you are in the spider zone

exits are NORTH and WEST


return home

The Homestuck Epilogues and what it means to grow up

I've been thinking about how to write this for maybe... a full year now.

There's 3 other files exactly like this, trying to grasp which direction I want to go with this. The epilogues are only a few weeks old now, but I've felt their presence on the horizon for so very long, and I've never felt anything other than dread about their arrival. And now that they're here, and I know how bad it gets, maybe I can explain why.

I had to reread the fucking trickster arc for this.

If you want to experience the epilogues, the intent of this writing IS to spoil you on them - not in the Marvel way, where telling you the events is the spoiler, but in the traditional way. I want to ruin this experience for you.

I don't know how to do content warnings. I talk about the epilogues in detail and there's a lot of really upsetting content in there, as well as some upsetting content that is unwarned in the epilogues, and also separate from the epilogues as I contextualize the world I lived in as Homestuck went to shit.

Some background.

I've been dreading the inevitability of more Homestuck content for years now. I was so very enthusiastic about more Homestuck in 2014, with the launch of Paradox Space, a space for Homestuck comics that use the characters in new, fun comics that maybe aren't super canon, but are generally pretty fun - it's still Homestuck, after all, and telling the story of John accidentally cutting off both harlequin arms resulting in a doomed timeline is fun! Jane sleuthing around trying to find her sandwich, that's good. The epilogues should have been about Jane.

Hold on - hold on I'm getting a report from the news room.

Correction: they should have been about Jane, but not like that.

Paradox Space quickly died. I may be wrong, there's not really any reason stated, but sensors indicate it was a money thing - ipgd* said that Homestuck was in deep financial trouble after The Odd Gentlemen had embezzled almost the entire budget of Hiveswap for King's Quest, just months after PXS launched. Though... I wish it had lived. You'll understand why.

I was still enthusiastic in April 2016, when Act 7 launched. I found Act 7 a satisfactory ending for the plot. It wasn't the climax of the story - the core emotional note of the story to me was always [S] Terezi: Remem8er, not Collide or Act 7. All things fell into place and the last shitty twist, that in the deep web of chess and pool symbolism, Vriska was the metaphorical cue ball, and English was the 8 ball, cementing her as the hero of Homestuck, had resolved itself. It's good.

Literally the day after Act 7 launched, I was set to move out of the house that I had read all of Homestuck in, the house that I had tried and failed to input a name other than Zoosmell Pooplord for John, the house that I had a panic attack over [S] Game Over in. The house I came back to after going out with my friends and loudly, badly singing the Midnight Crew song in the park. The house I made an ill-advised suicide pact with, to complete when Homestuck ended, long enough ago I thought that was an okay thing to do. I was moving into a house I had never been to before the first night I slept there. Homestuck had mostly ended, and the base around which I had built the last 5 years of my life was gone. I was 18, broke, my parents were mid-divorce, and a high school drop out with an unforeseeable future ahead.

I was less enthusiastic about more Homestuck by the end of 2016. Along with becoming more and more cynical, slumping into a miserable depression brought on by various events which I've only truly shaken this year, I just don't think that the Snapchat updates were very good. They were trying, but they're obviously not on the same level, in a way that makes sense when you learn it's written by fans, and Homestuck fans are often really bad at thinking about Homestuck in terms of themes and direction rather than character and ships. I enjoyed the fluff of it - the Rosemary wedding is iconic, but... I also don't believe for a second that Kanaya and Rose, especially with Terezi there, would have their wedding without Vriska there. I don't believe they'd just crack out the trickster lollipops again after Act 6 Act 5. I don't believe that Jane Crocker, heiress to Crockercorp as forced by the literal antagonist, who spends most of the comic as HIC's servant, would just build a new Crockercorp without question. I don't believe that after Dirk and Jake spent so much time realizing they were bad for each other, that they would just start living together instantly. And after WV's entire character being how much he hates kings, a statement of intent, I don't think building 4 species-segregated kingdoms would go over well at all. It's things like that that bother me about the Snapchat updates.

And in 2017, I learned Hiveswap has a similar problem. I've since spent a lot of time thinking about it, and compartmentalized Hiveswap as something completely different from Homestuck. A watered down, weaker version of Homestuck. Homestuck if it were YA schlock. It's got some issues, especially with how it handles Alternia, a setting I hold dear to me, and wanted to see portrayed warts and all. Hiveswap wants to be a revolution story. I don't think it ever will be - I don't think it has the bones, specifically, the spine, to do that. But I also suppose now more than ever, it was always harmless. It's not the Alternia you know from Homestuck. That's okay, I guess. It's not great, but it's okay.

