Friday, January 18, 2013

Homestuck, What Went Wrong? A Rant, Criticism, Review, Retrospect, and Dressing Down of a Webcomic Unlike Any Other

(Edit: 1/20/13: These are some more relevant things that I have written on this subject. I will attempt to comment to anybody who speaks with me by the way. Believe it or not I am friendly. :) Please, do not take my arguments herein as insults to the fan community, and when I speak of "rabid" or "obsessive" fans, know that I am speaking of fans that are unhealthy in a medically defined "obsession." I genuinely enjoy most of the fanbase, and my main criticisms are for Hussie and the webcomic. Also, realize I'm joking at times within here. I can be quite dry with my humor and also quite sarcastic and caustic. I didn't think I'd need to point that out, but I guess I really do have to.)

Should I admit here (on the internet of all places?) that once upon a time I found myself liking a little webcomic that nobody has ever heard of called Homestuck? It's not a horror comic, certainly not one that revolves around many of the tropes or ideas that I usually enjoy, but it didn't really matter. I mostly enjoyed the story, the characters, and the plot developments, however idiotic, weird, or humorous they were. Now, this webcomic, created by Andrew Hussie of Problem Sleuth fame (and for me he will always be known first and foremost for the infinitely better Problem Sleuth), was, for a while, an interesting little adventure of several children (young teens) finding themselves in (basically) a video game world while they conceptualized different aspects of internet culture and writing.

Hell, that description makes it sound interesting and almost a little unique, two things that I certainly value in fiction. And calling this comic unique is an understatement. It is something that nobody had ever tried before, a comic that touches upon internet culture in a way that I've never seen any other person even attempt. It combines music, animation, strong characters, deep stories, and little flash games inside of itself to create one of the most unique and memorable story adventures I had ever seen. In many ways this makes Andrew Hussie a genius. He started something so new and different that it took the entire internet by storm. And although I will criticize him for his CONTENT, I refuse to criticize the man for his lofty goals. He succeeded in changing the face of the internet, and for good or ill, that is a fact. He had created one of the most interesting and different comics to ever exist. These are facts. Irrefutable facts. Whether you like, love, dislike, or hate Homestuck, these facts just cannot be argued. Even though he is an extreme innovator, I also have to admit that he seems to have lost his basic understanding of what makes a story or character compelling or good. I can understand his desire to write comedy for the sake of writing something he finds hilarious, but is it still good quality- or even good comedy- when it undermines characters, plots, and the entire meaning of what it means to be a well-written entity to come by the "hilarious shenanigans?"

I have to start this criticism out in this way, calmly and factually stating these things because if I don't I'll be called a troll, a despicable human being, a hater, an anti-fan, and a whole bunch of other things besides. I'm not any of those things. I never have been. I was very much into this comic for a good long while. I had criticisms, certainly, but they were few and far between. I had no problem with gay or lesbian characters, I saw no racial issues, and for the most part I remained a loyal fan of the comic through thick and thin. I have legitimate concerns, dislikes, and annoyances that this comic has brought to my mind. I know a lot of fans think that the comic is nearly perfect, untouchable, and that any criticism is unjustified, but I am a critic by nature. I judge fiction based off of quality. And yes, for a while I saw wonderful quality in Homestuck, but it has rapidly degraded into no quality at all.

Now, I've been following Andrew Hussie since around the time he finished Problem Sleuth. A friend recommended that webcomic to me in 2009 or so, I believe, although it could have been earlier and I simply did not read it until then. Three years ago is a long time to remember absolute specifics on when I read a webcomic for the first time, but I do remember it was right before I finished up my spring semester of that year, so I would guess it had to be about April or May of 2009. I found large portions of it literally insane, but the way it satirized some of the ridiculousness of video games (especially JRPGs) worked incredibly well to me, especially since I was a person who knew all too well about these video games and their reliance on ridiculousness. The story there in that silly webcomic was incredible from beginning to end, and although it really required more than a single reading to completely understand, it worked on a fundamental level by being both artistic and by saying something... even if what it said was: "Be careful turning the world upside-down." or something stupid like that. The characters, even without dialogue, were characters in every sense of the word, and the adventure was an unforgettable one with great and hilarious moments sprinkled all over the place. My point here is that I liked Problem Sleuth, and I still like it. I look at it as an interesting and unique adventure with a ton of material I legitimately fell in love with. I still personally think it is one of the best storied webcomics out there today.

I start out with the positives here because the negatives will run very quickly out of me, and I don't want to start on a negative note and never leave it. I do have positive feelings about both Hussie and his webcomics, but once I get into talking about the negative stuff, I am going to reach a singularity of dislike that few have ever reached before, and that I have never seen a single entity reach in relation to Homestuck. You only think that you dislike Homestuck if you complain about it. You only think that complaining about shipping or how certain characters act is a negative review of this webcomic. But it isn't. Seriously, if you're still a fan and are still willing and able to talk about shipping without vomiting up bile from your nasty innards, then you do not dislike this comic, but rather you dislike elements of it. Me, I dislike the comic, the whole comic, and nothing but the comic and what it has subsequently become. I dislike it in a way that will not make me popular. It will not make me friends with anybody. Hell, it won't get me anywhere as a writer, a storyteller, a critic, or a person. It will get me labelled as a troll, a hater, an anti-fan, and an angry mean man that the comic was never intended for in the first place. But I don't even care because I've been waiting for a year or more to tell Andrew Hussie and Homestuck what I really think of them. I'm going for a complete dressing down (as the title of this article suggests) of Homestuck. I'm not calling the comic out for not showing my favorite ships or for not having the characters portrayed in the way I want, but rather calling this comic out for becoming everything I hate when it should have been everything that I love. It should have been a weird quirky adventure with a ton of comedy and a ton of wonderful moments mixed in with some absolute insane concepts. What it has turned out to be is a bad anime for teenage girls who love to ship basically anything and everything. I'm not saying that shipping is a bad thing, even if I largely do not care, nor do I think anime is a bad thing either, but rather I am saying that I was not expecting these elements to become as large a thing as they have become within the comic. And I think that they do not fit into the basic premise of this story that was laid out at the start, nor do they ever fit the tone that the story seems to attempt to justify. Others may disagree with me, but this is my *opinion*. It is a criticism in every sense of that word, but one that is wholly based on what *I* think and see. I offer no objective facts in anything I say, and I wish that everybody would make their own opinion known, however popular or unpopular it is. If you like the comic, wonderful, great, but that doesn't mean that everybody does. And if you hate it, well, that's fine too, but remember to back up either feeling about the comic with as much actual evidence of your feelings as you can. Criticism has nothing to do with lofty feelings of "Man, I don't like this ship therefore I don't like the comic." but rather of lofty feelings of  "Man, this comic is poorly written, paced, and executed. The characters are poorly done. The plot is all kinds of a mess. And while the story is fairly simple, most of the current story seems to be more about shipping cardboard cutouts that are mistakenly thought of as characters rather than actually having the plot go anywhere." These elements of the story, being criticized or defended, should be backed up by evidence. And that is exactly what I am going to do.

You should wish me luck on this endeavor as I try my darnedest to provide exactly where, I believe, Homestuck started to go rotten, oozing literal bile out of all its sickened pores as it grew into the diseased blob it is today. I want to also provide the panel, the exact image, where it started to go wrong for me, and, where, I believe, the webcomic objectively started to go wrong as well, although that is a very different debate, I think. Here it is:


Something about this image, the story behind it, and what the character was actively doing filled me with actual sickened revulsion. It was an actual and active revulsion that I couldn't even attempt to control. I was not repulsed by the darkness of the story at this point in it, rather I was repulsed by how this particular character was treated and subsequently killed off. I have no problem with a story arc of character deaths, even if many of those deaths were and are meaningless. I also have no problem with those characters dying ironically or in a humorous manner. Fine. That's absolutely fine with me. My problem is... and maybe I should be sorry about this... that something about a thirteen year old (alien or not) getting choked to death and getting off to it fills me with actual sickness. I find the image disgusting and despicable in every possible way. And Hussie's reasoning of using the funniest and most ironic way of killing off a joke character is distasteful and actually offensive to me as an intelligent person who had been enjoying the comic quite a bit up to that point. I am not a soft-stomached person. I love horror in basically any incarnation, including gore and whatever else is associated with that (go ahead and check out the rest of my blog if you don't believe me), but something about this image of a young troll, equivalent to a thirteen year old human, getting off on being choked by someone of a higher class than he is, just filled me with a desire to stop reading the comic right there and then. I even remember talking to my girlfriend about it at the time, saying something to the effect of: "I find this absolutely distasteful in every sense of the word, and I truly believe it kind of kills the spirit of what I enjoyed about the webcomic up until now." I kept reading, because one character death and one panel shouldn't have ruined something I had unabashedly enjoyed up to that point, but my feelings on the comic would take a decidedly negative turn after this.

It reminded me of something in the Stephen Kind novel It. Now, I believe the children in It were twelve, not thirteen, but a scene towards the end of the novel (a novel I was at least semi-enjoying at any rate) filled me with such revulsion that I could never look at the novel in the same way again. It was repulsive and not what I wanted in what could have essentially been called a clown horror novel. There are certain things that should *not* be written about children. There is a line that *shouldn't* be crossed even if it sometimes is. I am not in favor of censorship, but I seriously do not want to read certain things. There is such a thing as BAD TASTE, and that is one of the biggest problems people do not understand about certain plot points or story elements. I love Stephen King, but he crossed that line of BAD TASTE once for me and I subsequently will never read It again even if I enjoy many of his other novels.

Well, Hussie crossed that line of BAD TASTE as well, but he has none of the redeeming qualities that King has to me, not anymore at any rate. While King can make me upset with the imagery of six male children all having sex with one a single female child character, none of his other novels are ever like that, and they are subsequently better for it. Hussie, on the other hand, was just getting started with his frivolous and BAD TASTE content. Look, I didn't think at the time that that image would define a large portion of what I hate about this webcomic. While I didn't like the image or that part of the story, I was still invested. A few panels of distastefulness was not going to stop me from reading, bad vibe or no. But still, something in me told me that Homestuck had been changed forever. There would be no coming back to the story I had fallen in love with in the first place. There would be no redemption for the comic, the story, the characters, or Hussie as an author. It was only a fleeting thought at the time, one I certainly spoke out loud, but also one I didn't want to believe. I didn't want to be right. I wanted it to be one terrible thing in a sea full of genuine quality. My problem was that I didn't know exactly how right my instincts were. First, I'd like to talk about why I liked the webcomic. I've been saying that, but I really would like to start actually talking about the good here, because there is a lot of good to be had in the early portions of the comic despite pacing and character issues, and an overall inconsistency with quality. Then I'll get into the meatier thoughts I have about... well... everything...


