Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Reflections Part 115: ILLUSIONARY YAOI FINE ART.

Introduction

< Part 114 | Part 115 | Part 116 >

Pages 6853-6900

Act 6 Act 6 Act 3 (before GAME OVER)

Caliborn’s manga drawings are not for the faint of heart.
Neither is my commentary on them, probably.

Welcome to the fourth and final section of my Homestuck blog post series, Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Reflections! This is the point where I start going over the portion of Homestuck that I read as it came out. As I said at the end of the last post, expect a lot more reflection on how I reacted when those updates first came out, as well as some criticism towards the direction Homestuck started going in.

I should also note that I’ve finalized the subdivisions of my Homestuck posts from here on out (though I haven’t decided on firm cutoff points for each post yet). Here goes:

  • A6A6A3 before [S] GAME OVER: 1 post
  • [S] GAME OVER and the rest of A6A6I3: 1 post
  • A6A6A4: 1 post
  • A6A6I4: 8 posts
  • A6A6A5: 1 post
  • A6A6I5: 12 posts
  • [S] Collide and following pages: 1 post
  • Act 7 and credits: 1 post

Under this plan, my Homestuck series will end consisting of a nice, round 140 posts. 115 posts down, 25 to go! I can get through this final stretch, I know I can.

WELCOME BACK.
(AGAIN.)

To start things off, you may wonder how I initially reacted to this update, which was the first Homestuck update I experienced live (and the start of Act 6 Act 6 Act 3). I didn’t think much of it; I just found it all humorous and absurd, long before I realized how inspiring Caliborn’s evolution as an artist is. Now, seeing Caliborn’s curtains open on the How to Draw Manga book that had befuddled him so much before, it’s already clear he’s going to show off his new artistic skills that the book taught him.

Thanking readers for their “unimpatience”, Caliborn proudly reveals that he has indeed succeeded at learning manga. Lil’ Seb presents him a cool trophy that I can only assume was alchemized. Or maybe it’s a game construct from his severely distorted journey through the standard Sburb player progression? I’m asking some REAL questions right here.

> HOW DID I DO SUCH A SENSATIONAL FEAT? YOU ASK.

THE MYSTERY TO SUCCESS. LAY HIDDEN AMIDST THE BYZANTINE MANGAS. ALL ALONG.

THESE OCCULT WIZARDRIES OF THE BRUSH. PURLOINED FROM COOL SCROLLS OF WISE MEN FROM THE EARTHLING EAST. HAVE BEEN GATHERED FOR MY STUDIOUS PERUSAL INSIDE A SEDUCTIVE TOME. EMBLAZONED WITH A FRIVOLOUS TART.

HOWEVER, MASTERING EACH SLY GAMBIT OF THE TRADE. IS NO EASY TASK.

AND YET EASILY MASTERING THEM. WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY. IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID!

Caliborn admits it wasn’t easy to learn to draw manga, but his sheer perseverance allowed him to do so. He demonstrates a common phenomenon in learning art: if you really want to do make something, then it’s easy to learn whatever is necessary to do it. When reading the tutorials in the manga book, I imagine Caliborn frequently considered how he could apply these techniques to his own art. I further imagine part of this motivation was jealousy over Calliope’s artistic prowess, since she’s been a skilled artist with a unique style since the beginning. He’s quite clearly aiming to top his sister’s skill level, and he’s getting there!

The last line quoted above may seem like an oxymoron: Caliborn supposedly “easily” mastered the art of manga with “great difficulty”. I think it’s entirely possible for something to seem easy and difficult at the same time. It was a steep climb to move up from his previous crude drawings to proper manga, but his resounding motivation made it feel much easier. The effect of Caliborn taking a long time to master manga was especially strong to serial readers, since they had to wait a whole year for this update. It’s a lot like how the epilogues came out after two and a half years of stagnation on the tie-in to Caliborn’s Masterpiece, the fate of John and Roxy’s relationship, and what happened to Vriska in Act 7. (I say two and a half years instead of three years because of the Snapchat credits.)

> THIS FACT IS CALLED A *GAME CHANGER*.

