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Order of the Stick and Homestuck: Metafiction and Metaphors

nuclearmentality said: 

mind going a bit more in-depth on what you mean by this?

Order of the Stick: Blood Runs in the Family has basically the same ending as Homestuck: It’s a highly metafictional narrative where the characters are being forced along the path of a story by the villain, and the resolution is them rejecting the story and leaving to do other things.

The main difference between them is that in Order of the Stick it’s explicit. Elan’s dad actively wants a great story to happen, even if it means he’s defeated in the end. Caliborn “controls the narrative” in order to set up time loops that predestine his eventual victory in a manner that serves as a metaphor for “canon” but is within the logic of Homestuck a time travel paradox. This is more convoluted, but what’s most important here is that Caliborn’s goal isn’t to be a villain in a story, it’s to kill everyone and live forever as a god. 

Thus, the audience sees “defeat Lord English” as the goal of Homestuck, not “escape the story”. Homestuck does not, and indeed can not thanks to the metaphor, provide any narrative weight or momentum towards “the characters escape the story” as a satisfying ending. There’s quite a bit of existential angst about what it means to live in a world where there’s one official pre-approved future and everything else was doomed to failure, enough that an ending of “we destroyed the concept of an alpha timeline all timelines are valid we’re free” would have been a perfectly satisfying ending, had that been what happened.

Instead the characters go to Earth C and the story just kind of stops. Can Lord English not be Already Here in Earth C? Apparently not, for some reason. Why? He’s defeated by some other character in some off-screen manner that has no thematic relevance for this “canon” idea and is literally just kicking him into a hole. The literal goals of the characters (escape to a new world) and the metaphorical goal of the characters (escape “canon”) aren’t connected in a logical way Accomplishing one shouldn’t have anything to do with the other, so when they suddenly get treated as interchangable it’s confusing. 

By comparison, the Tarkin arc DOES have a connection between “Defeat the bad guy” and “escape the confines of a story”. Defeating Tarquin traditionally means he wins, so the heroes need to escape the story, and he needs to stop them. Because he wants to stop them. Caliborn doesn’t actually have any reason to care if the kids make it to Earth C, and he never directly intercedes to stop them. He does his own thing and they do their own thing. At no point does Caliborn, like, tell any of the characters he’s got this time loop thing going, meaning that none of the kids and trolls even know he’s doing anything that affects them.

Order of the Stick has the characters actually be at odds over the theme. This allows Order of the Stick to do something Homestuck couldn’t, which is have it’s cake and eat it too. The audience wants to see a final confrontation, and we get one. There’s a big long dramatic battle where all the characters get to do cool things. But since killing Tarquin is giving him what he wants…

They don’t. Elan has a character growth moment where he ignores his meta “good guy” role and coldly lets Tarquin fall off the airship, knowing Tarquin has the HP to survive the fall. Tarquin is left sputtering and furious at his lack of closure, giving us the satisfaction of seeing him defeated while not having him be defeated in the way he wanted. Even though Tarquin still has his empire, he is so thoroughly owned that we’re happy. The story has concluded in an unexpected but satisfying way that makes you think about stories as you realize that all of Tarquin’s complaints here are baseless. Elan did lose something important, he changed significantly as a character, the plotline has a satisfying resolution, and the ending is great.

And I think the new writers of Homestuck understand this to some extent.

Because they’re doing it Rich Burlew’s way now. New Homestuck has a villain who accepts being a villain and is actively trying to make sure that the heroes grow and learn and kill him in the end, exactly the same as Tarquin. He’s probably not going to get that villainous death he’s looking forward to, and it’ll probably be a lot more satisfying of an ending than Old Homestuck got because the story conflict actually has something to do with the metaphor this time.

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Out of the 9 released so far, (6 mainline story books, and 3 supplemental books) which Order of the Stick book to you think is best?

The only supplemental book I’ve read is On The Origin of PCs, which I remember as being really really good.

Of the books that make up the comic proper, the best is probably Blood Runs In The Family (the one with Elan’s dad). The ending of that book does what the ending of Homestuck was trying to do, but two years earlier and in a far more satisfying manner.

