Wikipedia:For other uses, see Penny Arcade (disambiguation).
Penny Arcade is a webcomic focused on video games and video game culture, written by Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik. The comic debuted in 1998 on the website loonygames.com. Since then, Holkins and Krahulik have established their own site, which is typically updated with a new comic strip each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The comics are accompanied by regular updates on the site's blog.
Penny Arcade is among the most popular and longest running gaming webcomics currently online, listed in 2010 as having 3.5 million readers. Holkins and Krahulik are among the few and first webcomic creators successful enough to make a living from their work. In addition to the comic, Holkins and Krahulik also created Child's Play, a children's charity; PAX, an annual gaming convention, and the episodic video game Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness with Hothead Games and Zeboyd Games.Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (November 18, 1998). "The SIN Of Long Load Times". Penny Arcade. "Check out our first original comic strip!". loonygames (loonyboi productions) (13). November 16–20, 1998. Retrieved July 26, 2009. Maragos, Nich (November 7, 2005). "Will Strip for Games". 1UP.com. Ziff Davis. p. 4. Retrieved December 13, 2006. "The 2010 TIME 100 Poll: The Penny Arcade Co-Creators". Time. April 1, 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2010. Geddes, John (April 2, 2010). "'Penny Arcade' a testament to the power of gaming culture". USA Today. Retrieved October 12, 2011. MacDonald, Heidi (December 19, 2005). "Web Comics: Page Clickers to Page Turners; It's like manga five or six years ago". Publishers Weekly, p. 24.
OverviewMike Krahulik (left) and Jerry Holkins (right) at Comic-Con 2009.
The strip features Krahulik and Holkins' cartoon alter egos, John "Gabe" Gabriel and Tycho Brahe, respectively. While often borrowing from the authors' experiences, Holkins and Krahulik do not treat them as literal avatars or caricatures of themselves. The two characters spend much of their time playing and commenting on computer and video games, which forms the basis of the humor in the strip. Most of the time Gabe serves the purpose of the comic and Tycho the comic foil. The strip can feature in-jokes that are explained in the news posts accompanying each comic, written by the authors.
Both Krahulik and Holkins make a living from Penny Arcade, placing them in a small group of professional webcomic artists devoted to their creations full-time. Originally, like many webcomics, Penny Arcade was supported solely by donations. A graph on the main page indicated how much people had donated that month. After hiring Robert Khoo as their business manager, Holkins and Krahulik switched to a different income stream based on advertising and merchandise revenue alone. According to Holkins, the website in 2006 handled more than two million pageviews daily (excluding forum traffic). On November 13, 2005, the website was given a facelift in celebration of their seventh year running and to match the designs of the Child's Play Charity and Penny Arcade Expo websites. Afterwards, the site has been redesigned multiple times.Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (November 13, 2010). "Tycho/Jerry". Penny Arcade. Retrieved May 21, 2010. "Alumni Profile Robert Khoo". Foster School, University of Washington. Retrieved May 19, 2009. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (March 13, 2006). "The Gambler, Part Three". Penny Arcade. Retrieved July 6, 2006. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (November 14, 2005). "Seven Years!". Penny Arcade.
Attributes of the comic strip
As a (primarily) topical video gaming news comic, there is little plot or general continuity in Penny Arcade strips. Any story sustained for longer than a single strip is referred to as "dreaded continuity", something of a running gag in the newsposts. A character who dies a violent death in one strip will come back in the next, perfectly whole, though occasionally these deaths have an effect on later comics. For example, often, when Gabe kills Tycho or vice versa, the killer takes a certain Pac-Man watch off the dead character, but only if he currently has the watch. Profanity and violence are common in Penny Arcade and the strip is known for its surrealism; zombies, a talking alcoholic DIVX player called Div, Santa Claus, a robotic juicer called the "Fruit Fucker 2000", and Jesus, among others, are known to drop in often and for petty reasons. Other such occurrences are implied, if not shown, such as mentioning Dante from Devil May Cry living in the building next door. However, the comic does occasionally expand into more serious issues; one even had Krahulik, in the guise of the character Gabe, proposing to his girlfriend of two years, while another had both Gabe and Tycho praising Casey Heynes for standing up to bullying.
Some of the strips are drawn from the perspective of fictional characters within a game or movie. Occasionally, Gabe and Tycho are featured as they would be as characters or players in the game themselves, often having some sarcastic remark to make about some feature or bug in the game. At times the comic also depicts meetings between game developers or business people, and features or mocks the reporters of a news article that is commented on in Holkins' newspost.
