Sometimes, I come across a creative work that is so innovative or inspiring I just have to write about it. This week, I rediscovered something that is both one of the most unique creative works I have ever ... experienced and something that has been an inspiration to me in the past: Homestuck. What's a Homestuck, you say? Well, let me tell you about Homestuck.
Homestuck is about this boy:
He and a couple of his friends start playing a mysterious videogame called Sburb, and get transported to a strange and magical dimension known as the Incipisphere, where they are tasked with creating a brand new universe. Sounds simple enough, right?
Skaia, the source of raw creative potential that the kids need to both protect and harness.
Starting from that simple premise (which even itself isn't evident from the beginning), the story manages to become incredibly convoluted, folding in many disparate plot lines, such as a strange wanderer building a town out of cans:
actual internet trolls from another planet:
and time gangsters.
And somehow, it seems to all make some kind of sense. I can't really explain how without giving major spoilers. Another thing that is hard to explain is what exactly Homestuck IS. In its broadest sense, Homestuck is a webcomic by Andrew Hussie, creator of the website MS Paint Adventures, named after the medium of the earlier comics hosted. Homestuck, begun on April 13, 2009, was initially presented similarly to Hussie's previous adventure, Problem Sleuth: fairly crude drawing with second-person narration reminiscent of old-style text-based adventure games, created with readers' suggestions in mind. However it quickly diverged from there, integrating Flash animations and short point-and-click adventure games while Hussie took full control of the plot.
The Author hard at work.
As Homestuck's popularity grew, so did its creative team, Hussie recruiting numerous artists and musicians to assist with managing the comic. Yes, I said musicians. During most every large flash animation, there is some form of music, all very good and evocative. In fact, one composer, Toby Fox, ended up creating his own project while "in Hussie's basement." Ever heard of a little game called Undertale?
This song should sound familiar to Undertale fans. Never mind the spider-troll, you'll meet her later.
This convoluted little masterpiece has proved quite influential to my creative mind. I first stumbled upon MS Paint Adventures in middle school, and was quickly turned off by the language (in the first chatlog even!). Once I reached high school, I felt mature enough to tune out the crudeness, and went on one of the most wild fictional journeys I have ever experienced. I even ended up reading it again after realizing the iPad couldn't load the flashes with half the plot.
I was inspired. At that point, I had moved on from my blatant ripoff phase into my conceptual ripoff phase: I used my pure art skill to make a comic idea about kids stuck in a video game universe, but that's a story for another time. That wasn't to say I wasn't obsessed. I also imagined my actually original characters in Sburb sessions or interacting with my favorite characters.
It was this one. He was all my favorite things at the time: internet culture, 1337 5P34K, lol random, and neon yellow. You won't meet him until WAY later.
I wasn't the only one inspired by this spectacular. A wide fan community grew around this comic, discussing theories about the lore of the universe, what weird twist Hussie was going to throw in next, or to create their own fanventures mimicking style if not content of the main story. I even made a little private one between me and my sister that went nowhere. I spent hours on those forums, reading but never interacting. And yet, I never went full Homestuck.
You probably shouldn't go full Homestuck. Or any fandom, really.
The one thing that stopped me from achieving closure on this story was the fact that it wasn't complete: the reasons I stopped reading was because I ran out of comic, reaching what was known as "the gigapause." Eventually, other topics captured my attention and inspiration, and I forgot about Homestuck.
Well, if I forgot it, why am I writing about it now? Besides nostalgic reminiscence of a childhood past? Because it is done. After exactly seven years of chaos, time travel, and shenanigans, Homestuck came to an end last week on April 13. I happened to be awake and following the final series of updates when the ending flash was posted. I went to bed as if I never left the fandom.
So, if you want to experience this experience for yourself, it's all up there on mspaintadventures.com. All 8000 such pages of GIFs, narration, and miles upon miles of chatlogs, for perusal at your own pace. I would highly recommend it at all the times. All of them.