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jamesroachmusic:

“yeah, it is”

the title is meant to answer the question you ask while listening “is this… megalovania?” then you go and check the track in the credits and it gives you your answer.

anyway thank you so much @totalspiffage for absolutely nailing the vocal part of this track. a long time ago andrew said he never wanted to do vocal parts in the songs because that would be canonizing a voice but wheres andrew now? huh? yeah thats what i thought. i mean.. i know exactly where he is actually. love u, buddy just havin a laugh over here. sorry you couldnt make it this weekend.

anyway i also put nuclear in there uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh for fun???????????????

It’s kind of great how the Homestuck videogame uses a Homestuck song for Aradia Homestuck, the Homestuck character most associated with that Homestuck song, and everyone from the fans to the game’s composer is treating it like a funny meme reference to the skeleton game. 

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its very reasonable to try and avoid hurting people where possible but it is much less reasonable to demand that someone else’s risqué jokes be removed from a website that the viewer has full power to just… not visit anymore. The joke was in poor taste, making it one of thousands of similar jokes. If you find the comic offensive, that’s fine, but referring to people who have run a wildly successful children’s hospital charity for over 10 years as “the dick wolves guys” is just shitty.

I never said the comic should be taken down, just that the PA guys were kind of dickheads about the whole thing. They could have either apologized, defended it, or just ignored the criticism and let it blow over instead of bringing it up themselves every few years. 

Anonymous said to thewebcomicsreview:

I feel like you’d be a little spiky too if literally hundreds of people began circulating that LOTH page as proof that you hated burn victims and supported burning people in real life.

It was actually a much later page that got people mad at me for “hating white men” because I wrote Riley as a jerk. 

There’s no shortage of stupid-ass criticism of comics. Part of being on the internet now, and a lot of people have had it was worse over way less. 

Anonymous said to thewebcomicsreview:

Like, not to nelabor the point, but if you think angrily pushing back because multiple people jumped directly to accusing them of having actually raped someone because “only rapists would find that funny” is being an asshole, I just don’t understand your worldview at all.

People accused me of transphobic language when I tagged a Questionable Content page with “the trappening”, but I never felt the need to “push back” on trans people. I considered their arguments, decided they were making a fair point, apologized, and removed the tag.I know some of the people who were originally upset with me were satisfied by this, and I’m sure some of the people who were upset with me were not satisfied with this and stopped following. We all moved on with our lives and I tried to be a little more thoughtful when discussing trans issues so I didn’t say something stupid again.

Anonymous said to thewebcomicsreview:

artists who release their art for free don’t have a responsibility to make sure it doesn’t hurt anyone, are you fucking mental? press the back button. find a different comic. don’t flip the fuck out and demand an apology and then carry a grudge forever when you don’t get it

Sure, lots of comics have difficult or challenging content. Sometimes it’s in the service of a really fucking good comic that wants to say important things about difficult issues.

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Such as Drop Out’s discussion of mental illness, or take your pick of [Most “Great Literature” From School]. 

Sometimes it’s in the service of a stupid joke

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The Homestuck epilogues have, um, a lot of this, like this segment of middle-aged Gamzee fucking teenage Vriska in a bush for shock value grossout comedy. 

And the Homestuck epilogues got a lot more criticism, mostly because Homestuck’s this big huge corporate franchise but also because this stuff is really dumb and worthy of criticism. Much of the criticism is fair, and I think it’s a little cowardly of Andrew Hussie to hide behind his staff like he does, letting them take all the criticism why he poses with horses. There’s certainly an issue when people fire a massive hate mob at random teenagers making their first comics, but a major webcomic/gaming corporation making rape jokes isn’t quite the same thing.

And, really, if you’re sending a message to “The Webcomics Review” asking me not to have opinions of major popular webcomics, perhaps it is in fact you who should hit the back button. Or not, if you don’t want to. I’d be a hypocrite to tell you not to criticize me, after all. Feel free to leave a comment on my comic over at SaffronComic.com! 

Anonymous said to thewebcomicsreview:

It’s super good of you to promote humility and accountability like this. Quick question though, how many times has the address of your children’s school been posted on twitter because of a joke you drew?

Hi. This is Daniel Kelly of the Webcomics Review. We recently made a post where a rich and famous comic creator was criticized for making and standing behind a rape joke and selling rape joke shirts and flags.

Some found that idea disturbing.

