If there is one narrative that I have experienced that can be accurately described as a piece of transmedia, it would most definitely be Homestuck. Homestuck is a webcomic created by Andrew Hussie that started on April 13, 2009 and is still updating with new content now over six years later. It is about a group of kids who play this game called “Sburb”, which ultimately decides the fate of their world and pushes the kids on the path to try and save it. We will be discussing each element that makes this a transmedia narrative.
Unlike normal webcomics, this comic also includes animated segments which feature music, as well as interactive game-like segments where you move a character through different areas to progress the story. According to David Herman in Basic Elements of Narrative, Homestuck can be analyzed using the four basic elements of situatedness, event sequencing, worldmaking/world disruption and what it’s like (Herman, 2009). The story is told via panels of pictures and dialogue and does very well to keep the plot linear and understandable. The story world is constantly changing and reacting to what is happening with the plot and gives the reader a clear understanding of what it is like to be in this situation.
All information that relates to Homestuck has been compiled into a wiki site. This site does a very good job of telling the story so people who may have been confused looking at one of the animated sequences or playing one of the game sections can read the plot lines on the wiki and clear any questions they may have had. The wiki also does really well with breaking down and analyzing different elements of the plot, the characters and the ideas and themes set forth throughout Homestuck. In this sense, the wiki takes the narrative and reformats it in a way that anyone can look at Homestuck and get an understanding of it, even without having to read all of the pages.
The first few “acts” of the series were turned into books. While these are comics themselves, they lack the animations of the webcomic, so it’s a bit dialed back in terms of engagement. Because of the amount of animated segments in later acts of the series, any further books would probably be fairly different in how the content is displayed. Adaptability is a great part of transmedia narratives, because it allows for the narrative to continue flowing properly without creating holes in the plot between different versions of the media.
There are tons of fan-made content for Homestuck, including artwork, songs, and even fan-approved voices for characters in the series. Fan engagement is an important part of the success of any transmedia narrative, according to Jenkins, Ford and Green in Spreadable Media. Fans recreating and adding content to a narrative helps provide extra layers to the subject that continues to help it flourish. One of the bigger parts of this creating of fan-content is the character voices, because even though the narrative is online and has animated sequences, the characters never actually speak, so when a fan creates voices that everyone approves of, it’s quite a big deal and adds more depth to the characters.
A game coming out at some point in the future was crowdfunded via Kickstarter. Known as Hiveswap, the game takes place in the same world as the webseries, but focuses on new characters that aren’t in the webcomic. According to Hussie, “it’ll be a little more like a spinoff than an adaptation … [and] a more formal exercise in interactive storytelling.” The game will be an important piece of transmedia because it doesn’t just adapt the content of Homestuck, but it also expands on it and creates a new narrative in the process “that everyone can enjoy even if they’ve never heard of Homestuck before.”