TO PROFESSIONALS IN THE BUSINESS, THAT IS.

PREVIOUSLY. BEFORE I LITERALLY TRANSFORMED. INTO THE SUPREME DOUJINSHI MAN GAKA, STANDING BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES. I MADE SOME PREDICTABLE PLANS. REGARDING WHAT GOES NEXT IN MY STORY.

I GOT EVERYTHING READY. I DREW ALL OF “THE TROLLS”. LOOK. ALL OF YOUR FAVORITES ARE HERE.

UH…

Before this update came out, I remember seeing these fanmade Homosuck renditions of the Alternian trolls. I don’t recall how accurate they are to these, and they’re probably hard to find now that there are official Homosuck trolls, but it doesn’t really matter. What can I say, Homestuck fans have always been good at predicting obvious things.

This image shows us that Caliborn has trouble remembering Karkat’s name, so he just came up with an approximation (KRABKRAB.) that sounds close enough and doubles as a dunk on Calliope for giving a shit about these characters.

Caliborn’s nickname for Gamzee (HONK FRIEND.) is some sneaky character development. When he first met Gamzee, he fired his gun at the clown for five minutes straight, because that was his natural instinct when encountering another living being. But now, quite some time after Hussie’s self-insert eased him into the practice of teamwork to initiate the rad as fuck split screen section of Act 6 Act 5, he finally sees Gamzee as a friend. Why else would he nickname the guy “honk friend”?

The nickname for Eridan (CAPE DOUCHE.) sums up his entire character in two words.

Equius’s nickname (SMELLY HORSE MAN.) doesn’t describe his personality like some of the others do, because he doesn’t have a personality so much as a freaky assortment of fetishes that Hussie loves joking about. Horses have long been Hussie’s favorite joke matter, but given all his recent Instagram posts and that new visual novel project thing with four diamonds or whatever, it seems like juggalos have firmly superseded that role.

Sollux’s nickname (OTHER GUY.) is an apt description of his character, because throughout the story that’s basically who he is. The other guy. The one who unquestionably played a big role in the story’s plot, but doesn’t get anywhere near as much screen time as, say, Karkat or Vriska. And that’s pretty understandable. In a group of characters as big as the trolls, hell, even one as small as five, one of the group’s members is inevitably going to be the “other guy”. Or the “other girl” if it’s a group of female characters. And early in Act 6, the story finally lets Sollux live his existence as nothing more than the other guy.

As for Tavros’s nickname (BULL HORN WIMP.), I think you get the idea. Succinct descriptions that show that the male Alternian trolls are all quite distinct from each other in Caliborn’s mind. The female trolls, on the other hand…

None of these Homosuck trolls look like they want to be here.
The manga trolls, on the other hand… way different story.

Note that Caliborn refers to these trolls not as “THE BITCHES”, but as “THA BITCHES.” This misspelling shows that Caliborn takes pride, maybe even a sense of humor, in lumping all the female trolls together.

Inverting colors in an image is way more fun than it should be.

> OH. ALSO. THE BEFORE TROLLS. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY

SUCH AS IN CASE I WAS IN NEED. OF MORE FICTITIOUS IDIOTS TO MURDER. INSIDE MY DRAWINGS.

It’s not even remotely surprising how little Caliborn gives a shit about the Beforan trolls, or that he didn’t bother properly drawing them. His description indicates the primary role most of them (numerous copies of them, rather) serve in the story: as fodder for Lord English’s rampage through the Furthest Ring.

This image reminds me of the many Sburb cursor shenanigans in the early acts.

> BUT THESE PORTRAITS ARE NOW A MOOT POINT.

ALL OF THIS WRETCHED TRASH. GOES IN THE PLACE WHERE IT BELONGS. WHICH IS TO SAY, THE *GARBAGE*.

THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE AN ARTIST. SOMETIMES YOU CHANGE YOUR IDEA PLANS. BECAUSE THEY SUDDENLY SEEM TERRIBLE. DUE TO YOUR ASTRONOMICAL STRIDES IN CREATIVE MASTERY.

