|Date published||July 26, 2011|
Hoofstuck is an interactive webcomic by Violet CLM featuring a partially reader-driven narrative. It updates irregularly with several pages per update, but averages slightly over one panel (not page) per day. An RSS feed is available.
The comic is presented as a sort of ongoing transcript of a visual interactive fiction (IF) story, in the style of MS Paint Adventures: an ordinary page contains a command to one or more of the characters to perform a certain action (e.g. "AJ: Recall Pinkie Pie's latest invention"), one or more large images or animations illustrating the results of the command, and usually some text supplementing the image/s. Unlike more traditional comics with speech bubbles and the like, nearly all dialogue and narration is situated in the text below the image/s.
The comic can be thought of as akin to a (transcript of a) group role-playing session where all of the players/readers play all of the characters. Alternatively, you could think of it as one single path through a theoretical Choose Your Own Adventure game, where the choices that have been made before you begin reading the comic are set in stone, but you can contribute to future choices by posting suggestions. Readers in the suggestion thread post their ideas for what the characters should do next, and the author chooses one or more of them to drive the story forward. Of course, you can simply read the comic as it gets updated without personally participating in the suggestion-posting.
Visually the panels are mostly created by taking a number of screenshots of the show and copying and pasting parts together, so that a character from one episode can appear next to a character from another episode in front of a background from a third episode, etc. There are also various custom backgrounds (houses, dream worlds, a temple in Froggy Bottom Bog, etc.), and as of mid-2012, the comic is gradually transitioning towards original vector artwork for the characters.
The comic begins the morning after one of Pinkie Pie's parties, which she had thrown to celebrate the completion of her new invention, a series of devices which will allow her and her friends to enter a new dimension. However, Twilight is concerned that this invention will also cause the destruction of Equestria. As the comic continues, the narrative shifts back and forth among the six main characters, showing their varying reactions to Pinkie's invention as they wander around Ponyville. Specifically:
- Applejack is somewhat wary of the whole thing, and would rather spend her time working at Sweet Apple Acres.
- Rainbow Dash mostly just has a good time, flying around Ponyville and causing minor amounts of destruction, until an unexpected question from Big Macintosh sends her panicked into the sky.
- Twilight Sparkle believes that Pinkie must be stopped from destroying Equestria, and she stays in her library, monitoring events from afar and wondering why nobody is talking to her.
- Rarity has been dreaming for years of the dimension that Pinkie's invention will transport them to, and is consequently very excited. She keeps an eye on Twilight to make sure she doesn't do anything rash, at least until her sister's foalsitter shows up to inform her that the Cutie Mark Crusaders have gone missing.
- Fluttershy is intimidated by Pinkie's invention and spends most of the day putting off doing anything with it. Eventually she goes to sleep under a bench and lets her imagination take her to a mysterious black and white detective office.
- Pinkie Pie, who has recently been appointed Heiress of Sugarcube Corner, is afraid that Bon Bon wants to kill her for reasons that remain somewhat undefined. Her paranoia leads her to mail her invention to herself and then wait inside the mailbox for it to arrive.
Things start to spiral out of control when Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo get stuck in Pinkie Pie's taffy machine, which Twilight accidentally transports out of Sugarcube Corner. The taffy machine begins to roll all around Ponyville, passing by most of the major characters and slowly working to bring everyone together. Meanwhile, the continually shifting narrative focus helps to establish information about the main characters that diverges from the show, such as their "fetch modi" (elaborate inventory systems) and relations. For example, it is revealed that Apple Bloom is adopted, Rainbow Dash was raised by Scootaloo's parents after descending to earth on a meteor, Rarity and Sweetie Belle are Vinyl Scratch's daughters (this having been established prior to the airing of Sisterhooves Social), Fluttershy and Derpy Hooves grew up together in an orphanage, and Pinkie Pie was discovered with two other foals (possibly her sisters) inside a giant rock at an large farming get-together.
Hoofstuck incorporates a large number of secondary and background characters. This section lists the more prominent(-seeming) ones, while ignoring characters like Film Reel and Berry Punch and Flitterheart who show up for a page or two but don't interact with anyone or otherwise appear to serve any purpose other than filling out the panels.
