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Zich joins the podcast for a discussion on the Homestuck fandom’s origins, highs and lows, and legacy moving forward. Further topics include transformational fan works, the groundbreaking nature of Homestuck’s format, more on “cringe culture,” and Galekh twink discourse.

Listen to this episode at https://perfectlygenericpodcast.com/updates/episodes/6

Transcript Edit

[Transcriber's note: this episode was plagued by uncharacteristic audio issues, with many occasions where the audio cuts out completely. Effort has been made to include as much of sentences as possible, but it has often been unclear what the missing words should be. I apologize for the inconvenience this causes.]

Kate: The Perfectly Generic Podcast contains spoilers, occasional adult language, and Vriska. You've been warned.

[intro]

Kate: I was trying to get James Roach on the show, but I got the next best thing: this week we're talking about Homestuck fandom on the Perfectly Generic Podcast with our guest, Zich, who you can find on Twitter at 'peak homestuck', @sburbd. Hey Zich, how's it goin'?

Zich: It is going pretty darn awesome!

Kate: Alright! Excellent. So, obviously I'm really excited to have you on the show — you're sort of the — the patron saint of Homestuck Twitter, the purveyor of discourse — the world —

Zich: I was very flattered when you referred to me that way. I was very flattered.

Kate: [laughs] Y'know, you — you shaped — you shaped a community with your bare hands and your shitposts, and I respect that greatly. Let's talk about your history with Homestuck, as is tradition when we — when we start this show. How did you first get into Homestuck, and what was your journey like with this media universe?

Zich: I actually remember the exact moment that I heard about Homestuck. I was browsing through one of my favorite fanartists who'd drawn some fanart, and they posted something Homestuck. [audio cutting out throughout] I thought: who are these weird people with this gray skin? —dy colored horns? And — I initially thought it was an anime — and after a few moments of google searching I realized, oh wait, this is some kind of weird webcomic with a billion pages.

Kate: [laughs]

Zich: But I kind of knew at the moment that I heard about it that this was going to be something important. This was back in 2— 2013, by the way, just after Cascade.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: And it's kinda surprising that I hadn't heard about it for so long — that it just kind of existed in the internet unconscious, waiting for — for me to discover it.

Kate: It does seem like it sneaks up on people. I've — I've seen that — I've heard that from a number of — of folks, which is just that they'd somehow managed to be ignorant of its existence, and then it dropped on them like a grand piano out of a apartment building window.

Zich: That is a perfect description —

Kate: [laughs]

Zich: Of how it felt, to be honest.

Kate: 'Cause it's a — it's a catastrophe, but it's also — y'know, it's — it's a rare one. [laughs]

Zich: It's just so much —

Kate: So —

Zich: All at once. It — it's great.

Kate: So in 2013 you — you discovered Homestuck, you presumably read through it — and then did you keep up with it, y'know, in time, until the end?

Zich: So I kept up with most of it — so I read through until it was kind of — 'cause at that point it was still updating —

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: So what happened was it would start updating, and I kind of fell out of it because I couldn't archive [audio cuts out] because I'd read Homestuck in basically [audio cuts out] weeks. So I kind of dropped off it for a while, I still engaged with the fandom but I didn't really like it as much. But then once the whole thing was about to end, after the Gigapause, I really caught up with everything. I reread the whole thing, and — I ma— I was making a cosplay — I was making a Ms. Paint cosplay when the final Act 7 dropped, so —

Kate: [laughs]

Zich: That gives you an idea of my final engagement with Homestuck.

Kate: Uh-huh. So you were — so you were definitely, like — you had your finger on the pulse, as it came to and end, and we'll talk about that a little bit later.

Zich: Yeah, I definitely did.

Kate: [laughs] And then — I think probably what's been most interesting has been your engagement with the fandom *after* the work ended — which has been sort of, y'know, engaging with Homestuck on Twitter, which is sort of a new place to talk about the comic. There wasn't much of a — even before, y'know — even earlier this year [2018] there wasn't as much of a unified presence on Twitter. What made Twitter, like, an engaging thing for you — what made it the platform that you wanted to use to talk about Homestuck?

Zich: So I'm gonna have to be real with you chief, I just shitposted into the void and some people followed me back. That is [laughs] all it was! I don— I feel like I use Twitter a lot for fandom stuff and just keeping up with friends anyway, and it kinda surprised me that there wasn't Homestuck on there. So when I did finally have Homestuck Twitter folks following me back I thought: this is pretty awesome! I mean, it's a lot more immediate than interactions you get on Tumblr —

Kate: Yeah.

Zich: I think it kind of mirrors the way that I think Homestuck is meant to be experienced: instantaneously.

Kate: It's true — a — a tweet is a lot more like a — is a — is a lot more of an elegant way to engage with the like, short jokes and little character scenarios. But it's worse for — I say it's worse for things like art or music.

Zich: Yeah I think there's a lot of artists and — I think musicians actually get the — kind of the least attention on it, because people are so used to scrolling through quickly that they don't really give time to listen to something. But I think even artists are — normally their art is just retweeted and then that person stops thinking about it. But it does mean that there is this sort of quick, rapid-fire desire to create quick content that I think is kind of to the culture of Homestuck.

Kate: Yeah absolutely. I mean when you look at — when you look at Homestuck, y'know, the sheer volume of the panel work is — is impressive, even if you, like — even if the quality of each individual panel varies, the — the just — the totality of it in the end becomes very impressive. And I think that's how a lot of folks take their approach towards Homestuck art as well, is like — the abi— you know, what's impressive is like, the ability to take ideas and concepts and execute them quickly. Let's see —

Zich: Yeah.

Kate: Let's — let's move on from talking about Twitter though, just to catch up on this week in Homestuck. Aside from some ominous warnings from James Roach, the only —

Zich: Oh jeez.

Kate: [laughs] The only official thing that we know is that the next Friendsim volume coming out next week is gonna be called 'Of Cleanliness and and Clownliness' — you have any predictions for this you wanna get on the record?

Zich: Pleeeeeeease, Marsti! I really want Marsti! She's such a lovely girl, I just love her design, she looks so cool.

Kate: Yeah, she does.

Zich: Yeah. Obviously the clown is gonna be a clown. I have no strong feelings for purplebloods whatever. But —

Kate: You're not a clownfucker?

Zich: I — you *had* to put it that way, didn't you!? Um —

Kate: [laughs] Well, okay look —

Zich: I'm not — I mean, now that he's [James Roach] put it that way there is absolutely no other way to refer to people who like purplebloods, it's —

Kate: Yeah.

Zich: It's the canon term.

Kate: [laughs] This is the one clown you can't ever be horny for. The response was 'you obviously haven't met the Homestuck fandom', which was a very stupid thing to say to James Roach, and James's response was: 'Rookie, I've been fighting in the MSPA fandom trenches since before you could use a computer without parental supervision. I've seen things you can't possibly imagine. Please. I have fucked more clowns that you can fathom.'

Zich: [laughs] You know, I think that should be the new like, Navy Seal copypasta.

Kate: [laughs] It is! [laughs] I have over a hundred confirmed clowns.