In 2017, I also released my first game that's still available. Deadly Skeltons. It's a nice little tower defense game. It's okay. Play it if you want, it doesn't matter. It, to me, represented more than anything, growth. It's the first game I felt comfortable saying I was proud of. It was a remake of the first game I had ever made, for My First Game Jam the year before, with the same conceit and everything. But this time, it worked. It plays well, still. It could be better, but I'm proud of the little bastard. I had developed a healthy circle of friends, and while I was recovering from the end of 2016 slowly, I was still recovering.

2018 was yet another chip at this enthusiasm. The troll call happened, and friendsim after friendsim written by freelancers and fans while James Roach worked for free was extremely disheartening. I was willing to give Friendsim a shot, since "better than Troll Call" is a low bar to reach, but it started with Ardata, a character whose troll call card had things like "fresh to death sentence" and "bloodthirsty on main" next to "probably vriska". There was also hot dog boy whose name I don't remember. A Vriska expy and a nothing boy is not a good foot to start on, and that good will was instantly lost. Because the Ardata Friendsim is so fucking horny it's miserable. I had lost all faith in Hiveswap at this point. It's still not back, mind you, even as I soften on it in wake of the epilogues.

Things kept in motion - 2018 was a year of upheaval again. In July, popular trans music producer 4lung was outed as a pedophile, and there was fallout in my friend groups. I finally got my wisdom teeth taken out, a year and a half after I started feeling the pain of them being there. My mother had moved back in - she didn't get into a job right out of returning to college, and couldn't make rent. My first grandparent of 4 died. His funeral was casual - he would have been insulted if we had shown up in suits and dresses. I still wear the jacket I bought to wear every day.

I stopped caring about Friendsim. I clicked James Roach's music tracks, because they make some bangers. James Roach does some standout work. There were things I thought were nice - some things in a yellow blood's route whose name I don't remember - I think it's Cirava? - had some characterization I considered invigoratingly Alternian. But those were few and far between in favor of things that wouldn't be out of place between Steven Universe and Riverdale. I had accepted that it was not my thing, only to have its head rear once more with its final breath: The last route on the scene was Lanque, a jade blood who was set up as a trans man. Before he ever got a route, everyone was already up in arms about Lanque - a canon trans man in a caste known for being all female, and the devaluation of character traits that made the Homestuck characters unique tied them all back to motherhood in some way.

But even more than that, Lanque drew from shoujo tropes. Lanque looked like a Utena character, and when someone - I forget who - said Lanque was a trans man, everyone exploded. And then a relatively unknown author named V hit the scene. She had been here for a while - the clown route was her work, but like... the clown route was just horny.

V is the second person since the end of Homestuck to try and ape Hussie's antagonistic creator persona, and the second to fail miserably at it. The back and forth of this dynamic is based on wanting something the author has to provide, and the barbs being given not being hostile enough to be injuring. Even Hussie failed at this at a lot of points so it's whatever. 3 for 3 when it comes to fucking this up.

Lanque's route itself reeked of the kind of person who has brain worms, the kind of person thinks that antis are killing fandoms - Ardata has lines like "I had better not see any posts online about how problematic this is." and when you opt out of the porn route, since the route is split into two branches, one "problematic" and one "unproblematic" or whatever, where have we seen that before, narration makes a comment about how not woke you are for tuning out of a woman's sex fantasy about an ambiguously aged teen. Lanque then goes on to be a scumbag the whole time - Lanque being a Utena character was a correct call. Unfortunately, in Utena, men are scum. This isn't really problematic, like, characters can just be shitty, but it's a character that a lot of people were excited for. One day we'll be sifting through pre-route Lanque RP blogs with the same way we look through all those half-finished Booker/Elizabeth fics that people wrote before finishing Bioshock Infinite.

The unproblematic route is just as bad. The trans man is characterized as soft and uwu, literally wearing a flower crown and hosting a tea party where nothing bad ever happens, condescending to you for not wanting to play a game where the only plot beat that can happen is "sex with an ambiguously aged teenager".

It's a sour, spiteful little piece about how righteous it is to write porn. But it disappeared quickly - nobody cared about Hiveswap like they did Homestuck, and V was only one of many freelancers who wrote Friendsims, why would they be around for very long?

