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Penny Arcade: "Automata" inspired works
August 5, 2009 1:01 PM   Subscribe

The guys at Penny Arcade often refer to their sequential comics as "dreaded continuity," but some of their storylines have created their own microcosms apart from the usual commentary on things in the broad world video games. Prime examples of these storylines include Cardboard Tube Samurai and Song of the Sorcelator, the latter has spun into a world made by its fans. The newest sequential work started from one of three short "treatments," set in a nineteen-twenties crime fiction which unfolds in a time where "machine intellect" has been outlawed. The first page of Automata was set to music that was composed and performed by Christoph Hermiteer. The second fan creation is a short radio program, based on a script written by the Penny Arcade folks.
posted by filthy light thief (73 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know who made the radio drama, or I would have given them credit, too. All I know is that he's from the UK. And if you were wondering, the music at the end is from the Bladerunner soundtrack, though I'm not sure which track exactly.

Links to 4 of the 5 pages of Automata: 1, 2, 3, and 4. Page 5 should go up on Friday.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:06 PM on August 5, 2009


The only reason that imagine that you didn't include a link to the Lookouts storyline is that the guest stuff sucked lamb kidneys. Best forgotten.
posted by gurple at 1:08 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought Lookouts turned out alright.
posted by ODiV at 1:12 PM on August 5, 2009


Why are we not mentioning the periodic Twisp and Catsby? Sure, it might not be continuity as such, but you can't even criticize it. It's not for critics.
posted by graymouser at 1:13 PM on August 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


Gurple, I have to agree. I loved the first one, and I have the icon as my wallpaper, but not a big fan of the guest artist treatment.

They do have a lot of storylines that treaded the dark paths of continuity. I personally miss some of the injokes. There used to be a running gag in which they would kill each other to retain a wristwatch. Good times.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:18 PM on August 5, 2009


I don't know who made the radio drama, or I would have given them credit, too.

He occasionally posts on the PA forums under the name Bacon-BuTTy.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:19 PM on August 5, 2009


My favorite Twisp and Catsby.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:20 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, too far out of their core demo, I think, gurple.

That said, when you look at their work today, and their work from eleven years ago -- man, it's impressive what we can achieve when we set our minds to something and practice, practice, practice. Great stuff.
posted by cavalier at 1:22 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've loved PA for many years, but yeah, this Automata thing is by far some of their best work. The entire universe is so damn intriguing. I hope it somehow gets swept up and they decide to do a full graphic novel on it. They've never done anything like that yet, but maybe it'll be popular enough to convince them to try something new.
posted by toekneebullard at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2009


And I like it too, and I'm trying not to hate, but what nerd amongst us would NOT want to swim through an Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot" universe gently massaged with BioShock? I mean, less Big Daddies, but still.
posted by cavalier at 1:27 PM on August 5, 2009


There are a lot of side projects, and I love Twisp and Catsby, but I left them out for the sake of a shorter post. I was thinking about linking up to all of their past series of significance, but that would take a while, and I'm sure I'd miss something along the way.

I was surprised about how quickly these appeared, following the appearance of Automata. I really like the look and feel of the storyline, and I thought these two fan projects captured different elements of the same world.

voltairemodern - thanks for the additional info!
posted by filthy light thief at 1:30 PM on August 5, 2009


Dang, that was the proposal I liked least.
posted by The Whelk at 1:34 PM on August 5, 2009


I applaud the guys for trying something new, but I haven't been able to get into any of the long form stuff so far.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:36 PM on August 5, 2009


man, Automata hits on all my soft points. robots, noir, the 1940s, black and white art with minor instances of color... i swear it's as if it were designed for my consumption. I was pissed about the voting process they had to decide which series would get a run on the site, because after what they described as some kind of do-over because of cheating, lookouts won and was a pretty terrible story. thankfully, Automata is getting a much better treatment. really really happy with it so far.
posted by shmegegge at 1:39 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just a minor nitpick, but it's more 20s or 30s than 40s, isn't it? Speakeasies were done after 1933. I mean, yeah, there weren't talking robots either, but still.
posted by echo target at 1:47 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


i hate when they do these. i mean i can see why it would be fun for them, but i'm never that interested in their attempts to be serious. bring back the funny
posted by jcruelty at 1:47 PM on August 5, 2009


