Cyanide & Happiness
|Cyanide & Happiness|
|Current status / schedule||Daily|
|Launch date||January 26, 2005|
|Genre(s)||Black comedy, satire, word humor, sketch comedy|
Cyanide & Happiness is a webcomic written and illustrated by Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, Matt Melvin and Dave McElfatrick. It is published on their website explosm.net. It was created on December 9, 2004, and started running daily on January 26, 2005. It has appeared on social networking sites that include Myspace, LiveJournal, and Facebook where, in April 2006, it had generated more than a million visits per week. The comic's authors attribute its success to its often controversial nature. Cyanide & Happiness characters were used in the television advertisements for Orange Mobile's Orange Wednesdays.
Cyanide & Happiness began as a small series of comics drawn by Kris Wilson at the age of sixteen. Wilson was at home with strep throat and had doodled some stick figure comics. On his deviantART profile page, he notes that he "created Cyanide & Happiness in 2004 because I can't help but draw stupid looking characters to spew out my stupid ideas." He showcased his comics on his Comicaze website, and then on Sticksuicide.com, "a website devoted to animations and games graphically depicting the violent deaths of stick figures", which was founded by Rob DenBleyker in 2004.
Meanwhile, DenBleyker and Matt Melvin had been working on projects where they "made bad stick figure death movies together after posting their stuff at Newgrounds.com back in around 1999 and 2000." The forum's webmasters, including DenBleyker, Melvin, and Dave McElfatrick (who joined Sticksuicide) liked the format of Wilson's comics. Melvin said, "When we decided to branch off from just stick figure death movies and do something more with the site, we started Explosm and brought Kris on board." Wilson and the webmasters then collaborated on the comics, where each person would contribute content. One of the earliest Cyanide & Happiness comics, #15, was posted by Wilson on Explosm.net on January 26, 2005.[a] A variant of the comic's title is first mentioned in #121, in which one character sells cotton candy, and explains that it is made of "Cyanide & Happyness", after which the other character replies: "Happyness!?!? Hot damn! I'll take 4".[b]
The cartoonists live in different locations: In 2006, DenBleyker was a college student at University of Texas at Dallas. Wilson lived in Fort Bridger, Wyoming,[note 1] Melvin in San Diego, California, and McElfatrick in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They would also use Skype for occasional collaboration. Melvin said, "We collaborate here and there on them, but the comics are most often individual efforts. The animated shorts, however, are big collaborative projects, often bringing in people from outside our little, core group." Although they started working on the project in 2004, the authors did not meet each other face-to-face until the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con.
The format of Cyanide & Happiness is typically a single page where the cartoonist would post his comic. The page can vary in length and number of panels. The drawings are done in Macromedia Flash. Although generally static, some of the comics have animated panels. Others break the fourth wall; for instance, in #375, one of the characters looks at the reader, and the other asks what he is looking at. He then looks out and says "Holy shit! It's a person!"[c] In #445, the panel catches on fire and the characters inside panic.[d] In #680, a character has fallen through a broken bottom border of the panel.[e]
Wilson and DenBleyker have mentioned the traditional comic The Far Side by Gary Larson and the webcomic The Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch, as some of their influences for the comic. Wilson mentioned Don Hertzfeldt, Bill Hicks, White Ninja Comics, Monty Python, and David Wong as influences. At a Davenport College panel, DenBleyker commented that he writes for up to ten hours a day and collaborates with friends, however, in April 2013, he tweeted to replace "reading classic philosophy texts" with "sitting in my car crying". McElfatrick was inspired by old English children's comics such as The Beano and The Dandy. Melvin did not read comics as a kid, but enjoyed Larson's The Far Side and Matt Groening's Life in Hell; he preferred live-action sketch comedy shows such as The Kids in the Hall, Monty Python, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Mr. Show.
Setting and characters
The cartoonists regularly make jokes on controversial topics including abortion, suicide, and AIDS. Their characters rarely have names and are usually only distinguishable by the colors of their shirts.[note 2][f][g] The male characters almost always have no hair, which became a joke in itself in #642.[h] Female characters are distinguishable by their long hair and chest size, often used to comedic effect. Jesus makes appearances, accompanied with religious puns.[i] Some recurring characters have names; they include: Charles & his girlfriend, the Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber, Dr. Baby, Trelaf the Wise, Obese Maurice, The Personal Space Invader, superheroes like Seizure Man and Super Jerk, Dan the Downer, and Tall Justin. DenBleyker added that the stick figure style "makes the characters seem very transient, as if they only exist for a given comic. 'Cyanide and Happiness' prides itself on having no characters of themes. If we ever bring up a character, we usually retire it after its share of original jokes has run out."
