Sunday, August 13, 2023

This is Technically Not a Homestuck Reread Post

Prior revisit posts: Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist, Wizard of Earthsea, Book of the New Sun pt 1 (Shadow & Claw), Book of the New Sun pt 2 (Sword & Citadel (plus Urth)

At the recommendation of longtime friend-of-the-blog Ivy, I started listening to Homestuck Made This World. It was recced to me as a thorough critical analysis of the comic with a focus on contextualizing the Great MSPA Mania in its cultural moment, and it succeeds very well at this. My listen is on-going as I write this introduction, having just gotten through the Intermission, and I will be writing as I listen along.

As I am not rereading Homestuck for this review (I have more than enough things to read and all of them are time better spent), this post's commentary will be built upon what I remember of the comic, personal reflection of that era, HMTW itself, and rewatching some of the animated entries.

Let us return to the trenches, and pour one out for all those comrades we lost during the Vriska Wars; let it never be said that we let the spider march forth out of quarantine thread unchallenged.

(Note: Michael and Cameron are the hosts of Homestuck Made This World, they are not characters in the comic.)


Some of you are likely among that blessed company of people who do not know what Homestuck is. This is good, in the way that not knowing about a certain play titled The King in Yellow is good, and I highly recommend you maintain this ignorance. But if your curiosity of the abyss cannot be swayed, a description in brief.

Homestuck is a very long multimedia webcomic about an increasingly-unweildy number of teenagers trapped in an increasingly-complex series of time loops brought about by their participation as players in a video game called SBURB, which is the mechanism by which the universe propogates new iterations of itself.

It contains more text that War and Peace. Most of that text is teenagers yelling at each other.


For the purposes of my own sanity, I will only be commenting on the part of Homestuck that I read back in the day. This lines up nicely with the premise of it being a reread, and saves me a whole lot of time because I only just got past the halfway point.

(For those unaware, Homestuck has 6 acts, plus an epilogue. Acts 1-4 constitute a quarter of the comic, Act 5 another quarter, and act 6 is a full 50%. The pacing is not good. i will be listening to HMTW until the end, but that will remain for my own bile fascination and I will not subject you to it.)


Character Overview

The Kids

  • John - A real goofy goober
  • Rose - The cool goth friend
  • Dave - Not nearly as cool as he thinks he is
  • Jade - Head in the clouds (this is funny because it is literal)

The Trolls

  • Karkat - Performative anger, all the time
  • Aradia - A ghost, and sometimes a robot
  • Tavros - Designated punching bag
  • Sollux - No one gives a shit about sollux
  • Nepeta - Feral catgirl and shipping enthusiast
  • Kanaya - Very polite lesbian vampire
  • Terezi - Probably not the best depiction of blindness in media
  • Vriska - Causing Problems on Purpose (TM)
  • Equius -, but less funny
  • Gamzee - A juggalo and that it, until the murders start
  • Eridan - Aristo reddit niceguy. Not a wizard
  • Feferi - Was late when they were handing out characterization

Some Other Kids

  • Jane - Another goober
  • Roxy - Crippling teenage alcoholism
  • Dirk - Slightly cooler than Dave, maybe
  • Jake - Adventure time ?

The Exiles

  • Wandering Vagabond - Post-apocalyptic mayoral canidate
  • Peregrine Mendicant - Postal worker
  • Authority Regulator - A narc
  • Windswept Questant - Royalty in hiding


  • Jack Noir - Bureaucrat turned mass-murderer
  • Doc Scratch - A charming man with a cueball head
  • Lord English - Lord British after Scotland, Wales and North Ireland leave

12 More God-Damn Trolls

  • We have entirely lost the plot by this point.

The Cherubs

  • I nearly forgot about these
  • I am now cursed to remember them
  • Absolutely the worst
  • Bad design
  • Bad characters
  • Bad

All of these characters have multiple iterations across timelines and universes, and none of it matters.


