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A Mom’s Adventures in Homestuck Part 1

If you have a teenage that goes online, or if you interact with one, you may have heard such terms from them as “MS Paint Adventures,” “Hussie,” “Trolls,” or “Homestuck.” They may have started to show an interest in horoscopes or have images of zodiac signs or people with horns on their computer screen. Most likely there’s nothing wrong with them—they are just fans of the webcomic Homestuck. My two teenage daughters are such fans, and after a couple of years of watching them talking about it and running to my oldest’s room to watch the latest installment, I decided to see what it was all about.

Act One: What is MS Paint Adventures and Homestuck?

MS Paint Adventures is the home of webcomic creator Andrew Hussie. He creates webcomics based on the old text-based games from the 80s such as Zork. Homestuck is the latest of his comics and first started in April of 2009. His other comics include Problem Sleuth, Bard’s Quest, and Jailbreak. While Andrew writes the story, he also incorporates suggestions from readers that can influence the stories and characters.

Homestuck starts with the introduction of John, the main character for this first act. It’s his birthday, and he’s waiting for the beta of a new computer game SBurb. It came in the mail, but his dad, his cake-baking, harlequin-loving nemesis, got it first. John must find a way past his dad and then install the game on his computer. Once he starts playing SBurb with his online friend Rose, things really start to get weird: Rose manipulating John’s home through the video game, a harlequin-shaped sprite-thing following John around, and a meteor headed straight for his house!

At first, I wasn’t really sure what Homestuck was about. The story just follows John as he searches for his beta disks and seems random at times. I did feel some nostalgia for the old text games it was based on, and I started to feel a connection with John. Hussie builds the story up slowly, letting us get to know John through the things in his room and his interaction with his online chat friends, so when things really start getting weird, we are invested in what happens to him and his friends.

The humor is very quirky and soon appealed to my sensibilities. I liked the one panel in which John goes out to the mailbox, just in case his dad missed something, and his sense of forlorn loneliness at seeing it empty. How many of us have felt that same way when we’re waiting for something and the mailbox is empty? This feeling is emphasised by a longer animated sequence. And for some reason, I found the shooting of things out of John’s captchalogue, Homestuck’s version of a computer game inventory system, particularly funny. It hit my funny bone in just the right place.

The art of Homestuck is fairly simple. It’s mostly black and white with splashes of color and a minimal amount of animation. But for the type of story-telling Hussie is using, the minimalist style works. The characters are a little goofy-looking and are often shown without arms, though they do have them. But that just adds to the charm.

So what is Homestuck about? I’m still not sure, but I’m invested enough in the characters to keep reading and find out more. Act One ends on a cliffhanger, increasing the need to come back for more. Fortunately, I don’t have to wait to get into Act Two. If you’re interested in reading Homestuck, but not in sitting in front of a computer screen for a couple of hours, Act 1 is available as a print book.

Images © Andrew Hussie

Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!


  1. Nice review, I’m looking forward to your next article!

    I feel I should point out though, that this appears to be posted under “Good Comics for Kids”, and I would consider Homestuck strongly in the T for Teen category, if it was a video game. The label would read animated violence (think decapitations and blood), as well as strong language. You definitely haven’t gotten there yet, but I wanted you to be aware!

    • I just think thats if it was a game but thats your opinion! I think it would be for 11-13 up if your mature most kids now dont care for “gore”!

  2. Jonathan Hunt Brigid Alverson says:

    Thanks for the warning, Drillgorg! We actually interpret “kids” pretty liberally—this blog covers comics and graphic novels for readers up to age 16. Furthermore, Homestuck seems to be pretty popular with teenagers, so it’s helpful for the rest of us to know what they are up to!

  3. Thanks for reading Drillgorg! I actually have been warned about the violence by my kids, and that a lot changes in Act 5. It’s one of the reasons I decided to start reading Homestuck and share my feelings about it.

