Bradley's Almanac

Penny Arcade vs. MIT

Posted on January 19, 2006 at 10:38 am | No Comments

As a longtime fan of the Penny Arcade webcomic, and the two men responsible for it, I thought I’d mark this weeks release of ‘Penny Arcade Vol. 1: Attack Of The Bacon Robots!‘ by sharing this lengthy transcript of their appearance at MIT last September.

Penny Arcade Vol. 1: Attack Of The Bacon Robots!‘, a Dark Horse release that compiles their first two years of strips, along with exclusive sketches, creator commentary (for every strip in there), and a foreward by FoxTrot’s Bill Amend, is available at finer bookstores and comic shops nationwide, or via various online establishments.

Writer Jerry Holkins (aka ‘Tycho’) and artist Mike Krahulik (aka ‘Gabe’) spoke before a packed house of mostly-MIT students (and, uh, me) on Friday, September 16th, taking a wide-range of questions about the comic, its history, legal struggles, and their amazing Child’s Play charity. Along with the Q&A action, Gabe treated the crowd to a display of his drawing skillz, whipping off speedy sketches on an overhead projector as the crowd yelled out random requests.

I recorded the evening, and it took me freakin’ forever to transcribe. So I do hope you dig it. I tried as best I could to translate their special brand of spoken wise-assery to the text, succeeding to various degrees. So enjoy…

Oh, and fair warning to the easily offended: There be profuse profanity below, quite early and quite often. If you’re already a PA fan, this will in no way surprise you…

MIT LSC Host: Let’s give a warm welcome to Gabe & Tycho, otherwise known as Mike & Jerry…

Tycho: Thank you very much. Welcome to Penny Arcade 101. If you are not here for Penny Arcade 101, please leave now. I hope that you have the books in our curriculum… Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon… that’s a big one.

You can see the foundation of our internet works, being displayed for you at lightning speed by my cohort, Gabriel. John Gabriel, aka Mike Krahulik.

On the chalkboard: (Regular Guy + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad)

Tycho: That’s exactly right, ‘Total Fuckwad’. Yeah, that’s right, his little tongue’s hanging out there, right? And what does he say? What does he say, Michael?

Audience: ‘Shitcock!’. (lots of clapping)

Tycho: I knew that someone in this crowd could be relied upon to deliver the punchline. There’s a couple of things we have to cover first. Obviously we have to thank LSC, and the rest of the people she was talking about… aren’t they great? And the second thing… as soon as we get done, we have to take those bags and get on a plane and fly away. And I wish that that were not true, I wish that we could come see your wonderous inventions. (crowd laughs)

Gabe: I know someone in here made a robot. (crowd laughs) They did, right?

Tycho: Yeah, we’re definitely into that. Oh, and the last thing is… when it is 6:30, could somebody tell me? Just shout it out…

(someone in the audience points to a very obvious clock on the wall above Tycho)

Gabe: Ah! Damn, you’ve invented everything here!

Tycho: This is where it all happens. I will keep an eye on that. At that point, Gabe will be drawing requests up on the screen, strange combinations of characters you’ve always wanted to see, perhaps. It’s actually a lot of fun to watch him do his thing. Under ordinary circumstances, a ‘lecture’ is sort of a florid term for what we usually do… typically we just have people ask us questions, and I hope that that is ok for you guys. Does that work? (crowd claps).

Gabe: Just raise your hand…

Tycho: Yeah, we’re hand people… we love to see them…

Gabe: Let’s kick this thing off…

Tycho: Ah, yes (pointing).

Audience: Ok, I remember reading that you said when you first started drawing Penny Arcade that you didn’t know that your two characters were supposed to be you…

Tycho: That’s quite true…

Audience: … and that that’s why you get a lot of flak for not looking like your characters…

Tycho: Thank you so much for opening the show with that. (crowd laughs) You’ve diffused it to a terrific extent, and I appreciate that…

Audience: … I guess the point of my question is that now that you know you’re supposed to be your characters, do you write them to reflect your personalities…

Tycho: No, no… we always did that, we just didn’t realize we were doing it. (laughs) I mean, we could not attend MIT… that’s the level of intellect that we bring to the table.

Gabe: It took us about a year to figure it out, I remember… ‘cuz we actually did a strip where we had been forced to name them. People had been saying ‘why don’t you give the characters names?’

Tycho: Yeah, like, what’s his name?

Gabe: Jim, and…

Tycho: … Jack.

Gabe: And even at that point, we did not realize they were us. A few months after that, I remember we were writing one of the comics and I was like ‘hey, this guy’s a lot like me’ (audience laughs) He really is. And we just, we had to admit it at that point.

Tycho: And certainly, on a painful note, seven years ago hair covered the entirety of my head. (the masses laugh)

Gabe: The entirety of his body, actually. He was like a Yeti. (audience laughs)

Tycho: Yeah, it was pretty cool. Are you satisfied completely with our answer, sir?

Audience: Yeah.

Tycho: Excellent. That’s what we strive for here at Penny Arcade. But don’t let it end there, folks… if you have questions… like you, for example…

Audience: If someone sent you an mp3 of Patrick Stewart reading the carrot cake soup post, particularly the lesbian part, would you orgasm? (confused yet enthusiastic laughter)

Tycho: what?

Gabe: I think he was asking you….

Tycho: Oh. Uhhhhh….

Gabe: Don’t be rude, answer the young man’s question…

Tycho: Privately. I would go somewhere by myself, close the door…

Gabe: Next Question! All the way in the back up there…

Audience: What have you guys been doing in Boston and Cambridge today?

Tycho: Super-awesome stuff, actually. We started out with breakfast (laughs)… every good day does, obviously. I had a ‘croissandwich’. Delicious.

Gabe: I had French Toast. But then where’d we go?

Tycho: We went to Demi-Urge Studios, which is a local developer. They did some work on a couple high-profile titles, and we got the chance to see their contributions to those games. But they are in the same building as Harmonix. Is anyone familiar with Harmonix? (lots of claps and ‘woooos!’). We’re talking about Frequency, Amplitude, Karaoke Revolution, and Guitar Hero. If you’ve played Guitar Freaks… anyone know about Guitar Freaks? (crowd claps a bit) Yeah, super-great game. This actually adds like two more frets, and a bunch of classic rock songs… we probably played it for an hour and a half…

Gabe: At least…

Tycho: There’s like a ‘simultaneous rocking mode’, and we took full advantage of their hospitality. They were really great.

I wish we didn’t have to leave at 7 tonight, because it’s really, really neat… I mean, we don’t have ‘old’ stuff where I live. I mean, all of our big towns in Washington burned down multiple times in the last century. And so your firm, ancient buildings have a strength to them, and I like that.

Gabe: I think the oldest building where I live is Ikea, right? (crowd laughs)

Tycho: Yeah. And the durability index of the Ikea building? Not sufficient.

Gabe: There’s a little plaque out front.

Tycho: It’ll be around awhile, I’m sure.

Audience: You guys have obviously done a lot of critiquing of games, you know what a good game is, what a bad game is… have you ever wanted to developing your own game?

Tycho: I don’t know…

Gabe: Yeah… that’s, that’s scary. We talk so much shit. (lots of laughing and clapping from the crowd).

Tycho: It seems really unwise.

Gabe: Yeah, that’s just setting yourself up for a fall, I think. I can just see IGN getting their hands on that.

Tycho: There would be a shout of triumph from IGN.

Gabe: They’d throw a party.

Tycho: ‘The Penny Arcade RPG is out, let’s FUCK IT! It’s time, finally, after all of those things that they did!’.

Gabe: So…. Noooo.

Tycho: The odds aren’t good. On the other hand, there are other people that makes games that we like, like Sabertooth. We will trust companies that have made good games in the past to do something that we think is great. And they did a really good job with the game they’re making for us. Other than that, though… I don’t know. But, videogames seems like ah… well, I guess we’ve been over it. Not safe…

Audience: Where’d you get the idea for Fruit Fucker? (lots of laughin’ and clappin’)

Gabe: When we lived in Spokane, Washington, I lived in an apartment that was on a street where there was a lot of construction going on…

Tycho: There was no street. This is how much construction we’re talking about. It was the bare earth.

Gabe: … yeah, and they didn’t want you to park there because they were tearin’ it up. They had a big machine out there, and we could never quite figure out what its purpose was. So we just assumed that it was a ‘car fucker’. (laughs) If you parked where you weren’t supposed to park…

Tycho: We’re talking about pnuematic pistons…

Gabe: … this thing would crawl up on to your vehicle and just ram right through your trunk. (laughs and claps). So that conversation that we had… (you can see what our lives are like).. so that conversation sort of spawned the idea that there must be a fucker for everything. The ‘Fruit Fucker’ is just the one that happened to make it into the comic.

Tycho: That’s their ‘product’ for that ‘market’. ‘Fucker Co.’

Gabe: They have a whole line of products.

Tycho: Of ‘fuckers’, really. All true, I assure you.

Gabe: Sadly.

Audience: What are your thoughts on the (Nintendo) Revolution controller. (crowd laughs)

Tycho: I said I don’t have anything nice to say about it. But on the other hand, when the (Nintendo) DS came out, we had extremely unpleasant things to say about that machine. And now, a year out, I play it way more than my PSP, which I did not expect to happen and… I don’t get it. Just because I didn’t understand it at the beginning, I guess I’m afraid to come out critically against it. Like… maybe it’s awesome. Like, you can swing it around your head, or you end up wearing it on your neck…

Gabe: Probably… it’s really cool.

Tycho: But I don’t get it. The idea of course the idea is that this machine is going to appeal to people who are not themselves gamers, right? It’s designed not to appeal to us, so the fact that it doesn’t appeal to us… does that mean they’re doing a ‘good job’? (laughs) Did they get it ‘right’? Because it looks exactly like a remote control. That is not a scary device for people…

Gabe: Your dad might pick it up accidentally… and try to change the channel.

Tycho: When he wants to watch the game, for example. Obviously the frustration would set in immediately after.

Tycho: But yeah, until I see what Retro is doing with Metroid, and what they’re trying to do with all their basic franchises… I mean, do I think it’s going to ‘revolutionize their position in the industry’? I don’t think so. The thing is, though, is that for the last few generations it’s really been a machine for the ‘Nintendo Enthusiast’ to play ‘Nintendo games’. I think that it will still be that, I mean, I’m interested in some of the functionality, but that’s about it. I mean, obviously I’ll own one, but whatever. I can’t help it, I’m addicted.

