Yesterday, one of the most popular websites of the 2000s, HomestarRunner.com
updated after more than three years of gathering dust.
The newest cartoon, posted on April 1, replaced the original intro video on the site — and more importantly, seems as if it's closing the book on the Homestar Runner series and characters. It delves into the site's history, playing long-forgotten features for laughs, sending a love-note to the fans of the wildly-popular Strong Bad E-Mails and closing with interplay between the site's two iconic characters.
The last screen, a call-back to the series's love of obsolete tech (have I mentioned that the site is entirely in Flash, a platform that's dying off faster than '80s pro wrestlers?) features download links for Windows 98 desktop themes and the ever-present end-screen Easter Eggs.
Really, looking back on the site is like looking into a vault of my adolescence. The site, starring the roticistic hero Homestar Runner and luchador mask-wearing Strong Bad, grew out of a children's book parody and maintained childlike whimsy throughout its ten-year run on the Internet. Looking back, HomestarRunner.com is more groundbreaking than one might have imagined while watching a bunch of weird cartoon characters make fun of each other.
As HomestarRunner.com featured more and more characters and worlds in which various characters lived, it became something of a channel with multiple series; it made watching videos in a browser seem more desirable than downloading files to watch in Quicktime; it made the idea of creating and selling one's brand on the Internet (complete with t-shirts, videos, plushies and stickers) seem somehow viable; and it popularized kid-friendly entertainment that was still fun for adults. It's obvious that the site's creators, brothers Matt and Mike Chapman, have taken that lesson with them to their other projects (including a reported development deal with Disney, mentioned in the L.A. Times
If this is the end of Homestar Runner, it's a fitting one...though I wish they'd at least taken the time to explain what the hell "melon-ade" was before they signed off.