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The proposition of this piece: Homestuck is a subversive yet ever-present piece of modern Internet fandom, and most people have zero idea what it’s about, even if they’ve heard of it before. The following article (and subsequent articles in this series) will attempt to explain exactly what Homestuck is for the common Internet denizen. Godspeed to us all.

Let me preface: Homestuck terrifies me just a tad. When I first heard of it, it was up there with superwholock as an all-encompassing fandom, no holds barred. It was intense. But time passed, multiple pauses happened, and then it revived in the last couple of weeks for one final update. And…well, now I’m curious.

This webcomic has meant so much to so many people for so long, and with its passing, it marks the end of an era. It’s so vast in scope that the PBS Idea Channel compares it to James Joyce’s Ulysses — which is pretty incredible since it started out on MS Paint Adventures approximately seven years ago. According to, Homestuck has about 10,002 pages and 874,240 words, a feat I’m not sure would even have been possible before the advent of the computer. The plan: to read all seven acts and to do a recap for each act.

Homestuck, written by Andrew Hussie, begins with the introduction of a young man, Zoosmell Pooplord John Egbert, who is stuck in his bedroom. You quickly discover that John is a fan of practical jokes and terrible movies. Here begins the captchalogue jokes about inventory sizes and queues, and here is where Homestuck’s reality starts to visibly resemble a video game. Foreshadowing! It’s a little hard to follow unless you’re familiar with the programming lingo. There’s also a shout-out to Problem Sleuth, Hussie’s other project, and a link to where you can buy the poster. This is the future of hypertext.

For the first year of Homestuck, Hussie decided where to go next from audience responses, a bit like a text game. That genre can be a lot of fun because they’re puzzles — more about finding all the ways you can interact with all the given objects, logical or illogical. This, presumably, is why John gets the desire to poop on his desk. It may also be why the webcomic spends an indeterminable amount of pages on the fact that John doesn’t have arms of his own but does have fake arms. These can be used in any number of ways, except as actual arms. It has to be seen to be believed, but it’s a pretty great running gag.

John has friends through a chat network called pesterchum. These interactions are a very accurate take on online friendships. The conversations are recorded in pesterlogs, which are lines of text hidden underneath the pictures by a button which will open them up or close them as needed. They’re easy to miss, but if you don’t click them, you’ll miss out on important character interactions.

After talking to his friend turntechGodhead, John’s new goal is to retrieve his birthday present, the game Sburb, from his dad. This is difficult because his dad is a street performer who will engage him in conversation for hours if not distracted. John creates a clever disguise out of a beagle puss and a magician’s hat. It is not terribly effective, but it is funny-looking. He makes his way downstairs, wreaking mayhem as you do, and then out to the mailbox.

This is a rare moment where Homestuck feels contemplative. It’s breathtaking. You zoom out from John’s face to the town outside and up to the sun with a gentle chiming of bells. The descriptive text attributes a quote to Walt Whitman that is actually from Francois De La Rochefoucauld, but it is no less meaningful for the misattribution. It’s going to be a long day, and it feels it.

After John defeats his dad in combat, he retrieves Sburb and installs it on his computer. Due to the nature of his inventory, he has to shove several birthday cakes down his toilet and slingshot his dad’s PDA out the window before gaining access to it. His friend tentacleTherapist, who has the host version of the game, offers to play with him. They set up three stations around the house to play the game, and the oddness of this world becomes very clear. Sburb is like a Sims game played in reality. It’s an excellent setup for some of the best Sims property destruction jokes I’ve ever seen. Despite the hijinks, there’s a problem: John’s accidentally set off a meteor collision with his house!

He and his friend run around trying to fix this using mysterious stations provided by Sburb, which works out pretty well until tentacleTherapist loses her Internet connection due to a storm. We then cut and meet the person behind tentacleTherapist, Rose Lalonde — a fan of purple and privacy. She braves the storm and her mother in order to find a better Internet connection, and we reconnect to John. The background lightning crackling is really gorgeous.

As they work together, things finally fall into place. John manages to get one of the Sburb stations to grow a tree that gives him an apple. At the last moment, he and the apple are lost in the blast from the meteor in a devastating cliffhanger. This, too, is a moment that is genuinely dramatic; you’ve gone on a journey with John, and you’re attached to him. You don’t want his quest to be futile.

I like this webcomic. Where the characters were occasionally mean-spirited, the narrative wasn’t. There were a lot of crude moments, but there were also a lot of well-thought-out ones. It’s very quotable, and the art is rough but pretty. The story’s clearly not over, so I have to assume that John survives; but, for this moment, it’s ambiguous, and it’s a very emotional moment.

Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!


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