THESE WERE THE PIXEL PUPPETS. OF A LAUGHABLE AMATEUR. THEY ARE BENEATH ME NOW. MUCH LIKE YOU ARE.

God, I know EXACTLY what Caliborn is talking about. In my various creative projects, I’ve very often found myself rethinking plans due to improvements in my skills, or realizations of new ways I could go about a project. This is especially true with my longer-running projects, like the very blog post series you are reading right now. My early Homestuck posts pain me to read because they’re so bad, and the same holds for listening to a lot of my old music. I don’t know about you, but I personally think I’ve greatly improved in both of those skills.

BUT IN SPITE OF ALL OF YOUR BAD SHORTCOMINGS. I WILL LET YOU OBSERVE MY ARTISTIC BREAKTHROUGHS. BECAUSE OF HOW PROUD OF THEM I AM. AND WATCHING PEOPLE BE IMPRESSED AT MY DRAWINGS. EVEN DUMB JERKS. MAKES ME FEEL GREAT ABOUT MYSELF AND MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

Again, I know EXACTLY what Caliborn is talking about. It means the world to me when people praise things I make, but what’s even better than that is when people remark how much I’ve improved in something. I’m sure Caliborn would agree with that sentiment.

Did Google Chrome really look like this in 2014?
DeviantArt did look like this for a very long time, until about a year ago.

Here we have another installment of late Homestuck’s pattern of parodying social media sites. To me, it’s always felt a little too much like pandering to younger fans, but it’s amusingly nostalgic no less. DeviantArt’s redesign surprisingly kept the content on Caliborn’s profile mostly intact, but what’s more surprising is that it didn’t switch to circle profile pictures. Kudos to DeviantArt for sticking to square profile pictures, which are so much better.

On his profile, Caliborn’s favorite visual artist and favorite writer are both himself, which given his lack of exposure to other media makes perfect sense. Same goes for his favorite book being How to Draw Manga; it is without a doubt the only book Caliborn has gotten something out of that isn’t Sburb lore or classpecting nonsense. I also like that his favorite game is “table stickball”; it shows that he now sees his leprechauns as friends, and gets a kick out of owning them in the completely 100% original game they made up based on the colors of their hats. Who knows, maybe he’s managed to defeat the fast and sneaky Itchy in this game?

Yes, this was drawn by the same character who made those unrecognizable scribbles of supposedly the alpha kids.

Note the red cheeks, which clearly indicate Caliborn’s view of Dave as the alpha male.

Caliborn starts his manga exhibition with depictions of Dave and Karkat standing near each other. Not for any specific reason, of course. They’re just standing near each other.

… OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking. Don’t ask me HOW on earth this foreshadowing of Dave and Karkat as a ship flew over my head when I first read this update. But believe me, this all somehow COMPLETELY flew over my head! For quite a long time I was weirdly in denial that Davekat was ever a thing, and would angrily shake off any insinuations that it was a thing. When reading this update for the first time, I did not have any thoughts even remotely in the vicinity of “Dave and Karkat might be gay for each other”. If I did, I would have surely remembered it.

No beating around the bush: I have a very complicated relationship with Davekat, and at one point in Homestuck circles I had quite a reputation for vehemently hating it. In my posts from a year and a half ago, I talked about how it was a good ship all along, how much the epilogues redeemed it, stuff like that. But now, I hate to say that Homestuck^2 has made me disgruntled with Davekat all over again. It weirdly butchers their characters all over again to be snarky and yelly at each other, but at the same time deeply in love or something? One thing is clear: Hussie finds it incredibly amusing to screw with fans about this weird ship. And I sure as hell won’t pretend I’ve fully gotten over internalized heteronormativity. I will not deny that I still find it easier to see female characters being gay for each other than male characters, which I know is kind of douchey and sexist. And here, I’m forced to confront the truth that I still find Davekat kind of weird and wrong.

OK but seriously, this foreshadowing is so blatant that it feels like Hussie was doing all this partly to prove a point regarding fans’ inability to parse male-on-male relationships, especially with Caliborn’s text explaining his techniques of giving Dave and Karkat somewhat more feminine forms. And Hussie clearly succeeded in proving that point.

