Homestuck

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Fandom
Name: Homestuck
Abbreviation(s): HS
Creator: Andrew Hussie
Date(s): April 2009-ongoing
Medium: Webcomic
Country of Origin: U.S.
External Links: http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6
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Contents

Homestuck is a webcomic by Andrew Hussie. It is the fourth MS Paint Adventure, and by far the biggest one yet, with approximately 7,100 pages as of July 2012. It started on the tenth of April, 2009, with Homestuck Beta. [1]

Canon Overview

Homestuck begins with four children, John, Rose, Dave, and Jade, who play a reality-altering video game that brings about the end of their world. The adventure is characterized by time travel, mystery, copious pop culture references, and numerous gory deaths. The cast later expands to include dozens of aliens, alternate versions of the kids and their guardians, various eldritch horrors and strange beasts, and the author himself. The game is played multiple times, plot threads are tied into gordian knots of confusion and hacked apart, and many incredibly self indulgent tangents are embarked upon.

Early History

Homestuck's fandom originated on the MSPA Forums, which originally housed the suggestion boxes from which Hussie would take suggestions for the next action in his story. As Hussie began incorporating musical flashes into the story, it also housed the "secret" music forum, and members of the music team were selected from friends and fans who had posted their music to the forums.

Homestuck also has a long-running thread on the Penny Arcade forum, as well as several on both 4chan and plus4chan. Content was mostly created on the forums and reposted nonymously over on the chans. Most of the fanworks were fanart or fan music, though there was a very small fanfiction thread and a growing number of voice actors.

In the early months of 2010, Homestuck began to grow in popularity. On April 13th, 2010, Andrew Hussie posted the end of act 4 comic, "[S] Descend", which was an ambitious four-minute thirteen-second flash movie. It was the second of the flashes to use art elements from the new art team, staffed again by friends of Hussie's and notable artists from the forum. The unusual nature of the flash drew high viewer traffic. Act 5 Part 1, or "Hivebent," which began on June 12, 2010, drew in still more new readers, since it didn't require knowledge of previous canon to enjoy.

On October 25, 2011 Andrew Hussie updated Homestuck with an almost 14 minutes long flash movie, "[S] Cascade", after a hiatus of more than a month. So many fans tried to watch it at the same time that the website hosting the video, Newgrounds, was temporarily down.[2]

The forum's rules strictly forbid any pornography, and in the case of the child characters, anything pairing them with an adult (even in a worksafe fashion) is an infractable offense. In response, someone created MSPAchan, which allowed adult art and fic. Soon afterwards (?), zombiesauros created Homesmut in July of 2010[3], as a home for the kink meme and as a hub for people looking for adult fic and art. As these memes could not even be mentioned by forum rules, Sockpuppy also created Captchalogue, the worksafe request meme. While the worksafe meme has little traffic, the kink meme is hugely popular, currently gaining about 300 comments a day.[4]

Post-Cascade Popularity

After the events of [S] Cascade's release, Homestuck fandom exploded in size and popularity. It gained sizeable presence on deviantArt, Livejournal, Tumblr, the Archive of Our Own, Facebook, and miscellaneous smaller sites. Due to its massive, diffused nature, overlap with English-speaking anime/manga fandoms, 4chan origins and large presence on Tumblr, Homestuck fandom does not have a very strong credit culture. It is common to see art reblogged or reposted without credit, and icons, banners, and mix artwork are frequently unattributed. As a side-effect, Homestuck has fewer BNFs than might be expected from its size, though the members of the art and music teams have become fairly well known. BNFs with no involvement in the canon include voice actor Octopimp, writer urbanAnchorite, writer and fanartist roachpatrol, write JumpingJackFlash and Kagerou author Luka Delaney, known in Homestuck fandom as VastDerp. Other names that have cropped up from time to time are Radiation, Bowman, Lexxy and SkepticArcher (members of an art and music team), along with voice actor Von Fawn

Pinpointing BNFs in a fandom sprawling and sectioned as Homestuck is difficult, and coming to consensus by its nature requires discussion among diverse groups. Addition to this list, or discussion of it on the talk page by interested parties would be appreciated.

With the influx of new fans and subsequent flooding of sites with Homestuck related content, Homestuck gained a large anti-fandom. Many anime fans, especially those of the series Axis Powers: Hetalia reacted very negatively to Homestuck fans' presence at conventions and online. Non-Homestuck fans have sometimes been annoyed by the frequency and over-enthusiasm of some Homestuck fans (for example, the many people who commented negatively on the fandom in fandomsecrets during spring/summer 2011).