Audience: You guys are sort of ‘industry players’ now…

Tycho: Oh yeah. Big ones… we dominate it… (laughs)

Audience: … it seems like it’s, well, not exactly a rags-to-riches story, but… does it seem strange?

Tycho: Super-strange. Are you kidding me?

Gabe: I mean, we’re at MIT.

Tycho: Yeah, we were hiding behind these walls (in the back of the room) looking out, watching the place slowly fill. And I would come over to this side and look from back there (the right half of the room, further from the entrance), and it was such a comfort to me because it hadn’t filled all the way up to the back. So I could be like ‘Ok, yeah, this is still in the realm of sanity… we didn’t fill the place out’. You know what I’m sayin’? So yeah, there’s definitely some fear. But as far as us being part of the gaming industry, I don’t… I said in my post once… I don’t know if you can quote yourself, I don’t know if that’s ok, but I said ‘We are in the gaming industry the same way a barnacle is in the shipping business.’ (huge laughs and applause) Ok, so quoting yourself is a good move… that’s what I’ve determined. But it’s like… I think of us as sort of parasites, I think we’ve sort of latched onto its nervous system and are draining it of…

Gabe: It feels really good, yeah. (laughs)

Tycho: He can always be relied upon for that sort of commentary.

Audience: You guys recently suggested that Blizzard’s collectable card game was the work of Satan himself…

Tycho: That’s right… Satan, the Devil, and a Business Fund of Evil…

Audience:… and then you turn around and announce your own collectable card game…

Tycho: Yes (laughs). Yeah, that’s true. It’s bad. We’re very very evil people. It’s a little bit different. It isn’t a CCG in the classic sense. You’ll see how I mean that when it comes out…

Gabe: A lot of times you’re going to see comics on the site that are only two panels…

(crowd cracks up as they realize what this means…)

Gabe: … you’ll need to buy a deck. They’ll be rare…

Tycho: Very rare. Even more rare than the punchlines are now. Ok, another questions… why don’t you do one? (points to Gabe)

Gabe: Well, someone wants to pass a note, I don’t know if that’s ok in class…

Audience: It’s not really a note.. it’s a recipe. (hands to Tycho)

Tycho: Oh, for what?

Audience: Shower Cake.

Tycho: Shower Cake? (reads the paper)…. … this is insane. You will not believe the shit that’s on here… look at this (shows to Gabe). You can eat this and not die, really? Four Butterfinger bars? Hold on a second here… this is a cake recipe, but one of the ingredients is cake?! (much laughing) Well, looks nice…

Gabe: Ok, another questions…

Audience: Penny Arcade is beyond the realm of just a web comic… you’ve had mini-comics for games, you’ve had PAX (the Penny Arcade Expo), …

Tycho: A Space Station…

Audience:. … and you have the Child’s Play Charity. Do you have other projects, or ideas for projects that you want to do in the future?

Tycho: Are you trying to kill us? Our year is full.

Gabe: Yeah, I mean, every time we take on another one of those things, we’re like ‘Wow, this will be the one that breaks us.’.

Tycho: No, I feel like we have a pretty good amount of stuff… why, do you have an idea? Something that you think we should be doing… Dad?

Audience: So is there anybody else involved in production?

Tycho: Like in actually making comics? No…

Gabe: Well, we have other people in the office…

Tycho: Oh yeah, sure, but involved in actually making comics? No… it’s pretty much us.

Gabe: And if anyone else comes into our office while we’re trying to make a comic, we yell at them and throw things. We do have a couple of other people that help us sort of manage the things that we’re not good at, which is anything involving numbers, or business, or…

Tycho: Anything that is not the comic, that happens to Penny Arcade, and that is good, we can’t claim credit for.

Gabe: Our friend Robert here in the front row, raise your hand Robert, he’s our business guy. (serious applause)

Tycho: Don’t touch Robert… he’s very sick. He has his death of cold. Unless you like mucus… he’s a fountain of it.

Gabe: Before we met him, we actually sold the company… (looks at Tycho)… two times?

Tycho: Two different times.

Gabe: Yeah, accidentally. (laughs)

Tycho: That isn’t, like, a joke. This isn’t something we’re saying to amuse you. It’s a real thing.

Gabe: ‘All our rights are gone. Oops!’ Yeah, so… thank god for him. We haven’t sold it since.

Audience: And is Robert the Lumines master?

Tycho: Yes, Robert is the one that flipped Lumines at… 1,000,000 points?

Gabe: You made a declaration the other day, you came into the office and said ‘I believe that I can get a million points in one hour.’ Have you don it yet?

Robert: I got 850,000.

Tycho: 850,000 in an hour. He takes it pretty seriously. He’s basically the resident ‘square nut’.

Audience: What exactly is going through your head when you load the updates up with five dollar words?

Tycho: Ummm… what do you mean? ‘Words’, I guess? (audience laughs) No, what do you mean…?

Audience: Like, what exactly are you trying to do, what are you trying to get at?

Tycho: Ummmm… I think I’m trying to appear intelligent? I think that’s the main thing. When we were at PAX somebody asked this question, and I think of myself as sort of collecting words…. like a Pokemon trainer. Like, I amass these words, and then make them do battle, in my posts. (audience applauds and laughs). My word arrangement and my tone arrangement… this is probably getting too serious, but it’s super-interesting to me. I like to set up a sentence that is done about as well as I can do it, and sometimes that requires a strange or over-specific word…

(someone in the audience, at this very moment, holds up a large sign that says ‘COCKTHIRSTY’, referencing that morning’s webcomic)

(Crowd totally loses it)

Tycho: Yeah, so, the news post is not work to me at all… I really enjoy that.

Audience: When are you going to going to bring PAX to the East Coast?

Gabe: 2008, right now, I think that’s the projected date.

Tycho: Yeah, we’re totally going to do it, in fact, we’ve been thinking about somewhere around here.

(lots of wooots and clapping again)

Tycho: I mean, you guys are already here, right? Seems like a pretty good choice, like a really good place to do it.

Audience: What spawned the need to create Twisp and Catsby? (crowd laughs) I mean, why create characters that you immediately hate?

Others in the Audience: Booooo! Ooooooo! ‘They’re not for you!’ (crowd laughs)

Gabe: We were driving somewhere really far away, and ‘Jersey Girl’ had just come out. Kevin Smith had that quote where he said that ‘It was a movie that wasn’t for critics.’ And as people who make art, we thought ‘Wow… you can do that?!’

Tycho: That seemed like a powerful policy.

Gabe: Like, we gotta get us some of that. And so we decided to try and come up with the weirdest thing, that nobody would like. So we could say ‘Ha ha, nobody likes this, but it’s not for you.’… and you sons of bitches loved it. And so we keep doing it.

Tycho: It’s usually once or so a year, or something like that… but I really enjoy writing those. Y’know, when people have lunch in crocodiles, and stuff like that. It’s somewhat outside the normal purvue of Penny Arcade.

Gabe: Those are some of my favorites…

Tycho: Yeah, I have fun doing them…

Audience: Disregarding any social or legal problems, would you eat dead babies if you had a chance?

(crowd… laughs? uncomfortably? sort of?)

Gabe: Is this the kind of thing you guys do at MIT?

Audience: Only some of us…

Tycho: Um, I don’t think that I need to eat any babies. Gabe?…

Gabe: I don’t think so… but, y’know… until I’m in that situation, I guess…

(crowd laughs)

Gabe: … does any of us really know?

Tycho: You’re hungry. Baby’s right there…

Audience: So, how do you guys measure fan response? What really makes you sit up and take notice when people do something?

Tycho: I don’t know what…

Audience: Like, say when you introduced Twisp & Catsby…

Gabe: Oh, um, email…

Audience: Dark Iron! (World of Warcraft server they play on – ed.)

Gabe: Well, Dark Iron is a pretty good example.

Tycho: Yes, apparantly there was ‘interest’ in a Penny Arcade guild…

Gabe: We broke a world. (audience laughs) That felt pretty good.

Tycho: Yeah, but primarily email. I mean, as far as the comic goes, we’re still pretty self-indulgent. I’m sure you’ve detected that. I know, it’s crazy. To a certain extent we do what we want, and sometimes we throw out some ‘juice’…

Gabe: Even something that people seem to really like, like the Cardboard Tube Samurai, we only bring him out once a year, y’know? If we really paid attention to you guys, it’d be in every strip.

Tycho: Yeah, in a small version, like a figurine…

Audience: This is more on the Cardboard Tube Samurai… what were the roots of that? Did that make you more interested in Samurai, and are you ever going to do something with it again?

Tycho: Hmmm… the roots…

Gabe: I used to just beat the shit out of you with that tube…

(again with the audience laughter)

Tycho: Yeah, actually, the roots of it are literally in the archive. There’s a strip where the final line is ‘The tube is civilization’ or something like that. In that comic, he found a tube in the dumpster, and that’s true, and he brought it in and began to strike me about the neck and shoulders, like, to decapitate me. That’s essentially it… but then we sort of got into the idea that he was sort of fixated on that tube… because, well, that’s true. So there was this sort of fantasy universe spun… and then it stopped being a fantasy universe and it became instead a samurai epic. So that’s the full development of it…

Gabe: And are we going to do anything else with it? We have two pretty good stories… we have ‘the origin of the tube’, which we at some point need to tell. And then we have…

Tycho: ‘The Light That Casts The Shadow’. (audience laughter) Is that overwrought, do you think? Or is it just wrought enough? (crowd laughs again) We’ll see. I think it’ll be pretty cool.

Audience: Are you going to do anything more with (the character of) Annarchy?

Tycho: Would you like that?

Audience: (lots cheers and claps of approval)

Tycho: We really like Annarchy. actually, so…

Gabe: We were really surprised when she won that contest online, for the story art. I did not expect that… in fact, in the original post I had not even included Annarchy…

Tycho: Oh, that’s right, you had to add her to it…

Gabe: Yeah, I had forgotten and then I got so much mail that I put her in there, and she won.

Tycho: It was really cool, at PAX, someone had designed her case. They’d actually done a case mod, seriously, with the pink glow inside, like underglow, ponies (crowd laughs), rainbows… it was the full meal deal. Typically when she comes in (to the strip), we end up doing something that is really out of the ordinary for Penny Arcade…

Gabe: Yeah, her strips really aren’t like normal Penny Arcade comics…

Tycho: Because Tycho feels like he has to watch his mouth around her… and that is not a part of ‘our thing’. She shows up in a strip and we both stand up straighter… she makes us behave, basically. (crowd laughs)

Audience: How did you guys become friends? Like, when did you meet and how did you start doing a comic together?

