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Comic Books, Film
Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, creators of Penny Arcade, and PvP creator Scott Kurtz have begun collaborating on a webcomic even more off-mainstream than the ones they are working on now. Those comics were just about gamers, but The Trenches, which debuted last week and updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is a comic about a game tester. To sweeten the deal for the target audience, the blog will feature true-life adventures sent in by readers who are game testers themselves. It seems like narrowcasting, but the humor in the opening episodes seems to be fairly broad, so maybe it won’t be as tech-y as it first sounds.
Christmas is over, but for those who can’t get enough — or for those who hate the holiday so much that they wish it would be devoured by the ultimate horror — the Penny Arcade guys have a treat for you. The Last Christmas is an animated storybook for the iPad, based on a comic that first appeared in 2004. Basically, it’s a reverse twist on The Night Before Christmas in which Cthulhu arrives and eats everything in sight. It looks like a children’s book, but the horror/cuteness combination is really aimed at adults: In the iPad version, which is lightly animated, tiny skaters fall from the ice after Cthulhu pops up in the middle of it, and lights twinkle on a tree as he devours it (and the screaming hordes run in horror). The app is only a few pages long, and it’s free; the last page is a pitch for donations to Child’s Play, the charity established by Penny Arcade creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, which sends toys, games, and books to children in hospitals worldwide.
The people behind the hit webcomic Penny Arcade, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, are lending their skills and comic timing toward the promotion of the upcoming video game Comic Jumper. In this game, players can jump through different comic-book genres on a path to complete their quests — each time they land in a new comic, the style of the artwork changes to reflect that.
The game’s publisher, Twisted Pixel Games, enlisted the comickers to work up a comic strip as a companion piece to the video game, and apparently they went all out. For this unique project, Holkins and Krahulik picked the infamous style that Rob Liefeld made famous during his run on ’90s classics New Mutants, X-Force and Youngblood.
“Obviously you can look back on that stuff now and it’s pretty silly but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being heavily inspired by it at the time,” Krahulik wrote in a post on the Penny Arcade site. “Rob may not have had the best grasp of anatomy, storytelling, perspective, or composition but his shit was fucking dynamic and as a young man I ate it up.”
In addition to the comic itself, the pair is also giving away an XBOX 360 decorated with art from this project. The contest is unique, but I won’t spoil it, so check out the website.
What does the above Penny Arcade comic mean to you? Ten points if you spot it as a World of Warcraft reference, making fun of the twisted morality of the game (where if you only need to rescue five slaves, the sixth is out of luck). Beyond that, a chunk of the internet has been twisting itself into a knot over the rape reference.
The kerfuffle was summed up neatly by a commenter at the blog Pandagon:
Blogger: I will completely miss the point and be insulting about it.
PA: OH YEAH? I’LL SHOW YOU COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT AND BEING INSULTING ABOUT IT!
Everyone Else: Goddamnit.
Blogosphere: *moves on after another 2 minute hate, with no one’s views or opinions changing on anything, and no one actually learning anything*
Read on for the juicy details.
Writer Neil Gaiman and DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson may not have made the final cut, but Penny Arcade creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins earned a spot on “The 2010 Time 100,” the news magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people.
Just how influential is the duo? The 12-year-old webcomic draws some 3.5 million readers, and has led to the establishment of Child’s Play, a charity that provides video games to sick kids in hospitals, and the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), a gaming convention that last year drew 60,000 attendees to Seattle. An East Coast convention, PAX East, debuted last month in Boston.
“Krahulik and Holkins have become the tastemakers, and conscience, of an industry the size of Hollywood,” Lev Grossman writes in his brief profile. “But for all their success, they are almost compulsively self-deprecating, and they give all the credit to their fans. You can’t put a label on them. Labels smack of hype, and Penny Arcade doesn’t do hype.”
As Brigid pointed out on Monday, Penny Arcade creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik are among the finalists on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world (they’ve slipped two spots to No. 11 since yesterday). However, they’re not the only comics-industry figures in the poll: Just six spots behind the duo is writer Neil Gaiman, followed way down the list is DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson (No. 156, as of this post).
It’s an online poll, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the creators of a popular webcomic and a comics writer-turned-bestselling author, both with a substantial web presence, rank high on the list, rubbing virtual elbows with the likes of actors Neil Patrick Harris and Robert Pattinson, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. They all have dedicated, and plugged-in, fan bases, after all (though none can touch Lady Gaga, who sits comfortably at No. 1).
But the inclusion of Nelson, who now hovers toward the bottom of the list just behind legendary singer-songwriter Patti Smith, is (pleasantly) unexpected.
“As comic books have rapidly emerged as the most bankable mainstream movie properties,” Time‘s description for Nelson reads, “a vast gulf has grown between the big-screen Marvel universe (Iron Man, Hulk) and that of DC Comics. Besides Christopher Nolan’s Batman chapters, DC has faced a drought at the multiplex. Nelson is charged with altering that course. As the head of the newly-created DC Entertainment, she’s been handed a sprawling comic book universe and tasked with adapting it for the mainstream. Millions of fans — and plenty of movie studio execs — are hoping she’s up to the task.”
