Wednesday, 27 June 2007


For some reason, when I was writing my post for today, I pressed backspace, and Firefox decided I had to go back to a previous page. I screwed up, and for that I apologise profusely, but tomorrow I have an exam and I need to study a bit, so... On Watchmen will have to wait for tomorrow.
A better one, hopefully. In the meantime, have fun

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Getting started: On XKCD

Late delivery, I know. Most unprofessional. Bear with me, people, it's been a rough day, and all I have to soothe my rather violent re-entry into atmosphere, so to speak, is a bottle of Bailey's and a glass. Right now what I need most is a warm pillow and a good night's sleep, but I don't think I'll get that if I don't calm my rather talkative conscience dissecting XKCD.
So, I'm gonna do what any self-respecting so-called journalist would do given my circumstances... I'm gonna half-ass a post. Aaaaaaaaand there we go:

XKCD is the quintessential geek comic. No wonder a lot of the time I find myself thinking: "It's funny because it's true". No one is safe from Randall Munroe and his wonderfully simple sense of humor. Secret agents, mathematicians, role players, lovers, philosophers, roommates and raptors alike are all portrayed through the unusual view (its madness lenses, to say it in a not entirely inaccurate simile) that is XKCD's real deal breaker. Even, occasionally, your mother enjoys the treatment.

Nights like these find me wondering...

I'll be very brief. It's difficult to talk about XKCD with any amount of precision. There's no familiar characters, no storylines, not even a regular, coherent style. Everything, from it's lackadaisical title to its seemingly infinite range of register and tone seems absolutely, marvelously random. However, there's a sense of hope, a continued optimistic philosophy that brings coherence to the strip. And that may be the single reason why I am in love with its antics.

If life gives you lemons...

Don't ask me why, because I sincerely have no idea, but XKCD consistently makes me chuckle. Maybe I will not engage in side-splitting laughter, maybe rolling on the floor is not bound to occur, but XKCD always brings a smile to my face. A simple pleasure, you might say. True, but it's also true that it's more than enough to relief the hopelessness, the lack of purpose in an often all too weary world.
So, give it an opportunity. It's random, it's quirky, it's weird, but it's also, for reasons that I don't begin to understand, one of the sweetest comics out there.

Tomorrow: Brief reccess: On Watchmen, movies and significance. A reflection on a reader's worst fears

Monday, 25 June 2007

Walking amongst monsters: On Goats

Goats, created by Jonathan Rosenberg, is weird. I know, I know, it is not the most revealing opening sentence ever to be written, but... it just had to be said. When you are confronted with something so devoid of logic, so mind-bogglingly absurd, so... so Goats, one has to utter the most inane statement that comes to mind, in order to keep a semblance of coherence. And I have been exposed to Goats far more than it would be necessary. Because I love you, guys.

Slipping sanity

Goats has too bizarre a premise to describe in a few words. It started as your average self deprecating imaginary journal (which is, in itself, quite strange), starring Jon, Jewish guy extraordinaire, and Philip. You know, the drunk. Those were the calm and mellow days of 1997, quiet, simpler times. However, things were about to change.
With the introduction of Diablo, satanic chicken, and Toothgnip, mythical animal and ladies goat, the tone of the strip quickly escalated into the realm of the surreal. Not long after that, Jerrel, intensely deranged programmer, Neil and Bob, omnisexual extraterrestrials, and Fish were introduced. I don't think I need to tell you what Fish is.
At some point, Diablo adopts and egg that will eventually spawn Oliver, a chain-smoking, profanity-spouter, violently psychopathic itty bitty chicken, and brutal antagonist. But it gets even better: Diablo has a penchant for launching on wild tangential tirades about his adventures with Shazam Twix, that usually pit them against Gregor Mendel, father of genetics and evil mastermind. Of course, Jon and Philip tend to discard Diablo's ramblings as the demented babbling of his usually incoherent mind. You probably know where this is going...

