The most popular, epic webcomic you've never heard of
Ed Tan photographed Vriska Serket (left) and Aradia Megido (right) cosplayers at Sakuracon 2012.
October 1st, 2012
01:10 PM ET

The most popular, epic webcomic you've never heard of

Editor's note: Lauren Orsini is a reporter for the Daily Dot, the hometown newspaper of the World Wide Web, the paper of record for what happens online. Follow her on Twitter @laureninspace. You can find more images of "Homestuck" cosplay on photographer Ed Tan's Flickr account.

In an age of computers, smartphones, and instant gratification, studies lead us to believe that our attention spans are the shortest they’ve ever been.

If that were completely true though, a 5,000 plus page webcomic shouldn’t be able to attract millions of fans, much less inspire them to raise a million dollars in under a week.

Homestuck,” cartoonist Andrew Hussie’s longest and latest project, is a video game inspired saga set in the Internet age. In the story, rife with Generation Y pop culture references, teenagers unite through an online game in order to save the world.

“I like Homestuck because it is one of the first pieces of media that genuinely appeals to me as a person who grew up in a very Internet based generation,” wrote Deanna Bennett, 20, in an email responding to my Tumblr request for "Homestuck" fanatics.

“Homestuck is meant to live online. It combines a lot of Internet humor that a lot of mainstream cartoons and comics are trying to desperately to tap but are failing and missing every damn time.”

Sounds like fun, right? But choosing to read it is a big commitment—in the form of hours and hours of free time. Fans compare its length to a that of a Greek epic. It has more than 100 main characters. And instead of comic panels, its gigantic pages are a mix of still and animated images, intimidating walls of text, Flash movies with original music, and even short video games.

“Homestuck is perhaps the first modern work to make full use of the Internet as not just a distribution tool but as a fully realized artistic medium,” wrote Clark Powell, 20. “Text, music, artwork, interactive, and animation are all combined in ways that have never been attempted before. On top of that, Homestuck is a piece of work whose very narrative is something of relevance to a new generation; it is, after all, a comic about the Internet, video games, and pop culture, if it can even be called a ‘comic.’”

Recently, the convoluted comic (and Hussie’s tendency to coin his own vocabulary for the script) prompted PBS’s Idea Channel to speculate that “Homestuck” just might be “the Ulysses of the Internet.” But as host Mike Rugnetta suggests, with great effort comes an incredible reward—the psychological theory of effort justification indicates that fans who stick it out will certainly grow attached. FULL POST