Penny Arcade has a theme song, "Penny Arcade Theme", written and performed by nerdcore artist MC Frontalot. It was written as a thank-you by Frontalot for the creators of the webcomic linking his website to their front page and declaring him their "rapper laureate" in 2002. The song appears in the dance game In the Groove.Diabolicious! Penny Arcade, 2001-07-11 Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (October 19, 2001). "An Honest Mistake". Penny Arcade. Retrieved July 6, 2006. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (February 17, 1999). "A VERY Special Penny Arcade!". Penny Arcade. Retrieved March 27, 2008. "Instruction". Penny Arcade.
ProtagonistsMain article: List of Penny Arcade characters
Johnathan "Gabe" Gabriel
Mike Krahulik's comic alter ego is energetic and free-spirited, but has a propensity to become extremely angry. He has a Pac-Man tattoo on his right arm, as well as a tattoo in honor of the demise of SNK on his back. His eyes are a shade of slate blue. He almost always wears a yellow Pac-Man shirt, and in one comic he mentioned having a glass eye as a result of an incident after Tycho beat him at Warcraft II, although no other references to it have been made. He has a fascination with unicorns, a secret love of Barbies, is a dedicated fan of Spider-Man and Star Wars, and has proclaimed "Jessie's Girl" to be the greatest song of all time. He practices line dancing with the Kansas City Hotsteppers. He is a diabetic, though he continues to consume large quantities of sugar products. He has an odd affinity for a cardboard tube which he had fantasies of wielding as a wandering samurai, often in feudal Japan. He was for a short time addicted to Tribes but soon grew out of it. He also has an obsession with his own genitalia and possible latent homosexual tendencies. This theory can be supported by a recent recurrence of Gabriel's "personal" interest in actor Patrick Swayze. Despite this, his "son" is also present in the strip and appears alongside Gabe's wife. As a contrast to Tycho's expansive vocabulary, Gabe usually speaks using only simple, common words. Krahulik named his son "Gabriel" in honor of the character.
Jerry Holkins' comic alter ego (named after the astronomer Tycho Brahe) is bitter and sarcastic. His eyes are burnt sienna, and he's almost invariably clad in a blue-striped sweater. Tycho enjoys books, role-playing video games, using large and uncommon words in conversation, and deflating Gabe's ego. He is a rabid fan of Harry Potter and Doctor Who. He also plays Dungeons & Dragons often (the website's previous banner illustrated him holding a 20-sided die), and adopts a wildly theatrical style when acting as a dungeon master. He occasionally makes reference to his scarring childhood, during which his mother physically abused him and blamed him for the family's abandonment by his father due to his body, "swelling with evil" (in fact, his puberty). It has been mentioned that one of his aunts, believing him to be gay, regularly sends him homo-erotic material. Tycho also has a drinking problem. In one strip, after a dream, Tycho is shown to be host to an evil spirit, the presence of which is indicated by his eyes glowing with red light; this theme is repeated over the course of the strip. Some strips appear to indicate that he has an unhealthy sexual obsession with long-necked animals such as giraffes and ostriches. In Poker Night at the Inventory, Tycho is voiced by Kid Beyond.Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (March 17, 1999). "pa one – from calvin klein". Penny Arcade. Retrieved November 25, 2008. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (April 23, 1999). "Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow Wow". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (November 5, 2001). "Much Love". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (July 10, 2002). "Son Of True Story". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (September 8, 2004). "Undisclosed Propensities, Part I". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (April 7, 2003). "Hello Panda". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (May 6, 2002). "What, Indeed". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (August 22, 2005). "Purge 2: The Purgening". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (February 10, 2006). "They Are Among Us". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (March 29, 2006). "A Blatant Disregard For Canon". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (May 30, 2007). "The Time Of His Life". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (October 15, 2008). "The Breaking Point". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (September 10, 2004). "Undisclosed Propensities, Part 2". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (November 16, 2005). "Representing Hogwarts". Penny Arcade. Retrieved November 29, 2011. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (October 17, 2011). "The Heresiarch". Penny Arcade. Retrieved November 29, 2011. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (January 13, 2003). "Sweet and Sour". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (January 17, 2005). "Cha Cha Cha Changes". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (January 1, 2003). "You Know How It Is". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (August 1, 2005). "Just When I Get Out". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (August 6, 1999). "Perchance to Dream". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (January 18, 2006). "Savannah Heat". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (October 20, 2006). "Advertising In The Future". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (August 9, 2010). "In Too Deep". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 19, 2010. "PAX 2010: Poker Night at the Inventory". GamePro. September 6, 2011. Archived from the original on 2010-11-12.