I'm just jealous that these 2 dudes have created a company who's apparent main work is to write a web comic 3 times a week and post 3 paragraphs related to video games with each comic. There's got to be more to it than this, but it's well hidden.
posted by garlic at 1:48 PM on August 5, 2009


I liked the way Lookouts turned out, though being in the middle of my first DnD campaign in a long time and having followed the PA/PvP podcasts, I voted for Jim Darkmagic (of the New Hampshire Darkmagics).
posted by kableh at 1:48 PM on August 5, 2009


I voted for Lookouts which looked fantastic when the PA guys did it, but they farmed it out to another creative pair who turned it into some kind of hallucinatory fever dream.
posted by PenDevil at 1:49 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's got to be more to it than this, but it's well hidden.

They're making a truckload of money from PAX.
posted by PenDevil at 1:51 PM on August 5, 2009


There's got to be more to it than this, but it's well hidden.

There's also Child's Play, which is a not insignificant endeavor. And they do a lot of side projects for video game releases.

I was not too happy with the way Lookouts turned out. I didn't care for the writing or art direction from the pair that did it. I had been quite excited about it, too (it got my vote in the polls).
posted by jedicus at 2:02 PM on August 5, 2009


Uh, MERCHANDISING! Merchandising! It's where the real money from the web comic is made!
posted by cavalier at 2:05 PM on August 5, 2009


They make a truckload of money from advertising and the themed comics they do for games they're interested in (such as the Fallout 3 puppet comic). They probably make out ok from PAX, but it's a cheap con to attend, all things considered. Incase you think them lazy, they do:

* 3 often brilliant comics a week
* Short comic series for video games they like
* Have their own episodic video game on multiple platforms that they write and do some art direction for
* Have a yearly con that's taking over for E3 as the place to be for gamers
* Are expanding it to an East Coast version soon
* Have a yearly black tie auction/online fundraiser where they raise over a million dollars for toys for sick kids in hospitals
* Make appearances at the usual comic and gaming cons to sell their printed books
* Make appearances at the video game/technology conferences

They're hardly layabouts.
posted by jeffkramer at 2:10 PM on August 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


I've got to add an agreement that Lookouts got the shaft. Is it too much to hope that perhaps Gabe or Tycho read Metafilter, and will be inspired to throw out the utter crap that was Guest Lookout? The boys deserved a lot better than they got.

I suppose Automata is nice as a consolation prize; Jim Darkmagic, on the other hand, I can't fathom voting for. It's not that it was bad; it was just that as far as characters and originality go, I don't exactly see what makes him any different than the standard Penny Arcade stuff. His whole schtick feels like you could just work it into the normal lineup and nobody would have ever noticed that it was supposed to be special.
posted by tocts at 2:24 PM on August 5, 2009


All Twisp & Catsby installments so far:

The Adventures of Twisp and Catsby - Ham!
The Crocotillian - Exuberance!
The Birdsea - Ominous!
La Marche Des Souris - Exodus!
The Land of Upp - Tiresome.
In the Service of the Queen (part I, part II)

PS: The cat is Twisp and the demon is Catsby. (Duh!)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:30 PM on August 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


I remember seeing Automata mentioned in the back of one of Penny Arcade's book collections as a "project that didn't get anywhere". Imagine my surprise.

