Friday, June 28, 2013

Interview with John Kleckner of Hejibits

John Kleckner (Self Portrait from his Twitter Page)
Even if you don't recognize the name John Kleckner or the name of his webcomic,  "Hejibits", chances are you have seen many of his comics floating around the internet.  With his combination of puns, silly faces, and cynical commentary on the video game industry, Mr. Kleckner's comics have made millions laugh (or cringe) at their humor.  His comics have even inspired several popular internet memes, such as "Boardroom Suggestion" and "Haunter Used Mean Look."  In this interview, I ask Mr. Kleckner about the origins of the comic, his artistic and comedic influences, and his views on video games.   I would, of course, like to thank Mr. Kleckner for his time.  Check it out!

1.  How did the idea for the comic come about?  You are an art student, but how did you decide to create comics and put them online?
I had a pretty annoying roommate in my freshman year of college, and I found comics to be an amusing outlet to vent my passive aggressive frustrations. My friends liked them, and encouraged me to start a webcomic. "That's a dumb idea," I said. Joke's on me, I guess!
One of Hejibits' earlier comics, featuring John's infamous roommate,
2.  Are there any artists that your art style is inspired by?  Your art style for the comic is very simplistic, but, as seen from your Twitter and uploads from your days at Art School, you have the potential to do very detailed and realistic work.  What made you decide the simplistic style?  Just for the sake of time and energy?
I can't really say I take direct inspiration from other artists, but there's definitely some subconscious influence happening behind the scenes. As a kid, I was creatively inspired by cartoons like Courage the Cowardly Dog and Ed, Edd & Eddy. Most of my comic punchlines rely on dumb faces, which I don't think works that well with a realistic style. I'm also extremely incompetent with proper drawing software, so I'm somewhat restricted to the 'cel-shading' (for lack of a proper term) style of Adobe Flash.

3.  What is the process for creating a comic? How do you decide which kind of joke to make?  Do you plan out how the panels will look before drawing them?
Most of my video game ideas stem from my frustration with a game, or from a stupid thing in a game that I can poke fun at. I have a running list of comic ideas on my computer, which are generally just a short summary or a couple sentences of dialogue. I don't really plan that far ahead; when I start a comic I usually just pick an idea from the pile (either the most topical or the most amusing), and start drawing.

An example of puns and funny faces, two of the things in which Hejibits specializes.
4.  Your humor often fluctuates between puns and commentaries on the video game industry, but both have a very (at least, from my perspective) cynical point of view.  Do you feel that your humor was influenced by any thing or person, or do you think your humor comes only from yourself?
My dad is a very cynical dude, always finding things to complain about. My mom is a very sarcastic lady, always making fun of dumb things. I inherited both of those traits on an exponential level.
And a little bit of commentary on the video game industry. 
5.  What do you think draws people to your comic?  The silly faces?  The puns?  The sarcasm and cynical humor?
I don't know! I have such a weird range of comic topics that it's a wonder I have any consistent readers. I just make the comics I want to make, and some people dig that, I guess!

6.  Have you ever given up on a joke because you found you couldn't draw something or just couldn't figure out how to properly visualize it in the panels?
All the time!  Sometimes, I still go through with bad comic ideas, against my better judgement. Making bad comics is part of the learning experience, I suppose!

7.  Having a popular webcomic like you do brings you in contact with not only a lot of fans, but other online creators as well.  How have your experiences been with both groups?  Any horror stories or awesome tales?
I'm extremely humbled to have a handful of super talented web[comic] artists reading my stuff, which is super great and inspiring.  Weirdly enough though, I haven't had a whole lot of terrible fan experiences. One time a kid on Twitter was personally offended that I don't "follow back." That was a thing.

The comic that features the famous "Haunter's Mean Look" Image
8.  Can you give us a small inkling of what games you like and don’t like?  To get a better sense of what kind of video game player you are?
I play pretty much everything except MMOs and sports sims (I don't like games that don't end), but I love me a good platformer. Recent-ish/upcoming games like Rayman Origins/Legends, Super Meat Boy, and the obligatory Nintendo platformers tickle my fancy like nobody's business.

9.  What makes a game “good” to you?  A focus on story?  A sense of fun? 
Focused game design is important to me. Lately I've been straying away from games that waste my time by padding out game time (JRPGs, story-focused games with unnecessary filler, etc.). That's why I like platformers. Concise, and to the point. Well, except Super Paper Mario.

Probably the most well known Hejibits comic,  which spawned an exploitable meme that comments on other shady or just plain confusing business practices.
10.  What video games are you looking forward to, especially after E3?
Oh man, where to start? Super Mario 3D World, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Super Smash Bros. 4, Final Fantasy XV, Mirror's Edge 2, to name a few. I still have at least a bajillion games on my backlog as well, no thanks to Steam sales and PS3 HD collections.

11.  Where do you think the comic will go from here?  Will you pursue Webcomics as a career, or just continue it as a hobby and side project?
I would like to pursue a career in animation (as it is my major); probably in the 3D field. Webcomicing is a fun hobby, but I don't see myself doing it for the rest of my life. Depending on where I end up working, maybe I'll keep doing comics if I have free time!

Come back in the next few weeks, where I'll be uploading even more interviews with famous Internet celebrities like SuperPsyGuy and Ethan Nicolle, the creator of Axe Cop.

The Hejibits Website:
The Hejibits' Facebook Page:
The Know Your Meme Page for the "Boardroom Suggestion" Meme:

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