Homestuck has a reputation for being a difficult fandom to join for several reasons. The beginning of the story is mainly gag-oriented and the plot is slow to emerge, disappointing many people who attempt to read from the beginning following a recommendation by a friend or fan. The comic is long and the plot convoluted, with numerous characters and timelines, making catching up with the story from the beginning a daunting task. Joining the fandom presents an obstacle in and of itself, as there are huge quantities of fandom meta and fanworks spread over multiple sites, as well as years of complicated fandom history and internal jokes and conflicts.

Because of the canon's complexity and the complicated, often volatile fandom, Homestuck has many passive fans who enjoy the comic but participate little in the fandom. These fans rarely indulge in the same semi-obsessive theorization common on parts of Tumblr and the MSPA forums, where the bizarre plot twists lead to even more bizarre theories.

Fans who first discover fandom through Homestuck often chose pseudonyms based on the chat handles in canon, following the format adjectiveNoun.

Since the flash videos have become longer and more complicated, fans have started to record and share reaction videos.[5]

Flash videos sometimes inspire a variety of episode tags. Anticipated events (like the Scratch at the end of Act 5) also often lead to much speculating and fic.

Fanworks

Homestuck has a large community of visual artists, writers, musicians, and voice actors, all of whom have contributed to fandom in their own ways. Fanworks have included digital art, paintings, sketches, mixed media, sculpture, [electronically] and conventionally produced music, plushes, stories, comics, roleplays, askblogs, stained glass, panels, and uncountable myriad esoteric arts. (Please source with examples)

Homestuck has a large fanmusic community, due to its large soundtrack and the fact that in the past the Homestuck music team was populated by fans of the comic who had made previous fanmusic. Several of the original members of the Homestuck music team were from OCRemix, and a certain amount of wank followed the early music team as a result. However, it has long since died down, and the main remaining vestige of the OCRemix influence today is the various fanmusicians' use of the term "remix" to denote works that use only the melody of the original, without sampling (usually this is called a cover). The official coloUrs and mayhem albums are made entirely of fanmusic submissions.

Many fanvids in Homestuck fandom are animated with Homestuck fanart, and many incorporate fan produced music.

Many fans create their own troll or human avatars for RP, complete with art and typing quirks. There is a generator available to make them, a wiki specifically for fantrolls, and several forum posts and tumblrs[6] about fantrolls.

Pairings and Tropes

Almost every imaginable ship exists somewhere in Homestuck fandom. Some pairings are especially popular, for example Rose Lalonde/Kanaya Maryam, John Egbert/Karkat Vantas, and Karkat Vantas/Terezi Pyrope. Stories deal with the interspecies romance in various ways, but (in not-porn fic) tend to either wholly ignore or gloss over the potential difficulties of cultural or biological differences (Please add examples of exceptions)

Many fanworks imitate the format of the comic, whether through storytelling devices, page formatting, art style, or writing style. [7] Many of these comics start on the forum and use audience suggestions (see MSPA Forum Adventures.)

Homestuck fandom has a lot of AU stories. Common AU concepts include:

  • "Humanstuck", where all of the characters are humans, often living in a fairly mundane world
  • "Bloodswap", trolls switch roles in the hierarchic society that they belong to, which is sorted by blood color, (see Hemospectrum) (for example Red Dead Virgo by adamantApoplectic and Violetesence (link) by lucidSeraph.)
  • "Speciesswap", where the trolls are humans and/or the humans are trolls (for example [[>Connect]] (link) by biichan, inverts, renachan, and roachpatrol.)

Many stories feature both the kids and the trolls, either in a completely different setting or in a canon AU, even though in canon some of them finally meet only at the end of Act 5. It is not uncommon for elaborate AUs to have an accompanying Tumblr blog for answering questions, additional worldbuilding, reblogging of fanart, and announcements.

Post-Sburb/post-Scratch fic explores how the characters cope with the end of the game and either going back to having normal lives or adapting to strange new universes created at the end of the game.

Many stories, are titled with a thematic word suffixed with -stuck, examples: (Hemostuck, Adultstuck, HeartStuck, Hoofstuck ...) This extends to AU concepts - Humanstuck, Trollstuck, Horsestuck, Molluscstuck, etc.

A popular concept in fandom is the idea that Dave Strider is transgender, and both fic and art have been produced to this theme. Stories have been written about many other characters exploring concepts of gender and identity, but Dave is a particular focus of them.

