Hiatus can be a rather insidious form of procrastination, and it’s one that only a few cartoonists have truly avoided. In its purest form, a hiatus is a pause in updates that happens when real life concerns become great enough that the cartoonist has to stop updating the comic. Or, for that matter, when a writer has to stop posting stories or reviews. A planned hiatus can actually be quite beneficial for a writer or cartoonist, giving them time to recharge creative batteries and catch up on things. When planned in advance, cartoonists can even put out calls for fan-art and the like, and while their comic’s story might be on pause, there’ll still be new content to satisfy most viewers.
Unfortunately, not all hiatuses can be planned… and when real life gives you a good kick in the teeth the cartoonist or writer might find themselves unable to update and, sometimes, unable to even tell people why they’ve vanished off the face of the planet. Even more insidious is the slow hiatus, in which missed updates start creeping up more and more until one day it ceases. These slow-death hiatuses can be in some ways more painful than having a comic suddenly vanish from the web as you can see it coming… and can do little to prevent it. The problem lies with the siren call of missed updates… once you miss one update, it becomes easier and easier to miss the next one. Overcoming this inertia can be almost impossible. Fortunately, it can be done.
Karen Ellis’s autobiographical comic Planet Karen is a case in point. Back in March of 2008, Ellis’ update schedule became more sporatic than usual. Considering some of the topics Ellis talks about, this is perfectly understandable; the comic is an outlet for her, and allows her to cope with life’s little unpleasantries. But after a brief rally in April and one last gasp in May, she vanished for three months. And in that time, Ellis did apparently consider whether PK should come to an end. Fortunately for her fans (and perhaps for Ellis as well), she realized that PK still has life in it… and she had a reason to draw more of her own life. Hopefully, this pause helped Ellis recharge her own batteries and recover a bit of the joy of drawing that may have been behind taking what was originally meant as parody and grew into something great. Besides, what better way to come out of hiatus myself than to comment on a comic that likewise has just shaken off the doldrums of hiatus? Welcome back, Karen Ellis.