Zich: [laughs very hard]

Kate: So — [laughs] we'll look — we'll look forward to whatever disaster's happening next week with — with great trepidation as per usual. But let's get into the — sort of the main meat of this episode, and — and why I asked you on was to talk about the Homestuck fandom, its culture and its history. So you've got sort of a — you've got sort of a core idea about why Homestuck resonated with fans, do you wanna elucidate that for me?

Zich: Yeah, so I think the first thing we just touched upon briefly if you [audio cuts out] —nts ago, is the speed at which updates came [audio cuts out]. It was a continuous experience, it wasn't something that you experienced once and then it was over. It was something that was constantly evolving. And this was tied to the internet, and the way that the internet also — I think around 2013, when social media interaction was becoming more — more sped up. I think this kind of mirrored the desire in young fans to interact with something that mirrored the way that they interacted with each other. And also the content of the comic itself — it's very much a coming-of-age story. It's got fantastic meme potential, like — having horns, no arms, all the stuff that is — I think it comes off as small parts of character design, but it really — it's so different to what you expect that there is — it's kind of impossible to not say something about. And I think that's — that's the most important thing about Homestuck, that there is always so much to say about it. Even if you don't know whether you like it or not!

Kate: Yeah [laughs] That's true, and certainly even those who didn't like it have had plenty to say about Homestuck over the years. [laughs]

Zich: Oh, well I mean, you know how it goes. The people who dislike Homestuck the most are always Homestucks!

Kate: It's true. It's true. There— the — the haters are coming from inside the house. [laughs] In addition, like, Homestuck was a multimedia experience. It was always intended to be that, y'know, the — the beta that started three days before was intended to be all Flash and then it ended up moving towards just static image-based panels for most of the comic but with Flash and music and animation and occasional games for special events. This sort of let every type of fanartists, no matter what you were — if you were a writer, if you were a musician, if you were good at sketching, if you were, y'know, a game dev, like there was something that you could do that sort of built on the formation that Homestuck put for you.

Zich: Yeah, absolutely, and I think — I think even more important than just the fact that there are so many different types of media is that all of these types of media are so entwined. So you've got the actual pesterlogs themselves, but they're not just text, they're — they've got color formatting, they've got the occasional GIF inserted — and the fact that you interact with them every [audio cuts out] go to a page kinda makes it seem more like a visual novel than a book. And then you've got embedded links to the sort of external universe of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, you've got YouTube links, you've got references to so much outside media that it feels like Homestuck is taking all of these ideas and media and saying: you don't have to just kind of think of these separately, you've gotta condense them all together to make the narrative seem realistic.

Kate: Mhmm, and that makes it feel, like — it has the finger on the pulse of internet communication and the sort of rapid-fire, like, interlinked nature of internet friendship that I think media before it never really had. There's a — there's a real authenticity to that feeling. Y'know, Homestuck at its core is a comic about being extremely Online [laughs] in a way that I think a lot of things in both the webcomic and the traditional comics base before and even since haven't touched as well.

Zich: Yeah, and you can see in the later years the popularity of text as in — sort of, phone texting-based stories that've popped off in sort of like, more main-[stream] circles. But I think this is kind of one of the first things that really explored and expressed what it felt like to be teenage—[audio cuts out]. And we can go into more detail about the relationships between the Beta kids and the Alpha kids in regards to that too. Something that I read rather recently was how the Beta kids kind of had a really great friendship with absolutely no drama, and then the Alpha kids were just all drama and — y'know, they had all these difficulties in the relationship. And I think it shows the evolution of how friendships kind of feel when you experience the online space as you grow up. Because there's a lot of like, back-texting behind the Alphas as well.

Kate: There is, there's a lot of — there is a l— I would say that missed communication, or misunderstanding, is sort of the core theme of the Alpha arc.

Zich: Yeah. I think that's true, and — and then it ends very much with them all being put in the same physical space, y'know, talking to each other as well, so I think — yeah that's a — that's a very good point.

Kate: Mhmm. Y'know, there's a — there's a little bit — whereas the — the Beta kids, they were in constant contact, and they said what they meant but their problems were with internal realization of like, who they are and — and who they need to be. It was, y'know, very much like a — they're not — they're not deliberately not speaking to one another, it's more that they don't quite understand what they need to say yet. And I think Dave —

Zich: Yeah.

Kate: Is probably one of the best illustrations of that.

Zich: Yeah, no, that — when you put it that way that's very succinct.

Kate: Over time, y'know — so update culture was a — was a big deal.

Zich: Yep!

Kate: The — Homestuck, y'know, it didn't have a regular release schedule. It just sorta trickled out when it trickled out. Often in like, truly absurd amounts at a time.

Zich: We don't really have vocabulary to fully describe what Homestuck did with its frequent update schedule as well, y'know. I think the most interesting thing about it is how much it inspired people to do — make art — instantly. And I think because the emotions were so fresh every single time — 'cause obviously Homestuck is a very character [audio cuts out] as well, that there were so many interesting takes and opinions on whatever new news had dropped, that it also made people emotionally want to connect with others in the fanon. It wasn't just a case of 'let's showcase how great Homestuck is, y'know, because it's cool', it was a case of 'this gave me so many feelings right now that I *had* to communicate it to other people'.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: Through art, through writing, etcetera.

Kate: And that sort of a shared — it's a — sort of a shared cultural effervescence of, y'know, unpacking your feelings with this large group of — of mostly strangers that can be like, really good bonding. But in addition, the complexity of the plot also meant that you could sort of — you could make your bones and — and become social media popular just by theorizing about the work. There was a — there was — there was quite the industry for amateur literary deconstruction as Homestuck went along, with some, y'know, truly hilariously wrong theories, but also some really interesting takes and breakdowns as the story went along.

Zich: Yeah. I think especially because when you're experiencing something as it was happening it's very hard to kind of have an overall view of what, y'know, a perhaps more correct [audio cuts out] might be, and I certainly saw my fair share of interesting takes, shall we say. But I think most of it was in good spirit, and [audio cuts out] it only ever generated more discussion.

Kate: Mhmm. Do you have a particular favorite wrong prediction?

Zich: Oh this was so long ago — not sure if I can remember.

Kate: Yeah it's fine.

Zich: Yeah, no — I — there were some that made me double-take. I think the most interesting discourse, though, was when Act 7 dropped and people started — there were — there was a whole category of people saying 'this ending to Homestuck was perfect, it meant — it tied up all the plots, it was like a metatextual narrative all along'. Y'know, the metastucks, if you heard of them, who basically just said that Homestuck was an expression of a medium coming to a close when Lord English closed the door. Which I think is a pretty elegant reading but then it misses out a lot of the character [audio cuts out] But that's kind of the most recent thing I remember people really really passionate [audio cuts out]

Kate: Mhmm. And we'll talk about Act 7 a little bit later, because definitely the reaction to that was — was intense. And to this day I think that there's still some significant disagreement about what exactly happened in Homestuck's ending, what does it mean —

Zich: Oh very much so.

Kate: [laughs] And —

Zich: I have no idea. I have no idea.

