Do you remember the Jesse Thorn/Penny Arcade "feud"? "What Happened with those web comics guys…"

Hierophant

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,857
Sydney
Only recently saw this and it brought back some memories for sure.

This article is in response to this comic depicting the author as murdering Holkins and Krahulik:



Some choice quotes:
The guys showed up at my place in Silverlake (where we recorded at the time) an hour earlier than scheduled. They were confused about when our recording was supposed to start. (I don’t know if they miscommunicated with their team or what, but I later double-checked the scheduled time.) They were kind of peeved that we couldn’t start right away (Jordan was on his way over from west LA), but I offered them a seat and a drink and tried to chat.

They’d come with a video guy, who was shooting when I opened the door. They didn’t introduce him or explain his presence. I said hello to him, and he sort of nodded at me. I never learned his name. I tried to make small talk with them, and they weren’t having it. They were annoyed I had an XBox and not a Playstation. I guessed it was because they wanted to show me their game - one of them mumbled, “No. Demos.”
When Jordan showed, we pretty much went right into the studio and got started, trying to be mindful of their out time. In the first segment, we usually talk for a couple minutes, then introduce the guests. Literally from the moment we introduced them, they were stonewalling us. They seemed annoyed to be there, angry at us about the time thing, and generally unpleasant. Or actually I think one of them was pretty much totally silent, while the other was unpleasant. I took a break, and switched to trying to interview them in the next segment. They weren’t having that either. So I pretty much gave up and thought, “well, we’ll get enough show to use, and get them out on time, and decide what to do about all this later.” So we just sort of powered through the last 20 minutes or so. They left, and Jordan and I were basically like: “huh. That was weird.”
Then I started getting emails, like, “Have you seen Penny Arcade?!”

Basically they had made a comic in which I murdered them (which, by the way, included their publicist’s real name). They wrote an explanatory essay which was frankly pretty awful. They were nothing less than completely contemptuous of us (mostly me).

Frankly, I was completely stunned. It would never have occurred to me, even after they were so rude on the show and at my home, to publicly condemn them. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I didn’t really know what to do, and I knew their web power was a thousand times mine and I’d never win a fight. I posted something conciliatory on Twitter and hoped it would all go away. Something like, “It seems like it was all a misunderstanding.” Of course, they responded to my conciliation with more rudeness on their forum and on Twitter. Basically they were like, “Yeah, it was all a misunderstanding. We’d didn’t understand that guy was an asshole.”
For obvious reasons, we didn’t put out the show. We had a lot of fans who had been big Penny Arcade fans, and they were really curious about it. Their reactions to the news had been a real spectrum, from “wow, these guys I liked sure seemed like dicks” to “that’s those guys being those guys!” to “I guess it was just a misunderstanding.” Our fans being sweethearts, it was mostly the last one.

So finally, I figured it’d been a long time, and I’d post the show to our forum, so those folks who really loved JJGo could satisfy their curiousity. Shortly thereafter, the Penny Arcade guys hotlinked the show from their blog with a shitty note about me being “toxic.”

So a new wave of people emailing me, clogging up our forum, sending me shitty notes on the forum, tweeting at me and so forth started. A big conversation happened on their forum about how awful I was. Etc, etc, etc. So I took down the show and decided not to talk about it any more. I figured if I tried to defend myself, it would just start a new shitstorm.
Many times over the years, our fans have reached out to the Penny Arcade guys about it, on Twitter, on their forum, whatever. They’ve always declined to apologize or ever moderate their shittiness. When I added a show hosted in part by guys from video game world, I got a new round of emails and harassment - people saying “how could you team up with that creepy asshole” or whatever. Honestly, over six years, this has never stopped - it’s slowed, but it still crops up every other month or so.