Krahulik and Holkins began to record and release audio content on March 20, 2006, titled Downloadable Content. The podcasts specifically captured the creative process that goes into the creation of a Penny Arcade comic, usually starting with a perusal of recent gaming news, with conversational tangents and digressions to follow. As well as being a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Penny Arcade, Krahulik and Holkins discuss possible subjects for the comic.
The format of the show was mostly "fly-on-the-wall" style, in that the hosts rarely acknowledged the existence of the microphone. There was no theme music, intro, or outro. The podcasts were of varying lengths, beginning abruptly and ending with the idea for the current comic. New episodes were released irregularly, with six month gaps not uncommon.
Although the shows were initially published weekly, Holkins stated in a May 2006 blog post that they have found difficulties when trying to produce the podcasts on a regular basis. The duo planned to keep recording podcasts occasionally.
Since airing the first episode of the new PATV in February 2010, the podcast has not been updated. A new segment has since appeared on PATV called "The Fourth Panel," which presents a fly-on-the-wall look at comics creation much as the podcast did.
On May 8, 2013 Penny Arcade launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the continuation of Downloadable Content.Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (May 3, 2006). "A Failure to Plan". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (May 8, 2013). "Penny Arcade's Podcast, "Downloadable Content": The Return". Penny Arcade. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
GamesMain article: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness
Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is an episodic video game based on the strip. The first two episodes were developed by Hothead Games, and were built on a version of the Torque Game Engine. The first episode was released worldwide on May 21, 2008, and the second on October 29, 2008. They were self-published via the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live as well as the PlayGreenhouse.com service created by Penny Arcade to distribute independent games. The game features many elements of the Penny Arcade universe in a 1920s steampunk setting. In 2010, Krahulik and Holkins announced that the remainder of the series had been cancelled, to allow Hothead to focus on other projects. At PAX Prime 2011, however, it was announced that the series would be revived and developed by Zeboyd Games, with a retro style similar to Zeboyd's past titles. The third episode was released on Steam and on Penny Arcade's web store June 25, 2012. The fourth and final episode was announced in January 2013, and released to Steam and Xbox Live in June 2013.
A teaser trailer released by Telltale Games on August 28, 2010, revealed that Tycho would appear in an upcoming game alongside Team Fortress 2's Heavy, Strong Bad and Max. The game, called Poker Night at the Inventory, was officially revealed on September 2, 2010.
"The Last Christmas" and "The Hawk and the Hare", two stories that were published on the site, were released as motion comics for iOS developed by SRRN Games.
The North American release of Tekken 6 has a skin for Yoshimitsu based on the Cardboard Tube Samurai. An official DLC skin pack was released for Dungeon Defenders featuring Tycho, Cardboard Tube Samurai Gabe, Annarchy and Jim Darkmagic skins.
Cryptozoic Entertainment released the licensed deck-building card game Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers Vs. Evil in 2011, and followed it with the expansion pack Penny Arcade The Game: Rumble in R'lyeh in 2012. Playdek released a digital conversion of Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers Vs. Evil for iOS in 2012.Parish, Jeremy (August 25, 2006). "Penny Arcade: Now a videogame". 1UP.com. "Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 3 Canceled". March 26, 2010. "Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 3 still alive, Zeboyd at the helm". "Game is now available to buy: from Penny Arcade Store and Steam!". "The Long, Strange Journey of the Penny Arcade Game". 24 January 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013. Plunkett, Luke. "Sam & Max, Team Fortress 2, Penny Arcade and Strong Bad, Together At Last". Kotaku. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/penny-arcades-the-hawk-hare/id423458248?mt=8 Pigna, Kris. "Tekken 6 to Feature Penny Arcade's Cardboard Tube Samurai?". 1UP. Sliwinski, Alexander (2012-04-03). "Dungeon Defenders adding Penny Arcade skins; free at PAX East". Joystiq. Dillon, Patrick (17 April 2012). "Penny Arcade and Cryptozoic Entertainment Launch Second Installment of Hit Deck-Building Game". Cryptozoic Entertainment. Retrieved 18 December 2013. Rosenberg, Mike (19 December 2012). "Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs Evil for iOS - Now Available!". Cryptozoic Entertainment. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
Penny Arcade: The Series
Penny Arcade: The Series first aired online on February 20, 2010. It is a reality show based on the exploits of the Penny Arcade company and its founders, Gabe (Mike Krahulik) and Tycho (Jerry Holkins).