Kate: [laughs] What does it mean, and — I think that's — in the end, it's — I — I'm a noted optimist re: Homestuck's ending. I'm a noted — I'm noted for being pro-'it'. Because I think that leaving that open end and leaving all of these avenues for discussion is the sort of thing that can maintain a community and give us things to talk about still, rather than just tidily putting a bow on everything. Y'know, are we really — are we really a community if we're not arguing about what happened and what will happen next? I always — I always pointedly compare the length of Homestuck to that of the Bible because we don't agree about what happened in that either! [laughs]

Zich: Yeah. Good fandoms need their discourse capacity.

Kate: [laughs] And certainly you've been a prodigious provider of discourse!

Zich: Only — only the fun kind —

Kate: Only the fun kind.

Zich: I only — I only — only the fun kind. I don't — I saw a lot of more interesting discourse, which we'll get onto in the questions —

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: From Tumblr, but — yeah, I think the nature of social media made it that you always had to have an op—[audio cuts out]

Kate: Mhmm. So moving on from Tumblr, how would you think that the Homestuck community sort of influenced YouTube, and sort of organized on YouTube?

Zich: I think the YouTube community was quite interesting, because the very medium if Homestuck itself invited this sort of imagination of the story through [audio cuts out] audio format. You've got the Pesterlogs, which I think — Hussie's deci— Hussie's, like, idea of creating quirks has been so powerful in characterizing every single character that you can't — you can't not have a headcanon voice for all of them, even if you don't think of yourself as having one. Because once you see someone else saying it you [audio cuts out] 'oh, I didn't think this character would talk this way'. And so Homestuck YouTube kind of became a natural way for these kind of hidden elements of Homestuck's form to surface, through all these voice-overs — I think comic [audio cuts out] — fan videos — I think everyone's heard of Octopimp. But aside from just simply the sound format I think there was this great — there was this great love as — of Homestuck as something that could be, y'know, a beautiful kind of movie, or like, dare I say it, an anime.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: And so you've got things like lyricstucks and animation [audio cuts out] I think everyone's seen [audio cuts out] as well. There were also a lot of fansongs from people who liked singing — which is just a great way to express your artistic talent.

Kate: Yeah absolutely, there have been — there's been so many wonderful fan songs over the years, and — again, I just wanna — wanna reiterate a — a core theme of this podcast, which is Broadway Karkat: if you're out there, we love you. Come back to us. [laughs]

Zich: Broadway Karkat you are a legend, okay!

Kate: You are! [laughs] For those who aren't familiar — although I — I would be sh— do you think a single person is listening to this podcast that doesn't know what KARKALICIOUS is?

Zich: Well, for the record, definition: it makes Terezi loco.

Kate: It does! It does indeed make Terezi loco. If you — if you are a person who's listened to this podcast and you haven't watched KARKALICIOUS, it's a rite of passage, and you have to do it, and then you have to tell me that I introduced you to KARKALICIOUS. [laughs]

Zich: Yeah just — just '@' us on Twitter.

Kate: Yeah.

Zich: [laughs]

Kate: We talked about 'Caliborn goes to Starbucks' last weekend — this is — I guess this is the KARKALICIOUS week. [laughs]

Zich: Karkalicious is the OG, y'know, it's — it's required reading for Homestuck doctr—[audio cuts out]

Kate: It is! And so of course we were talking, just — y'know, about how the — the dialogue and the unique character voices made, y'know, audio adaptations good. There's also a — a great deal of RP [role-playing]. There was a specific site that was focused around MSPA RP, which was called — and you will never believe this — MSPARP. [laughs]

Zich: Incredible. Incredible.

Kate: Yeah. Do you wanna — do you wanna talk a little bit about that and its — its sort of community?

Zich: That's quite interesting because I actually never used MSPARP, I just — had a lot of friends who did. But I know definitely that it was one of the things that Homestuck kind of started, and then people from other fandoms, especially I think Danganronpa which was popping off at the time, decided to kind of adapt on and use. So — I think it was the fan's perception of Homestuck as something [audio cuts out] y'know, expressed some kind of role-play, the text, that allowed it to be [audio cuts out] such a notorious thing in the fandom.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: Obviously the quirk is a main part of it, and so is having the Pesterlogs and [audio cuts out] the majority of [audio cuts out]. But again, it's — it's always — down to the fans' reception of the comic, but then you also really have to thank Andrew for giving us so much material to work with in the first place. Y'know —

Kate: Yeah, there's a great deal of dialog in this — y'know it's — it's — Characters have such strong voices partially because they just — they talk so *much*! [laughs]

Zich: Yeah, because there's — there's very little narration, maybe save for some in Act 1. A lot of it is just the characters talking, it's one of the most interaction-heavy [audio cuts out] I've read as well.

Kate: Yeah. And it — right, in basic— nearly every character that you had — y'know, basic— nearly every combination of characters that could interact did over the course of this comic. And the most common thing that people want is more of that, right, they want to hear — they want to know more about how two characters' dynamics would be, how they would talk to each other, how they would bounce off of each other. And that's not just where —

Zich: Yeah.

Kate: Role-play comes in, but also where our next conversation — fic — y'know, fanfiction has been a really integral part of the Homestuck community over the course of — of its run. There's a truly tremendous amount of writing and, y'know, it's so big that like, Archive of Our Own introduced a site-wide theme for formatting Homestuck fics easier! [laughs]

Zich: Yeah.

Kate: And y'know, even — I myself have written some, although I haven't in a while. [laughs] And y'know, it is a —

Zich: Kate — Kate fic drop when?

Kate & Zich: Kate fic drop when!

Kate: Kate — I — Kate is currently writing other things, for other, secret — secret stuff. [laughs]

Zich: Well. Hell (?) yeah.

Kate: [laughs] But there's a — y'know, there's a great deal of — of fanfiction. What do you — what would you say is like, the impact of like, AO3 and fic on the community?

Zich: I think one of the main things is [audio cuts out] able to focus in very closely upon one interaction [audio cuts out] two characters or three characters [audio cuts out] because Homestuck in itself is so large that you can't — even if you tried really hard, there's no way you're gonna be able to give the atte— [audio cuts out] the characters through [audio cuts out] without being specifically attuned to [audio cuts out]. And so I think fic is a really good way, if you notice one thing in an update, or if you went back and you saw something [audio cuts out] you thought, 'hang on, why hadn't I thought this before', it's a really good way to express all of your idea— all of your ideas through this sort of behemoth piece of work —

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: That would not otherwise be noticed. Y'know, I think it's very different to a lot of other fandoms where you have to write something that doesn't ha— [audio cuts out] or — y'know is basically AU, whereas in Homestuck there's so much you can build off of what you were given. That doesn't of course — that of course doesn't stop the high school AUs, the coffee shop AUs, which are, y'know, great —

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: But I just think — fic for Homestuck was particularly great in the sense that it allowed [audio cuts out] different [audio cuts out] —pproach the comic.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: Also in format, because Homestuck was mostly Pesterlogs. This was narrat— most of it is narrated, there's very little of y'know, script fic. Yeah.

Kate: Right.

Zich: I also think — you really have to thank Hussie for really well-written female characters. You don't get much — much, y'know, elsewhere. Rosemary [Rose/Kanaya] is, y'know, probably one of the better F/F ships that I've ever read, so.

