“Penny Arcade Volume 9: Passion’s Howl” by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Oni Press, 2013)

Passion's Howl

The dynamic duo Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, aka Gabe and Tycho, aka Penny Arcade are back! In volume 9, Passion’s Howl, they collect all their strips from 2008, plus lots of extra goodies, and of course, Jerry’s frothy, wet commentary to each strip that just adds to the experience.

In 2008, Penny Arcade was firmly established as the gurus of video game critique and commentary. In this collection it also becomes apparent that they don’t just need to be talking about video games to be funny, but their humor works on many levels and subjects, whether it is ordinary everyday things, or the fact that these men are adults now with families and responsibilities. Penny Arcade also has the knack to comment on cutting edge Internet developments, such as the strip “Le Twittre” from April 23 about Twitter and why anyone would ever want to have a Twitter account. Now, five years later, Gabe still doesn’t have one and stands by his decision.

The comic also gets meta at some points, as the pair happily make fun of themselves and their world with “Operation Myriad” on October 31, with a host of new video game releases and a new expansion to World of Warcraft, forcing them to create an elaborate schedule to get all these new games played. Or the fact that ping pong is an important game in their lives and at their work with the rest of their staff, competing with rival staffs from other companies, and in the artistic and hilarious “Paint the Line” series, they were able to address this.

Fans will have to add this latest volume to their collection, and if you pick this up, wanting to try Penny Arcade for the first time, you will be quickly swept away on a great and long journey that is still continuing to this day.

Originally written on June 11, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Penny Arcade Volume 9: Passion’s Howl from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Penny Arcade 8  Be Good Little Puppy  The Halls Below

“Penny Arcade Volume 8: Magical Kids in Danger” by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Oni Press, 2012)

Penny Arcade 8

The dynamic duo that is Penny Arcade are back once again with the next collection of their both brilliant and hilarious web comic. Magical Kids in Danger collects all the strips from 2007, featuring an introduction by Cliff Bleszinski, Design Director at Epic Games, as well as Mike Krahulik’s development artwork for the cover.

As in previous volumes, writer Jerry Holkins adds commentary, thoughts and opinions to each strip, trying to work out the concept behind it, or what the thinking was, or in some cases is brutally honest and says he has no clue what they were planning at the time. Readers get to see some of the big happenings in the video gaming world through the lens of Penny Arcade, such as the sacred arrival of the Playstation 3, and more intelligent ridiculing of game companies who profess to know what video gamers are thinking and actually want. Some beloved characters of the comic strip also make their appearances, so readers will not be disappointed with this new volume that, after being read, needs to go on the shelf right next to volumes one through seven.

Originally written on December 4, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Penny Arcade 8: Magical Kids in Danger from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Be Good Little Puppy  The Halls Below  The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade

“Penny Arcade Volume 7: Be Good, Little Puppy” by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Del Rey, 2011)

Be Good Little Puppy

Do not be deceived by this cutesy cover of Tycho and Gabe having fun with a puppy and butterflies, for within these pages lies tales of damnation and lust; whatever you do, don’t let a child get ahold of this book . . . and for those who are already familiar with the unforgettable and endlessly entertaining comic know as Penny Arcade, then this cover works as an excellent camouflage for the sordid-laughter-inducing artwork within its pages . . .

Be Good, Little Puppy is the seventh volume from Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, bringing together a collection of all the Penny Arcade strips from 2006.  Fans gets to enjoy returns from familiar characters like Cardboard Tube Samurai, the enigmatic Twisp and Catsby, and occasional visits from various appliances, including a certain “fruit-loving” machine, who arrives to save the day!  Readers also get to see Tycho’s talent as a writer in his incredible Elemenstor Saga, ripped off and ridiculed by one L. H. Franzibald in Song of the Sorcelator.  The question is how far will Tycho go to end this plagiarism and the answer of course is all the way . . . only Gabe happens to be a Franzibald fan!  Gabe and Tycho also have much to say about what Microsoft is doing with its Xbox, as well as addressing this new Playstation, and the new unfortunately named console, Nintendo Wii.  And then there’s the incredible nine-part epic, “Armadeaddon,” involving everyone’s favorite: zombies.

