What's the deal? Where've you been? Where's the comics? Are you dead?!
For those of you who don't follow me on every possible form of social media, you may have missed my recent posts about what I've been doing with my time over the last three weeks. I found out about a month ago that come January I wouldn't be able to continue selling merch through my current online store. I realized that launching new products for the holidays in a store that would soon be closing, with a partner I would soon no longer be partnered with was a really bad idea. I would end up more in debt to my current merch suppliers and they were honestly too busy with their own holiday merch issues to deal with mine. This meant I had to drop EVERYTHING and completely rebuild and relaunch my store, while also taking the whole fulfillment operation back in house. So I spent the next three weeks designing a new store layout, creating all new preview images fore dozens of products, finding a new shirt printing partner, creating new design files for old shirts, creating new design files for NEW shirts, doing inventory on the merch in my garage, reclaiming my inventory from the previous company's warehouse across town, building a new website for the store, integrating the new store software into the new website (AFTER spending a week LEARNING the new store software), troubleshooting all the thing about the new store software that didn't work the way they were supposed to (emailing developers, plugin creators, getting them to update their code...), weighing all of my merch, figuring out shipping costs, creating shipping tables, shutting down Sharksplode and the old HE store then redirecting all of the URLs to the new store, ACTUALLY LAUNCHING THE DAMN THING, then waiting for the first order, then fumbling through fulfilling the first few orders, realizing I don't have enough shipping supplies or prints, making new prints, ordering more shipping supplies... ANYWAY, this took 3 entire weeks. Correction: It took 3 weeks other than the weekend right in the middle that I spent at a convention in Austin, TX (which had it's own todo list abotu 400 items long). The first week I spent 12-15 hours a day in front of my computer doing the things above. I haven't worked that hard for that long since the last time I made a book. I took a few days off once the store was launched and started right back up again on that list above. I am completely drained, and haven't even considered being funny or drawing a comic since this whole thing started. I feel like I've worked the hardest I have all year, but have the very little HARD EVIDENCE of that work. I feel like I've let my readers down, but the work I've been doing is ESSENTIAL for me to continue to be able to create HijiNKS ENSUE as my full time job. Sometimes the actual CARTOONING part of being a cartoonist takes a back seat to all of the other things involved in running a small (very small) business. But now the store is up and running, orders are coming in, orders are going out and I'm ready to set aside the business of business and get back to the business of drawing internet funny time pictures. I've learned a very important lesson through out this process. Had it not been thrust upon me, I probably wouldn't have chosen to take my merch operation back in house. Now that I've done it, I realized that I probably shouldn't have ever let it go in the first place. When someone offers to take a big chunk of your job off of your plate in exchange for a reasonable fee, it's hard not to accept. Especially if you are already feeling overwhelmed. The problem with this type of arrangement (and I've done this with three different fulfillment companies over the last five or so years) is that it further removes me from my audience. I used to be able to appreciate seeing the same names coming through my store over and over. It let me know who my biggest supporters were. I appreciated dealing with problems myself and making sure the customer knew they were being taken care of, I appreciated being able to toss in extras and freebies for loyal customers or people who've had to wait a little while for their orders and I appreciated being able to change things, update things, and rearrange things as I see fit, exactly when I see fit. The truth is, I was never really big enough, HijiNKS ENSUE was never really big enough to farm out any part of this tiny operation. For now, I am very pleased with my new store, with what I've built and what I've accomplished in a few shorts weeks, I am very happy to be able to get back in touch with my customers and give them personal attention, and I am EXTREMELY happy to be able to get back to drawing comics. Thank you all for your understanding and patience. Godspeed, you Fancy Bastards. -Joel PS The new store is here: http://store.hijinksensue.com