Kate: It's true, it is! And — y'know, there — obviously the eternal quest in media is for — for more well-written lesbian relationships, and like, for all the slack, for all the guff that people give Homestuck — like, Rose and Kanaya's relationship is — is a really powerful thing. Y'know, it's a — it's an authentic and — and at times challenging but really beautiful relationship between two girls, and it's not sexualized, it's not tokenized; it's briefly played for tragedy in Game Over, but like *everything* else is too [laughs] And it does end up getting a happy ending and does end up, y'know, reaching a — a satisfying narrative conclusion that is so rare for lesbians in media.

Zich: Yep. I really couldn't have put it better myself.

Kate: And — of course fic also allows people to sort of explore how characters relate to their own sense of self and — and their own identities. Y'know, if you want to write about — there's a lot of — there's a lot of — for example there's a lot of fic that touches on trans narratives in characters, and there's a lot of inherently trans narratives in Homestuck as there would be about any sort of coming-of-age story with people reckoning with their place in society and — and redefining it.

Zich: Yeah.

Kate: And a lot of very talented writers have — have taken that and — and y'know, ran with it. [laughs]

Zich: So, I think Dave is particularly [audio cuts out] He's — he's basically trans man culture [audio cuts out] in the sense [audio cuts out] He's got — well, this is kind of my personal reading, I think a lot of people [audio cuts out] also agree that the way that he's got the sort of — he's so focused on having this aloof self that there's no way for this — these hidden depths that you later see to be expressed. I mean that's a very good trans-masculine narrative, but it's also a very good — I think it's a very good canon story that's being told, but I think at the same time it [audio cuts out] goes — comes out in its sort of full potential when fic writers take it and go hog wild with it.

Kate: Mhmm. Go hog — 'go hog wild, I guess' is a — is an actual —

Zich: Yeah.

Kate: Is an actual Dave Strider quote, one of the better ones. [laughs] Let's see — there's a bullet point after this 'Dave is trans man culture', and you know what? Fuck it, we're gonna do it. The bullet point —

Zich: HUUUUGH, okay —

Kate: The bullet point on the outline you've provided me reads: 'Also, troll dick'. Without getting directly into it, the way that Andrew sorta teased the fans, and like directly, like, gave this sort of ambiguous information regarding everything in the story, not just troll dick —

Zich: [laughs]

Kate: [laughs] Is — y'know — was sort of part of the reason why there was so much jumping-off point for fan speculation and content. And y'know, it is — by leaving so much room for headcanons, by leaving so much room for — for readers to sort of take whatever they want from the story and tell that to other people, it's sort of ingenious — in a way that just giving a straight answer to questions like that wouldn't be. And so, y'know, that sort of engagement is — is because there was this significant creator interaction. And the way that that interaction took place advanced over time, it started on the forums but then it moved to other places.

Zich: Yeah, yeah, it was — MSPA forums, which admittedly I was never a part of, but y'know —

Kate: I was, I an O-G MSPA forum troll.

Zich: Well I defer to you for those. But I was around for Tumblr. I don't think I was around for Formspring, but I remember the Formspring answers being circulated like — like candy, because of how much people were grasping onto Hussie's words to make them mean something that they'd had — they'd like, been invested in.

Kate: Mhmm, and still today I would say that those interested in a source read of Homestuck should go to wheals.github.io and read through those Formspring responses because I think they're really useful for elucidating the creator intent behind a lot of — of things. Also a number of the answers are just extremely funny!

Zich: Yeah, I — I mean, the latter is what counts, right?

Kate: [laughs] Yeah, absolutely. And y'know, we are waiting a bit — y'know, so we are — it's sort of the Director's commentary track for the first few years of Homestuck's run, and we're obviously getting more of that as the Viz Media books continue their run. And y'know, reading through the — the creator commentary on those books is also a really useful way to help further your understanding and analysis of this work.

Zich: I was just gonna say — I think one of the great things about the Tumblr and the Formspring, that it wasn't just Hussie giving his ideas of his own work, it — there was always this synergy with the fans that was like — notes and the reblogs of just people posting what he'd said and like, comment— [audio cuts out] There was no way that he was missing all the stuff that all his fans were saying. I think we taught Hussie a lot about his — not — not to sound to egotistical about it, but I think the fans taught Hussie a lot about his own work.

Kate: I agree, and I think that the work took a huge level-up in maturity over the course of it. And y'know — over the course of the comic, it engages — part of the reason why it's such an authentic coming-of-age story is that over the course of the comic it starts to engage more empathetically with complicated issues that are common to teens, right, things like coming out narratives, things like how to deal with abusive relationships, things like alcoholism. And in the end, like, a lot of creators, especially those who come from the like, old internet, y'know, forum troll shitpost days, right, they — they see people talking about their work and — and talking about their hopes for — y'know, and talking about diversity and — and what they want to see in a work and sharing headcanons about characters, y'know, experiencing these common problems, right? And a lot of edgy internet dudes' response is to say, y'know, 'go away!' [laughs] Like, 'do not — '

Zich: There wa— yeah.

Kate: Like — like, 'do not' — y'know — 'don't make my thing about this'. But — in a way, like, Homestuck was a very — was sort of unique in the sense that it didn't — it didn't push away those interpretations of it, and in fact it adopted a lot — it — y'know, it took a lot of that conception of characters and it grew and became less quote 'problematic' over the course of the comic, and engaged with some of the — some of the problematic things it did earlier.

Zich: I think Dave is one of the really good examples of [audio cuts out] the fandom grew. Especially because, the way that I see it, he wasn't really written as — the way that he is now, a victim of abuse, until later on when Homestuck became much more character focused and — and people had shown a lot more investment in these characters. Whereas initially — I think the main thing people said reading Homestuck was like, look at these funny kids without arms, ha ha ha; wow, look at this character [audio cuts out] Strider, he's so weird and quirky, he keeps puppets. And I think you can disagree with me and say that Bro Strider was always intended to be read as kind of a — a figure of abuse or — generally a horrible person, but I think that reading definitely strengthened when people showed how much they related to Dave — how much Bro had to account for his actions later on.

Kate: Mhmm. See, I do disagree with you, I do think that that dissonance was intended at the start, and the way that the comic portrayed what was happening to Dave as sort of a humorous thing, y'know, incorporating the 'I warned you about stairs, bro' to him getting literally getting kicked down a staircase and that sort of thing. I actually think it was intended to make the audience, y'know, like, get that little like, uncomfortable laugh zone of like, ha this is funny, I guess, like but it's actually — it's actually quite fucked up. And reading some of — some of the author's commentary in the book version of those scenes, in the — in Homestuck Book 2 — it does — it is clear that there definitely was a like, realization, like, this is fucked up, but I'm playing like comedy, like, the tone of this comic hasn't shifted to serious yet because the characters at the core of this narrative haven't grown up yet. They haven't realized that what's happening to them is fucked up. Much like Rose's relationship with her mother is portrayed extremely dramatically and extre— and like, very negatively compared to Bro's relationship — compared to Dave and Bro's relationship. And as — and Rose realizes later on in her life, and in her narrative, that — it wasn't like that. It wasn't that, y'know, like —

Zich: Yeah, yeah —

Kate: That she was not uniquely put-upon.

