, and it will end in about a year is on hiatus while I work on how and when to end it properly. I will be launching a new comic that will run 4 days a week on June 1, 2015.
When I started HijiNKS ENSUE in 2007, it was just a pop culture commentary strip. I put myself and my friends into it and tried anchor the gags around this core cast of characters. That turned out to be mostly a mistake for the kind of humor I wanted to do. The writing I did back then wasn’t about characters. It was about jokes and ideas. Trying to shoehorn every joke into coming out of these 3 characters’ mouths turned out to be very limiting on my writing. That’s when I started just doing strips “out of universe.” If the joke was about a movie, I would just draw the characters from the movie. Then, when that strip was done, I’d bring the characters back. Sometimes, I wouldn’t do either of those things and I would just do a geeky pinup/mash-up. This actually wasn’t a HUGE problem until I started experimenting with story lines.
The non sequitur humor and the on-going story lines both using the same characters eventually seemed very schizophrenic to me, and probably to you. I was taking far too many liberties with what exactly HE was, and the audience got confused and shrank accordingly over time. So I decided to give up the gags and tell a story about my life, my family, parenting, etc. I wrote an outline for the basic story lines I wanted to address in the first year of the rebooted comic, finished about three of them, then sort of accidentally went back to writing gags using my characters (only now the characters were myself, my daughter and my wife). The difference is this time the gags weren’t about specific episodes of TV, instead they were about things going on in my actual life. The strip almost accidentally became a hyperbolic auto-bio comic without me noticing.
Six months went by and, while I was happy with the strips I was making, I wasn’t actually telling the story I set out to tell. Around this time, I realized that I didn’t actually want to chronicle my life, or my daughter’s life, in comic form. That sounded like a chore; an obligation. I felt pressured to touch on every major event in our lives through the comic, and that was never my intention. I wanted to tell the story of a guy (me) leaving a corporate high paying job, and pursuing cartooning full time in order to set a good example for his kid. I started off telling that story, but sort of lost the thread after a while.
Recently I sat down and wrote out all the remaining storylines I had originally wanted to tell, plus the one-off ideas that I never got around to and made a game plan for ending HijiNKS ENSUE. By my count it will take me about 50 strips. I’d like to end HE right on its 9th birthday, so that means I will being taking HE to a once a week update schedule (Mondays) until it is finished. When the story is all done, if there is interest, I will make a book of the rebooted HE comics. I will likely call it “HijiNKS ENSUE: The Experiment.” If there is further interest, and if it seems financially feasible, I would like to put out an omnibus of all of the HijiNKS ENSUE: Classic comics (a 2 book set, perhaps) as well.
About the new comic:
The new comic will not be called HijiNKS ENSUE. It will have a different name and live at a different URL. If you enjoy the humor of the current or former version of HijiNKS ENSUE, you are in luck! I have no plans to change my sense of humor or the way I look at things and try to figure out how to make them funny. If you liked the pop culture strips or the recent FANEURYSM strips, ALSO GOOD NEWS! I plan on doing pop culture comics as they strike me (though in a more general way so that my comics do not come with a prerequisite reading/watching list). If you dig my current comics about parenting, job stuff, coffee and cats, ALSO ALSO VERY GOOD NEWS! I plan to keep these threads going (in fact, I’ve already written about 20-30 strips on these subjects), just not with the same characters over and over. It hit me when drawing Joel and Josh and the coffee shop they were sitting in during the last story line started to feel like a chore. I realized that I want to draw different people and different things. I want to draw robots and aliens and weird looking old men, and giraffes and whatever the hell else strikes my fancy on a given day.
I want to stretch artistically, but I also want to be able to put out lots of comics every week. That means I need to A) be excited about what I’m actually drawing and B) not be drawing so much. The style (which I am working on refining right now) will be simpler, but not lazy. It will be more cartoony, less detailed, and probably more fun to look at. (My Patreon Patrons got a sneak peek of the new style HERE and HERE) I hope to launch the new comic with 10-20 finished strips uploaded to the site, ready to go. I’m hoping the decreased time it takes to draw them will allow me to update 4-5 times a week and actually create a buffer. Fingers crossed.
What about my Patreon?
Once the new comic is going strong and HijinKS ENSUE is working steadily towards its end date, I will revamp my Patreon Goals and Rewards to reflect my new project. I’m playing with a lot of ideas, but right now I’m thinking of settings goals for: Adding alt-text to all HE comics from 2007-2010, republishing those comics online in a bigger format, starting a new podcast, doing more live drawing sessions, creating/recording some music, performing some music live for patrons, and lots more. I still plan on putting out eBooks of convention sketches, and doing more Patron Only Hangouts. I’ll be posting more pre-release stuff for my new project for my Patrons as often as possible before the new comic launches.
What about “HijiNKS ENSUE”?
I’ve considered using HE as my personal umbrella for all projects I work on in the future, but I do not plan to call another comic by that name. It’s already been the name of two different webcomics and a podcast. Perhaps in the future “HijiNKS ENSUE” will just mean “a project by Joel Watson;” sort of a production company monicker. “HijiNKS ENSUE presents A NEW PODCAST or SOME OTHER COMIC or A LINE OF PERSONALLY TAILORED LAVENDER RAINCOATS.” Who knows? I might just slowly divorce myself from the name and let it come to represent the things I made during the first decade(ish) of my career as a guy who makes things and puts them on the internet. Luckily, this is not a decision I have to make now, or even soon.