Apr. 13th, 2011

Y34R 2

Apr. 13th, 2011 09:36 pm
mistersandman: (Default)
Homestuck, the latest epic by MSPaint Adventures auteur Andrew Hussie is two years old today. Last year, I wrote a long tribute that extolled MSPA as not only the future of webcomics, but the future of storytelling itself. I'm going to repost that now, because all of it is still true.

Ever since online comic strips moved away from two bros sitting on a couch or SNES sprites copied and pasted ad infinitum, webcomics have been hailed as The Next Big Thing in artistic expression. And why not? The internet gives exposure to talents that would otherwise have difficulty breaking into the exclusive club of newspaper strips or comic books. In many ways, online comics are preferable to their floppy counterparts. A print comic is considered to be a success if it sells 10,000 copies a month. When one factors in the costs of printing and distribution, this is not a greatly profitable business. On the other hand, even a modestly successful webcomic such as The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has a readership in the millions and is profitable enough that the author/illustrator doesn’t need a ‘real’ job to supplement his income. There are innumerable internet success stories. Although I do not consider myself to be any great purveyor of webcomicry, I can think of at least three examples of a web author who managed to get themselves into print, usually with collected print editions of their work, but sometimes with material unrelated to the source of their internet fame!

How long before we see xkcd: The Movie, true believers?

It’s all very exciting, but have we truly put this newfound medium to the test? When Citizen Kane was released in 1941, it was revolutionary because it changed the way film could tell a story. With new breakthroughs in cinematography and scripting, movies were no longer stageplays on film, they were a whole new artform. Have any webcomics to this day done for the internet what Citizen Kane did for film?


I’m not going to say that Andrew Hussie’s MS Paint Adventures is the Citizen Kane of webcomics, but I would like to draw your finite attention to some of the high quality work that Mr. Hussie puts out on a daily basis. (comparing anything to Citizen Kane sounds really pretentious and I wasn’t that crazy about the movie anyway.)

MS Paint Adventures began humbly on some online forum or another. Reminiscent of one of those terrifying text adventure games, or more familiarly, a Choose Your Own Adventure book, readers would submit suggestions for the author and the author would illustrate the consequences of those actions. In all of the webdom, it’s a very unique relationship, one that I would posit could not exist in any other medium. Although Hussie has moved away from the audience-driven narrative in his latest adventure, “Homestuck,” “Problem Sleuth,” which ran from March 2008 to April 2009 is almost entirely composed of reader suggestions.

Alone in the webcomic world, MSPA contains many interactive Flash pages, animated GIFs, and even musical numbers that, taken as a whole, result in one of the most distinctive online experiences you could look for. Aside from all of this gimmicky crap, the writing is simply top-notch, filled with entertaining neologisms, programming terminology, and incredibly hard-boiled lines. Most significantly, even minor characters have strong personalities that will stay with you long after the site gathers dust at the bottom of your cookie jar.


So here we are, one year later and I don't have a lot to say. There haven't been any major developments in the way Andrew tells his story. He's obviously made efforts to shake up the formula-quadrupling the cast to start, but the effect isn't quite the same. I can't tell if this is simply because my sense of wide-eyed admiration has expired, or if they were actually bad ideas implemented competently.

In any case, let's take a moment to celebrate the best thing to come out of the second year of Homestuck: Terezi Pyrope!!

A lot of people are turned off by Terezi because she T4LKS L1K3 TH1S, but the character has all of the stupid traits that I love: a blind badass detective who uses an omnipresent shit-eating grin and a loopy demeanor to disguise her incredible ability to calculate, manipulate, and otherwise ORCH3STR4T3S TH3 D3M1S3 OF TH3 W1CK3D.

Most of the interrogation is in the intimidating silence.


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