A turn for the worse

But, of course, in a world like the one Goats depicts, if something can go wrong, it'll go wrong. And so, I give you Gregor Mendel. Shazam Twix existence is still enshrouded in mistery, and he could be just a figment of Diablo's imagination (to his credit, Diablo has had weirder things happen to him in the past).
This is where things start to get complicated (oh, you haven't even know complicated yet. Listen, rising 7 children to be the top executives in the 7 most active multinationals, compared to a Goats plot summary? Child's play). During their encounter, Mendel installs a soldier routine in Fish's brain, making him a killing machine on fins. Thus, he becomes Fineas, and then Fish back again, and again Fineas. It's sorta complicated.
Anyway, shortly after the first Fineas-Fish transition, Philip and Jon journey to the center of the universe, specifically, God's Condo (you can't make up stuff like this, people), to try and solve the ages old debate: atheism versus agnosticism. When they get there, they meet God, who is apparently fascinated with pirates, and trick him into turning into a pork chop. Which they eat. God is dead.

The problem with deities

Mainly, that their disappearance screws up the universe. When Woody Allen, God's assistant, confesses that unless the program that runs the universe on a laptop computer is mended, every one on every universe will die, our heroes, anti-heroes, and everyone and his mother rises up to the challenge and starts looking for the Programmer, a creature part myth, part God, part drunk. From then on, I fear you must read yourself. Really. I couldn't possibly describe something so ridiculously random, and, at the same time, full of sense and motive. I shit you not.

Die, die, die

For some reason I love Goats, I love it with a passion that is usually reserved to far more intimate acts. Is it because of the sheer randomness of it all? Is it because of the deliciously intrincate storylines? Is it because of the carefully crafted dialogues, with just enough weirdness to keep you laughing, but not enough to make you feel ashamed? Honestly, I couldn't tell. What I think about Goats, can't be said in words, because it's not a fully conscious reaction. I feel an intense addiction, an unexplainable one, at that.
Funny thing is, the first time I tried to plough through the rather extensive archives, I was discouraged. I couldn't finish it for the life of me. However, one day, much, much later, I decided to try again. I mean, everyone was saying so nice things about it, what could I lose? Man, was I a fool. Here I am, two years later, still staring catatonically at my monitor, refreshing my screen compulsively, anxiously waiting for the next instalment.
And, before you ask... Yes, I've got it bad.
My advice, you say? Read it, read it, READ IT! For fuck's sake, what are you still doing here?

Tomorrow: Getting started: On XKCD

Friday, 22 June 2007

Standing on the shoulders of giants: On Ctrl-Alt-Del

Ctrl-Alt-Del is written, drawn, published and maintained by Tim Buckley, also known as Absath. CAD, for short, centers around the lives of dedicated idiot Ethan and sarcastic straight man Lucas, a pair of twenty-somethings devoted to their love of videogames. You are starting to notice the trend here, aren't you?

Behavioural patterns

Don't worry, you aren't turning into a paranoid. The zany adventures of a pair of roommates in their twenties is almost a staple of the webcomic genre. Now, let me ask you to exercise your mind. Imagine...
Imagine that someone had an idea before you. It may be a good idea, so good, in fact, that you just can let the opportunity presented go to waste. Imagine there's people out there that are near universally regarded as the most upstanding example of what your idea represents. Wouldn't you be tempted to use at least some of that material in your best interest? It wouldn't be blatantly copying, mind you, think of it more like borrowing some change until you get back on your feet. Call it inspiration, if you will.
That's exactly what Tim Buckley did with CAD: he took what was possibly the most successful self-published strip on the net at the time, Penny Arcade, and he... Well, drew his inspiration from there. There's nothing wrong with it, mind you, lots of webcomics out there right now, at least at the very beginning, wanted to be the new Penny Arcade by copying the old one in more or less blatant fashion. It gives you a head start in finding your own voice and style. However, this head start comes at a price, namely, greatly limiting you when exploring new avenues of expression, in other words, when you try to do your thing.
And that's precisely where CAD suffers, when the time comes for Tim Buckley to stand out, to make his own jokes, to be himself. Not because he is a bad cartoonist, not because he can't come up with good jokes. When the time comes, he is as good a jester as anyone else. The problem there is that the characters have already established themselves, they have a voice of their own, a philosophy of life, if you will. And that voice is probably not what Tim Buckley really intended. Ethan looks like Tycho and acts like Gabe at his most exalted. Lucas has his own look, but he has a bitterly sarcastic style, not unlike Tycho when he rants about his legendary hatred for humanity. Of course, being established characters, anything that deviates from usual or expected behaviour is going to feel forced. Now, this was all fine and dandy, until CAD started being an story-driven comic.