In screenwriting there's a rule of thumb that is the rule of threes - set something up, plant a reminder, and then pay it off. Why am I telling you this? Who knows...

The year ended, and days later, January 1st, 2019 came around and the Whatpumpkin twitter had rebranded. It was now SKAIANET SYSTEMS, and it wore on its face a countdown, to 4/13. New Homestuck was more threatening than ever. And hidden deep in Skaianet's files was a text file, a lore dump describing how Skaianet came to exist as it did on Earth B, as well as using this lore hook to tie Hiveswap to Homestuck. (The connecting chain is that the Alternia in Hiveswap is actually Alternia C, from the same universe as Earth C. Joey Claire went from Earth A to Alternia C. Also, Calliope's parent is the villain.)

Talking about it takes on the same tone in my brain in which I talk about the epilogues - to recount them using anything other than the beigest, most bland and terse words possible risks the image of those events appearing in my mind. I'm not going to spend much time on this but part of the lore is that known fascist and former Trump staff, Steve Bannon, is a failed clone of Guy Fieri, who is a failed clone of Stan Laurel, Condescension's true love. Jane Crocker is named for Calamity Jane, real-life mass murderer of indigenous people, fictional cherub and parent to Caliborn and Calliope. Jake English is canonically white, because he is real person Ann Dunham's father, and Ann Dunham, mother of real person Barack Obama, was white.

That sucks to write. There are more things that suck to write in the same vein coming up.

The first week of the year was consumed by discourse. Nobody liked the Skaianet lore. It's one of the few times that something massively offensive in Homestuck got retracted, and removed, and apologized for. Still waiting on the Homestuck super cut where HIC isn't a miserable stereotype. There was hints of this - Hussie mentioned Skaianet lore in a book release, but he had said that he didn't want to show anyone there. There were rumors that it was V, the same person responsible for Lanque's route. They never took credit for it, and until recently, I dismissed it as a conspiracy theory. V was probably some bad freelancer hire, why would they have anything to do with it?

Once the fires died down, January came and went. I had started taking GED classes, making good on dropping out in 2013. My dad would talk to me, over and over, about how he was scared of the dead tree outside our house, and how our landlord would do nothing to fix it. All landlords are leeches. I had gotten my first job, too - it only lasted two weeks, due to a death in the other person's family, but I did good work as a level designer on a small, independent game project. My bedroom became uninhabitable because of a sewer issue, that never got fixed. We'd be moving in two weeks anyway.

And finally, after settling in at this new house, on April 13th, 2019, the 10th anniversary of Homestuck, came and went. I almost thought nothing would happen - I was accustomed to a non-Viz Media time schedule. In my time zone, Act 7 went up on April 12th, at 11 PM. I remember where I was, then. It was almost... pleasant, revisiting a time of Homestuck fandom fervor without the looming threat of epilogues.

It was okay to like Homestuck, for a moment.

And then the epilogues launched.

The first page of the epilogues was, at the time, the worst. A page full of warnings that seemed audacious to the point of seeming fake, especially when compared to the contents, which were abjectly bland. Rose has some adverse god sickness because of canonicity, John has to go back and fight English eventually, and then John, Roxy, and Calliope have a picnic.

The premise is that Homestuck as it exists in the epilogues isn't canon to itself - and that that's okay. It's... almost a fun space to play in. If only they played in it.

The authors were Hussie, ctset, and cephiedvariable. I had only heard of one of them, and it was Hussie. ctset wound up being V, that unknown author from before who had the same plot hook in Lanque's route and thought being provocative and being interesting were the same thing. And cephiedvariable, I respected for a little while - she wrote Promstuck and when it came time for the epilogue backlash, she said some softening words about how it was nonliteral that helped ease people's nerves, and is generally pretty... normal, in the online way. I can understand being in her position and wanting to do something fun with Homestuck.

It was another week, of people thinking about what the epilogues could contain, theories, and that Saturday, I went up to my grandmother's for Easter, to keep her company after her husband passed months before. A last moment of peace, before I would be sent into a dissociative state for 3 weeks that I'm only just now shaking to a reasonable degree so that I can work.

I came home and just, immediately, I could feel the tone shift. The rest of the epilogues were here.