They also mentioned an action comic that they drew a couple of pages for, and a Wild West themed comic. Maybe they should be reminded of those. I appreciate both sides of them, serious and funny. If they listened to those of you who said "forget the side projects, just do the funny videogame jokes", then they would have a lot of bottled up creativity. I would miss it.
posted by Askiba at 2:39 PM on August 5, 2009


Huge PA fan here, voted for Lookouts, also disappointed by the guest art, but I can understand why Mike liked the artist's work so much because he's said in the past that he's a Mary Blair fan, which the guest artist's stuff totally resembles.

There were some interesting reinterpretations of her pages in the PA forum when the second page was posted in an attempt to make them more readable, but I'm not going to link to them because that thread is huge and it's scary and the work computers are using Open DNS.
posted by TrishaLynn at 2:48 PM on August 5, 2009


How can nobody have yet mentioned the fantastic Bogey Golf??
posted by potch at 2:56 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


They do quite a bit of contract work for video games:

Prince of Persia
Fallout 3
Far Cry

For those who've never liked PA much, here's a slightly dubious self-link to a thread at Quartertothree.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:25 PM on August 5, 2009


I'm just jealous that these 2 dudes have created a company who's apparent main work is to write a web comic 3 times a week and post 3 paragraphs related to video games with each comic. There's got to be more to it than this, but it's well hidden.

Well obviously; they have to play videogames, so that they can write those 3 paragraphs about video games.

Bastards.

:-)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:34 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can understand why people might enjoy looking at the guest artist's paintings, but it was very poor visual storytelling. The artwork provides zero characterisation for any of the boys or their mentor and the events depicted are very hard to follow (readers are still arguing about what exactly is happening in some panels).

But what really disappointed me was the writing. Such a great premise - "Fantasy Boy Scouts" - and the first page had several neat hooks to hang a story, all of which was ignored to give us a generic four-page fight scene. I'm certain Gabe and Tycho could have done something far more interesting.

Also, nobody had yet linked to the surprisingly entertaining Penny Arcade Podcasts, in which you can listen to Gabe and Tycho chat and write the day's comic strip. This one where they discover and mock a hyperventilating news story about the "Playstation Porn-able" is particularly funny.
posted by straight at 3:38 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately once I start linking Penny Arcade strips, I just have to keep doing it. It is a recognised condition
posted by Sebmojo at 3:38 PM on August 5, 2009


the podcasts are great, i agree. surprisingly so.
posted by jcruelty at 3:52 PM on August 5, 2009


I'm a big fan of Penny Arcade. I have the five collected volumes of their books and a folder on my hard drive with my favorite strips.

I do like Twisp & Catsby. I don't mind Automata and I'm not a fan of Carboard Tube Samurai. But man, I think PA is best when it's doing what they made their name doing; commenting on the gaming industry. Twisp & Catsby, Automata et al... they are fine works and are great examples of Holkin's ability to write and Krahulik's ability to draw, but they get in the way of the gaming stuff, which often times annoy me.

I would much prefer that stuff like Automata and Lookouts appear on their own websites, updated periodically, and Penny Arcade remain a purely gaming comic, with occassional forays into comic violence between Gabe and Tycho.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:03 PM on August 5, 2009


I'm just jealous that these 2 dudes have created a company who's apparent main work is to write a web comic 3 times a week and post 3 paragraphs related to video games with each comic. There's got to be more to it than this, but it's well hidden.

Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik are millionaires at this point. Penny Arcade gets over two million pageviews on new strip days, allowing them to charge upwards of five figures for ad space. Given their immense readership, it's not hard to imagine six-figure merchandise sales. They also sell books of collected strips, and get paid in the five figures to do exclusive pieces for magazines and video game manuals. I recall reading a while back that Penny-Arcade Inc., their LLC, has a staff of about twenty. They also are the co-owners of Greenhouse, the online distribution system for their own branded video game.

