Making Fun of Game Fun
Video game comics have been in existence for as long as the Internet has been capable of displaying images. While the traditional comic strip format doesn’t seem to be much loved anymore, gamers are oddly attracted to it. Is it because gamers typically love comics anyway? Or is it because gamers love to poke fun at games and gamers more than anyone else?
Who knows. But in any case, video game comics are great for a laugh, and over the years some have proven themselves as standing out from the crowd.
Founded over a decade ago, Penny Arcade has become much more than a web comic. There are games based off the Penny Arcade characters, all sorts of t-shirts, and even a gaming festival/convention known as the Penny Arcade Expo.
But it all started with the comic. Over the years, Penny Arcade’s popularity has allowed them to become more and more experimental, and not all of the comics continue to be based off gaming. Still, they revolve around gaming culture and more importantly, they remain some of the best. The style of Penny Arcade, including its thick-lined characters placed over obscured backgrounds, is commonly mimicked among other video game comics, as is the typical three-pane presentation.
As mentioned, Penny Arcade’s style is more experimental these days, but Penny Arcade’s back catalog is readily available. The old comics still hold up today, and are worth checking out.
Nearly a decade old itself, VG Cats has a fair bit of credit to give to Penny Arcade in terms of graphical style, although notably the main characters of VG Cats are, well, cats (the title of the comic is short for Video Game Cats). Still, VG Cats has managed to carve its own niche, most notably because of how consistently it has kept focused on its core topic - games.
Even today, after about nine years of strips, the VG Cats strips remain about games and almost exclusively games. And more importantly, they remain good. They remain funny and current to video game trends. As much as I love Penny Arcade, it can be disappointing if you’re looking for a laugh. Not all of the comics there are meant to be funny any longer, but with VG Cats a good chuckle is assured.
Kid Radd is an animated web comic which ran from 2002 to 2004. It, unlike Penny Arcade and VG Cats, is actually a finished web comic. There are no more episodes and will not ever be, unless there are some second thoughts on behalf of its author.
Even so, Kid Radd is still a funny and relevant web comic and is one of the best. Since it is a finished web comic, and indeed followed a story arc structure, it provides a more lasting impression than Penny Arcade or VG Cats. It is essentially a story, and it is a story worth following. Despite finishing six years ago, Kid Radd stands up to the test of time, probably because it focuses on some fairly core issues of video games. Agency, goals, and other such issues are made light of.
Kid Radd can be viewed online, or downloaded for viewing off line. Either way, I highly recommend it, particularly if you’re tired of more traditional web comics of the Penny Arcade style.