"A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, 2009, is this young man's birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name!" So begins Homestuck, Andrew Hussie's webcomic/cartoon/video game/mixed media art project that went on to take over every convention with a sea of grey body paint, surpass War and Peace's word count, raise $2.5 million on Kickstarter and then suddenly disappear, leaving its fans either desperate for more or wanting to forget it ever happened.
April 13, 2019, will be the 10th anniversary of Homestuck. Those who've held out hope in the fandom suspect that 4/13 will bring new content. Perhaps Hussie has written the long-promised epilogue, or perhaps the long-delayed second act of the Hiveswap video game is finally coming. Even if nothing that exciting happens, this being the 10th year anniversary is sure to get people who don't not even think about Homestuck any more to reminisce about the former phenomenon.
Of course, if you weren't in the fandom, this is probably all downright baffling.
Perhaps you clicked the link in the first paragraph and started reading Homestuck. You might be wondering how such a silly, slow-paced comic became such a phenomenon, let alone one that would keep going (hiatuses aside) for about seven years.
Well, to quote a meme, let me tell you about Homestuck.
Homestuck starts off very different from what in ends up becoming. It was the fourth of Andrew Hussie's MS Paint Adventures and was initially written the same way he wrote the others: following the whims of reader suggestions and imitating the style of a classic text adventure game. However, Hussie had more ambitious plans for Homestuck's story. The early acts of Homestuck have a funny push-and-pull between the reader-based nonsense and the actual narrative. Even if you're on its comedic wavelength, Act 1 can be tiresome to get through, and yet if you make it to Act 1's conclusion, in which John Egbert -- one of the series' main characters -- accidentally triggers the destruction of Earth through a video game, you'll find yourself needing to read more to find out what comes next.
One thing that is clear even from the beginning is Hussie's formal ambition. While the artwork is simplistic to start with, deliberately evoking the style of Microsoft Paint (later on a variety of art styles are introduced), the panels of the comic are often animated and occasionally interactive. Music plays a big role on the series' identity, with an extensive high-quality soundtrack (Undertale creator Toby Fox notably first became known doing Homestuck music). The written content is quite different from your normal comic as well. Blocks of text and long instant message conversations extend well below the panels. There's even a comic within the comic, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, which is one of the rare comics so intentionally hideous and unreadable it circles back around to being art.
One of the clear strengths of the series is how convincingly its main characters are written. There are four main human characters for the first half of the series: crappy movie-loving dork John Egbert, intellectual Rose Lalonde, hyper-ironic Dave Strider (seriously livening up Act 2) and quirky, powerful Jade Harley (introduced in Act 3). The four kids are spread out in different locations but have to work together to create a new universe, so those instant message conversations are vital to the plot. Homestuck does an excellent job capturing the feel of online friendships in the 2000s.
And then we get the Trolls.
NEXT PAGE: Enter the Trolls