A collection of small movies and early pinball machines which accept cents (or pennies) as payment. Movies are a series of cards that flip in quick succession, usually with no soundtrack, and are viewed by looking through a pair of eyeholes into the machine itself. The games are usually fairly simple mechanical devices, requiring the player to do something like maneuver a ball into a hole. A few machines even paid out extra pennies to skilled players, but some areas frowned upon this form of gambling.

The tradition of games at penny arcades lives on at many larger amusement centers, although the machines take tokens instead of pennies, and pay out tickets which can be redeemed for valuable prizes.

Silly gamers.

Stage name of theatre performer/director/writer Susana Ventura, married to musician and composer Chris Rael.

Debuting at age 17 in a play called Playhouse of the Ridiculous for the originator of "Queer" theatre, John Vaccaro.

Her most notable work is a play entitled "Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore!", which began at New York's PS 122 theatre and toured internationally.

Penny Arcade's current works are "New York Values" and "Denial Of Death"

This site lacks wang. Let's go back to...PENNY ARCADE.

What is it?
Penny Arcade is an online comic strip that is updated three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). It's more than that, but online comic strip is as good a place as any to start. It's not like Peanuts or MegaTokyo. Penny Arcade is, in my opinion, funny, absurd, vulgar, and centered around video games. Although it isn't always the case, Penny Arcade lacks any sort of coherent plot or continuity. Most strips are an entity unto themselves.

An old ad claimed that Penny Arcade is "better than User Friendly," which is sort of like saying apples are better than carburetors. Penny Arcade is about games, and User Friendly is about IT professionals and programmers.

Most strips make much more sense when they are viewed after reading the accompanying blog post. There is no typical strip, but in recent memory, Gabe and Tycho have been rolled up in a katamari, replaced by Dragonball Z-esque animation, and posed as Intertron shills for a major games studio. If you are involved in the games industry and do something asinine, you can pretty well count on Penny Arcade to mock you and do a good job of it.

Penny Arcade is also the only online comic that I know of that has ever spawned a spinoff. There used to be a website called "The Bench" where anbody could make a Penny Arcade comic. Common themes to most comics were Gabe, a park bench, and a squirrel. Sounds like a recipe for success to me. Sadly, http://www.thebench.org currently points at a low quality search engine.

Who's behind this mess?
Mike "Gabe" Krahulik and Jerry "Tycho" Holkins are, respectively, the artistic and writing talent behind Penny Arcade. Aside from creating comics, they run Child's Play, a charity focused on providing video games and toys to children's hospitals. They also, in what I think makes for a great and cohesive look to their site, create much of their own advertising. That is, if the right-side ad is plugging World of Warcraft, the art featured is created by Gabe, not Blizzard. They have also created online comics for games to whet our appetites while we await the game's release. Off the top of my head, they have created comics for Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Any recurring characters?
Of course, Gabe and Tycho show up quite a bit, but occasionally, other characters find their way in. Annarchy is Tycho's niece. She, like her uncle, is a gamer, and despite looking to be about 13, is already Gabe's intellectual superior.

Two appliances are regular characters on the strip. Div is a DivX player. He's got a short fuse and an alcohol problem. He doesn't seem to get along with anybody. The FruitFucker 2000 is an anthropomorphized juicer. He really only does what his name implies, and that's enough. Really. Stop it.

The Merch shows up occasionally, too. He's a blue cube with a television show whose sole intent is to peddle The Merch© merchandise. It's in your best interest to buy some. The Merch can be fairly persuasive. Not even the mythical Santa Claus is safe; the Merch had sex with his dad.

I'm not really sure what's up with Twisp and Catsby. I think they show up when Gabe and Tycho feel like being absurd, er, more absurd than usual. Twisp is a cat, and, in a stunning fit of confusion¹, Catsby is an imp. The two are almost always seen together, and it can be reasonably assumed that they inhabit a completely separate world from our own. After all, one Thanksgiving, they were rowing a boat in a sea of turkeys. You can't make this stuff up.

Occasionally, Gabe and Tycho try to tell a story that takes longer than three panels to convey. Historically, these stories have been about the Cardboard Tube Samurai, who is a lot like a normal samurai, except he looks a lot like Gabe and uses a cardboard tube instead of a sword. These are some of my favorites, if for no other reason than because it proves that those tubes are a force to be reckoned with.

And last, but certainly not least, Jesus visits every now and then, too. Yeah, that Jesus. The Christian Lord and saviour. He's pretty good at Mario Kart. Aside from bringing the blue sparks, Jesus has been known to tell Gabe and Tycho about the future and influence Gabe's choice of guilds in World of Warcraft.

Will I like it?
Well, I like it. If you like video games, you'll probably like this comic. It doesn't punish you for staying away for a week, and it doesn't pretend to be more than it is, a comic. It's just two guys who love games and made it big telling it like they see it on a website and drawing funny pictures to go along with it. The forums are good, too.



  1. I thought Catsby was the cat. Silly me, applying logic to a comic. Thanks to ASE for setting me stright

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