List of Homestuck characters

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A group of cosplayers portraying characters from Homestuck at MCM London Comic Con in 2014

Homestuck is a webcomic written, illustrated and animated by Andrew Hussie as part of MS Paint Adventures. The series centers on a group of teenagers who unwittingly bring about the end of the world through the installation of a beta copy of an upcoming computer game. Homestuck features a complex story and a large cast of characters, starring the four children John Egbert, Rose Lalonde, Dave Strider, and Jade Harley. Hussie invented an alien species, called trolls, that have a unique culture. Homestuck characters are particularly popular at anime conventions to cosplay.[1]

According to Lauren Rae Orsini writing for The Daily Dot, there existed 128 named characters in Homestuck in September 2012, with more still being introduced.[2] The cast of Homestuck features a large quantity of LGBT characters, and a major theme of the webcomic is how many characters die throughout the story.

Kids[edit]

Each Homestuck character has their own icon; that of Jade is in the shape of a dog's head

The first few acts of Homestuck centers around four 13-year-old children. Early pages of Homestuck were experiments in "fan-sourced storytelling", where Hussie allowed readers of Homestuck to name its characters and make story suggestions. The main characters of Homestuck were all named by fans.[3] The four main characters are presented as internet friends who have technically never met one another, but interact through an online chat application.[4][5]

John Egbert[edit]

John Egbert is the main protagonist of Homestuck and the first character that is introduced. He is portrayed as a loyal "leader" of the group of kids, despite also being described as a "stereotypical mischief-making teen."[6] Described by blogger Subdee as a "shoujo heroine", John's character is notably fond of bad films and has a seemingly irrational revulsion to the Betty Crocker brand.[7]

Rose Lalonde[edit]

Rose Lalonde is portrayed as an "intellectual", both through her obsession of Lovecraftian literature and through her organizing and planning the group's movement during the story. Besides having an interest in magic, the character enjoys knitting and uses her knitting needles as her go-to weapons.[6] Rose forms a same-sex relationship with Kanaya Maryam during Homestuck's run.

Dave Strider[edit]

Dave Strider is a boy "so cool he only appreciates things ironically." He copied this behavior from his older brother, who he assumes collects puppets and katanas on an ironic level.[8] Dave has been described as "smart-cynical" and is John's best friend. Surrounded by bad video games and junk food,[7] he wears aviator sunglasses, obscuring his eyes entirely, and wields large swords into combat situations.[9]

Dave is the fictional creator of Hussie's spin-off webcomic Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, in-jokes of which are featured frequently in Homestuck. Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is intentionally poorly made, featuring unsteady lines, liberal use of the spray-paint tool, and the unpopular font Comic Sans.[8]

Jade Harley[edit]

First shown on-screen during Homestuck's third act, Shaenon Garrity described Jade as "the most recalcitrant" of the four kids.[10] Jade Harley lives on a remote island together with her dog, who has "infinite dimensional powers". As she can see the future through her dreams, Jade was the one who encouraged the other three kids to play the fictional video game SBURB and therefore set the plot in motion.[6]

Trolls[edit]

The twelve trolls are inspired by the zodiac signs, and each has a unique blood color[5][3]

In the fifth "act" of Homestuck, Hussie introduced an alien species called "trolls", based on internet trolls. While the first few acts of Homestuck focused on a more realistic theme of what it is like for a group of kids to be friends on the internet, the trolls took on more explicit representations of facets of Internet culture. Hussie stated that each troll represents a kind of internet behavior that is "marginalized or controversial, or something most people just want nothing to do with." Homestuck aims to normalize and humanize internet cultures that are usually disfavored and rejected.[5]

Trolls chat with unique typing quirks, inserting clues concerning the speaker's identity in their chat patterns. For example, Vriska, a troll with spider-like attributes, replaces the letter "B" with the number "8" and uses emoticons with eight eyes.[11] Troll culture features a complex system of romance featuring four "quadrants", that was specifically designed to encourage shipping among Homestuck fans.[5] Homestuck trolls are by default bi- or pansexual; this normalization has been described by a fan as "incredible for all the bi and gay kids out there ... seeing loads of couples that don’t think twice about how they’re dating somebody of the same gender of themselves."[12]

The names of the twelve trolls were also suggested by Homestuck readers, but they were the last instance of user input, as Homestuck's readership had expanded significantly at this point.[13] In an interview with Comics Alliance, Hussie remembered how "the moment it went crazy was really unmistakable ... it was when I brought the trolls into the picture," saying that Homestuck became a "contagious phenomenon" about halfway through the sub-arc introducing the characters.[5]

Karkat Vantas

Karkat is the "leader" of the troll team, his introduction in Act 5 mirroring that of John at the start of the webcomic. He is easily tempered, loud, and often rude, but has a strong sense of justice, and is good at heart.