Plot Overview



Things Andrew Hussie Is Good At

  • Distinctive character voices
  • Visual humor
  • Shot composition
  • Compsci and game-logic jokes
  • Mechanistic worldbuilding
  • Elaborate Rube Goldberg puzzles
  • Identifying what will make the most people the angriest
  • Acting on the above impulse

Things Andrew Hussie Is Not Good At

  • De-escalating situations
  • Non-mechanistic worldbuilding
  • Knowing when to stop
  • Getting to the point
  • Avoiding pointless antagonism
  • Breaking kayfabe
  • Sincerity

Granted, I feel some sympathy for Hussie in that they were blindsided by extreme success they were not prepared for (including all the ways that can get pretty ugly online), but there were several big exit ramps on the road to dissolution and none of them were taken by any parties involved. As my listen through HMTW continues, the bare-faced cynicism becomes more and more difficult to ignore.


Acts 1-4 are still very good.

Act 5 is a drastic tonal shift and despite having some good and memorable components is really where the rot sets in.

Act 6 I have no positive opinions about


The music remains utterly unimpeachable. Toppest of tiers, greatest of greats, its what makes the whole thing tick. Sburban Jungle remains ingrained, along with all the rest, in the neurological equivalent of granite slabs fifty meters high. It's so fucking good.


  • Showtime (Original Mix)
  • Sburban Jungle
  • Beatdown
  • Dance of Thorns
  • Descend
  • Sunslammer
  • At the Price of Oblivion
  • Rex Duodecim Angelus

There are doubtless many I have forgotten


I wouldn't necessarily call the Homestuck fandom a cult, but it was certainly cult-shaped. (Edit: apparently Hussie said in an interview that they consider the Homestuck fandom to have been a cult they inadvertently started.)


While certainly a disaster for internet historians, I must admit that the loss of the MSPA forums comes as something of a relief. Tears in the rain and all that, but wow were a lot of those tears stupid.


I found Homestuck through TVtropes in...late 2010? I think that was it. I caught up during the hiatus right after Alterniabound, joined the forums immediately after.

It swiftly became an obsession, and it was not a healthy one. Emotional over-investment was the name of the game, and I was deep in.


I dropped Homestuck extremely early in Act 6, but I can't figure out when - it was before the ancestors showed up, which would put it somewhere between November 2011 and April of 2012, least according to the wiki. I had honestly thought I was in it for much longer, but it seems like I burned out flash-fire style. It certainly felt like an incredibly long time, but that's likely just the case when you're logged into the forums for most of your waking hours for a year and change. Timeline matches up with a swerve into much greater involvement with the SCP wiki, but I really thought it was longer than that... I hung around the forums for a little while after that but eventually got wise to how miserable it was and booked it for better pastures, that probably explains it.

Was an ordinary page that did it, something about Jake's inventory introducing some new mystery box and me realizing that no, Hussie was never going to break out of his closed-circuit storytelling and I had long ago reached the end of my patience for a matrioska mystery box. The overwhelming artifice, no matter how intentional, could not sustain itself and I was making myself miserable in my hopes that it would suddenly be something that it wasn't.

Dodged a bullet on that.


Two Best Friends Play SBRUB is the defining artifact of this period in my life, and it remains probably my favorite HS fanwork by a country mile.


Michael brings up Intermission-specific fans in that episode of the podcast, to which I say "Yes, hello, it is me."

Intermission remains one of my favorite parts and this is because it's basically Problem Sleuth II, and Problem Sleuth is great because Problem Sleuth is the kind of comic that invokes Hussie's strengths as an author. Incredibly silly, rapid-fire jokes in a nesting doll of absurdist game-logic time loops. Much of Homestuck contains this, but the Intermission wins out in the end because it is extremely fast and contains none of the padding that came to characterize the rest of the comic.


Opinion: The comic should have ended with [S] Cascade.


Best Character: None, asterisk

None, asterisk because all of them are more or less on equal footing when I look back at them - they are collections of traits and tropes to be compiled and recombined as needed for the circumstances around them. It's the reason the fandom grew as massive as it did - the best version of the characters is the one that exists in your own head, because you have built them into something that may or may not have support in the text.

That said, Wandering Vagabond. He hates monarchy and never has an annoying YA romance subplot, and thus combines two of the most noble and admirable qualities a person can have.