I started reading Homestuck when it was only about forty pages along or so after I had finished Problem Sleuth. I found it massively uninteresting when it first began and I first started reading, largely because the beginning of Homestuck is pretty rough around the edges in general. It was trying to be Problem Sleuth, but John was a much less compelling character than Problem Sleuth. He had none of the charisma exuded by that weird pseudo-human stick figure-thing, and really came off as a strange facsimile of an adult writing a child as he believes a child would think and talk to friends online. This thirteen year old seemed to be well above his years... all of the kids did. They all were intellectual and... let's admit... well-read beyond their years at the very least. Yes, John was and is a complete derp, easily comparable to Sora of Kingdom Hearts fame for both of them literally being completely happy and ridiculously stupid, but there is also an element in both characters of them being "wiser" (*Cough*cough*Ican'tbelieveIjustwrotethat*Cough*) than their actual years. It's a subtle thing, but it's there if you know what you're looking for. There are actually a ton of really weird things I can say about John as a protagonist that is comparable to Sora. They really seem to be quite similar as both plot devices and as characters, with their story arcs hitting many of the same notes. Both also seem quite brain-dead at times, which is really par for the course with characters like this. While Sora's character arc involves him being a good guy constantly, eventually growing a little bit, getting pissed off at an antagonist, and then learning to accept who he is and what he is... John's involves... oh... almost that exact same arc. Would you look at that. I think this should be titled Anime Boy Protagonist Syndrome or Sora Syndrome or something like that. There are many characters that follow this arc, but John follows it so closely as to literally have his plot nearly holding hands with Sora's. It's all kinds of ridiculous, and only becomes more apparent as the story progresses. Now, yes, you may be a fan of John or Sora. You might be right now sweating as you write down an angry response to me calling these characters brain-dead, but stop. Seriously, stop. These things are factual premises of both characters. They *are* incredibly similar. Neither *is* particularly intelligent. And both *do* hit the same insipid and inane character moments. They aren't particularly deep as characters go, and if you think they are then you are projecting rather than reading the actual stories. And that, in fact, is a huge issue with the Homestuck fan community. Rather than looking at the characters as they appear in the comic, they project themselves onto the characters, seeing quality because of well-written or well-intentioned fanfiction, fanart, and roleplays. This does not make the story good or make Hussie a good writer. What it does say is that he can create a baseline for these characters, but cannot seem to flesh them out beyond that base. The fan community instead fleshes them out and creates something compelling, but that is not the comic doing that, now is it? Projecting will never be what is within the actual story, and what I am criticizing is the actual story.

Although John was the "lead" character of Homestuck, others soon followed, almost all of them more compelling than the straight (dumb) man of John. Dave, in particular, was a well-written and enjoyable character, who acted incredibly differently than most other characters of his type. He was a cool kid with some serious issues and some seriously awesome attributes. He could be incredibly insightful despite his "cool kid" persona, and would often, although mostly making fun of the issue, find some kind of emotional grounding in his situations. He was complex and written very well, easily becoming an early favorite character of mine and the fans in general. His whole story-arc of wandering around his seemingly empty apartment fistbumping a creepy puppet is something that I often cite as one of the defining moments of Homestuck for me. It made the character and his situation both unique and compelling. The pace is brilliant, the story elements work, and the characterization flows so well through that portion of the story that I really have nothing bad to say about it. I can also say that I love the comparison between Dave and Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. Both of them being called Strider, Dave using the half-sword as a weapon, and both having similar doubts as a character really appeal to me. I'd call it a very well done homage, and I don't think I'd be very far off. That being said, I find it difficult to like later elements of these original kids. The fact that each of the four goes god-tier makes very little sense to me. It doesn't work in a well-written story. Hussie had set-up one of the characters dying, but there was never a pay off. They all made it. And that killed off any actual character development from characters like Rose or Dave, who were both more defined by their humanity than their powers up to that point. Subsequently both characters became insufferable as their newly found powers made them both poorly written shadows of their former selves.

Going back to my first experiences with the comic though, when it was only forty pages old, I read it, found it incredibly not my thing, and stopped reading it, finding absolutely no desire to go back to it. Hell, without my girlfriend, I probably would have NEVER actually read the comic at all. Anyway, eventually I recommended Problem Sleuth to said girlfriend, who read it, loved it, and then started reading all of Andrew Hussie's other stuff on his website. She really started liking Homestuck, but found herself unable to proceed through an increasingly complex storyline with the trolls in what people took to calling the "Hivebent" arc of Act 5 in the story. So, she mentioned the webcomic to me in passing when we saw people dressed as trolls (I had no idea what she was talking about by the way) at NYCC (the New York Comic Convention) 2010 after literally seeing Andrew Hussie at a booth with Christopher Hastings (whom I shook hands with and spoke to briefly) of Dr. McNinja fame. So, after that convention, probably in November or so, I started reading the webcomic after at least of month of literally ignoring her advice as I am wont to do. When I finally read it, it did take me some time to become interested, but the music and some of the characters eventually dragged me into the story. While the first couple of acts were not anything special at all, there were little touches of quality throughout. The flash animations, although simple, were also fun. And the trolls... Oh, boy, the trolls...

Now, I'm not going to act like some Homestuck expert saying how I know everything and how everybody else is stupid. I will say that fans are cool for the most part as long as they don't take things too seriously, as long as they are not mindlessly rabid. That's true of any fandom. I don't have a problem with people liking the webcomic. I have a problem with people either expecting everybody else to know about the webcomic or drawing porn of the children of the webcomic. Both are ridiculously offensive. And the shipping has just gotten out of control. I guess I also have a problem with the apologists and the... the what I can only refer to as "Tumblr people." Now, I think Tumblr and its people are all kinds of weird and interesting on many different levels. I've seen a good deal of great art on Tumblr (and a bunch of the crappiest art I have ever laid eyes upon), as well as amusing posts (and sickening ones) and wonderful opinion pieces (as well as ones that make me sick to imagine somebody writing). But Tumblr is known for its social justice groups, its community who believes that everything must be defined and put in its proper place despite these same people wanting to not be defined conclusively, and its actually really weird base of shippers and teenage girls who believe that they have a leg to stand on when it comes to thinking they understand more about life and hardships than anybody else. I have to get into this because it *is* a point in the webcomic. Hussie makes fun of Tumblr. He makes fun of the shipping, makes fun of the social justice, and makes fun of the weirdness of the place. Tumblr is a strange hive of some real talent and some really crazy-weird people. And there are a ton of people who are huge Homestuck fans on Tumblr. In fact it has become a very large community of Homestuck fans in its own right. Many of these fans are shippers, taking the concept of shipping way too seriously, more seriously than that concept should ever be taken. They draw porn of these ships, have a dedicated fan community ready to froth at the mouth at the slightest provocation from other fans, anti-fans, or Hussie himself, and often only enjoy the webcomic for its highly intriguing shipping content and very little else. I've personally seen Homestuck fans talk to other fans first and foremost about shipping, roleplaying, fantrolls, and the like before they ever even mention the comic proper. And I have no idea what to even think about that. I'm a old school Star Wars fan who has played the RPG of Star Wars with friends, and yet if I talk to somebody about Star Wars I am not going to mention the characters I made up, the romances in Star Wars I enjoy, or which characters I think should hook up. Instead I will mention the things I like and dislike about the movies, maybe even the books and games. I will say that I like the original trilogy and largely dislike the prequels. And that makes sense. The community of Homestuck fans rabidly going on about shipping does not make sense. At least not to me. Then again Tumblr is weird, and Homestuck follows a very anime style of culture and fandom, something I have never understood.

The trolls in general became a thing around this time, and with their introduction came the first sizable shipping community. Oh jeez, did both become a thing. The story went from something about mostly boring and nonsensical kids in video games to one about those same kids listening to these alien dudes try to help/kill them. The aliens were the trolls, an oddly insectoid human-looking species with horns and a class structure based upon their blood color (which makes no sense to the biologist in me. How can the same species have different blood colors? The chemistry would literally be all off... but I shouldn't get into that. It's a fun webcomic. Yay...). The trolls were also obviously based off of the internet phenomenon of "internet trolling," which is a way of hassling a person online, mostly anonymously, usually being quite rude, insistent, or terrible to the person being hassled. I kept reading the webcomic from when the trolls were introduced and on, really enjoying where it was going, and especially liking a few of the newly introduced characters, most prominently Karkat, which is the header image all the way up there, by the way, for any of you who are going, "What even is Homestuck?". My girlfriend likes to say I'm literally him... which is probably not far off although I don't like Adam Sandler no matter what they all say about me.

Don't like him.

Don't.


No.

Stop.

I found the character of Karkat compelling, not only because he is similar to me, but because his character arc is somewhat tragic, a boy (troll whatever) who dreams of being more than he is: a leader and a good leader at that. It doesn't matter that he knows that his dreams could never come true because of his own blood color and the stigma associated with it. He hates the class system and breaks the flow of the "blood-colors-while-typing" thing by choosing a neutral gray color to type in instead of his candy-red blood color (The trolls type in their blood colors except for Karkat, and the humans type in their eye color, even if it makes no sense and is stupid.). I love his ability to skirt the line between actively caring about his situations and his leadership position and actively and overtly disliking literally everything and everybody that he knows, especially himself. It gave him both depth and a really sympathetic position, even if he is mostly an absolute jerk at times. This is the character I really fell in love with, and I can see how many other people fell in love with one of these twelve trolls as well. While not all of them are written particularly well, each and every one of them has a moment in the comic, and each and every one of them has a place. They all feel like real characters and real friends, and unlike the kids or the later characters, these ones worked. They were cohesive, a group of friends that had everything from hatred and love of one another, to backstabbing, and then all the way to guilt, tragedy, and, ultimately, to teamwork and almost completing the game together.

I liked some of the dynamics between characters, and this period of Homestuck had some of the greatest character moments, from Karkat and Terezi's whole romantic subplot that was never focused upon, but rather just kind of hovered in the background, to Vriska's whole character-arc involving killing Aradia and Tavros and eventually being killed herself because of who she is. I mean, yes, the kids even have some good moments, from Dave discovering his dead Bro, and reacting to that, to Rose going grimdark when she saw her Mom's body. I really enjoyed those moments, but these were happening long past when I thought the webcomic was already going downhill. The whole "Murderstuck" arc of Gamzee and Eridan killing trolls indiscriminately just ended in a bad way for me. The fun of the webcomic was brushed aside in favor of a more SERIOUS (but full of jokes in BAD TASTE ha ha ha ha) plot involving fear, tension, and murder to get the points across. At times the arc was well accomplished, but also seriously random in both content and quality. Gamzee, the character who should have been the scariest and most intimidating, is literally less effective about destroying everything than the "failure" of a character, the "joke" that is Eridan. Both of them going off the deep end at the same time destroys the tension of having a single bad guy character or a single fear. I can compare it to a slasher film. Usually there is only one villain in a slasher film. Having a single antagonist to be afraid of is much more compelling and interesting than the confusion of having more than one villain to worry about. With Vriska being added into the whole premise (and then the stupidly contrived Kanaya thing) it became an absolute cluttered mess from a purely technical standpoint. I hated the end of this arc so much. The meta-humor of the disk and everything involving that just did nothing for me either. It didn't work in the same way so much of Problem Sleuth's meta-humor had worked. It just appeared fragmented and honestly pretty dumb. And it didn't help that Hussie had been on record saying that some of these characters were always meant to have small or joke roles within the story. That is bad writing, purely and simply. You don't just spend a ton of time fleshing out a particular character only to kill him/her off without a second thought and justify it by saying, "Well, this character was always a joke character and never meant to be a main character despite a lot of people getting attached to said character. This character was never meant to be taken seriously despite your feelings." And that is a failing of this webcomic. It doesn't deliver the writing it should. It goes along, forgetting about characters as often as it uses them in an absolutely baffling way. Watching Equius and Eridan die in such "HILARIOUS" ways as they did without a single moment of them growing as characters, without any payoff, and without any justification of their arcs, made their entire characters pointless except to the people, mostly the fans, who cared about them, and saved them from being simply jokes.


