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Homestuck is an interactive webcomic created by artist Andrew Hussie and is the 4th comic series to be published on the website MS Paint Adventures. It has gained a significant fanbase on the Internet, and many fans have directly collaborated with Hussie on the comic.
The story revolves around 13-year-old protagonist John Egbert and his friends Rose Lalonde, Dave Strider and Jade Harley. It is revealed that the fate of humanity revolves around their performance in the game Sburb. During the course of their adventures they befriend several members of an alien race called trolls.
For a more comprehensive synopsis, see the TV Tropes article.
From left to right, top row: John Egbert, Rose Lalonde, Dave Strider, Jade Harley
From left to right, second row: Karkat Vantas, Terezi Pyrope, Gamzee Makara, Kanaya Maryam
From left to right, third row: Vriska Serket, Aradia Megido, Nepeta Leijon, Equius Zahhak
From left to right, fourth row: Tavros Nitram, Eridan Ampora, Feferi Peixes, Sollux Captor
From left to right, bottom row: Jane Crocker, Jake English, Roxy Lalonde, Dirk Strider
The Homestuck BETA was created on April 10th, 2009 and followed by the first stable release on April 13th. The series has amassed over 7000 pages of comic strips. The majority of the comics are created in Photoshop, but several have been created as Flash animations with interactive adventure-game style pages.
The Homestuck fandom originated on the MS Paint Adventures forum shortly after the release of Homestuck. These forums originally hosted a submission box feature for users to suggest new commands for upcoming pages, but later evolved into a more community-based site. Fans have also created several dedicated sites for artwork.
Currently, the very large Homestuck fandom has significant presences on sites like Tumblr, LiveJournal, deviantART and The Archive of Our Own, among others. The community creates a massive amount of artwork, fanfictions, and other fanworks.
The Year 4 Megapause
In the days leading up to the fourth anniversary of the webcomic on April 13th, 2013, theories that the comic would be ending or switching to a new URL that day began to circle the web. However, Tumblr user its-raining-sarcasm pointed out two recent panels of the comic alluding to 4/14, assuming the big update would be coming that day instead of the anniversary. On April 13th, John Egbert was reunited with his friends in a Flash animation, placing some of the characters in the same room at the some time. Additionally, many Tumblr users made fan art and text posts about their fandom experiences to commemorate the anniversary on the tag #413.
On April 14th, several more pages of the comic were added, depicting the cherub Caliborn declaring Homestuck over and Andrew Hussie’s Narrator dead (shown below). In a corresponding blog post, Hussie announced that the comic would be taking a hiatus, possibly for several months, while he begins work at the game from his Kickstarter campaign which was funded in October 2012. Hussie provided a loose timeline of his schedule for the next year, indicating both work on the game and work on the last act of Homestuck would take months of dedication each.
Andrew Hussie is the creator of Homestuck. Throughout the course of the webcomic, Hussie has self-inserted himself multiple times into the story. In the beginning, it was just for story recaps, but later his narrating character played a role in the story.
Within the Homestuck fanbase, Hussie is known for his trolling, often doing things in the webcomic that causes confusion or frustration with the readers. The most commonly used examples of this are the deaths of multiple main characters, which has gained Hussie a reputation of having a liking towards killing off characters. Hussie has become a common subject in Homestuck fanart as well, which often make use of his actions and reputation within the fanbase. Several fans even have cosplayed as Hussie, in which the most common features are big lips, the outfits he wore during the self-insertions and wielding a broom. Hussie also often interacts with the fans on his Twitter and Tumblr.
Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff
A side project of Andrew Hussie, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is an intentionally terrible webcomic about the two titular characters and the surreal and nonsensical adventures they have. Full of spelling mistakes, copy and paste graphics complete with intentional JPEG artifacts left over, and bizarre settings and punchlines, the comic qualifies as an example of intentional so bad it’s good.
The origin of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff comes from a thread in the Penny Arcade forum titled “Higher Technology” in which user the_Willard asked for some opinions on the art he was using for his own planned webcomic. Hussie created the first few comics in response to these images, as a light-hearted parody of the low quality art and writing of the originals. Some features of the originals still remain to this day, such as the distinctive “Y” shaped mouths.
Despite originating one month before the start of Homestuck, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff has since been worked into the comic as the creation of Dave Strider, as an intentionally “ironically” bad comic. The comic and it’s catchphrases, such as “I Told You About Stairs”, get referenced within Homestuck from time to time.