  4. Elizabeth McKeeman says:

    This review has me interested. My twelve year old daughter is a HUGE fan of Homestuck. She really wants me to read it, and now that I have Downton Abbey under my belt it’s time to jump into this pool. Between her talking about it, reading the Wikipedia article, and now this review I feel like I’m prepared. Thanks!

    • I’m glad to hear you’ll be getting the pool with me! It really has been a great adventure. I’ve finished through Act 5 Act 1, and it’s fun to have some moments we can share because of it. We were watching a movie that had a scene with someone going up stairs, and my daughter looked at me and said “I warned you about the stairs,” and we both laughed, since I could get the reference. (It’s in Act 3 I think).

      • Already to Act 5 Act 2, huh? I look forward to reading your review for it! You might want to split up your posts into parts for Act 5 and 6, since they are so much longer than the first four acts.

        Also, the “I warned you about stairs” (which shows up quite a bit) originates from Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, a crappy webcomic written ironically by Dave Strider, who is written by Andrew Hussie. No, I don’t think that’s overly meta. There’s references to the comic throughout Homestuck.

        Anyway, here it is:

  5. So did you get the “momstuck” name on tumblr ? Like you I an a mom of Homestuck fans so I created the mom-stuck tumblr blog. Momstuck without hyphen was taken, :p

  6. Nope, that’s not me. Momstuck tumblr seems to be for a fanfic site. Found your tumblr though. I based by on my personal fan blog name. My kids aren’t big into cosplay, but my youngest did dress up as Jade Harley for Halloween, and wants to again for Wondercon this year. Try searching “momstuck” as a tag on tumblr. It has some rather humorous posts. 🙂

  7. Oh I WISH my mom was this cool. She hates Homestuck because I talk about it so much. Though I don’t think she would approve of all of KarKat’s and Dave’s swearing ;-; How did you go about it?

    • Lori Henderson Lori Henderson says:

      My kids were talking a lot about it too, but that only made me curious. As for the swearing, well, it’s not like the kids aren’t hearing it at school from their friends, and online, so I don’t stress about it. I just try to keep its usage in check, especially around the grandparents.

  8. Ya their grandma sqw fan art of Tavros and went “Ay Jesus! El Diablo” (Eeek, yhr drvil!), Took me a while to calm her down :p

  9. Lori- I think your the bomb. I to am a mom of an avid anime and HS enthusiast. To the point that I had to put together a website about it for other parents to gain a better understanding. I would live to talk to you. I am actually cosplaying with my daughter at this years AX in LA. I will the Diciple one day and Roxy the next. Would love to get your impression of my website and what I am doing for the Anime community.

  10. So, my 12 year old is really into this. I really do not not know much about it yet. One of those things she talks constantly about and doesn’t understand why I do not get it… But if I did she would be mad because I was encroaching on her ” territory” so to speak. Only thing I had issue with was the ” buckets”. But was glad we could have a conversation about something of that nature w/o getting too technical, so to speak. So I guess that is kinda a good thing. She isn’t too embarrassed to ask questions/mention that subject. The swearing I cannot take issue with, b/c like you said they already hear it at school.
    So I am trying to be open minded
    She wants a “Homestuck” themed bed room… Any ideas? All I know is she wants a dark purple. Nepeta is her troll ( or also a Leo). She thinks Tavros is really cool ( apparently same zodiac as I am)… What this all means? Idk

  11. My concern is that it might be a little confusing to a 12 13 year old.. I noticed my daughter talking about A sexual transgender and gay lesbian sense reading and getting into homestuck. Also wants to be in her room just drawing all day n night non stop homestuck. Any thoughts should I be concerned? I haven’t read it.

  12. gamzee makata says:

    i hate homestuck


    I love homestuck

  14. Homestuck is great, I’m glad to have discovered it the year the flash player was going out and not afterwards

    • RobinMur says:

      I just started reading this april, and it’s been such a pain without flash. I eventually just used the books so that I could at least have a vaguely consistent experience, but they still haven’t released book 7.
      Homestuck is still fantastic, though.

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