On 11/11/11, Homestuck
entered Act 6
(of 7). This follows an explosive 13-minute finale to Act 5
, which brought down its host Newgrounds
on the day of its unveiling and was released with a fantastic companion soundtrack
. In the two and a half years since it was created, Homestuck has become a full-blown epic, approaching the length of War and Peace, but with hours of accompanying animation
, several interactive games
, a loop machine
, and a baffling 19 soundtrack albums, ranging from VG-inspired soundtrack
to jazzy mood music
to solo piano
to parody kids TV show soundtrack
. It also has an obsession with Nic Cage
and Betty Crocker
, and comes with a metawebcomic called Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff
which is in and of itself pure gold. Intimidated? You probably should be! But it's hilarious, epic, and surprisingly addictive, so if you've got nothing else on your plate, you can either start from the beginning
, or, if it seems too daunting, you can learn...
...a little bit more about what Homestuck is, why it works, and why it's so awesome.
Homestuck is the latest thing by Andrew Hussie, who you know is a cool dude because he owns this painting
. Hussie started writing fun little interactive text adventures where members of a forum fed him instructions and he responded. Earlier adventures include Jailbreak
, which is short and crude and funny, and Bard Quest
, which played with branching narratives. By his third, Problem Sleuth
, Hussie was moving into darker, more dramatic stories, which resulted in Homestuck.
Homestuck is first and foremost about games and gamers, both in shallower ways – it parodies video game conventions like inventories
and battle systems
, it chiefly tells its story through chatlogs
, and it occasionally summarizes its story through GameFAQs
– and in its core story, which is about (ACTIVATE SPOILER ALERT)
game called SBURB that accidentally brings about the end of the Earth
. It structures its plot around various board games: the primary good-vs-evil struggle is explained as a chess game that starts off simply
and grows increasingly complex
(depicted in this animation
; a plot about summoning a demon into the universe is explained through billiards terms
, and an explanation of alien romance starts out by explaining that while we humans represent love with a heart, the more complex aliens feel love in all four suits
That metaphor of the chess game growing increasingly complex is a great metaphor for Homestuck itself, which has become an incredibly convoluted story by taking basic themes of good and evil and then squaring them. We start off with a kid
in a room
, then we meet his three best friends
, each of whom has a name and a room of their own. They each have a parent or guardian
with whom they share an antagonistic relationship. The kids each create a Sprite in the game to serve as their guide, and each kid creates a different thing
. The story's complexity is contained within these repeated tropes and archetypes, so that even if you get lost, you can still have a brief idea of what's going on...
...only here's where things get trickier. Because Homestuck introduced, in its fifth act, a second universe full of kids playing this game, only in the second universe there are twelve gamers
, whose parallel narrative is so complex that Act 5 was split into two parts, with the first half just getting us up-to-date. Of course, time doesn't run linear between the two worlds, so their interactions with the first universe occur entirely out of order, to both hilarious and chilling effects. This joins with another series of parallel characters
, also in a separate timeline that interacts with the other two. A fourth story was told in an intermission
between acts 3 and 4, and it intersects the other three similarly. And this is just skimming the surface.
(DISENGAGE SPOILER ALERT)
It's an epic narrative that's at turns breathtaking and self-deflating. And this is important: Homestuck is very, very funny. Whether it's making towns out of survival rations
, poking fun at video game weaponry
and overly-complex storage systems
, drama involving ironic gay puppet porn
, detailing an elaborate passive
-aggressive fight between a girl and her mother
, or the tragic realization that one's father might not be as cool as previously assumed
, we are dealing with a very silly, very geeky, very smart comic. And that's not even getting into the rap battles.
(Fun bit for storytelling geeks: towards the end of Act 5, Hussie lampooned the complexity of his own narrative by creating panels of dropped cards
, each of which spun into a handful of sub-plots as a way of tidying up for the finale.)
So how do you start reading Homestuck? Well, it won't make much sense unless you start from the beginning
. But if you want something more immediately fun, you could go to the Intermission
, which requires no prior Homestuck knowledge and is way, way more violent, or you could cheat and read a few pages detailing Can Town
, which is kind of a spoiler but also really funny. If you'd like to try and jump right in with this new act, you brave reader you, you'd better start with the three recaps
, followed by the wiki-driven Act 5 summaries
, and chase it down with Hussie's four
of the Act 5 closer
. But beware: this new act introduces another two new universes, and an entirely new cast of characters who are themselves comments on older characters (or who possibly are
those other characters in an alternate timeline), so even if you're all caught up, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Alternatively, you can skip Homestuck entirely and just read Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff,
which is a fantastic (albeit highly irritating/ironic) web comic in its own right.
Here's some cheerful mood music for if you're still a little scared.