Gamzee Makara

Gamzee takes on an antagonistic role in the trolls' storyline. The character is a Juggalo, believing firmly in miracles and the coming of the Dark Carnival.[6]

Terezi Pyrope

Terezi guides Dave through the earlier acts of Homestuck. The character is blind and able to visualize the world through her sense of smell and taste. She's portrayed as an avid role-player and has a strong sense of justice.[6] Terezi was the first of three Homestuck character to be introduced in Namco Bandai's dating simulator Namco High, of which Andrew Hussie was the creative director.[14]

Sollux Captor

Sollux is a computer programmer and strongly themed along various forms of duality.

Tavros Nitram

The wheelchair-bound Tavros deals with self-esteem issues throughout his character-arc. Tavros' ancestral figure, Rufioh, was inspired by the character Rufio from the 1991 film Hook. Dante Basco, who played Rufio in Hook, started reading Homestuck because his character made an appearance in it, and he later stated that Tavros is his favorite Homestuck character because of his relation to Rufioh. Rufioh's typing quirks and personality are based on those of Basco.[15]

Aradia Megido

Portrayed as a powerful psychic, Aradia the Troll responsible for recovering the code for the Troll-version of SBURB from some ruins. Used to enjoy archaeology, but has mysteriously lost interest in everything she used to enjoy. This happened on the night she lost her Lusus and began to hear 'the voices of the dead' more clearly, and is eventually revealed to have made her a ghost.[16][17]

Nepeta Leijon

Nepeta embodies an interest in both furries and shipping, a combination Hussie described as "for the sake of efficiency."[5]

Vriska Serket
A cosplayer portraying Vriska

Vriska takes on the role of anti-hero in Homestuck.[12] Being raised by a giant spider, Vriska uses a spider-themed typing quirk and aspires to be a pirate. Her weapon is a set of legendary eight-sided dice, which, because of her high luck, always result in critical hit attacks. The character is described as "ruthless, manipulative [and] powerful", and was considered among the "most hardcore" eyepatch-wearing fictional characters by The Mary Sue.[18]

Equius Zahhak

Equius is presented as a blue-blooded bodybuilding robotics expert. Despite his throurough believe in Troll-culture's hemocaste system, he has an unhealthily obsessive adoration for Aradia Megido, who is of the lowest of the twelve castes.

Kanaya Maryam

Kanaya is depicted as a vampire and is thematically strongly influenced by the virgin Mary. Kanaya's romantic relationship with Rose Lalonde is one of the most popular canon same-sex relationships in the webcomic.[12]

Eridan Ampora

Eridan is shown as a sea-dwelling royal. He has a strong desire to kill all land-dwelling Trolls and had commissioned a doomsday device from Vriska to that effect.[19]

Feferi Peixes

A sea dweller like Eridan, as well as his "moirail". Feferi is the heir apparent for Alternian rulership.[20]

Other characters[edit]

Other characters featured in Homestuck include another group of four kids, as well as another group of twelve trolls, the nearly-all-powerful antagonist Lord English,[21] a "wayward vagabond" who's story is told in the Earth's post-apocalyptic future,[10] and a pair of "diametrically opposed twins living inside the same body." Andrew Hussie also inserted himself into Homestuck's story as a character, where he offers detailed summaries and ends up in "bizarre in-world encounters."[3] After Ryan North asked why "MS Paint Adventures" doesn't follow the adventures of a "Ms. Paint", Hussie included a minor character to Homestuck with that name.[22]

Late in the webcomic, Hussie introduced Davepetasprite2, a fusion of the characters Dave Strider and Nepeta Leijon. The character is notable for having had a short-lived crisis with regards to their gender identity, but was quickly defined as non-binary.[12]

Analysis[edit]

According to Lilian Min of The Atlantic, Homestuck's greatest strength is Andrew Hussie's "gift for character-building", and that the characters are unique and "strangely relatable".[3] Elliott Dunstan of Monkeys Fighting Robots said that "the sheer number of characters and possible interactions can get overwhelming," and that each fan ends up with a favorite castmember.[23] The characters of Homestuck are particularly popular among cosplayers,[24] with cosplay events such as San Diegostuck being held for Homestuck cosplay specifically.[25]

Mary Kinney of the New York University wrote that Homestuck, which is heavily stylized as an adventure game, features an "implied character" as the player. This "nebulous" actor changes the Homestuck world. For example, on the first page of the webcomic, the player is prompted to enter the protagonist's name. After clicking to go to the following page, the reader's sense of control dissipates as they are not actually allowed to enter a name. The relationship between the player and the reader of the story fluctuates from page to page, and the player character may switch from avatar to avatar. In this way, the reader experiences Homestuck's narrative through the experiences of various characters.[4]

In an interview with The Daily Dot, Homestuck guest artist Shelby Cragg praised Hussie's webcomic for its 50/50 gender ratio and large number of well-written female characters.[26] Creatrix Tiara of Autostraddle noted that Hussie was highly successful with creating a diverse LGBT cast, by writing the characters in a "realistic, non-fetishistic manner." A large number of LGBT readers have stated to have been strongly affected by the representation of diverse sexualities and gender identities in the webcomic.[12]