Gabe: (thinking hard) How… did… we… meet?

Tycho: (to Gabe) How long have we been making comics? Like, 12 years?

Gabe: Oh, like, comics.

Tycho: Yes, I said ‘comics’. In your mind, what did that word mean? (crowd laughs) because I was talking about ‘pictures in sequence’.

Gabe: Are you done?

Tycho: Ok.

Gabe: Uhhhh… we met in high school.

Tycho: Journalism class.

Gabe: Yeah, journalism class. I was a cartoonist for the high school paper, and you were writing stories… and I remember, I was just like doodling…

Tycho: This is VH1 Storytellers…

Gabe: Our eyes met…

Tycho: … across the lunchroom.

Gabe: His date didn’t show up, my date didn’t show up… Yeah, anyway, I was just doodling, and I think you made some comment, you thought the character I was drawing looked cool, asked if it had a story, I had no idea what his story was… and then we just started making stuff together.

Tycho: That’s basically it, yeah. Of course, we were always trying to make serious, thought-provoking pieces.

Gabe: That’s what we thought we’d do, yeah.

Tycho: It never occured to us to make comic strips, we didn’t start doing that until we entered a contest. We were just like ‘we’ll just screw around with these comic strips…’

Gabe: ‘… on the side, while we make our epic superhero…’

Tycho: ‘… our epic psychological thriller.’ You’re welcome to ask a follow-up…

Audience: Was your original art style a little more realistic?

Gabe: It was ‘Jim Lee artstyle’. Lifted directly from Jim Lee… (crowd laughs). Y’know, early 90s Image/Wildcat style…

Tycho: Oh, that was the first stuff we did… wait (excitedly), have we ever talked about that?! Have we ever talked about that, our first comic project?

Gabe: Uhhh… G… what was it? G… something…

Tycho: G… 4!

Gabe: Right… G4.

Tycho: No, seriously, we made a government supergroup called ‘G4’. (crowd laughs and claps). We had to!

Gabe: That’s what everybody did.

Tycho: But I had all these… y’see, I never read comics when I was growing up, and so I had all these convoluded backstories that had already been done like 100 times…

Gabe: That’s a great point, like, he didn’t read comics at all… I was the one who read comics, and he approached me with this idea, and he’d put a lot of effort into it. He was like, ok, ‘Government super-hero group, they have a gene inside them that the government activates.’ And if you don’t read comics: Gen-13. That’s exactly what his idea was. And I didn’t have the heart to tell him.

Tycho: We worked on that for like months.

Gabe: Yeeeeeaaahhh…

Tycho: We had all these, like…

Gabe: I was so proud, like, you were so happy with it… and I would just hide Gen-13 issues when you would come over.

Tycho: And the enemy was Magneto! Like, all the way down to it… concentration camp… I was like ‘This is fucking, it’s… brave.’

Gabe: And I was like ‘You can have a helmet like this…’ and he was like ‘Oh, that’s awesome!’ (audience laughs and claps loudly)

Tycho: I came up with this idea for the leader of the group… ‘Yeah, he should be, like, a mute…’ But how was that even going to fucking work?

Gabe: And he fell down a well?

Tycho: Yeah, he fell down a well, but how was he supposed to lead if he is unable to speak? And he wasn’t a telepath. That was someone else in the group… what was it, Pulsar or something?

Gabe: Nightmare, wasn’t it?

Tycho: Listen, just… leave me alone. (audience laughs)

Audience: So, a lot of us in the working world probably think you have the best job of all-time…

Tycho: We would agree with that. (audience laughs)

Audience: Outside of playing videogames, which I realize is part of your job, how much time do you actually spend a week making comics and writing posts?

Gabe: We actually lately haven’t been able to play any games… well, we have an office that we go to, pretty much like 9:30 to 5 is our workday, and lately it has been rare that we play any games during that time…

Tycho: Hold on, understand that when he says ‘no games’, he doesn’t think of World of Warcraft as a game. (crowd laughs lots)

Gabe: No, I’m saying at work. I go home and play WoW… until it’s time to go to work the next day. (crowd laughs) We tend to do to the office and work on something, right…?

Tycho: Eat teryaki. I mean, these days, have you ever seen any of the special projects that we’ve done? Like for Brother In Arms? Most of our workday ends up being funneled into full-page projects and things like that, which I really like…

Gabe: I’ve been working on the cards for the card game for a long time…

Tycho: Yeah, he just wrapped those up, and that’s like 50 cards, drawn at a high resolution… so that took awhile.

Gabe: Yeah, there’s always something that we’re working on.

Audience: Whatever happened with the Strawberry Shortcake thing? (they were threatened with legal action after a Strawberry Shortcake parody)

Gabe: We backed down.

Tycho: Immediately.

Gabe: Yeah, we asked the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, we were like ‘Is this something that we can win?’, and they were like ‘NoooooOOoooo…’. And when they tell you no, it’s not gonna happen.

Tycho: Yeah, that’s basically it. It’s easy to find the comic, obviously. If you do a search online real quick, y’know.. ‘S&M’, ‘Strawberry Shortcake’… that comic comes up pretty quick.

(At this point, a girl in the audience holds up their laptop, and on the screen is the exact comic in question. The crowd goes semi-nuts.)

Tycho: Fight the power, sister! You fight that power.

Gabe: Actually, at this last PAX, this girl cos-played as Strawberry Shortcake…

Tycho: It was well received.

Audience: What do you think of the X-Box 360 and Microsoft’s ‘Get Core’ or ‘Get good’? (Microsoft sells two versions of the 360, a stripped-down ‘core’ version, or the regular full-priced one – ed)

Tycho: Get real. Or ‘get illusory’, I think… I mean, it just doesn’t work. I said something about this in the post, but numerically, it doesn’t make any sense to get it the other way. It’s at least $340 dollars, and the other one is $400, and it comes with everything. Including, like, a house to play it in. Y’know, and electricity.

Gabe: It’s a weird move, and I think it’s probably too early to say that it was a misstep… it’ll be interesting to see…

Tycho: We’re the last people you want to come to for business advice, obviously, but, it’s like the remote control thing from Nintendo… it’s not for us, so the purposes behind it seem nebulous or strange. Of course it’s non-sensical to us, and so we can’t really come to terms with it.

Audience: So aside from the Strawberry Shortcake thing, and other ‘legal’ threats… in an industry that takes itself very seriously, you do comics based on Gabe’s obsession with phallic objects and garbage…

Gabe: Well, I feel a little awkward now… (crowd laughs)…

Audience: … so what was the nastiest thing that a critic has ever said to you?

Tycho: Hmm… (thinking) nastiest thing that a critic has ever said to us…

Someone in the Audience: Depends on what a critic is…

Tycho: People who are mean?

Gabe: You said you read that thing about the artwork…?

Tycho: Oh, yeeeeeah… I was reading some forum, did it getcha?

Gabe: Well, I don’t know if you needed to tell me that… I never would have seen it.

Tycho: Ohhhh…

Gabe: But he told it to me and he smiled… (crowd laughs)

Tycho: It was some messageboard post and it was like ‘Yeah, Gabe’s art is like, overdone, and like, not done enough at the same time.’ (crowd cracks up)

Gabe: I mean, if he had just said one or the other, at least I could have tried.

Tycho: Yeah, as soon as you picked up the pen and paper it was like ‘what, um, what do I, how do I… hmmm…’

Gabe: You just can’t win that one!

Tycho: People say mean stuff to us all the time. But given the rest of my life and the things that have happened, and the gratitude I feel towards all of you for coming here, like, I really don’t feel like I can take that kind of thing seriously, I guess. Sorry to make things kind of serious…. to kinda ‘break it down’, but that’s true… I don’t feel like that it relevant to my life at all.

Audience: What was it like making the transition to doing Penny Arcade full time? And what made you think that you could do it successfully.

Tycho: Well, we didn’t really think we could do it successfully… (crowd laughs)

Gabe: Well, I mean, this was at the height of the…

Tycho: Two-Thousand! Picture in your mind’s eye…! (laughter)

Gabe: Yeah, people were just dumping money on the internet, in truckloads, and we had at that point amassed a ‘reasonable’ amount of traffic…

Tycho: Three thousand readers…

Gabe: It was more than that… we had 20,000 hits or something like that. A company called E-Front, which was a…

Tycho: We should have known right away! E-Front. The word means facade. (crowd laughs). At any rate, I should have got it.

Gabe: They were a content aggregator, right, isn’t that what they were? They essentially would group up a whole bunch of websites and sell ads across the entire network.

Tycho: Right.

Gabe: And they bought us. We didn’t know they had bought us. We signed some paperwork that said we were going to start getting checks from them…

Tycho: I saw the ‘check’ part down at the bottom and was like ‘FUCK YES!’.

Gabe: We actually sold them the rights to the characters and the strip and everything.

Tycho: Absolutely everything.

Gabe: And I remember you called me, I was at Circuit City, and you’re like ‘Listen, man, we just got the deal, I signed the paperwork…

Tycho: ‘We’re in.’

Gabe: ‘Quit your job.’ And so I did. I quit that day, and you quit shortly after that…

Tycho: I did.

Gabe: And then E-Front went out of business.

Tycho: And the management staff fled the nation, they went to another country, or perhaps the moon, to evade capture…

Gabe: And we’re like, ‘oooooh shit.’ So at that point it was like, well, do we go back to our regular jobs, or do we try to do this Penny Arcade thing and ask for donations.

Tycho: It sort of forced our hand, like, it forced us to take it seriously. And we sort of did. Anyway, we asked readers to pay…

Gabe: Yeah, and people…you guys… paid for us to do it for a little over a year. Until we were able to get back on our advertising feet, thanks to Robert. It was all readers’ donations for a long time…

Tycho: Yeah. It was pretty scary… that was a grey period there…

Audience: How did you get the intellectual property rights back?

Tycho: We didn’t.

Gabe: The company folded, and we just figured ‘They’re ours now.’ They might not be… (crowd laughs and claps loudly).

Tycho: There was never any official transfer…

Gabe: That might be something to look into, I don’t know…

Tycho: Yeah, we just sort of kept doing it… I mean, maybe we’re just sort of keeping the throne warm for their return…

Gabe: Yeah, they may come back. If they do, don’t tell them where we are…

Tycho: Yeah, we’ll go out different doors… Ok, Gabe, pick another question…

Gabe: Oh, I get to pick one? Uhhh… how about right here…

Audience: Um, Tycho, in regards to your…

Gabe: And it isn’t even for me!

