Homestuck has a vast range of over 100 unique characters – a far larger cast then most movies, books or other webcomics. Homestuck takes a unique stand on the presentation and complexity of its characters – with more then 5000 pages, its unique format allows the audience to chop and change between sequences in the story. This allows insight into each character’s individual drives and motivations, and helps to give them more rounded personalities.The cast is split evenly in regards to both male and female characters, with an almost 1:1 ratio making it unique in modern media. Some of the most important arcs of the story line are initiated by the strong female cast, who challenge and tear down common media stereotypes. Homestuck deals with romance and action, love and tragedy, but avoids typical gender stereotypes such as a shining male ‘hero’ and damsels in distress. Homestuck at its root is a comedy – and while having complex characters, Hussie’s intention is not to shove heavy handed feminism down his audiences throat. With his penchant for repeating patterns and brick jokes (A joke set up far back in the narrative, waiting for the other shoe to drop) make for revelations that exist to be both wonderful and terrible at the same time – showcasing his skills in making interesting and ever evolving characters who do not conform with societal gender norms.
In modern media, a narrative is usually marketed to a gender. Male audiences are expected to connect and view characters with male focus, action movies with male protagonists. A narrative with women at its focus is usually marketed exclusively to women, and focuses on themes deemed ‘feminine’, such as relationships or family drama. Examples of such media are movies such as ‘Valentines Day’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and ‘Twilight’. Archetypal roles are often used in these movies, creating flat two dimensional characters. Homestuck rebukes these stereotypes, challenging them through its characters.
What sets Homestuck apart are the roles that the female characters take; despite the large number, each one is different and every single one has a job to do. Despite the typical stereotype of femininity, and cliche notions of ‘waiting to be rescued’, they are given drives beyond being typecast as ‘girls’. An example of this is showcased in the complicated revenge cycle between two characters, Vriska and Aradia. Both take part in an extreme action role playing game together with a few of their friends – extreme in that, some cases, the game causes the death of its participants. As they are part of an alien race, known as trolls, who are quite savage in nature, this is seen as only a slight hindrance rather than a big deal. Within troll society, there are different blood castes, all placed on a ‘Hemospectrum’, which goes from rust red (being the lowest) to pinkish fuchsia (considered royalty). The dynamics of this class system, as well as interpersonal dynamics between the trolls themselves creates a tense social situation.
(An example of the Hemospectrum)
Vriska (a blue blood), spiteful that Tavros (a communal friend of both her and Aradia) does not return her feelings, injures him, causing him paralysis from the waist down. Aradia takes this as a slight against herself, and using abilities given to her by her blood caste (she is rust red blooded) she sends spirits to haunt and terrify Vriska. This continues a cycle of revenge which ultimately leads to Aradia’s death, and her ghost implanted in robotic form later. This intense cycle is a centre point of Homestuck, and holds greater importance later in the story line, cementing both Aradia and Vriska as vital characters. The relevance placed upon them and their later character development, and the complexity of their arc showcases the lack of gender stereotypes in Homestuck. Both Vriska and Aradia are written as strong characters with their own personalities and volitions. In this arc, Tavros is important, but less for what he does, and instead for what happens to him – a role usually given to female characters.
(Aradia’s ghosts robotic host, taking revenge on Vriska for killing her.)
Vriska is arguably one of the best written characters in the series – slowly growing from a dislikable antagonist and self proclaimed ‘8itch’ to redeemable. The detail and intricacy of her storyline, the kind of attention usually reserved for male protagonists, is a shining example of Hussie’s unique storytelling style. The characters are presented as more than their genders, or stereotypes abundant in literature of today. Homestuck presents characters which are relatable and realistic, having both admirable and despicable traits, and balanced and interesting personalities. This broad range of exciting characters, interpersonal dynamics and Hussie’s ability to laugh both at himself and his audience are what keep this webcomic fresh, different, and a few steps ahead of its literary competition.