It should be clear from the very first line of “HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH,” also known as “30 Hs,” that it is not fanfiction in the traditional sense.
“Dobby relished his groinsaw’s roar,” the fic begins, “as he withdrew the flesh-choked blade from the astronaut’s ruined skull.” What follows is a short chapter about Harry Potter eating Ron Weasley. Dobby asks him how he tastes. “Like some kid with eyes,” Harry replies.
More than Harry Potter, 30 Hs is about transgression and being shocked. When I spoke with the fic’s author, Jack Fields, he told me that using the characters from Harry Potter was more about the series’ ubiquity than anything else. Although it doesn’t take Potter all that seriously, “30 Hs” also doesn’t feel like a parody or mockery of the source material.
“It was pretty much like a blank canvas for me,” Fields said via phone. “It’s a universe with no end of lore and proper nouns and, you know, all those sorts of things that sell books. But I wasn’t really interested in mocking Harry Potter so much as I was creating an entertaining, bombastic spectacle.”
Fields started writing “30 Hs” in college in 2005, adding the final chapters in 2015. Over the course of the fic you can see a progression in his creative output. The earlier chapters tend towards the bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. They’re gory and shocking, and sometimes a little funny. “Harry slammed his book shut,” one chapter begins. “It wasn’t really a book, because the pages were made of lasers and the words were made of headless women making godless love to dragons made out of motorcycles, but it was still reading.”
Later chapters are more reflective of what Fields says is his current artistic viewpoint—”the alienation that arises from an individual’s interaction with a larger group of people.” Fields says that even in those later days, though, he was really just trying to entertain.
Fields’ day job is puppetry. He’s directed a music video for There Might Be Giants, and also directed an experimental film in 2013 called Happy Memories. (He even once did a video for Kotaku.) His work is still as wild and vibrant as “30 Hs,” though more measured and mature. He isn’t employing shock value for the sake of shock value, but in service of highlighting the alienating nature of modern life.
In “30 Hs,” Fields might give Harry Potter a guitar called Fuckslayer and then write, “Harry channeled his rage through Fuckslayer. The angel blood boiled as he summoned the great meteor, swathed with the blood of the tiny fucklings at Hogwarts, leapt onto it, and flew into space. He encased the entire meteor in a wreath of holy fuckfire and flew through Mercury, killing the fuck out of it,” for no other purpose than to say “fuck” a lot of times. But in contrast, when the typewriters eat the faces off of the office workers in his music video for There Might Be Giants, there’s actual meaning behind the weirdness of these symbols. The work is devouring the workers.
“30 Hs,” like a lot of popular fanfiction, has taken on a life of its own outside of Field’s influence, and now has a fandom of its own. It’s even inspired a few fics in a similar spirit in the My Little Pony and Gravity Falls fandom. Fields said that he doesn’t really interact with fans to any meaningful degree—he doesn’t hang out on the fanfiction.net forums or anything like that. Since the fic’s inception, Fields has found himself at odds with his own fandom at least once—when he later added a disclaimer to the beginning of the work, apologizing and taking accountability for language he used that he no longer stands behind. In one chapter, Fields introduced a character called “Rape Bradbury.” In another, he uses the word “faggart” which, he said in his disclaimer, is an abstraction from a homophobic slur. “I could delete the stories, but that would not change their history and prevalence,” he wrote in his disclaimer. “I choose to let them remain as a testament to my prior ignorance.”
“That is a very young-man-in-the-early-two-thousands sort of joke to make,” Fields told Kotaku. “That sort of stuff I think has not aged well and I’m especially proud of it. But I also don’t think I need to like, just scrub it from the Internet. The most responsible thing to do was to just put up a thing that says, hey, I did this when I was younger and less considerate. This isn’t a good sort of joke to make now.”
Fields said that there was a portion of his fandom that didn’t like that the author of “30 Hs” had suddenly added a disclaimer to the work. Fields said some of it came from the idea that you shouldn’t apologize for your art. One review of the fic asks Fields to “regurgitate the Kool Aid,” and that he shouldn’t have to worry about “normalizing words.” For other people, Fields thinks his disclaimer might have ruined the mystery.
“I think they wanted to imagine that I was like this Texas Chainsaw Massacre character, like, covered in the skin of my victims, gleefully hashing out these terrible stories,” Fields said. “To go from maybe having that sort of image of a person to like, just a person with a conscience is upsetting to a certain kind of person.”
The disclaimer was the last thing that Fields added to the fic in 2015. The last three chapters read as slightly more mature than their predecessors. They’re still surreal, but they’re not as chaotic. In the final chapter, Harry Potter dreams of a hat, which drifts through space until it finds itself before our sun. “It is a tiny dot in the immensity of the cosmic fire,” Fields wrote. “A tremendous rainbow issues forth, embracing the sun like wedding vow. The fire cools and deadens. A tidal wave of chocolate roars at its poles and meets at the center. On Earth, the skies blacken. The flowers turn to dust. Humanity expires silently, like an infant in its crib. The hat drifts through space, dreamless.”
“30 Hs” came a long way from groinsaws and cannibalism, ending on a sad, but peaceful scene. As Harry Potter sleeps, his dreams tear away from him, take on a life of their own, changing, and ending, the world. I can’t help but think of Fields when I read this last chapter—of a writer finally finishing something they started in their youth, leaving it out in space for someone else to find.