As the story goes...

Most criticism to CAD stems from the fact that it borrows heavily from the master formula Holkins and Krahulik established. I, however, believe that it is when it deviates from that path that CAD is at its weakest. Here's why:
Tycho and Gabe were designed for a gag-a-day strip, in which continuity is no object, whereas CAD, although still a comic strip, started making heavy use of continuity. In other words, it told a story. And good stories need introspection, evolution and quiet reflection on said evolution by the characters. Tycho and Gabe aren't equipped to deal with that, nor do they have any reason to be. Ethan and Lucas, however, do need exactly that.

I am woman, hear me roar

So, sometimes, for the sake of the story, both of them have to deviate from their established pattern, and it doesn't feel right at all. Tim Buckley, of course, immediately realises that, and comes up with what I personally think is the biggest mistake he has ever made.
Enter Lilah, sexual tension device and girl gamer.
I may come off as a grim and bitter fellow, but if there's something to be learnt about the way women are portrayed in three of the most influential webcomics, it's that we, as a species, have failed miserably. I know not everyone can write for female characters effectively. I, for one, am horrible at it. But Lilah is so stilted, so defined by her stereotype of female gamer out to prove that she can play with the best of them, that it misses that point entirely. I'm not asking for wapsi girls, nor a Candi of sorts, not even Doras or Fayes, a passingly believable female would suffice. I'm well aware girl gamers exist, but the ones that I know feel real, not like a walking clichè, and Lilah just isn't up to the task. No cookie for her.

Good endings come to those who wait

Do I think that Tim Buckley is a bad writer because of that? No, not at all. I sincerely think few people could have found a more elegant way of handling that situation. Do I think that he made a decision without really considering the consequences it could have for the strip? Not really. He has probably studied carefully the model he used for his characters. The problem there is that when he realised that he wasn't really planning to do something that was right and fitting for these kind of characters, it was already too late, and people had already started loving them.
The fact that there are more links in this post to other comics than there are to CAD may be misleading. I don't really think CAD is a bad strip. I just think it's much worse than it could have been, because Buckley is a master of his trade, that trade being comedy. He is witty, he has a fantastic sense of time, pauses and opportunity. If only he had created something from scratch, we could be talking of one of the best webcomics out there. Things as they are, it's nothing more than a enjoyable strip among the thousands there are on the Internet. Still, a very, very popular one, which is a quite a feat on its own.

On Monday: Walking amongst monsters: On Goats

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Under the shadow of the Behemoth: On PvP

PvP is one of the most referenced webcomics, both in and outside the diffuse boundaries of the webcomics scene. The product of the artistic style and cunning, nostalgia-fueled sense of humor that is the trade mark of Scott Kurtz, PvP follows the daily lives of the staff of a game magazine, called "Player versus Player", or "PvP" for short.