After being on a hiatus since September 6th, Homestuck was updated with a finale to its fifth act consisting of nine pages and a Flash animation on October 25th, 2011. Hussie chose to host the animation on the website Newgrounds, in a attempt to avoid crashing the MS Paint Adventures website. He spoke with Newgrounds owner Tom Fulp in advance, who suggested putting the clip on a section of the site meant for higher-volume traffic. However, their line of communication dropped and Hussie went ahead with uploading the animation to the main site during off-peak hours. Within 7 minutes of the update, Newgrounds had crashed due to the volume of Homestuck fans visiting the site. Hussie later made the animation available as a download on the now defunct site MegaUpload, which also went down frequently due to the sheer amount of viewers.
Dante Basco reads Homestuck
On February 26th, 2012, the actor Dante Basco, most famous for his role as Rufio in the movie Hook and his voice-over performance as Prince Zuko in the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, began reading and occasionally liveblogging Homestuck on the recommendation of his followers. The significance of this is due to Rufio being a running gag and minor character throughout the comic, most famously on a series of pages in which Hussie and a dying Rufio kiss.
The popularity of the character and the actor caused much discussion in the fandom about the event, with many jokes and even pieces of fanart created in tribute to it. Some people even began creating comedic shipping art of Basco and Hussie.
Hussie himself responded to the news on Twitter, and even added a small greeting to Basco on the main page header of Homestuck. Basco in turn thanked Hussie and the Homestuck fandom for being so welcoming on his Twitter account.
Dante Basco eventually reached the section of him and Hussie kissing on June 29th, which he later also posted about on his Tumblr blog. The post received over 8000 notes within 2 weeks after being posted and was also reblogged by Hussie himself.
Homestuck the Anime Series
On April 19th, 2012, Tumblr blogger NeonGenesisEvangaylion posted a message titled “the homestuck fandom is incredibly talented,” which proposed the idea of creating an anime episode based on the webcomic to confuse newcomers regarding its origin. Within days, the post received more than 3,300 notes and led to an impromptu discussion about the logistics of creating a Homestuck anime episode. On April 21st, the Tumblr blog Homestuck Anime Project was launched with a mission to make a fake anime episode based on the webcomic.
However, the fan-made anime project didn’t take off until months later on July 1st, 2012, when Andrew Hussie posted an announcement that he will go on a short hiatus to tend to life chores and prepare for the upcoming Comic Con in San Diego, California.
The bottom line is, this is all going to add up to a whole lot of “me not updating Homestuck” for a while. It’s not really what I want, but there’s just no way around it.
Some fans of the webcomic reacted to the news by editing or captioning screenshots from various anime series and sharing them on Tumblr with misleading hashtags like #homestuck anime. Two days later on July 3rd, Tumblr blog Hell Yeah Homestuck Anime was launched to keep track of and curate the best examples of Homestuck anime screenshots, many of which have since received likes and reblogs in the range of hundreds to thousands notes.
Throughout that week, the fan-driven scheme of “Homestuck the anime series” continued to branch out into more elaborate forms, including a fake Wikipedia entry and an entirely made-up episode list of season one through five. The Wikipedia entry was removed shortly after the submission, however, screenshots of the article (shown below) continued to spread across Tumblr. The spontaneous influx of Homestuck-related manga and anime artworks soon grew out of Tumblr and spread across other sites, most notably on Skaianet Imageboard and DeviantART.
On July 6th, The Escapist Magazine reported on the fan-drive phenomenon, in which Homestuck’s fandom is compared to the online popularity of Touhou Project on the Japanese web.
Homestuck Adventure Game on Kickstarter
On 4th September, 2012, Andrew Hussie started up a project on the funding website Kickstarter titled “Homestuck Adventure Game”, in which he requested funding to produce and publish an adventure game based on the comic. The Kickstarter was set to last 30 days, with a goal of $700,000, with bonuses ranging from copies of the game and plushes and T-shirts of the characters, to having a fan troll making a canonical appearance in the webcomic fans.
The response from the fanbase was overwhelmingly positive, with over $30,000 being donated in the first half hour alone. Donations from the fanbase contirued over time, with the project gaining 50% of its required funding in the next 9 hours. On the 5th September 2012, the Kickstarter reached it’s goal of $700,000, completed in under two days. Funding continued to increase however, and on the 10th September (or the 11th in some parts of the world), 6 days after the Kickstarter’s debut, it passed the $1,000,000 mark, the 12th project to reach this milestone in the site’s history. The quick success of the Kickstarter was featured in articles on the video game blog Kotaku, the technology based website Wired and CNN. On the 1st October, with 67 hours left til the end of the Kickstarter, the donations passed the $2,000,000 mark. The game was funded on October 4th, with $2,485,506 total pledged.
