Happy belated 4/13, my fellow Homestucks. It’s hard to believe that Andrew Hussie’s epic about kids, space, and fucked-up universes has been around for five years now! Even harder to believe that this gigapause is still going… However, even though Hussie didn’t surprise us all with the final update on what would have been the most fitting day (there’s always next year), he did surprise us with an ambitious new comic venture. From what I’ve seen, the fandom is pretty excited for it, and with good reason.
What’s interesting about Paradox Space is that it’s not a spin-off of the original Homestuck comic per se, but could instead be seen as stories that travel alongside the main storyline, but never interact. …Well, instead of making this explanation more confusing than the source comic, I’ll let the man speak for himself.
Paradox Space will feature many short comic stories involving literally any characters and settings from Homestuck. Any point in canon could be visited and elaborated on, whether it’s backstory, some scenes that were skipped over or alluded to, funny hypothetical scenarios which have nothing to do with canon events, or exploring things that could have happened in canon through the “doomed timeline” mechanic that is a defining trait of Homestuck’s multiverse-continuum known as “paradox space”.
It’s a project that’s ambitious in its attempts to bring back the Homestuck fandom back to being a large, contributing collective once more—a project that allows the fandom some say in what potentially happened in this expansive universe we’ve all helped form with the characters we’ve grown to love or hate. Indeed, with Hussie’s continued assurances of allowing other people the reins of the site soon, Paradox Space will become a creator-sanctioned fanwork for the fans by the fans. And considering the size of Homestuck’s fandom, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a project that had the potential to blow up as largely as this one.
Bringing some sense of control back to the fans feels right to me. Hussie isn’t averse to admitting that he never expected his silly little comic about four internet friends to become as popular as it did, and without the continued efforts of the fandom—with their get-togethers, AU crossovers, and a million other things—certainly it would have remained in obscurity. However, in Homestuck’s recent years, it feels like Hussie has started down a dangerous path of toying with his audience. I’m not talking about teasers and killing off characters—that’s to be expected. But the cruelty with which he addressed some issues others had about the comic felt more like he resented his audience rather than appreciated it.
I’m sure with an audience this size, dealing with all the little quips and such can feel incredibly exhausting and overwhelming, and there’s a leniency there that I’m willing to give. However, this leniency doesn’t extend to blithely disregarding the sometimes very important worries of your fanbase. Lesser worries extend to questions of canon, such as issues concerning the hemospectrum and whether or not your fantroll can mesh with the
parameters of the universe. Which, fine, okay, this could just be me being a huge baby over nothing, but I seriously get a little peeved when an author says that anything the fans come up with could work within canon, but it ends up just being a joke. It might seem like a stupid thing in the eyes of the author, but for fan-content creators, it’s actually incredibly important. However, like I said, those are lesser worries; disregarding small canon discrepancies is nothing compared to making a large portion of your audience feel terrible because you, as the author, felt something was stupid. The Caucasian/Peachy incident of Act 6 didn’t serve to endear Hussie to anyone, and in fact probably lost him fans. Hussie, while a pretty good storyteller, isn’t exactly the most progressive dude, and his colors really showed (no pun intended) when he took a very legitimate concern about all the main Homestuck kids being white and turned it into a flash-animated joke. Needless to say, the fandom wasn’t amused at Hussie’s unwillingness to simply address the issue like an adult, instead opting to play right into their fears.
Running a popular comic cannot be easy, and I have a lot of respect for him and his crew, but it’s clear that over the years Homestuck, as a comic and not a franchise, has shifted from having the fans in mind and taking their input seriously to almost openly antagonizing fans. So while it saddens me to see that the fandom started drifting apart even before the gigapause, I can completely understand. This is why I hope that, with Hussie’s seeming laissez-faire administration over Paradox Space, the fandom can once more regain that modem of collaboration between author and fan Homestuck has been missing. We can once more have a say in what happened in the universe we helped to flesh out, and that’s so very important with a comic that, to put it bluntly, would have been nothing without the fans.
The restraint on fan input with Homestuck may have been necessary due to plot and narrative purposes, but the comic never should have reached a point where fans never had a say whatsoever. The comic started with fan input—even “John Egbert” wasn’t a name from Hussie’s mind, but a suggestion from a fan—so to remove that personal touch is disingenuous. Paradox Space will bring it back, and remind fans of the importance we still have to Homestuck’s story. There have been some bumps (or pitfalls) along the way, but we haven’t been forgotten. And indeed, once the gigapause ends, Hussie will once more realize that we haven’t forgotten about the comic that brought so many of us together either.