And this is one of the reasons I love the fans. They didn't take the deaths lying down. I remember, at the time, a ton of people came out to protest the ways these characters died, and the fact that they had no way to grow if they were going to be mechanically killed off without any character development. Equius was an upsetting death for me, and I've kept coming back to him because he does truly represent a turning point in the comic for me. He was a character that had a ton of possibility. His nature as a "joke" character could have been used in a very different way to show just how well Hussie could write. But instead he is killed for a laugh. Killed because Hussie found it amusing while nobody else seemed to. Killed in both BAD TASTE and without fulfilling a damn thing with the character arc that had been set up. And these deaths (yes, because more than one character dies in a despicable manner) are not impacting. They mean nothing for either the story or the characters. They are barely mentioned after they happen. Eridan's death is even worse than Equius's. He is treated as a fairly large character, then suddenly he goes on a rampage, kills Feferi, wounds Kanaya and Sollux, and then is in turn cut in twain by Kanaya later on because he is just such an evil character despite trying to save Feferi before he lost it completely, before he lost all hope. No, I don't like the kinds of guys who think that they deserve more from a girl just because they do things for her, but he's THIRTEEN. Remember that. You can't forgive a thirteen year old for not understanding how to do relationships or how to act towards others? Especially a thirteen year old that has some social issues and does not interact well with others anyway. He obviously was a bit disturbed. He hated himself and his own actions, and he just wanted to be with someone... maybe he just wanted somebody- anybody- to like him, not just as a potential romantic relationship, but as a friend. And maybe, just maybe, when Eridan lost Feferi, the one friend he really truly had, when he learned that she didn't even want to be his friend, that it was a strain for her to be there for him even a little, it made him see the twisted soul he had become, and that he was seen as beyond redemption by the closest person to him. It's a pity-fest, certainly, but it makes him seem very relevant, very well put-together, and very tragic. Well, all of those things could have been true... Hussie would have gotten some points for writing at least this character well... if he hadn't been treated like a joke and been murdered off by a much less compelling character. Kanaya is the very definition of bland, uninteresting, and unnecessary, an actual joke character, but one that has stayed around and become one of the biggest characters... uh... because? I have no idea what she has done beyond being a Twilight joke, a lesbian in a culture that does not believe in lesbians, and a character that should have died when Eridan killed her. She is the single biggest mistake of a character in... oh, wait... no, that's not true. The single biggest mistake of a character would be Calliope, a character used to represent the fandom, and who instead embodies everything terrible about the comic.


Ugh... I don't even know where to go from here. Do I go into how the rest of the trolls were all kinds of badly written after the murder arc? How Gamzee's character, never a consistent one, became a character that made absolutely no sense? He's a clown and clowns have special powers of being weird, not dying, and not making any sense at all. I used to like Gamzee. If there were a joke character he would have been it, but he became larger, and scarier. Okay, that's fine. Then once calmed, he... I have no idea. He became the weird clown, stealing bodies, making mash-up sprites, wearing the most ridiculous costume, and simply not dying because he's a clown. I have no idea what to even say, so I'll roll my eyes and move on. Sollux and Aradia are basically gone from the plot despite both being depicted as fairly important characters, specifically Aradia, one of the few god-tier characters. Why do neither of them have a true character despite both being around a good long time? Why do they both feel as flat as cardboard and twice as bland? Why is Terezi so inconsistent and badly written? Why is she suddenly the character with the most interested parties in her despite never having these things mentioned (beyond liking Karkat) before Act 6? Where did her arc go? Where did her character go? Should she have died instead of Vriska... or rather with Vriska, a much better written character in the end? Yeah, probably.

The part that I feel was the single worst part though... the part that literally killed any kind of fan in me... was Doc Scratch's whole... thing. I mean, seriously? Nothing about that was fun or sensical. It made me want to throw items at my computer screen every time a new update came up for the... what was it... three or four months that thing went on for. The whole weird fanfiction aspect and the storytelling through a storyteller aspect of it ran dry for me very quickly. I would have liked to have had some ultimate twist, something that would have thrown me for a loop... instead Andrew Hussie, the writer of the webcomic, has his webcomic avatar (also Andrew Hussie) come in to take out Doc Scratch... saving us from the three months of terrible updates after HE WROTE THOSE THREE MONTHS OF TERRIBLE UPDATES! It was like a twisted slap in the face... like he was legitimately trying to get everybody happy that he was back again writing the webcomic... but he was always writing it! He could have done anything more compelling than what he did, but ultimately it was so flat and uninteresting, with ancestor trolls added into the mix... for reasons? I guess? And it was so dumb, so overblown, so incredibly dense, and so soulless that the webcomic was no longer the fun adventure it had once been. It had been changed into a bloated monster that was incomprehensible to all but the most devoted fans. And I was there. I was still trying to like the webcomic, still pushing through the pain, and still trying to like what I had become so invested in. But that marked the end for me even though I still read the comic. It marked the irrevocable point at which I was no longer enjoying myself. I found myself complaining more often than actively enjoying. Every update brought forth a new problem, a new issue, and a new reason to believe that Andrew Hussie, a man I once respected, a storyteller I once had faith in, was selling out, was writing for the rabid fans while also making fun of them, and just didn't care about the material anymore. Every update reinforced this thought inside my head until I could see nothing else. Nothing but greed was the ultimate drive for the writing of the webcomic anymore. There was such a lack of care about characters or plot that it was actually kind of funny to see. This wonderful story had degraded into a badly written fanfiction... and that was only the start of it. I look at the thought put into all of the characters before everything started to go to hell... and then I look at Act 6... and it's like a wholly different author is writing it. It's like an author who never understood what good writing ever was was writing it.


The bloated aspect of the comic became a very sore point for me. The addition of the "Alpha kids" and their romantic adventures was abhorrent in every single way to me. The shipping grew out of control and Hussie embraced it, basing his entire webcomic on the shipping of characters. (And if you don't know what shipping is, bless you... but it basically takes the end of the word "relationship" and makes it into a verb. "Shipping" speaks of the idea of people actively pairing up couples (who are usually not themselves) for a relationship... usually in fiction, but this can happen in real life as well. It is a ridiculous and honestly imbecilic way of fans to pair their favorite two characters together whether it makes any sense or not. There is basically a whole science to this now. It's actually serious business... and I have no idea why! While I see that some shipping is a perfectly fine thing to do... in certain stories it makes sense... it shouldn't be an art or a science or as serious business. It shouldn't be something that requires an actual term. It shouldn't be something that fans take more seriously than the plot of the actual story. It shouldn't be the thing that the fandom, the comic, and the author are known for. But it is. It is all of those things. And it's really sad.) The first time I had ever even heard of shipping was through my girlfriend in relation to characters from the Kingdom Hearts series of games. Now, I liked those games (especially the first one), but I had no idea of the culture at the time... or the insanity of said culture. The yaoi culture is the one I'm really talking about here. That's the culture that loves to pair up, watch, and read about, usually through fanfiction or fanart, but also in anime, manga, and hentai two (usually younger) male characters together. This can be done through word of mouth as well... which is even more disturbing. What kind of people like to talk about their favorite pairings in a certain series rather than... oh, I don't know... going out and gaining a significant other themselves? Or working on their own life rather than residing in a fictional universe? Or just simply talking about the freaking story or characters not in a weird and creepy way? I'm not sorry if I'm judging. The shipping thing is weird and has taken over many different fandoms. It's so apparent in Homestuck though because the author himself has embraced the shipping either for fanservice or to make fun of those fans. Neither reason matters. He still does it. I don't like the serious business shipping. I find it weird and awkward. I find the people who talk about it obsessively to be really disturbing. While, I believe, everybody has shipped characters or people together before, it is something that is rarely done obsessively... well, until today! I personally like to think of the novel Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman when thinking about shipping. I really like the idea of Richard and Door being together. Essentially I am shipping... and was shipping long before I even knew of the term shipping... and yet it isn't an obsession. I've written no weird and creepy fanfictions about my favorite pairings. I just like to think about it when actively reading that novel. So, there, I understand the shippers... but I still disagree with those who obsess over it.

And I get it. I do. I love fiction. I've basically dedicated my life to fiction. I both want to be an author of fiction, and I love reviewing fiction for anybody willing to read it. I am steeply involved in fiction... but it doesn't consume me despite that actual dedication to my art. I don't think constantly about how two characters are going to get it on or how they're going to have some illicit romantic liaison. I'm not that kind of person, nor am I that kind of fan. I didn't want to go all on about this stuff, but Hussie has been embracing it in his webcomic, and I don't know why. Is it to appeal to the people he considers his fans? Because, just by looking at Tumblr or DeviantArt, he sadly isn't wrong. Does he even truly believe in what he's writing anymore? Does he care? Because honestly, I can't believe he cares. His focus has been waning so badly for the last year or so, probably more, and the webcomic reflects it so much. Maybe he needs more time to focus on other things... maybe he doesn't want the webcomic to consume him... but with the amount of breaks he takes and the worsening quality of writing and, frankly, art... how can any person say that the webcomic hasn't suffered? There used to be small flash updates from time to time... a blinking character, a turning head, some snappy music... there used to be great lines sprinkled in with some great and memorable visuals on top of all of that. There used to be quotable phrases, memetic ideas... and nowadays there's nothing but a giant void where the enjoyment factor used to be. Where there used to be fun adventures, now there's romantic adventures and stupidity. Where there used to be some great writing and conversations now there are only words and sentences. Where there used to be well-thought out names, now you get names like Kankri or Porrim or Latula. Seriously?

And the new trolls, the new kids, and the new "plot" if you can even call that festering pustule of writing a "plot" is simply some of the worst kinds of laziness and writing I have ever seen. Introducing twelve new characters and having almost every single one of them be irredeemable, insipid, and despicable is a pretty awful way of writing. You don't introduce twelve new characters, act like they've always been there, and then expect the quality to be good. Months were wasted in the comic introducing these character who had nothing, or barely anything, to do with the plot. They were there as fanservice, new trolls for new cosplays and new art. But where were the compelling and well-written characters? They were no longer there, replaced by parodies, hyperboles of existing characters, and shipping beyond any shipping I had seen up to that point. I cannot believe that a single one of those characters was well thought out or well planned, with some of their defining features being Latula, Terezi's counterpart, being RAD, Kankri, Karkat's counterpart, being a defender of social justice, Horuss, Equius's counterpart, being a weird, fetishistic, steampunk, goggled, uninteresting, clingy, sexual deviant of a character... and that's not even getting into Aradia's counterpart of Damara being one of the most insulting characters I have ever seen outside of blackface. And the Alpha kids were not much better, with their story more focused on relationships than on anything even resembling a plot or characters. While I know I'll probably get some hate for this, why is a sixteen year old Roxy being depicted as basically an alcoholic? And why is this played for laughs rather than seen as the actual problem it is?

Act 6 should never have existed. It has changed almost nothing about the plot, introducing very few new plot elements beyond new characters. These characters should have been introduced earlier and should have been integrated with the main cast much earlier, instead of being set aside and having some of the most idiotic moments in comics I have ever seen. This comic, once intelligent, well-written, and fun, has become a cesspool of creative bankruptcy. Hussie seems to have no desire to move plot or characters along, nor does he have any desire to see them grow. His warped view of humor has damned this comic, because obviously a well-written plot with a few breaks of humor in an otherwise fairly serious story should ALWAYS lead to a story devoid of plot or seriousness that *only* has humor in it because Hussie just has to make fun of both his fans, his comic, and anybody who ever had a moment of enjoying it. There is not an inkling of enjoyment left in this comic. The only fans left seem to be those so heavily invested that they cannot leave, the cosplayers and fanartists, and the shippers. And I'm done. I'm done with this idiotic trite piece of wannabe fanfiction. If you think Twilight is bad, well this is worse. If you think fans writing fanfiction about their favorite characters is bad... well, at least those fanfictions contain characters and plots that move along and do something. If you think that this comic hasn't sunk to the lowest dredges of comedy and storytelling then you are fooling yourself. Point blank.

I understand. The comic was once great. It was once wonderful. But it is as good as dead now. There is nothing left but a bloated, overlong corpse that just won't go away. It's sinking to the bottom little-by-little, becoming something to be despised rather than something that has any quality left to it at all. If Hussie had an iota of decency he would either let this thing die or he would actually start caring about his own comic again, creating content worthy of earlier parts and worthy of the quality work that is Problem Sleuth. So, as an appeal to Hussie, let me just say: Stop. Stop, killing this comic. Stop with the shipping, the relationship drama, the paper-thin characters, and the major elements that remain largely forgotten. Stop with the absolute desecration of something that once stood up proudly as one of the best, most interesting, and most unique pieces of internet fiction I have ever seen before or since. Hussie has to reassess his attitude as a creator of content by not letting the fans dictate what the comic is about and subsequently making fun of what they want to see, but rather creating content for the good of the comic and the story itself because it's worthy of his time and effort. While I doubt Hussie will ever read this, will ever even look my way, the way of a small horror-based blog, I truly wish he could understand that he ripped apart something good and made it into one of the worst things. I mean, even something as simple as the actual writing is worse. It's remarkably sad when the earlier dialogue is also much better, and the later stuff is embarrassing to read or talk about in pleasant company.