Also Karkat, everyone's favorite angry little shit-goblin. He's good too.


There was this guy I knew back in college, only other Homestuck fan I knew in real life. We were friends, and you'll note the loaded past tense. I didn't realize that it wasn't a particularly great relationship until years later. He was an ass; always had to be in the right, always had to be the cleverest. (Now who does this remind you of?) Did that condescending thing where someone talk around someone else's emotions to build up an argument of how they're irrational and how their view is correct. Should have cut ties with him a long time before I did. We might have bonded over Homestuck but we had very little else in common. At least two shouting matches over politics, and if you know mine you can guess what his side was. I invited him over for a couple game nights with some friends who didn't know him and got requests to boot him because he was being a sexist ass. (He got the boot.)

He would cosplay as Bro Strider for conventions, and I find myself instinctively recoiling at just seeing the character because of the correlation. What strange things brains are.

Last thing I heard, the guy was bitching about private organizations having mask requirements. He self-selected himself out of the one environment I was liable to cross paths with him in, and that's good.


An advantage of such a bogglingly huge fandom is that there was an equally bogglingly huge amount of high-quality fanart. I might still have my archive somewhere on a semi-bricked hard drive deep in storage, or perhaps it is gone for good.

I do legitimately miss the crazy things people would get up to in the image manipulation thread - HS has nothing if not a whole lot of easily-modified image character templates.


Despite it being a decade plus since I dropped the comic, I could still probably channel most of the character voices with a reasonable degree of accuracy. 

eB: yep!
tT: Correct. Two additional spring rolls, please.  
tG: how did he become a general anyway
tG: like
tG: was he commissioned officer
tG: or was it a battlefield promotion
tG: did he have beef with kernel sanders
tT: *Colonel.
gG: wait! could i get the takoyaki instead?
eB: dave what about the burger king?
eB: where does he fit into this?
tT: I believe that the Burger King is currently embroiled in a proletariat uprising led by the younger MacDonald.
tT: His head will be delivered it to Wendy on a silver platter, as John the Baptist was given to Salome.
gG: pffft you guys :D
eB: so karkat where are the other trolls?
aG: You rang? ::::)


The people demand justice for Nepeta.

(Note: I do not know, at time of writing, if justice for Nepeta was ever achieved. I only know that the people demanded it, and thus it was never granted.)

(Note: Nepeta's death remains a...well, it remains the brutal murder of a child whose main crime was being a dork. Bludgeoned to death with juggling pins. Killer gets off scott-free. People were, predictably and rightly, upset by this (she wasn't the only death in this sequence, either) and they were mocked for it.)


Best Fandom Joke - Pantskat

(A coloring error on one page made it look like Karkat - who was far in the background of the shot - was wearing his pants all the way up to his chin. People had a field day. It's fucking stupid and I think it's great.)


Lots of people praise Hussie's mythbuilding, and for the most part I find that to be extremely generous overstatement of importance. The one exception to that - and probably the only part of Homestuck I would point to and say "yeah, this part has some real value outside of itself" - is the reveal that the universe has cancer.

This is literalized in the comic - a tumor of Plot Contrivance embedded in a vast cosmic frog - but the principle remains, transcendent of its surroundings.

You do not have to dig deep into my own writings to see the echoes and after-images of this idea; I'm certain somewhere I invoke it outright, and if I haven't before I am definitely doing so now.


Now, I wrote an entire essay about how my creative methodology is about breaking things down into components and then re-assembling them in new and novel ways. You might recognize this as exactly what Homestuck is founded upon, but I do have a coherent justification for favoring one and not the other.

Homestuck is a closed circuit: everything that exists within it is connected to everything else and nothing exists outside of this network. Any potential expansion of scope will inevitably turn back inwards upon itself. It is the Star Wars expanded universe spun out to its final form. No matter how much material you put into it, it will never break beyond the boundaries of the circuit.

This, plus Homestuck's penchant for repeating patterns and providing numerous overlapping categorical schemas for those patterns to fit into, makes it incredibly good for people who want to make stuff using only those provided components (see: enormous homestuck fandom), and signficiantly less use to me, who likes settings to be messy and organic.