Tycho: Do you see the rapport I’ve built up? Powerful!

Gabe: That’s bullshit! Go ahead… ask him your question… I’m really excited…

Audience: Tycho, do you do more, like, ‘tweak it and play with it’, or do you just sit down and roll with what you’re writing?

Gabe: I’ve seen him tweak it a lot… (crowd laughter.

Tycho: Um, when I think I’m alone…

Gabe: Yeah.

Tycho: There’s definitely some tweaking. There’s an amount.

Gabe: I see you tweak.

Tycho: An ounce. Per post. Yeah, it’s definitely fluid from the very beginning to the very end. Until I have the whole thing, I see how it all sounds and looks, and I’m always goofing around. Spend some time at, you know what I’m talking about. But yeah, that’s basically it. What a nice young man. Gabe, you wanna get another one? I mean, it’s probably for me.

Gabe: Right here, green shirt…

Audience: Can you talk a bit about Child’s Play, and what it was like to get that going, and what it’s like to keep it going?

Gabe: Sure, uhhh… well, the whole idea was that we wanted to make it as easy as possible to send toys and games to these kids.

Tycho: The year before the first one, we went to one of those ‘Giving Trees’, have you ever seen those, like in malls?

Gabe: They’re in like a mall, or a church, and you’ll see a little ornament that says ‘Matt, age 6, he wants a Gameboy.’ And I wanted to buy all these kids Gameboys. And we were like ‘That should be a charity.’

Tycho: Right, right. You see, what happened, we had picked two names. Brenda, my wife, works near one of these things, and she brought us back two, essentially, human beings who needed toys for Christmas. And we pimped out.

Gabe: Yeah, we hooked these kids up…

Tycho: I mean, it was like Gameboy, E-reader… it was the best Christmas ever.

Gabe: And that feeling, we’re like, if we could just multiply that…

Tycho: Yeah, if we could have a tree the size of the internet… (crowd laughs). And that’s essentially what it was. Childs Play was originally going to be something different. The idea was that we were going to get donated old systems and hardware, and we were going to try and set up little Childs Plays around the country that would act as a sort of library system for these things. And it turns out that they don’t want that…

Gabe: They can’t take anything used. These kids are so ill in some cases that just the dust from your house, they can’t have. Everything has to be brand new, sealed.

Tycho: Right, so our original plan didn’t quite work out. I mean, there may still be some context that can function in, but essentially we switched over to the Amazon wishlists that we had seen on people’s livejournals. Certainly I’d purchased a gift or two that way. But that’s basically it, we just moved on from there…

Gabe: As far as running it, that first year, like all the stuff we do, we didn’t know what to expect the first time. And so we were having the packages delivered to my house. I think the pictures are still on the Childs Play website… I remember the first UPS truck showed up that morning and the guy kept bring stuff out, and I was like, ‘wow, that was a lot of stuff!’.

Tycho: Do you remember him? That guy was pissed. Yeah, ‘what are you doin? what are you doin?’.

Gabe: Yeah, he was like ‘What the fuck are you doin’?’ I tried to explain it to him, then he couldn’t be a dick anymore. So the first UPS truck left and I was like ‘Is that going to happen every day?’…

Tycho: And then FedEx came!

Gabe: Yeah, and then another truck… (crowd laughs and claps). So then the regular mail guy showed up and I was like ‘Man, there’s a lot of stuff in your truck…’ And he said ‘This is the first truck.’ (crowd laughs) There’s a company called Amaze in Kirkland, by us, and they donated a bunch of warehouse space so we could get everything out of my garage.

Tycho: So we threw it all in a moving truck, and this was like a medium sized moving truck, packed dense… I mean, I’m talking Tetris. Not some Incan type shit. So we hauled all that stuff over, and then it took a semi to get it from there, where we’d been keeping it…

Gabe: We had a bunch of Penny Arcade readers show up at 5 in the morning to load a semi and drive it to the Children’s Hospital.

Tycho: And so the next year, obviously, we had five hospitals…

Gabe: And the toys went directly to the hospitals…

Tycho: We sent toys direct to each of those places…

Gabe: This year we’re actually bringing on a person to run it… it needs someone to focus on it full time. And so, this year will be even crazier…

Tycho: Oh! But… Hope!… Ok, I would imagine that we’re all technology enthusiasts here? To a certain extent? And not just Massachusetts Institute of Technology enthusiasts, right? So, we had a little bit of money, after we had divvied it up, we had money left over for Childs Play. I think it was from the Charity Dinner…

Gabe: Yeah, we had money left over after the auction…

Tycho: And so, this guy contacted us, Andrew from Hope, and he wanted to run this pilot program where he hooked kids in hospitals up with X-Boxes, Live Accounts, and Friends Lists, so that while they were on dialysis machines, which I’m told is an unpleasant procedure, they’d actually have something to keep their minds off of it, and they’d make friends in similar situations around the country. And we were like ‘Oh yeah, yeah yeah, we’ve got some money for you…’

Gabe: His theory was that kids playing games would ask for less pain medication, and that’s what he wanted to prove. So we funded that initial experiment, and I think that this year we’re going to be giving him a lot more support. It just seems like something we want to do…

Tycho: Yeah… it’s seems like something worth supporting…

Audience: I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on Frag Dolls? PR stunt? Good girl gamers? Bad…?

Gabe: At first we thought it was a PR stunt…

Tycho: Basically like En Vogue or something… or like the Backstreet Boys, where it’s sort of this construction or media creation. And I think that was probably its goal. But we’ve played against them… and they fucked us up.

Gabe: They were at the first PAX, and I remember the Rainbow Six tournament was ‘Beat the Frag Dolls, get a prize’, and by the end of it, it was ‘Kill a Frag Doll…’

Tycho: No, by the end it was ‘Get one point…’

Gabe: Yeah, if you can get a single point, you win a prize, and I don’t think anybody even got that. So, constructed or not, they’re incredible.

Tycho: Yeah, so I think it probably started as that, but the fact that they actually have pretty intense skills sort of evens it out a little bitfor me.

Audience: When you guys are 50 or 60, what do you think you’re going to be doing?

Tycho: Oh man, I don’t know…

Gabe: We really don’t think long term, man…

Tycho: Yeah, you’re definitely talking to the wrong guys for the projections…

Gabe: Yeah, I know we have to be in Baltimore tomorrow… um….

Audience: What do your wives think you’ll be doing?

Gabe: Uhhhh…

Tycho: Mowing the lawn, I think.

Gabe: I certainly hope to still be playing videogames, and maybe commmenting on them…

Tycho: It’s going to have to get neural. I’m gonna have to have the jack. I think by 50 or 60…

Gabe: I’d better be plugged in…

Tycho: I’m gonna need that level of immersion. Ok, another question…

Audience: Um, so this is, um, not for you…

Tycho: Oh, well, in that case… (exits room through closest door, crowd applauds)

Gabe: Don’t worry about it…

Audience: How does having kids change your view, or does it, of the interaction between the videogame industry and kids?

(Tycho returns)

Gabe: Um… well, it did change it a little bit. Yeah, so I did make a human, I made a little boy. Well, I helped. (crowd claps a bit)

Tycho: He’s cool, I’ve met him.

Gabe: I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the sorts of games he’ll play, or that I want him to play. I definitely want him to be a gamer, right? But then I started thinking, well, every kid, well, every son rebels against their dad. Right? That’s just what you have to do… you hit 16 or 17 and you’re like ‘Fuck you, Dad!’. And so I was like, well, shit, if I play videogames and watch science fiction, what the hell is he going to do? I mean, what if he’s into sports or something? (crowd laughs and applauds) And so my plan is church every Sunday, button down shirts, y’know, no cussing in the house, no videogames allowed in the house, no devil music… then, he hits 16 and comes home with whatever the system is at that point and says ‘Look, I’m playin’ videogames, Dad! Violent games, fuck you!’ And I’d be like, ‘Oh, really?’ and I open the closet… (crowd explodes with delight). ‘So yeah, what are we playin’?’ So that’s my plan…

I still think that everyone has a right to make whatever videogame they want, but I do think there needs to be a change in the way that they are rated….

Tycho: A sensible rating system…

Gabe: Yeah, and an effort to really teach parents how to use it. (applause)

Tycho: When we have kids… and I’m not trying to scare you guys. It may happen, at some point. Hopefully when you’re thinking about it. This stuff, like, this Nightline ‘violent games. etc….’. None of this stuff is going to work on us… we know that that’s not true. And we’ll be able to raise them, I think, in accordance with good parenting, and the right games introduced at sensible times…

Gabe: Yeah.

Tycho: I think that we’ll be better at it, but I guess we’ll see…

Audience: Vice City at age 4?

Gabe: Probably not Vice City right away…

Tycho: Yeah, that’s an 8 to 9… you don’t want to start out with that.

Audience: Are there things that you thought you’d always like to play that you don’t like anymore, or are there things that you’d never like that you like now?

Gabe: I never really thought I’d be into RPGs, and now…

Tycho: And Strategy games. Like, I finally was able to get him into them, like the waves of the ocean…

Gabe: Yeah, he finally got me into turn-based stuff. And now I love the CCG games, too.

Tycho: Yes, I’ve corrupted him. But, uh, I always thought of myself as a sort of rennaissance gamer. I mean, if it’s on a table top, you know what I’m talking about. Doesn’t make any difference what system, pc, whatever. They’re kinda trying to price ordinary human beings out of pc gaming, unfortunately. But, yeah, I mean, I’ll play just about anything. I’m fascinated by systems, I guess, by game systems. So the form it takes isn’t a huge deal to me. It’s all metaphorical anyway…

Audience: You guys have bickering break out on the front page every once in awhile, like a couple days ago, for instance. How much animosity, in real life, does it take until that happens? And what was that thing a few months ago where it was like ‘Gabe went away, I’m drawing all the cartoons now.’? (crowd laughs)

Gabe: As soon as we leave here, we’ll get into separate cars… (laughs). Well, there is animosity…

Tycho: I don’t want to disappoint you, there is some…

Gabe: I think that we put up with each other because we’ve got a pretty good thing going right here…

Tycho: Isn’t that sweet…

Audience: So what was up with the cartoon, a few months ago? I mean, I didn’t get it…

Gabe: We did not literally break up…

Audience: Right…

Gabe: We just thought it would be funny… sorry. (crowd laughs)

Tycho: But it gave me a chance to introduce the semi-colon. (applause & cheers) The nefarious semi-colon, and also his lair… and Ben, too! Ben, he’s like ‘fuck yoooouuu!’.