More than meets the eye

Now, contrary to what this setup may have you believe, videogames take a back seat to the real meats of the story: the interactions between the characters, resolved in a style very reminiscent of classic 80's sitcoms.
The staff of this magazine comprises a wide variety of stereotypes, all worth taking a close look at:
First, there's the gentle boss and enthusiastic Game Master, Cole Richards, generally calm and understanding, the eye of the storm of wackiness and madness that takes place around him. He is, under most circumstances, the straight man, there to react to the bizarre antics of the rather deranged staff, and to voice the author's opinions and frustrations from time to time.
Secondly, there's Brent Sienna, Cole's long time friend and resident snarky mac user at the office. My best guess is that he is the art director or some such, but it's not like we ever see him working (I know this gets asked a lot, but... what do people in sitcoms do to earn their wages, exactly?) To his credit, he does attend a lot of meetings, but still...
Skull is the office... troll. It is unclear whether he is a figment of their collective conscious or if he is real. But, since he works as much as everyone else in the office (meaning nothing at all), he is welcome with open arms by everyone. Except for Brent, who treats them with the scorn he reserves to... Actually, he just treats everyone equally badly.
There's Francis, the eternally fifteen year old intern. The stereotypical teenage boy, as shallow as a puddle, and as cutely insecure as a wet puppy. He probably is the physical embodiment of Mr. Kurtz's inner child.
Francis should be in love with Marcy, PvP's teenaged desk girl, but he is way too much of a doofus teenage to handle real emotions, so he replaces them with a mix of stumped empathy, misguided care, angsty pleas for attention and raging jealousy. Oh, to feel again the awkward charm of first loves, am I right?
There's also Jade Fontaine, whose character swings wildly between The Girl Brent Wants To Bang Oh So Badly and The Common Sense Voice In A World Often Gone Completely Nuts. And deaf, apparently, because no one ever listens to her.
And then, there's Lusty Jade, also known as Miranda Fontaine. Unlike her sister, her mood dial seems to be stuck in the The Girl Everyone Wants To Bang position, since her entire personality seems to be built around this trait. She's currently on a relationship with the token black guy, Reggie.
Reggie is... Well, black. And blind. Something about him just screams "silent minority" Well, except for the fact that he isn't a mute. Not that he couldn't be, mind you, he doesn't talk all that much. He doesn't even work in the company, just hangs around from time to time. He is a long time friend of both Cole and Brent. Apparently, he is based on a real person, a friend of Scott Kurtz.
And finally, there's the villain. Well, not a villain exactly. Lets call him the pompous winner for the purposes of this discussion. Max Powers is good at what he does, and he knows it. He has that aura of success that is so difficult to resist for those around him. Of course, the fact that people can't resist him doesn't mean that they like him. For example, in a recent storyline, Max Powers buys PvP to save it from bankruptcy. Still, he is as naive as he is fortunate, it seems, because he is bullied by the very people he has helped.

I walk a path most perilous, following the laws... of sitcoms

Now, remember the starting point: this is a videogame magazine. They are a complete staff, with art director, editor, writers and even an adorably incompetent mascot. However, no one is seen writing, going to events or doing anything remotely resembling work. And don't even get me started on finances. Firstly, in the sitcom world of PvP, finances move at the speed of plot. However inevitable it may seem that the company has entered the maddening spiral leading to bankruptcy (you know, with no one working and all), there's always something that saves the day at the last possible moment. Secondly, money is no issue. Seriously, you need to buy a supposedly popular magazine? Forget that boring paperwork, just sign a cheque for a couple million to the right guy and you have climbed the first rung of the ladder towards your very own information empire.
And this is a videogame magazine, people, for crying out loud, at least play videogames. You don't even need to talk about them, just grab a controller from time to time. Take screenshots or something! Well, I may have been a bit unfair, I guess Brent and Jade did play Everquest. That one time. And that was just because they had fallen out of love, and they realised how much they missed each other through the miracles of fan service, in an epic story arc spanning a whole year. In which they played Everquest together... Let me think... Once? Maybe twice? Seriously. They probably decided they didn't like videogames all that much, anyway.
By the way, Brent's character looks a lot like Max Powers because Kurtz was playing with the posibility that Jade's long distance lover was him instead of Brent. My guess is that he didn't decide until the last moment, but I don't really know.

Reach for the stars

In any case, enough with the gentle prodding, PvP is a worthwhile strip. It may have all the little quirks of a traditional TV sitcom, but for me, the real selling point of the comic are the characters. They may not be original, they may not be even likable, but it is clear Scott Kurtz cares a great deal about them. Cole, Brent, Francis, Skull and Jade are characters he feels a deep conection to, and he has a lot of fun writing for them. From the self-referential parody moments, to the all-out ridiculousness, their relationships and conversations are handled with exquisite care.These are aspects that you can tell just with a mere casual look over any strip. There's a lot of childish innocence in it, a lot of slapstick thrown in for good measure, and the almost inevitable pop culture references peppered through the strips, but they don't deter the enjoyment of the strip. Quite the opposite, they really add a flavor to the PvP recipe.
Still, while PvP may have some interesting interactions and dialogues, it won't blow your mind with amazingly groundbreaking ideas, nor will it ever follow the basic rules of economics. Instead, take it for what it is: a relationships comedy in a fairly new and refreshing setup, featuring all the characters you have come to know and love through probably way too many more hours of TV than is advisable for a healthy childhood. If you ask me, that's as good as it comes.