Add this to your collection; it’s simply required.  Plus you get cool extras, like an entertaining (and seemingly obtuse) introduction from bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss.  Plenty of commentary from Jerry Holkins on each strip, and at the end you’ll find some moving excerpts from Song of the Sorcelator, as well as some important character and stat info on Wichaloks!

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Penny Arcade: Be Good, Little Puppy from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“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/).

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

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

“The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary Edition” by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Del Rey, 2010)

Splendid Magic of Penny Arcadestarstarstarstar

Approximately 11 ½ years ago, two four-eyed nerds decided to start a web-comic about video games.  They met in high school, in journalism class: Jerry Holkins had a penchant for putting words together, while Mike Krahulik liked to doodle.  They found common ground in their nerdage and enjoyment of video games.  After a couple of comic book attempts, they settled on a web-comic involving two guys talking, bitching, ridiculing, and loving video games, video game systems, and the whole world of video gaming.  What began as something fun eventually turned into a voice for the fan to fight back again a terrible game or badly created system.  Over a decade later, Penny Arcade is now one of the most popular and longest running comics on the Internet.

When asked why they didn’t do a 10th anniversary book like everyone else, their excuse was they simply didn’t have time, because Jerry and Mike are very busy guys.  In addition to churning out a webcomic three times a week – as well as copious blog entries – there is Child’s Play: a children’s charity that donates video games, video game systems, and toys to hospitals; started in 2003, it has gone on to generate millions of dollars in toy donations for hospitals worldwide.  Then there’s PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo, which began as an intended small gaming convention in Seattle, and brought in over three thousand people the first year.  It has since gone on to become one of the largest conventions in the county, and in 2010 for the first time there will be a PAX East taking place in Boston.  And then there is the Penny Arcade podcast, as well as PAX TV, showing you behind the scenes of Penny Arcade.

The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade is a great compendium of all things Penny Arcade, as you learn about and hear the stories from Jerry and Mike about how they first became friends, how Penny Arcade started, and the many blunders and pitfalls they’ve made along the way.  You also get to hear from the people who work with and for them, who do their everyday jobs so Jerry and Mike get to play video games and make comics for a living.  The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade is a required book for any fan, to go right next to the collected Penny Arcade comic books.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 25th 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Penny Arcade Volume 5: The Case of the Mummy’s Gold” by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Dark Horse, 2008)

Penny Arcade 5starstarstarstar

The Penny Arcade team are back again with their next long-awaited volume of the online comic: The Case of the Mummy’s Gold.  Volume 5 features a Hardy Boys classic looking cover as Gabe and Tycho stand wary by a door in geeky-looking outfits that bare a resemblance to classic Star Trek uniforms, as a pair of mummy’s arms stretch from the open doorway.

Volume 5 features some familiar characters, including our infamous fruit crushing friend, as well as some new concepts like their take on the Oriental Last Rites comic.  With the advent of popular Mass Multi-Player Online (MMO) games like World of Warcraft and the Star Wars MMO, Penny Arcade embarked on a new chapter of online comics with lascivious praise on some games like the former mentioned above, and scornful berating and insult on games like the latter.  Penny Arcade also became aware of their growing popularity and the fact that many people read the blogs and the comic and took the advice they offered.  With this power they began ridiculing and mocking different companies in the games industry much to the amusement of the fans.  It’s what really launched the comic into superstardom as it began fighting back for the fans.

Whether you’re picking Penny Arcade up for the first time, or simply addictively adding the next volume to your collection (like me), The Case of the Mummy’s Gold will be a welcome recruit, with lots of extra sketches from the different conventions they attended, including the actual paper tablecloth doodles they made to pass the time.  And if that’s not enough, there’s always the entertaining comments they’ve made on each comic about whether they liked it, or thought the concept totally failed, or simply have no recollection of what they did or were attempting to do.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on October 7th, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

Penny Arcade will be interviewed in Episode 29 of BookBanter available April 1st.