I'm tired of Homestuck, tired of writing about it, talking about it, and caring about it. This will be the last time I write a damn thing on the subject, the last time I will ever read the comic unless my concerns are somehow addressed, and the last time I will ever have anything to do with anything created by Andrew Hussie. Shippers, keep on shipping, creators of fan-content, keep on doing what you're doing. I have no true ill will towards any of you, just on the fact that some of the more vocal of you have influenced Hussie and the comic in a negative fashion, although that is not your fault at all. I love some of the fan-content out there. I love some of the great fanart... but I just can't be a reader of the comic anymore... or any kind of fan of it either. I'm tired, and I'm done.

This comic needs to get its head out of its own rump and start realizing that the fans who are criticizing the comic (not the ones crying dead-eyed and clenched sphinctered for more shipping for heaven's sake!) have very valid points and probably should be listened to over the ones that never criticize the comic at all and yell in glee at every new update. Taking criticism in stride is the mark of a great creator of fiction. Charles Dickens and Stephen King have both taken ideas from their fans into account when writing their books. Charles Dickens worked on serialized novels most of his writing life. He would take what the readers of these serialized novels said to him into account when writing new chapters and content. Recently Stephen King has been very much in the public eye, asking his fans whether or not they would be interested in a new Dark Tower book (which was released and called The Wind Through the Keyhole) and/or if they were interested in a sequel to the critical hit The Shining called Doctor Sleep, which is to be released later this year. He had massive fan interest in these stories, but wanted to see what the fans thought first. This is remarkably respectful coming from a man who has written some of the most memorable pieces of horror fiction in existence. There are obviously many more content creators that take (non-insane) fan advice. Look at the debacle with Mass Effect 3 and its original shoddy ending. The fans took up arms and lo and behold, Mass Effect 3 had an extended cut released for it a few months later that was better in content and quality than the original ending and actually made the game something worth playing. That's the power of fans. They usually  know quality when they see it, and they can help a content creator that is either stagnating, treading open water, or actively going down with the ship (or his ships in this case). Look, I get it. I can understand how annoying it must be to have every single character shipped with every other character. I get how it must be to have a million screaming fangirls and fanboys crying out to pair up Dave and Dirk already because they are meant for each other obviously. But that doesn't mean Hussie has to give into their demands. And whether or not Hussie knows this, trolling the fanbase and giving into their demands while making fun of them... well, that's still fanservice, sir. And it means that all his fans who could care less about shipping also get to see the slow degradation of the comic, its creator, and the fanbase into strange carnal lands from which there is no escape. It punishes everybody, not just the crazy fans but also the ones who are genuinely trying to enjoy it without fantrolls, roleplays, fanart, or weird shipping charts. Look, I have never put a single bit of content about the comic out there. I do not do the fanart, or the shipping, or even the roleplay. I have done a costume of Karkat once. For Halloween two years ago. And I know about writing. I know about both good and bad writing. I know about what works and what doesn't work. I understand where the pacing is bad, where the content is terrible. I understand where people get upset at the prevalence of shipping, or the wooden paper doll characters that cannot ever be anything more than that. It's disappointing... and it's hard to see something I once really liked become what it is today.


Also, the Trickster stuff is some of the worst content I have ever seen from this comic. It is a new low point, and I think if it isn't obvious why I believe that... well then, you have no idea what good content actually is.


(Update: 4/14/13: Just wanted to share this quotation that *really* wants to sum of this review: "Good lord was that critical blog post long and poorly written. It was kind of a chore just to skim." I don't think I've ever laughed quite so hard at something somebody has written about my writing. Okay, the quotation underneath the title of The Saquarry Analysis, also from this review of the Homestuck, is also all kinds of gold. Both had me in stitches for minutes.

Look, I understand if you don't agree with me. Okay, I don't (that's kind of the point), but it's okay if you disagree with me or my opinions since I more than likely will disagree with you if you like Homestuck. But insulting my writing seems a little petty, doesn't it? I guess I should just continue to laugh. I'm enjoying this way too much.)


(Addendum: 4/17/13: Hey, everybody at the MSPA Forum who wants to grace this blog with their eyes! I just want to point out that my internet moniker is Saquarry, for any of you who look at this thing, and you can call me that if you'd like rather than "the critic" as much as I'd like to be thought about as an impersonal noun. 

So, let me be frank here: I really don't care what anybody thinks of me or my writing, good or bad. This review and myself are both here, and we're here to stay. I'm not taking my words back, backtracking, or saying things like, "Oh boy, these internet people I've never met seemed peeved at me, maybe I should rethink both my choices and my attitude." I enjoy the constructive criticism (which is why I've attempted to speak my mind on it concerning Homestuck), but good gravy, people, I don't think that telling me I'm "long-winded and rambling" is a very valid criticism to take considering the webcomic I'm critiquing. This is a personal criticism, because all opinions are personal. I have no desire to write a school-paper essay on what I think. I went to five years of college already writing prompts about anything and everything, I found the way i like to write which is a little unfocused, and I enjoy my way of writing a good deal more than dry-paper writing. Read closer if you aren't getting my point. Don't just skim, because this is not the kind of post you can just skim like a troglodyte. 

I do not take enjoyment from not being fond of Homestuck despite what any person might think. I wish very much that I could still find enjoyment in it rather than the mocking condescension I feel every time I look at it nowadays. While I take criticisms about my writing seriously when they are warranted (which is why there is a part two of this critique as I felt I may have been overly harsh in this post, or at least not as precise as I wanted to be) I do not take the criticism of "long-winded and rambling" seriously. Nor am I upset about the attitudes of the more petty fans. This is my personal blog, and, as you can see, I've posted many things other than Homestuck because I have other things in my life that I want to get enjoyment from.

I want to conclude this by saying that a great number of the fans (both for and against what I've had to say) that I've talked with since writing this post have been both reasonable and enjoyable to debate (since we rarely agree, but even then there we can find common ground), but there are some that are just incredibly childish, and I think you guys know who you are. 

So, now I'm going to do something reasonable and fun for myself. If you read a lot of my other posts, especially on my other blog, I like posting off-site responses to my blog posts and to comments in general. So, I'm not butt-hurt here (as I know I'll be called out for) so much as consistent.

Anyway, just wanted to quote a few gems before we get started. These can be on the DVD box cover of this critique when it hits shelves in a store near YOU. Avroillusion gave the best quotation I've read in quite a while: "That critic was very passionate about Homestuck, which is why they were so harsh...I think we can do with a few more critics. After all, it's better to hate with passion than to not care. I've seen a lot of fans turn to not caring over the past few months. In the art and entertainment businesses silence is often worse than anger."

Phantos gave this great analysis: "All the griping about tricksters makes me want to read the comic past where I stopped just to see what all the fuss is.

The passionate blogger there did hit on a weird cognitive dissonance thing going on in this fandom where people are totally cool with 13 year olds making out, dealing with extremely adult shit, and shipping to every corner of the definition but holy shit don't you dare mention it here and don't spread that stuff beyond the tumblr-verse because pedophilia is no joke guys.
"


I'm actually wondering why and where you stopped reading, Phantos. And what it had to do with. Mostly, I'm comparing you to my girlfriend, a fanartist in the Homestuck community, who stills enjoys the old parts of the comic but point blank refuses to read anything current because she will become enraged at the lack of quality.


DS Piron also says this wonderful thing that is largely ignored: "So Homestuck is perfect?"

InnerRayg doesn't get what's going on, and feels like mocking rather than contributing: "But seriously it was hilarious because he gets upset someone dared to critique him. That shit was long winded."

Nostalgebraist is my favorite because he doesn't seem to grasp the idea of an OPINION or of actually reading closely enough to understand what I am actually saying. "It's not just long-winded, it's also rambling and overly personal (in the sense of being concerned with his personal history of responses -- "at first I felt like this but then I felt like this," that sort of thing). Usually when I see a long blog post that could be worth reading or not reading, I skim it to get a sense of what the author is saying first. With that post, I just kept skimming and skimming and a point never emerged -- just a set of recurring gripes, arranged in different patterns and glued together with lots of aggrieved personal narrative. It doesn't build to anything, it just rambles around for a very long time and then ends. If I already knew the guy, I might find the whole thing interesting, but it's framed as a critique and not as a personal essay, and I think it fails on those terms."

Dude, this is the way I write, and I can choose to write any damn way I please on my own personal blog. The fact that this review has resonated with so many people even those with different opinions than my own, and yet you just don't like or understand it might be your fault, not mine. You don't like what I say? Okay. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to call you out on your empty criticism and inability to defend the webcomic you seem to love so much. Because all I see is you attacking me on not writing to your lofty expectations and highbrow intelligence while you continue to add and say nothing of value. And yes, I am mocking you. If you seriously don't see my point maybe you should read a little closer.

And avroillusion ends where I'm reading with yet another brilliant comment: "I think the fact it is very personal makes it very valuable. He comes from a different demographic than what you normally encounter considering Homestuck fans. This demographic is usually silent, but they are fans all the same. It's actually very good of him to come out and explain his feelings, what he thought worked and what didn't and why he left, since these types of testimonies are seldom shared. Even if it isn't organized as a critique, his feelings and impressions of the comic are valid. Expressing himself in an emotional and unstructured way does not invalidate the fact he finds fault with the comic. "

I want to end this overly long and somewhat useless addendum by saying that I'm thrilled that there are so many wonderful people out there ready and willing to share this critique, and share their own annoyances as well. Thank you, colwag. for posting it over on the forums even though I know you don't agree with anything I say. And thanks to the Vexarian on Tumblr for sharing and posting this around. It means a great deal to me that this post is still relevant three months after I wrote it and that it is still resonating with some people despite some flaws in it that even I see. I was passionate because I cared and maybe even still care. I'm not egotistical enough to believe Hussie gives a damn for my opinion, but that doesn't mean I cannot voice it anyway.)

47 comments:

  1. People can go back and forth forever about why some people like things that other people hate and get nowhere. While people have the right to interpret any piece of entertainment in whatever way they prefer, I want to address your overall misreading of Hussie’s ideas and intentions, which seems to form much of the core of why you hate (if that’s not too strong a word) Homestuck.
    Probably what I love most about Homestuck is that it’s very, very subtle. You can read a single conversation three times, or more, and continue to notice things you missed on the first pass....

    My response is really long, so I'm going to link to the rest of it: http://argentconflagration.tumblr.com/post/40865702448/a-response-to-homestuck-what-went-wrong

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    1. This is way too long to respond to the entire thing, but there were a couple statements that struck me as just wrong, such as this one: "Where there used to be well-thought out names, now you get names like Kankri or Porrim or Latula." All of the troll names are taken from various mythologies and languages and relate to their zodiac sign. Doing research on other cultures and languages is not badly-thought out just because you don't like whatever word the language in question has for the sign's meaning.

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    2. I do not think that either you or I have any way of "misreading" Hussie's intentions. I have my opinions and you have yours, but that does not mean that either of us are right or wrong about what another does or intends to do. I was postulating from what I believe the evidence has shown. You are doing the same from your own evidence. The only one who knows Andrew Hussie's intentions is Andrew Hussie. You seem to think that me having an opinion that differs from your own makes me wrong. That is a fallacy.