Damn the man

Just some final words on Scott Kurtz himself, because he certainly merits them. He is the official troublemaker of the webcomics community, second in his drama-creating skills only to D.J. Coffman (I shit you not, that is his real name, more on him in a while) Myself, I can't understand why, because he seems an all around nice guy, maybe a bit aggresively idealistic sometimes, and a bit too suspicious of other's success, but it isn't something you can really hold against him. But when the whole thing with micropayments blew over, he was one of the most combative parties, along with Jerry Holkins (Penny Arcade), Jonathan Rosenberg (Goats) and Scott McCloud (I have no idea what he does. He is important, though. For some reason). Maybe one day I'll share my thoughts on the issue.

Tomorrow: Standing on the shoulders of giants: On Ctrl-Alt-Del

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Innocence lost: On Penny Arcade

Lets whip out the big guns, shall we? Penny Arcade is the brainchild of creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, most known as their cartoon personas, John Gabriel and Tycho Brahe, artist and writer, respectively. Penny Arcade is the outspoken, ruthless maniac lurking and grinning coyly in the dangerous streets of the Interwebs. Strange as it may seem, it is also the rich kid of the block. To my knowledge, of all the webcomics I read, this is the only one that employs a person to manage their revenue, so massive is it. It also holds a charity event called Child's Play every year, with outstanding results. So, why has it become such a huge success when others of their kin struggle just to be on time with their updates? Read on for your answers.

These are not your grandparent's funnies

Penny Arcade is not for the faint of heart. There's profanity and violence galore, and no punches are pulled. If some developer is pushing back the release of a certain game endlessly, if a publisher has earned the scorn of a mob of enraged gamers, you can count on Gabe and Tycho to thrash them accordingly. There's a lot of commentary on pop culture, clichès on the gaming world and, of course, the latest developments in the videogame industry.
This description may lead you to think that Penny Arcade is nothing more than mindless entertainment for the hordes of geeks scouring the Internet, in search of their next hit of videogame culture. And this could very well have been the case, were it not for the literary prowess of a certain Jerry Holkins. He manages to give the characters a unique voice, a soul, if you will, without making them stilted or wooden. While it is true that Tycho is much more prone to bouts of genius than Gabe ever is (he is the writer's alter ego, after all), he is just as likely to behave as an idiot as Gabe. None of them has been the butt of the joke more times than the other. To illustrate this, there is a sort of recurring gag that has them inflicting horrible violence upon each other for a pac-man watch. Not to mention the cast of secondary characters, impressive in its range: from Charles the Mac fan, to Frank the disgruntled war veteran and owner of a game store, not to forget Brahe's 8 year old niece Anne "Anarchy" and his on-again, off-again boyfriend. There's sparks of brilliance everytime some character speaks, and there's a stroke of genius in their interactions. A writer, even one with a talent as meandering as mine, must pay respect to that.

Brilliance in soup

However, all this does not make a comic strip as popular as theirs is. So, what's the real reason of their unequaled success? The answer, my friends, is in a madman's ramblings.
Enter carrot cake soup. Read. Now.
Tycho's pieces of writing (rants, in webcomic slang) are deliciously malicious, arrogantly insane. These may be the ramblings of a madman, but make no mistake, he is an astoundingly lucid madman. A madman whose insanity has beaten his mind so mercilessly that it has turned into a raging, pulsating ice cold diamond of reason. He serves us slices of his madness with some side dishes of witty banter, and we eat it up. And, oh, how we delight in it. They were the first to discover the formula "come for the comic, stay for the rants", and they are still the best.

Execution style

However, Penny Arcade is not entirely without fault. The complete lack of any sort of continuity between strips makes it lose a lot of the depth it may have had. However, it has the advantage of allowing you to start reading from any point in the archives and still enjoy most of the jokes. It is exactly the opposite experience to what other continuity-heavy strips like Achewood provide, and none is without its merits.
A final warning: Penny Arcade is not at its core a gaming comic, it is the gaming comic. Actually, come to think of it, you haven't played a game in your life? They don't want you there. Seriously, just close the window and walk out of the room, head hung in shame. At least, that's what they said.
In all seriousness, I'm not much of a gamer myself, but I find the strip, and specially the rants, so mesmerizing that I can't resist returning. However, I can understand why most people wouldn't find their twisted sense of humor palatable. My best advice? Try it, it may be your cup of tea, but don't force it upon yourself. Maybe, just maybe, it's not your thing.

