Friday, June 30, 2006 

Penny Arcade: Attack of the bacon robots

Penny Arcade: Attack of the bacon robots
Authors: Mike Krahulik (illustration) & Jerry Holkins (writing)
Publisher: Dark horse
Format: Paperback (thick), heavy paper, Lustrous color, excellent printing quality

Review body:
Ah, Penny Arcade, staple of the gamer lifestyle, giant among web-comics. Starting on November 18, 1998 by roommates Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, the strip has become the the biggest (or second, depending who you ask) comic on the internet. The comic centers on two gamers; John Gabirel[Krahulik] , and Tycho Brahe[Holkins], avatars of their creators. The humor of the strip is Gaming and tech centric, although it does make forays into character based strips. Continuity is generally avoided, though certain changes do stick, such as the transformation of the character "Charles."
After years of existing, and thriving online, to such a degree that the authors now make the comic their full time job, a decision was reached, to publish a compilation. Unfortunately, it seems there were various legal troubles, and a completely different book, though details are sketchy. Nonetheless, the book was finally published, a compendium of the first two years of the comic.

Does that mean that long time readers and obsessed fans with every comic saved on their hard drive (guilty) have nothing new to look forward to? No, included in this volume is commentary from Jerry Holkins (AKA Tycho). I wish that there was something from both of them, as they have a great rapport (See: Penny arcade podcast). That said, the commentary is often humorous, and sometimes insightful. To a veteran reader of the strip, the commentary may seem anemic, compared to the gigantic newsposts that accompany each new strip on the webpage, but it's important to view this book as an addendum to the website. As the comics in this volume were written 5-6 years ago, it's easy to understand when, on occasion, even Holkins forgets what they were thinking. Invariably, he comes up with something to say about each one though, lending this book an atmosphere reminiscent to sitting down and reading the comics with him. To those interested, it also gives a real feel for the circumstances in which the comics were written, you can glean some info about the process too.

Reading through this archive is something. Penny Arcade deals with current events, as such, the comics can occasionally feel dated. But it serves as a nostalgia trip, and most of the comics are independently funny, as long as one has at least a passing familiarity with videogames and their history. For the hardcore gamer though, it is the equivalent of sitting down with an old friend, and recalling old times.

Bottom line
Oh, so worth it.