Gabe: Oh, Ben, yeah! Get the band back together…

Tycho: So, yeah, that’s basically it. We sort of like each other most of the time…

Audience: When’s the Penny Arcade comic book coming out, the one you guys put together?

Gabe: January is the newest date. It was gonna be Christmas, and I guess something happened, I dunno, and now it’s January. It’s years one and two, and then he wrote a ton of new material for the book. How much did you write?

Tycho: 14 or 15 thousand words, I don’t know. That was a lot for me, at a sitting. It took awhile.

Audience: How did you get the rights back?

Tycho: Michael, I need you to tell them how that happened.

Gabe: Really?

Tycho: Yeah.

Gabe: Ok. Well, once again, in the days pre-Koop. Pre-Robert.

Tycho: We’ll call it ‘P-K’.

Gabe: ‘P-K’. We wanted to do a book, and through some family members, and sort of odd connections, we were put in contact with Kiwi publishing. And he did print the first book, I’ll give him that…

Tycho: A year late…

Gabe: And he did accept money for the book. But then he took all that money and moved to Alaska and never contacted us again. And so we mailed him and we’re like ‘Hey man, shouldn’t we get paid for our book?’ And he’s like ‘Yeah, what you guys need to do is make another book, and then you’ll get paid.’ We were smart enough at that point…

Tycho: ‘Man, no! That’s it for you…’

Gabe: One of those ‘shame on me, fool me once’ kind of things…

Tycho: Yeah. ‘Can’t get fooled again’.

Gabe: But we gave him the rights to the first five years of books, because, like, that was a joke to us. We’d only had two years at that point…

Tycho: We had no intention of making it for five years…

Gabe: He was like ‘Well, I want all five years.’. ‘Well, alright. Take ten!’.

Tycho: ‘We’re not doin’ anything with ’em!’

Gabe: And so when it came time, when Dark Horse approached us, and it came time for us to make a book…

Tycho: Oh, this is great…

Gabe: It came time to make a book, and we’re in the office there at Dark Horse…

Tycho: And like ‘Bob Dark Horse’ is right there…

Gabe: Behind a big desk, and they asked ‘Are there any complications that we might run into? You guys have the rights to the book, right?’ ‘Noooo…’ (crowd laughs)

Tycho: And the meeting had gone on for an hour at this point…

Gabe: ‘So who has the rights to your book?!’ ‘Oh, some guy in Alaska.’ (more laughs) So at that point we had to pursue him legally, and actually fight to get our rights back. And we did that, but it took years. I mean, we fought that case for four or five years…

Tycho: Are you ready for a dark revelation? We had to pay him. (crowd goes ‘ooooooo…’) I know. Grim.

Gabe: Sometimes it just comes down to that, I guess. If you sign the wrong contract.

Audience: Who do we kill?!

Tycho: Please, no, none of that.

Gabe: (whispers) Go ahead and do it! So, yeah, that’s the whole story…

Audience: Everyone knows your relationship with PvP, as such…

Tycho: (hushed) ‘Grrrrrr…..’

Audience: … but I was wondering what your thoughts of other webcomics like MegaTokyo and User Friendly…

Tycho: Oh, you just throw User Friendly in there at the end! ‘Like, y’know, like… user friendly.’ (crowd laughs) Um, MegaTokyo…. I like Fred actually.

Gabe: You can’t not like Fred once you meet him.

Tycho: Yeah, you’d feel really bad if you didn’t like him. That sort of sad, melancholy character that he projects on his site, that is a real person. That is not a facade at all. At first I was like, ok Fred, whatever. And then I saw him at this thing, and I was like, ok you jackass… I see right through… wait a second, um, you’re actually like super-vulnerable. (crowd laughs) At first I was like… you know about the Largo thing, right? I was like ‘I’m really going to get him good with some Largo shit.’ But he was actually an emotional wasteland…

Gabe: He constantly looks like he’s about to cry. His lip just quivers…

Tycho: Obviously we’ve mailed since then, I had a chance to talk to him for awhile, and I actually think he’s a pretty good guy. He seems pretty genuine to me. Um, I’ve never once met JB Frasier of User Friendly. I’ve mailed him on occasion, and, um, he seems like a… person.

Audience: What about Ctl-Alt-Delete?

Tycho: Tim? Tim Buckley? I’ve mailed him, too… I don’t think there’s any problem. I mean, we’ve talked… sometimes…

Gabe: He seems fine.

Tycho: Is there an issue? Are you going somewhere with this?

Gabe: What do you think?

Tycho: Is he bad? Should we hate him? (crowd laughs)

Audience: A Modest Destiny!

Gabe: Ok now that guy is fuckin’ crazy.

Audience: Stardick!

Tycho: Star. Dick?

Audience: Nobody knows who Stardick is!

Tycho: Well, I’m intrigued by the title. I mean, I love… science fiction. (crowd laughs) So that’s not your comic? You’re not the creator of ‘Stardick’?

Audience: What about Websnark?

Tycho: You mean Gossamer Commons or do you mean Websnark?

Audience: Burns…

Tycho: Like, Eric Burns…

Gabe: Man, that guy can write, for a long time. (crowd laughs)

Tycho: I have to set the pen down sometimes, but to him it’s just ‘bam!’. It just keeps coming out…

Gabe: We read Websnark, to see if he ever mentions us… (laughs). I mean, we read a lot of comics, but we’ve never had an opportunities to interact with a lot of other artists, except every once in awhile at San Deigo Comic-Con we’ll see a couple…

Tycho: Actually, at E3, I met… actually, it’s a three-fer! I met Tim from C.A.D., I met Brian from 8-Bit Theater (many cheers), and Scott from VG Cats (more cheers). They were all within, like, 5 feet. That’s convenience itself. I didn’t have to stalk them, as one might do…

Gabe: The only time I really deal with Kurtz any more is when I slash-spit on him after a… (drowned out by laughter)

Audience: Um, just a brief comment. You do realize that the UFies (User Friendly fans) have never forgiven you for all that

Tycho: Oh yeah. Oh, I’m aware that they still seethe, in the night, and chant over…oh, so you’re one of them! It comes out!

Audience: You could say that, yes.

Tycho: It’s, well, y’know… sorry.

Audience: Do you have a favorite comic book character or story? Like DC or Marvel style?

Tycho: Yeah, actually… have you ever read Y the Last Man? That’s super-good. It’s by Brian Vaughan. Seriously, this is the actual hook for the story: Something happens, and all the men on earth die.

A few women in the crowd: Wooooo!

Tycho: (sarcastically) Oh, big Brian K. Vaughan fans, are you? Anyway, that seems like sort of a stock story, that seems pretty low rent, but he’s made this excellent story out of it. There’s four or five trades of it out now, I really recommend you check it out.

Gabe: I have a pretty good Usagi Yojimbo collection, I really liked Invincible…

Tycho: Oh, Invincible is great…

Gabe: We pretty much will read whatever our local comic book guy recommends to us.

Tycho: Yeah, we have a box there, and we just assume… ‘100 Bullets? Sure!’ Whatever’s in the box.

Audience: This is actually sort of two parts and a non-question…

Gabe: Two parts and a non-question?

Tycho: We will try…

Audience: Without having a time machine and going back to the dot-com boom, how would you actually get a succcessful webcomic? I guess I could answer myself, through donations and merchandise, but, um…

Gabe: How would you build an audience, you mean?

Audience: Yeah, how would you build an audience?

Tycho: (to Gabe) Good job.

Gabe: Our advice whenver people ask about their webcomic is usually the same. And it’s pretty much: Make things that you think are funny…

Tycho: Yeah, I wouldn’t make it with an eye towards success, because you will become frustrated extremely quickly. You have to be empowered by a genuine personal interest to get through the dark period that awaits you… (crowd laughs)

Gabe: And then stick to a schedule, I mean, update when you say you will. And just keep plugging away at it.

Audience: Well, I’m not even that far… I haven’t even started.

Gabe: Well, I would start there.

Audience: I have not broken through the internet wall yet.

Gabe: I didn’t realize where we had to start… ‘Pick up a pencil!’

Tycho: And paper!

Audience: And my final non-question, was that, I did speak to you guys at E3, well, after E3 because you guys have too many fans…

Tycho: Um, sorry about that…

Audience: You were at this restaurant, and you offered me a soy bean, and if you weren’t going to Maryland tomorrow, I’d totally take you up on that today…

Tycho: Oh, man, well, shit… I have to go, they’re making me get on that plan, otherwise I would hook that up, no question. But anyway, the fundamental question is… do I think it’s possible to succeed, even today, with that sort of webcomic endeavor? Absolutely, there’s no question in my mind. Another question…

Audience: Egg yolks! Not the whole egg. Egg yolks. I just remembered, I’m sorry.

Tycho: Oh, ok. That’s right. Same page. Right there with you. It’s about the recipe, with cake in it, right…

Audience: Is there a human counterpart to the Mac guy, and if so, what happened to him, and did he really make pies?

Tycho: He was sort of an amalgam… like, before we did Penny Arcade full time, I did IT work, and at the school I worked at we had a pretty established Mac service department, and those ‘enthusiasts’ for the platform sort of inspired that character. Then, obviously, we felt guilty about making him sort of a reprobate weirdo, so we gave him some goggles, made him kind of a cool guy. But the problem is that since I don’t own a Mac, I always feel… I like him as a character, but I feel disingenuous when I talk about issues that are of interest to the Mac community, and that’s why he hasn’t been around. He makes me feel like a liar…

Gabe: There’s Charles fans out there… (crowd shouts agreement)

Audience: Do more!

Tycho: We’ll try. Look for him in your grocer’s freezer. (laughs)

Audience: How do you keep from killing each other while you’re doing the comic?

Gabe: We actually have two tubes in the office…

Tycho: Gigantic.

Gabe: And occasionally it does come…

Tycho: … to blows.

Gabe: They don’t have anything sharp on them, obviously, otherwise I’m sure it would have happened by now. Because… he’s fuckin’ mean. I’m sure there’s people out there who are like ‘Oh, I like Tycho a lot, Tycho’s great…’. Well, lemme tell you about Tycho…. (the crowd is amused). I will have an idea that I think is very funny for a comic strip, and I will say ‘Hey man, listen to this idea…’, and this is what he’ll say to me: ‘You are like an idea black hole.’ (crowd laughs) And then, what did you say…

Tycho: Well, I did say that ‘Its perverse gravity consumes and destroys good ideas.’ (crowed erupts at this line delivery). No, no, you’re good, just put your mic down and now I’ll say my piece… Ok, so check this out. Here’s one of his good ideas, are you ready? White shirt. On the front of the shirTycho It says ‘Poop’. On the back of the shirt, in case you didn’t get it, it says: ‘Like, From a Butt’. (crowd laughs heartily)

Gabe: Ok, I’m not saying they’re all winners. (laughs)

Audience: Do you have a favorite videogame?

