Good, clean fun for people not into that sort of thing
A Flash animation website known for its surreal humor and popular culture references, especially those pertaining to music and entertainment. Far from being what might have amounted to an animated mediocre webcomic, HR earned its fame through jokes often involving neologisms.
Free Country, USA
Not unlike The Simpsons, the world of Homestar is a sort of microcosm of American youth and twenty-something culture and the jokes tend to flow organically from the personalities of the different characters. Speaking of whom...
The King of Town -- Cloud-looking ruler of Free Country, USA. Fat. Will eat anything, but his favorite food is butter.
Strong Bad -- The most popular character on the website, and probably the one to whom most internet users feel the strongest connection. Braggart and incessant IRL troll. Wears a Mexican wrestler outfit and speaks with a Little Havana accent. Gets mad whenever someone asks how he can type with boxing gloves on.
Strong Sad -- Emo ghost elephant. Lieks Morrissey. Strong Bad's brother.
Strong Mad -- HUEG wrestler type with rudimentary language skills. The other brother of Strong Bad.
Homestar -- Title character. Sweet, innocent, friendly, popular, and very, very stupid.
Marzipan -- Homestar's hippie girlfriend.
The Cheat -- Strong Bad's pet. Shady character with a gold tooth. Pretty cool guy.
Coach Z -- Creepy older guy who garbles his vowels when he talks. Ironically it's his unspoken aspiration to make it big in hip hop.
Pom Pom -- Balloon-like character who speaks in bubble noises and is usually messing with his cell phone. Apparently rich and well-connected.
Bubs -- Token Black guy (though his skin is actually blue). Runs the concession stand.
Poopsmith -- The Poopsmith's apparent role in Free Country's economic system is to shovel poo. Nowhere in particular, just shovel it around. He is protected by shoulder-high, heavy-duty latex gloves, which are covered in poo. Other characters sometimes complain of his smell. He never speaks.
Homsar -- Like so much of the site, this character is a spin-off of a Strong Bad email. A site visitor mispelled "Homestar" in a submitted email, and Homsar was introduced. Homsar is a grotesque tragedy of a cartoon character and the viewer gets the impression that his very limited mental faculties are perpetually concentrated on wishing his own death. His hat flips in the air comically when he talks.
The most popular section of the site has always been Strong Bad Emails. Here, Strong Bad answers e-letters submitted by fans. However -- and this is undoubtedly why the section became so popular in the first place -- Strong Bad is an asshole. His favorite tricks of his trade are to pronounce spelling errors phonetically and take grammatical errors at face value, for the lulz.
Many popular characters and subsections are spin-offs traceable back to Strong Bad's email archive. These include...
- Teen Girl Squad
- Senor Cardgage
- ...and more
I Can Haz Meme?
But again not unlike The Simpsons, Homestar Runner has found a place in the popular consciousness prevalent enough that if you reference one of its more memorable moments in a group of people of a certain age and cultural disposition, people will probably get the joke. Almost all of you have heard of...
Trogdor -- A sweet dragon that Strong Bad once drew. It has this big, beefy arm coming out of its back and terrorizes the peasants of the countryside. He uses his breath weapon to "burninate" them. His exploits were originally set to heavy metal music.
Teen Girl Squad -- A comic made by Strong Bad in response to someone whom he presumed to be a teen-aged girl asking him to please make a comic strip of her and her friends. The Teen Girl Squad consists of Cheerleader, What's Her Face, So-And-So, and The Ugly One, and belabor archetypical teen-girlhood beyond the point of parody. They are funny because Strong Bad's misanthropy is evident throughout. One or more will typically die a violent death over the course of the strip only to be resurrected for the next one, in the style of Kenny from South Park.
Loved by some, liked by pretty much everyone, hated by... nobody that this author can think of.
Got a bit of favorable mainstream press for managing to be funny without using profanity. Something of a moot point since 60% of its fans were male college students killing time while their porn downloaded in the other tab, and 10% of its fans had been Goatse'd into oblivion long ago, and 0% of its fans were either under fifteen or over thirty.
—Mandy Jenkins, Old Media shill and Cincinnati Enquirer writer. HR may have been good but it was NEVER cool.
It's hard to imagine a more humble, earnest, and grassroots rise to power.
Friends and coworkers Mike Chapman and Craig Zobel were wandering around a bookstore and lamenting the state of children's literature sometime in the summer of 1996. They decided to write a hand-written, hand-drawn spoof titled Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Competition. Just out of boredom, one supposes. The book collected dust for a few years.
UNTIL... Mike and his younger brother Matt were looking to learn how to make Flash animations. They decided reproducing the illustrations in the fake kid's book were good practice. These eventually evolved into full cartoon shorts, and Mike and Matt Chapman -- or the Brothers Chaps as they are sometimes now called -- found these funny.
Somewhat fortuitously, Mike and Craig launched their site on January 1, 2000. Mike and Matt wrote dialogue and did animation, and the brothers and Mike's girlfriend Missy Palmer (whom Mike would go on to marry) did voices.
There seems to be little indication that they did this for any reason other than to have a good time.
By 2003 Homestar Runner was attracting 200,000 unique visitors a day. It spread entirely through word of mouth.
Currently on hiatus. This has been the case off-and-on since late 2009. The new content that does get made these days seems to have lost some of the original sparkle. In terms of traffic the site's been on the decline for years. But it's a great place to revisit from time to time and it had a good run.
- The name "Homestar Runner" was coined by Mike Chapman's know-nothing-about-sports friend James Huggins, trying to do a baseball announcer's ad lib inspired by Braves-themed advertisements. James would go on to become a member of the experimental indie pop group Of Montreal.
- The Brothers Chaps have collaborated on several occasions with the musical group They Might Be Giants. Go figure.
- The Trogdor theme song is a playable track on Guitar Hero II, and Limozeen's song "Because It's Midnite" is a playable track on Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s.
- The site also includes flash games, various shorts, and just way too much stuff to begin to cover here. If you're newer to the tubes and have never checked it out then do so!
Strong Bad asks "How do I shot web?" ... "with gloves?"