      I do not think Homestuck is anywhere near as subtle as you're making it out to be. While it has its intelligent moments (and it does, I'll happily admit that, especially earlier on in the comic) it also has some incredibly dumb ones throughout. Hussie is not perfect, and the subtlety you speak of barely rises up in the comic at all. Most of what you think of as subtlety I think of as heavy-handed and groan-inducing. Are you speaking of the subtle way Hussie has of showing that no relationship is perfect? How Dirk and Jake fall apart quickly because their relationship is based upon some really sketchy stuff? Or how the supposed perfect relationship of Rose and Kanaya is nothing more than a drunken kiss at this point? And what about the subtlety of the twelve newer trolls? The subtlety of Damara's speech? The subtlety of Horuss and Rufioh's relationship? The subtlety of the whole Trickster mode thing? Or of being "Caucasian?" What I'm saying here is that these are heavy-handed morals, without subtlety. And with bland characters, who do not grow despite the intended "subtlety" of growth, and a plot that moves forward once in a blue moon, I am entirely justified to criticize.

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    3. As for your comment, Anonymous, you're right about one thing. Most (not all) of the troll names are taken from mythologies and different languages. That's fine. But some of the names are just plain terrible, in my opinion. Just because a name is researched does not make it a name that works or is good. I can do a ton of research and name my character something (anything really), but that doesn't mean the name is perfect or even good. It simply means that I did research.

      This is mostly an opinionated thing. And something not worth arguing about because if you like them, that's fine, I don't begrudge you that, but I really think they sound pretty stupid. I don't like Rufioh or Horuss either for what it's worth, and maybe those would have been better examples to use to make my point.

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  2. Equius was... Gods DAMMIT. It fits his character well, but I too would have preferred to see him go from lawful stupid to lawful good/neutral.

    IIRC, the Cherubs were created as a parody of the fandom and hatedom. Calliope's wanting to be a troll was a part of it, and was a good joke before it went downhill.

    Trickster mode was pretty funny and sorta interesting, and it set up a huge plot device in the Juju by showing its power. Everything from the alpha kids to that and most of what came after was awful.

    I'm still hopeful, and the latest update - Jon being bored out of his mind until his friends got warped in - seems to mirror this past period. Hopefully we can mirror his joy following as well.

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    1. As far as Calliope and Caliborn are concerned, they could have been good. While parodies of different aspects of the fandom could have and should have been good. They mostly ended up as both silly and flat.

      I will admit I kind of liked the after Trickster mode stuff because of the acknowledgement of the awful writing of Act 6. And that's the only thing I've liked in Act 6 besides a few tiny things I've mentioned in my reviews.

      Yeah, the bored feeling has represented my last year-and-a-half of Homestuck reading. Thanks for the comment, by the way!

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  3. I think that Hussie was intending to make Act 6 tedious and boring, in the same way as he made the beginning of act 1 dull. We're meant to empathize with characters who are doomed to wait 3 years doing nothing, so that's exactly what he's making us do. The Trickster mode was supposed to be annoying, and it's no coincidence that it ended right as Jade's ship reached the 4th wall. The characters were further developed, and the whole comic started again, something parodied by Vriska when she tells Hussie to stop going off on random side-arcs. The whole thing is finally summarized on the 4/13 update, with John bored out of his mind until his friends arrive.

    As for the shipping and whatnot, I think that, as long as you consider the characters to be the age they act like, that is, young adults, it's simply theorizing about character relationships. The murderstuck arc was a bit too rushed, and the Scratch part was annoying, but at least the final part of act 5, with Cascade, was good, right?

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    1. The worst sin a creator can do is bore their audience.

      /sarcasm/ Uh-huh, making the audience sit and wait with characters is a good decision, I'm sure. /sarcasm/ I think better choices could have been made by Hussie. He chose... poorly about the way he paced, plotted, and scripted. It is bad writing, no matter what the majority of readers think. It's objectively bad.

      The Trickster stuff was annoying, and just dug a hole for the coffin of Homestuck. The characters weren't further developed. They just kind of happened, their development thrown at us and told to us rather than shown to us. Yes, such wonderful writing. Such brilliant writing.

      Look, Hussie had the option to write differently, to not do what he did. He stopped being a good writer of a good story and started milling about for nearly two years. That's not a positive thing! Good writing is not what Hussie cares about or what he's doing. He has been screwing around, making fun of his more insane fans and generally not moving the story along in any kind of coherent manner. He has ruined, RUINED, characters whose arcs started off brilliantly, where their characters had been shown to us for ages then suddenly they went away, changed over the course of three years, and we were never shown a goddamn thing. That is the laziest form of storytelling imaginable and a mortal sin for a writer. No self-respecting creator of fiction could or would do that, not unless they don't care about the thing they've created anymore. Just speculation on my part, but it makes sense.

      No, the characters are 13. At most they are freaking 16. It's creepy to theorize about relationships. Sorry, but that's my opinion, specifically when those are under-aged no matter how they act. Then again, I'm an old man to most of the fandom, so maybe I'm just a grouchy grandpa when it comes to this stuff. I simply find it weird, creepy, and unappealing. I have no idea how or why people care. I know people get very upset when things like that are said, but I simply don't understand and find it too weird to justify. "It's fun and harmless." is not reason enough. I don't go around thinking which friends of mine should get together. It's weird, and they would be right for thinking I'm weird and kind of creepy if I ever did something like that. I think the weird pairing porn fanfics bother me more... but... of course they would exist, right?

      Murderstuck was less rushed and more done, again, poorly. It had a great beginning, a good middle, but then started going sour towards the end when Hussie couldn't figure out how it should end. Rather than keeping Gamzee as the major scary dude, he divided the attention and took away the tension from the entire arc by showing deaths and resurrections and silliness abounding. It was during that arc that the story started to fall apart.

      Cascade wasn't good. But I think I'm the only one that thinks that. I could say a million things on the subject of Cascade, but I won't unless asked at this point. That's a big discussion and one I can't get into at midnight when I have work in the morning.

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    2. I do apologize if I'm being a little harsh. I don't mean to be, but I'm passionate about my arguments and a little tired of everything Hussie and Homsetuck at this point.

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  4. I thank you for this review it has given me some incite into Homestuck as I'm researching it. You touched on the porn which is prevalent in this and many other fandoms, do writers like Andrew Hussey care about the effect all of this is having on our young people? It really has reached epidemic proportions in terms of "shipping" what people need to wake up to is young people are really acting out these fantasy's in real life! Girls/Boys not knowing what gender they are or want to be both, young people involved in sexual acts of depravity between themselves that are hard core porn. Unable to function in the real world outside their latest fandom. I'm no right wing religious zealot either, believe you me or anti gay/homophobic. I'm a desperately concerned parent, who had only wished I'd known what fandom/fanfic addiction and the damage it can cause 10 years ago. Andrew Hussey raised over $2 million in the space of a few days to fund the video "game". My son used all his money to back it and it now in massive debt, although that is the least of my concerns over his behaviour.

    It doesn't surprise me in the least that it is probably badly written, why should that matter to Mr Hussey if he makes money from his fan base? With crappy merchandise and poorly written acts? They are hooked, they are his.

    Very sadly this is the way the world is now going and I think we need to look long and hard at how this is affecting a generation of teenagers, many of whom will be totally unable to function in the real world. We've always had fans of books/films/tv etc. but there was a limit to it and it rarely took over people's lives....now it is limitless the boundaries between fantasy and real life are becoming very blurred.

    Tumblr is a pretty sad site IMHO full of re-blogging one's fandom, very young children interacting with goodness knows who! Children are growing up to believe that can live these fantasy's and people like Hussey don't give a damn. It's entirely different from reading a good book scary or otherwise and then getting on with your life, this no longer happens for many young people it take's over their life's it is the modern drug of addiction and it is destroying our children and young people. So very sad. :(

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    1. Your story has certainly given me a lot to think about. I think that culture has changed quite a bit, and the younger generation is certainly suffering for it. It's a sad state of affairs when people have no idea how to act anymore.

      I don't want to disparage everything about the culture of the kids today and the content of the comic. There is enjoyment to be had in it, even if it ultimately fails in delivering a cohesive narrative. This is also true of many other fictional media. Look at how many things that can be considered bad in quality are viewed as success stories. These stories seem to hit a nerve with people, creating an understanding with them that this thing (whatever it is) is the best thing ever. But how the fans react to the comic should be wholly removed from the content itself. The comic itself has its issues. And the fandom can be quite insane. But there are also many fans that are just the same as a Star Wars or Star Trek fan, just enjoying it for enjoyment's sake. And while some fans seem to take it to extremes, most know that there is a limit. Obsession is never a good thing, and the problem is that young people are becoming increasingly more obsessed and more defensive over the things they like. You can blame the internet and the communities on it, people trying to fit in because they feel like outcasts in the real world, finding a place online where they can be themselves or... what they want to be. I don't think this is a wholly bad thing, but sometimes they forget that there is a real world out there full of reality. Not everything is about a comic or a game or your own personal and private thoughts.

      It's easy to get down on thing when you don't understand it. I've read the entirety of Homestuck. I don't blame Andrew Hussie for his business savvy attitudes or for egging the fans on. This is his living and his story. I personally have some huge problems with his storytelling, but I can't blame him for making money. It's not as if he's telling these young people to follow him like a god. He's just writing a silly, sometimes poorly written, story.

      The sad thing is is that there isn't anybody to blame. The internet fans are just expressing extreme emotions when it comes to these fictional stories. And getting drawn into that is very easy. I would say that it should be easy to take a step back, but it's easy to be taken into a crowd... and spend all your money on a dream... for example.

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    2. I do think that these forums and communities can be harmful... but how is that even measured? Shipping is repeatedly called "fun" pastimes even if it takes up all of a person's time. Who am I to judge what a person finds fun? I can't even if I don't understand it or like it. I won't try to judge for it.

      The issues of gender and gender fluidity are pervasive, but... I can't fault people for not knowing who they are. In real life I have many friends of many orientations both sexual and gender, and I can't judge them for who they want to be with or for who they want to be. I do think it can be very self-centered to not exactly know one's place in the world and to define oneself by odd terms and identifying with other genders and sexes, but young people have always been self-centered. It isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think some militant thoughts might be, but... people need to find themselves... and it has more to do with the communities of Tumblr and the like than it has to do with Homestuck.

      Obsession over a fictional story is an addiction. It's terrible, and it's getting worse with the internet age and people not knowing who they are or how to define themselves. Kids are growing up with an internet-centric life... and it's changing them and their thoughts. I'm just old enough to have entered big onto the internet after I went to college, but these kids have no idea what a world is without the internet. It's insane and scary. They latch onto the things they connect with, and then defend them, insulting anybody who even dares to disagree, because it's all they really have. It's sad. And I don't think that anything can be done about it. It's the world we now live in.

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  5. Started reading it! How do the kids get the time to go through it?! I'm seriously bored already and haven't got to the juicy bits yet!! Although as I'm old they have probably passed me by!!!

    My take....this is not literature in anyway shape or form, it's clever comic suck teenagers in stuff, play on their grievances with parents from the outset. Literature is well proper books, with in depth characters.

    Got to hand it to Andrew Hussy (he's aptly named!!) he's making a fortune out of it.

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    1. Well, kids have more time, I suppose. When I read it, I read it in small chunks. A few pages a day, because that was the update schedule. I found most of it uninteresting to the extreme. There are some well-written pieces throughout, but it's mostly about the characters, their drama, and humor. It is very much written for a mid-to-young teen audience. It does play on who they are and what they think.

      It *is* literature in a sense. But that doesn't mean it has to be good.

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  6. I agree with most of this completely. Especially the part about Equius's death. Homestuck just never reverted back to itself after his death; it just turned into a character kill-fest.....
    I still enjoy it though, even though I don't like how it has changed...

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    1. Yeah, that's basically my thought. I can't enjoy it anymore though. It simply feels like everything I once liked was taken out.