This closed-circuit design is part and parcel why, among all the media I will occasionally use as writing practice, Homestuck has never appeared - it cannot function in an open circuit setting, because its characters are just collections of tropes without any exterior circumstances influencing them. To put them in an environment where external setting matters would be to immediately watch the waveform collapse. The characters stop working and must become entirely different characters in order to function, thus negating the point. Like in that little bit I wrote above - if I didn't write Karkat according to his steroarchetype, he wouldn't really be Karkat anymore.


Homestuck is like Neon Genesis Evangelion: valuable as a piece of art, mediocre-to-bad as a coherent narrative, and will collapse entirely at the mere implication of real-world logic.


A theory: there is no outside world whatsoever in Homestuck. Earth is empty. Alternia is empty. No one else exists beyond the players of SBURB. It is the only appropriate state for a work as solipcistic as this.


Troll typing quirks are legitimately a fantastic way of getting across vocal nuance in text, but also I side with jan misali in saying that they get pretty excessive and make text to speech accessibility functionally impossible.


Serialized storytelling and the cycle of hype and disappointment are the worst and we are trapped in this World Homestuck Made. Thrice I have been burned greatly by it. I have learned my lesson.


I will accept the bitter pill Michael and Cameron have set on my plate: Equius is a fascist creep and the fandom's re-interpretation of him as weird but ultimately protective big brother figure to Nepeta is significantly more uncomfortable in hindsight.

Thus is fandom - eternally dulling the sharp edges to achieve the state of perfect blorbo.


So. This is the part about Vriska.

Now, while I will strip my sleeve and show my scars and say "these wounds I had on Troll Crispin's Day, holding the line against Vriskathread" a decade free from the Great Mania has cleared my head significantly. To condense a lot of thoughts into a small amount of space, Vriska the character is entirely separate from Vriska the narrative function.

Vriska the character is not to my liking whatsoever, but I can understand the appeal in a general sense. She's well written, as far as a Homestuck character will go, and I can't say she's not effective at triggering reader response. There's a reasonably effective tragedy to her story, though I find it not nearly as vindicating as her fans will claim.

Vriska the narrative function is emblematic of Homestuck's greatest sin. Her role is that of a hatchet: whenever Hussie needed to make people angry, whenever they needed to divide up the fanbase and start setting fires because negative engagement is good engagement for the content-hawkers, Vriska would be rolled out, do something heinous, and be rewarded for it. Any of the characters could fill that role, technically, but Vriska was convenient because she had a divisive status since her introduction. She was a deliberately weaponized character invoked in Hussie's eternal war with the fanbase.


Hussie really liked making jokes at the expense of anyone with a non-normative body, didn't they?


Hussie's repeated abdications of responsibility for what they write - provided in the text itself and in book commentary cited by HMTW - are incredibly tiresome.


God I forgot that Doc Scratch's primary narrative role was "well you see, Vriska was being manipulated by Doc Scratch" and motherfuckers he's not mind controlling her, she just decides to murder other children because some weird guy on the internet told her to.


Michael and Cameron bring up how even early on there are questions over whether Vriska is going to get her comeuppance, or if this is a narrative that's going to eschew the idea that villainous deeds go punished. I know that later on there's more of this, past where I read, but I think there is a third option that will end up going woefully unutilized: there's no need for karmic retribution on a cosmic level when the other characters have more than enough reason (the reason being that Vriska is an existential threat to everyone around her) to find a way to remove her from the equation for simple self-preservation. Characters having coherent motivations solves this problem, but HS is about determinism or some shit so we don't have those, Things Just Happen.


~ Squeedly-dee, squeedley-dum, let's all sing a squeedly song ~


I'm not going to write much about Act 6, because I read barely anything of it. It took the forward momentum and grand crescendo of [S] Cascade - all that waiting and anticipation - and sent it careening directly into a brick wall. I do not know what follows beyond, other than I have heard very bad things, and the content warnings towards the end of HMTW get increasingly thorough to the point that I can barely believe it.


"Well you see, the ending is about Hussie handing over the characters to the audience and their freedom from his deterministic authorial tyranny."

