– Homestruck Book 1: Act 1 & 2

 Homestuck Book 1: Act 1 & Act 2 by Andrew Hussie; VIZ Media LLC (440 pages, $25).

Homestuck Book 1 - Act 1 & Act 2 by Andrew Hussie

Homestuck is an interactive webcomic geared towards teens & young adults which was written, illustrated, and animated by Andrew Hussie. The fourth overall webcomic published on MS Paint Adventures, it centers on a group of teens who unwittingly bring about the end of the world through the installation of what seems like a computer game.

I’d describe Homestuck as a pulp sci-fi action adventure mystery. It contains bigger-than-life heroes, colorful characters, exotic places, strange and mysterious villains alongside moral conundrums, comedy, emotional tragedies, and romance through hardship with dashes of fantasy science like time travel, laser beams, psychic powers, and teleportation. Dr. Who fans will certainly enjoy Homestuck!

Homestuck Book 1 contains Acts 1 and 2 of the webcomic. This is the genesis of Homestuck, wherein the reader meets our first four young human survivors that find themselves standing before the gaping maw of the unknown. Witness the rocky start of their long and mysterious journey to find each other and their families in the strange new world they’ve found themselves in, each having unique encounters with strange beings and new dangers along the way, all the while trying to unravel the mysteries behind this harrowing adventure that has been thrust upon them.

The entire 7 acts and 8,000+ pages of Homestuck are freely accessible online over on https://www.homestuck.com/, and I highly recommend you go read it there to get the full interactive, animated, audio-visual experience that a book cannot fully provide. That being said, the touched up visuals and author commentary on every page make Homestuck Book 1 and its sequels very welcome companions, especially if you’re wanting to enjoy Homestuck on the go or without Internet access.

The “interactive” descriptor of Homestuck refers to the unique process by which the webcomic was written. For example, Page 1 of Homestuck shows a 13-years-old boy standing in his room and asks the reader to come up with a name for him. As a result readers pitched numerous name suggestions for this yet unnamed character on Homestuck’s web forum. Andrew Hussie then picked “John Egbert” from these suggestions, and thus the character was named John Egbert from there onwards. In subsequent panels, readers were asked to give instructions to John, in order to guide his actions through the comic.

Mr. Hussie always picked which suggestion was used to progress the comic, though he would not always pick the “best” suggestion to either have fun at the reader’s expense in comedic moments or to let the tragedy of human error play out in dramatic moments. While this back and forth between author and readers did not generate the entirety of the comic, it certainly contributed to the backbone of it. Even some of my own suggestions were made canon. It’s fantastic to see them immortalized in print!

Aside from web forum interactions, Homestuck is also dotted by short interactive web games that serve as panels in the comic, wherein you briefly assume the role of one or multiple characters and engage in experiencing a small part of their adventure firsthand to progress the story.

At the end of the day, Homestuck is just a comic, but it does lightly touch on some complex, serious topics such as LGBTQ+ issues, the death of characters, the death of loved ones, depression, drug abuse, romantic abuse, murder, suicide, tyranny, racism, and genocide. If I ever say that I’ve never shed a few tears reading this comic, then I’d be lying!

Donavon Anderson is a Reference Library Assistant at May Memorial Library. He can be reached at danderson@alamancelibraries.org.

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