“Penny Arcade: the Halls Below” by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Del Rey, 2010)

Penny Arcade 6: The Halls Below

The Penny Arcade duo – Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik — are back with the next printed volume of their web comic, collecting all their strips from 2005.  Continuing with the same format of the strip and then a fun commentary beneath, this volume features an introduction by Christopher Perkins, who works for Dungeons & Dragons, an introduction which can certainly be considered a harbinger of what Penny Arcade would become.  By 2005, Penny Arcade was strongly entrenched in the world of the Internets, having already had their wrists slapped on multiple occasions; they no longer cared who they insulted or whose feelings they hurt, for they were speaking for the players and the ever-increasing gaming community.

Familiar characters and faces make their presence known in this collection, including a certain little machine for turning fruit into its juice through a very unorthodox method.  What’s interesting is the commentary, as they creators attempt to remember why a particular strip got made; there are a number of strips in The Halls Below that have Jerry and Mike wondering how or why they ever came up with this, or the complete opposite to an outrageous scene, with reality happening in that exact way.  A couple of the top strips from the collection include their ideas for some unusual gadgets one might find in an in-flight magazine: “the where is mommy map,” or the “cover up unsightly snakes with a large black thing!” (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2005/9/26/), and my personal favorite of Skeletor updating the He-Man Wikipedia entry with: “He-Man is actually a tremendous jackass and not really that powerful.  He hangs out with a bunch of jerks like Peela and Dork.  He has a cat who is also dumb and _” (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2005/12/16/).

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Originally written on October 29, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.