This week on The Shipping News: we praise the series that give us tons of pairings to ship, we risk setting foot in the Homestuck fandom, we learn about cosplay, and we apologize profusely to Daft Punk (or at least we should).
Fandom News Roundup:
It appears that Teen Wolf is still an infinite goldmine of slash material. Last week’s episode has a first glimpse at Danny/Ethan (can we officially call it “Dethan“?), some wonderful Sterek banter, something that can easily be interpreted as Scott/Stiles, a healthy dose of Peter/Stiles potential, Isaac/everyone…wait, I’m getting carried away. Let’s just say that it was a fantastic episode, both in itself and for the shippers. It’s also worth mentioning that Cora, who was mistakenly reported to be Derek’s love interest for the season, is actually (spoiler!) his younger sister. The non-multishippers collectively breathed a sigh of relief. The rest of us were too busy screaming unintelligibly at the television to form coherent thoughts.
No, Stiles. Take it off. Don’t—alright, too late, I’m picturing it.
There has been a bit of heat on the Kirk/Spock Livejournal community this week—and not of the pon farr variety. A common fandom etiquette problem was brought up; some fanfic authors are indeed reluctant to tag their fanfics with major trigger warnings from fear they will lose readers. As you can imagine, this lack of courtesy has repercussions, both on the unsuspecting readers and on the author’s reputation. While there is technically no obligation for an author to warn about the graphic violence or non-consensual sex in their stories, it’s important to keep in mind that the Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive tagging system (among others, I presume) makes a distinction between “None” and “Choose Not to Warn”. In the words of Star Trek alumnus Wil Wheaton: “don’t be a dick.”
Bryan Fuller, Hannibal writer and producer, tweeted that he’s aware of Hannigram (that is, Hannibal/Will) and that he loves it. (He made him chicken soup, guys. It wasn’t even people soup this time.)
If you ever shipped Kingdom Hearts characters, you’re in luck: Kingdom Hearts III was announced on Monday during Sony’s E3 event. Kingdom Hearts is, as of October 2010, the game fandom with the most fanfics published on Fanfiction.net.
“Take my hand, Sora. The shippers have waited long enough.”
Fandom Spotlight: Homestuck
Ah, Homestuck. If you had asked me to write about Homestuck when this column first started (or, hey, just two months ago) my description wouldn’t have included much praise. I knew it was an animated webcomic about a (fictional) game that involved kids and trolls, and that it somehow made people want to wander around anime conventions with a pair of horns and gray body paint all over. Not exactly convincing and, quite frankly, some stranger aspects of the fandom were downright frightening to me. (The Homestuck Adventure Game Kickstarter raised over $1,785,500 above its $700,000 goal in 30 days. Are you terrified yet? ) However, I since then realized that I was in no position to write anything negative about Homestuck if I wasn’t willing to at least give it a try. So I read the first page. Then the second one. Next thing I knew, I had read more than half of it and bought a pair of aviator sunglasses for cosplay purposes. So, without further ado: let me tell you about Homestuck.
Homestuck starts with four online friends, which will be referred to as the Beta Kids: John, Dave, Rose and Jade. At the beginning of the story (but not right from the start), they play a video game superimposed over their reality that causes the end of the world. Helped by their Guardians (who, after a session reset known as the “scratch”, become the Alpha Kids) and the trolls, they must navigate through a complex universe to achieve the game’s ultimate purpose, which remains unknown to them for some time but doesn’t involve saving their world.
This is the ultra-simplified summary of the webcomic; it has well over 6,000 pages, numerous instances of time travel, elaborate uses of a genetic science called Ectobiology, and more puppet porn than I ever wanted to be aware of. It would be very difficult to formulate a complete description without losing all the non-initiated somewhere along the line, so let’s focus on a bit less on the general content, and a bit more on what generated this (in)famous fandom movement.
Although the concept of Homestuck and its human characters were initially enough to attract an impressive number of readers, it’s Act 5, the part where the trolls are officially introduced, that changed everything. If the idea of grey-skinned horned creatures isn’t interesting enough for you, know that the trolls Hussie created have their own planet, their own customs, their own hermaphroditic genitals (you say “bulges”, I say “crotch tentacles”), and perhaps most importantly, their own types of romance, or “quadrants“, which differ from the human concept of romance. This leaves a lot of room for fan interpretation and, of course, shipping possibilities. The Homestuck fandom is a firm believer in Rule 34.