Tomorrow: Under the shadow of the Behemoth: On PvP

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Day 1: In which ground rules are set

Good news, everyone! First day in the life of a new blog, and its pristine words smell of promise and hope. Lets just hope it lives to see those promises fulfilled.
Because, see, I have this, what shall I call it?... condition that prevents me from maintaining enthusiasm for something I'm doing for more than just a few minutes. Shameful, really, I know. But still, I'm trying to improve, if only to stop embarrassing myself falling asleep at parties. Most awkward, of that I can assure you. This blog is part of the healing process. Here's hoping that it will be more successful than previous attempts to address said issue.
An attempt at failure
Let me be honest with you: this is the third blog I've started, in hopes of condensing the few remnants of reason and sanity I still hold on to. Sadly, former experiments have ended in tragedy or oblivion, mostly because, yes, you guessed it, I lost interest.
However, this time things seem to be looking up. "But, Dalian, what's so different this time?", you ask, suspicious, and for good reason. Well, for starters, I have been able to keep continued interest in the theme I plan to discuss on this blog for some years now. Secondly, it is a somewhat young and still evolving enterprise, so it should provide just enough drama, controversy and discussion, with just a hint of bitter odds and ends, to keep me hooked and wanting more.
I'm talking, of course, about webcomics.
Let that sink in for a minute. It's cool, I'm not going anywhere. Back already? Good, good, take a seat, don't be shy. Say, what do you think? I know, I know "Wow, webcomics, how innovative... It's not like there's already at least fifty hojillion blogs dealing with that issue. We always could use another webcomics blog" Now, let me clarify: I'm no Eric Burns, which, as far as I can tell, is the real authority in the field of webcomics discourse (and why has discourse always sounded so damn pompous to me?). I don't have any involvement with the industry, save for the fact that I've been a reader for a good four of five years now. I'm just the average self-righteous ass who thinks their opinions should be heard. Mostly because they are his.
So, why am I doing this? Right now, mostly on a whim. Out of desire. Partly, to build the discipline to write for a blog consistently (I'm aiming for a post every weekday, but no promises), and partly to spend the free time summer has generously provided me with . And, yeah, mainly because I consider my thoughts on this issue merit committing to scripture.

How to play
  • First and foremost, this isn't a comics review site. My trawl is far too limited and narrow to allow that. I'll only talk about comics I read, and it is safe to assume that the comics I read are comics I like. So, I won't be providing you with guidelines about what you should and shouldn't read. Rule of thumb here, anything mentioned on the blog is worth at least a look.
  • Does this mean I won't be mentioning any aspects I consider could use improvement? Hell no. The fact that I like these comics doesn't mean that I like all of them, all the time. Of course, there's comics I like more than others, but often my favourites shift depending on many variables, so nothing should be considered set in stone. Expect some vitriolic comments, and even the odd ruthless beating here and there, just for the hell of it. Don't say I didn't warn you.
  • Now, the update schedule. We tread slick territory here, people: I aim for Monday through Friday, but it is possible that I don't post for a couple weeks and then, in a furious swipe of blogging vengeance, do three posts a day for a week. These ocurrences, however, should be scarce and preceded by a warning.
  • Style. I'll try to avoid profanity, not because I specially dislike it, but because I want to keep my writings centered on the qualities of the comic, not the way I write about them, and swears always stand out. Still, I won't be avoiding it altogether. I also have quite a peculiar style, but I think you'll come to enjoy it.
  • Order. This is a difficult issue, and it's included here more as wishful thinking than factual truth. Originally, I thought I'd write in inverse alphabetical order (starting with xkcd and ending with 21 dead monkeys), but then a lot of the more obscure comics I read would be reviewed the first, thus with much more inexperience and ingenuity. I don't want to put you off reading certain comics just because of my sloppy writing, so I'll first review the big ones, the real heavyweights (Penny Arcade, PvP, Ctrl-Alt-Del, you know, the works), and then I'll start with the inverse alphabetical order. Because I'm weird like that.
  • When I look over my list of bookmarks, it dawns on me that most comics I read are pretty mainstream, but that won't deter me from posting about them. In fact, I'll start posting about the most popular ones, as a sort of test run for my style and flow (see above). I need my blogging hand to get used to the rhythm.
And that's about all you need to know for now. Tomorrow: Innocence lost: On Penny Arcade