The troll concept of romance has been explored extensively in canon, fanon, fic, and art. The trolls have their own specific, complicated romance system, divided into four "quadrants". (Canon explanation) Some fans have used this system for fusions with other fandoms.[8] Other fans use this romance system to try and explain relationships between characters in other fandoms or even in RL (I think there´s a Tumblr somewhere?) [citation needed]

Notable Fan Activities

Notable Fanworks

  • The Baby Is You: a parody musical made by Radiation & friends, consisting of 11 parts now available for download here (or on Youtube.) Radiation wondered whether the "no pregnant kids" rule on the Art forum extended to songs and created an album that centers around Dave giving birth to John. It was posted on the forum on 14.10.2010[9], met with shocked disbelief, and deleted a short time later. The mods later declared that "Posting anything from this album is unacceptable."[10]. More reactions, koalababies?
  • Hivebent: The Radio Play: The voice acting community had become enormous by the summer of 2010, largely due to the popularity of the Hivebent characters. On July 30th, a Hivebent: The Radio Play thread was added to the forums as a centralized location for discussions going on in the voice acting thread. The radio play was a full cast production of Hivebent, and features both adaptations of the comic text and original sections written to fill out gaps in the story. It was originally directed by Von Fawn, who also voices Vriska, and was then being produced and directed by arianadream (who voices Kanaya) and Zigkirby (who voices Karkat). In April 2011, the first episode was released [11] and met with enthusiasm, but in May 2011 it was announced that the project was shutting down. [12]
  • The Unwanted Free Ugly Troll series by coldhope is an AU longfic with additional shorter works based on the petstuck oncept popularized on tumblr. It is by far the most-kudos'd Homestuck fanwork on the Archive of Our Own.
  • Promstuck/Marchingstuck is an AU collaboration between shelby, urbanAnchorite, and cephiedVariable. It's a high school AU with prom, and also marching bands, that can be found spread out over tumblr, the Archive of Our Own, and livejournal.
  • Rex Duodecim Angelus - fanmade flash to an existing music track, currently being developed finally finished after 3 years!

Notable Fan Projects

  • Homestuck Gaiden, a multi-album collaboration project produced by the Homestuck Music Team.
(+ sheet music transcripts)
  • art team calendar, March page, March Madness (move below?)
  • Pesterchum Radio: Pesterchum Radio is a podcast about MSPA made by several fans. Its first season ran from February to October 2011 and had 26 episodes.
  • Pesterchum: There were various attempts by fans to create "Pesterchum", the chat program the kids use in the webcomic. (history, different versions etc.) The most recent version is Pesterchum 3.41. (usage?)
  • Zingled: Zingled is a website (like Omegle) which allows users to chat anonymously with another random user of the site. In early 2011, Homestuck fans discovered the website, and used it to roleplay anonymously as the characters from the comic. It is now almost entirely taken over by Homestuck RPers. Notable logs are posted as fic in themselves or used as inspiration for new work.
  • Homestrife 4⅓ - "fan-community made multiplayer fighting game project based on Homestuck", currently being developed

Cosplay

Homestuck is a popular cosplay fandom, with cosplays of the kids and trolls being especially common. Many of the characters' signature T-shirts are available at the MS Paint Adventures online store, increasing the ease of creation for many of the cosplays.

Controversy over cosplay is common in the fandom, with numerous arguments taking place over body type and race in relation to cosplay, quality of cosplay, perceived cosplay elitism, the preponderance of Homestuck cosplay at anime conventions, and the huge number of noncanon cosplays among fans.

Communities

  • MSPAChan, the dedicated chan for Homestuck art and fiction.
  • Captchalogue, the worksafe Homestuck request meme.
  • Homesmut, the Homestuck kink meme.


Wank and Conflicts

Like all large fandoms, Homestuck has its share of controversy.

Probably the first issue in Homestuck fandom was the closure of the suggestion boxes. Though Hussie had hinted many times that he was phasing out direct audience contribution, the suggestion boxes only closed for good in March of 2010[15]. In the ensuing months, threads were posted regularly to the MSPA Forum complaining about the lack of interactivity and the fact that the story was now going downhill. [citation needed]

In April of 2010, Bill Bolin made a post to the MSPA Forum announcing that he was quitting the music team, giving a several-page-long explanation of his reasons, and culminating in a picture of himself flipping off the camera. Even with the explanation, Bolin's reasons were almost totally opaque without access to the discussions that had preceded his departure in the private music team forum. The confusion over Bolin's exit caused a number of forumgoers to create new threads asking for any clear explanation, which were quickly spammed by those who thought the whole thing was hilarious. Bolin's middle finger enjoyed a brief spate of popularity as a meme before the mods made it clear that stirring up wank over his exit would not be considered acceptable. When his songs were removed from the flash pages in which they were featured at his request, further conflict arose. Fans complained about the replacement songs so often that in November of 2010 the explanation was the second question in the Simple Questions, Simple Answers thread FAQ.[16]