One of the cartoonists' strips would be featured on a single page for the day. Melvin says that they "keep a schedule of sorts, but it's nothing completely set in stone." Wilson credits the comic's success to consistent output: "There are plenty of funny people creating content, but they're not consistent or reliable. The Internet has ADD, and if you're not constantly giving them something new, you're going to lose them."
On occasion, the Cyanide & Happiness cartoonists have featured Depressing Comic Weeks, where they wrote depressing and/or upsetting comics. In an interview, Melvin said, "we’d made comics that were funny because of how dark they were. But now DCW is just about making really sad comics with no punchline whatsoever."
Cyanide & Happiness has featured Guest Weeks, where readers submit entries, and some would be featured as daily comics over the course of the week.
On October 14, 2007, Wilson announced a desire for every comic in their archive to be translated into other languages. In a subsequent post, he reported a "phenomenal" 1300 replies with offers to translate into over 20 different languages.
In 2010, author Dave McElfatrick, a Northern Ireland native, started a petition for a visa into the United States, in order to be with the other writers to produce more animated shorts. The petition garnered over 132,000 signatures in less than three weeks.[better source needed] On September 1, 2010, it was officially announced that Dave qualified for the visa that would allow him to enter the United States to work on more comics and animated shorts with Wilson, DenBleyker, and Melvin.
|This section requires expansion with: Critical Reception, Popularity as noted by Webcomics industry and general media, any awards. (January 2013)|
John Hargrave of zug.com said that "Despite all this solo effort, the end product is coherent and strangely logical, as if the four creators were each viewing the peculiar world of C&H from a slightly different angle -- a world in which disembodied heads turn into seagulls, and Jesus is a designated driver."
DenBleyker has mentioned that the comic's popularity grew from their sharing policy, "which encourages readers to repost and re-blog comics, effectively allowing anyone to spread Cyanide and Happiness' content." In January 2006, the comic was getting about 20,000 unique visitors a day, but "we added a little box under each comic which allows people to post an Explosm-linked version of the comic, which brings a lot of traffic back to us. After we put that box up, the traffic started exploding." After a few days, the comic received about 300,000 unique visitors a day, which consisted of mostly traffic from MySpace and LiveJournal blog links.
In response to the question regarding controversial topics, DenBleyker said that the authors have not received a huge amount of serious negative feedback and do not intend to tone down the edginess of their comics. Melvin notes that some of the respondents have criticized them on one topic, but at the same time praised them for a different one.
In addition to animating Cyanide & Happiness, the cartoonists have done animations drawn in a similar stick figure style. The animations are in Adobe Flash format and are typically voiced by the cartoonists. Chase Suddarth contributes occasionally to the shorts. DenBleyker made a series called Joe Zombie, which lasted six episodes, and left fans to anticipate a seventh, where he stated "will come out eventually".
In 2007, Explosm featured an Interactive Story on their web forum, where they would start with a series of illustrations for the main character, and then have forum members suggest what happens next, and they would draw the corresponding picture. Their first story was "My Magical Skiing Adventure," about a man who finds two warring societies inside Mt. Everest.[note 3] Later that year, DenBleyker worked on illustrating "Working on the Space Station: Day 1".
Three books have been released by Explosm through It Books, a division of HarperCollins. The first two volumes each feature 120 of their favorite Cyanide & Happiness comics, and 30 previously unpublished comics. The third volume featured many Cyanide & Happiness comics from their Depressing Comic Weeks with 40 previously unpublished comics.
|1||Cyanide & Happiness||January 19, 2010||160pp||ISBN 978-0061914799|
|2||Ice Cream & Sadness: More Comics from Cyanide & Happiness||October 5, 2010||176pp||ISBN 978-0062046222|
|-[note 4]||The Cyanide & Happiness Depressing Comic Book||December 2012||89pp||ISBN 978-1939355003|
|3||Punching Zoo||December 2013||89pp||ISBN 978-1939355003|
Merchandise is available including T-shirts, toys and gifts, novelties, housewares and school supplies. The Explosm website also sells signed prints. The Cyanide and Happiness Facebook page has over 5 million likes.