If you're just interested in the epilogues as a matter of shopkeeping, writing a sendoff to some well-regarded characters, closing each loop, stitching each hanging plot thread into its final position for the tapestry of Homestuck to be complete, you're in the wrong place. The epilogues only end in a non-literal way. The ambiguity of Act 7 is echoed in the lack of resolution in the epilogues.

If you don't care about that, and just want to read more Homestuck, I suggest not. They're true to the characters in the most meaningless sense of the word. The voices read like Homestuck, if you knew about Homestuck entirely from its fanfiction. Characters are fragmented, half-remembered. They're character equivalents of Wile E Coyote painting a sprite of Karkat on the plateau wall. The roadrunner can just pass on into this sprite of Karkat. You, dear reader, are not the roadrunner. And there's nothing here for you on this side of that painting - Wile E Coyote isn't that talented.

Before we get into the text of the epilogues, there's something I want to dissect first - the epilogues are split into two paths, based on which food John eats at the picnic with Roxy and Calliope. It's a simple metaphor, though people got galaxy brain about it almost instantly, because the Homestuck fandom has never once read anything in any way other than literal.

Choosing Meat would be very straightforwardly "fulfilling, but not very sweet", and choosing Candy would be very straightforwardly "sweet, but not very fulfilling". It's kind of a busted metaphor, because this is not actually what it means, in the context of meat/candy when it comes to Homestuck. I'm under no impression that this is a fully developed opinion, since most creative opinions are developed to justify bad decisions you were going to make anyways, but the concept is addressed in a book commentary:

I think this one marks the start of Homestuck’s trend thereafter of dropping exceptionally violent, high-octane, game-changing animations out of nowhere. There are so many like this from on, right up to the end of Act 5. Only then does the number sort of taper off. But from this point on I just sorta started shoveling more and more red meat into the story’s maw. This stretch is where I was starting to get a feel for this type of sensationalistic storytelling content as something I’d later code (mostly for my own internal purposes) as “meat,” in the meat/candy binary of storycraft theory. I really shouldn’t talk about this yet, though. It’s too soon.

Meat is the term given to things happening. Candy is things not happening.

This is what constitutes cherub meals - Caliborn and Calliope, fandom stand-ins, eat exclusively candy and meat. When discussing eating meat or candy, Caliborn immediately draws a parallel to Cotton Candy, the ship name for Jane and Roxy. The "Caliborn asks Dirk to draw porn for him" segment was coming out during the time I was most uncritically into Homestuck, ie, stupid. I remember it really well - there's a weird meta aggression towards the idea of shipping in general, like it presents a disrespect for the story itself. Caliborn doesn't want to see Jane and Roxy as real people, with real feelings. He wants to see them interact in fluffy/cherub-pornographic ways. The ultimate ending is both fluff for fluff's sake.

This is later elaborated on in the trickster arc, with the trickster lollipop being the most obvious instance of candy as what it truly means - characters have only positive interactions, and this is unsettling because that is not how real people act. It's worth looking at the trickster arc as a codifier for this kind of "candy", since it's so gratingly on the nose. Moments after each kid gets trickstered they have a dialogue with each of the other trickster kids about how it IS better to kiss than to grow as a person, including some really on-the-nose dialogue like:

DIRK: You're not happy! You're demented! And how exactly does it solve any of your problems getting all candied up to go flushing however many months of sobriety down the toilet???

Once you're out of the thralls of trickster mode - a paltry sum of pages, actually, considering how fucking reviled it is as an arc - you're treated to Hussie telling you what the point of that was, very directly.

Of course you think you were doing them a favor. You're an alien.
So is your sister. She thought the juju would be a great boon for them as well. But she was wrong.
See, you cherubs are predisposed to love all this trickster crap. All that goofy squeaky candy coated nonsense is a critical part of your people's mythos.
That sugarized zillyjunk sort of embodies a unified field of absurd Platonic ideals to the cherubim, so when you see expressions of it in reality of course you're gonna go apeshit.
But that kind of stuff is freakish and disturbing to humans. Those aren't our ideals.

This is directed at Caliborn, after he and Calliope, another fandom stand-in, start off the dreadful trickster arc by giving Jane their jujus. The message is clear - Homestuck fans love candy, but it's weird and absurd to "real people". Considering this is targeted at people that started shipping Jane and Gamzee after just one page and a honk, and people that insisted on Dave/Jade endgame based on 3 pixels and a slightly higher framerate, I think it's worth talking about relationships, and how they relate to this binary, since they're unquestionably codified as candy.