Gabe: My favorite game is probably Rez.

Tycho: All time?

Gabe: Yeah, I mean, I don’t consider WoW (World of Warcraft) to be a game, otherwise I’d probably have to throw that in there. But as far as, like, the game I still continue to play and have played just a fuk-ton, it’d be Rez.

Tycho: That is really tough. What was the last game that felt really good, that actually did what I thought it was trying to do, and I didn’t enjoy it for some reason corollary to their purpose…

Gabe: Oh, God of War! God of War was also incredible…

Tycho: Yeah, that was… God of War was well-made. Man, you put me on the spot…

Gabe: And Resident Evil: Code Veronica!

Tycho: You get three?

Gabe: Yeah, I get to have three now.

Tycho: Hmmm… what have I played recently that I really enjoyed…

Gabe: You liked Burnout…

Tycho: Yeah, I like Burnout, I think that’s a magnificent game…

Audience: Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball!

Tycho: Nooooooo….

Audience: Katamari Damacy!

Tycho: Katamari’s a great game, too…

Audience: Shadowhearts!

Gabe: Shadowhearts is great…

Audience: (lots of other games shouted simultaneously, until…)

Tycho: Ok, there we go! Thank you. Ah, thank god… System Shock 2.

(crowd overwhelmingly approves)

Tycho: Wasn’t that made here? Like, isn’t Irrational Games here? In Cambridge somewhere? Oh, it’s done now?

Someone in the Audience: … used to be Looking Glass.

Tycho: Ah, I see, well, anyway, yeah, that game was supernatural. You know what I’m talkin’ about. System Shock 2… wow.

Audience: Have you ever considered making a t-shirt with the phrase ‘Some people play tennis, I erode the human soul’ on it?

Tycho: It’s… it’s so long.

Audience: You could do front and back…

Tycho: Is there a bigger shirt?

Audience: Triple XL!

Gabe: ‘Some people play tennis…’ on the front.

Tycho: Right, and people will think it’s a sports shirt, until…

Audience: ‘… like from a butt!’ (crowd laughs lots)

T (to Gabe): Oh, you’d just love that shirt, wouldn’t you. That shirt would sell like hotcakes. Ok, next question… you right there…

A (to Gabe): Did you really buy an external hard drive for a backup and then…

(crowd sort of erupts)…

Tycho: Finally, I’m with people who understand.

Gabe: It says ‘back up’ on the box.

Audience: That doesn’t mean you can erase it off the first hard drive after you do it!

Gabe: I don’t fuckin’ know about your ‘proxies’, or your ‘log ons’, or your routers… I called and they said backup, they told me I should be backing up, it said ‘one stop solution’, I put everything on there, it will ‘back it up.’

Tycho: We did not invent that scenario for your amusement, I’m sad to say. And when they take that hard drive into the clean room, without the dust, and the scientist guy like in the Intel commercial works on it… that costs a lot of money.

Gabe: Because they have all your shit!

Tycho: Like a hostage!

Gabe: They don’t tell you how much it costs, right? They look at it, and then they send you a note with all the information they found, and how much it’ll cost to get it back. Like pictures of your pet! ‘Hey, I got some .psd files here… they look like comic strips… how much, uhhh, you wanna pay for ’em?’ (crowd laughs)

Tycho: Yes, we’re exposing our darkest days for your amusement. Next question…

Audience: You were talking before about ‘telling your own jokes’… so when you look back at the history of your own jokes, do you feel that you still enjoy them all, or is there a point where you’re like ‘well, this was really immature…’.

Tycho: Well, it’s always immature… (crowd laughs)… I’m assuming that’s part of the reason we’re all here tonight. So, I just had to write that book, right, so I just actually went back from the very beginning of the archive up until two years in. I didn’t see it at the time, but there is a shocking level of development and change that occured in that period. And not just in the art. I still remember why I liked it at the time, but I don’t necessarily like every one of them now. And certainly in the director’s commentary in the book, it becomes quite clear that I am ‘displeased’ perhaps with some of my earlier works, if ‘works’ they may be called.

Audience: Who has the Pac Man watch as of now?

Tycho: Currently, I believe, in the ‘official continuity’, such as it is… I have the watch because I sicced a police dog on Gabe…

Gabe: Yeah, we didn’t really go into it, but in the last panel, as Gabe is being devoured by the dog, you can see the watch on his hand…

Tycho: So the implication is that the watch, because subtlety is our stock and trade (crowd laughs), the implication is that the watch will be removed from the bone region of the arm.

Audience: Are you guys, like, afraid for the future of your children growing up in a world full of Penny Arcade fans? (crowd laughs)

Tycho: Certainly while they’re still a baby, I think there’s a man out there who will eat them. (crowd cracks up).

Gabe: As long as we can keep them alive a little longer…

Tycho: … past their larval stage, they should be ok. I think. I pray to God…

Gabe: We had (little) Gabe at PAX, and it was certainly funny to see people taking pictures of him. In fact, they wanted me to hold him up, like Lion King style. (crowd laughs)

Tycho: Like on the stage?!

Gabe: Yeah, yeah, like Simba or whatever…

Tycho: Like, introduce him to the other beasts?

Gabe: Yeah, I guess so. I think he’ll be fine…

Tycho: Let’s hope.

Gabe: I just don’t know when I can tell him what daddy does for a living. I think for a long time daddy works for the government. (crowd laughs)

Tycho: It provides the level of secrecy we require.

Audience: How much did you expect your Red Cross auction to fetch, and how surprised were you by the results?

Gabe: Well, there were a lot of surprises involved with that auction. The initial surprise of someone bidding $8,700. The next surprise of someone calling me and saying they can’t pay it. (crowd groans slightly). The next surprise of reading how Mission Fish, and seeing that now I have to pay it. And then the final surprise of a reader saying that they were willing to pay that amount to get the artwork.

Tycho: Right… Christian.

Gabe: Yeah, he’s a great guy. I certainly never expected it to be that much. Honestly, I expected around $2,000, just because that’s about where my auctions have topped out before. But obviously these were people who had the money that they were willing to donate to that cause anyway.

Tycho: It wasn’t really about the art, we don’t think.

Gabe: Getting my drawing, I think, was nice. But they had already decided that they were going to give a fuck-ton of money. (crowd laughs)

Audience: So you’re bad with numbers, right? Did this one (the auction) get cleared with your man there?

Gabe: Yeah, well, he took care of it… I mean, I went into his office and I said something like ‘Robert, I think I have to pay someone $8,700. (crowd laughs) But before that? No. (crowd laughs again)… I was just clickin’ on stuff…

Tycho: ‘Wheeee!’

Audience: Who were Batjew and Safety Monkey, and why don’t they post anymore?

Tycho: They were, and are, real people who have their own sites that they update these days.

Gabe: They just decided that they would focus on making their own funny things.

Tycho: Yeah, so Safety Monkey is twistedmonkey dot net, and Batjew is kingawesome dot com (crowd laughs)… which I guess comes as no surprise. Yeah, they’re still doing stuff out there…

Gabe: We promised you another question…

Audience: Well, it’s not really a question, but… I’ve eaten carrot cake soup…

Tycho: Delicious.

Audience: … and I’ve watched lesbians make out. And you guys were right. (crowd laughs)

Tycho: Well… ok! Yeah. Ok… well, where can you go from that?

Gabe: Yeah, where do you go after lesbians? Another question?

Audience: Earlier did you say that someone was developing a game for you guys?

Gabe: Well, it’s a collectable card game.

Tycho: Yeah, it’s a card game.

Audience: Oh, well, still… cool!

Gabe: I just wrapped up the last of the cards before we hopped on a plane here. Essentially you have a Gabe deck and a Tycho deck that you can battle against each other (crowd approves).

Tycho: You drew all the cards…

Gabe: Yeah, I’m trying to think of some of them… in the Tycho deck you have…

Tycho: I have a rare card! And it’s actually a rare card.

Gabe: You have ‘Dramatic Monologue’ (crowd laughs). ‘Really Big Word’ (more laughs). Gabe has ‘Hide Behind Couch’. ‘Tube Strike’…

Tycho: ‘Dixie Twist!’

Gabe: Right, ‘Dixie Twist’. I think it’s gonna be super-fun. There’s some underlying cards like the Fruit Fucker, and Div, and…

Tycho: The watch, actually, is in the game.

Gabe: The watch goes back and forth, yeah…

Tycho: It gives you a bonus, but when you use it, it switches sides…

Gabe: I think it’s going to be really fun…

Tycho: Yeah, it turned out good, I think. Next question…

Audience: Earlier you were saying that you actually sold your company’s rights twice? You mentioned one of them, but what was the other one?

Gabe: The book thing was the other one. We sold all the rights…

Tycho: To both printed and online, simultaneously. There was a time period where we owned absolutely nothing.

Gabe: What’s really funny… I’ve posted them a couple times, but after eFront went under, one of the guys that works there went into the president’s computer and released all his chat logs onto the internet. You can still get them if you just google ‘efront chat logs’. There’s just a ton of shit to go through, but there’s a great converstation where they are talking about us, and they’re like ‘these guys are assholes, we own their comic, let’s just fire them and hire someone else to do it.’ And they actually got to the point where they are having conversations with other artists who had already done a comic, and were ready to take over Penny Arcade. Super weird to read. (crowd laughs)

Tycho: Like, we knew that things were bad, we knew that things were definitely bad… but we didn’t know that we were about to be usurped. Next question…

A (quietly). Hi… I love your comic… and, I, um… made you a comic.

Tycho: Aww, thank you. Really? Can I see it? Oh, sweet. We should read it… will that terrify you?

Audience: Overhead projector! Put it up on the projector!

Tycho: Yeah, we should start the sketch part anyway way…

Gabe: Yeah, it’s about time for that…

(Some time is spent getting the projector going, and then the gift strip is shown to much audience approval… lots of clapping. For the next half hour, the audience yells out character requests as Gabe sketches them on the overhead projector, then hands each sketch to a lucky audience member. Requests include Fruit Fucker, Cardboard Tube Samurai, Annarchy, Twisp & Catsby, Jesus being F’in Metal, The Bad Boys of Punctuation, and even that whore, Strawberry Shortcake. I think the guy who yelled out ‘Brent Sienna’ actually got a certain finger instead.)

