Monday, 31 October 2011

Toons of Terror (Part 2: Horrorstar Runner)

Let’s keep the Halloween toons a coming with something a little more indie, shall we? Back in the 2000s, the internet was littered with Flash cartoons. You don’t see them nearly as much anymore thanks to the convenience of online video players and youtube, but a decade ago (yes, I just made you feel old) many websites would be entirely constructed using Flash, and the notion of a weekly webcartoon was quite a reality. Sadly, the time and effort to put into a weekly cartoon was an incredibly daunting task for the creators, so not many stuck around all that long. But out of all Flash cartoons that dominated the web at the time, no website was more diligent than Homestar Runner. And because they became known for their ability to release new shorts on a reliable schedule, you began to look forward greatly to certain anual traditions and trends that would pop up. Personally, I always looked forward to October, cause that would mean we’d get some sweet Homestar Halloween lovin’. 
So what made the Homestar Halloween specials such a treat? 
Well, it has to do with my personal favorite part about the holiday: dressing up. There are a grand total of 10 proper Halloween toons (as well as some bonus Halloween shorts some years) and every year the abstract cast of character would get dressed up in some of the most obscure, and sometimes very creative, costumes I’ve seen in animation. The cartoon’s writing was always a good mix of bizarre, quirky characters with a tad of popculture references, but on Halloween the popculture references would just go through the roof! Whether it would be Homestar dressing up as tennis player John McEnroe, or Strong Sad as a member of Devo, or Strong Bad as Cesar Romero’s Joker (complete with makeup over the moustache) seeing these characters in costume was just a blast year after year.
What I love is that each special is really different storywise, yet constant in theme, which made for some really creative shorts. Some of my favorites include a horror film spoof Jibblies 2, and Strong Sad’s time to shine in his Poe inspiredDoomy Tales of the Macabre. Another thing the site excelled in was the use of Flash’s interactive features, which allow the viewers a chance to find secrets and directly partake in the cartoon. No toon on the site did this better then the Halloween specials The House That Gave Sucky Treats and Halloween Potion-Me-Jig. And that’s not even touching the bouns shorts the website released over the years for Halloween! This included a rather unsettling marshmallow ad, an adorable interaction between puppet Homestar and a little girl, and the judging of real Homestar related costumes by Strong Bad himself (something that would also turn into an anual tradition on the site.) 
There hasn’t been a new Homestar cartoon in about a year, but their website is still up there, complete with all the Halloween goodies I mentioned and many more. I don’t know if Homestar will ever grace this good internet again, but for a good decade I had the joy of receiving sweet, sweet Flash animated treats every Halloween, and I adored the amount of detail and effort that went into every one of them.
And now a picture of the goblin dressed as a Santaman…
- Moo