Wednesday, December 28, 2011


It's time to come clean: I am a Homestuck.

What, that terminology means nothing to you because you are not already a member of the fandom?

Wikipedia explains: Homestuck, the current adventure [in MS Paint Adventures], began on April 13, 2009 and follows many teenagers as they play a reality-altering video game that brings about the end of the world.

Fans tend to refer to themselves as 'Homestucks.'

Being a part of the fandom has drawn me to join Tumblr, as the creator, Andrew Hussie, updates sporadically there, as well as the creator of one of my other favorite webcomics, Kagerou. But what really sealed the deal for me was that Tumblr is where the creator of Kagerou writes fan-fiction of Homestuck. Called Brainbent, it really deserves a post of its own, but I'm trying to contain my fandom. Brainbent explores the adventures of the Homestuck characters if they all lived in the same place and that place was inpatient psychiatric care. The story is well-written and entertaining in its own right, but the strength of it lies in that using familiar characters and only going slightly farther in their original Homestuck characterizations contributes to an intensely non-threatening space for people to read about and ask questions about mental illness. Because the moderators reply and repost a lot of what fans contribute, I can't even count the number of people who have openly expressed that Brainbent inspired them to take more action in their own mental health.

I've seen fanfiction derided for lazy world-building or character development quite a bit, and it's often true. But in the good ones, using a pre-existing work largely just provides context. Fanfiction lets you use people or places or both that are already familiar to you and many of your readers. It also means readers have a head-place they're already familiar with, already comfortable with, when you want to address something specific or difficult. Brainbent tackles mental illness using the familiar context of Homestuck, Wide Sargasso Sea tackles colonialism and assimilation in the context of Jane Eyre, and a short story we ran in Theory Train in Issue 2, called "Seasonal Affective Disorder," touched on Stockholm Syndrome in the context of Greek myth.

Sometimes, though, it's not high-minded and thought-provoking. Sometimes fanfiction is fun, further exploring a universe you love. The one I'm working on with my friend Tristan, Here Be Dragonflies, is more in that vein.

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