We want to state in clear language, without ambiguity or room for interpretation: we hate doxxers, and all the doxxing they do. Seriously, though. Doxxers are really the worst

It’s possible you read my blog, and became a doxxer as a direct result. If you’re doxxing someone right now, stop. Apologize. And leave. Go, and dox no more.

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Oh, jeez, Homestuck had an animation killed by the YouTube Police for having a few frames of pixelated Black and White tiddy. The flash version is still available, but between this and the Smackjeeves changes, this is a terrible week for people who host their content on third-party sites.

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Homestuck patreon lost 1000 patrons in less than a month did u hear asherinn. tumblr. com/post/189337705373/callmearcturus-callmearcturus-sorry-i-just

I did not hear, probably because that’s not true. Homestuck’s only even had a patreon for a month, they’re so new there isn’t even a grapthreon for them yet, but I know they were around 1200 shortly after launch, were around 1300 a week ago, and then put out an update and some patron only comics and are now pushing 1600. 

Given that your source is some rando blog who by their own admission isn’t paying attention to HS, and that the only way this could possibly be true is if they randomly gained 1000 patrons one day without me noticing, I’m declaring this

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Oh hey, Homestuck 2 updated again. I guess I’m liveblogging it maybe (I’m tagging these posts “Homestuck 2 Liveblog” if you wanna mute them), so let’s take a look. Looks like we’re on Candyland today. 

I literally just watched a John Oliver Chiijohn segment, and I’m reading the narration in the voice of that narrator, which makes this way funnier. We need a kind old British gentlemen to do a Homestuck audio book.

And so the master has become the student

The circle of stupidity is complete.

But! Jake English is having a normal-ass dream! That’s kind of neat. Normally when a Homestuck player dreams their soul is transferred to a “Dream Self”, which is a physical body that physically exists, and when your dream self dies, falling asleep makes you wander around the “Dream Bubbles”. But all that shit’s sucked into a black hole now so I guess you just dream regular. 

Oh fuck me, Brain Ghost Dirk. This Deepest Lore is getting 2 Deep 4 Me. Shouldn’t you be part of Ultimate Dirk? This cosmology is getting hard to track, even for an obsessive blogger type. 

Okay. This is the pre-Retcon version of the Dirk that Jake conjured up in his brain. I feel like I’m going to want to set up a whiteboard for all this, and maybe I will, but it’s too late at night to do it now (and I’m procrastinating on multiple comics projects as it is!).

Though since Homestuck 2 is all “meta” and shit, what really matters here is that this is the “Original” Dirk, pre-evil. Pre-retcon, too, in fact. This is a version of Dirk from before Homestuck completely went into the meta stuff. What’s he doing here? 

I’m sorry, who the fuck is this? Calliope left Candyland, who’s narrating? Is Brain Ghost Dirk narrating?

Oh, he’s willing himself into existence now. A lot of weird shit happens in the Homestuck EU, but this is probably the easiest to accept, weirdly. Being his imagination real is Jake’s power, after all.

This is 16-year-old Dirk talking to middle-aged Jake here 😐

Nice little reminder that Dirk was always trying to pressure people to be better and kind of an asshole about it. I maintain that his heel turn is the smartest and best idea in the epilogue. Which is not….the highest bar….but still. I like Evil Dirk and I’m already interested in seeing Evil Dirk and Jake’s Memory of Dirk talk it out at some point.

Blatant Ominous Foreshadowing Alert. 

Anyway, Dirk convinces Jake to get back with Jane in order to spy on her for the resistance. I love how Jake is wearing a Tuxedo and a cummerbund but also a logo T-shirt. The only force more powerful than canon and logic is the power of branding, bay bay. 

Also, speaking of The Weird Meta Shit, panels can apparently lie now? 

Fuck you, Brain Ghost Dirk

Okay, yep, Brain Ghost Dirk is evil and probably Ultimate Dirk, but why and how is he in the black hole? 

Subtle Ominous Foreshadowing Alert: Transparent Ghost Dirk in front of the stripy blue tv background makes him look like a hologram, and his glasses have a distinctly red tint, instead of Dirk’s normal orange, associating Brain Ghost Dirk with Hal, Dirk’s auto-responder. In Homestuck 1, Hal was based off 13-year-old Dirk, and 16-year-old Dirk kept getting freaked out by how Machiavellian his past self could be 

And that’s the update. I liked it! I’m actually liking Homestuck 2 more than the epilogues so far (and I kind of didn’t hate the epilogues). It seems to be a little bit lighter, and the panels being back helps with the pacing. We’ll see how it lasts, but I’m actually digging this more than I was expecting I would.