ContentsOther works1.1 Penny Arcade Presents1.2 "The New Kid" film1.3 The Trenches1.4 The Decideotron1.5 Kickstarter
Penny Arcade Presents
Under the banner of "Penny Arcade Presents", Krahulik and Holkins are sometimes commissioned to create promotional artwork/comic strips for new video games, with their signature artistic style and humor. They are usually credited simply as "Penny Arcade" rather than by their actual names. Some of these works have been included with the distribution of the game, and others have appeared on pre-launch official websites, such as:Asura's WrathA look at the character Asura's day-to-day life affected by his "wrath issues". Published officially by Capcom with original concept art from the game and available with pre-orders of the game from GameStop.Brothers in ArmsA somewhat toned-down look at a discussion between paratroopers.Empire Earth IIAn amusing example of the different technologies in the game.Far Cry InstinctsA story loosely based on the plot of the gameFallout 3A look into the various types of Vaults that might have been created.Heroes of Might and Magic VA brief retelling of the history of Ashan.The Legend of Zelda: Skyward SwordPublished weekly in five parts on Nintendo's official The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword website. Designer of the series Eiji Aonuma himself had liked the first page of the comic.Myst V: End of AgesA recap of the previous story and teaser for Myst V.PainkillerA comic strip based on the background story of the game, placed on the game's site in the downloads section. Also available as a poster in Painkiller: Triple Dose and Painkiller: Gold/Black Edition.Rainbow Six 3: Raven ShieldAn illustration of a mission in the game.Splinter Cell: Pandora TomorrowA comic strip depicting a mission in the game's new multiplayer mode, from both spies' and mercenaries' points of view.Splinter Cell: Chaos TheoryA humorous training manual for new operatives, ostensibly a classified document.World of WarcraftVarious humorous illustrations in the official strategy guide, as well as the strategy guide for the Burning Crusade expansion by BradyGames (ISBN 0-7440-0833-6). Krahulik also illustrated a number of cards for the collectible card game.Wild Arms Alter Code: FThree strips featured in the official strategy guide, including a look at the downsides of turn-based combat.
A partial, official list can be found on the Penny Arcade website.
On August 8, 2005, Krahulik announced that Penny Arcade, in partnership with Sabertooth Games, would be producing a collectible card game based on the Penny Arcade franchise. The resulting Penny Arcade "battle box" was released in February 2006 as part of the Universal Fighting System.
There are also a few spinoffs from the main comic that have gained independent existences. The most recent example is Epic Legends Of The Hierarchs: The Elemenstor Saga (ELotH:TES), a parody of the written-by-committee fantasy fiction used as back-story for a wide variety of games: originally a one-off gag in the Penny Arcade comic, in late 2005 this was expanded into a complete fantasy universe, documented on a hoax "fan-wiki". ELotH:TES first appeared in the webcomic of February 7, 2005, and has subsequently been featured in the comics of November 7, 2005 and November 30, 2005. Several elements of the ELotH:TES universe are featured on the cover of their second comics collection, Epic Legends of the Magic Sword Kings.
On May 31, 2006 Krahulik announced a new advertising campaign for the Entertainment Software Rating Board. According to Krahulik, the ESRB "wanted a campaign that would communicate to gamers why the ESRB is important even if they don't think it directly affects them." Among the reasons he listed for Penny Arcade's accepting the job was that he and Holkins are both fathers and are concerned about the games their children might play. He also stated his belief that the alternative to the ESRB would be governmental regulation of the video game industry. (The ESRB is a voluntary self-regulatory organization made up of video game publishers and developers.) The ad campaign will feature one character drawn by Krahulik to represent each of the ESRB ratings.
Krahulik and Holkins created a comic strip which compares the 7th generation consoles that appears in the December 2006 issue of Wired magazine.
"The New Kid" film
Announced on June 2, 2011, Paramount Pictures had acquired the rights to produce an animated film of the one-off strip The New Kid which was published on October 29, 2010. The strip was one of three mini-strips which featured a cinematic opening to a larger story left unexplored. The New Kid is about a boy who's moving to a new planet with his family because of his father's career. The script will be written by Gary Whitta and will be produced by Mary Parent and Cale Boyter.
