Homestar Runner

In 2003, when I was in college, Macromedia Flash was flourishing and it was everywhere on the Internet. It officially died seventeen years later and it was the sad, slow end of an era. During that time in the early 2000s, I stumbled upon a website called I do not remember how I got on there but once I found it, you could not keep me away. I was glued to it from 2003 until deep into the 2000s. The site was the home of a series of animated shows that followed a cast of outlandish characters created by Matt and Mike Chapman aka the Brothers Chaps.

The character whose name was on the site was Homestar Runner, an ignorant but well-meaning athlete who wanted the whole cast to like him. All of his Rs became Ws and he was a precious idiot. However, Homestar was quickly overtaken by the popularity of the character of Strongbad. Strongbad was kind of designed as the villain of the cartoons. However, his gruff voice, crazy violence, and sarcastic and behavior found a fandom. Maybe because Strongbad was so pathetic and was constantly getting the run around from everybody in his life. Eventually, the lifeblood of the site became Strong Bad Emails aka sbemails. Strong Bad would get in front of his computer and insultingly answer emails from actual fans which would launch him and the rest of the cast in some sort of hijinks.

I waited with bated breath for each Strong Bad Email to be released and also loved any other cartoon they put out. They slowly created and honed their own little world over years. I even bought the first hundred emails on DVD. Pretty soon, the little cartoons I watched were making their way into popular culture. A reference made it into the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was finally into something on the ground floor and still there when it became popular. It was a great feeling.

I have some ideas on why Strong Bad resonated with me. He was part of a trio of brothers. His brothers are poet Strong Sad and jock Strong Mad. I was one of three brothers so I knew how annoying they could be but also how fun it was to sometimes team up. He said a lot of the things I wanted to say to people as an angry yet creative and anxious young man. He expressed himself right or wrong and even though he was “the bad guy” he was still able to get the people around him to work with him. His friendships were like my friendships, very few but undyingly loyal.

The site eventually took a hiatus because the Brothers Chaps got hired by mainstream outfits like Disney and Cartoon Network. I felt good for them and loved shows like Gravity Falls and Yo Gabba Gabba but I missed the old Homestar gang. Luckily, they were eventually able to end their hiatus and have continued to occasionally make new cartoons even up to the current day. They love their fans and it shows. I also recently got a hold of their video game Strong Bad’s Game for Extremely Attractive People which is a series of point and click adventure games starring Strong Bad and all of the rest.

The cartoons of Homestar Runner had a profound effect on my sense of humor and were definitely one of the reasons why I embraced surreal humor. I still catch myself repeating jokes from the Emails. I often will use Homestar’s delivery of the word “crapface” when I realize I made a mistake instead of just using the word “crap”. The other day while DMing my first session of Dungeons and Dragons, I referenced Strong Bad’s anti-virus software “Edgar the Virus Hunter”. It will be a series that I will most likely carry with me for the rest of my life and something I gladly revisit often now that most of it is uploaded to YouTube now. I hope the series continues to find new audiences because it is definitely worthy of a strong fandom.


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2 Responses to “Homestar Runner”

  1. Dave Roller Says:

    I had never heard of that before but really enjoyed strong bad e-mail 59. Thanks for sharing that.


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