Characters and death[edit]

Characters frequently die within the plot of Homestuck, which Andrew Hussie described as a necessity of a story with such a large cast. Though Hussie used death as "the line between relevance and irrelevance", characters generally remain relevant in some way in the story, as there exist various video game-style constructs that allow a character to be revived.[27] Rebecca Peterson of The Martlet described how "characters are gleefully killed off, brought back, and killed again" in a manner that makes it difficult to follow which characters are still alive. Characters may even have multiple versions of themselves active in the story simultaneously, both dead and alive.[28] In an interview with Big Shiny Robot, Hussie said the following on this topic:

"[Homestuck] seems to combine all the meaningless deaths of a trial-and-error game journey with the way death is treated dramatically in other media, where unlike [the] oblivious Mario, the characters are aware and afraid of the many deaths they must experience before finally winning the game."

— Andrew Hussie[27]

Death is presented as a "leveling up step" for the characters in Homestuck, it being the only way for characters to gain God Tier powers. According to Autostraddle, many characters reach a greater importance after their death, as they can contribute to the story as ghosts or helper sprites. Many readers of the webcomic see this implementation of death as a subversion of the "bury your gays"-trope, as homosexual characters frequently get killed off in American media.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stanton, Emily (2013-04-19). "Homestuck: The most popular comic you've never heard of". WUFT-FM. 
  2. ^ Orsini, Lauren Rae (2012-09-07). "Behind Andrew Hussie's Homestuck Adventure Game". The Daily Dot. 
  3. ^ a b c d Min, Lilian (2015-02-24). "A Story That Could Only Be Told Online". The Atlantic. 
  4. ^ a b Kinney, Mary (2012-12-14). "You Are Now the Other Guy". Gallatin. New York University. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f O'Malley, Bryan Lee (2012-10-02). "'Scott Pilgrim' Guy Interviews 'Homestuck' Guy: Bryan Lee O'Malley On Andrew Hussie". Comics Alliance. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Bancroft, Christine (2013-02-12). "Into The Hive Mind: Fandom==> Descend Into Madness". Neon Tommy. 
  7. ^ a b MacDonald, Heidi (2012-07-30). "Kibbles 'n' Bits: Know your Homestuck". Comics Beat. 
  8. ^ a b Cruz, Larry (2014-09-19). "The ironic awfulness off 'Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff'". Comic Book Resources. 
  9. ^ Leeson, Ben (2015-06-06). "Graphic-Con a hit with Sudburians". The Sudbury Star. 
  10. ^ a b Garrity, Shaenon (2016-08-12). "Webcomics Binge Read: Homestuck". The Comics Journal. 
  11. ^ Cruz, Larry (2014-04-14). "'Homestuck': A world without word balloons". Comic Book Resources. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Tiara, Creatrix (2016-05-24). "Bisexual Trolls and Non-Binary Sprites: The Power of LGBTQ Visibility in "Homestuck"". Autostraddle. 
  13. ^ Hussie, Andrew. "Andrew Hussie's Formspring". Formspring. Archived from the original on 2011-10-09. 
  14. ^ Smith, Carly (2013-11-18). "Date A Homestuck Character in Namco High". The Escapist. 
  15. ^ Romano, Aja (2012-12-21). "From Homestuck to Hollywood, actor Dante Basco breaks the mold". The Daily Dot. 
  16. ^ "Homestuck". 
  17. ^ "Homestuck". 
  18. ^ Kapur, Isabella; Jaffe, Brooke; Polo, Susanna (2013-06-20). "10 of the Most Hardcore, Eyepatch Wearing Characters in Geekdom". The Mary Sue. 
  19. ^ "Homestuck". 
  20. ^ "Homestuck". 
  21. ^ Gendron, Richie (2015-05-29). "My Suicide Squad Of Nerd-Mazing!". Moviepilot. 
  22. ^ ryanqnorth (2010-05-10). "My question for @andrewhussie is who is Ms. Paint and why has she not shown up in her own Adventures" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  23. ^ Dunstan, Elliott (2017-03-18). "A Guide For The 'Homestuck' First-Timer". Monkeys Fighting Robots. 
  24. ^ Basco, Dante (2014-11-14). "What Is Homestuck? Who Is Homestuck? Why Is Homestuck? And WTF Is Homestuck?". The Huffington Post. 
  25. ^ Eisen, Natalie (2014-07-22). "Meet the San Diegostucks subculture". San Diego City Beat. 
  26. ^ Romano, Aja (2015-12-11). "Stuck on Homestuck: Shelby Cragg's paint adventure". The Daily Dot. 
  27. ^ a b "The Wizeguy: 'Homestuck' inspired 'Hiveswap' Interview". Big Shiny Robot. 2015-03-26. 
  28. ^ Peterson, Rebecca (2016-05-12). "Thanks for playing: the weird legacy of 'Homestuck'". The Martlet. 

External links[edit]