Zich: Yeah. Yeah, I think that is very a strong [audio cuts out] and maybe I'm — maybe I'm due for a reread, but yeah I totally see where you're coming from.

Kate: So — y'know we can't talk about the positive reactions to Homestuck without talking about the sort of internet-breaking negative reactions to it.

Zich: [laughs]

Kate: Homestuck's notoriety. What would you say are some common negative perceptions of Homestuck and the fandom?

Zich: I think the main conception that — sort of the negative naysayers have are: Homestuck looks very strange. Why are these kids without arms, why are they gray, why do they have horns? That's kind of a criticism with the comic itself which I think you either like or you don't like, or you grow to like, right?

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: But I think also a significant part of the — a significant part of Homestuck's notoriety was from the fandom, which, if you remember in 2012 was bucket jokes and honking.

Kate: Yes. It was — and y'know there is a certain element of people's perception of Homestuck and Homestuck fans has always been exacerbated by what I would call the growing cringe culture on the internet. And y'know, people specifically like, taking people's enthusiasm for things and kind of being bullies about it. Like, a lot of the stuff that Homestuck fans did in the mid-2000s *was* absurd, was a little silly, it was probably — it was pretty embarrassing sometimes — but y'know I think the negativity about it ended up becoming something like, really malicious almost. And, y'know, we actually — we brought up Broadway Karkat earlier in the show, y'know, just as a little affirmation, but like — y'know, that — that singer was sorta bullied off the internet in a — in a lot of ways, and that happened with a lot of creators and cosplayers and people in this community. It's a — it's a difficult subject to interact with because it's — it's — how do you de— how do you — in a work like Homestuck it's impossible to divorce the fandom from the work. And the work's impenetrability makes the fandom seem even more impenetrable and strange from the outside. And it goes the other way, y'know, people's negative reactions to the Homestuck fandom prevented a lot of people from reading the comic.

Zich: Yeah, I think it's very true in the sense that — Homestuck didn't really have the luck of being a massive piece of media that was paid for, professionally produced, unlike many other things that were so hyped about. Y'know, Homestuck, drawn by Andrew Hussie, of course he had a massive team to help him, but it was something that was done as an act of passion. And that in itself invites [audio cuts out] right? It's — it's not something that you can — Homestuck is not something [audio cuts out] —ttack as saying, 'oh the studio did this badly', or 'this wasn't to what I was expecting when I paid for it', because it's for free and it was done for fun. It's — the way that Homestuck is, it's — it's the kind of thing that people who are the kind of cringe culture — it doesn't make sense to them in its very core.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: And I think that often is expressed through hatred towards the fans and hatred towards the work itself. Because there's this — there's this denial that some — someone could create something so wonderful just out of their interest for it.

Kate: Mhmm. And I also saw a lot from people who sort of hopped off of the Homestuck train — people who thought exactly what we were talking about earlier, how the work grew more empathetic over time. One of my least favorite lines of discussion re: Homestuck comes from people who say that that was because the creator was forced into, like, pandering to the SJWs [social justice warriors], right, like — that sort of thing is, I think, a read of the comic that first off displays a really dismal view of humanity, thinking that someone can only make their work better and more sensitive by being bullied into it, and that nobody could sincerely want to make a work empathetic like that. But also it's sort of a — sort of a knee-jerk — I hate to — I hate to be so negative, but crybaby reaction to a piece of work not being entirely for you for once.

Zich: It is. It is! And it's especially painful because it's a lot of the sort of older fans of Homestuck who were used to the sort of slightly edgy humour at the beginning and not growing with the comic in the same way the creator did. I think it's interesting, but I also think it's kind of a take that's kind of been outgrown now, because I don't see many people saying that now. Noted, it's because Homestuck has ended, but I don't think any new readers are gonna go into it [audio cuts out]. I think it also becomes less visible as a m— [audio cuts out]

Kate: And — and you know what, this actually — we haven't gotten to the reader questions officially yet, but I'm plucking a reader question from later and moving it here to talk about it now. Because sis asked on our Discord: 'How did Homestuck help young LGBT kids? Where are you guys today?' And — I was one of those older fans, right? I was one — I read Problem Sleuth, like, as it was updating. Like, I was one of those people, y'know like I was a Something Awful person, like I was a — I was a forum lurker, like I was YTMND person, like I engaged with a lot of problematic media. And like — honestly at that time in my life, in 2009, there was this real risk that like, if I didn't connect empathetically — that there was this real risk that I was gonna go down that like, internet edge-lord route, right? That extremely tedious, y'know, boring boring route. And obviously for the good of everybody my life didn't go that way, and that's part of what made coming back to and finishing Homestuck so delightful, was that — this thing that I remembered from my edgy internet teen-hood met me where I was. It grew up. It didn't just stay the same, it didn't just stay in this time capsule of like, uncomfortable racial jokes and y'know, ableism and 'gay' as a punchline. It actually, like, moved on from those things, and it was really fulfilling! I don't know that Homestuck was directly part of my — my queer journey in any way, but it definitely is affirming to see something that meant so much to me when I was younger become, in all honesty, what we have to talk about as one of the most inclusively queer works of media ever.

Zich: Yeah, I really, really — y'know, I could not have put it better myself, and the only thing I would say to that is the way that Homestuck grew in its acceptance of the emotions of the fans and its incorporation of these ideas has been so important in the way that it spread on social media, in the sense that younger — younger LGBT readers who perhaps didn't connect at first, could later connect to it.

Kate: Yeah, and I've certainly met a lot of amazing queer people through my engagement in this quote 'Homestuck renaissance', and it's been awesome being able to connect with people in that way, even if I'm, like, the wise old grandma of this [laughs] of this scene —

Zich: You're not that old Kate!

Kate: I'm not that old, I know! But —

Zich: You're not that old.

Kate: I *feel* old, I'm surrounded by youngsters! [laughs]

Zich: I think that just shows how a— y'know, how appealing Homestuck is now, y'know.

Kate: Yeah, y'know when you — when so much media, and we're not gonna — I'm not gonna name specific names, but when like, y'know, popular animation series — like, when so much media is like, still queerbaiting, it's still treating women characters like shit, like — so much popular media like, just isn't *there* yet, and then you go back and you read Homestuck and you think, 'well this was here', like — we've do— like, we've *gotten* here. Like we've figured out how to grow like this as creators — like, catch up! And that's, like, part of why as a piece of independent media it's a lot more responsive, right, to that sort of thing, and it — it sorta ruins a lot of shitty mainstream media after that. [laughs]

Zich: Yeah you know you start to realize how much con— how much control you *don't* have as a fan of the series, something which you don't necessarily feel entitled to but you feel like you're invisible as a consumer. Y'know, you're paying for this, or you're giving your time to this, and people aren't — aren't listening to you — aren't listening to you or what your friends have to say about it, it's really disheartening.