The Trenches is a comic series by Krahulik and Holkins in collaboration with webcomic PvP's creator Scott Kurtz. The comic follows a man named Issac and his life as a game tester. The series was launched on August 9, 2011 and features new strips every Tuesday and Thursday, usually accompanied by a "Tale from the Trenches", which is a short piece submitted by a reader detailing their own experiences in the game industry.
In September 2012, Kurtz stopped illustrating the webcomic, due to lack of time, and was replaced by Mary Cagle, a former intern of his, and the creator of the webcomic Kiwi Blitz. Kurtz still continues to collaborate with Krahulik and Holkins in writing the comic. In late August 2013, illustration was taken over by Ty Halley (Secret Life of a Journal Writer) and Monica Ray (Phuzzy Comics), former contestants of the Penny Arcade series Strip Search.
Krahulik and Holkins have also released an application for iOS devices called The Decide-o-tron, presented by Eedar and developed by The Binary Mill. The app works as a recommendation engine for video games; users input games they've enjoyed and the app attempts to predict their ratings of titles they haven't yet played. Holkins described it as "Pandora for games".
Although the comic has previously lampooned uses of the crowd funding website Kickstarter, Penny Arcade has created two Kickstarter projects. The first was the Penny Arcade's Paint the Line card game which was used as an alternative to pre-ordering it and came with an exclusive comic. The second was entitled Penny Arcade Sells Out and was intended to replace advertising revenue with crowd funding. The leaderboard ad on the home page of Penny Arcade would be removed if the minimum goal of $250,000 were reached, whereas the entire site would become completely ad-free for a year at $999,999. The reality web series described as "our version of America's Next Top Webcomic" titled Strip Search arose from the $450,000 stretch goal.Krahulik, Mike (2011-11-14). "Asura’s Wrath!". Penny-Arcade.com. Holkins, Krahulik. "Penny Arcade Presents: Empire II Earth". empireearth4.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Narcisse, Evan (2011-11-15). "Nintendo’s Skyward Sword Push Includes Penny Arcade Zelda Comic, Early Sales This Saturday". Kotaku. Krahulik, Mike (2011-11-14). "Skyward Sword". Penny-Arcade.com. Holkins, Krahulik. "Myst V comic". Myst Worlds. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Painkiller comic: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. "Rainbow Six 3". Archived from the original on April 7, 2005. Retrieved July 26, 2009. "Penny Arcade". Splinter Cell Community Gallery. "Penny Arcade Comics". World of Warcraft. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike. "Penny Arcade Presents". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. "Penny Arcade Press Release" (Press release). Sabertooth Games. August 8, 2005. Archived from the original on February 8, 2006. Retrieved April 25, 2006. "FrontPage". ELotH:TES. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (May 31, 2006). "Tycho Ever-Listening". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. "I Come in Peace, With Console Advice". Wired 14 (12). December 2006. "One-Off Penny Arcade Strip Gets a Movie Deal". Kotaku. June 2, 2011. "The New Kid". Penny Arcade. October 29, 2010. Kit, Borys (June 2, 2011). "Paramount Plots Next Animated Pic with Alien Comic Adaptation 'New Kid' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Crecente, Brian (2011-08-10). "PvP and Penny Arcade Turn The Horrors of Game Testing Into Our Own Version of The Office". Kotaku. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (October 26, 2012). "Vomifuge". Penny Arcade. "Decide-o-tron LIVES". penny-arcade.com. 2011-08-22. "Decide-o-tron". Fahey, Mike (2011-08-22). "Penny Arcade’s Decide-o-Tron 8000 Knows What Game You Should Play Next". Kotaku. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (May 23, 2011). "Dickstarter". Penny Arcade. Retrieved July 11, 2012. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (May 4, 2012). "Incredibility". Penny Arcade. Retrieved July 11, 2012. "Penny Arcade's Paint The Line ECG: Red Tide". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2012-07-11. Morgan, Matt (2012-07-03). "Penny Arcade's 'Paint the Line' Puts a New Spin on Card Gaming". MTV.com. "Penny Arcade Sells Out". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2012-07-11. Senior, Tom (2012-07-10). "Penny Arcade aims to go ad-free with Kickstarter campaign: "We want to sell out to you"". PC Gamer.
Penny Arcade eventsMain articles: Child's Play (charity) and Penny Arcade Expo
Every Christmas since 2003, Penny Arcade hosts a charity called Child's Play to buy new toys for children's hospitals. They have also sponsored a three-day gaming festival called the Penny Arcade Expo every August since 2004.