"So why didn't they put their money where their mouth is and slap a big copyleft license on it in a final act of over the top and self-indulgent showmanship?"



Revisiting the comic, even by proxy, I find myself once again confronted with the bizarre, toxic, paracsocial hell of the author-audience relationship that defines the comic. I was part of it, same as so many other people, so take that into account here. I was lost in the sauce.
It was ugly. I feel like I should call it abusive, in some new and unpleasant form that was born from the newly-forming (at the time) mechanisms of widespread parasociality. An artist continually mocking and berating the audience for emotional investment, especially when the artist has cynically calculated the ways to maximize engagement in the first place - and especially when the bulk of that audience are teenagers - it ain't good. It's a bad taste I can't wash out, a lingering miasma over the thing.

And everyone bought it for so long, just ate up the lie of "oh it's all an act, it's ironic!"

Nah. Hussie's disdain for the audience was the one genuine thing in this entire circus.

I suppose that's the lasting impression I have of the whole thing; The lingering internalized shame of being duped. Of falling for a grift. Of sticking with the clearly toxic person in your life. The plot, setting, characters - all so thin and sterile already that they can't even be recycled. The comic itself, herald of a maddened world that it did not create but merely ushered into being.

There was good to be had in it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

They can't all be winners, folks.


  1. I used to joke that Homestuck was the only webcomic that I gave up on because it updated too frequently; in retrospect it looks like I dodged a bullet. The deluge of chatlogs, animations, games - I couldn't keep up with what was going on, let alone care.
    Looking back Homestuck feels like the zenith of a particular kind of forum/board-based culture. A 'goon project' that succeeded instead of failing and found success harsher than failure. That kind of terminally-online self-hatred where you vibrate between wallowing in your flaws and projecting them onto everyone else.
    Or perhaps it's just a comic that got out of hand and I'm rambling.

    1. It's absolutely the last dinosaur in a lot of respects. Pioneer of the very age that would see it rendered extinct.

    2. Well the last dinosaur is the first bird, I suppose...

  2. I stopped reading Homestuck around the time of the fourth game-based interlude (the one with the New Trolls That Don't Matter) because it kept crapping out my aging shitty laptop. I never interacted with the forums for it in any way, or Hussie himself. I have never felt more glad of this.

    (The weird thing about Homestuck fanfic is that it's the only setting where the dreaded Plucking-Characters-From-Their-Context AU is not only sensible, but actively required for most purposes--the only story you can tell within the world of Homestuck is that of Homestuck. The universe has cancer and will always have it; there's no way for the characters to resolve the plot because the plot is a mousetrap around their sensitive organs. I have never seen a solid Homestuck fic that had both SBURB and the original kids in it, and I suspect I never will.)

    1. I tried, long ago, to reconcile the two and yeah it is functionally impossible. You can have SBURB or realistic characters. There is no both.

    2. It's kind of meta when you think about it. Metatextually, the characters in Homestuck cannot have good or sensible stories, because the story itself has Cancer. The setting, its metaphysics, its reason for being, is malignant.

      It's a horror story, where the story itself is the monster. This is in some ways intentional. It's neither going to go well or how it's "supposed" to, because the mechanistic nature of fate in Homestuck's cosmology runs up against the cancer eating away at reality. The Red Miles, Lord English, the ballooning story complexity...on each level, another cancer turning what might have been an inspiring story of kids getting coherent character development into a morass. A bloated, parasitic meta-story.

      The characters have to cheat, even above the bounds of normal time-space manipulation, to achieve any semblance of victory. They have to retcon the story, to make it even possible to close the loop. Because like the Void session of Human Kids 2: Slime-Clone Boogaloo, the narrative is non-viable. By breaking its textual DNA, it has no natural death anymore. Homestuck could not end unless it was killed.

      And even then, like all tenacious cancers, Homestuck refuses to really die. It clings on, persists. Finds new ground and grows again. Even more malignant than before. Cancer cells kept alive in a petri dish, or infectiously diving between dogs since ancient times. (No really, look up "immortal infectious dog cancer").

