“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 at Belmont Library 02/24/10

Yesterday I got to meet the great minds – Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins – behind the incredible popular Penny Arcade web comic.  They were at the Belmont Library in San Mateo for the second stop in their book tour for The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary Edition (now available).

Penny Arcade book

The main reason I was there, other than to meet these fun and crazy guys, was to interview them for BookBanter, which went very well and was a lot of fun.  The interview is scheduled to run in Episode 29 on April 1st, which seems pretty fitting, being April Fools Day and all.  I’m also planning to have this be the inaugural day of the new site upgrade for BookBanter.  Fingers crossed on that.

After the interview, we hung out for a bit, while Jerry tried to convince me about how great ebook readers are, especially his Nook, and why I needed to get one because I love reading so much.  But I maintain that I also love books and while I wouldn’t say no to someone giving me an ereader, I don’t plan on acquiring one any time soon.  We also talked about Mike doing more reading now other than Star Wars books, and he’s currently very much enjoying The Name of the Wind by Patrick Ruthfuss, while Jerry’s mind is currently being blown by Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon.

Penny Arcade
Jerry Holkins scowling on the left, Mike Krahulik smirking on the right

The crowd came out in full to fill up the area of the library where they were having the Q&A and signing.

People 1

At their signing the night before at the University Bookstore in Seattle, there’d been 250 people.  I think at Belmont Library, that number was beaten.  All the chairs were taken, then all the standing room.  Then people began lining up in the aisles of books, trying to peak over the hardcovers and paperbacks to see through to the performance.  Many just hung further back and listened to the miked voices coming from somewhere across the room.

People 2

Mike and Jerry gave a great performance, signing books twenty minutes beforehand, then answering questions for over an hour and regaling everyone with entertaining stories, such as Jerry’s dangerous obsession with Felicia Day, or extolling the virtues of D&D, and then proceeded to sign books and chat and do photos for a lot longer, until everyone was happy and Mike and Jerry were completely exhausted.

People 3

All in all an entertaining night.  Here’s the rest of their book tour, along with PAX East in between.  As I said, the episode with their interview should be up on April first, at the conclusion of their tour.  And I would just like to thank the Belmont Library for organizing a room to do the interview in where we were relatively undisturbed (and the staff were great!), Dolores Gevertz for coordinating at the event, and most importantly April Flores from Random House for organizing and coordinating and make this all happen for BookBanter.

Upcoming Penny Arcade Interview for BookBanter

Penny Arcade

In a couple of days I’ll be interviewing the incredible minds behind Penny Arcade — Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, who will be at Belmont Library on February 24th as part of their book tour for The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary, aka Nearly Twelve Years of Bullshit.  At the moment I’m not exactly sure when the episode will run, but I’ll be getting it scheduled to go up as soon as possible.

For now, I’m starting to work on what questions to ask the guys.  So if you, BookBanter readers and listeners, have some questions you’d be interested in hearing Gabe and/or Tycho answer, comment on this post, and while I can’t guarantee I’ll ask them your exact question, I will certainly take it into consideration.

2/13 On the Bookshelf . . .

Penny Arcade

Just received a copy of The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary Edition.  If you haven’t heart of the web comic Penny Arcade, then you’re in for a treat.  Also found out the the guys – Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins – will be in San Mateo on the 24th as part of the book tour.  I was originally planning to interview them for Bookbanter in June, but maybe if I can get it set up now, I’ll be able to do it in person, which is always better for interviewing.