Comedy Central announced an "Untitled Cyanide and Happiness Project" in 2011. However, on January 15, 2013, Wilson posted that they had walked away from a third television deal, and are planning instead to produce an online television show, exclusively on the Internet.
- According to his deviantART page, Wilson has since moved to Fort Collins, Colorado.
- In #1787, the character opens his green "shirt" like a towel flasher. In #937, a red-shirt character approaches a blue-shirt character who is kneeling on the ground and makes thrusting motions over him, causing him to yell "RAPE!" and getting the red-shirt character arrested.
- Some of the interactive stories were lost due to a site crash.
- Depressing Comic Book was not a numbered volume.
- Comics references
- Wilson, Kris (January 26, 2005). "Cyanide & Happiness #15". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net.
- Wilson, Kris (April 15, 2005). "Cyanide & Happiness #121". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net.
- DenBleyker, Rob (November 21, 2005). "Cyanide & Happiness #375". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net. Retrieved January 11, 2013. "What are you looking at? ... Holy shit it's a person!"
- DenBleyker, Rob (February 17, 2006). "Cyanide & Happiness #445". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Wilson, Kris (October 6, 2006). "Cyanide & Happiness #680". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- DenBleyker, Rob (September 6, 2009). "Cyanide & Happiness #1787". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net.
- "Cyanide & Happiness #937". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net. June 25, 2007.
- DenBleyker, Rob (August 28, 2006). "Cyanide & Happiness #642". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
- McElfatrick, Dave (September 15, 2005). "Cyanide & Happiness #312". Cyanide & Happiness. Explosm.net. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
- General references
- Johnson, Phill (April 1, 2006; updated January 2, 2010). "Student draws explosive web comic". The Mercury - University of Texas Dallas. Archived from the original on 2011-07-09. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- O'Shea, Tim (March 29, 2010). "Talking Comics with Tim: Cyanide & Happiness’ Kris, Matt & Dave". Robot 6 : Talking Comics with tim. Comic Book Resources.
- Woods, Sarah (July 18, 2006). "Orange unveils cartoon stick man print campaign". Brand Republic. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- Hargrave, John (March 5, 2010). "Kris Wilson is the Picasso of Exploding Stick Figures". zug.com. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Wilson, Kris. "kris-wilson on deviantART". DeviantArt.com. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Medina-Tayac, Sebastian (October 16, 2012). "Cyanide and Happiness founder talks web humor". Yale Daily News.
- Xerexes, Xaviar (December 17, 2007). "Get Happy! An Interview with Matt Melvin". comixtalk.com.
- Katz, Farley (February 18, 2009). "Interview - Cyanide and Happiness". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Flux, Elizabeth (June 6, 2012). "Q & A WITH MATT MELVIN FROM CYANIDE AND HAPPINESS". Subterraean Death Cult.com. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Melvin, Matt (December 6, 2012). "Even MORE signed prints!". Explosm blog. Explosm.net. Retrieved January 11, 2013. "(Print obviously not animated, but how cool would that be?)"
- C&H wiki wrongly says I write comics by "reading classic philosophy texts", someone pls replace with "sitting in my car crying". Source: me. Rob DenBleyker on Twitter. April 20, 2013. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
- "Hey guys, REALLY need your help! - The Explosm Fora". Retrieved 28 July 2010.
- "List of Explosm.net Flash Movies". Explosm.net. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
- "Yes, another Joe zombie question... - The Explosm Fora". Forums.explosm.net. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- "Working on the Space Station: Day 1". Explosm.net. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- "Depressing Comic Book". Explosm.net. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- "Cyanide and Happiness". Google Books. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- "Ice Cream & Sadness: More Comics from Cyanide & Happiness (Google eBook)". Google Books. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- "Ice cream & sadness : cyanide & happiness". Library of Congress Catalog Record. Library of Congress. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- "Punching Zoo". Explosm.net. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
- "The Explosm Store - Mobile Apps". Explosm Store. Exposm.net. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Cyanide and Happiness Lite". iTunes. Apple. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Fourth Castle Signs "Cyanide & Happiness"". licensemag.com. Advanstar Communications. March 24, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Comedy Central Announces 2011-2012 Development Slate | Insider Blog | Comedy Central's Insider". CCInsider.ComedyCentral.com. January 31, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Wilson, Kris (January 15, 2013). "Big News.". Explosm.net Blog. Explosm.net. Retrieved January 16, 2013.