As far as how they got there, obviously the strips is popular, but they were also lucky to have started very early (and to their credit, been the ones to actually take the risk on what is much more mainstream now), and found themselves an amazing business manager in Robert Khoo, who is pretty much responsible for giving PA a profitable marketing strategy (before they hired him, their most brilliant marketing decision was accidentally losing the book print rights to their own comic)

Krahulik is a talented artist, Holkins is a talented writer, and Khoo is a talented businessman. It's very fortuitous that the three of them found each other.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:33 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another huge fan of PA here - and I really, really like Automata. Didn't think much of Lookouts or Darkmagic, though.

Overall, I'd have to agree with Effigy2000 - I'd love to see Automata, on it's own site, with PA sticking to it's core strengths.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 4:44 PM on August 5, 2009


Remember when their advertising company plotted to take over their domain and some guy at the company said he would draw the comics? That was funny, after the dot-com crash when everyone scrambling to make money.

It's interesting to see their style evolve over the years, although I don't read the comic very often.
posted by delmoi at 4:55 PM on August 5, 2009


Digitally distribute me some full issues-- or, shit, even 8-page shorts-- of Automata and PA-created Lookouts (Guest Lookouts made me sad), and I'll take 'em.

I am upset to hear that the PA guys may not be doing another episode of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, though-- I was in line for their table at SDCC and heard Tycho mention that they don't really know what's up with the game. ("I am despondent" was the actual quote.) Those games are the only ones that reliably glue my butt to the floor in front of the Xbox.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:20 PM on August 5, 2009


My favorite PA strip of all-time. Really captures what I love about his writing.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:34 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but the writing in that was just a pastiche of typical games workshop flavor text.

I really, really wish that the PA guys would just stop doing videogames jokes (as much as it probably pays the bills). They are both far, far too talented as writers and artists to be wasting their abilities on such a small niche. More like Automata, please.
posted by empath at 6:02 PM on August 5, 2009


Empath, it seems like what you are saying is you want them to branch out. I can dig that. Maybe refrain from phrasing like "pays the bills" and "wasting their abilities". They do a lot more than that. There's nothing wastful about making your art center around your passion, and if that results in also donating over 3.5 million dollars worth of stuff for dying kids, that's pretty damn nice.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:11 PM on August 5, 2009


This almost caused me to pass out from not breathing I was laughing so hard.
posted by PenDevil at 6:20 PM on August 5, 2009


I think some of that art on "Automata" is really lovely; I don't read PA regularly, so appreciate the signal boost!
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:28 PM on August 5, 2009


They do revisit themes. My favourites theme is the uneasy relationship they have with the abusive electronic entertainment cartels and dealers who supply the mindcandy for their addictions. Anyway games aren't really my thing. I'm a causal user. I can stop whenever I want.

I'd like to see "The Merch" become its own series.
posted by vicx at 8:39 PM on August 5, 2009


The best of Penny Arcade's dreaded continuity (read: multi-part comics):

The Jim Saga (3 parts)
The Game Detective (3 parts)
Cardboard Tube Samurai (6 parts)
Fruit Fucker 2000 (4 parts + bonus!)
Dungeons and Something Else (3 parts)
An Alternative Lifestyle (5 parts)
Undisclosed Propensities (6 parts)
The Last Christmas (5 parts)
Ripped from Today's Headlines (5 parts)
A Whimsical God (4 parts)
The Scion (6 parts)
The Song of the Sorcelator (5 parts)
Summer Road Epic (2 parts)
Cardboard Tube Samurai: The Hawk and the Hare (4 parts)
The Pilgrimage (4 parts)
The Home of the Gods (2 parts)
The Tournémon (4 parts)
posted by Rhaomi at 8:40 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe refrain from phrasing like "pays the bills" and "wasting their abilities".

Here's what I'm saying -- there are only so many people who are going to read a webcomic about video games. I think people with their talent should probably try to get to a bigger audience. I don't care if it's sci-fi or a graphic novel, or hell, doing more games. But 3 panel in-jokes about industry news seems kind of SMALL for them.
posted by empath at 9:09 PM on August 5, 2009


Also, nobody had yet linked to the surprisingly entertaining Penny Arcade Podcasts, in which you can listen to Gabe and Tycho chat and write the day's comic strip.