Tycho: Let’s take some questions while he does this…

Audience: How does the concept of Metroid Pinball sit with you?

Tycho: Dude, you know what? First thought: Cash-in, right? I mean, Metroid Pinball. But… it’s actually super-cool. I would not have expected that… it doesn’t make sense. (Metroid bounty hunter) rolled up in a ball, inside of a machine, hitting bumpers, scoring points… that seems to cheapen the idea somewhat (crowd laughs). The idea of a lone bounty hunter having adventures… not compatible. But it’s actually a really great pinball game.

Audience: It reminded me so much of Metrus…

Tycho: Oh, like back in the day, like ‘I wish I was fucking dead’… like, the last title there. The text adventure version. Yeah… like I said, definitely seemed like a cash-in, actually super fun… (lots of applause as Gabe finishes another sketch).

Tycho: Another questions would be great right now. Um, baby eater guy? We already talked. How about right here…

Audience: So, what do you think of Nintendogs…

Tycho: I think Nintendogs is an example of a game that is really well made that is not… for me.

Gabe: Can I talk about your Nintendogs?

Tycho: (reluctantly) Yeeeeah…

Gabe: I assume that some of you…

Tycho: No… actually, no.

Gabe: Oh, it’s getting told (crowd laughs). If you haven’t played it, there’s something in Nintendogs the ‘white record’, where you can record a little message. And if you put your Nintendog in ‘bark mode’, other people around you who have their Nintendogs open can receive your message and hear a little thing… like, something might be ‘I want to play with your dog.’ or ‘let’s have our dogs play together!’. So you know what his white record message is? (in an evil voice) ‘I want to fuck your dog.’

(crowd explodes)

Gabe: And he slowed it way down, so it’s this evil voice…

Tycho: (laughing) It’s really scary actually… (crowd still laughing). You can use the stylus to like scratch and mix it, and so I have like a hip-hop remix of that. It’s burning up clubs across the United States… ok, another question…

Audience: Is it deliberate that Twisp never says more than one word at a time?

Tycho: In that universe, the exertion of it… that’s all he’s capable of…

Audience: When did you decide to give them each other’s names? Like, how Catsby’s not the cat…

Tycho: Well, we never really asserted who each one was… like everything else is so ridiculous where they live that it seemed perfectly legitimate at the time.

Audience: What sci-fi do you guys like?

Tycho: Well, we’re super-excited about Serenity, obviously (crowd goes crazy over this). We saw it, actually… we saw a preview screening of Serenity. If you’re waiting for it, if you’re excited for it… it’s totally killer. (many cheers)

Audience: They’re actually showing all of ‘Firefly’ in one night around here, starting at midnight.

Tycho: When it that happening? I’m gonna be there… I’m on a plane. Next question?

Audience: Are these stories about the (gaming) store (in the comic) true?

Tycho: To a certain extent. By which I mean not at all.

Audience: What’s the story behind the golf caddy, Hector?

Tycho: I’m Hector, actually. I am the one that he abuses on the golf course. That was going to be in my autobiography, actually. He abuses me verbally, for hours…

Audience: Aside from Katamari and Ico, what’s the most unique game you’ve ever played?

Tycho: Hmmm… most… unique… game… I’ve ever played… oh, wait, you mean videogame? That cuts it down… (answer gets drowned out in a wash of applause as Gabe finishes another sketch)

Audience: Do you remember when you lost your anonymity?

Tycho: Let’s see… I was sixteen… (crowd laughter)

Audience: Have you read the Perry Bible Fellowship?

Tycho: Yeah, actually. The Perry Bible Fellowship is my favorite online comic. Yeah, PBF is about as good as it gets.

Audience: Do you ever get tempted to just take a pad of paper and a bunch of pens and just sell sketches for $5 each? It’s like writing your own money…

Tycho: I think the temptation might be there, but we haven’t reached that threshold yet… we haven’t become that person.

Audience: How much do you guys make?

Tycho: a LOT. You guys would not believe. (cackles)

Audience: Give us a number…

(crowd summarily ‘booos!’ this uncouth gentleman).

Tycho: See, I didn’t even have to deal with ya, man.

Audience: Where did the bear logo come from?

Tycho: Bear logo?!

(crowd yells ‘Wombat’!)

Tycho: Jesus Christ, man. Bear logo?! … It’s an emblem, an icon that’s just generic enough to put on things, bascially. It’s essentially our pre-Merch.

Audience: Is baby Gabe ever going to make it into a comic?

Gabe: I don’t know…

Tycho: I don’t know. It’s like, it’s sort of our lives, it’s sort of not our lives…

Audience: When you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, what do you do?

Tycho: Twisp and Catsby. (crowd cracks up)

Gabe: You always know, if you see that comic pop-up…

Tycho: Yeah, in your head, this is a secret to you guys, just think ‘yeah, it was a dry day. they really didn’t have a lot going that day.’

Audience: Is there a real life corollary to Annarchy?

Tycho: She is an amalgam of a couple things…

Gabe: Yeah, I do have nieces who play games, but they aren’t as hardcore as Annarchy is.

Tycho: Is anyone?

Gabe: But they look like her, like these impossibly thin teenage little girls. I based her look off of them, and then we sort of pulled Tycho’s personality.

Tycho: But the main plus? Little girl… called Annarchy. (laughs)

Audience: Do you have a favorite strip that you’ve ever done?

Gabe: It’s tough… my favorite… well, it’s not really funny, but I feel really good about the most recent Cardboard Tube Samurai comic. The one where…

Tycho: Oh, at the Feast of Afterwinter.

Gabe: Yeah, I feel like I executed probably the best I ever have. As far as the funniest one, there’s one where Tycho gets a job as a Pet Santa, and the punchline is ‘A dog ate my testicles.’ I think that’s really funny. (crowd laughs)

Tycho: I always liked ‘They Hail From Canidon’, which is about a space-faring race of dog-men that come and dominate the Earth and put humanity through all sorts of indignities. I like it.

Audience: I wanted to thank you for two specific comics: The one where Gabe’s hand smells like shit. And the one where he has a dream about Slippy and he’s gay…

(crowd laughs a bunch, drowning out something about ‘all young frogs experiment with…’)

Audience: Have you ever read comics and felt like ‘Those guys totally ripped me off’, as far as characters go? And do you notice that there aren’t many non-caucasion characters in the web-comic base?

Tycho: Web-comics base, so you’re not referring specifically to Penny Arcade, but that is a part of that…

Gabe: We had Dr. Dre. (crowd laughter)

Audience: I mean, like in the web comics community as a whole, like non-caucasion main characters…

Audience: Apple geeks!

Tycho: Ok, so that’s two examples… that may not be sufficient.

Audience: Black mage!

Tycho: Ok, Black Mage does not count.

Gabe: As far as ripping us off, there are certainly comic strips that I look at and think ‘this guy was probably influenced by us’, but the fact is that I’m influenced by other people…

Tycho: Have you ever seen the cartoon Kimpossible?

Gabe: Yeah, Steven Silver. For the first couple years that we were doing Penny Arcade, we would go to San Diego… I knew he was there, and I was afraid to show him my work, just because I figured he’d choke me or something…

Tycho: And he was super-cool.

Gabe: Every artist has to start out somewhere. I started out with guys like Steven, and if there are people now starting up their webcomics and they’re looking like Penny Arcade, well, that feels pretty good.

Tycho: Worse things have probably happened. Now, as far as non-caucasians… now are you talking about creators, or in terms characters themselves?

Audience: Creators.

Tycho: Well, I can’t speak to that. I know there’s a reason why a lot of times in Penny Arcade, characters of color don’t show up, and this is totally ironic, are you ready for this? It’s because we’re afraid of appearing racist. Like, we’re super-afraid that our drawing will be like a charicature of something, and people will get mad at us. I wish that that weren’t true, but it’s totally true.

Gabe: Plus, y’know, we also live in Seattle. (crowd laughs a bit)

Audience: Do you guys still read The Escapist?

Tycho: Oh, yeah.

Audience: Did you read Greg Costikyan’s article ‘Death To The Games Industry’?

Tycho: You mean his two part article, right?

Audience: Yeah. What did you think about that?

Tycho: Well, I had listened to his keynote address that he did at GDC, and he basically just enhanced the ideas he had presented there. It’s a pretty powerful piece.

Audience: But what do you think about it? About the distribution framework for publishers and developers…

Tycho: I think it’s totally fucked up. I think that’s well known… I think that he simply phrased things that people understood. I don’t think there’s a lot of people, outside of Electronic Arts, that feel like it’s working well.

Audience: What about his proposed solution?

Tycho: I’m not sure if I read the second part of the article. What was it?

Audience: Well, he basically thinks Steam is the best thing to happen…

Tycho: Oh, ok, like digital delivery, basically?

Audience: Right, and he also wants to cut out publishers entirely.

Tycho: Well, digital delivery is great for people who play games on PCs…

Gabe: … or have a Phantom. (lots of crowd laughter)

Tycho: As far as digital delivery goes, I’m a huge proponent of it, and I’m really excited by the idea of episodic content as delivered through a service like Steam. But, I mean, most of the people playing games aren’t playing them on PCs, they’re playing them on consoles. So that really isn’t a complete solution for what I see as the issue.

Audience: Like a lot of people here, I’m sure, I post on your forum quite a bit, and you guys used to show up there every once in awhile…

Tycho: (whispers) … terrified…

Audience: … so I was wondering, do you look at your forum at all anymore, and what is your attitude towards it now?

Gabe: I always read the new comic thread, I always read that at least. I don’t always post in it, but I always read it. And I catch some of the stuff in the PAX forum and the artists forum, and stuff like that, but I don’t really post that much. I’m not very good at it. The first couple times I did it, I didn’t know there were weird rules about signing…

Tycho: You broke the forum rules?

Gabe: Yeah, I broke my own forum rules and then banned me. And I deleted the entire forum…

Tycho: I still can’t get my head around forums… that method of communication is impossible for me. Like, I can’t keep track of it. I’ll think “Ok, well, now it’s time for me to contribute something”, and then the next post is like “KITTIES!” (crowd laughs). And there’s these cats, and they’re in a basket, and I’m thinking “Well, they have an excellent point…” (more laughter).

Gabe: I think we can do one more question…

Audience: Gabe, are you going to start posting more in your sketchbook?

Gabe: Yeah, y’know, I didn’t realize it wasn’t there anymore until just recently. We’re going through some website changes, and I’d imagine that once the new site launches that I’ll set up another ‘sketchbook corner’. I still do sketch, and I still have those, I just need to get them up. So when you see a new website, shortly after you should see a new sketchbook.