Kate: Mhmm, and then of course even better is that, for this next phase of like, post-Homestuck — that, like, this universe, the reins have been handed off to this like, diverse team of really interesting creators and writers and artists, right? Like, y'know — you look at Hiveswap Friendsim and there's, y'know, a specifically lesbian troll narrative written by a lesbian, drawn by a lesbian, right? Y'know there's — there is can— there are canon non binary and trans trolls in Hiveswap and there's non binary people on the team that create it, right? It — it actually has — it not only — like, not only did the original work headed by Andrew Hussie, like, walk the walk — or, sorry, talk the talk of being, y'know — of growing more inclusive over time, but the most responsible thing that you can do as a creator is to like, when you need more people to work on your thing, give the reins and — and hire diverse people to help you with it, And I think that is underrated as a really positive thing about Homestuck moving forward.

Zich: Yeah, definitely, and I think one of — another really great thing about it is that people who want to work on Homestuck have normally been quite big Homestuck fans as well, they've seen the fandom grow, they've seen the kind of reaction that people have to this amazing piece of media and the way that it can shape people's lives, and that — and that, knowing that — knowing that they feel responsible makes me wanna trust content they create, and makes me really proud to be a fan of post-Homestuck Homestuck!

Kate: Yeah, absolutely, and you see that with, y'know, people who were part of the creative team. Y'know, people who did official art for the comic — I mean you look at, I believe it's paperseverywhere, was doing art for Act Omega, you look at xamag, who's doing — who's one of the two primary artists for the fan comic Vast Error, which also has members of the music team, including on the upcoming musical volume coming out at the end of this month, Michael Guy Bowman will be doing a vocal track. And there's just this really big legacy of people who were involved in the Homestuck project putting themselves out creatively afterwards. And obviously one of the titans of like, independent gaming was the release of Undertale, and that wouldn't have happened without Homestuck, like it — Undertale has its origins in — in, y'know, Toby Fox getting the support from being a member of the Homestuck music team.

Zich: Literally making the game in Hussie's basement!

Kate: Yeah!

Zich: What more can we say!

Kate: Uh-huh! [laughs] And y'know, there's this — it really does feel like what happened with the comic and the team that was put together for the comic and for Hiveswap was just the start, and in ten, twenty years we're gonna be talking about the legacy of creators who were inspired by this work, either by working on it directly or by being part of the fandom. And it's going to be seen as the sort of thing that was very influential, like you saw with, y'know — with — like you see in, y'know, western animation, where you see people who worked on Dexter's Lab end up making Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, or people who worked on that ended up helping with Adventure Time, and Adventure Time coming from Steven Universe, and funnily enough some members of the Steven Universe creative team coming from Homestuck! [laughs] In the end —

Zich: The cycle of awesomeness is complete!

Kate: Yeah! And like, in the end, y'know, Homestuck has become a part of that like, inspirational canon of like, the start of many now professional creators' careers in putting content in front of a mass of people. It's — y'know, it's a work that in text is authentically Online, and authentically creative, but also out of work is I think gonna be really — is gonna have a long legacy. And not just in terms of creators, but I think it's gonna have an academic legacy as well.

Zich: Yep, that's what I was gonna get to. I think — I've read some very — there are really — there [pauses to think] I totally agree, there are a lot of very smart analysts and content makes who approach Homestuck from a very academic point of view. I'm kinda one of those on a sort of hobbyist term —

Kate: Yeah, same.

Zich: But there are — yeah I think most of us are actually, but in the sense that there is so much to say about the format, there's so much to say about it as a literary piece of work, there's so much to say about it as a sort of capsule, a time capsule of internet culture.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: There's so much to say about it in terms of fan reception culture, in terms of how communities organize themselves both online and offline, that I think it's — it's a real shame that there hasn't been any sort of notable academic writing on it that's become — that's been paid attention to.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: But y'know, we have — we have to be the ones to change that.

Kate: It's true, and it is my firmly held belief that — y'know, within the next ten years somebody will get their Doctorate with a thesis about Homestuck's literary impact! [laughs] Like, we — y'know we just need to prepare for that to happen because I genuinely believe it's going to happen. There is so much to talk about in terms of how our consumption of media and how our understanding of media has changed. And in many ways it feels like, y'know, traditional movies and television and — and y'know, big publishers of books are like, so behind in terms of — you can just go online and *make* stuff now. And that's not news to us, but it is something that like, Homestuck really did illustrate to a lot of people, and in the end it did get acquired by a major media company and there — y'know, there was some recognition of: there's something we're missing out on here.

Zich: Yeah. No, everyone made fun of Homestuck as being the kind of weird kid in the corner with a lot of — a very dedicated fanbase but no official merch, and then I think recently it was on a poster next to like, Naruto at an anime convention, and you're like, y'know — let's see how far we've come, right?!

Kate: Mhmm. [laughs] And of course we don't even know what the long-term plans Viz Media has for this property are. And I think anybody who thinks that it's just books is mistaken.

Zich: Yeah, no I really hope there's more content in the — I don't wanna say specifically what I'm hoping for, but just — just so you know, I have faith that we won't be let down.

Kate: Mhmm. [laughs] So yeah — so we've — let's get to some reader questions now that we've talked a little bit about the work's legacy. Thank you so much to everybody who sent in questions this week, as has started to happen a lot we can't get to them all! We're getting so many great questions that we can't touch all of them. Zich, I know you were planning to answer some of the ones that we couldn't get to on your Twitter later, so — so keep an eye on that. But let's get to the ones that we can get to. Viktor Von Doom asks on Twitter [laughs]: Zich, how does it feel to have basically caused the 2018 revival of Homestuck?

Zich: Okay. So if my ego were a bit smaller I would say it was all of you, the fans, who did it. But y'know, it feels pretty fuckin' awesome.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: That's all I'm gonna say.

Kate: [laughs] Y'know —

Zich: But no, for real, it was — it was everyone's participation. There was no way that it was just me shitposting into the void, right? There's gotta be an interaction with people. There were other fans out there, I just had to find you all.

Kate: [laughs] Exactly — you were the — you were the — you ch— you hunted down people and it — like, the creation of a Homestuck-specific Twitter account is like a new phenomenon. Like, I made mine back in August and now I got a god damn podcast! [laughs] Like it is — y'know, it turns out to be something there — that there's really a ton of connections to be made and a ton of stuff to talk about. Amazingspaceship asks on Twitter: what's your opinion on Homestuck-centric terms becoming common outside of Homestuck fandom, eg. 'lyricstuck', 'kismesis', etc.?

Zich: Well, sort of on a — on a very basic level I think it's great, but I think what it shows is that the kind of ideas and the core thoughts in Homestuck are so contagious that you can't help but pick them up, even if it's sort of like 'oh I can't believe this is a Homestuck term that [audio cuts out] use'.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: It's — it's something that registers with you as a sort of 'oh, I didn't think of it that way before', and then it catches on.