To the best of my knowledge, there’s no Diane Nelson Fan Site, so it’s unlikely she’ll rocket into the upper echelons currently inhabited by Beyonce, Apolo Ohno, Stephen Colbert and President Obama. We’ll know for sure on April 29. Until then, the voting is open.
We’re continuing our look at various publishers’ plans for the new year with an in-depth look at the Random House imprints Del Rey and Villard, which are best know for the number of manga, Webcomics and licensed material they release. What’s on their schedule for 2010? Click on the link to find out.
Continuing our countdown of (in our opinion, obviously) the most important and influential comics of the past ten years, here’s the second half of our list, from #15-1. If you missed it, you can read part one over here, with an explanation of how we put the list together and the (admittedly somewhat arbitrary) ranking. Can you guess what made number one? (hint: it’s not one of the books sampled in the collage above.) Read on to find out!
Publishing | It’s probably little surprise that Eiichiro Oda’s adventure-comedy One Piece was the bestselling series in Japan 2009, moving a whopping 14.7 million copies. It’s followed in the Top 5 by Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist and Gintama. [Anime News Network]
Webcomics | Child’s Play, the game-industry charity founded in 2003 by Penny Arcade creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, has raised more than $1 million since launching this year’s drive on Nov. 6. “This is Child’s Play’s seventh year, and this is the fastest we have ever gotten to the million dollar mark,” Krahulik wrote on the website. “Considering everything that’s going on, that’s just astounding.” [Penny Arcade]
Awards | Makoto Yukimura’s historical-action series Vinland Saga has been announced as the grand-prize winner in the manga category at the 13th Japanese Media Arts Festival, which isn’t actually held until February. Yukimura, best known in the United States for his science-fiction drama Planetes, debuted the 11th-century Viking epic in 2005. Vinland Saga hasn’t been licensed in North America. [Anime Vice]
Publishing | I presume this announcement that Wizard Entertainment is moving its entire operation to its New York City sales office means the company has sold is 35,000-square-foot facility in Congers, N.Y. Or else, as Tom Spurgeon points out, it means the company finally has fired enough people so that its staff can fit in the smaller space. [Press release, via Heidi MacDonald]
Creators | Penny Arcade creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins were recognized Thursday by the Washington state legislature for their work on Child’s Play, the charity the two founded to deliver games and toys to children’s hospitals. Since 2003 the organization has raised more than $3.5 million in donations. [Geekdad]
Webcomics | Cartoonist Jane Irwin has decided to end the historical webcomic Clockwork Comics because of her concerns over the depiction of racial stereotypes. [Clockwork Comics, via Johanna Draper Carlson]
Publishing | I love Douglas Wolk for digging through ancient copies of Amazing Heroes Preview Specials to compile this “Imaginary Library” of comics from the 1980s that were announced but failed to materialize. [Savage Critics]
Weirdness | Troubled Citigroup could use help from “corporate equivalent of the Justice League.” Apparently. [The New York Times]
With Saturday sold out, and wireless providers taxed to the limit — thank you, Twitter and live-blogging — it’s no surprise that the second day of New York Comic Con was brimming with publishing announcements:
• Marvel rolled out plans for expanded digital content, including an original Spider-Woman motion comic — billed as the publisher’s first “all-new in-continuity” work using motion-comics technology — written by Brian Michael Bendis and directed by Alex Maleev, a motion-comics adaptation of Astonishing X-Men #1-10, and a five-issue online series called Dark Reign: Made Men. (On Friday, Marvel announced the online-exclusive miniseries War of Kings: Warriors.)
• Marvel’s nine-year-old Ultimate imprint will be canceled and relaunched as Ultimate Comics, which will feature four series. The flagship title, renamed Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, will continue to be written by Bendis but will be illustrated by David Lafuente. Artist Stuart Immonen is moving to New Avengers.
Powers, the creator-owned series by Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, will relaunch with another Issue 1 under the Icon emblem.
• Yen Press has picked up the license to Kiyohiko Azuma’s popular slice-of-life comedy Yotsuba&!, which had withered at ADV Manga.
• Insanely popular webcomic Penny Arcade will move to Del Rey with Penny Arcade, The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11.5 Year Anniversary Edition, a 208-page hardcover edition set for release in February 2010. Dark Horse published the first Penny Arcade collection in 2006.
• DC Comics confirmed that writer Greg Rucka and artist J.H. Williams III will take over Detective Comics with Issue 854 for a run that stars, at least initially, Batwoman. Rucka said Williams will be on the title for “12 issues, guaranteed.”
The publisher also revealed the composition of the Bat-Family of titles in the wake of the “Battle for the Cowl” crossover: Detective, Batman, Batman and Robin, Batgirl, Batman: The Streets of Gotham, Red Robin, Outsiders, and Gotham City Sirens.