So after Ohayocon, where we nearly drowned in Homestuck cosplayers, I was forced to admit it to myself. There must be something to this Homestuck thing. I haven’t really had time since Ohayocon to breathe, however, let alone to get myself mired in as complicated a fandom as Homestuck seems to be, so I was putting it off. And then I found myself laid over for several hours in Narita Airport, and decided the time had come to do the deed. I’m not finished yet (I’m only up to Act 3 as of writing this), but I figured I’d share my Homestuck findings with you, dear reader, and tell you that it’s not as scary as it seems.
So here goes. Let me tell you about Homestuck.
Homestuck was created by Andrew Hussie and consists of a story told in (among other things) comic panels, chat logs, gifs, videos, and interactive minigames. (Regardless of what you do or how you do in the games, the story goes on. Which was relieving to me, as I am not the best at video games.) It starts out like this:
A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, is this young man’s birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name!
After some goofing around, we find that this fine young man’s name is John Egbert. He is Our Hero for Act 1. John loves terribad movies like Ghostbusters 2 and every Nic Cage film unironically. He lives in a house in the suburbs with his dad, who is obsessed with both baking and clowns, and his Nanna’s ashes, which live on the fireplace mantel. John hates both baking and clowns about as much as his dad seems to love them, and the ashes, well, he might have knocked them over. Sorry, Nanna. The world of Homestuck apparently allows for the use of video-game like equipping methods in real life, and we watch (and learn the lingo) as John struggles with his sylladex and captchalogues various items.
Act 1 doesn’t introduce us to many more characters besides John. He communicates online with his friends via a chat program called Pesterchum, and it’s mostly through these chat logs that we get an idea of their characters in the first act. He talks with his male friend TurntechGodhead (TG in chatlogs) and his female friend TentacleTherapist (TT, whose real name we learn late in the Act is Rose Lalonde).
The story of Act 1 follows John as he plays through a PC game he receives for his birthday, a beta copy of the game Sburb. Sburb is played with a client and a server user and, since John’s conveniently lost his server copy, Rose works the server and John is the client. This means, basically, that Rose is controlling the world, and John is the player. Except Sburb is weird, and so John is literally the player, with Rose dropping game machinery and fabricating items and moving around the furniture in his actual house. (Except Rose’s wireless is kind of shitty, so every once in a while it just disconnects, leaving the bathtub in the hallway and stuff like that). As they experiment with his new environment, things start getting weirder and more threatening, and finally, as the Act ends, a Very Bad Thing happens to John.
(I don’t want to spoil too much. I did enjoy it, I do want you to go read it too…)
I actually really enjoyed Act 1. The pacing is sort of slow, but I actually appreciated that; I’m aware in a vague way of the size of fandom and the sheer mass of characters and weight of plot fuckery, and I was worried that that would overwhelm me right at the beginning.
I also really liked Rose. She reminds me a lot of Lydia from Beetlejuice with her occult interests, and she’s really clever and sarcastic, even if she tends toward purple prose. I liked that even though John is the main character, she’s basically got top billing with him in this Act, and she’s the one controlling Sburb while John has to react to her.
I’ve seen the art before, obviously; it’s hard to be on Tumblr and not see it. So the bare-bones, goofy, kind of crude art style wasn’t a huge surprise. Hell, the website is MS Paint Adventures – what kind of gorgeously detailed art do you expect with a name like that? I liked it, though; there are usually minimal colors which make it stand out more when something really big and colorful happens, and the character designs are simple, and, it’s just generally sort of funny-looking (in a ha-ha way, not a stupid way).
The story itself is told in a sort of sly, wry voice, often mocking you, itself, and the characters. I thought it was funny in a clever way; I like humor that uses dramatic irony or which brings back something from earlier in the story to show it in a new light, and I certainly like humor that just lays it out there for you and doesn’t have to jump up and down with an applause sign, telling me when to laugh. Homestuck has that in spades. Even just silly things, like John’s dad’s love of clowns or John’s sincere dedication to the greatness of Con Air, which are so out there as to be outrageous, are just presented in a sort of straight-man tone.
Anyway, I’ve waxed a little poetic here. If I’ve piqued your interest, go check out Homestuck. It gets weirder from here on out.