Saika: It’s been about a month now, and it’s still hard for me to believe that Homestuck is over. I came to the fandom in 2013, when the story was already deep in the throes of Act 6 and its multiple sub- and sub-sub-acts, but it feels like I’ve been part of this wacky and oft-maligned group for longer than that. However, the fact stands that Homestuck has ended, so Syng and I have teamed up to hit you with our thoughts on said ending.
Syng: In this retrospective, we’re going to look back on both of our journeys with Homestuck, as well as reflect on the end of the story and what it means for us as fans moving forward. Spoilers for all of Homestuck (since we now have all of it; this is so weird) below!
Syng: I believe I joined the Homestuck bandwagon in 2011 after seeing multiple people (including Jeph Jacques, author of Questionable Content) talking about it online. I caught up with the currently available pages just a little while before [S] Cascade, and I was one of the ones who helped crash the website when Cascade came out! I never got deeply involved with the online fandom, but I loved the story almost as soon as I started reading it. I was so impressed with its originality, its multimedia format, its mind-bending Mobius double-reacharound plots. The original four main kids really drew me in because I could relate to them (despite their… weird circumstances): like me, they grew up with the internet and kept in touch with their friends chiefly through IM. When a video game reached out of the computer screen and became terrifyingly, cosmically real, they took it in stride because, I like to think, they had all seen weirder things in the fictional media they loved, just as I have. The world(s) and the format really captivated me. It seemed like Homestuck was the quintessential representative of fiction in the age of the internet because it actually took advantage of all the internet had to offer, and nothing I’ve seen before or since has even tried to break as much new ground. Of course, I always had issues with the way the writing seemed to ramble (the dude seriously needs an editor), but I was willing to overlook all that for the story’s sheer originality, suspense, and endless selection of likeable characters.
Saika: I loved reading Homestuck even when doing so was a challenge, and while I was also intrigued by its multimedia-ness, I was impressed by a different groundbreaking aspect of it. It set new bars for me in terms of representation and character development, and led to some of my favorite and most fun cosplay experiences. Although the fandom has a sometimes-justified reputation for being comprised entirely of shrieking, grey-painted teens, I found it very welcoming and accepting. And it’s possible I just arrived in fandom post-wank, or that I just followed the right Tumblr users, but it seemed to me that in the places where the story left aspects of representation open to interpretation, people really did take those opportunities to add more diversity. They cast the trolls in diverse humanstuck roles a la a Latino Tavros or a hijabi Muslim Kanaya, or imagined the canonical characters as people of color or fat or as having a variety of other kinds of underrepresented features.
And yet, for a large part of the last three years, it’s been difficult to be a Homestuck fan. Part of this was due to the soul-crushingly long pauses between updates, the longest of which was over a year. I felt like these pauses had a negative effect on the fandom for two reasons. Firstly, because it was so long between updates, people didn’t remember what’d happened before, and with a story as complex and convoluted as Homestuck, that’s not a good thing. Syng and I had several back-and-forths just while writing this post trying to remember stuff that happened pre-Gigapause and Omegapause. Furthermore, without regular updates, people found other more present fandoms and fell off the Homestuck bandwagon. Lately the conversations I hear about Homestuck at cons are more along the lines of “[x fandom] is the new Homestuck” rather than any real discussions of the comic itself.
Syng: I think part of the problem is that it seems Hussie wrote himself into a hole that he had trouble figuring out how to get out of, and thus the retcon was born. So besides the long hiatuses, fans also had to deal with the fact that years’ worth of narrative had been overwritten, seemingly making their years of reading pointless. For a long time, I held out hope for Hussie’s masterful writing, that he would find some surprising way to justify the retcon and make every retconned moment significant after all. But… the end has come and I feel let down. As far as I can tell, there is no real justification for the retcon, and if Hussie had had a proper editor and had written this in a conventionally vetted manner (i.e., writing the whole thing and getting an editor’s approval before publishing), he would have written it without a massive retcon. He probably wouldn’t have killed Vriska off in the first place. On the other hand, if he’d written it that way, it wouldn’t have fit the format of a webcomic and we wouldn’t have this huge, lovable fandom endlessly refreshing mspaintadventures.com every time an upd8 was supposed to come out. I still think better planning would have yielded a much better ending, though.
