Jargon started accidently. In 1999 I was running the web hosting provider, FreeAlways. Since I was developing the software powering the site, I had a few example accounts for testing new things. One of these was called jargon.
Originally the page featured a single line of text that said, "what is jargon?". Then one day, for no reason I can remember, I grabbed a pen off my desk, and drew a picture of myself sitting at my computer. In those days our workstations still ran Windows. We were still working on switching them over to Linux. I scanned in the picture, and put it on the jargon page. There it remained, as the single image. Humble beginnings for a comic strip.
However, a few days later (September 15th is the date accepted as the anniversary) I drew up three more pictures, and put them on the page too. They weren't much, but it was a start.
Two days later, well, my computer had crashed one too many times, and I drew yet another strip, of me and my cat. This was the technical birth of jargon: the comic strip. As now I had to reformat the page so you could view the strips in order.
The "jargon 99" slogan began to show up on almost everything I would sketch out during the day. And several strips of questionable nature showed up. Now none of these early strips had any sign of a story line, they were more just expressions of a moment. I had no idea at the time that I'd eventually start seperating out some of the characters, and writing storylines for them. I'd decided that Jargon was going to be the comic strip with the moto: the worst drawing in the world. It fits, doesn't it?
Somehow, a strip called Equality Mates, ended up with a character later to be known as Erik beside Jesus, as they were being sent to jail. Erik was actually based on someone I had met on the internet, and so is one of the many characters in jargon inspired by a real person. Little did I know at the time, that this would be the start of regular characters... well other than myself.
Jargon 99 continued with a bunch of bad jokes, self depreciating humour, and ended with what turned into the start of the idea of chapters in Jargon.
Welcome to the next two chapters of Jargon, humourously called the j files. Here I bring the The New Era news staff into jargon. It came out right when I had FreeAlways shut down on me, in October 1999. Other than that, more computer jokes, culture jokes, and cynical strips came to be the norm.
That's when Jesus and Erik came back again. This time with Erik showing signs of his demonic curse. Of course at this point the repeat characters were still just fillers between the random strips. I still like looking at the old strips, for the messages that they portray in their simplicity.
Now in the beginning of Part 2 of The J files, once again we see Jesus and Erik, as well as myself, and oddly another character that would show up later, earliest being called simply a black lesbian. I'm sure Lisa didn't mind, my character naming capabilities in the early days were zero... probably because I never knew they'd turn into characters. :-)
Somehow Jerry Falwell ended up showing up. Although in the J Files only as a cameo appearence. The strip virgin guys was the first to continue a storyline, with me bailing out Jesus and Erik from prison. How nice of me. I noticed a couple more strips with J&E showed up. This was already starting to head towards a series flow.
The chapters beginning with the j's of our lives and concluding with the j2k bug were the start of serial type stories. Still blended in with the traditional abstract strips, but now the stories were starting to actually follow a storyline. Although it may have been a strange one. Jerry shows up as a repeat character, J&E go on an adventure, and Some Guy shows himself to be a real moron. Also, I introduced a bunch of characters who had originally been portrayed by real people in my amatuer video series The New Era. Joe Evyl and Baily The Blue are both nicked from TNE. All apologies to the people who originally portrayed them, I'm sure they'd hoped those characters would never escape from the crappy VHS tapes that are still safely in my care.
Inspired J was a neat sideline. Although it only had a few strips, it was all stories who other people had sent in ideas for. None of them having anything to do with the main storyline, except for Jerry selling out. But hey, we all knew that anyway.
Project J Part 1 was the first chapter of Jargon done in colour. I'd decided that hey, why don't I make the strips look, well, brighter. It was started in December, 2000. It started out with a whole new storyline, introducing a few new characters, like Doctor Genome and Bob the Cat. It also started a trend of giving tributes to other online comic strips. July and August 2001 were the last months of Project J. In the end of July I'd lost my job. I finished up a few strips that had not been done, posted them, and promptly went into a state of depression for the next two years.
December, 2003. Over two years since I'd given up on Jargon, the strip was resurrected. Now it featured a no rules format, blending hand drawn material, computer generated stuff, and photographs into a unique style. The first chapter in this style, Jargon 3.0, was sort of a testing ground. It introduced a few new characters, and a new storyline involving the plot device.
There's also a great cameo by Santa Claus for the Dec 24th strip. :-) For the first time ever, in the new jargon, text was done using the computer, rather than hand drawn, hopefully making it easier to read. Of course, part ways through Jargon 3.0, there was a slight accident with the plot device, that made the strip go back into just scanned mode again, with no colour or effects (well, not much). This chapter streched into 2004, as it was quite slow in developing, not nearly like the mass rush of strips I put out in '99.