One of the funniest podcasts I've ever listened to, and one of their first, centered around them having trouble finding a good joke, and one of them suggests "going to the penis well" which is something they desperately try to avoid but sometimes, you gotta make a dick joke.

To this very day, I still regularly make jokes to myself about "going to the penis well".
posted by graventy at 9:16 PM on August 5, 2009


Empath, none of the comics in Rhaomi's link fest just above were in-jokes about industry news.

I don't really get your point - why should they spend less time doing what they're interested in? They don't do industry in-jokes out of heavy social obligation.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:32 PM on August 5, 2009


Also: Paint the Line. Some of their best work.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:34 PM on August 5, 2009


But 3 panel in-jokes about industry news seems kind of SMALL for them.

This isn't a good definition of Penny Arcade. 3 panel jokes about industry news is not what they do. In fact, they tend to eschew that insider mentality intentionally.

I think people with their talent should probably try to get to a bigger audience.

+

there are only so many people who are going to read a webcomic about video games


=

Them doing comics about something other than their main passion in life in order to get a bigger audience. Even to me, that seems lame.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:38 PM on August 5, 2009


DAMN IT WHY WON'T YOU LET ME REST

My favourite piece of Tycho prose:

"Long story short, I'm getting my chicken soup on, it's Sunday afternoon, and Gabe's reading some Preacher in the Den, which is also the living room, the bathroom, and the foyer. I am interacting with pasta dough in what I think is a stern way, when I hear him say that he might like the soup better if it were, in fact, carrot cake. It hits us, hits us both, simultaneously, like a semi made out of lightning which is also a professional boxer. Carrot Cake Soup. You cube the carrot cake, some pieces have frosting and some don't, and you put a handful of these chunks into a bowl full of milk. So let's go do it. We'll do it later this week, he says. But I know that's the same as not doing it. Why not now, I say? I know a store where we can get all the stuff. You can just buy it, the way you can buy stuff in the household cleaners section and make a bomb big enough to kill God. The stuff is just lying around there and nobody's doing anything with it. It's not a crime to buy them separately, and what we do at home isn't any of their fucking business.

I think someone might have been following us as we pulled into the parking lot, we walked toward the grocery store and tried to keep the conversation natural. We certainly didn't discuss carrot cake or the soup one might make by cutting it into cubes and swimming islands of it in cold milk, pleasure islands, like you'd see in a magazine. At the bakery counter, a woman asks if she can help me, and I'm so nervous that as I'm pointing to the carrot cake behind the glass, my finger starts to tap in Morse Code that reads:

I AM ABOUT TO COMMIT A CRIME AGAINST GOD AND MAN STOP

And where is Gabe with that Goddamn milk? There he is, in the self-checkout. Idiot. There's cameras all over that thing, it's like a Goddamn surveillance tree. It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together. A red light flashes on, and off in my mind. At another checkstand, I pay with untraceable cash, assuring the woman that I will eat the cake by myself, without assistance from cows. I smirk. This woman has no idea that she's just sold me the trigger to a flavor gun. Carrot Cake Soup is like the taste of watching girls make out. It has an extraordinary power that oscillates between gentle and overwhelming, between light and dark, between pleasure and more pleasure. When it was over, I realized that I was panting. I was in possession of carnal knowledge. And I knew that, somehow, every taste beyond this point was in the service of the one that still lingered, waited, to remind me that nature has laws, and those that break them are criminals, and though they roam free enough the knowing will hold them, and keep them, until the last. "
posted by Sebmojo at 9:39 PM on August 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


That reads more glib than I intended. I get your point. You think they are talented and would like to see them apply their talents to different genres in order to be bigger and better and so on. Okay. I think you can find a way to say that without ragging on what they do already, oversimplifying the wonderful art they make that people love, and accusing them of kool-aid drinking corporate inaccessibility.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:40 PM on August 5, 2009


They Penny Arcade comics are good, but Tycho's writing in the accompanying "news" posts is what keeps me coming back. As noted above.
posted by crawl at 10:05 PM on August 5, 2009


Okay. I think you can find a way to say that without ragging on what they do already, oversimplifying the wonderful art they make that people love,

What I'm saying is that this is just objectively better than this and they should do more of the former and less of the latter.