Kate: Yeah, and I think part of it is that Homestuck is a very — it's a vocabulary-building work. It takes time and can be often seen as impenetrable because of it — it takes time to define strict categories that help you understand characters, right, and that's — that can be Aspects, that can be, y'know, different castes of trolls, that can be — the, y'know, rel— the relationships in troll romance. It illustrates these terms for you and then it teaches you fluency. It like, drills you, it's like — it's like learning a bit of a language. And you — you end up at the end of the work, like, having this real felicity with the concept— with the like structured categorized concepts of this world, and then you realize, oh this is a toolbox! Like, I can take, y'know, Aspects, I can take quadrants, I can take, y'know, the various different components of this work and like, build anything out of them and describe any other work of media with them. It's like a big box o' LEGOs. [laughs] That was a good question Amazingspaceship —

Zich: Yeah, exactly. That — that's exactly right.

Kate: And 'ALSO, (this is probably a very self-indulgent question, but) what are your favorite fanfics if you have any? And I'm gonna take this one first. I have a few really really big rec lists. First I wanna say there's some — there's some series that are currently going on that are really good. My favorite that's currently going on is The Neon Bible, which is by tactfulGnostalgic on Archive of Our Own. And it's a — it's a cyberpunk AU concept that is about a Earth ruled by The Condesce, and it is just fantastic. The atmosphere is great, the character writing is excellent, I'm so invested in the story moving forward. TactfulGnostalgic also did Song of the Pyre, which is my favorite Homestuck fic so far, and basically everything on their account is fantastic. If you're a fan of really engaging relationships, especially those focused around women — I would absolutely give them a ring [laughs] y'know, look at their work. Also if you're a fan of — of intensely detailed space and/or naval combat, which let me just say is a special interest of mine, you will enjoy their work! The action is very good. I also like — there's a — there's a couple of Rosemary comics — couple of Rose— not comics, there's a couple of Rosemary stories that I really enjoy, I think Loveletters in Digital Ink is a beautifully sweet and well characterized AU story that is required reading. And also, since we were talking a little bit about trans narratives, another author, and I can't remember the name of it, but An Earth-Shattering Confession [by rememberwhenyoutried] is an excellent story in its own shared human/troll planet about Ro— about trans Rose, which is a great narrative that's personally really affecting to me. And it's another very sweet series. Do you have any particular favorites you wanna recommend?

Zich: Okay, okay — okay first of all, those — those sound absolutely amazing. And secondly, I'm afraid to admit there's no way I'm gonna outdo you because I have to confess I probably have not read fic for the last [audio cuts out] years — I'm not — I'm not really a big reader.

Kate: That's fair.

Zich: I'm kind of — I'm kind of overdue for a Homestuck reread as it is.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: But if we're talking about fan work that's kind of fiction — sorry, kind of fic, then I have to, have to, *have* to recommend Theatre of Coolty by Duckface, y'know — it is just so Homestuck-y.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: But in the [audio cuts out] sort of ways.

Kate: [laughs]

Zich: You've probably, y'know, seen me yell about it enough, and if you haven't, that's where my icon [audio cuts out] Twitter [audio cuts out] So, y'know, go watch it or go read it.

Kate: Yeah.

Zich: It's a fic but it's also been [audio cuts out]

Kate: Alright, and Moisturewave asks on Twitter: what is the best discourse?

Zich: Okay. So my rules for discourse are as follows: number one, make sure everyone can be involved; and number two, make sure no-one can be hurt.

Kate: Uh-huh.

Zich: That's the — that's basically the rule for getting people talking about stuff.

Kate: This is part of why I started a moon war on Twitter — is that y'know, beefing over Prospit and Derse is extremely funny and totally harmless [laughs] it is, y'know — it's a good way to get us talking about the like, lunar sway part of the extended zodiac, while also making a lot of funny jokes with each other. Those kind of like — those kinda like, goofy in-universe arguments. Those are the discources that I like the most.

Zich: Me too. I — I just think — you know sometimes it's just the silliest things —

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: But, I mean — Galekh twink discourse.

Kate: [laughs] Oh the — the discourse that tore us apart!

Zich: The one that started it all. I really outdid myself there! But it just goes to show that sometimes people have really strong opinions about absolutely harmless things that — y'know — really latches on.

Kate: Mhmm. And it — it's so fun to argue with people on — on Homestuck Twitter for sure. Badusernames asks on Discord: how would you compare Homestuck's popularity to Undertale's? Homestuck's popularity never peaked as high as Undertale, yet the popular— yet the popularity lasted for longed because of the constant updates. Would you say that Homestuck is less accessible than Undertale?

Zich: Okay, so that's kind of like two questions. The first one of which, how would I compare Homestuck's popularity to Undertale, I mean — I have no way of elegantly answering it. I'm gonna say Undertale overall was more popular, but I think Homestuck fans collectively were more dedicated whereas Undertale fans, you had like, a lot of very dedicated fans but it was proportionally a smaller amount in the fanbase.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: Don't quote me on that!! I could be wrong.

Kate: And my — my view of the accessibility question is: yes and no. Homestuck is very long, but it's also free [laughs] whereas Undertale is something you have to pay to play.

Zich: That's true. But I think the length and also the style is something that is very — that can be very off-putting for people, so I — if someone says to me, y'know — cause I've told a lot of my friends 'go read Homestuck' [audio cuts out]

Kate: Mhmm. We've got a few questions from Loravura, Becca, who was our guest for the Calliope episode. And she asks: what role do you think Vriska has played in shaping the fandom, with vriscourse, etc.?

Zich: [laughs] So I think the way — I — I'm not a Vriska expert by any means. You can —

Kate: I'm our resident Vriska expert —

Zich: Defer to Kate —

Kate: [laughs]

Zich: Yeah. But I — I know the fact that the way her character was written meant that a lot of fans have a lot of strong feelings about her. Which, y'know, shows good writing! So I think it's not just Vriska, but since I'm with Kate, it has to be just Vriska that caused the most important thing [laughs] in the comic.

Kate: Right.

Zich: But I think controversial characters such as Eridan, Gamzee — all of them through the nature of their slightly weird actions in the backdrop of course — in the backdrop of Alternia context — meant that a lot of people had very strong feelings, especially because they either related to or did not relate to the characters, and they were seeing this either with — with or without the backdrop that Alternia is more violent. Because the troll race is very similar to the humans, but —

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: It's so easy to forget the sort of [audio cuts out] you feel like 'oh I'm like this character', that they have completely different social situations for us to ponder.

Kate: Right. You miss a lot —

Zich: And I think that is —

Kate: You miss a lot in your reading if you're treating trolls as just gray humans.

Zich: Yeah. Pretty much. Even though they look like that.

Kate: Mhmm. Becca also asks: do you believe in the popular cryptid Epilogue? My feelings on this are well-known, but what are yours?

Zich: Oh, I haven't ac— I haven't actually heard your views. Well, I feel like we'll get something in terms of follow-up, but whether it will be satisfactory or whether it will be something that has a lot of time and effort invested into it the same way that Hiveswap Friendsim was, I don't really know.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: And I don't — I don't really think about it because I like to be surprised basically.

Kate: Yeah, that's fair! I — yeah, I don't have any specific expectations. Mostly I just preach patience, 'cause I think that what's happening right now with Hiveswap and the Friendsims is like, intended to be what we experience next after Homestuck, and we should just — we should experience it and not get too antsy about — about stories that I believe will be resolved in the end with some of the — some of the bigger questions of what happened in Homestuck's ending.

