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Homestuck Alternate Universes (often shortened to Homestuck AU), or Homestuck Fan Adventures, refers to alternate universe stories based on the webcomic Homestuck. These stories can vary between small additions to the original canon to completely original stories taking place in different settings altogether. Such works of fanfiction, as well as fan art depicting them, are often titled using the suffix “-stuck.”
Homestuck, a webcomic which follows a variety of characters as they play a sandbox-style game that affects real life, was initially supposed to progress through polls where the fans decided what actions the characters would take (shown below) in the comic. One of the first of these polls was posted on October 21st, 2009 and the top voted results were reflected in a page of the comic published on the following day. The comic artist Andrew Hussie was eventually forced to move away from this method as the scale of fandom and their feedback continued to grow, causing many of the old suggestion threads on the MSPA Forum to be removed or permanently archived.
Parodies of Hussie’s comics have been shared on the forums as early as 2007, with the earliest known instance titled “Bird Wizard” being inspired by Hussie’s comic Jailbreak, the oldest comic on MS Paint Adventures. At the time, Jailbreak was a forum-based comic as well. These fan adventures spurred the creation of a Forum Adventures subsection in 2009. The section has accrued more than 2,000 threads as of December 2012. Some of the earliest discussion of the possibilities of Homestuck alternate universes came in the form of a dream thread posted in December 2009, where many posters shared dreams that they have had about Homestuck or its characters. As Homestuck is based on a multiverse plot featuring characters that can cross timelines and interact with the main storyline, fan creations can be easily meshed into the main story using this canon logic.
On May 2nd, 2010, MSPA Forum user Lolzorine created the website MS Paint Fan Adventures. The style of the website was designed to follow the layout of Hussie’s site, easily allowing authors and readers to create a “canon” layout for their adventures. As of December 2012, the site hosts hundreds of fan adventures, including several notable stories such as Guidestuck and Heinoustuck.
Many alternate universes have also been shared on the microblogging social network Tumblr. These stories and fan art can vary from single post variations to complete “fan adventures,” which incorporates readers’ suggestions to determine how the story progresses. Similar to Andrew Hussie, some Tumblr artists also run blogs to accompany their alternate universe stories, where they post details about updates in their stories or answer questions.
Various catchphrases in Homestuck often make appearance in fan adventures. Most notable are catchphrases used in the first pages of Homestuck to introduce the characters such as “A Young Boy Stands in His Room”, “What Will His Name Be”, and “Retrieve Arms”. The phrases translated as a common way to begin fan adventures, spawning large numbers of parody pages. Other common catchphrases include those that are memetic within Homestuck itself, such as “I Told You About Stairs”.
Bloodswapping is a trope in which writers change the color of the trolls’ blood. This hemospectrum of twelve colors is directly linked to a caste system on Alternia, the trolls’ planet, in which the color of one’s blood decides his/her position on the social ladder. Bloodswapping was popularized by the August 2011 fanfic Castelocked, in which the typically yellow-blooded Sollux chooses to hide his color, similar to Karkat in the original story, and the low-class bronze-blooded Tavros is royalty. Bloodswapping is a popular trope in fan art on Tumblr and deviantArt.
4 Chords is an Alternate Universe comic series by Emily Hu, which is posted via her Tumblr account AVeryNicePrince. Set in New York City, it follows the lives of humanized young adult versions of the Homestuck troll cast, primarily a guitar playing busker Gamzee and college dropout Karkat. This type of alternate universe creation is also known as Humanstuck. Essentially a slice of life comic, it mostly focuses on the romantic relationships of the characters, in particular a love triangle between Gamzee, Karkat and Tavros. The comic was originally created as part of the artists nostalgia for New York but took on a life of its own, leading to further fanarts and cosplays of the humanized versions of the characters. The blogger boasted more than 22,000 followers as of March 2012 and a Facebook fan page for the comic has more than 7000 likes as of December 2012. Also as of December 2012, the comic is on hiatus.
Guidestuck began in August 2012 on MS Paint Fan Adventures and is written and illustrated by Tumblr user Scarvenrot. It follows the adventures of humanized versions of Jaspers, Cal, Quinn and Bec (shown below, top row). In the original comic, these four characters were considered “guides” for the original four main characters, despite being a cat, a puppet, a stuffed toy and a dog (shown below, bottom row). As of December 2012, the comic is approximately 300 pages.
The popularity of the comic has resulted in an article on TvTropes, a Facebook fan page and multiple deviantArt groups. Scarvenrot regularly answers questions by fans on her Tumblr blog and also uses it to give information regarding updates. Numerous amounts of fanart and cosplay related to Guidestuck can be found on both Tumblr and deviantArt.
Heinoustuck is a dark body-horror focused piece written and illustrated by yorsh. Originally just a series of sprite edits, a comic using these characters was launched on September 17th, 2012. The comic and designs have inspired fanarts and cosplay of the redesigned characters on Tumblr, especially the Dave Strider design (shown below, right). The comic has also inspired artists to create art of other Homestuck characters who haven’t appeared in Heinoustuck yet in this style. Its deviantArt group contains over 250 members as of December 2012.
Ke$hastuck is a fan adventure written and illustrated by luxio based on a post on his Tumblr on December 2nd, 2012, in which the music artist Ke$ha was put in the Homestuck universe. Over the course of the weeks following luxio’s post, numerous artists created Ke$hastuck fanworks under the tags #keshastuck and #ke$hastuck, through which “Ke$hastuck” grew to become more of a general term for the fanworks rather than a fan adventure. Alongside Ke$ha, various other music artists are commonly featured within the fanworks, most notably Skrillex, Hatsune Miku, Lady Gaga, Deadmau5 and Marina and the Diamonds. Luxio himself has showed disdain for the fact that most of the posts in Tumblr’s Ke$hastuck tag were unrelated to the fan adventure but has accepted that it had grown larger than he originally intended.
On December 12th, 2012, Luxio started a fan adventure on MS Paint Fan Adventures for Ke$hastuck. The fan adventure quickly grew to popularity, becoming one of the top-three most favorited fan adventures on the site within a day. As of late December 2012, the fan adventure itself consists of less than 20 pages.
Promstuck is a comedic romance piece drawn by Shelby and written by urbanAnchorite and Cephied Variable. It was originally a spin off of Marchingstuck, a separate story by the same people featuring the Homestuck characters in a marching band. Promstuck is a humorous high school fan adventure set during prom season. One of the main storylines focuses on Karkat’s crush on John and his attempts to confess his feelings and vice versa, although many other characters are featured and have their own subplots as well.
Promstuck advances by the traditional “reader suggestion” based format on Tumblr before chapters were collected and posted on the fanfiction site Archive of Our Own. In June 2012, YouTuber Adoxographist launched a dramatic reading video series of Promstuck featuring eight different Tumblr users as voice actors.