ContentsLegal issues and controversy1.1 American Greetings1.2 Jack Thompson1.3 Rape/dickwolves controversy
Legal issues and controversy
Krahulik and Holkins received a cease-and-desist letter from American Greetings Corporation over the use of American Greetings' Strawberry Shortcake and Plum Puddin' characters in the April 14, 2003 Penny Arcade strip entitled "Tart as a Double Entendre". The strip was intended as a parody of the works of both American McGee (especially the computer game Alice) and McFarlane Toys. At the time, McFarlane toys and American McGee made separate toy lines, each portraying a dark, frightening interpretation of the characters and situations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Krahulik and Holkins' portrayal of Strawberry Shortcake parodied McFarlane Toys' depiction of Dorothy as bound and blindfolded by a pair of munchkins.
Krahulik and Holkins chose not to enter into a legal battle over whether or not the strip was a protected form of parody, and they complied with the cease-and-desist by replacing it with an image directing their audience to send a letter to a lawyer for American Greetings. They later lampooned the incident by portraying an American Greetings employee as a Nazi.
On June 15, 2011, a strip entitled "Reprise" revisited the issue, due to the release of Alice: Madness Returns, another American McGee game. In the strip, Gabe suggests that he and Tycho parody a brand not "under constant surveillance", resulting in a spoof of the Rainbow Brite franchise. Holkins stated in the accompanying news post that "it seemed like an incredible opportunity to relive the days of yore."
On October 17, 2005 Krahulik and Holkins donated US$10,000 to the Entertainment Software Association foundation in the name of Jack Thompson, an activist against violence in video games. Earlier, Thompson himself had promised to donate $10,000 if a video game was created in which the player kills video game developers (A Modest Video Game Proposal), but after a mod to the game Grand Theft Auto was pointed out to already exist, Thompson called his challenge satire (referring to the title of the letter as a reference to "A Modest Proposal") and refused to donate the money. He claimed these games were not going to be manufactured, distributed, or sold like retail games, as his Modest Proposal stated, and therefore, the deal went unfulfilled. His refusal was met with disdain, given that multiple games were created or in the process of being created under Thompson's criteria. Krahulik and Holkins donated the money in his place, with a check containing the memo: "For Jack Thompson, Because Jack Thompson Won't".
Thompson proceeded to phone Krahulik, as related by Holkins in the corresponding news post.
On October 18, 2005 it was reported that Jack Thompson had faxed a letter to Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske claiming that Penny Arcade "employs certain personnel who have decided to commence and orchestrate criminal harassment of me by various means". Holkins defended the site by saying that the "harassment" Thompson referred to was simply "the natural result of a public figure making statements that people disagree with, and letting him know their thoughts on the matter via his publicly available contact information".
On October 21, 2005 Thompson claimed to have sent a letter to John McKay, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, in an attempt to get the FBI involved. Thompson re-iterated his claims of "extortion" and accused Penny Arcade of using "their Internet site and various other means to encourage and solicit criminal harassment". Penny Arcade denied the charge of "extortion", noting that they paid the $10,000 to charity, and asked nothing in return.
Thompson claimed the harassment of him is a direct result of Mike Krahulik's posts, which listed links to the Florida Bar Association. Thompson accused Penny Arcade of soliciting complaints to the Bar against him, even though Krahulik actually posted the opposite, asking fans to cease sending letters to the Bar, as the Bar acknowledged that it is aware of Thompson's actions, thanks to previous letters.
The Seattle PD eventually acknowledged receiving a complaint from Thompson, but have commented that they believe the issue to be a civil, rather than criminal, matter. They noted that this was from initial impressions of the letter they received, and their criminal investigations bureau is reviewing the letter to make sure that there were not any criminal matters that they missed.
On the same day, Scott Kurtz, creator of the webcomic PvP and a longtime friend of Krahulik and Holkins, used the image of the letter Thompson sent to the Seattle PD to create a parody letter in which Jack attempts to enlist the aid of the Justice League of America by claiming Gabe and Tycho to be villains of some description.
The Penny Arcade shop had at the time sold an "I hate Jack Thompson" T-shirt, claiming that every living creature, including Thompson's own mother, hates Jack Thompson.
On March 21, 2007 Thompson filed a countersuit to the lawsuit brought against him by Take Two Interactive claiming that they are at the center of a RICO conspiracy. Penny Arcade was named as one of the co-conspirators. At Sakura-Con 2007, Krahulik announced that the suit had been dropped.