Relationships in Homestuck are always shunted just a bit off camera. Depicted kisses in Homestuck is overwhelmingly either traumatic or at the very least, upsetting. There's only a few that aren't corpsesmooches - one is between a very drunk Rose and Kanaya, one is between Davepetasprite^2 and Jade which is followed by Davepetasprite^2 stabbing Jade, the other between (Vriska) and Meenah, which I have some reservations about beyond the obvious one being (Vriska) is 13, and one implied kiss, between Roxy and Calliope after she's revived, which happens off screen.

Character relationships, and how character relationships spark growth is the core appeal of Homestuck to me, so separating the two is strange - it's a failure to understand what relationships are. Relationships aren't rewards for completing a character arc, at which point you can then go off and smooch your matesprit for the rest of the comic until the big climactic flash.

There's also a strange thing that muddles the idea of candy in the trickster arc - it's the reappearance of alchemy. Alchemy scenes, where the characters just make new things with the grist and other mechanics they've got, are a few of the outright fun scenes in Homestuck. Puns, characterization, and setups for things that will inevitably be called back to are primo Homestuck material. However, this first reappearance in quite a while was in a section which characterizes the "candy" half of the meat/candy binary.

It sort of shunts really unique character work under the bus of "candy fluff" in a way that comes into a weird position where character work, spending some time playing in the space with Jade Harley, and plot are two things which can never overlap, which is a strange way to construct a story, since Homestuck characters specifically are wholly realized enough to exist sans-plot. As countless fanventures which never catch on because the character work is sub-par, plot doesn't matter without character.

Even the best parts of Homestuck are when the two overlap - my favorite part of Homestuck is watching the fluffiest length of scenes, where Jane, Jade and Calliope make their trollsonas, and tell the story that Jade remembers, meet the gruesome fallout from Game Over. It's not because it's shocking - Vriska being retconned back into the story is a known thing - but of the narrative dance it does. Watching Terezi put together how much Vriska means to her in real time, while Jade and Jane recall how Vriska returns to the narrative is just... like... it's the best part of my favorite thing, dog. It is a character moment driving the plot, rather than the plot driving itself as it tends to do within Homestuck.

Now that we've codified candy as "characters + shipping" and meat as "plot", let's play a game, dear reader. I'm going to present to you some events of the epilogues. You get to guess which event is in which route.

Here's the answer: They're the same. The twist is that they're the same. They are two hands of the same horrid being, and none of this matters. Meat and Candy overlap in such dumb ways that you'd be forgiven for thinking this was all some extended Aristocats joke. You may think that this is good - I just praised how character work and plot beats overlapping works really well for Homestuck, since that's just good storytelling. But it's not.

It's so rare that something so thoroughly empty has been produced, devoid of both candy and meat.

There's an exchange in Act 6 that I thought was curious based on how it goes nowhere - Meenah tells John outright that she is going to steal the Life ring from him, but she doesn't want to. It's a sweet moment - Meenah gets to talk about how much Vriska and Aranea mean to her in a really sweet way and her calling Aradia "softcore megido" and saying she's just "whatever, i guess" is really funny, but it's a strange beat to hit. Of course she was going to steal the ring, at some point, it's her classpect. In the epilogues, I only understand this a bit better. Meenah steals the Life ring from John in the meat path, yet she returns to life in the candy path.

It's disappointing on infinite levels.

It's disappointing because it takes the characters that grew throughout Homestuck, and turned them back. Characters regress between Act 7 and the snapchats, but the epilogues take them back even further. 8128 pages and 10 years was not enough for these people to change. Dirk hasn't outgrown his tendencies to be manipulative. Right before Homestuck starts building to Game Over, and the alpha kids are sitting on their quest crypts, waiting to be killed by Her Imperious Condescension and another Jack Noir, Dirk says "Nobody deserves to get all the things they wanted more than she does.", about Roxy, who he then treats like shit, throughout the entire epilogues. Jade is a ditzy, incompetent airhead with no social skills, instead of the aloof, but still understanding character she became. Jane Crocker, who had been shunted by the narrative focus countless times, "grows into" a fucking xenophobic, fascist rapist. All of the writing is so deeply misogynist that saying "the authors are 2 women, one who self-identifies as lgbt" feels like I'm lying to you. It permeates the entire thing. Rose "fuck destiny, I'm gonna do my own thing and kick ass at it" Lalonde is a damsel in fucking distress.