It also brought back the tributes to other web comics, which was fairly fun to do. Plus there was a really bad reference to an old movie in a strip with an offensive name that nobody will probably ever catch. Plus, I managed to fit in a few strips I'd drawn in 2001/2002 into the story, after finding them again.
Now the end of j's brought back the abstract strip concept, although only for three or so strips. I hope to fit in some more of these as we go along. It also brought forward transparent text boxes which looked really neat ;-) The last few strips in the series were really really weird, with funky colors and effects, and a planned absence of my own character (Some Guy). Of course a good old fashioned strip with presidential candidates was thrown in for good measure. The whole premise of the end of j's chapter was that the world was going to end, or that some major change was coming. It was right.
And so we arrived at the next incarnation of Jargon. The comic had kinda left a large opening in the plotline, and it was time for something new. The end of January 2005 marked the beginning of the next generation of jargon strips. Instead of working alone, I decided that maybe Jargon could do with some co-mingled artistry. So I went to my friend JP, and we started thinking up new characters and stories. 4:20 JST is the first chapter in the Fourth Generation, and also marks the start of a major storyline, continuing from where some of the last ones left off, and yet rebuilding an entire universe from scratch.
During this period, many of the characters who had not been named previously, were given names for use in the storyline style strips. I sometimes wonder if this was actually such a good idea, but hey, it worked well for the serial stories.
A lot of new characters were introduced in this era. Some more fleshed out than others, and some left in a mysterious fog. The personification of my feminine side arrived, in the form of the Demon Queen, Tara. Boy, she can be a real bitch.
Of course, the most high profile new character in this era would have to be Weed Man. A character that JP had originally created his own comic strip for, but who moved into the Jargon Universe when we started working together. I know there had been a few pot jokes prior to the 4th Gen, but the ganja humour was smoked up to 11 for this one!
The forth generation had mostly storyline based strips, although the last few chapters delved into some one offers, and the last chapter 'jargon rebooted', was all over the place with strange strips, morbid humour, and the final conclusion to the end of j's.
Once it was done, it closed the fourth generation -- leaving the doors open for a completely new start, something promised since end of j's but not realized until much later...
I had at one point started a new chapter continuing with the same characters as the previous strips, and maybe one day I will get around to finishing it. But not today. (Actually, almost four years later and the few strips I may have drawn are long lost.)
Instead, in early 2007, I teamed up with sicPuppi, whose sense of humour is twisted beyond hope, and whose art style fits right in with the new comics. Blending hand drawn art, tablet drawn art, gimp'ed photos, and plenty of insanity to go around- A Different Shade of J opened the door to a completely new jargon universe, with seemingly nothing of the former world left. It's blunt, vulgur, brutal, honest and warped.
Later on, I started a dark and more traditional jargon chapter called anjelic demonica. I was working on it with my nephew Revan/JT. Somewhere in the middle, we got really drunk and drew some completely random strips, which promptly got named "the art of random". Instead of starting a new chapter, I merged anjelic demonica and the art of random together (similar to the mish-mash that was jargon rebooted.)
I had this big plan to get jargon up to 500 strips by it's 10th anniversary (September 15th, 2009) but that never happened, as my father passed away on September 11th of that year.
Over a year passed before jargon saw another strip. In a strange move I started a new chapter, 'the jist of things', (which is the bridge between the reboot era and the return & renewal era) in late November 2010. With this chapter the rules (whatever they may have been) where completely thrown out the window. Memes, photos, drawings, whatever. It was a mad blast of new strips, and in under a month, 41 new examples of insanity had been posted, and 'the jist of things' as well as the Reboot Era had come to an end.
Well, the jist of things set the stage for a return to the storyline based chapters, but first off a quick detour into the new format for project j chapters: a whole chapter dedicated to a specific theme. The first one was Facebook game, but who knows what the next ones will bring. The idea of using project J as a means to get more reader involvement is appealing.
This is also when jargon officially left the huri.net nest and got a whole new website of it's own (whatisjargon.com). Heck it even got it's own engine to power the new site. Pretty spiffy.
The next big chapter, full metal jargon, saw the hinted-upon return to storyline based chapters. It brought back many characters from the earlier chapters, and played many homages to the past.
It also set up a lot of plot potential for future chapters, and featured several completely random strips.
So what's up next? Well, at the current time we're still in the Return & Renewal era. Who knows how many chapters will end up here. The comic is back, stronger than ever, and right now is actually getting frequent updates. Hell, we even have our own Facebook page!
I'll be contacting the previous contributors to the strips to see if we can get some new contributions, or start working on some collaborative strips.
When there are no constraints, no firm format, no rules, even the sky ain't a limit. This is jargon.