Penny Arcade 6: The Halls Below
Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins
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Buy *Penny Arcade 6: The Halls Below* by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins online

Penny Arcade 6: The Halls Below
Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins
Del Rey
144 pages
July 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Love gaming? How about comics? If you answered with a resounding “Yes!” to either or both questions, you’re probably already familiar with the online comics and commentary of talented writing/cartoonist daring duo Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahuilik. Penny Arcade 6: The Halls Below collects their online comics from 2005. The back-of-the-book blurb suggests that the cartoons are not merely a “blast from the past” but have arisen from “the Stygian depths” - in other words, Hell. Hyperbole abounds… The comic strips may not have actually arisen from the bowels of Hell, but the sixth tome is a hellacious collection that fans of Penny Arcade should not miss.

In addition to all of 2005's full-color Penny Arcade strips, this volume includes written commentary, describing the author’s thoughts about each strip, the creative process that brought them to fruition, and an abundant use of profanity. (Profanity is also a hallmark of the duo’s strips, so this and the other Penny Arcade collections are not meant for younger kids to read.) For better or worse, profanity is a part of the everyday language teens and adults use in today’s world, so I accept it as natural and normal that the two main characters - Gabriel and Tycho Brahe - often drop the F-bomb and other expletives.

What subjects do the comic strips of 2005 cover? Of course, there are those that fans of the strip have come to expect, like wry commentary and critiques on the latest computer and video games and reports from the 2005 E3 and Comicon events. Some strips feature Annarcy, Tycho’s precocious and irascible niece who is also an avid gamer; it must run in the blood. There are also strips about the introduction of the PS3, commentary about the Nintendo DS, WWII games, WoW, and much, much more.

The witty repartee that we have come to love between Gabriel and Tycho is present in abundance, mainly involving threats, pranks, a liberal amount of swearing, and the Great Uniting Force: computer and video games. They investigate the strange phenomena of “gold farming” in the strip Gold Farmers of the Hinterland. To purchase online upgrades, one has to locate and “farm” treasures from dungeons or elsewhere in a game, or buy “pretend money with real money.” It may sound strange to non-gamers, but it’s practiced on a global scale, and millions of real dollars are involved. People in different countries hire themselves out to farm gold and sell it and hard-to-find weapons, talismans, etc., for actual money.

Penny Arcade 6: The Halls Below takes us back to yesteryear, that time of innocent wonder: 2005. And, if you believe 2005 or any other year is an “innocent” one, I’ve got choice swampland in Florida to sell you...

I came to the comic strip kind of late but have read two collections so far and am now a fan. If you’re into gaming and are a fan of Penny Arcade, reading the strips will bring back many memories and quite possibly leave you laughing out loud.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Douglas R. Cobb, 2011

Also by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins:

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