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Tonight on Legend of the Hare: We’re done with all the scary gory shit, which will never be seen or referenced again! This comic is a comedy!

Speaking of horrific nightmares, what the fuck is Molly wearing? Yellow socks on yellow tights with yellow shoes? Ew. I’m pretty sure I decided on this outfit myself, which is probably why it’s a good idea that I have Sabu design outfits for my characters sometimes.

This page is honestly pretty worthless, except for the name-drop of Maeconolith who never ends up being explained and I’ll talk about him when he actually shows up.

People who’ve read ahead may wonder why Molly is going to the docks when it’s later revealed she has a teleportation stone. The answer is that to this very day I’m not entirely sure how you actually get from one layer of the tower to another. The individual layers are presented as if they’re universes, where there’s a sky above everyone instead of a roof. My backstory was that there were like these big Stargate things that connected all the layers to each other in peacetime, built by the horses (who were the “travel” people since you ride horses), and that during the….war?….the rabbits, dragons, and horses destroyed their gates to keep the rats out. This was actually alluded to in the lore posts under the original pages on the original site, but sadly those lore posts are all gone…

….

Wait, is the old site available on the Internet Archive? I don’t think I ever checked….

HOLY SHIT IT IS

Wow, that means I have all the old lore shit back! Thanks, Internet Archive! What deep lore did we have for this page?

“Blessed are the cursed, for they have seen beauty
Blessed is the man who sits in the seat of the damned
Whose delight is in the death of the world
Which passes in the day and in the night
For he shall he as the tree in the flames bearing fruit and nectar out of season
The godly are not so, the ungodly are the chaff that the storm drives away
For EACSTAIS knows the way of the righteous and the unrighteous”

Unknown, inscription on the base of pagan ruins in Tetrest

Ha ha, what the fuck, past me? Eacstais was another god from my DnD cosmology that I eventually dropped, the obligatory Cthulu god. What the fuck does this have to do with anything on this page, though? What the fuck is “Tetrest”? That sounds like Tetris, but the 4th layer is the rabbit one so what the hell? I have no memory of that.

The Lore Posts, which I’ve alluded to before, were bits of “lore”/worldbuilding under some pages, mostly written write as I was uploading the page. The whole idea was shamelessly ripped off from Kill Six Billion Demons, but in THAT comic the cosmology was directly related to the story whereas in mine it was mostly pointless piffle until eventually getting jokey.  Oh my god, look at this

For the Office of General Sergei Alliluyev,

Today has been a truly glorious victory. The rebels have been expelled from the square, and suffered great casualties attempting to retreat through the portal. Their cavalry has been slain almost to a horse. We estimated that the rabbits have lost forty percent of their forces. Though the dragons suffered minimal losses, we were able to expel them, and seize full control of the gate. With the possible exception of Emirpeta, all active gates to Monoligrad are now under our control.

Noteworthy confirmed enemy causalities, besides the obvious one, include Colm Ó Dálaigh of the rabbits. We believe the rabbits are thus leaderless, powerless, and effectively defeated.

Expect further correspondence

For the glory of Erickson,

Captain Alexi Galkin, acting Grand Marshal of the Monoligrad Restoration Corps

This is the post that went under page 2. This shit, which mentions the gates, Colm the previous Rabbit Champion, and the Dragon/Rabbit/Horse alliance, is under a page of Jill on a bed before any rabbits are introduced. See, I had plans! Not plans for the chapter or plans that would be at all helpful, but plans!

It even mentions a gate to the rat kingdom from “Emirpeta” which is almost certainly the Cat Kingdom layer in the ocean. The “-peta” part is also almost certainly “Nepeta” which is the scientific name for Catnip but lets be real here and admit that I apparently named a location in my first webcomic after a fucking Homestuck troll.

I literally only thought to check the internet archive as I’m writing this post and I’m all nostalgic and excited to learn what kind of bullshit I thought was cool in 2016 with all of you.