What the hell is Hamstard?

Hamstard is a crappy webcomic created by Parson Gotti, the main character of Erfworld, the hopefully less-crappy webcomic by Rob Balder and multiple artists.

You do not need to read Erfworld to enjoy Hamstard! But to understand the glory of the Globular Beige One, you really have to ask two questions: "What is Hamstard within Erfworld?" and "What is Hamstard.com?"

*sigh* Fine, what is Hamstard within Erfworld?

When we first meet Parson in Book 1 of Erfworld, he is a disaffected gamer in Columbus, Ohio. He has a webcomic called "Hamstard the Bastard Hamster," starring an obese, sarcastic, foul-mouthed hamster who just sits in his cage and snarks about everything. Hamstard only has four poses, and a few backgrounds. These were drawn by an unnamed "friend" of Parson's.

The comic is minimalist, and pretty low-effort all around. The jokes are dumb and easy, and Hamstard breaks the fourth wall more often than not. Parson actually feels depressed that nobody reads it. In part, that's poking fun at the bad quality and artistic cheating done by a lot of webcomics that were out in 2006, including Rob's own clip art webcomic PartiallyClips.

The original Parson Gotti archive of 21 strips was written by Rob in 90 minutes. Hamstard and his cage were drawn by Book 1 artist Jamie Noguchi.

When Parson is summoned into Erfworld, he is wearing a Cafe Press t-shirt of Hamstard. He adopts this as his personal battle crest and takes the title "Lord Hamster," which is the handle he used on his own forums. He continues to create new Hamstard strips for himself in Erfworld, by projecting his imagination onto the magical eyebooks. In these strips, Hamstard mainly snarks at what Parson writes in his "klog" notes. He breaks the fourth wall with Parson, but not the wall between the Erfworld characters and the Erfworld reader.

'K. And what is Hamstard.com?

Hamstard.com was originally put up as Parson's own website, a kind of webcomic easter egg that Erfworld readers could find. It stayed that way, frozen in time and locked to new users for many years. You can still view that site here.

But Hamstard has had his own life in other comics outside of Erfworld as well, commenting on Erfworld news and developments and snarking at Rob as well. As part of the Toolshed subscription patronage program that keeps Erfworld going, we promised to bring Hamstard to life as a weekly comic all his own.

But we always wanted to do more than that with the strip. So in addition to weekly Hamstard strips written by Rob, users can create and submit their own Hamstard comics here!

Huh. How do I create a Hamstard comic?

You can use the comic creator, which was coded by Randall Nordstrom and released to Kickstarter backers in 2012. Just click Create a Hamstard on the main navigation bar.

The four steps involved are pretty simple. 1. Choose whether you want a single panel or four-panel comic. 2. Select the character, text balloon style, and background image for each panel by clicking in the panel you want to edit, and choosing from the options on the right. 3. Add your words in the text area of each speech balloon. These are more or less the same way they'll appear in the final comic, but you can also hit Preview to check exactly what the comic image will look like. 4. When your masterpiece is done, click Submit. This screen will pop up.

Add a title for your strip (otherwise it goes up as "Hamstard Mocks [your username]"), and click Submit Post. You will be able to edit the title, add notes below the comic, or delete your own post. You can't change the comic after posting, though.

What happens after I submit one?

Comics that are submitted are free for anyone to read and rate by clicking Rate Submissions. This is the "slush pile" for Hamstard. Really funny strips will be promoted to the main page by the site admins, and will appear alongside the strips written by Rob and the old ones by Lord Hamster.

If your strip makes the main page, you will earn the "Cheeky Hamstard" badge at Erfworld.com.

We depend on other users to rate these comics, so we know which ones are good enough to promote! Keep an eye on that slush pile, won't you?

What if someone submits junk or spam or reeeeeeealy offensive strips?

We are also depending on users to flag the grossly inappropriate or totally useless strips. If you see something that really should not be on this website, click "Get this out of my cage!" next to the rating stars.

When five different users have checked that box, the strip will automatically be quarantined. It will only be viewable by the post creator and the admins. Gathering a pitchforks-and-torches brigade to get rid of a particular strip is allowed, just be aware that an admin may overrule you and restore the strip to the slush pile, or even promote it to the main page.

Very low-rated strips will eventually get purged from the slush pile as well.

Okay, but Hamstard is pretty offensive sometimes. Where's the line?

The line is mainly "Is it funny?" Internet culture has changed since Hamstard was born. There was no Twitter in 2006, now people can lose their job over a tweet. Collectively, we are quicker to take offense and draw new lines about what other people should be allowed to say. Parson and the creators of this site have their standards, but Hamstard says:

Hamstard is not a nice rodent. His sense of humor is crude, tasteless, juvenile and insensitive. He frequently uses profanity, sexual innuendo, and sick burns. He punches down, up, sideways, and in his own fat face. Most often, he bites the hand that overfeeds him.

But the purpose of a comic strip is to make people laugh. So if a submitted Hamstard strip is not even making an attempt at humor, then it should be flagged as trash. Abusive uses of the comic creator should be pretty self-evident.

If the humor just sucks, then leave the box alone and rate it one star. Go ahead and crap on it in the comments thread, too. The community will set its own standards with the rating system, and the admins will respect what people say and how they vote. Erfworld fans are some of the sharpest and most thoughtful readers in all of webcomics. Collectively, you are going to be able to vote away the turds.

In short, we're not specifically drawing any lines. All the usual kinds of lines are going to be applied to all the strips, by all the people (including us). Strips that offend some people will surely be promoted to the main page from time to time. But the more offensive it is, the funnier it needs to be for that to happen.

Fair enough. Can I post the strips I create anywhere else?

Yes! You do not even have to submit them. You can save the image from preview and then use it elsewhere. A Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license applies to strips made in the Hamstard creator, meaning that you must keep the image intact with the attribution link on the bottom, and you may not use the strips for any commercial purposes. Normal Terms of Use for the erfworld.com site apply to everything posted or created here.

So you can use it as a general comic strip creator. If you feel the need to post your recipe for vegan rhubarb fudge to Facebook in the form of a comic strip of a grumpy-looking hamster, go right ahead and do that. Hamstard supports your perverse and misguided lifestyle choices.

Who are "some hamster" and "Lord Hamster" and "Balder?"

Strips by "Lord Hamster" are the original strips by Parson Gotti. He picked that as his forum handle, and it was his only ready answer when Erfworlders demanded his title. His avatar is a plate of loaded cheese fries from Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

Strips by "Balder" are by Rob Balder, author of Erfworld. As part of the Milestone 3 unlock in the Toolshed, we promised to bring back Hamstard as an actively updating strip. Specifically, we said "Hamstard.com will be reborn, with new Hamstard comics by Parson Gotti posted weekly, and we will partially redesign the website (declutter, add resources for new users, and optimize for mobile)." Well, the website has been redesigned and Hamstard.com has been relaunched! But at this point in the story, Parson Gotti lacks access to his eyebook, so new strips will be posted by Balder. In the future, we may see in-universe comics by Lord Hamster which express some of his thoughts in the main Erfworld story.

Strips credited to "some hamster" were created on the old Erfworld website by Kickstarter backers who were given early access to the Hamstard strip creator. Some of these were junk and have been deleted. Some of them were pretty funny and were promoted to the main archives. The rest remain in the submission queue. Unfortunately, information about the creator of each strip was irretrievably lost when we redesigned the site in 2014.

Hey, I made one of those "some hamster" strips and I can prove it!

I said "irretrievably lost."