Penny Arcade

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The cover to Penny Arcade's second book, published by Dark Horse comics.
The name "Penny Arcade" also refers to a type of Arcade.

Penny-Arcade is a video game webcomic, which is published three times per week. It is one of the most popular and possibly one of the first. Strips the from series have appeared in countless other comics, magazines such as Official PlayStation Magazine and Computer Gaming World, and even game manuals. They have inspired other successful game comics, such as VG Cats and Ctrl Alt Del.

The comic focuses on the often-gaming-related mishaps of fictional characters John Gabriel and Tycho Brahe, aka Gabe and Tycho, which are loosely based on the comic's creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins.

An episodic video game based on the comic has had its first episode published under the title Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness.

History[edit | edit source]

Penny Arcade started in 1998 with a much different art style. Jerry & Mike both went to highschool with each other, and drew comics as "sort of a hobby" in between their jobs to support their apartment & games. The characters originally had no name. There was the blue guy and yellow guy. Jerry & Mike, however, took up internet screen names. Jerry chose Tycho Brahe, named after a slightly weird but famous astronomer. Mike chose John Gabriel, due to his interest in angel lore. In 1999, the characters were changed to Jack and John, but those names didn't appear to last. The creators found that they were projecting their personalities onto a character, and (legend has it) decided that one would be Tycho and one would be Gabe. This is the explanation as to why the real Gabe & Tycho look nothing like their webcomic counterparts.

While doing their strip as a hobby, they tried to get their comic strip into Next Generation Magazine, who passed on them. Eventually, after growing a fanbase on the internet, it became one of the heavy hitters in the webcomic scene. However, all was not always well. The primary source of revenue & server space for Penny Arcade was provided by a company called eFront. eFront sponsored many popular websites such as Something Awful and ran banner ads on all of them and paid webmasters for clicks. However, it turns out, eFront ran out of money. For months, webmasters went unpaid yet were asked to cover their sites in more ads. Gabe took action to create a revolt with other webmasters, to the dismay of president Sam Jain. In private chat logs that were released by hackers/people within eFront, it was shown that Sam Jain & others even planned to fire Gabe and Tycho, take their intellectual property, and run the site and comic themselves. eFront went under, and many websites under their umbrella were unsure of their futures. Penny Arcade took a big step and asked for donations, which surprisingly, would support them for years to come.

In 2003, they started the now annual Child's Play charity, that asked gamers to help their reputation by donating toys, games, and books to a Seattle Children's Hospital. The first year was such a success (over $200,000 dollars raised) that they expanded it to several more hospitals in 2004. 2004 was also the beginning of PAX, the Penny Arcade eXpo. It was a huge gathering of gamers to play table top, tcg & video games, as well as interact with developers in panels, or see upcoming products from companies. Tycho has described it as "The consumers' E3".

Today, Penny Arcade still remains a giant in the webcomic scene and video game press, living off of advertisement money and merchandise sales. Companies such as Ubisoft even hire them to write special, bonus webcomics for their official sites. They are looking to continue their Child's Play and PAX traditions, as well as finally publish their second book under publisher Dark Horse.

Characters[edit | edit source]

  • John Gabriel - Known as Gabe or Mike Krahulik. He is the artist of the webcomic. Gabe is known to be an unreasonably large Pac-Man fan, often resulting in sexual harassment of the character. Tends to be more of a console gamer than Tycho.
  • Tycho Brahe - Known as Tycho or Jerry Holkins. He is the writer of the webcomic & it's main news post. Tycho is known for being extremely wordy. Many jokes in the strip are about his use of big, fancy words and obsession with grammar. While he uses a fancy writing style, he'll still occasionally throw in a big "this is how I roll, motherfucker" just to throw you off. Tends to be more of a PC gamer than Gabe. He is also a junk mail vortex.
  • Div - Div is an obsolete DivX player and also a mean drunk. He is never nice to Gabe or Tycho and sometimes refers to them as "ultimate fucking pussies."
  • Brenna - Although her last name is unknown (Holkins?), she is Tycho's wife in both the comic strip and real life. Recently, she was "killed off" to make a point about video game violence, but G&T have been killed off themselves and returned.
  • Kara - Gabe's real life wife and webcomic wife. Recently gave birth (In real life) to a son, named Gabriel. Wears a shirt with some kind of weird wombat on it, which has become kind of a secondary logo for Penny Arcade.
  • Charles - Charles is a Mac fanatic. Originally he was a loser dork, until he fell out of a building and was remodeled to be trendy & cool with goggles & spiky hair. This was around the time of iMacs. With this remodeling, he has come to hate and mock Gabe and Tycho. "You know that hole you put your pie in? Shut it."

Minor Characters[edit | edit source]

  • Annarchy - Tycho's 11-year-old niece, Ann. A young gamer, shares some characteristics with Tycho.
  • Twisp & Catsby - A random pair of sepia toned characters that are meant not to make any sense. Originally debuted as a panel that wasn't supposed to be "for critics." In a twist of extra insanity, Catsby is an Imp, and Twisp is the cat.
  • Fruit Fucker - A sentient juicing machine that violates fruit to make juice and then makes girls drink it.
  • Robert Khoo - Although he is only featured in a couple of strips, the real life Khoo plays a major role behind the scenes in the business aspect. Gabe and Tycho often credit him with being a major influence on PA's success. Also Gabe's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory partner.
  • Thomas Kemper - The cat. Doesn't say anything, but seems to be good with technology.
  • Jesus Christ - Lord and saviour, bringer of blue sparks in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

Legal Troubles[edit | edit source]

Penny Arcade has, on some occasions, run into legal troubles, or were threatened with legal action.

  • Book Deal - Although many other comics that aren't as well known as Penny Arcade publish many books, PA is just now planning on releasing their second book. This is because of legal complications with the publisher of their first book.
  • American Greetings - In a parody of American McGee's Alice, Penny Arcade put a dark spin on the character "Strawberry Shortcake". The owners of that property, American Greetings, had them remove the comic strip. It has since been replaced with a black box and a message asking readers to email American Greetings.
  • eFront - The eFront controversy was mentioned in the history section. To summarize, eFront stopped paying Penny Arcade and many others. The fate of Penny Arcade was hanging in the balance, but everything worked out in the end and eFront imploded.
  • Squidi - When a user on the PA forums used an altered version of webcomic artist Squidi's characters as an avatar, Squidi emailed Gabe asking him to take action. Squidi's email was, apparently somewhat hostile sounding. This led to a large argument about copyrights in the webcomic community because although Squidi's art was all original, it was pixel art, which was easily confused with sprite comics that were ripped primarily from classic video games. Squidi later removed his comic from his site, in part, due to the PA controversy.

External links[edit | edit source]