It’s interesting to note that Homestuck has at least one canonically gay character: Dirk Strider (and, by extension, Dave’s Bro), who was in a relationship with Jake English. Dirk is a prime example of a queer character whose sexuality isn’t used as comic relief or drama trigger. He’s also one of the few gay characters in a non-predominantly-gay media whose romantic and sexual life isn’t erased or purposely ignored.
Other than DirkJake, some of the most popular slash pairings include John/Karkat and Stridercest. As for the tropes used in fanfiction and fanart, they are virtually limitless. “Humanstuck”, an AU in which the trolls are human, is a fan favorite. The slash fandom also seems to have a strong penchant for crossdressing (humans) and bloodplay (trolls). A lot of fanworks also explore the cultural differences between humans and trolls.
One of the most eccentric fandoms out there, the Homestuck fandom is mostly known for its gorgeous cosplays and incredibly smutty fanart. Unfortunately, some fans gave it a bad reputation due to repeated attempts to play Jehovah’s Witnesses about the webcomic, causing non-fans to get very annoyed, very fast. It’s really too bad, because Homestuck is probably one of the most interesting and best executed ongoing large-scale webcomics. It’s genuinely funny, often absurd, and always entertaining. If you think you might enjoy reading (and watching!) an adventure that starts off as a ridiculous sandbox-style game parody, put aside any prejudice you might have and give Homestuck a try while it’s still on hiatus.
Since Homestuck blogs are practically a collection of spoilers for those who haven’t read the comic, it’s difficult to recommend any “safe” ones in case you just want to see if, for instance, Stridercest is your thing. You might however be interesting to know that the artist of the Starfighter gay sci-fi webcomic has an art blog strictly dedicated to Homestuck, which contains the expected amount of slash. Joy!
Fanwork Medium: Cosplay
Cosplay, short for “costume play”, is the practice of dressing up as a fictional character and occasionally also roleplaying them. While the term was coined by Studio Hard director Nobuyuki Takahashi, the concept of cosplay is said of have originated from American science-fiction conventions, although it was later integrated to certain trends of Japanese street fashion. Cosplayers can generally be found at comic and anime conventions. Most of them prefer to make their costumes themselves, since the creative process is part of the art, but several websites are specialized in the cosplay-making business, from costume tailoring to wig styling. The most experienced cosplayers often participate in competitions; within the cosplay community, there is such a thing as “famous cosplayers” who are invited as guest speakers to various conventions. Crossplay is also a very popular practice which involves crossdressing as a fictional character of the opposite gender. This is mostly seen at yaoi conventions like the annual San Francisco Yaoi-Con, where some women dress up as gay male characters, but it’s also becoming less uncommon to see men dress up as female characters. Both concepts are however usually dissociated from drag performance art, and rather associate to casual genderplay.
Edward Elric and Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Cosplay (and generally crossplay) is often used as a mean to roleplay as a slash pairing. Couple, friends or even strangers who met online do it for convention audiences, as “real life slash pairings” are obviously very popular. Some couples also choose to do it in a more, erm, private setting.
With the growth of cosplay-friendly online communities such as those found on Tumblr, Livejournal, DeviantArt, Flickr and private forums, certain slash cosplayers have found an interest in professional photoshoots and art films, where they can display both their crafting talents and their acting skills. Certain famous cosplaying couples have even gained their own fanbase by interacting with their audience through “ask blogs“, Tumblr blogs where they answer questions in character (and in full costume) through animated gifs or short videos. Some will reenact PG-rated fanfiction scenes or fanart; others actually inspire fanfiction scenes and fanart. (Shipper symbiosis! How about that.)
Ritsuka Aoyagi and Soubi Agatsuma (Loveless)
What are your thoughts on slash cosplay? Do you think roleplaying fictional characters in romantic situations is taking it too far or, on the contrary, do you admire cosplayers’ dedication to their hobby?
Featured Fanart Blog: DPMau5 @ Tumblr.com
No, not that kind of DP—they mean “Daft Punk“. Shame on you and your dirty mind. “DPMau5” is a Tumblr blog dedicated to “naughty and nice” fanart featuring mainly Daft Punk, Deadmau5 and Tron characters, but also various other musical artists and DJs. The slashy or downright NSFW art is unfortunately not tagged, so it can take a while to find the interesting pieces, but it’s worth taking the time to browse: the art ranges from stunning to absurdly disturbing. Sometimes, it’s even a mix of both.
May the force be harder, better, faster, stronger.
(art by Dezmo)
That’s all for this week, folks! Don’t forget to catch the Hannibal season finale on Thursday. In the meantime, send us your questions and suggestions either through the comments or via Tumblr. If you don’t feel too chatty, well, at least you can enjoy all the Danny/Ethan gifs we’ll be compulsively reblogging.