I’m going to skip through the rest of the Dave/Karkat manga pages and move onto the next thing Caliborn presents us:

I feel it’s important to note once again that this sexualized manga version of Nepeta was drawn by the same character who drew this. Caliborn claims her to be an original character of his, which is a blatant lie that he’s probably doing as some sort of artistic statement on illuding the reader. This so-called original character has the following interests:

1. GIGGLING.

2. MAKING ME PUKE.

3. USING CAT WORDS, INSTEAD OF NORMAL WORDS.

4. SERVING NO PURPOSE.

5. WEARING STUPID CLOTHES.

6. PROBABLY SMELLING HORRIBLE.

> 7. GETTING MURDERED IN DRAWINGS.

This is one of Homestuck’s many “dead Nepeta” jokes that possibly foreshadows a major role Nepeta plays later in the story, when Davepetasprite^2 becomes a thing. The next two troll girls featured here foreshadow something too, so why shouldn’t this one?

The next of Caliborn’s lovingly crafted troll OCs is a teal-blooded girl who has no relation whatsoever to Terezi Pyrope. Her interests are:

1. TOTAL FAILURE.

2. GETTING FRIEND ZONED BY QUALITY MALE HONCHOS.

3. LIVING IN PERPETUAL DISGRACE.

4. BEING A COMPLETE FUCKING THIRD WHEEL TO SOME COOL BOYS.

5. NOT BEING WORTH THE ALPHA MALE’S TIME OF DAY.

6. NOT BEING WORTH THE KRABKRAB’S TIME OF DAY.

> 7. NOT BEING WORTH ANYTHING. (A.K.A. “WORTHLESS”)

Yeah, this is more Davekat foreshadowing to fly over readers’ heads, or at least my head when I first read this. It’s probably also foreshadowing of her refusing to settle down and live life on Earth C, and instead storming off to find Vriska in the credits.

Speaking of Vriska…

> HERE COMES ANOTHER PRIME O.C. OF MINE, HOT OFF THE PRESS.

NOT TOO SHABBY, RIGHT? YOU CAN JUST TELL THIS “LUCKY LADY” IS BRIMMING WITH CHUTZPAH.

ME THINKS SHE WILL BE A VERY CONTROVERSIAL CHARACTER. WITH EXCESSIVE COMPLICATIONS. AND AMBIGUOUS MORAL STUFF. IN HER PERSONALITY BULLET POINTS.

Some things never change, huh? Birds fly, the wind blows, the sun shines, and Homestuck fans argue about Vriska. In the past year or two, Vriska debates have reached a new level of absurdity, with headcanons that she’s transgender and insistence that people only hate her out of misogyny. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally fine if you want to headcanon a character to be transgender, but if you harangue anyone who would dare question such a theory, then that’s pretty unhealthy. In any case, what I’m saying is that Homestuck fans keep finding new ways to poke at each other about Vriska. It’s a universal constant.

HER TRAITS AND OTHER SUCH CHARACTER THINGS. WILL BE A LOT TO LIST. WHICH IS FINE, BECAUSE IT WILL HELP YOU BELIEVE MY CREATION IS MORE INTERESTING. IN FACT. THIS IS ONE SUCH ADVANTAGE OF DOMINATING ALL KNOWN MANGA AS I HAVE DONE. WHEN YOU’RE THIS GOOD, AND BRILLIANT. YOU DON’T EVEN REALLY NEED TO “TELL STORIES” ANYMORE. YOU CAN JUST MAKE SOME CHARACTERS. AND LIST THEIR VARIOUS QUALITIES EXTENSIVELY. AND THAT’S GOOD ENOUGH.

This paragraph may be a criticism directed at Homestuck fans who make stories with original characters: they tend to write these extensive bullet lists of their characters’ traits and interests without showing any of them in action. This may also be a criticism from Hussie to himself: in Homestuck’s character introduction pages, there are plenty of interests that are mentioned once in the introduction paragraphs, then never again. It’s a weird pattern that tends to weigh down quality of Homestuck fanworks, since we all know that every character just has to have their blood caste, lusus, classpect, planet name, what have you, listed right off the bat before they get down to business.