One of the largest and most significant parts of the Homestuck fandom is that of the shippers, people who like to pair characters romantically and create fanwork based on them. Due to the large number of main characters in Homestuck, the fact that the trolls have no understanding of gender-specific sexuality, and the fact that close friendships and hating each other are canonical forms of relationships, fan pairings became frequent and popular. With this however, comes controversy, as arguments about shippings are some of the most frequent and controversial in the fandom.
413 / 612
The number 413 references the date April 13th, the day the comic was released, and is a recurring number in the Homestuck series. For example, the Exiles story takes place 413 years after the main events. The number 612 is also frequently mentioned, and references the date June 12th, the day Act 5 Act 1 titled “Hivebent” was published.
Buckets / Pails
Due to the major differences between human and troll society in Homestuck, buckets are considered a highly sexual object by the trolls. Any time a bucket is mentioned, trolls become embarrassed as if they had been exposed to pornographic material. Buckets and pails have become synonymous with sex in the Homestuck fan lexicon, and has inspired fan art referencing buckets as sex objects.
After responding to a question on his Formspring account asking if the character Feferi was chubby, Andrew Hussie has been inundated with questions regarding the size of his characters. He has responded sarcastically by describing his hatred and lust for fat people. Eventually he was asked whether the character Vriska, whom he had previously stated he would marry, was the fattest of all. This inspired jokes and fanart referencing “Fat Vriska”.
Got Tiger started after a fan misspelled the rank “God Tier”, a powerful status held by a number of characters in the series, as “got tiger” on Hussie’s Formspring account. Hussie ran with the joke, and the phrase “got tiger” became a fan-nickname for the God Tier. The phrase “getting the tiger” is used to indicate someone has reached the God Tier, and the phrase “tiger being too fast to get” means that a God Tier is unreachable.
Let Me Tell You About Homestuck
“Let me tell you about Homestuck” is a catchphrase often used in image macros where Homestuck cosplayers appear next to an unrelated stranger that is making an expression of surprise or contempt. It is sometimes used as a preface when introducing newcomers to the series.
Alternate Universes / “XStuck”
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A large number of fanmade alternate universe versions of the comic have been created, showing both the characters in different artistic styles and settings, such as “Four Chords” (image on the left). These settings are often given titles with the suffix “-stuck”, such as “Marchingstuck” (image on the right) which is set in a high school marching band setting.
March Madness / Crossdressing Eridan
During the production of a calendar by the official Homestuck art team, artist Peter Turner aka AbortedSlunk added a crossdressing version of the character Eridan to the design of the picture for March (shown below left). This particular design became very popular, with many other fanarts and tributes made to the version.
The Homestuck and Hetalia fandoms have been engaged in a feud since Homestuck’s inception. The two sides have a largely unexplained hatred of the other, and in late July of 2010 several artists on Tumblr attempted to unite the two sides by creating comedic homoerotic fanart about the two fandom’s creators.
The trend was started by two artists, both of whom are fans of each series. Shortly after this pic was created, the two creators were united once again with an Ooh Mister Darcy derivative. Numerous fanarts have since been created including a fanfiction and the single topic blog OTP 4 Lyfe.
Andrew Hussie mentioned the unusual shipping on his Twitter on the 6th of September 2011, in which he showed a lack of knowledge to the identity of Himaruya.
WH4T NOW is a popular GIF animation that began with the character Terezi Pyrope with her arms up in a questioning gesture after a panel in which she speaks to Dave Strider. This image was later taken by DeviantArt user McKnackus-TheOneth and turned into an animation in which it looks as if Terezi is dancing (shown below left). This animated gif became a source for multiple derivatives, using charaters from both Homestuck and other series.
The original gif was later used in a Youtube video by ScipioTH which depicted Terezi dancing to a looped section of the song Fancy Footwork by dance duo Chromeo. This video has been parodied and recreated in a number of ways, including live action recreations and versions using other characters.
There are several popular phrased originally from Homestuck which are frequently referenced. The three most notable of these are:
1. Jegus/Gog, a comical misspelling of Jesus and God originating from the character Terezi and used as an in-joke throughout the comic. It is actually quite rare to see a Homestuck character, whether in fanart or canon works, using the correct spelling. Commonly considered by the fandom to be either a dead meme or just annoying.
2. All the X. ALL OF IT is a phrase associated with the character Vriska Serket. It is, as suggested, used to demonstrate that a specific person or group is in possession of the entirety of any specific thing.
3. Acrobatic F#cking Pirouette, originating with the character Dave Strider, is used frequently by fans to describe their imminent loss of control. Originating from the phrase “fly off the handle”, Dave’s ironic and sarcastic derivative had been used to the extend that it referred to as a "sh*tty meme* in comic.
Search queries for “Homestuck” have risen since its release in 2009, but picked up significantly following the summer of 2010. Here it is compared to the second most popular MSPA comic, Problem Sleuth.