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And in the strip before this, there's dismemberment! DISMEMBERMENT!


(From Penny Arcade. Click on the thumbnail for full sized disappointment!)

This is probably an Ur-Penny Arcade strip. In one fell swoop (are swoops really all that fell?), we have a video game reference and implicit positive review, some Funny that depends upon the interaction of our principals, some 'everyman humor,' and profanity. Not bad for three panels and a game I've never played and never have any intention of playing, huh? Gabe and Tycho do this shit well, because they focused in on what their strip was about, and then refined the toolset to provide it. The brief glimpses of Continuity don't feel at all like Story. They just feel like an excuse to do another layer of humor, and then they move on.

If you go back through my archives and columns and the like, you'll find I have a maxim for this sort of thing. "If you want to tell fart jokes, tell fart jokes." While they don't really tell fart jokes on Penny Arcade (fruit raping jokes? Sure. Farts? Generally not), they know the kind of humor they want to do and they've absolutely mastered it. And that's why half of North America's gaming population and a nontrivial portion of the nongaming webcomics fans out there reads this strip.

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Comments

Eric, apropos of almost nothing, I think it's been almost two years since you introduced me to the logism "Ur-[whatever]", and it occurs to me to thank you. It's a genuinely neat (and efficient) phrasing, and I use it perhaps more than I should. :)

well, i have no idea what the "ur-" means... anyone care to explain it?

Well, besides being a city in ancient Mesopotamia, when used as a prefix it denotes primitive or original. I would imagine that in this context it indicants an archetypal PA strip.

"indicants" ... what a weird typo.

"indicants" - an Ur-typo.

I like it.

I proclaim that I shall find an organic way to work "indicants" into my NaNoWriMo project next month. One of my characters just turned into a faux-pedant.

1 word down, 49,999 to go. Yippee.

Johne (Phy) Cook
Wisconsin, USA

If it's ok with you, I think I'll now spend my day boasting about the fact I contributed to a NaNoWriMo text. All the glory, but 50,000 times easier than actually writing anything myself!

Penny Arcade is, in my opinion and as much as Gabe and Tycho might hate it, pretty damn close to a political comic of sorts for video games. Sure, it's not in a one panel format with arrows and labels in case you're too dense to figure out what the hell's being talked about, but neither does Doonesbury, and Penny Arcade has a similar tone. It talks quite frankly and honestly about how they feel about not only whatever game they happen to be playing or talking about at the time, but about the electronic entertainment industry in general, sometimes using symbolism but more often just coming out and saying what they think.

Take the strip about the banning and subsequent protests and mass teleportation that occured in Star Wars: Galaxies (which is in the Websnark archives somewhere). Sure, it's a good joke, but it's also a critque on what Sony Online did in response to what had happened in their game. And like all good political comics, it leaves little doubt as to where the creators stand on the issue at hand.

I come for the front page/blogspace that they have more often than not, but it's still secondary to the comic iteslf, and usually serves to enhance the comic more than it attracts attention away from it.

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