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  7. I just want to say, if you don't like Homestuck anymore you don't have to read it. Is someone forcing you too? (This is a legitimate question, is a friend bugging you to read it or something?)
    Also, in my opinion, I was bored through most of the first four acts but I really started to get pulled into the comic around Act 5 and I thought it was getting progressively better.
    Lastly, while I don't have any problems with you expressing your opinion on the comic (I really do agree with you about how Equius and Eridan were killed off.) I find the way you talked about the fans disrespectful and condescending. This is coming from someone who has never written a Homestuck fanfiction, cosplayed any character, or drawn any fanart.
    Its not your place to judge them. Most of them spend so much time trying to make something they can be proud of. It is not your place to tell them that what they're doing is a bad thing. Obviously I'm talking about the majority of the fans on deviantart and tumblr who aren't making things that are pornographic but instead drawing and writing as a tribute to the characters that they like. Can you name one thing wrong with those fans?

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    1. Nobody is forcing me to read it. I don't enjoy it anymore and therefore rarely read it except to mock it mercilessly for failing on every conceivable level. I also have every right to voice my opinions on something that I once enjoyed and no longer do enjoy because the creator destroyed his own work. Just as you have every right to your own opinion.

      So, you voiced your opinion, and I voiced mine. Completely valid, yes? We agree? Okay.

      You clearly did not read a thing I wrote. I was talking about /certain/ fans, and if you don't get that then there is obviously something wrong in your brain. Did you understand that I know people into Homestuck and that my own girlfriend of nearly four years draws Homestuck fanart even to this day? If you read what I wrote you would. I'm not intending to be nasty, but I've gotten enough people screaming at me thinking I'm wrong who simply didn't take the time to actually actively read what I wrote. So, no, I can't name anything wrong with those fans because I never intended to do so.

      I have every right to mock and condescend when something is of terrible quality. It's that dedication to telling people the truth that gets them (hopefully) to improve.

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  8. Interesting review. I have started to read Homestuck this year, and liked almost every act, even the dumb jokes of the act 1. I disagree with some of your points, and would like to state others that you may have forgotten.
    John isn't the best protagonist ever, but at least he is not annoying like most of anime main characters, I mean, the guy is funny, and pretty creative, and isn't the most powerful character in the comic, and will probaly never be, what is one of the biggest cliches related to protagonists. I kind of liked that Doc Scratch part, I thought that was creative. maybe it's because I read it at once, without have to wait for daily updates.
    In relation to the "murdestuck" arc, I was quite neutral. Hussie only killed characters that I have never liked (Except for Tavros and Vriska). Of course Eridan, Equius and Nepeta could have been much better developed characters, but I never thought their story arcs to be important to the overall plot, They were almost tertiary characters.
    The only deaths that I trully dislike was Mom and Dad's death. In the previous acts, Hussie builds a whole mystery around them, and they end up killed by Jack before we know for sure how much they knew about Sburb, why they founded Skaianet or what kind of connexion they had to the Skaian battle. After [S] Descend I was certain that Hussie was planning some great revelation related to them. We also don't understand for sure the rules of Sburb, I know, it is cool because it is confusing, but it would be nice to have more clarification. It was like Hussie was giving the whole attention to the trolls and forgetting Sburb, Skaia, guardians, exiles, denizens, agents, the creation mith... And this is why I think the trolls are the most overrated thing on the comic, even most of them being amazing.
    However I agree with you in one aspect. Act six is horrible. When I think about the MoThErFuCkInG ShIt that hussie is making with his work I almost cry. To Tell the truth, I try to fool myself thinking that the whole thing will get better, but it only gets worse. Hussie adds a lot of lame characters and destroys the old characters making them worse than the new ones. The only three new characters that I find to be likeable are Dirk, Calliborn (You can say what you want, but this guy is funny as hell), and more recently, Roxy, even with her alcoholism. However, even them are there for fanservice or jokes. Dirk and Jake pure fanservice to make "JohnXDave Yaoi" fangirls get crazy. That whole teen drama is ridiculous. And that new trolls are one worse than another. I don't even have patience to read what they have to say. I think the dream bubbles would be the perfect form to introduce Lord English and finish the deceased trolls incomplete story arcs, mainly because they would find other failured versions of themselves and couldn't kill each other anymore, forcing them to work together to scape English's crazy pursue for Calliope. But instead we have boring minigames with a fish girl talking to a lot of steriotyped teenagers.

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    1. John is a whatever character. Again, if you've ever played Kingdom Hearts, he's basically Sora except dumber and less interesting (which is something I'd never thought I would ever say). As for the deaths, I don't care that the characters died, only how they died truly bothered me. And only Equius's death had any true impact on my psyche. I have issues with 13 year olds dying in a fetishistic manner specifically hearkening on thoughts of sexual gratification. That makes me feel well-nigh uncomfortable. But then again I'm nearly 25 and am not really fond of seeing that in fiction.

      Mom and Dad deaths were whatever to me. They had a reason for happening. It was John's reaction to his father's death that I hated. I get that the guardians die. I did not get why John just herp-derped his way through the death of the single person closest to him that he had spent most of the plot searching for. I don't know if it was bad writing or simply that Hussie wanted to focus on other things. I only know that it threw me off and made me fairly annoyed.

      I'm not going to talk about how the trolls are overrated. I liked them quite a bit and found their story the most compelling bit in the story. So, they were the big thing keeping me reading.

      I do agree with your Act 6 rant though. Almost down to the letter. Except for the good characters (even though I had moments of liking Dirk, Caliborn, and Meenah). Right now though I don't think any of the characters have survived Hussie purging good writing from the face of the webcomic.

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    2. I have to say that I have never played kingdom hearths but I see your point. John is certainly a whatever character, not bad, but not good. However his reaction to things are really annoying, like when he destroyed the world or when his dad died. Ok, when he destroyed the world homestuck still was a comedy webcomic, but after act 5 I don't consider Homestuck to be funny anymore, so his reaction to father's death was kind of unrealistic. By the way, what pisses me off about the guardians deaths is the fact that they didn't leave a legacy to the comic. They aren't remembered anymore, and we didn't discovered anything about what they were doing in the medium, or the hystory of Skaianet empress, the reasons for their weird obsessions... I agree that their deaths were necessary, but Hussie should have had created something to make them memorable characters, mainly because they were in the comic since it's beggining. In relation to the trolls, I like them, Karkat, Vriska, Terezi and Sollux are some of my favorite characters, However I think they overshadow other plot arcs (at least in the fandom), I think Homestuck have a lot of cool things, and the trolls are only one of them. However, if it weren't for trolls fan arts I would have never discovered Homestuck, because here in Brazil (I live in Brazil anyway) a few number of people know homestuck because there is no translation to portuguese, so I own something to the troll's overrating.

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    3. Yeah, the trolls are certainly overrated. They basically took over the webcomic and the fandom. I don't mind that myself since I found the kids kind of dry, but I do think it certainly takes away from the kids' story. A lot of things Hussie could have done could have made Homestuck better. He could have featured the guardians or the backstories or whatever. He could have done a great deal. But he didn't because, I think, he forgot how to write the comic or care about it or something. I always wondered what happened to Jade's Grandpa, what that whole golden ship was about, what he did on his grand adventures, and what that whole backstory was about. But we never saw it. It never entered into the story. And now it feels like it's never going to be revealed, which bothers me since it was hinted so strongly at in the early days of the comic.

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  9. I thought it would get better when the beta kids arrived in the new session, but no. It got worse! We have Jade becoming "Grimbark" in a super nonsensic way, Kanaya and Karkat being assigned to a mission that Jade and John could have acomplished while they were at their three-years-long-ship-cruise through the nothing. We have Terezi and Rose becoming tottaly shitty and useless, and the worse thing... We have to see John finding a magic artifact out of nowhere that allows him to change facts in alpha timeline. THIS IS THE MAIN RULE OF HOMESTUCK! NOTHING CHANGES iN ALFA TIMELINE! When an author utilizes a shitty deux ex machina to break the most important rule of his work, it is the total proof that he become a lazy writter.
    I think the biggest problem of Homestuck is it's inconsistence. It starts boring (even I have found the boring stuff funny and "Ironically cool"), than it gets interesting, becomes epic, and ends bad, really bad.
    However I still read Homestuck, I still wait for updates, but I'm not sure if the ending will please me. I just want to know how it ends, and pray for it get better. I still want to read Problem Sleuth, and I'm still curious about the Homestuck adventure game that will be realised next year, but the comic itself is becoming a shitty parody of itself destined to please pre-teen girls who only think about shipping, cosplay, fanfiction and other superficial aspects, nothing against people who like this things, but homestuck can't be remembered only by this.
    Sometimes I like to think that Homestuck ended up in [S] Cascade. But I still can't accept that one of the most original things I have ever read on my life will end like this.
    Sorry for the long text and bad English, I'm not a native English speaker. I usually don't coment in blogs but I found it cool that I weren't the only person in the world who disliked act 6.

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    1. Your first paragraph there, Anon, I'm simply going to nod and agree on. I have another write-up planned that will cover a ton more ground, but right now, I simply will agree. Having Jane and Jade completely change characters is nonsense. It's so utterly ridiculous and painful to look at that I simply look at it as a joke of writing. A joke that nobody finds funny and has gone on too long. The characters are no longer themselves, basically changing into caricatures of what they used to be. Oh, Terezi and Rose, once the strongest females in the work, have now become dependent on their respective lovers. And their entire character is now defined by a relationship. Huh. That seems like awful writing to me. It seems like Hussie took the characters and did the worst possible thing he could to them: He took away what made them good characters, and he took away what made them strong.

      I don't care for realism is a webcomic about completely unrealistic things. I don't care about relationships being shown in excruciating, and often unwelcome, detail. I simply care that these characters made me happy. They gave me hope for good female characters in fiction. And now they're nothing more than setpieces without individuality or sense. I get the feeling that it's Hussie's way of saying that women are defined by relationships and feelings, but that seems really wrong considering how inspiring Homestuck has become to many people who are different and are unshackled by the norm. It seems almost sickening, doesn't it?

      You're right about the timeline as well. Homestuck started very slow (and to me uninteresting), then it became good, then very good, then great. Then it slowly went downhill, to the point where it is not even a parody of itself any longer, but rather a sick shadow that twists and mocks itself without understanding what made the story or characters compelling. Or understanding why so many people cared for the story so much.

      Anon, you are preaching to the choir here. I think Hussie wants to appeal to what he believes is his core audience and nothing else. So, younger teenage and pre-teen girls talk about Homestuck? Well, they must be the only ones in the world reading it. And they don't deserve good writing. No. No, Anon. They deserve only what they ask for: shipping and potential cosplays, and paper thin characters, weak females, and a complete wreck of a story. (I'm being sarcastic here, I don't believe they deserve any of those things, nor do I believe they're asking for them. It's what they're getting though.)

      What bothers me is that Homestuck was inspirational. It spoke to so many people and created a little fandom for the people who might be outcasts, who might be different, and who might have needed that kind of story to get them through whatever hardships that they might have gone through. It wasn't just fiction. It was a way of life for a while. And for some it still is. It gave them something to hold onto, something to believe in, and it failed. It fell apart and destroyed the greatness it once held. And people defend it without realizing that Hussie is mocking them. They defend it without realizing that it is no longer for them, and that truly, it is no longer for anybody at all.

      People can say as much as they want that they might still enjoy it or that they're invested by it, but none of the people out there deserve bad writing. None of the fans deserve characters being torn apart and remade into a Stepford Wife image of what they used to be. None of the fans deserve Hussie to systematically take away the amazing thing he created and now fails to understand. None of us deserve that. But that's what we have right now, like it... or not.

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    2. And I don't begrudge the people we perceive as the hardcore Homestuck fans. I don't care if they cosplay or do the fan stuff or whatever. Have a good time is what I say. but someday they'll realize that however good they think Homestuck is, it could have been better and it should have been better. And then... well... we'll see, I guess.

      You should read Problem Sleuth by the way. It is very different from Homestuck (and much shorter), but it stays true to the story and is an actual great read.