      Coming back around to the point, one cannot suppose, in light of a cancerous narrative, that the characters therein were anything but doomed. Not just doomed in-story, but doomed to suck in a literary fashion. They cannot grow or surprise you in organic ways, if they're slaved to a parasitic plot. Only by having the Homestuck cut from the characters can they have a chance of becoming healthy.

  3. I read Homestuck around 2016-17, I think. While there were some parts I look back on fondly(like Kanaya & Rose being an early explicit queer relationship in my media, which baby-queer me really needed about that age.. or more tenuously and barely narratively addressed: Dave & Karkat :/ ((I just want Karkat to have something nice in his horrible life ok))). I can't really imagine rereading it now. From the ableism to general homophobia persisting for chapters on chapters of the early story I could just... read much better things with my time.
    The epilogues were dogshit too.

    All that said though... I am playing and enjoying Hiveswap as it comes out eeeeeeeever so slowly, I am desperately hoping it stays interesting and doesn't end up just rehashing homestuck again too hard.
    I also intermittently read Vast Error, which is a homestuck fan comic/project(there's some tie-in visual novels I've not played) where they kinda just took the bits they liked of the rules and made a separate story and setting with occasional nods to the source concepts and a decent amount of original worldbuilding for their distinct setting. It's fun enough, absolutely no clue if it would be up your alley or not.

    1. I guess also of note is that since I read it kinda late I never really got sucked into the big cultural moment of it, I just read it, felt weird after pushing all the way through act 6 to the end, and then didn't have any friends into it to talk about it with.

  4. I read most of Homestuck sometime earlyish in the last decade during one of the worst flus or similar I remember having, and honestly in retrospect fever delirium is probably the correct way to approach this particular work.

    Problem Sleuth is definitely a better piece of work than Homestuck, I can agree with that. In Homestuck I always very much skimmed most of what was going on with the emotions and weird relationship concept frameworks, because I was vaguely interested in the villain narratives and mostly interested in WV/The Mayor and the other little chess piece guys. Also I remember liking the salamanders and other sidekick animals (glubglubglub). But yeah ultimately Homestuck wasn't interested in the bits of Homestuck I was interested in, and I always stayed away from the fandom because it looked scary and I missed a lot of the brutal storyteller/audience stuff you mention and a lot of the badly written characters because none of them made enough of an impression.

    I think it's kind of a shame that random webcomics like that can't really start today and build up their own forums etc, as much as Homestuck specifically was absurd the way most of the internet is locked into Discords, Reddits, and other such feels sad to me (and I'm under thirty so this isn't just nostalgia for 2000s bulletin board culture, I missed most of that!)

  5. I recall dropping out of reading Homestuck sometime in Act 6 when I realised that it wasn't going anywhere, I didn't like the new characters as much (particualrly the Chreubs) and we weren't going to get fun action where a bunch of dumb kids with divine powers fight a Problem-Slueth-eque battle against a baking mascot run by an alien queen, but instead more Shipping, more character derailment and more Troll drama with the crappy Trolls no one but the toxic fandom liked.
    Act 6 did John dirty and I still feel much of later Homestuck suffered from what Act b5 brought in, an interruption to a 4 person dynamic.
    Jade and Dick also seemed to be pushed off to the side as the series limped it's way to the end.
    The Epilogues compunded it in a way dsigned to tick everyone off.

    1. The cherub designs are just so bad, especially compared to all the fanart people had made before the reveal.

    2. I wish I could summon the energy to play devil's advocate for Cherubs, if only on principle. But for Homestuck, I have no energy. MEAT stole it from me, and I'm metaphorically still, all these years later, nursing an emotional food coma from binging that half of the Epilogues in one sitting. Fuck the Cherubs.

      It's not even that they're bad because they're ugly. (Although they are). Not judging a book by its cover is kind of the point of them. It's that they took all the novelty of Troll Alien Species Bullshit, and cranked it to 11. It's a parody, not just of the fans of Homestuck, but of that extended act of genuine, unhinged world-building brilliance on Hussie's part.

