Cyanide and Happiness, like most things, began.
Dave McElfatrick, Kris Wilson and Rob DenBleyker have had a developed passion pertaining to cartoons for as long as any of them can remember. Hell, maybe even longer than that. They didn’t know each other yet, but they all had an unshakable passion and drive that no force of nature could ever squelch, nor uproot. The passion they each shared was as tough, and as pure as the finest diamond. A passion that had taken root deep within them since the dawn of their lives, a calling that would burst out of their every seam and one day unite them. That passion, dear children, is stupid stick figure cartoons.
Yes, those wee lil’ Explosm boys started making silly cartoons the moment animating at home became a viable option. They quickly started tweening up a storm while they were but tweens themselves. They’d often submit their amateur work to Newgrounds.com, causing them to gain a small following as well as the attention of each others work. Rob and Matt Melvin moved on to make their own animation website (sticksuicide.com) and Dave moved on to do the same for a website of his own (stickwars.co.uk). Kris, being few years younger, was animating while being an active user on Rob and Dave’s websites respectively.
Keep in mind that the Explosm boys still didn’t know each other at this point. They collaborated entirely online with what was essentially a group of strangers. Rob was in Texas, hard at work on his college education and his animation series. Dave was studying at uni in Ireland while working on his own animation epic. Kris was working a part time job while attending highschool in Wyoming. Matt had just finished studying graphic design in college, and was the webmaster for sticksuicide.com. When they weren’t busy being young and stupid, they focused every drop of free time into being young and stupid in animation form.
In early 2004, God struck Kris down with a severe case of strep throat. Kris had a collection of comics he drew in his school notebook, so he started adapting the few hand drawn comics to digital versions. As the fever cooked away the few promising brain cells that 15 year old Kris had left, he started drawing 3-5 comics a day. At first, Kris didn’t show anyone his new comics, mostly because they were silly and drawn poorly with an optical computer mouse. He eventually showed friends and family, started a website, and gave the comic series the name Comicazi. He applied to a few publishers, which turned him down swiftly due to the simple art and dark subject matter. Kris then retired the name Comicazi, and gave the series it’s new name based on his comic about back alley cotton candy ingredients. The comic was now titled Cyanide & Happiness.
Kris started submitting them to the forums of content creators he admired, namely Rob and Dave. The comics caught Rob’s attention, and Rob got into contact with Kris. Before long, Rob and Kris were drawing comics and sending them back and forth, almost doubling the size of the comic series in the matter of a few days. Rob wanted to start a new website alongside Dave. Their new website was destined to be broader in scope, and suggested this comic series would be a good fit. And it’s a hell of a lot easier than making animations all of the time. Rob gave this glorious new website prospect a name, and that name was www.BestWhileHigh.com. Rob thought to himself “nah, that name is stupid” and gave the website an even worse name. Explosm.net.
Matt swiftly programmed and launched the website, and by December 9th 2004 Explosm.net was born. Cyanide & Happiness was pushed to daily updates and first aired on the new website starting January 26th of 2005. The first few months consisted of Rob and Kris’ earliest comics going back and forth in no particular order. Matt joined it, followed by Dave who brought his own unique perspective to the art and writing of the comic. Animation took a back seat while they all defiled this new medium called “webcomics.”
In July 2007, an opportunity arose for the Explosm Boys to attend the San Diego Comic Convention. Not only was this a chance to meet their readers, but also the moment when they would be in the same room together, for the first time. Dave even flew all the way from his native Ireland to meet his fellow nerds, at the biggest nerdpile in the Western Hemisphere. After working together for over 3 years, the Explosm Boys were finally united.
Since that day back in 2004, comics have been posted every single day.
At the time this bio was written, Cyanide & Happiness has amassed over 5 million YouTube subscribers, an archive of over 4,000 comics, 10.7 million Facebook subscribers, five books, a Streamy for Best Animated Channel, Series or Show, over 100 appearances around the world, their own line of merchandise, a beer, and even a free slice of pizza or two.
Even with the explosive growth of their comics, the guys grew restless and wanted to return to their animating roots. In 2009, C&H began releasing animated shorts on their YouTube channel ExplosmEntertainment.
By 2010, just one year after the Explosm Boys began releasing a handful of animated shorts, Hollywood was knocking at their door.
The Explosm boys then spent a few years going from meeting to meeting, getting the exact same offer from every television network they talked to. The networks wanted to buy C&H, all of it. No compromise. The Explosm boys decided that C&H wouldn’t fit the model of traditional television without losing a big part of what makes C&H what it is.
So they decided to do things their way.
In February 2013, C&H launched a Kickstarter to see if they could launch The Cyanide & Happiness Show all by themselves. They asked for $250,000 to launch season one and, lo and behold, their readers were amazing and raised over $770,000 to launch Season One of The Cyanide & Happiness Show. As a show of gratitude for achieving more than twice what they requested, the team committed to releasing animated shorts EVERY WEEK.
It was a big task, exaggerators even called it a “Suicide Mission” — but they managed to assemble a phenomenal team of talented artists, animators, and production staff entirely from scratch. Delivering on their promise, they haven’t missed a week of animation since embarking on their 2013 Kickstarter journey.
As every story goes, things change over time and take new shapes. In fact, the Explosm boys had grown up to be full-grown Explosm guys, and their new post-pubescent bodies were not the only sign of change. Dave left his homeland of Northern Ireland to commit himself entirely to work on cartoons, and thanks to a petition signed by hundreds of thousands, got to remain in the United States. Rob even went as far as to store merchandise in his own home. It was obvious that Rob, Dave, and Kris were fully committed to the animations and comics. The three of them managed to do a weekly comic, write, direct, animate, voice act, regularly attend conventions, AND assemble what they needed for an entire animated series. At first, Rob and Dave had to do a lot of the animation work themselves, Dave would also work on background art, Rob would moonlight as an editor and storyboard artist, while Kris managed audio and voice acting. It sure was a lot of hard work to keep all those productions going without a hitch!
Preferring to focus his talents in web design and project management, Matt very rarely worked on the animations. His comic production also scaled down, releasing only 3-4 per month, and his attention shifted to focus on more personal projects. Eventually Matt stepped down from project management, and in February 2014, left the C&H team entirely. The transition went smoothly, and the Cyanide & Happiness team was able to maintain momentum despite losing a member of the team.
The 11 episodes of The Cyanide & Happiness Show: Season One launched in November of 2014 and drew in over 40 million views on their YouTube channel. With Season One under their belts, Cyanide & Happiness announced that they are currently working on their next big project — The Cyanide & Happiness Show, Season Too — all while keeping up with conventions, daily comics, weekly shorts, and immaculate hair.