A young man stands in his bedroom…
Homestuck opens up with a picture as mundane as can be: a nerdy-looking 13-year-old birthday boy standing in his bedroom, looking left and right and blinking his eyes, and drawn in an odd “stubby” fashion that conceals his arms, as the text below reads: “A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, 2009, is this young man’s birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name! What will the name of this young man be?” These famed words that open Homestuck insinuate that the boy doesn’t have a name until now, and that we will give him a name. As it turns out, this is a joke, since the boy has called himself “John” since a few years before the story started.
To the confusion of many a first-time reader, when you click “Enter name”, it enters “Zoosmell Pooplord” for you, and then says “TRY AGAIN, SMARTASS”. Then it enters his real name, John Egbert, and John then examines his room as we learn of his assortment of interests: bad movies, being bad at programming, paranormal lore, magic, and video games. I should note that I really like the name John Egbert (which was suggested by a reader, the first suggestion actually); it’s a normal first name, plus a slightly weird but quaint last name. I would also talk about how lovable of a character he is in general—he says things like “but it’s ok. i will be your matt mcconaughey.”—but I’ll save that for later since he doesn’t get much characterization in these first 46 pages.
After John is named, he does a bunch of silly stuff at the behest of reader-driven commands, like going through the trouble of retrieving his missing arms, only to reveal that he has arms all along. Much of his screwing around involves captchaloguing stuff in his sylladex, i.e. storing objects in a video game-like inventory. His sylladex is extremely inconvenient to use, and constantly spews stuff out, leading to numerous accidents and stuff falling out the window. Yep that’s right: the comic known for its race of gray zodiac aliens starts with 200-something pages of a kid dicking around!
The second-person narration even lampshades how silly the comic so far is: 15 pages in, it says, “In any case, you now feel like you have gathered enough things to get down to business and do some really important stuff. The next thing you do will probably be exceptionally meaningful.” just before John is given the command to squawk like an imbecile and shit on his desk. Shortly afterwards, he gets down to business and finally does something important: putting up his new Little Monsters poster.
We learn that John is excited for the release of a mysterious video game called Sburb whose beta came out three days before his birthday; this video game is the main focus of the comic, as it turns out. Then, he goes to his computer to, for the first time in the comic, say something. He chats online with a male Internet friend whose name is later revealed to be Dave, and who is portrayed as much cooler than John is.
John’s chat client.
John and Dave both type in all lowercase and in different colors when using the chat client Pesterchum, and later when they talk to people in person, their text is still in all lowercase and in the colors they use (blue and red respectively). Some characters do type with proper syntax, while on the other end of the scale, TH3R3 1S L1T3R4LLY 4 CH4R4CT3R WHO TYP3S, 4ND T4LKS, L1K3 TH1S. This is probably done because the typing style easily invokes whatever character it is, e.g. gray all-caps text instantly invokes Karkat.
Back to the point: John and Dave first babble about movies, but then they get down to business, and Dave asks John about the beta of Sburb. Dave says that he has copies but doesn’t want to play it, and that John should check his mail. He checks it and is excited to see that the red arm swingy thing on his mailbox is up, meaning there’s mail; although that’s not how mailboxes work, the narration doesn’t bother to inform poor non-mailbox experts of this. John wants to get the mail but his father came back from the grocery store and thus beat him to it.
A bit later, Dave talks to John about the captchalogue game mechanic shit, and he mentions their other friend (later revealed to be named Rose), who is supposedly “mackin on [Dave] so hard”. It is later revealed that Dave and Rose were siblings all along but never knew it, and at one point when those two talk, Rose says, “In some cultures the persistent refusal of a lady’s invitation to play a game with her would be a sign wanton disrespect. Either that, or flagrant homosexuality.” There’s a distinct possibility that she was joking, since it’s popularly believed that Rose is a lesbian, given that much later she starts dating an alien girl and has shown interest in a few other females, but has shown little to no interest in males. More on that later. Dave also talks about his big brother, who he claims is awesome and knows everything, but it’s actually really complicated, but that’ll be discussed when we meet Dave in act 2.
Putting fake arms in a cake: very, very serious business.
This early part of the comic constantly oscillates between semi-meaningful stuff and dumb stuff like the picture above: this is because the commands were given by readers up until about 1500 pages into the story. Many complain about how uneventful the early parts of Homestuck are. I see why they think that and want crazy action and zodiac alien stuff right off the bat, but in my opinion, the early part of Homestuck is hilarious anyway, and therefore entertaining enough that I’m OK that the story diddles around so much before there’s any crazy stuff.
The next meaningful thing is John picking hammers as his strife specibus (weapon of choice). He reads a Game Bro magazine article in which someone did a fake review of Sburb, starting out with speculating about what it’s like and how dumb it must be, but going on to forget that it’s a game review and tell a random story about his friend. John says that he and Dave both know Game Bro is a joke.
John then puts on a disguise to leave his room and explore his house to sneak around and get his game, which I think is a good stopping point since this is right before John finally steps out of that bedroom. So far, very little stuff important to the plot has happened: the most important may be John choosing hammers as his weapon, and even that isn’t much of a plot point.
See you Wednesday for a post covering more content as I continue through the first act of Homestuck, and tell me what you think about this post in the comments.