      By the way, your English was great, Anon. Don't worry about it. I appreciate the comment, and if you ever feel like talking more, go right on ahead. There are many others that don't like the direction the comic is going. The amount of views and comments I've received speak to that quite well.

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    3. I am happy that you agreed. I think Homestuck had a great appeal for all ages in it's beggining, but the part of the fandom that has more expression are the teenagers, so Hussie decided to make something that would keep only his most fervorous cultists entertained.
      Or maybe he is just tired of his work but is still bound to it because it's not finished yet. If you do a deeper analysis, act 6 is much more simpler to understand than the previous acts, there are less time travels, alternate universes and story arcs to keep conected coherently. There is also an obvious higher level of promiscuity and dark humor. and there are no more great memetic ideas in the comic anymore.
      The only parts of act 6 that I found appealing were a fraction of "act 6 act 2", "act 6 act 3" and the calliborn's intermissions. They gave me some hope for the comic, but everything went down after the alpha kids entered the medium.
      In relation to the fandom, I don't care if people like shipping or cosplaying, especially since it is only entertainment. However Homestuck have made a lot of things that nobody has seen in any other piece of fiction. It's plot is different, it's structure is different, it's characters are (were) great, and all the homestuck universe has a particular density that could result in hours of discution about the crazy theories and stuff. What annoys me is the fact that there are a lot of people that like homestuck ONLY because of shipping and cosplaying, and this pisses me off because it makes the whole comic's magnificence seems superficial, and was one of the responsible factors for Homestuck's downfall. I have already seen people saying: "what is cool about homestuck is the teen drama, and the ease to write fanfictions about the characters" it's ok if only one people thinks that way, but it is clear that most of the fandom does.
      Rethinking about the troll's deaths, They really were kind of disturbing. I think Hussie sometimes forgets about the age of his characters. However, for some reason I was already predicting that this kind of bad dark humor would occur.
      Anyway, thanks for politely replying everyone that comments on your post, it's rare on internet, and thanks for discursing my point of view. I have started problem sleuth, but I have few time to read it now, however I'm sure that I'm going like it (If I have enjoyed that boring first act, certainly I will enjoy PS). I will keep reading Homestuck because I need to know how it is gonna end, but I don't think it will be so good as someday it was (maybe Hussie can still surprise us...) And I am glad you understood my english, I have never written a so huge text in this language, much less for other people to read.

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    4. See, I agree with your whole first point. Homestuck was good and then lost a certain something. While there are hints of that "something" it simply has not come back yet. Every once in a while I see the quality almost coming through again, and then it just dips down lower than ever before. Act 6 is mostly a confusing mess that doesn't do anything but make me angry. Again, there are shining pieces of it, but the pieces do not do anything for the whole.

      The cosplaying and fan-stuff are a bit of a two-edged sword for me, if you get my meaning. I've had my issues with people who pursue only the fan stuff without the knowledge of the comic, but I also understand that people can do whatever makes them happy to a point... and if just dressing up like a troll or pushing out fanfiction makes them happy, who am I to judge? I was pretty angry over the whole thing for a while until I took a step back and thought, "Is this actually hurting me?" No, it's really not. People ship and draw stuff and write stuff and roleplay and cosplay, and it doesn't affect me. And it only affects the comic because Hussie wants to make fun of the fans who do those things. I guess I didn't want to stoop as low as he did. Because no matter what the fandom does, it's ultimately Hussie's fault AND ONLY HUSSIE'S FAULT for the downgrade in quality.

      Sure, I do try to reply to everything people say to me. Sometimes, with my real life job and everything, it does take some time to reply, which is why this is so late in coming. I want to have the time to really reply in the most meaningful and understanding way possible. Again, your English is seriously fine, and it's kind of cool to be the person you wrote that much English to. I guess Homestuck is really an important thing to you if you feel the need to write about it at that much length.

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  10. Well wrote piece. It's a shame the Homestucks are like bronies and can't accept that someone has a different opinion. Otherwise they try to link you a video or tell you you haven't gotten further into the story enough. To be honest, I skimmed through the entire "comic" due to the awful chat speak. I could understand normal dialogue such as naration, but when the chat-speak came, it was moon speak.

    A series I really feel more akin to is Rosto A.D.'s Mind My Gap. It's a shorter series with a more vast universe and contained set of rules.

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    1. Hey, thanks for the praise. I like to think that most of the fans are young and don't quite understand that blindly defending something that they like doesn't make that same thing good or quality. I think they just say, "I like this." And then they just defend it without actually knowing where the quality is or where something has gone horribly wrong.

      I don't want to be an asshole here since I was called out way too many times for being an asshole when I actually wasn't. I have heard a great deal of, "You don't understand it." and "It's not written for you." and "Stop hating." The problem with those are none of them address the actual issue.

      I liked Homestuck, even found pieces of it compelling. But the bad writing is there, like a tumor on the surface of the comic. It's gotten worse, and the author trolling the fanbase while he writes it has actively made the entire thing much worse.

      The chat-speak isn't for everybody, although I do know a great deal of people who really ran with that whole thing. I'm neutral on it. I think it was fine when they were chatting in chat logs or whatever since, yeah, fine kids talk that way to one another sometimes. It was a cute little quirky piece of the webcomic, and it didn't actively do anything terrible. But when they "spoke" that way beyond the chat logs, it somewhat broke the immersion.

      But that is completely nitpicky and something I don't really have any opinions on.

      I've never heard of Mind the Gap. I'll check it out and see what it's about.

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  11. This was really interesting and touched on a bunch of valid points! But still as a fan of homestuck, I have to mention some other relevant things. Like the line of good taste for me was passed before he even started homestuck, have you seen his earlier stuff? As in, not on mspa. It's really weird. It's not just something he pulled out of nowhere. Well, that's a matter of personal taste too, but eh. Also, I also think new kids and trolls are kind of terrible! But i have a wary kind of faith that he'll do something amazing with them, because he did have an ending in mind from sometime four years ago. He likes setting up useless minutia for plot twists, probably. I don't think there was actually much of a definitive change. I archive binged from the beginning to the murder arc, and the only thing i really absolutely hated was the introduction of 12 new characters randomly. I got used to them because they were utilized in the plot but I'm having the same exact feel now for Act 6. I'm expecting cascade levels of redemption lol. But the tone of the story always felt same at the core, even with all the ridiculous murder/room wandering/quest chat speak that was going on at the top. Homestuck is not perfect at all, of course, especially in terms of pacing and bloatedness, but Hussie really has a knack for storytelling (withholding information, pushing the limits of the reader's intelligence) and characterization that I enjoy...

    tldr; like your opinion, here have some of mine.

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    1. That's valid. I haven't read anything of Hussie's outside of MSPA and really don't plan on doing so. I do think that the man has talent. He has a knack for a special kind of storytelling and humor, which I can appreciate. I tend to focus on the negative aspects because I've been turned off on the story and characters of Homestuck for quite a while, but that doesn't mean there aren't positives too!

      I don't think he'll redeem the webcomic or the characters for me. Too much has been done wrong (in my opinion) for too long. Nothing short of retcons will satisfy me. The biggest problems I have are story and character related. The tone has always been an eclectic one, and that's cool, but I think he dropped the ball quite hard and for quite a long time, especially with introductions and characters and the plot- good Lord that "plot." For me there's no coming back from that.

      But I appreciated the post! I love hearing the differing opinions!

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  12. It's fiction. If it was meant to relate to reality, no matter how convoluted (13 year olds getting strangled to death, alcoholic Roxy), it wouldn't be what it is. A webcomic. It wasn't meant to be analyzed with logic. Doing so detracts from its fictionality and humour.

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    1. Okay, Blagonet, you are absolutely wrong. I can understand people disagreeing with me because they enjoy Homestuck. Okay, they enjoy it, and I don't. Fair enough. No one needs any reasons to enjoy something.

      But I have every right to criticize and be annoyed with a webcomic, be it this one or any other. Your entire argument has faulty and incredibly flawed logic. Fiction relates to reality automatically. That's why we can relate to fiction. It's a simple concept and one I would think most people would be able to understand. We relate to characters because they remind us of something, even if that something is ourselves or archetypes we are familiar with.

      Homestuck is all about references to other media. You know, video games, other comics, Hussie's own writing, etc. Denying that doesn't make it any less true. So, no matter how convoluted it is (and I don't believe it's anywhere near as convoluted as many people seem to think it is) it has a definite grounding in reality and things relating to reality.

      Anything and everything can and should be analyzed. Following blindly gives back no amount of thought or criticism about anything. And those things are essential for growth. No artist or writer and perfect and all could improve. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy something that's absolutely flawed. Just don't deny that they could be flawed. I don't get annoyed when people criticize the things I love. It's what they want to think. So, let them think it. They're opinions are not going to sway my own if I hold my own opinions dear enough. But sometimes other people's opinions can open eyes.

      Analyzing something pushes that something. Criticism is valid. It creates questions and thoughts and those things are NEVER bad. Saying that questioning and being a little logical and analyzing take away from the "fictionality and humour" is an incredibly ignorant thing to say, Blagonet. Grow up and stop being annoyed that someone would dare to criticize your precious webcomic that frankly deserves the criticism.

      I could go on about this for a while. So, I'm going to stop and simply say that next time if you want to talk, don't speak in absolutes or inanities.

      Delete
  13. Seeing this gives me a slight insight to Homestuck, as I have been introduced to it. I'm only in the beginning, barely touching Act 2, and-being curious about it- decided to look up reviews.
    I suppose I can't give a full out opinion as I haven't even finished it, nor am I close to. The beginning has given me some interest and while I know there are things spoiled in this (which is totally fine with me because I was curious), I see that it's going to turn into something else.
    I was aware from seeing other posts about how many characters there are...there seem to be a lot to try to juggle around and some stuff does seem to get clumped together.
    As a teen, of course there are things that probably appeal to me now that won't in years time. However, you saying that it starts to focus heavily on shippings is kind of 'eh' with me. Yeah, there will be people I may like together but the story (of what I know so far) wasn't based around it. But as you said, he went to going with it.
    This was probably just a bunch of mumbling, but it was a interesting review.

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    1. ^ That being said, I think I may still try with it. My mind may change later in the story but who knows. We all have our opinions. But thank ya regardless

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    2. I keep adding to this post which is likely long gone but I suppose my opinion still needs to be formed.
      (The bad parts do seem kind of iffy though-the deaths I mean)

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  14. You said you didn't like Cascade--I'm curious as to why? (Although I don't agree with all of them, I find your opinions really interesting).

