Oct 27, 2013

Homestuck: Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 2 (Gigapause)

By Ian Cory

As I’m sure all of you are aware, the end of this subact was accompanied with an announcement that will radically alter the way we read Homestuck, along with the contents of this column, from here on out. But before we get to that, we should really take a minute and catch our breath in the wake of a very propulsive and eventful subact. After A6A6I1’s slow and methodical reintroduction of the cast, A6A6I2 was a barely controlled demolition that sent the neatly organized plot careening in every direction. There have always been Homestuck fans that have wanted the story to erupt into violence, and with this subact they got their wish fulfilled in a big way.

This act featured none of the tricky nonlinear story telling or reader interactivity of its predecessor, instead opting to throttle through the plot at top speed. While I could write this off as a deliberate way of stealing control from the readers in order to show how truly out of hand things have gotten, the streamlined approach was more likely adopted to keep things focused on the action and not the mechanics. However, that same increased focus on action allowed Hussie to get flashy with the artwork, painting the site in a rainbow of blood and bursting light. As much as I’ve emphasized the off-the-rails insanity of this act, the artwork suggests that Hussie is just as calculated and focused as always. This entire act functions as one continuous scene that gradually adds more obstacles between each of the characters and their respective goals. As each new character gets caught up in the ever expanding Katamari of confusion the precise “goal” or solution to the conflict becomes even harder to work out, until the art itself starts to collapse into a series of messy glitches*. Right before The Condesce’s arrival signals the end of the brawl (and likely the start of an even bigger one) Hussie leaves us with the image of lava pouring through the clouds of Skaia. Is the symbolism a bit heavy handed? Sure. But after so much fast paced lunacy the message behind these panels hits like an Atomic Double Juggalo Backbreaker: we are in the end times.

Caliborn’s shitty green curtains had barely closed on our heroes before Hussie dropped another weighty message on us, this time in the form of an announcement that there will only be one more Homestuck update and it will contain everything left in the story. On a practical level, this only impacts serial readers who, though certainly a large part of the Homestuck readership, have never been Hussie’s target audience and will hopefully be outnumbered by the ever-growing archival readers. But no matter how readers experience this final update it will always be viewed through a different lens than the rest of the comic simply by virtue of its origin. This will be the first time that a significant portion of the comic will be written entirely in advance of its release, and that format gives Hussie access to a variety of tools that he’s never worked with before, mainly the ability to edit, rewrite and draft elements in advance before hammering them into exactly the shape he wants. Its hard to say how this will change the actual content, the freedom to rewrite and plan in advance could make this the most dense and complex part of the comic thus far, but it could just as believably lead to a more economical and direct ending. Regardless, this decision amplifies the pressure on Hussie to deliver a great ending tenfold. If he fails to satisfy everyone (pretty much a given in any media released overtime) people will undoubtedly blame the Gigapause. Unfair or not, Hussie has brought this upon himself, but this scapegoat is also the solution. The Gigapause will let him write the ending that he wants, not the one that I want or you want, or the one that the rest of tumblr begs for. And I can’t ask of anything more from an artist than that.

On the other hand, I am a bit peeved that the Gigapause has effectively ended my ability to write about Homestuck in real time. I’ve had a lot of fun doing this column and its helped me discover things about the comic that I probably wouldn’t have realized if I had remained a passive reader. Because of this, I’d like to keep writing about Homestuck in some form or another while we all sit patiently for six months (come on, there’s no way that the final update isn’t happening on 4/13/14) waiting for the Internet to eat itself alive. The way I see it, I have two options. Either I go back to the beginning of the comic and do a kind of “relive blogging” covering the story up to where I started this column, or I can jump around through the comic like John’s disembodied arm, breaking down why certain segments stand out from the rest. Either way, I’m more than grateful to my editor/overlord Josh Oakley for giving me the chance to write about one of my favorite pop culture oddities, and I’m equally grateful to everyone who read, reblogged and otherwise enjoyed this column. See you in April!

*This also brings up the question of where John is during all of this. Last we saw him he was fighting his way out of a pile of fake Dave’s in Caliborn’s universe. Is he still stuck there?

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