From 15.1.2010 until 2.9.2010 Hussie posted "The Intermission", a chapter that was, at that time, not directly connected with the rest of the storyline. It included many new characters and time travel shenanigans, making it difficult to follow. Many fans who started to read Homestuck later admit (or, in many cases, don't admit) to skipping the Intermission, which is completely accepted in some parts of the fandom (most places on LJ), but led to mockery and dismissal in other parts. When "Hivebent", act 5, became very popular, several new readers started reading directly at the beginning of act 5. When the focus shifted back to the kids there were heated arguments about which group, the kids or the trolls, were more interesting.[citation needed]

Hussie is clearly aware of his fans, but it is unclear to which extent and whether he is influenced by them. Especially after surprising updates, some fans regularly accuse him of "trolling" the fans and of deliberately introducing content to mess with them. While he has occasionally admitted to including details made popular by fandom (for example the way he drew Karkat's ancestor, a reference to Pantskat), Hussie says that all major plot points were planned far in advance.[citation needed]

In May 2011, Andrew Hussie made a post (now deleted, anyone have screencaps?) on Formspring asking his fans not to sell fanart or any other fanproducts without his explicit permission.[17][18] Some fans were understanding, while many others could not understand his stance and were very annoyed. (See also Selling Fanart for this issue in fandom in general.)

In January 2012 the discussion about whether the four original kids are white or racially ambiguous was fueled by two posts by Andrew Hussie and resulted in a lot of discussion and some wank.

Points of discussion and conflict have included:

  • Tension between Hussie and the fandom
  • Treatment of characters with disabilities in canon and fandom
  • fan trolls?
  • Dave (and others) as transgender in fanon
  • Issues of sexual identity
    • John is not a homosexual (canon statement) vs. slash fandom
    • Kanaya as lesbian character vs. no homosexuals in troll society
    • Shipping of gay characters (Kanaya, Dirk) in het relationships
  • Fanon characterization:
    • Eridan as woobie
    • John as "lovable derp"
    • Dave as "coolkid" vs. Dave as utter dork
    • Gamzee as mentally ill, as junkie, as evil, etc.
    • Feferi as hateful bitch
    • Vriska as hateful 8itch
    • Nepeta as hateful bitch
  • Shipping of young characters ("pedophiles!")
    • Porn of young characters
  • Mockery of bad art, cosplay, fic, etc.
  • Ubiquity of the fandom
  • Race
    • Kids as racially ambiguous
    • Headcanon races
  • Perceived fetishization of homosexuality

References

  1. Homestuck MSPA Wiki (Accessed March 3, 2011)
  2. 25.10.2011, [S] Cascade Discussion Thread on the forum
  3. "Created on 2010-07-06 18:41:06". homesmut - Community Profile. (Accessed March 26, 2011)
  4. The current meme had 4496 comments as of March 26th and was posted on March 8th.
  5. example: 22.10.2011, Reaction Videos Obviously Deserve Their Own Thread. after [S] Cascade, on the forum
  6. Examples: Fantroll Evaluations, F-yeah Fantrollreviews, fuck yeah awesome fantrolls, and fuck yeah awful fantrolls
  7. For example Nepetaquest (link) by aceofspudz and Be the Sea Dweller Lowblood (link) by ckret2.
  8. For example life's like this you by melannen, fusion with Dresden Files
  9. 14.10.2010, THE BABY IS YOU - a new album by toby "radiation" fox w/ art by astroliner by Radiation, accessed 10.12.2011
  10. 24.12.2011, Im having baby and the baby is you by anonymousbaby, accessed 10.12.2011
  11. 11.4.2011, Hivebent: The Radio Play - Episode 0 on Youtube, accessed 13.11.2011
  12. 10.5.2011, comment by Zigkirby on the MSPA Forum thread, accessed 13.11.2011
  13. 4.3.2011, The Eat Mesa - An MSPA Cookbook by Katt, accessed 9.12.2011
  14. 4.12.2011, comment by ShivaShekaria, accessed 9.12.2011
  15. Suggestion Boxes are locked until further notice. (Accessed March 26, 2011)
  16. Q: What happened to the music on <page>? A:Music by artist Bill Bolin was replaced after he caused serious drama/problems with the music team. It was decided all his ties to the project should be cut and thus was the music removed for sale and replaced in the flashes. It will NOT be coming back ever. It's inarguable. You can find links for the old flashes with creative Search powers, but PLEASE do not start on how the animations "don't fit" the new music. Concede your hindsight bias and have faith in Andrew and the music team. HEY! HAVE A QUESTION? Simple MSPA Questions, Simple Answers Thread!. (Accessed March 28, 2011)
  17. 28.5.2011, ANNOUNCEMENT: REGARDING THE SELLING OF MSPA STUFF by Lexxy, post explaining the new rules with quotes from Andrew, accessed 3.11.2011.
  18. 28.5.2011, No Selling MSPA Stuff Without Andrew’s Permission clarification and opinion on Lexxy's tumblr, accessed 3.11.2011
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