It's disappointing because it takes that aversion to showing existing relationships in any terms other than chaste happiness and shifts it hardcore into explicit territory. The epilogues want you to know how hot that cephiedvariable finds Terezi Pyrope. The epilogues want you to know that Jane Crocker fucks. You may say to me, "But Vicki, that Terezi thing was clearly in-character narration by John!" and I say, no better is the camera's gaze demonstrated than when choosing to express a character's gaze within the story, which is in turn itself a situation manufactured to justify gazing.

It's disappointing because it steers into revisionist transphobia - in Homestuck proper there's unquestionable trans woman coding placed on Roxy. She revels in her femininity - her nickname until the reveal of her nameplate is rolal, hiding the last two letters. When those two letters are revealed, they're referred to explicitly as "chromosomic". She refers to herself as girl more often than any other character in the comic, and just before release, Hussie himself said in an interview that Jade and Rose had the GG and TT chumhandles because they mirrored XX chromosomes. Roxy's handle is TG, which is also a common abbreviation for transgender. Talking about chromosomes and assigned gender makes me feel skeevy as fuck, but it's present. It's there. It's textual. It's coding that's unquestionably present. Even with that ignored, Homestuck has been described infinite times as "a conversation between audience and author". And in this case, there are countless Roxy Lalonde trans woman headcanons, because it's true - including myself, I can think of a single trans woman who also likes Homestuck that didn't at least try the name Roxy, because of Roxy Lalonde, and that's only because she picked Jane instead, for the obvious similar reason. In the epilogues, Roxy is cis. (Until they're not.)

It's disappointing because it's 200,000 words of shock imagery and torture to no end. The point of darkness in fiction, IMO, is to provide contrast - when the switch flips, when we're at the bottom of act 2 and ready to move into act 3, and the hero realizes what they need isn't what they want, the good is that much better. It's earned goodness. I fundamentally don't understand why you would write a story where nothing good ever happens - and don't come at me with that "it's realistic" shit. It's not. Grimdarkness pushes a world view more than it does any truth it could ever capture. Grimdarkness pushes a worldview that suffering builds character - it doesn't. Choices and interactions build character.

Even the things that would be at least passable if played earnestly are warped by cynicism. The sweet becomes saccharine, vile and twisted reflections. I've gotten an impression that nobody really likes their fantasies all that much - there's always a level of self-defense, parentheticals thrown out, opinions formed to defend things you do because you want to. I feel that it's because of this exact thing. Having your own wish fulfillment plots, of your favorite characters living happily and healing from their life, shoved back at you, meanspirited and hostile. It changes you, or at the very least, it changes your priorities. Look at how stupid you look, Wolverine. Everyone is laughing at you for wanting a happy ending to this thing that took 10 years of your life, Wolverine.

It's disappointing because it's a backslide for Hussie, from the strong send off that was the retcon, with characters unlearning their harmful biases, to be the best gods they can be in the new universe, with Dave and Dirk openly talking about being LGBT[1], and how that's affected them, how Dave's bro's abuse influenced Dave, and how Dirk relates to that, and what Dirk could have been had he not been forced to learn better. It's a backslide from Dave openly saying that he is going to blurt shit out and that when he blurts shit out that he doesn't want it to be something horrible, into deliberately putting out offensive content for shock and offensive content's sake.

It's disappointing because I like Homestuck, a lot. I spend more time per day than I should thinking about what I'd do if given the resources and power to make a Homestuck thing. And it's not because it's disrespectful to Homestuck canon that these epilogues bother me. I understand the motivation to do something unique while you have the reins over this canon, and there are parts of things I like that I wholly disregard when it comes to talking about them. It's not about preserving canon. It's about what Homestuck means to people - the chance to grow up, the chance to build your own future, and making sure you're the best person to build that new future. It's not Sburb or releasing the extremely Freudian grift rigs or the Ultimate Alchemy, or the house juju that contextualizes that for people. It's the characters. The chance for these characters, for any characters to be important to people, though, that IS sacred to me, that is the point of fiction to me. To point out how fake the craft is in service of nothing other than to do so, it may be true, but it's a waste of time to spend three years, building and building to your final magic show, only to show up and tell us all "Magic isn't real, life isn't fair.".