Though I have to say that this and the accompianing blog entry nicely summed up why I gave up on 1 vs 100 after the first night. *grumble* answered every question correctly and instantly and somehow still ended up 1000 points off the lead*grumble*
posted by empath at 10:30 PM on August 5, 2009


Automata is fantastic, and I really wish they would spin it off into its own full comic series.
A single book would not be enough!
posted by nightchrome at 11:08 PM on August 5, 2009


Last link-dump, I promise!

Linux on Xbox!
John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory
I wish I could hate you to death.
The Time Machine
Official Nerf Rules of Engagement
April Fool's
what is delicious
Found cake
The Unhorse
Exertiones
British Spoken Here

Plus some more multi-part comics found via Google (because PA's archive search is terrible):

Free Association Theater (3 parts)
The Origin of the CD-Keys (3 parts)
And So It Begins (4 parts)
Dungeons and Dragons (4 parts)
The Garage (One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six)
The Woods (3 parts)
The Merch and An Unbelievably Merch Christmas (6 parts)
Mr. Period (One, Two, Three, Four, Five)
posted by Rhaomi at 11:35 PM on August 5, 2009


Ahem!
posted by Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory at 11:41 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first installment of Automata was strongly reminiscent of Image comics' Ferro City, but Gabe and Tycho's take on segregation and artificial intelligence really hit its strides after the Lookouts guest panels. As they admitted themselves, the response from the audience as well (as seeing Lookouts from the perspective from another creative team) really put pressure on them as storytellers.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:57 PM on August 5, 2009


Here's what I'm saying -- there are only so many people who are going to read a webcomic about video games. I think people with their talent should probably try to get to a bigger audience.

They have more readers than the New York Times. What exactly do you want from them?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:09 AM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm a huge fan of Misters Krahulik and Holkins.

They made me realise, some 10 years ago, that it's ok to be a (videogame) nerd and that I wasn't alone in my appreciation for obscure in-jokes about things like the uninstaller bug in Myth II. Knowing that there was a community of some kind that was (gently and not maliciously) making fun of the things we loved made it feel like a legitimate pastime to me.

They also work hard at what they do. 3 updates a week pretty consistently for 10 years is an impressive feat, especially with an almost complete lack of guest comics. (I'm looking at you Megatokyo...) Compare the art and writing to what it was like 10 years ago. Then visit where video game jokes go to die or that other webcomic 'classic' to see what it is like to wallow in mediocrity (at best) year in, year out. Ctrl-Alt-Delete gets slated a lot on the podcasts with Mike yelling out 'VIDEOGAMES!' when the two of them start veering too close to the 'I was playing video game X and Y was funny'-format. They are also harsh critics of their own work. They said some moderately unkind things about their own game and will bluntly criticise previous comics if they feel they were not up to scratch.

Ultimately I have a lot of respect for the guys as they have put the hours into what they do. Just the fact that they invented and set up Child's Play should guarantee them some kind of nerdy sainthood regardless of other accomplishments.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:10 AM on August 6, 2009


This may be an example of going to the "poop well" but it's an extremely well-crafted trip to that well.

Makes me laugh. Every. Time.

I am saddened to hear that there may not be further episodes of On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. Say it ain't so.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:05 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I need to preface this with admitting that I love PA as it stands now, both for the comics, and Tycho's accompanying writing, but:

What I'm saying is that this is just objectively better than this and they should do more of the former and less of the latter.