THE MANY. MANY INTRIGUING PERSONAL FACTS. OF THIS TRUCULENT FEMALE PROVOCATEUR. SHALL BE LISTED EXTENSIVELY.

> AS FOLLOWS:

I imagine Vriska’s head getting chopped off was deliberately crude on Caliborn’s part, to demonstrate how irrelevant she is.

SHE ACTUALLY THOUGHT SHE WAS GOING TO BE RELEVANT. KEEP DREAMING BITCH!

Foreshadowing, foreshadowing, foreshadowing. I say “foreshadowing” three times because there are three Serkets this line could be foreshadowing. Aranea when the Condesce kills her after [S] GAME OVER, pre-retcon Vriska once she is parenthesized in A6A6I5, and post-retcon Vriska once she is parenthesized in the epilogues. This line is applicable to any time a Serket’s plan for relevance brutally fails.

Caliborn follows these troll girls by presenting a self-insert character, based on a fanmade interpretation of what Lord English might look like drawn back in 2010. This came as a surprise to the artist and stirred up a bit of controversy, but was resolved quickly as Hussie explained it was meant in good fun. Although it would have certainly been good for Hussie to have asked permission in advance, I still like that this is a trace of readers still influencing the direction the comic went in. I can tell Hussie didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to reference a totally different interpretation of Lord English, and worked this interpretation into the comic quite nicely. Just look at this badass anime version of English, with his slender body, wings sparkling with first guardian energy, and a rather stylish button-up shirt. He almost looks like a villain from Harry Potter, at least from my very limited knowledge of Harry Potter.

LOOK AT THAT GOD DAMN COAT. I DON’T KNOW HOW HE GETS THAT COAT? PROBABLY DUE TO A SHENANIGAN THAT TAKES PLACE LATER. I DOUBT IT MATTERS THAT MUCH. IT LOOKS GREAT THOUGH, AND I LOVE IT.

I don’t THINK it’s ever stated how Lord English got his Cairo Overcoat? If I’m not mistaken, the best knowledge we have is Kurloz captchaloguing Vriska’s overcoat in Act 6 Intermission 5, which means it’s probably intertwined with clown nonsense and maybe a bit of alchemy. Caliborn is right to say to doubt it matters much. There’s no point in knowing how English got that coat unless it were to tie into a different plot point somehow, and Homestuck’s plot points are already wrapped together like tangled headphones or a Jenga puzzle. Well, not exactly wrapped like a Jenga puzzle, because those things are wrapped in simple plastic boxes if anything, but you know what I mean with the Jenga analogy.

Caliborn puts a hat on his self-insert character, saying that it’s not canonical to his fanon but not caring one bit. And you know what, I can agree with him not caring about that. Hats make any villain look cooler and more stylish.

As Caliborn diverts his story to some sort of romance between his self-insert and the goddess of manga and lets out a few weird incestuous remarks, John zaps in on the scene.

In this scene, John’s text color is changed to be more readable against the dark green background, which is far from the first time such a text color change has happened. It makes it all the more amusing that Erisolsprite’s text color in the trickster arc was changed to be less readable.

> HIS EYES ARE SUPPOSED TO FLICKER ABOUT.

WITH THE HAT FLAVORS. OF MY LOYAL FROG PUPPET GUYS.

LEGEND DEMANDS, THIS IS A TRAIT OF SUPREME INVINCIBILITY. OWED TO A FULL BODY UNION. WITH THE CLOCKWORK MAJYY. MAYJYJ. MAKJACK.

THE CLOCKWORK BULLSHIT.

I DON’T KNOW WHY THAT’S SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN YET. BUT MAYBE WE’LL FIND OUT…

TOGETHER?

