North Texas Daily

Popular webcomic resumes after year hiatus

Popular webcomic resumes after year hiatus

Popular webcomic resumes after year hiatus
October 22
23:24 2014

Rhiannon Saegert / Senior Staff Writer

The webcomic “Homestuck” and its fan base have returned from their yearlong hiatus with a vengeance.

The comic, created in 2009 by Andrew Hussie, is known for its meandering pace, subtle callbacks and foreshadowing, nerdy reference humor, layers upon layers of inside jokes and endless wordplay. According to readmspa.org, “Homestuck” is 702,594 words long as of Oct. 19., making it longer than Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

“It’s definitely set up in a way that’s addictive,” physics junior Ell Cleland said. “You know how when you’re surfing on the Internet and you get a notification, it’s supposed to release dopamine so you’re literally addicted to the Internet? That’s what ‘Homestuck’ does.”

The comic begins by introducing four main human characters: John, Rose, Dave and Jade. They decide to play a Sims-like game called Sburb, which inadvertently triggers the end of the world, kicking off the real story.

“One of the characters, Dave, is split into several hundred alternate timelines of himself with one main timeline version and all the rest of them just keep dying off,” Cleland said. “Also, they all have companions and they’re all possessed by the ghosts of their guardians. Jade’s sprite is possessed by the ghost of her grandfather, who turns out to be her clone in an alternate universe. That’s just a small drop of the details, and it’s already super complicated.”

Public Broadcasting Service’s YouTube series “The Idea Channel” compared it to James Joyce’s “Ulysses” because of its convoluted, long-winded nature. The main difference is Joyce never had access to Adobe Flash.

The comic is known for using multiple mediums to tell its story. Word count aside, there are more than 100 flash animations, clocking in about two hours total. Parts of the story are told through games, letting the reader guide characters through the story, talking to other characters and interacting with the environment to uncover parts of the narrative.

Library and information science graduate Caroline Clavell said she started reading the comic two years ago.

“People kept telling me, ‘You should read “Homestuck!” You should read “Homestuck!”’ People kept asking me to do it, and I was like, ‘No,’” Clavell said. “Then I started reading it, and I really enjoyed it, but I couldn’t tell anybody.”

She decided to make a costume in secret and cosplay the character Feferi at an upcoming convention to surprise her friends. 

“I thought it would be funny to troll them, literally,” Clavell said. “At first, they did not even recognize me. They just dismissed me  as another “Homestuck” person.”

A single new page was posted to mspaintadventures.com on Oct. 18. True to form, fans immediately flooded the site and crashed the server.

It’s impossible to know how many people have read the comic, but a Deviantart account created by Hussie to go along with the latest update gained 320,934 views in two days. Last year, fans raised $700,000 in three days on Kickstarter to fund an original “Homestuck” game created by Hussie. The Kickstarter eventually concluded with 24,346 backers and $2.5 million. 

As its audience grew, fans were introduced to costume play, or cosplay, and conventions were introduced to the fans. Computer science senior Brittney Ziegler said the sudden influx of young fans flooding anime and comic conventions caused some friction.

The alien characters, known as the trolls, have gray skin and horns that resemble candy corn. The gray makeup fans used became a scourge on convention floors. At the height of the comic’s popularity, hotel wallpaper and furniture were even less safe than usual.

“There’s so many horror stories of hotel pipes being clogged because people just washed their paint off without trying to wipe most of it off first,” Ziegler said. “So many horror stories. It’s greasepaint, so it stains.”

Clavell has an undergraduate degree in costume design and has been cosplaying for 10 years. When they saw the strife, Clavell and Ziegler started holding panels during conventions explaining the basics of cosplaying “Homestuck” characters, which included lessons on properly applying and sealing the offending gray greasepaint.

“The main motivation for that panel, very specifically, was, ‘Let’s reduce property damage,’” Clavell said. “Because there were people jumping into fountains and pools and rubbing themselves down with every sheet and towel in the hotel room.”

Ziegler said Homestuck cosplay became less common during the hiatus, but she suspects the gray paint and candy corn horns will become more prevalent when the comic starts updating regularly again.

“This infinitely exploding, extremely excited fandom is suddenly ready for this to happen,” Clavell said.

Featured Image: Brittney Ziegler, right, and Caroline Clavell dressed as “Homestuck” characters cosplay at Eureka Park in Denton. Photo by Evan McAlister – Staff Photographer

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