Audience: When do you think that might be?

Gabe: God, I hope soon… we’ve been working on it for awhile.

Tycho: It was supposed to be at PAX, if that tells you anything. Ok, well, listen… thank you very much everybody… (raucous cheering and applause follows). Thank you so much for coming, everybody… we’ve gotta grab our bags and run. Thank you for enduring us for the last two hours. I’m still unsatisfied with my response to one of your questions, so the next time I come back I’ll do more stuff. I’ll have a powerpoint presentation for ya. Alright, see ya guys…

Since their MIT appearance, Penny Arcade’s revamped website did indeed launch, and their 4th annual Child’s Play fundraiser pulled together an astounding $605,000 in cash, gifts, and games for kids at Children’s Hospitals around the world.

Again, ‘Penny Arcade Vol. 1: Attack Of The Bacon Robots!‘, which collects the first two years of PA, along with a bunch of new content, is available this week at bookstores, comic shops, and online retailers. I’ll be grabbing mine today at the newly remodeled Comicopia.

(updated on 1/25 to add: Rian has made an easily printable .pdf file of the entire transcript available over at his site. It’s 30 pages long, and 197kb. Very cool.)


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    Brian Sullivan)
    2 shows @ the Burren

    Saturday, June 25th
    @ Crystal Ballroom

    Saturday, June 25th
    Black Helicopter
    @ ONCE @ Boynton Yards

    Saturday, June 25th
    Will Dailey
    @ Club Passim

    Monday, June 27th
    Ty Segall
    & Freedom Band
    @ the Royale

    Thursday, June 30th
    The Besnard Lakes
    @ O'Brien's

    Saturday, July 2nd
    Steely Dan
    The Doobie Brothers
    Aimee Mann
    @ the Xfinity Center

    Wednesday, July 6th
    @ the Sinclair

    Thursday, July 7th
    Martha's Vineyard Ferries
    @ the Sinclair

    Friday, July 8th
    Camp Cope
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, July 9th
    Kid Gulliver
    @ the Jungle

    Saturday, July 9th
    Will Dailey
    @ City Winery Boston

    Sunday, July 10th
    Brian Wilson
    @ the Xfinity Center

    Tuesday, July 12th
    The Psychedelic Furs
    @ House of Blues

    Friday, July 15th
    Bikini Kill
    Alice Bag
    @ the Wang

    Saturday, July 16th
    Circle Jerks
    Negative Approach
    @ the House of Blues

    Thursday, July 21st
    Elf Power
    E.R. Jurken
    @ Crystal Ballroom

    Friday, July 22nd
    Beach House
    Mary Lattimore
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, July 23rd
    The Cult
    Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
    Zola Jesus
    @ Some Bank Pavilion

    Saturday, July 23rd
    @ the Sinclair

    Tuesday & Wednesday
    July 26th & 27th
    The Weather Station
    @ Roadrunner

    Wednesday, July 27th
    Tim Heidecker
    @ the Wilbur

    Wednesday, July 27th
    Elton John
    @ Gillette Stadium

    Wednesday, July 27th
    Nada Surf
    @ the Beachcomber

    Thursday, July 28th
    Christian Lee Hutson
    Another Michael
    @ Cafe 939

    Thursday, Friday, & Saturday
    July 28th, 29th, & 30th
    NICE, a fest
    with Speedy Ortiz, Future Teens,
    Colleen Green, House of Harm,
    Lady Pills, Hallelujah The Hills,
    Bat House, Maneka, shallow pools,
    and many, many more
    @ the Rockwell & Crystal Ballroom
    in Davis Square, Somerville

    Friday, July 29th
    The Black Keys
    Band of Horses
    @ the Xfinity Center

    Saturday & Sunday
    July 30th & 31st
    Hop Along
    @ the Sinclair

    Wednesday, August 3rd
    Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
    @ the Sinclair

    Wednesday, August 3rd
    Fleet Foxes
    @ the Pavilion

    Thursday, August 4th
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, August 6th
    @ the Paradise

    Sunday, August 7th
    Lost 80's Live
    with Flock of Seagulls,
    Missing Persons, Naked Eyes,
    Stacey Q, Tommy Tutone, and
    Annabella’s Bow Wow Wow
    @ the Indian Ranch
    in Webster, MA

    Friday, August 12th
    Rise Against
    The Used
    Senses Fail
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, August 13th
    Joyce Manor
    Prince Daddy & the Hyena
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, August 13th
    Here and There Festival
    with Courtney Barnett,
    Lucy Dacus, Men I Trust
    Faye Webster, The Beths
    Bartees Strange, & Hana Vu
    @ Mass MoCA

    Sunday, August 14th
    The Damned
    @ the Pavilion

    Monday, August 15th
    Elvis Costello & the Imposters
    Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets
    @ the Pavilion

    Monday, August 15th
    Franz Ferdinand
    @ the House of Blues

    Tuesday, August 16th
    Goo Goo Dolls
    @ Some Bank Pavilion

    Tuesday, August 16th
    Peter Hook & the Light
    Playing Joy Division's
    "Closer" & "Unknown Pleasures"
    @ the Paradise
    Thursday, August 18th
    Horse Jumper of Love
    @ the Sinclair

    Thursday, August 18th
    Sharon Van Etten
    Julien Baker
    Angel Olsen
    @ the Pavilion

    Saturday, August 20th
    Richard Mirsky (record release!)
    Kid Gulliver
    Chris Brokaw
    @ the Cantab Lounge

    Sunday, August 21st
    The Decemberists
    Brigid Mae Power
    @ Roadrunner

    Monday, August 22nd
    Comedy Bang! Bang!
    with Scott Aukerman,
    Paul F Tompkins, & more
    @ the Chevalier

    Monday, August 22nd
    Los Campesinos!
    @ the Sinclair

    Friday, August 26th
    @ Xfinity Center

    Friday, August 26th
    Sleigh Bells
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, August 27th
    The Shins
    play "Oh, Inverted World"
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, August 27th
    Aoife O'Donovan
    Hiss Golden Messenger
    @ Lowell Summer Music Series
    @ Boarding House Park

    Saturday, August 27th
    Local Natives
    @ House of Blues

    Wednesday, August 31st
    Built to Spill
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, September 3rd
    @ the Paradise

    Sunday, September 4th
    The Ocean Blue
    @ City Winery

    Wednesday, September 7th
    Neko Case
    Sean Rowe
    @ Emerson Colonial Theatre

    Friday, September 10th
    Crowded House
    @ the Wang

    Friday, September 10th
    Red Hot Chili Peppers
    St. Vincent
    @ Fenway Park

    Monday, September 13th
    Echo & the Bunnymen
    @ the House of Blues

    Monday, September 13th
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Tuesday, September 14th
    Porcupine Tree
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Tuesday, September 14th
    Arlo Parks
    @ Roadrunner

    Thursday & Friday
    September 15th & 16th
    They Might Be Giants
    'Flood' 30th anniversary
    @ the Royale

    Thursday & Friday
    September 15th & 16th
    @ the Sinclair

    Saturday, September 17th
    The Afghan Whigs
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, September 17th
    Roxy Music
    @ the Garden

    Saturday, September 17th
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, September 18th
    The Dream Syndicate
    40th Anniversary Tour
    playing "The Days of Wine & Roses"
    & more @ the Crystal Ballroom

    Saturday, September 18th
    Julia Jacklin
    Kara Jackson
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, September 18th
    Heaven 17
    @ City Winery

    Monday, September 19th
    @ the Paradise

    Monday, September 19th
    New Order
    Pet Shop Boys
    @ Some Bank Pavilion

    Tuesday, September 20th
    @ the Royale

    Wednesday, September 21st
    @ the Royale

    Thursday, September 22nd
    The National
    @ Roadrunner

    Tuesday, September 27th
    The Shins
    play "Oh, Inverted World"
    @ Roadrunner

    Wednesday, September 28th
    The Goon Sax
    @ the Wang

    Friday, September 30th
    The B-52s (farewell tour)
    KC & the Sunshine Band
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Saturday, October 1st
    Kid Gulliver
    @ the Jungle

    Saturday, October 1st
    Death Cab For Cutie
    @ Some Bank Pavilion

    Monday, October 3rd
    Sunny Day Real Estate
    The Appleseed Cast
    @ the House of Blues

    Monday, October 3rd
    The Killers
    Johnny Marr
    @ the Garden

    Tuesday, October 4th
    @ Roadrunner

    Tuesday, October 4th
    The Gaslight Anthem
    Jeff Rosenstock
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
    October 7th, 8th, & 9th
    "As Summer Into Autumn Slips" 3 days of music featuring...
    Day 1: Surprise Me Mr. Davis,
    Marco Benevento Trio, & William Tyler
    Day 2: The Slip, WOLF! (featuring
    Scott Metzger), & William Tyler
    Day 3: The Slip, Club d'Elf,
    & William Tyler
    @ Soundcheck Studios, Pembroke

    Saturday, October 8th
    Billy Bragg
    Alice Phoebe Lou
    @ the Wilbur

    Sunday, October 9th
    30th Anniversary of
    "Bricks Are Heavy" tour
    @ Big Night Live

    Tuesday, October 11th
    @ TD Garden

    Sunday, October 16th
    Smashing Pumpkins
    Janes Addiction
    @ the Garden

    Monday, October 17th
    House of Love
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Thursday, October 20th
    June of 44
    @ the Middle East Down

    Saturday, October 22nd
    Weakened Friends
    @ the Sinclair

    Sunday, October 23rd
    Illuminati Hotties
    Olivia Barton
    @ the Sinclair

    Monday, October 24th
    Kevin Morby
    @ the Sinclair

    Tuesday, October 25th
    @ the House of Blues

    Tuesday & Wednesday
    October 25th & 26th
    @ the Sinclair

    Saturday, November 5th
    Let's Eat Grandma
    @ the Sinclair

    Sunday, November 6th
    Soccer Mommy
    Lightning Bug
    @ House of Blues

    Tuesday, November 8th
    Arcade Fire
    @ MGM Fenway Music Hall

    Tuesday & Wednesday
    November 8th & 9th
    Alex G
    @ the Paradise

    Tuesday, November 15th
    The Menzingers
    play "On The Impossible Past"
    Touché Amoré
    Screaming Females
    @ the Paradise

    Wednesday, November 16th
    The Chills
    @ City Winery Boston

    Wednesday, November 30th
    @ the Sinclair