      Trolls were "the shit", the thing 90% of people know about Homestuck. Body paint was banned from conventions because of all the unsealed grey being left everywhere. Whatever the flaws of Trolls and their characters, the species is iconic in its singular weirdness.

      Cherubs were...not that. They just kind of sucked, as an alien species. Their very nature makes it nigh impossible to create fan-Cherubs. And the very small pool of Cherub characters didn't help. You had either Incel Asshole Cosmic Villain, and Troll Cosplayer. Neither who could really be said to be representative of their species as a whole, not that you could really make stories from "normal" Cherubs anyway.

  6. I always imagined the abysmal plotting of Acts 5 and 6 a result of Hussie being crushed under the weight of his narrative, unable to divine a way out and instead just circling the drain with ever more bloated character relationships and drama. I never really took it as hostility toward the audience, but in retrospect the spite was definitely there—what you say about Vriska being a hatchet is absolutely true, and a great way to understand the kind of story Homestuck became. Hussie was out of ideas for how to get to anything resembling a conclusion, and I'm sure the sheer anxiety that caused mixed with the ceaseless churning mass of fandom pressure must have resulted in quite a bit of vitriol that manifested in the work.

    I started HS back in the early days in 2010, and stuck through it all the way to the end. I remember, somewhere amidst all the sub-acts and hiatuses (iirc right around when two versions of Vriska met and one bullied the shit out of the other) just wondering how something that used to be so fun and exhilarating could have become whatever it was I was reading now. I mostly just chalked it up to getting older and not finding the same things funny then as I did when I was 13 while Hussie was somehow trapped in a state of arrested development, presumably from being shackled to such a punishing project. But it's also true that the fantastic and imaginative story presented in the first four acts devoured itself somewhere along the way and became something different, more shallow and confused.

    When it ended, I had a massive discussion/vent session with my one friend irl who also read it. We had both spent almost the entirety of our teenage years(!) involved with the story, and now that it was over we felt a hard disappointment at how many (hundreds of) threads were left hanging, how little was explained, and how much time was utterly wasted with nonsense. Yet there was also a strange sense of tranquility, knowing that the thing was over. The next phase of our lives was open to us—figuratively, in the sense that we no longer had to check that stupid website for updates, and literally, as we moved along the fixed trajectory toward our 20s and the true end of adolescence.

    Also MAN your little mock-convo was spot-on. Great job

    1. Hussie's outright refusal to actually permanently remove characters from the story definitely did not help them - Murderstuck was shocking and horrible at the time but the introduction of dream bubbles meant that not even death mattered. Complexity could /never/ be reduced. The one guaranteed out was no longer viable.

    2. If anything, the Dream Bubbles just multiplied the complexity. Because now you had all existing characters, living or dead, being around and freely able to interact with one another. AND we could unearth NEW characters to inflate the complexity with. Hope you like twelve new Trolls from an alternate universe!

      Those characters not only existed primarily to create a "through a glass darkly" vision of other dead characters (who, besides the Empress, thankfully never come back themselves). They also could become THEIR OWN new plot cul-de-sacs! Did you find Vriska's "Dancestor" coming to try to hijack the plot compelling? Well I hope you didn't, because she gets unceremoniously killed off, leaving a mass killing field in her wake! FUN!

      No wonder Hussie invented retcon powers. It was the only way to un-fuck the story. And only with loads of more plot complexity.

  7. As someone who's age (and true trends and nostalgia and... what's anti-nostalgia? IDK are almost always time-and-age based) put me outside the window for getting into HS (by 5-10 years, maybe?), this has the quality of a decent ethnography of a time I didn't experience...

    1. The experience is so much of it, in the end - archival readers will never have the mania of the Newgrounds crash during Cascade.

    2. The more I think back on it, the more I realise that a lot of my positive feelings for Homestuck are more about 'getting home from work at 2am, sitting in front of my ancient laptop waiting for a [S] update to load' than the actual comic.
      (This is also partly true in respect of Homestar Runner, which has held up far better.)

  8. I've long since wondered whether I should read Homestuck or not. Thank you for your timely warning... any suitable fanfic recommendations as a replacement?

