Pencil to Paper

The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Let me tell you about… June 9, 2012

Filed under: Whatever — katblogger @ 8:01 AM

I’m going to take a break from my typical writing-oriented posts to advertise.

Imagine you’re thirteen years old. The world as you know it – all the people, your neighborhood, your friends, your family, your planet – is gone. Destroyed. You may have made it happen. People you love have died right in front of you, and that might be your fault too. It’s dark, you’re scared, and there are things coming after you. You don’t exactly know what you’re doing, or what the point is, but you do know one thing. If you fail, the universe is screwed. And apparently, you’re doomed to fail.

What would you do? Would you cry? Curl up in a ball and hope you wake up? Or would you try your best to keep on fighting?

Ladies and gentlemen…

These are actually not super great cosplayers, but this image is famous as a way to introduce casual laypeople into the thing that is Homestuck.

It’s a webcomic – I think right now the largest in history, having started three years ago. It has a large, though unfortunately spread out, fanbase that seems intent on taking over tumblr. (They crashed four websites on October 25 of last year, known as the day that Homestuck killed the internet.) It is also really cool.

I discovered the comic while stalking a friend’s tumblr. I had no idea what it was, but she posted cool art and spazzing. I have a weakness for both, so I checked it out. It hooked me. In less than a month, I caught up, and I now wait breathlessly for updates like everyone else.

I’ll try to give a summary, but it’s hard to adequately explain it without venturing into spoiler territory. Here goes.

Four kids who’ve met online are chosen to play the Beta version of a new game called SBURB. The game triggers meteor showers that devastate Earth, while the kids are transported to another dimension called the Medium. Their arrival triggers war between two kingdoms in a battle highly reminiscent of chess. The kids’ goal is to defeat enemies, gain ‘levels’ (including the mysterious God Tier), and defeat the Black King and Queen. However, the rules are cagey about what their reward will be.

As they play, the kids are harassed via instant message by twelve alien ‘trolls’. These trolls are players from another session, and they’re furious. They insist that a screw-up from the kids’ game session affected theirs, and they were unable to claim the ultimate prize. They’re also certain of one thing: In their session, the kids are going to do something horribly wrong and make the game unwinnable. When that happens, everyone loses.

I can’t say much more, but this only scratches the surface. It’s a comic about friendship. Sacrifice. Family. Self-discovery. Time travel shenanigans. Really freaky ventriloquist dummies. Pop culture references. It can be tragic, moving, hilarious, or very, very confusing. It’s chock full of great art, interactive games, amazing flash animations, and beautiful music. For the analytically minded, you can spot allusions and symbolism around every corner.

One of the neat things about the medium of a webcomic is that it’s interactive. The fanbase exists as the story is being told. The author is aware of his audience and will share injokes or references with them. The fandom also produces a boatload of fics, art, music, videos, and more. It’s practically a lifestyle. This is a new, really cool way to see storytelling handled. The readers aren’t passive. They’re an active part of the Homestuck universe.

If you’re thinking about checking it out, I have to warn you. This isn’t something you can blow through. Chekhov’s guns, gunmen, boomerangs, and more await on almost every panel. An idle comment might mean something six acts later. You have to pay attention. You also have to slog through the not super exciting first act. If you have some free time, give it a shot. Be prepared, though, for it to eat your life.


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