The best of all Halloween traditions—going back to the very first Halloween, in 2000—is the ceremonial viewing of the annual Homestar Runner Halloween cartoon. This year’s entry, “Haunted Photo Booth!” is a worthy contender, chock full of pop culture costumes aimed right at the trivia sweet spot: you’ll recognize four or five, and have the vague, nagging feeling you’ve seen the others. Plus, the toon introduces two ghostly new minor Homestar characters, “Jaundiced Jerry” and “Stabby Gabby,” although Jaundiced Jerry doesn’t look like he’s gonna be around long enough to do too many cameos. Like almost every year, the King of Town ends up with the creepiest costume, but this time it’s a creepy tribute to the late, great Tom Petty, whose creepy music video period is vastly underrated.
To save you some googling time, we’ve annotated each costume to help protect and preserve the important cultural context that may be lost as the 2017 Homestar Runner Halloween Toon passes into history. Wherever possible, we have been precise about the exact origin of each costume. For instance, Pom Pom’s Violet Beauregarde outfit could have come from Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s novel, Joseph Schindelman’s illustrations for the first U.S. edition, Faith Jaques’ illustrations for the first U.K. edition, Michael Foreman’s illustrations from the 1985 edition, Quentin Blake’s illustrations for the 1995 edition, Tim Burton’s 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or even the 1985 ZX Spectrum video game Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which the player must avoid blueberries thrown by a digital version of Ms. Beauregard. But it didn’t: Pom Pom’s version is from Mel Stuart’s 1971 film Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as played by Denise Nickerson in a costume designed by Helen Colvig, with special blueberry effects by Logan Frazee. See how much funnier it is now?
Our model, naturally, was Don Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated, that meticulous compendium of puns, allusions, and Irish culture that is so important to understanding Joyce’s masterpiece. The animating spirit of this project was very well-expressed in Gifford’s introduction:
In the final analysis the notes will probably suggest minor and local rather than major and comprehensive revisions in established ways of [watching Homestar Runner’s 2017 Halloween Toon]. But one area of distortion should be guarded against: the notes put considerable emphasis on “street furniture,” on the phenomenological presences of Dublin, its real inhabitants and real events; nonetheless, Dublin is a mythical city—a vast concentration of “real” detail adds up to a city that has the presence of a character in a novel, not a city in real life. And as a character, Dublin is in its way, subject to, but not inevitably destined for, significant and positive change.
The stuff about Dublin doesn’t really apply, but the rest of it is spot on. Also, we didn’t actually provide any context, just a bunch of video clips. Anyway, here’s where the costumes come from!
Strong Mad: Powdered Toast Man from Ren & Stimpy
The Poopsmith: An Instant Martian from “Hare-Way to the Stars”
The Poopsmith: Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls
Pom Pom: Violet Beauregarde from Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
King of Town: Alice from Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” Video
Strong Sad: Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie’s Poirot
Homsar: Greg from Over the Garden Wall
Homsar: The Man from Another Place from Twin Peaks
The Cheat: Maxwell from Scribblenauts
Strong Bad: BOB from Twin Peaks
Homestar: Power Alley Dale Murphy, from a Vintage Atlanta Braves Poster
Marzipan: Joanna from Office Space
Coach Z: PaRappa the Rapper, from the 1996 Sony PlayStation Game of the Same Name
Puppet Homestar: The Greatest American Hero
That last one isn’t actually in the Homestar Runner 2017 Halloween Toon, but we thought it was important that you watch it. Happy Homestarloween!