Rainbow Dash's family
Scootaloo is Rainbow Dash's "cousin." In reality, they were brought up by the same parents -- Ember and Nth-Degree Dash -- but Rainbow does not appear to have been born of Equestria. Nth-Degree Dash is a "rainbow pony" and worshipper of the Ursa Major, which he calls "Chrysaor," and he believes that Rainbow is a gift from Chrysaor and thus insists that she be called his niece and not his daughter. Neither Ember not Nth-Degree have yet been pictured.
Vinyl Scratch is Rarity and Sweetie Belle's single mother, but abandons both of them at different times to focus on her career as a disc jockey, or "Doctor of Jamology," making her a "Doctor Scratch." The circumstances surrounding her appearances at Rarity's fashion show in Suited For Success and the wedding in A Canterlot Wedding - Part 2 have yet to be addressed. Filly Rarity has a photograph of Octavia on her wall, suggesting some connection that has not yet been clarified.
Colgate is in the early stages of a romantic relationship with Twilight Sparkle. She is supposedly working on a "secret project" and has shown up very little, although she has been glimpsed in a dream vision, standing happily next to seven large hourglasses.
Sparkler works as a foalsitter to finance her research into the nature of sleep and dreams. She has a major crush on Goldlight, the painter from Call of the Cutie, and is somewhat distractable and suffers from a mental disorder which causes her to switch back and forth between "sweet" and "tart" dispositions. For some reason her dream studies required her to commission a painting of Derpy Hooves' cutie mark, although no further relation between them have been revealed. She may also be a changeling or something.
Lyra is positive there's a conspiracy of some sort, even if she's not completely clear on the details, partly because Bon Bon keeps burning her notes. It seems to involve ponies being called by their blindbag toy names (e.g. Heartstrings, Shoeshine), rather than their fanon names (e.g. Lyra, Linky). The narrative tends to avoid focusing on her, rather deliberately, though Pinkie Pie does own a plushie version of her.
Bon Bon runs a sweet shop and, according to the Cutie Mark Crusaders, is in a romantic relationship with Lyra. Pinkie Pie believes that Bon Bon wants to kill her. She hasn't actually shown up yet, apart from a dream vision showing her angry with Apple Bloom in Call of the Cutie.
Carrot Top lives in the barrel-shaped house with a carrot on top at Sweet Apple Acres, and apparently has some history with Derpy Hooves. She has been seen talking to Colgate, and a dream vision showed her green-maned moment from Boast Busters. The Cutie Mark Crusaders claim that she has weird technology in her basement.
An as-yet unidentified pony steals Applejack's copy of the Mare-Do-Well costume to bring her warnings from the future. Applejack thinks she may be her and/or Rainbow Dash's daughter. She says that Applejack may call her Apple Cider, but will not say whether that's actually her name.
An as-yet-unidentified earth pony who seems to know a lot about what's going on. In a flashback, this pony watches Rarity and Fluttershy emerge from a mysterious temple in Froggy Bottom Bog. In the present day, this pony sends Pinkie Pie a letter identifying him/herself as an earth pony. The letter is sealed with the letters G and H superimposed on top of each other and also makes mention of an unidentified assistant. S/he wants to join the "crusaders" -- probably the "original crusaders" that the CMC wish they knew more about.
The apparent founder of Sugarcube Corner, a tall purple unicorn (with a three-pronged horn) from the classical era with a mane similar to Bon Bon's. She is clearly reminiscent of the Batterwitch from Homestuck, complete with the bright-red-and-white color scheme that Mrs. Blackberry Cake (named before Baby Cakes called her "Cup" Cake) maintains in the present day on the sign outside of Sugarcube Corner. The Batterqueen was supplanted from her own kingdom around the beginning of the classical era and came to Canterlot in search of new subjects. She has a retinue composed of earlier-generation ponies. The Batterqueen is obsessed with being in charge and being better than anyone else at anything.
A light purple earth pony from the classical era, with a bizarre mane and five red and white hearts for her cutie mark. She is one of five ponies who have their own dedicated molds in a series of pony toys parodying the blind bag toys (and to a lesser extent the McDonald's toys). She is cited by both Pinkie Pie and GH/HG, though why exactly she's so famous is not yet clear, and has enormous confidence in her friends, whoever they are.
Parasol is a freelance Pegasus pony, placing her allegiances where the money is and nowhere else. She really likes umbrellas.
Medley has musical abilities, like her G1 incarnation, but is also incredibly paranoid that everyone else is out to get her, based on how much time she spends looking worried in the show.