    1. Not Homestuck fanfic but here's some Homestuck-adjacent fiction I'd recommend:

      -17776 - web serial by Jon Bois about what football will look like 15000 years in the future. There are also funny space probes watching football. Has a sequel titled 20200, which is also recommended.

      -Kill Six Billion Demons: you're probably already familiar with this webcomicnif you read Dan's blog. Originally started off as a forum adventure on MSPAF before rebooting and moving to a webcomic format on its own website. The original incarnation has since gone under with the rest of MSPAF. Tom has recurring issues with pacing and characterization (at least with certain characters) but is incredibly good at mythbuilding, visuals and conveying a Vibe. Recommended with a warning.

      An Unauthorized Fan Treatise: webnovel by Lauren James about a Tumblr fangirl who attempts to prove that the lead male actors of her favorite supernatural detective show are secretly dating, and in the process spirals deeper than anyone ever should. If you're familiar with the kind of horrid fan culture that surrounded Homestuck at its peak, this is an excellent satire of that, taking just one tiny step beyond what fandoms like this actually do sometimes and already arriving at something deeply uncomfortable.

    2. The fact that I have read and adored the first two of those tells me the third should be at the top of my list. You have impeccable taste :D

  9. I was an OG Homestuck fan. Found MSPA halfway through Problem Sleuth's run, and was there when Homestuck started. I stuck with the comic for its entire 7 year run. Through the periods of whirlwind updates and long intermissions.

    By the end, it wasn't joy or enthusiasm that kept me checking updates every day. It was obligation. I felt duty-bound to see the story through to the end.

    And what an ending. A fantastic, frenetic multi-front battle animation, followed by a FULLY ANIMATED CLIMAX. Then, though many character and narrative threads were left untied and flapping in the wind, the "Game" ended. The kids I'd followed for 7 years WON.

    They went through the door, and I could breathe a sigh of relief. I was free.

    Unfortunately, then Homestuck kept going. It's here where my complete disenchantment with the series occurred.

    The sort of Afterward snapshots, Instagram style, was...fine. I didn't need or want to know what the characters were doing after they went through the door. But I didn't hate it.

    It's the Epilogue(s), in all its/their AO3 style self-indulgence, that killed Homestuck for me. I liked a close-up view of post-game Homestuck even less. But when presented with the choice between Meat and Candy - plot-heavy or sugar-coated branches - I chose Meat. Intending to get to Candy after. The story did not signpost that this wasn't a couple more chapters, but DOZENS.

    Nor did it signpost that Meat was an apotheosis of Hussie's tendency to deliberately antagonize readers with horrible things, whose perpetrators never see justice for. You thought Vriska was bad? You have not seen anything until you've seen Ascended Medium-Aware God-Mode Dirk Strider, the New Narrator and Villain Sue.

    By the time I got to Meat's end - devoured it all in one sitting, losing sleep in the process - I was both angry and exhausted and emotionally drained. Left on a cliffhanger. I resolved to read Candy later.

    And then I never did. And from everything I've learned of "Homestuck 2", I am thankful for that.

    Every time I think about Homestuck, I don't feel the relief I felt at having seen the successful completion of the game, no matter its flaws. All I feel is TIRED. It makes me tired thinking about Homestuck. Like I'm back there, at the end of Meat, emotionally drained and spent again. I look with dread upon knowing my twin future obligations: 1) that I will one day need to reread Homestuck again, and 2) that I will have to one day correlate all my thoughts about Homestuck.

    And, exhausted, I push them both back. Another time, when I have the strength.

    It's posts like these, and probably the audio epic that inspired it (I will need to listen to that soon), that make me consider that I should sever these obligations. Life is too short, matters too dire, and other pursuits too filled with joy. Why should I feel obliged to return to a webcomic that abused me emotionally and left me in a dumpster? What obligation do I have to Hussie's tortured magnum opus?

    My original instinct was the right one. I should have left Homestuck at the Door. The game is over. I never had a obligation to it, and yet I satisfied the obligation anyway. I can done.

    1. HS has a rather insidious thought-colonization aspect to it. Gets in your head and then refuses to leave, even when you don't want it there. Definitely a prime example of a cognitohazard