An August 11, 2010 comic entitled "The Sixth Slave" wherein an NPC pleads with a player to save him from being raped nightly by monsters called "dickwolves", drew criticism from many commentators, including from The American Prospect and The Boston Phoenix. Krahulik and Holkins dismissed these criticisms, later selling "Team Dickwolves" T-shirts based on the strip. They later removed the "Team Dickwolves" shirt from their store due to complaints that it made potential PAX attendees uncomfortable. After the removal, Krahulik posted online that removing the shirts was only partly caving to pressure but mainly due to people who had personally emailed him and were reasonable with their concerns. Krahulik also stated that anyone still hesitant about going to PAX even after removal of the shirts should not come to PAX. In September 2013, on the last day of PAX, Krahulik told a panel that he thought that "pulling the dickwolves merchandise was a mistake", to cheers from the crowd. However, Krahulik later apologized on the Penny Arcade website, stating that he regretted contributing to the furor that had followed the original comic."Dorothy with Munchkins". Spawn.com. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (April 14, 2003). "Tart As A Double Entendre". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (April 28, 2003). "Read It Before They Take Legal Action". Penny Arcade. Retrieved February 6, 2010. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (June 15, 2011). "Reprise". Penny Arcade. Retrieved June 17, 2011. Holkins, Jerry (June 15, 2011). "Reprise". Penny Arcade. Retrieved June 17, 2011. Score, Avery (October 17, 2005). "Penny Arcade donates in Thompson's stead". GameSpot. Retrieved April 25, 2006. "Jack Thompson is blasted by pro-family group". GamesIndustry.biz. October 14, 2005. Retrieved April 25, 2006. Gibson, Ellie (October 18, 2005). "Thompson refuses to keep 10k promise". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved April 25, 2006. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (October 14, 2005). "And All Of It True". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. "Will Seattle's Finest Be Raiding Penny Arcade?". gamepolitics. October 18, 2005. Sinclair, Brendan; Brendan, Curt (October 18, 2005). "Thompson attacks Penny Arcade; seeks arrests". GameSpot. Retrieved April 25, 2006. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (October 17, 2005). "The Adventure Continues". Penny Arcade. Retrieved July 26, 2009. "No End in Sight to Penny Arcade Saga; Thompson Turns to Feds". gamepolitics. October 21, 2005. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (October 21, 2005). "oh nos it's teh feds!". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Sinclair, Brendan (October 21, 2005). "Thompson goes federal with Penny Arcade feud". GameSpot. Retrieved April 25, 2006. Sinclair, Brendan (October 27, 2005). "Seattle police pass on Penny Arcade flap". GameSpot. Retrieved April 25, 2006. Kurtz, Scott (October 18, 2005). "Letter to the Justice League". PvP. Archived from the original on November 13, 2006. Retrieved March 23, 2007. McCauley, Dennis. "In Countersuit, Thompson Claims Take Two at Center of Vast RICO Conspiracy". GamePolitics.com. Retrieved March 22, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (March 23, 2007). "Our Old Tricks". Penny Arcade. Retrieved March 23, 2007. Kristine C. (March 29, 2007). "Thompson drops racketeering allegations in lawsuit against Take-Two". qj.net. Retrieved April 9, 2007. "The Sixth Slave". Penny Arcade. Retrieved 3 July 2012. Kennedy, Channing (February 4, 2011). "How Does It Feel to Be a Problem on the Internet?". The American Prospect. Retrieved February 26, 2011. Myers, Maddy (August 16, 2010). "Penny Arcade surprised to find that rape jokes offend people". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved February 26, 2011. Myers, Maddy (February 3, 2011). "Gaming, rape culture, and how I stopped reading Penny Arcade: When Dickwolves attack". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved March 3, 2011. http://www.penny-arcade.com/2011/1/28/dickwolves Hern, Alex. "Penny Arcade reopens the "dickwolves" controversy". New Statesman. Retrieved 5 September 2013. Some Clarification
"Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory"
"John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory" was posted in the Penny Arcade strip published March 19, 2004. It regards the online disinhibition effect, in which Internet users exhibit unsociable tendencies while interacting with other Internet users. Krahulik and Holkins suggest that, given both anonymity and an audience, an otherwise regular person becomes aggressively antisocial. In 2013, Holkins gave the corollary that "Normal Person - Consequences + Audience = Total Fuckwad".
Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor at New York University who studies social and economic effects of Internet technologies, explains: "There’s a large crowd and you can act out in front of it without paying any personal price to your reputation,” which "creates conditions most likely to draw out the typical Internet user’s worst impulses." In an Advocate article about online homophobia, this theory was used to account for behavior on online forums where one can remain anonymous in front of an audience: for instance, posting comments on popular YouTube videos.Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (March 19, 2004). "Green Blackboards (And Other Anomalies)". Penny Arcade. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (February 18, 2013). "Corollary". Penny Arcade. Doig, Will (February 26, 2008). "Homophobosphere". The Advocate (1002). Retrieved January 24, 2010.
Collected editionsYear One: A Penny Arcade Retrospective (Limited Edition) — ISBN 1-931195-07-2Year One: A Penny Arcade Retrospective (Soft Cover) — ISBN 1-931195-11-0Year One: A Penny Arcade Retrospective (Hard Cover) — ISBN 1-931195-12-9Penny Arcade, Volume 1: Attack of the Bacon Robots — ISBN 1-59307-444-1Penny Arcade Limited Edition Signed – Attack Of The Bacon Robots — ISBN 1-59307-650-9Penny Arcade, Volume 2: Epic Legends Of The Magic Sword Kings — ISBN 1-59307-541-3Penny Arcade, Volume 3: The Warsun Prophecies — ISBN 1-59307-635-5Penny Arcade, Volume 4: Birds Are Weird — ISBN 1-59307-773-4Penny Arcade, Volume 5: The Case of the Mummy's Gold — ISBN 1-59307-814-5Penny Arcade, Volume 6: The Halls Below (Limited Edition) - ISBN 978-0-307-29185-1Penny Arcade, Volume 6: The Halls Below (Soft Cover) — ISBN 0-345-51227-8Penny Arcade, Volume 7: Be Good, Little Puppy — ISBN 978-0-345-51228-4Penny Arcade, Volume 8: Magical Kids in Danger — ISBN 978-1-620-10006-6Penny Arcade, Volume 9: Passion's Howl — ISBN 978-1-620-10007-3The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11.5 Anniversary Edition (Hardcover) — ISBN 978-0-345-51226-0
On December 13, 2006, Next Generation rated Krahulik and Holkins among their "Top 25 People of the Year". Also appearing on the list were Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime and former Xbox corporate vice-president Peter Moore. Krahulik made a post about the honor, in which he explained that Penny Arcade was created only because Next Gen rejected the duo's entry to a comic contest many years before. Entertainment Weekly listed Penny Arcade on their "100 Sites to Bookmark Now," calling it "a hilarious and smart webcomic for gamers." MTV Online named Holkins and Krahulik two of the world's most influential gamers, saying "they have become the closest the medium has to leaders of a gamers' movement." Time.com named Penny Arcade as one of its "50 Best Websites" for 2008 "...for the way it pokes fun at the high-tech industry and the people who love it."
1UP.com described it as "the One True Gaming Webcomic." Penny Arcade was used along with American Elf, Fetus-X, and Questionable Content as an example of comics using the web to create "an explosion of diverse genres and styles" in Scott McCloud's 2006 book Making Comics.Campbell, Colin (December 13, 2006). "Next-Gen's Top 25 People of the Year". Archived from the original on December 28, 2007. Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (December 18, 2006). "I'd like to thank God…". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 26, 2007. Kohn, Eric; Mangalindan, J.P. (June 23, 2006). "100 Sites to Bookmark Now". Entertainment Weekly. p. 38. Totilo, Stephen (June 21, 2006). "Playa Rater: The 10 Most Influential Video Gamers Of All Time". MTV. Hamilton, Anita (June 17, 2008). "Penny Arcade". Time. Retrieved June 26, 2008. Cite error: The named reference 1UP was invoked but never defined (see the help page). McCloud, Scott (2006). Making Comics. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. p. 227. ISBN 0-06-078094-0.
Awards and recognition
In March 2009, Penny Arcade won the category "Best Webcomic" in the fan voted Project Fanboy Awards for 2008.
In 2010, Time included Holkins and Krahulik in the annual "Time 100", the magazine's listing of the world's 100 most influential people.
On March 5, 2009, the Washington State Senate honored Holkins and Krahulik, both originally from Spokane, for the contribution that they had made to the state, the video game industry, and to children's charities from around the world courtesy of their Child's Play initiative."2008 Project Fanboy Award Winners". Project Fanboy. Retrieved July 26, 2009. Grossman, Lev (April 29, 2010). "The 2010 Time 100: Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik". Time. Retrieved May 10, 2010. Senators Jarrett, McAuliffe, and Fraser (March 5, 2009). "Senate resolution 8640" (PDF).