Unlike the origin of the Cairo Overcoat, we do indeed learn how Caliborn got his rainbow eyes right at the end of Act 7, which it makes sense he would be hyping up because it’s the ultimate realization of the long-running misconception that Homestuck is an anime. This passage basically tells us that we will find where the rainbow eyes came from, much unlike the overcoat.

HEY ASSHOLE, I’M TALKING TO YOU!

John’s intrusion into the narration suggests that Caliborn was narrating this scene out loud this whole time, which honestly isn’t a surprising revelation. Calliope and Caliborn probably talked to themselves plenty during their isolated childhood—not that I consider talking to yourself to be all that weird in the first place.

And so, John and Caliborn have another intense staredown, once more spread across six panels. This time, Cans isn’t there to cut the scene short, so John speaks up at long last.

it’s you, isn’t it.

Just from this line, you can already tell that John is ANGRY. It’s a very prominent trait of his that he gets angry at the right people for the most inane reasons, and Caliborn is easily the best example of this. Just like how he had a burning hatred towards Betty Crocker due to slight overexposure to cake, he’s furious at the thought of Caliborn because of the satirical comic he drew, not the havoc he wrought upon existence or anything.

you’re the guy who wrote that horrible story with all the fake daves!

you’re behind all this, aren’t you! i dunno how i know that, but i can just feel it!

you’re the one who vriska and her pirate pals are all trying to stop! it was you who put all this into motion in some way i don’t really understand! which means you’re responsible for like a trillion people dying, and universes blowing up, and all my friends getting scattered around and acting like idiots, and my dad being dead!

I love how the first thing John brings up in his rant to Caliborn is the story with the fake Daves, and THEN he goes over the things that actually matter. It’s plainly evident that John’s main rationale for anger at Caliborn is that crude comic, which is a very John thing to get angered over.

It’s also worth mentioning that the last evil deed of Caliborn’s that John mentions is the death of his father, which he is genuinely broken up about. He struggles to bring up meaningful concrete points until he realizes that his father’s death is connected to all this. Mockery of his father is the one thing that sets John off for normal reasons rather than John reasons, as we saw when he got PISSED at Davesprite in Act 6 Intermission 3. It’s thematically fitting for John to mention his father, because he’s right about to make his dad proud by beating the shit out of Caliborn.

ok, maybe you’re not totally responsible for us acting like idiots, most of that is on us! but all that other bad stuff is your fault somehow, isn’t it!

I’M GONNA KICK YOUR ASS!!!

Thanks to his extreme hatred of Caliborn’s comics, John has swiftly put the pieces together and correctly figured out that this guy right here is the big bad of the story, who he has the most Egbertian reason imaginable to hate.

> LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. WE HAVE A HATER.

AS YOU CAN SEE, THE FORMER GHOST OF THE MALE HERO HAS COME BACK TO HAUNT ME. THIS IS NOT HIS FIRST UNWELCOME INTRUSION. INTO MY PRIVATE IMPORTANT AFFAIRS.

It’s important to note that from Caliborn’s perspective, John is normally a mere hater who he won’t let intrude on his journey as an artist. However, with the two finally standing face-to-face, Caliborn has a reason to stop John from ruining his artwork, which leads him to narrate retaliation against John’s rant.

who… are you talking to?

TECHNICALLY. IT WILL NOT BE HIS LAST EITHER. BUT IT WILL MARK THE FIRST TIME HE IS FORCED TO PAY A TOLL FOR HIS RUDE TELEPORTATION CRIME.

OH YES, TODAY HE WILL PAY.

WITH HIS TEETH.

AND WITH HIS BLOOD.

um…

Caliborn reciprocates John’s utter hatred for him, for reasons just as eccentric as John’s side. Caliborn’s priority right now is not destroying existence, but sharpening his skills in artistry, and John presently serves as an obstacle to those goals.

Caliborn tells John, “GAME OVER, KID. GAME OVER.” which transitions us into a very memorable flash titled—you guessed it—[S] GAME OVER. A very natural stopping point.

See you next time as John finally takes his righteous revenge on Caliborn’s manga drawings! And a few other characters engage in fisticuffs.

>> Part 116: What the Fuck Happened Here?

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