by Doctor Science
In recent months my primary fresh fandom has been Hawaii 5-0, but now that Season 2 has begun we've broken up. It's not me, show, it's you --
Steve McGarrett (back to camera) has a few questions for a witness. You can't tell in this still from episode 2x03, but the guy's arm is in a sling. Also, it turns out he hasn't done anything wrong.
-- but I'll talk more about the militarization of American TV police in another post.
So being in the market for a new fandom, I decided to check out the Sprogs' latest interest: Homestuck by Andrew Hussie (AH) at MS Paint Adventures. It started out as a webcomic about an interactive game, I guess, but by now I'd have to call it a web narrative, or indeed a web *epic*. I really hope to see it nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story next year; IMHO it certainly deserves to win, not least because it's really science fictional.
A young lady stands in her bedroom. Due to a violent storm, her house has just lost power, along with her wireless internet connection. This has severed her link to a popular video game she was playing with a young man at a critical moment. That young man is relying on this young lady to reestablish a connection somehow. See full-sized at MS Paint Adventures.
Most webcomics have a set number of panels in certain sizes produced on a more-or-less-predictable schedule. Homestuck pages can be:
- single images
- animated gifs (as above)
- with narrative text
- or chat logs, some very lengthy
- small Flash games
- some pages include music or other sound
- every once in a while, there's a major Flash page -- a mini-movie that may be 2-3 minutes long
When AH is in the groove, he'll often post 5-10 or more simple pages per day. Homestuck started on 4/13/09 and is 4100 pages (!!) long so far.
For the big Flash pages, he has to go on a several-week hiatus. To do these pages, he has help from an art team (made up of fans whose work he's liked) and a music team, also made of fans. The music is complex and interesting enough to be worth downloading and even paying for, and I gather it's become a significant source of revenue for AH and the music team. It looks to me as though Homestuck might be onto a new business model for serialized narrative, one where the readers or viewers are the customers, not the advertisers.
The reason I'm posting about this right now is that Homestuck has been on hiatus since 9/6, and the next Flash will be posted October 25. I've been reading since last week, and I "only" have about
1000 500 pages to go to be caught up.
That's a lot of reading. It's worth it because Homestuck is an incredibly complex and gripping narrative, and wonderful science fiction. It starts out kind of slow -- you can afford to move pretty quickly through most of Act One. (The acts get longer, and then much longer, as you go on.) What you get includes:
- at least 2 alien species, at least one of which has a fully-developed non-human psychology and biology
- and when I say "biology", I mean sex-and-romance system. It has to be explained with *charts* -- and possibly interpretive dance.
- a very large cast of fully-realized characters. This is not a single-protagonist or single-POV story. In fact, it has more "featured" or "starring" characters than, say, Hawaii 5-0, and balances them much better
- half the characters are female
- of the 16 (!!) characters I've really gotten to know so far, none -- despite the way they're drawn -- is a cardboard cutout. Even the ones I think are awful people (for general uses of the term "people", just go with it) have times when I can see where they're coming from; no-one is nicer or more "good" than people actually are. Many of the characters are annoying, in the way that actual human beings (etc) that you have to deal with can be annoying. Especially since they're mostly supposed to be 13 years old -- not everything about them is realistic, but their annoyingness sure is, as is the R-rated language some of them use
- timey-wimey stuff and lots of it
- comedy, drama, silliness, romance, banter, tragedy. Epic.
- Lots of fic, mostly on the Archive of Our Own
- cosmic struggle
It's not terrifically spoilery, but you can see something of the scope of the story in time, space, and emotion.
um, yeah, this is kind of how it works. By cellcow.