Homestuck

Let me tell you about Homestuck…

By Youth Tribes contributor Will Uhl

After dominating over half of Tumblr, overwhelming Newgrounds’ servers and racking up just under $2.5 million on Kickstarter, it’s not hard to believe internet sensation Homestuck has a dedicated following. It’s been compared to James Joyces’ Ulysses for teens and has accrued over 7000 pages since 2009. With so much accomplished and yet startlingly little publicity, what is Homestuck?

Homestuck webcomic

The colorful and crazy world of Homestuck

Defining Homestuck is no simple task. At first glance, it looks like a webcomic; lightly animated panels with captions beneath. Nothing terribly complex – until you get sixty or so panels in and the caption beneath the panels turn into a twenty-line chat log between two characters. Later, an animated Flash section closes the first act, complete with a dramatic soundtrack. Later still, interactive Flash games bridge the action through exposition stitched together with retro flair. Homestuck quickly balloons out from a comic about a quirky boy to a tale that spans alternate dimensions, alien species, and convoluted timelines. While calling Homestuck a webcomic would be understood, it’s worth more credit – especially considering the animated epic that was its thirteen-minute-long climax. No, Homestuck is more than a webcomic: it’s an adventure.

 

Just like the comic itself, Homestuck’s fanbase is rather hard to describe. Go to any convention and you’re all but guaranteed to see flocks of Homestuck cosplayers dolled up in gray body paint and fake yellow-orange horns. Go to almost any Tumblr page and you’re bound to find wild speculation about the next plot twist. If you’re brave, go to fanfiction websites and you’ll find swathes of stories, long and short, full of self-inserts, unlikely fantasies, and alternate realities. Homestuck’s varying modes of presentation lend itself to a more expansive fanbase than normal, though; lots of fans love remixing Homestuck’s soundtrack – either covering the songs with their own instruments or just mixing it with Space Jam. Some even start ambitious collaborative projects to create fanmade animations and games.

Homestuck fans decked out in cosplay

While its unique amalgamation of elements draws all kinds of readers, Homestuck appeals to youth primarily due to its characters, most aged between twelve and sixteen. Homestuck isn’t one to shy away from complexity, with contorted timelines and alternate universes abound. More importantly, the breadth of well-developed characters gives everyone someone to admire or identify with. No character is just a couple adjectives – it’s hard to hate any of the characters because they all feel like real, fallible people – even if they are grey skinned, purple-blooded aliens with an affinity for Faygo.

Trolls love them so Faygo

Trolls love them so Faygo

Unlike many fanbases, Homestuck lovers are directly involved with the story. Originally, it began as a homage to old text-based adventure games, where players would type in directions to travel other worlds. Homestuck’s writer, Andrew Hussie, would choose responses from the official forums that would influence the story – whether by naming a new character or imploring them to bleat like a goat. While Homestuck has since stopped taking direct input from its readers, there are still many layers of interaction. Many direct allusions to the fanbase crop up in the updates, from inserting fan nicknames to mocking petty arguments in the fandom.

Homestuck__DVD_FIGHT_by_SnapdragonSoda

Duking it out

While its towering archives are intimidating, Homestuck’s garnered its popularity for a reason. Its dedicated fanbase has grown immensely in the past couple of years, and they’ve got a lot to show for it. Even if you’re not going to take the plunge, it’s worth knowing why others have. Below we have outlined the key elements that make the Homestuck community unique and what keeps the fans engaged.

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