Penny Arcade’s latest adventure into continuity has involved an imaginary world wherein the duo behind the strip unleashes Olympus: the future of the arcade, and/or the arcade of the future.
It’s a fun little tale, and delivered as brilliantly as usual. People ask me why I like Penny Arcade, and even occasionally accuse me of rapid fandom, but I’ll hold by my guns – these guys have the comic art down. Even aside from my particular enjoyment of Gabe’s art and Tycho’s writing, I find the rhythm of the strip to be invariably spot-on.
But what struck me the most, in the latest two installments, was that I had several moments of pondering whether or not the plan proposed in the strip was grounded in reality. It’s a foolish, ludicrous thought – but immersed in the grand vision of what Penny Arcade has become, it seems almost tangible.
I’ll get back to why that is possible in a few moments. For now, let me make mention that I picked up a copy of the Warsun Prophecies.
As with their previous books, it is an unsurprisingly quality – and professional – piece of work. The only thing that astounds me is how fast they are coming out with these, without even any noticeable slowdown in their production of new strips.
But aside from the book itself, what caught my attention was the bonus feature in the last few pages – some previews of concept art on their upcoming video game, On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness. It’s pretty brilliant stuff – the game is set in New Arcadia, a humble city in 1920s America, no doubt infested with hobos, gangsters, and more.
What especially stood out, though, was the following statement: “Rather than simply licensing the property to a developer and then standing back while they make the game, we’re actually partnering with Hot Head and making the game together. That means Tycho and I are writing the entire thing and I’m doing all the concept artwork.”
So, obviously, that both bodes well for the game itself, and again, leaves me wondering how they have the time to accomplish all of this. (Enslaved colonies of clones? Diabolical machinations? Potential radical temporal manipulation?)
The big realization, though, was that I expected the game to rock. To rock hard. Which wouldn’t seem so weird… if I didn’t realize how little faith I had in other webcomic pros similarly branching out into new areas.
The foreward of the book is by Scott Kurtz, and is a clearly tongue-in-cheek attack on the success of Penny Arcade over PvP (along with a brief shot at Ctrl-Alt-Del.) And yet, for all of Scott’s cracks at Ctrl-Alt-Del, and his claims that PvPs animated series was going to blow Buckley out of the water… he failed to deliver.
Oh, the PvP animated series isn’t bad. It also has barely even started – I’m sure it will ramp up as they polish the show and get into their proper rhythm. But I am confident that even at it’s best, it won’t blow me out of my shoes. It will be a nifty little novelty, but not ground-breaking. A nice addition to the strip itself, something for the dedicated fan to enjoy, but that’s about it. And, generally, all I can see from most similar endeavors from many and sundry webcomics out there.
Somehow, Penny Arcade inspires a much higher level of faith in what they can accomplish. Partly because of what they have already accomplished. The most readers of any webcomic, by a landslide, if I remember my numbers right. Child’s Play. PAX. And, yes, it helps that they have the weight to through around to get something like this done.
But having the ability to make it happen isn’t as important as having the drive to make it happen right – and that’s what I’ve got faith in.
That’s why, if they said they were going to sit down and open their own utopia of a gaming arcade, I’d take them at their word. And I know for damn sure there isn’t any other webcomic that would get the same response from me.
Sure, they aren’t perfect – for one thing, they need to fix their archives into a slightly more functional state. (Read: a state wherein navigating feels more like searching for strips, and less like wading through a rabid pack of mutant weasels.)
But damn, New Arcadia is gonna rock.
[…] talked about this before – others have tried to branch out webcomics into new and exciting grounds, such as with the PvP and […]