Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Hijinks Ensue: Check It

I can’t for the life of me remember how I stumbled upon this website. I think it was an image search. Who knows. Wait a second, I got it. It was an image search for Jonathan Coulton. Ha. Good times.

Say hello to Jonathan Coulton.

Say hello to Jonathan Coulton.

Anyway, a Hijinks Ensue comic popped up as the first search result. The thumbnail looked sorta like Penny Arcade, which I like, so I clicked. I was mildly disappointed to realize that it wasn’t a PA comic, but very excited to have discovered a new webcomic, and quite by accident at that.

This guy has a much more broad range of subjects covered than just gaming like PA – I read four or five comics, with topics ranging from movies, to politics, to zombies, etc. The jokes/punchlines/whatever could use a little more polish, but I like his art direction, and I’m even more impressed by the situation that this man has put himself into.

He is trying to turn his webcomic into a full-time job.

That means no office job – this is his day job. No paycheck every two weeks, no boss, no time clock, nothing. It’s him and his computer, and whatever other resources he employs to run the site and sell his merchandise *go buy something*. He is calling this brave attempt “The Experiment”. It has an accompanying video blog, a nice little meter on the side of his site showing how much he has currently raised, and multiple calls for his “true fans” – that is, those that thoroughly enjoy his work and are willing to spend a certain amount each year supporting him – to set up either a monthly or one-time donation via Paypal. Last I saw, his meter showed a total pledged of $505/month, with a goal of $1500/month.

If nothing else, I admire this guy for having the balls to actually do this. It’s sink or swim – he’s got a family to support, and the site is his only source of income. I empathize with him, and I’m rather fascinated by the idea he espouses of the 21st century artist. He believes that we are at a pivotal point, courtesy of the internet, where the middleman can be effectively eliminated. This has been previously illustrated by a few famous bands, such as Radiohead, who have cut their ties with record labels and begun selling their music directly to the consumer. It’s cheaper for fans, and a more efficient form of income for artists, because there isn’t anyone taking a cut each month.

The key, in this concept of economic viability as an artist, is to connect with your fans. Specifically, you must connect with your “true fans”, as mentioned earlier. Do whatever it takes to keep them happy and continuing to pay you. Offer encentives to donate – custom work, for example. His store includes the option to order a custom avatar design from him for $35. I’m kinda considering it, to be honest. I’m also considering my budget, though. Dropping $35 on something completely unnecessary is not the way to get through college with your bank account intact. I’ll probably make a one-time donation instead.

Anyhow, I can see myself eventually trying out some form of this economic model. Once I get my writing blog up, there’s nothing stopping myself or my partners in crime from offering our services to anyone willing to pay, or writing someone into a story, or creating a piece of fiction that somebody wants. Whatever. We’re flexible, you know? I’ll write technical manuals for ironing boards if it gets me paid.

In conclusion, go check out Hijinks Ensue, read up on this guy, and if you’re impressed, heck, throw him a few bones. He’s certainly working hard for them.


September 7, 2008 - Posted by | Personal, Webcomic | , , , , , , , ,

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