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  15. WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS IN HERE!!!!!1!!!one!!
    I am a teenager and I am still reading Homestuck. I find myself face palming at this more than not now that I am nearing the end, but I find that despite me being an "average" fan by not investing myself in ships and the like, I am still a hooked, obsessed Homestuck teenager. Maybe it is because at the time of writing this I am two more years invested in Homstuck than most of the people who commented here at the time, but I literally CAN'T stop. Stopping for me will be like reading the entire series of Harry Potter but stopping right before he battles Voldemort, or maybe giving up a marathon out of exhaustion when I am 100 yards from the finish line. I am hooked and I will read to the end.
    One major thing I hated about the comic was trickster mode. It was a lot of bullshit because Hussie wanted to troll all of us with the major mood swing. Plus he made it so they managed to get to all of their respective god tier beds side by side despite being on separate moons and them not having a clue what they are supposed to be doing because of... reasons.
    Another thing that irked me was the ring that brought people back to life. While I realize it is meant for Calliope to come back to life to fight lord English, I felt it was an excuse for Aranea to become a villain, which I felt completely went against her character. She is a bookish character that, while she likes to be the center of attention and always thinks she is right, isn't the kind of person (oh I'm sorry, troll) to interfere with a plan that could potentially save all of paradox space. Also, it isn't like we already have enough villains to keep track of with three jacks, two Bec Noirs, and one Lord English, right?
    Game Over was meant to kill everyone off so John would have no choice but to use his newfound time powers. It was almost as if Hussie regretted everything he had us readers go through for the past 3-4 years, so he just decided to control-alt-delete all that as if it never happened and expect us all to be fine with it. Yes, I was relieved that things could go a bit more smoothly, but it seems more than a little lazy in my opinion.
    Obviously I could go into much more detail about what I have said, and I could write a doctorate thesis on everything I hated about Homestuck, but I don't want to make this too long of a comment. I still love many aspects of the comic, but if felt good to vent here. Sorry for commenting on this really old analysis if this will do nothing but annoy you by getting some random email saying you have a new comment on this chat (unless that is just a terrible youtube thing). Now If You Will Excuse Me I Have To Go Back To Typing Like This And Cosplaying As Kanaya At Conventions So Good Day To You Sir

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  16. *SPOILERS UNTIL THE 7/28/15 UPDATE*

    A large part of me has to think that Homestuck would have been more successful if he had kept it shorter. And it's such a mess now that the only people active in the fandom are who can't seem to shake the obsession with it and who just want to see the damn ending. Based on your deeply rooted disappointment for Homestuck I'm guessing you haven't seen the recent update.
    Hussie, once again, turned the ENTIRE STORY around in a way that was just..... unnecessary? Since any game player other than a guardian will be put into the dream bubbles after death, there isn't much to be passionate about beyond the instinctual reaction. And then he did something where he fused, um.... Jaspersprite (Rose's catsprite) + Nepetasprite + two Rosesprites to make Jasprosesprite^2. He somehow made all the obnoxious sprites of characters who I respected at one point into a weird shipping thing that may or may not be relevant to the story...?
    Somehow the well-known artists in the fandom are still contributing to it, collaborating on long flashes with beautiful music that have hardly any of Hussie's art in them. I know this review you made was posted in '13, I just wanted to put in my two cents. I'm also interested to know: do you plan on reading the rest from where you left off, or maybe the last update once it's ended?

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  17. Wow that was a lengthy review. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but whoa I was not prepared to read something that long. I feel it is only fitting to give you a long response that i will split into parts
    part 1:
    I really liked how much you poured your feelings into this, even if there were a few places that were a bit ranty and repetitive. I like how you covered all of the aspects of the comic that you didn’t like, whereas most reviewers would only point out one bad thing and be like, “see! See! This is why it is bad”
    To be honest I have actually considered many of the same things that you considered. I was lucky in that I started the comic relatively recently, meaning I did not have to sit through the apoplectic wait that was the gigapause. When I began, the comic had already gotten far into act 6. After about two months, I managed to catch up, and I began having to wait daily for the updates. It was a little annoying, as you said to have to wait an entire day to see a few panels that barely added anything to the plot.
    Then the omegapause started.
    That meant no more homestuck updates for a little less than a year, as Hussie worked on the damn video game. This also gave me time to read back previous homestuck panels as well as touch base with what the fandom had been up to.
    For much of the time I had been reading the comic, I was totally enamored with what I thought was a very amazing comic with a complex plot. I had always been a sucker for complex plots, such as sonic 06, as they challenged my mind to wrap my head around the individual arcs for each character (the trolls trolling the kids throughout their childhood, the whole thing with jaspers and his time in both universes) and even objects (Lil Cal). It boggled my mind how someone could set up a plot to do that, and how much forethought that must have required. Looking back however, I realized that basically all he was doing was inserting some kind of mysterious and random plot element into the story and thinking, meh, I’ll find a way to explain it later.
    Another thing I have been a sucker for is patterns and individualities and repeating things. I’m not sure how to properly explain it, but things such as the fact that everyone in the game has an individual aspect and class and specibus and modus, as well as an individual planet and denizen and character-specific quests, or the fact that there are twelve trolls, each with their own blood color and symbol based on the twelve zodiac signs and lusus, or the fact that cherubs have two personalities, each independent and opposite, etc. etc. things like these have always tickled my ocd. They make me feel happy inside, to think that you’ve got a cast of characters perfectly set up like this, and It invokes the image of all of them fighting alongside each other, utilizing each other’s abilities and personalities to defeat the bad guy. You can imagine my shock, then, whenever Hussie promptly kills off, destroys, or straight up voids the existence of anything, be it a character or an inanimate object or even a planet, that is no longer relevant to the plot. Things such as the sudden murders of at least half of the trolls, as well their subsequent, sporadic, and erratic revivals and horrifying fusions and later explosions a la the alpha kid’s sprites made me curl up and die inside. I always kept hope however. Even now, I hope inside that this is all some kind of sick joke on Hussie’s part, and that all of these characters would eventually come back to life NORMALLY and that they would all get to share in the final rewards of….whatever it is the end of the game brings to its players.

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  18. part 2:
    I will admit that, during my time reading the comic, I frequently shipped the characters in my head. The thing is, I never would let it get out of hand. I’ve never liked nor understood fanfiction, and why someone would want to write plot that takes place outside of the canon of a story. To me, the original plot always holds more value than anything. As a result, the shipping that I did in my mind was always either something that the plot hinted at or something that the plot actively encouraged. and yet, it seemed like very few of these would ever be reached. For the love of god, these characters cannot hold on to a relationship for more than an arc. When it comes to relationships in a story, I hate drama. I believe that everyone really does have an OTP, and drives me crazy when characters can’t seemed to find out who that is. In this comic, there are very few otps, and they don’t last. Like, at all. The plot likes to make you believe that certain relationships are meant to happen – again, picking at my ocd – and yet they just aren’t, and when it comes up, the characters simply comment that either A) too much work, which is bullshit considering they literally spent three years doing nothing or b) they are two young, despite the fact that these little fuckers regularly deal with things that would make an adult cringe, like murder, mental illness, bullying, ghosts, extinction, loss of loved ones, etc. some examples include feferi and eridan. As if it wasn’t made blatantly obvious the fact the the only two sea dwellers in the whole set of trolls happened to be male and female, the author outright states that they were made with each other. Yet what happens? She rejects him and he murders her and storms off with no remorse. Or roxy and dirk. They are literally already parents to dave and rose, yet the relationship is essentially rendered null in the new universe because dirk is gay. Not saying there’s problem with being gay, just….maybe he could have been gay and yet still biologically their parents? That gets even more complicated and horrifying.
    Something that you touched on was the fact that there are repeated deaths of thirteen and sixteen year olds and it is played off as funny, which ties into the bigger discussion about the fact that, for a bunch of kids, they act like adults. It made me wonder, is this really how kids are supposed to act? Do they really become so murderous and genocidal and cold and unfeeling? At first, my reaction was similar to my reaction to sonic 06. I figured, im probably just bad at video games. It never occurred to me that the video games themselves could be bad. Likewise, I originally thought that I must not know enough teenage peers to recognize how a teenager is supposed to act. It never occurred to me that the characters themselves were bad representatives of children. The thing about have thirteen year olds as main characters is that if you try to tell people you are reading a comic about thirteen year olds playing video games, of course they are going to assume that it is a comic intended for thirteen year olds. Yet if thirteen year olds or even sixteen year olds were to read this comic and assume that this is how they are supposed to act at that age, they would be expelled pretty quickly. I mean, true, the world is a scary place. It is not a nice utopia where all kids are raised in normal environments with wonderful conditions. If there is anything that lord of the flies has taught me, it is that if you put a bunch of normal children together and tell them to get along, they probably will start killing each other.

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  19. part 3;
    One last thing I want to say is that, as far as fanservice goes, well, hussie has been doing that from the start hasn’t he? From jailbreak to act 5, he has been relying on the input of fans to determine what the next little link at the bottom of the panel says. Even though he technically stopped doing that in act 5, he is still trying to kiss up to the fans. You mentioned that calliope is meant to represent the fandom. Let me correct you there. Both cherubs represent the fandom. In that, they represent both sides of the fandom. Caliborn, throughout his interludes, frequently directs criticisms at the comic as well as Andrew hussie’s character. I have found many of these same criticisms spoken by former members of the fandom. So yeah, he is basically making fun of them while trying to bring them back.
    I have found, in typing this response, that I am reevaluating and rethinking my love for a comic which, at the time of this posting, is in the middle of the omegapause. At this point, my ocd just wants to see how it ends, and then I will be done with it forever. I will move on to better things.

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  20. As a person that was just passing by, all I have to say about this review can be simmered down to these two words:

    Thank you.

    I came across your blog a while ago, read a chunk of your argument here and there, and thought that you had valid points. After all, it's your opinion. I shouldn't fuss over it. I came across this again after browsing a certain wiki, and I decided to read the whole thing. I must say, I completely agree with you. I don't think I need to add any flames to the ever-growing fire, but your points matched what I disliked about the comic. I know this review was made two to three years ago, and you might not respond to this, but thank you.

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  21. Almost four years after this was posted on your blog and... what, a semester after Homestuck ended, all I can say is that I'm glad I wasn't the only one who got heavily disappointed with Homestuck from Act 6 (or a bit earlier than that as well) onward. Eridan had great potential as a character and yet was simply thrown aside, Kanaya has nothing special about her as a character despite being "lesbian" (in a culture where lesbians don't even exist, that was spot-on), I hated the cut-out cardboard new characters (specially the insurmountable Beforus trolls), Hussie made the story revolve around romance without even giving any meaningful depth to his characters' relationships (Karkat and Terezi actually had a nice dynamic going on when they first appeared), Gamzee was actually an interesting character back when he was just a quirky juggalo before he went "sober" and became dull, needless character drama toward the end that was supposed to develop them but only made them more annoying, etc. etc. etc. Not to say of the absurd and anticlimactic ending.

    Homestuck is one of the few works of fiction of which I can say I was truly a fan at one time. I never cosplayed or drew fanfiction but I knew I was obsessed with it back when I found it in the end of 2010 aaall the way to 2012. Heck, I talked to everybody about Homestuck like it was the best thing ever. Nowadays, I'd be hesitant to recommend it to someone. It began to suck when Hussie inevitably began pandering to the worst of his fandom - appropriately symbolized by Calliope, the obnoxious Mary Sue character - and ruining his characters and the story development. Inevitably I felt that I wasn't part of the target demographic of the comic and that its content wasn't meant for me anymore, and it was a sad moment to notice that because it would mean that any criticism I had for the webcomic was essentially meaningless and I had become just one of "the haters". The only thing that kept me going to the end of the webcomic was Caliborn, who still reminded me of the irreverence that Homestuck used to have and whose spite towards the rest of the Homestuck cast I totally shared.

    Oh, and your girlfriend is right. You do resemble Karkat (at least before he went from crabby internet troll to angsty teenager) in your writing, haha. Karkat used to be one of my favorite characters of the webcomic, and I could totally see Act 4/5 Karkat writing this article if he saw what would happen to him and his friends further down in the story.

    Either way, it was a nice read, even if "long-winded" as they say. Thanks Saquarry.

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  23. Thank you, random person on the internet, for writing this. Thank you so much. None of that was sarcasm. I'm so glad that someone is acknowledging that Homestuck really had amazing potential to be a story which encompassed a lot of weighty and universal/philosophical/metaphysical things, rather than the singularity of awfulness it ended up collapsing into. I enjoy reading analyses of Homestuck more than I enjoyed reading most of the comic itself, because I get to think about the meaning and implications of some of the bigger concepts Homestuck addressed before they got buried under lazy writing and cardboard characters made specifically to put together on a shipping wall. I think you're absolutely correct- Hussie began writing for the fans and lost sight of what the story was originally meant to be. (Can I just mention the ridiculousness that a 'retcon' arc even existed in the first place??) He stopped caring. I wish he would have left it unfinished rather than continue to create the contrived ridiculousness that it became.

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  24. Hi, I like your criticism on this webcomic and I respect your opinion. I just want to know what was your opinion on the Jack Noir story arc. You left that out in your review. And what did you think about the Wanderers (Wayward Vagabond and the others) and how PM got the ring and wanted revenge on Jack. What did you think of that story arc?

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