I like the new guy we’ve got here - that is to say, Father Ward - a lot. I would never presume to tell you that Penny Arcade had scaled the sheer rock face of visual storytelling and returned to earth with wisdom for mankind. But I do think a strip like this one shows how we might have done something differently earlier in the site’s history, and for some reason it is striking me as interesting at the moment.
I’m not sure that the form straight man/complete nutroll could ever be exhausted, even by ourselves, who have been almost merciless in our zeal for it. There’s something there for everybody. You can find something about some facet of that archetypical depiction that is going to hit the spot, one of those characters will resemble yourself, or whatever, which represents the unstoppable beauty of it. It’s like Cracker Jack. Some people enjoy eating delicious caramel corn mixed with peanuts, they just do, and I don’t begrudge them that. Some people, for whatever reason, enjoy eating small plastic toys.
As early as two years ago, I started to feel a little strange about having a character like “Chuck.” Many people seemed to enjoy it, and I don’t blame them for doing so, because it simply executes the ancient formula (irresistible to our species) described above. It just plays to the most ludicrous stereotypes and runs with it, but it wasn’t terribly rewarding to perform. Charles represented a fun way to have our cake and eat it too, someone who might get reamed in a joke, but was capable of playing either side, not to mention that he was now an actual character. We did a similar thing in strips that take place at whatever anonymous software store we go to in the comic. We’ll always have some Bob-variant register biscuit just because it’s a guilty pleasure. But we introduced Frank - who Gabe claims just “fell out of his pencil” when he was trying to draw a faceless jackass - because he’s just more enjoyable to work with. I mean, we don’t even need to give the bastard dialogue and he can carry a strip. It might seem like he’s in there to represent “evil EB employees,” or something, but we probably prefer him to our own avatars. In essence, it’s still a fairly straightforward form being deployed, but I think we would have been satisfied with the “usual suspects” before - utterly ridiculous entities engaged in utter ridiculousness. That context of zaniness still exists, for some reason it was maintained, but we began to make a few whole people to fill the roles at some point.
Like I said up at the top, I enjoy Father Ward. He’s not a jackass, and he’s not meant to be irreverent. Also, I’ve always wanted to have a radio show in here somewhere. Who knows why a person would feel compelled to put a radio show in a their comic strip, but there you have it. The character is actually introduced with two strips, one was going to run next week, but we liked it enough to give it to Club PA members this month. They also got the kick-ass Scott Thigpen piece we commissioned, so, not a bad take for whatever you choose to pay in dues. Obviously, it’s not too late to get get your hands on either.
Also, some of our plans for next month’s ads fell through, which leaves us with a ton o’ space left over and nothing to put up there. That’s good and bad I suppose, but if it were up to me I’d like to have stuff in that spot. You can get ads up on the site for a week or a month, either is fine, don’t be a stranger. Drop us a line if you would like us to activate the love machine.
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