Saika: Yeah, when the finale hit, it did so in a surprisingly straightforward way, with a uncharacteristically small loss of life. Roxy killed the Condesce; Alt Callie turned the Green Sun into a black hole; Vriska and her ghost army were able to stop Lord English now that the source of his power was destroyed; Dave, Dirk, and Terezi took on Spades Slick and Jack English. Jake fought the Felt and PM defeated Bec Noir, after which she and the Mayor threw the queens’ rings into the Forge volcano. The genesis frog was properly seeded and finally, after all their struggles, the entire crew was able to pass on into their victory universe to live in happiness and repopulate their respective races.
Syng: I, for one, expected the finale to be a little less… straightforward? Homestuck had been so original and unexpected before that to have it end with so little complexity was a bit jarring. I had expected the fights in [S] Collide to be more interesting, e.g., with the Condesce deciding to join their side because she hates Lord English too, or Lord English revealing yet another surprise power play. I was convinced Jake was going to fuse with Lord English or something somehow, considering their odd similarities like the same “surname” and an obsession with green skulls. But no, everything played out in a direct, linear manner, which is so… un-Homestuck. I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t surprised at all; I didn’t realize destroying the rings in the Forge would lead to the creation of the genesis frog, nor did I expect Caliborn’s juju/downfall to be the victory universe itself. But if making the genesis frog and destroying the Green Sun were so easy, why hadn’t anyone done it before?
Saika: You’re not alone in that feeling! I also felt a little let down by how simple and arguably brief the ending seemed, especially after such a long pause. Granted, Hussie’s attention has been split for the last few years between the comic and the game production, and of course both [S] Collide and [S] Act 7 needed to be storyboarded and animated, but from what I can tell most of that work was outsourced to contributing artists and animators. Even many of the still panels from the update that finished up Act 6 were not drawn by Hussie himself. It leaves me wondering, yet again, what exactly he was doing during the pauses, and why he didn’t use that time to figure out a more complex and, well, more characteristically Homestuck-y way to dig himself out of his plot holes.
Syng: In any case, the Act 7 animation style and music were both perfect, and I loved seeing the birth of the genesis frog, the destruction of the Final Boss, and everyone finally living happily ever after. The most interesting thing to me, I think, was that the final weapon used to defeat Lord English was literally the new universe. The fact that Vriska was the one to wield it was super significant. Vriska has acted in the past as a sort of stand-in for the audience’s reaction to Hussie; for instance, she “encouraged” the in-universe Hussie self-insert character to stop stalling the plot. If Vriska represents the fans, then her wielding the new universe after defeating the Hussie character in Collide essentially represents the fans taking control of the new universe from Hussie. He’s leaving the new universe and the future of the story to us, and I think that’s very fitting. (This analogy holds even if the juju is actually the “narrative” itself. It’s not clear what it really is.)
Saika: Thankfully, while the story is done, there’s plenty yet to come for us as Homestuck fans, and it seems Hussie is taking the symbolism in the story of yielding the universe to the fans seriously. There is the Hiveswap video game to look forward to… eventually. (It’s only been in production… longer than I’ve been in the fandom.) We never have to stop cosplaying or talking about the characters – I know I’ll never get tired of fangirling over my faves (lookin’ at you, Dave) and dropping them into new and exciting fanfiction adventures.
Syng: Personally, I find the Homestuck sandbox to be super fun to play in. Homestuck is one of those stories, like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, where the world captivated me more than any particular favorite character. I love thinking up AUs in which characters from some other franchise end up playing Sburb, or in which I re-imagine human characters as trolls (you know… so I can multi-ship in all those fun quadrants!). It’s just such a creative set of universes, and I’m so grateful to Hussie for creating it and leaving it to us now.
Saika: That seems to be exactly what he’s doing with the recently announced Homestuck 2.0, the new, official YouTube channel of Homestuck, where none other than Dante Basco, along with business developer John Warren, are taking the reins (horse pun intended) to outsource the future of Homestuck to its fans.
And while I joined the fandom long after the fan-driven aspects of the plot tapered off, this also seems like a return to the roots of Homestuck as well—dare I call it closing a stable time loop? Between all these different avenues, it seems like even though Homestuck itself has ended, we’re never going to have to stop being Homestucks or creating new adventures in Hussie’s world.