Publisher: Del Rey, Ballantine Books
Commentary by: Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkins, Chris Baker, Kristin Lindsay, Robert Khoo, Kiko Villaseñor
Review by: Bill Jones
For the video game fanatic, Penny Arcade’s Tycho and Gabe (or Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik) have been the go-to commentators for more than a decade. The duo started posting webcomics (or as they somewhat coldly refer to them as, jpegs) in 1998, at the same time satirizing and displaying their undying love for the gaming medium in often brilliant three-panel work that has become a standard for webcomic publishing. They’ve never shied away from any topic (or person), and while busy capturing the attention of gamers with their sense of humor, they’ve also managed to start a children’s charity and two gaming fan expos.
The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade sees them working with the publisher of their webcomic collections, Del Rey, to produce a retrospective of the last 11½ years, or as anyone who slips off the dustcover will find it referred to, “nearly 12 years of bullshit.”
For anyone thinking this might simply be a $24 reprint of nearly 12 years worth of comics available for free on the web, Splendid Magic is far from it. Penny Arcade comics are present throughout the book, along with large reproductions of art to open each chapter. The back of the book also contains a collection of favorite comics hand-picked by Krahulik and Holkins, with (often very simple) commentary indicating why they’re favorites.
But leading up to that is a series of essays delving into Penny Arcade’s history – from its inception and evolution, to the origins of Penny Arcade Expo and Child’s Play, to stories about getting into trouble with the comic and more. Some of these are written by people close to Penny Arcade, but Tycho and Gabe share the duties, telling their own story in part. The chapters are broken up by specifically-themed comic sections such as “The Cardboard Tube Samurai” and “Twisp and Catsby.” Mike and Jerry also use more than 20 pages to answer fan questions, while Jerry also contributes some lyrics.
It’s all printed on nice, glossy paper stock. The hardcover features a ridiculous unicorn image, with hues of pink…to apparently help the male portion of the audience feel more comfortable purchasing it. And as much as anything else, the non-comic photos accompanying the text are stellar. The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade is a great retrospective for fans of the comic. It’s a trip down memory lane for old fans, or a brilliant starter kit for new ones.
For more info, www.randomhouse.com/delrey
Pads & Panels received a copy of the book courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.