Homestuck is a web comic, the fourth story in the MS Paint Adventures collection created by Andrew Hussie. It started in April of 2009 and is ongoing, with five acts completed and a sixth one underway. If you want proof of its popularity, go to a comic book or anime convention and look for the gray kids with orange and yellow horns. You'll see a lot. And, if you can't get to a convention, check out the fan-generated work on Tumblr.
I started reading Homestuck last summer, after seeing a large group of people cosplaying characters from the series at Anime Expo. After reaching the midpoint of Act 1, though, I got busy and put it aside for a long while.
Then last weekend at Animé Los Angeles I wandered down to a Homestuck cosplay meet-up with a couple friends. It was massive, at least 100 people from what I saw. The following day, I asked my pal Charleett, who has become something of a Homestuck evangelist, about the comic."I think that if you make it to the end of act one, you're unlikely to drop it at that point," she told me.
So I went home and decided to start Homestuck from the beginning once again. That was Sunday night. As of today, I'm on Act 3.
I have thousands of pages to go before I'm caught up on Homestuck. That's not an exaggeration. I still haven't been introduced to most of the characters I see popping up at conventions. I don't know who the trolls are and why they seem to be so popular. I'm playing catch-up. Maybe by the end of January, I'll have a better grasp of Homestuck. Right now, though, I'm a total n00b.
Despite the fact that I'm essentially three years behind on Homestuck, I'm beginning to understand it's popularity. Or, at least, I think I'm understanding it.
On its surface, Homestuck is a story about a group of kids who get sucked into a video game-style adventure. That in itself isn't unique. In recent years, we've seen a lot of stories -- e.g. Scott Pilgrim and The Problem Solverz -- that make overt references to game play. What makes Homestuck different is the way the story takes shape.