"Objectively better" is a...strong way to put that. It's subjectively better in your mind, yes. You like the serious Automata-type genre better than PA's normal silly comics. And, while I agree that more Automata wouldn't be a bad thing, I'd be bummed if they stopped doing their normal schtick, because to me, they're equally good. Subjectively, to me, they're both fun to read, so I hope they back away from the "do more of this, and less of that".
posted by This Guy at 7:47 AM on August 6, 2009


Looking at some of their video game company comics, I found a spot on their site that collects them all.
posted by garlic at 8:00 AM on August 6, 2009


Incidentally, this is probably my favorite PA strip. It's the middle panel that kills me every time. It feels... true somehow.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:03 AM on August 6, 2009


Here's what I'm saying -- there are only so many people who are going to read a webcomic about video games. I think people with their talent should probably try to get to a bigger audience. I don't care if it's sci-fi or a graphic novel, or hell, doing more games. But 3 panel in-jokes about industry news seems kind of SMALL for them.

I think you're under-estimating the size of the "industry", and over-estimating the size of the graphic novel (or whatever) market.

They do keep expanding (their PAX convention might already be bigger than the Northwest comic conventions, and they're now starting one on the east coast too), and they should continue to expand their work as long as they have the energy and time and desire, but it would likely be a mistake to spread themselves thin to do it, and it would likely be a mistake to sacrifice their foundation to do it.

Frankly, I know a lot of people with their kind of talent. I probably know people who are more talented and aren't going anywhere. Talent isn't all that special, it's not kingmaker, it's just just one small part of a big equation. That they have talent doesn't mean they could be successful in other markets, even if they were able to produce better material than the people already in those markets. It's a necessary but insufficient condition. Arguably not even that. (Of course, they have a lot more ducks in a line than just talent, and so have a lot going for them, and a lot they can leverage to break into new markets)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:57 AM on August 6, 2009


There's a wii at my house and I have played an online Mmorpg, as well as D&D, but I didn't do any of those things until after years of reading PA. Although some of the video game subtleties flew over my head, probably, Penny Arcade did the same thing as Free Darko's Macrophenomenal Basketball Almanac did: They made me learn about something I had barely a clue about because they presented it in a way I could understand.
posted by redsparkler at 12:58 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the latest news post (this part by Gabe/Mike):

Also thank you for all the mail about Automata. Honestly I was very nervous about Automata winning the voting. The style was difficult for me and the idea of five more pages of it was a bit scary. I feel like I've got the hang of it now though and I can even imagine a world were we have the time to make a proper graphic novel.

Here's hoping.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:52 AM on August 9, 2009


Here's Page 5, and they went and made a 6th page, which "completes the first chapter of Automata." Indeed, it sounds like this is something they are looking at expanding, and it makes me happy.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:42 PM on August 11, 2009


Wow, that news page for the last page goes into some weird, revealing territory. Keep scrolling.
posted by The Whelk at 2:47 PM on August 11, 2009


that dating derail they went on is incredible. gabe, as I understand it, is joking. but jesus.
posted by shmegegge at 2:51 PM on August 11, 2009


Yes, their bit on the "Seduction Community" is effin' weird (well, the notion of a "seduction community" is weird - or maybe just the name, while the methodology is less than appealing). By Tuesday, Gabe changed his mind on the whole thing, after reading through a lot of email.

On the sprawling topic of Automata-inspired things, hawk @Apple Geeks provides his tribute in pinup (poster) format, progression of the piece, and a final wallpaper pack.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 AM on August 14, 2009


And because I can't seem to get enough of Automata, here's a link to a video/animation a reader made of the entire run, with music and sound effects.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:56 AM on August 15, 2009


That reader, Christoph Hermiteer, has more discussion of the video/animation from slimepuppy's link (direct link to the video). Amongst other things, he talks about creating the "Clickwise speech" based off of the graphical representation of bars with and without dots, as it could be related to music.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:34 AM on August 17, 2009


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