Zich: Yeah, right! Exactly.

Kate: So y'know, just be patient! Just enj— we're getting fresh, hot new wonderfully written content every two weeks, like — literally Homestuck is updating right now — like, and if you're paying attention to it then — like, if you're not playing the Friendsims and you're not engaging with that then you're missing out. Like — like, what are you waiting for! It's actually happening, right now! [laughs] And of course Becca asks the mandatory question that we have to ask everyone: who is best girl?

Zich: Okay. I don't have like, best girl or like — I don't really say like, 'this is the best character' or anything, but I think my favorite girls in the comic have to be Jade, Callie and of course Roxy is my absolute fave. But people are free to disagree, obviously, and these are just my personal faves.

Kate: Mhmm. I don't — I don't think anybody out there's gonna disagree that Roxy, Jade and Calliope are good. If anyone does — y'know —

Zich: That's not fun discourse!!

Kate: Turn — turn on your location, I just wanna talk! [laughs]

Zich: [laughs]

Kate: Nico asks on Twitter: do you think fandom is better now or was it better back when it was more popular? How do you feel about the sudden surge of new readers, and do you think the fandom might get a larger following again (and would that be a good thing)?

Zich: Okay. So I think this may be kind of a curveball answer, but I don't think fandom is ever better or worse. I think fandom is only ever bigger and less controllable, or smaller and sort of — more [audio cuts out] hive-mind.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: And of course right now we're in a stage where pretty much the sort of — dare I say — main participants of Homestuck Twitter always kind of have the same takes on everything. Whereas, y'know, if you go somewhere else — Reddit, or Tumblr — there's obviously many different opinions, we just happened [audio cuts out] to ourselves. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing — I think if fandom makes you happy and you're not hurting anyone else, that's the only outcome you can ask for yourself.

Kate: Yeah, absolutely. And certainly I'm invested in getting more people on the train — it feels like when the Friendsims were first coming out there wasn't a ton of engagement with them. They weren't marketed very well. But fans and — I have to say, let's just stroke our own egos for a little bit — you and I [laughs] as well as a number of other — as well as a number of other like, what I would describe as core members of Homestuck Twitter, have done a really good job at like, drawing more attention to these excellent stories and like, y'know, el— like, elevating content created about them. And part of the cool thing is that over the course of this run of Friendsim, some of the creators have joined Twitter and have started engaging with us and dropping hints and it all feels very much like those, like, OG forum days — where — where we all — we all get to like, experience this together and these — this new set of excellent creators get to enjoy playing with us!

Zich: Yeah very much so. Yeah, I'm — I'm very much flattered that the creators feel confident and comfortable enough that they can engage with us firsthand, because I know before when the fandom was bigger it wasn't necessarily like that, so —

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: I'm really grateful that —

Kate: Yeah.

Zich: Cultiva— [audio cuts out] atmosphere [audio cuts out]

Kate: And it hasn't — right now it doesn't feel frightening to engage with Homestuck Twitter. I don't feel like there's — there's a lot of mobs, I don't feel like there's — there's negativity. Homestuck got so big that people felt like, I can be as negative about this as I want and it's not actually going to affect everyone. I like having creators here with us because I think it makes people remember like, oh right, people are making this thing, I should like, be empathetic and not a dick. [laughs]

Zich: [laughs] Y'know, totally.

Kate: Spruik asks on Discord: how has the culture/attitude of the Homestuck fandom changed from Tumblr 2012 to Twitter 2018? My answer for this is just: all the heterosexuals left. [laughs]

Zich: [laughs] It's true and you *should* say it!

Kate: [laughs] The gay singularity happened! [laughs] It — y'know, it's just — it's just a lot less — it's a lot more inclusive, right, it's a lot less focused on — on sort of heteronormativity. And even the like — the fandom for gay relationships has gotten a lot less like — how do I put this sensitively — a lot less Yaoi [laughs]

Zich: [laughs] Fetishistic.

Kate: Fetishistic! Yeah, there we go. It feels a lot more authentic, it feels a lot more — y'know. The fans — we're all gay now! That's how it's changed from 2012 to 2018.

Zich: Yeah, no, ev— it's true, and I think it's not just — obviously it's the quality of the narrative itself that's drawn so many people in, but I think it's accompanied by a wave of a greater presence of LGBT fans online. Just kind of being out there and feeling less afraid of who they are, and obviously being nicer, being less invested in cringe culture and bullying others as well.

Kate: Yeah, absolutely. And our final reader question, Paige asks on Discord: I don't know how to phrase this as a question but can you talk a bit about how the nature of humanity is just that every so often someone accidentally invents Homestuck again?

Zich: Okay. So y'know, I think the most important thing to remember is that Andrew Hussie is a very skilled writer and he knows all the tropes.

Kate: Mhmm.

Zich: The way that he makes Homestuck so [sighs] meme-ifiable — can I say that, is that allowed? Is that allowed?

Kate: Let's go with memetic.

Zich: Memetic, okay. The way that he designs the story — has designed the story — means that there are so many certain elements that apply to many other types of media, to many other tropes in very popular fan — that appear in many popular stories as well. So it's just the case of Homestuck is just that good! If you wanted to make something better it'll just be Homestuck!

Kate: [laughs] It'll either be Homestuck or it'll be Vast Error [laughs]

Zich: [laughs]

Kate: Which is a different story told with the same sort of visual motifs, so y'know in the end it's — it's still the same [laughs] Yeah, so that's our show! It's been an absolute pleasure having you on. This is our first international episode of the Perfectly Generic Podcast and I look forward to talking with more fans all over the world as this — as this podcast continues. I don't actually know what the music is this week, which means it's me, so whatever songs you heard at the start and the end, I made! [laughs] If you're interested in having your music featured on the Perfectly Generic Podcast get in touch with me. You can find the show on Twitter at twitter.com/pgenpod, or perfectlygenericpodcast.com. You can find me on Twitter at twitter.com/gamblignant8 — I'm also on Tumblr at the same address but I don't use it very much. And where can people find you, Zich?

Zich: Basically Twitter, so as you know my Homestuck @sburbd. I'm on there most of the time, and I'll probably interact with [audio cuts out] y'know, reply to stuff.

Kate: Mhmm. You're — you're extremely Online.

Zich: I am very, very extremely [audio cuts out]

Kate: [laughs] You can find us on iTunes or in your favorite podcast client. Subscribe to us in your favorite podcast client, give us a like or a rating or a review — and y'know, share it with your friends! I know I mentioned a giveaway last week, and I haven't gotten to it yet because I'm a dirty liar! [transcriber's note: Kate is lying about this also]

Zich: [laughs]

Kate: I will eventually get to it [laughs] sorry about that, just keep following the Twitter and y'know — it wouldn't be a Homestuck giveaway if it wasn't inexplicably delayed for an unknown period of time [laughs] Zich, do you have any parting words for us?

Zich: Don't forget to hit that like and subscribe!

Kate: Yeeeeaahhh, alright, thank you so much for coming on. Have a good week —

Zich: Thank you for having me.

Kate: Next week we'll have A Show with A Guest.

[outro]

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