There's two ways to read the epilogues - one is as a continuation of Homestuck proper. The Roxy Lalonde you saw in Homestuck is the Roxy Lalonde that exists in The Homestuck Epilogues, and they are the same being. When Roxy stops being in Homestuck, they immediately continue on to be the Roxy that exists in the Snapchat updates, and then The Homestuck Epilogues. The second is as a standalone piece, something that by virtue of being by the same author, on the same site, named The Homestuck Epilogues, and presented as such, cons you into believing that it is the same, when it isn't, and never was a continuation of the story, and instead is its own thing, that uses familiar language, the familiar colors and typing quirks of Dave or Karkat or Kanaya, to tell something new.

It's only now, almost a full month later, that I'm able to think about the epilogues in terms other than trying to push the horrid events within out of my mind so I don't spiral into vitriol at the idea of thinking about these things, and here's what I've got as far as intent goes: it's about putting the authenticity of canon into perspective. Canon, non-canon, it doesn't matter. Theoretically, a good story is a good story, canon or not, and a bad story is a bad story, in turn.

And from this, it grows into its second idea, an author who does not care about their work will not do what is best for the characters within it. But in my opinion, it's incorrect to say that this is new. Homestuck was always about this - how people with power shape the areas they have power over, and there is evil in blindly recreating systems that allow evil to happen, and to be the best person you can be, you have to examine your own history and learn from it.

That's what made the Condesce evil - she was going to use the new universe to build a new Alternia, when we can see through how characters like Vriska, like Kanaya, and like Karkat, that Alternia doesn't deserve to exist. This is what made Caliborn evil - he too didn't care for the story he was telling, he told a story out of spite and hatred. This is what made Aranea evil, she couldn't let go of her life as Mindfang, idolizing her alternate self to the point where she even has some extremely on the nose dialogue about how she wants people to start calling her Mindfang. This is what made (Vriska) good, as she watched Aranea immolate people and saw herself, in the worst way. It is the same theme, done less well by virtue of being petulant and immature, and made less applicable by virtue of wrapping itself in wank about canon and noncanon.

Instead of Aranea, or HIC, or English, the epilogues' stand-in for this concept is Dirk, who was always a stand-in for Hussie first, a prank played on people who don't like Vriska second, and a character third. Dirk is actively antagonistic towards his own storytelling, and instead of the characters of Homestuck, he's opposed by Calliope, who was always a stand-in for the Homestuck fandom first and a character second. It pits the two against each other, vying for control of the narrative in a way that reads as Hussie admitting that he is not the person that is the best fit for telling Homestuck, and that the fans are the ones who are the best for it, because the fans truly care about it. I agree.

Homestuck exists beyond Hussie's control now, in every way. Fans do characters dirty, sure. But for every Daddy Dearest, there's a self-indulgent rarepair that helps someone get through a bad day. A blog that, while maybe wrong about the character's identity relative to where I'm at, helps someone be okay with being trans in a world that's so overtly hostile. Giving this power to fans, giving them the light of creation, telling everyone "I'm not the one who should be telling this." is correct.

But how we got here, to this point was so miserable, and it didn't have to be. There are so many things that could have been done in this space. The space is literally infinitely large. It didn't have to be this way. The epilogues could have given Vriska a giant robot to fly around in and it could have been equally noncanon, but at least it would have been fun, instead of cynical, miserable, and deliberately upsetting.

If only there was a non-canon play space that existed, and had existed for a while, but went unused, that could be used to publish what is effectively official, sanctioned Homestuck fanfiction that everyone was kind of nostalgic for.

But if you were to just translate the epilogues to comics, even the best interpretation and reinterpretation would be unreadable - nobody is going to watch Vriska and Gamzee fuck. How do you reach the same conclusion, while being something more eminently readable?

Maybe it's about Dave and Karkat arguing over a fictional script, about the trolls going to a summer camp. Both self-insert Dave reading the script out loud and making fun of it, and Karkat, who loves their friends and is desperate for a version of Homestuck's events where things turn out okay writing it, would influence our perception of the events and characters this script hosts. Accomplish the same thing about authorial intent, without being miserable and up your own ass about it, and tell a better story while doing so.

Maybe, put together an AU where everyone's a little bit happier.

Don't read the epilogues.

Read Summerteen Romance instead.

* I'm aware there's some rumors going around that V and ipgd are the same person. I'd rather V say it than have kiwifarms say that, though. [back]

† To this day, I've never seen a Hiveswap fan who was older than 20 that didn't also work on Hiveswap. [back]

[1] I say LGBT because I personally read Dave as a trans woman. Not because gay is a bad word or whatever. [back]