Anyway, thanks to PAX, their video game con, they’re richer than me, they still have a lot more internet power than me, and I guess this all will probably start a new mini-wave of bullshit. But if you want to know what happened, that’s what happened. Since this all went down, the guys behind the comic have had a couple of big incidents involving stuff even shittier than what they did to me. We don’t really get our fans defending them anymore. Our fans are almost universally kind, thoughtful people, and these guys have show their colors many times. Unlike six years ago, when I was barely scraping by on a combination of donations and my wife’s law school loans, I’ve got a secure career doing what I love, with kids and a home and a car that works and everything I’ve ever wanted.
The PA guys come off as psychopathic here.
 

selfnoise

Member
Oct 25, 2017
430
I guess people still read that comic? Dunno, it's been a long time since Webcomics were hot anyhow. They had some bad transphobic vibes as well IIRC.
 

camelkong

Member
Feb 26, 2018
12
Yeah the guys from Penny Arcade have kind of a history with this stuff. Weird how they get away with it
 
Oct 28, 2017
718
Yeah, I thought it was pretty well known that the PA guys aren't great people, I stopped reading and stopped purchasing merch/books after the whole DickWolves debacle. (Obvious trigger warnings apply if you're going to look that up.)

It really grinds my gears when people post that strip of theirs about "Anonymous + Internet = Fuckwad" since it was disproven by the very people that made that comic.

It really sucks that Jesse Thorn is still dealing with harassment over something that happened 9-10 years ago!
 

Griselbrand

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,422
Jesse Thorn? Of Bullseye? Dude always comes across as a thoughtful and nice guy, didn't know he'd been targeted like this.
 

PepsimanVsJoe

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,832
I can't say I expected better from PA, but it's terrible that Jesse is still having to put up with decade-old shit.
 

Genryu

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
487
When you have a successful business and give to charity, you seem to get away with a lot of toxic shit.
 

SteveWinwood

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,595
USA USA USA
Jesse Thorn? Of Bullseye? Dude always comes across as a thoughtful and nice guy, didn't know he'd been targeted like this.
yes and he wore a bowtie!!

a bowtie!

The organism who answered the door had worn a bow tie - and I am not making this up - on purpose. The next forty-five minutes were spent engaged in absolutely the most stultifying kind of nonsense while we awaited the co-host.
from what ive seen of the two pa bozos im not sure why they think theyre allowed to critize anyones fashion choices
 

Messofanego

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,963
UK
Seriously, everything I've heard about Jesse Thorn is that he's a great, stand-up guy. I had no idea about this PA feud and it really makes the PA guys look bad.
They've been bad since the dickwolves incident (2010) for most people but glad you finally realised they ain't worth shit now better than later.
When you have a successful business and give to charity, you seem to get away with a lot of toxic shit.
Rich people can buy their reputation by donating to charity through tax loopholes so they can keep their profits. PA are no different, most likely.
 

SturokBGD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,835
Ontario
The thing with PA is that I'd be more shocked if a couple of maladjusted nerds didn't turn out to be pricks.

Which is no excuse. Just an observation.
 

Gentlemen

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,229
This happened the same year as the dickwolves thing so yeah mike and jerry were in top-gear dickhead speed.
 

Luigi87

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,359
I kept reading PA until very recently when I thought to myself, "Why am I still doing this?"
I haven't enjoyed it in many, many years, and I apparently would just load up the site the days it came out simply out of routine. I finally broke that routine and am glad for it. The comic in the OP is an example of the kind shift they had, and this is nine years ago! What was once a comic about playing video games is now... I don't really know, but clearly I needed to have stopped reading much longer ago.
 

batfax

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,870
So going by the post and Jesse Thorn's side of the event, this is all because the PA guys were kind of bored and uncomfortable by being at Thorn's house one time? Leading to a decade long debacle of harassment for no reason? Yeesh, talk about extreme.
 

Calles

Member
Nov 1, 2017
5,366
From what I gathered about the PA guys is that both were bullied growing up or had struggles, when they got popular they became the bullies. Not always nor to everyone but when they wanted to take a shot they did so with gutso. Some years back one of them kinda apologized for that and said he was going to do better. No idea if he did or not.
 

scottstephan

Member
Oct 27, 2017
309
At some point PA turned from “lol I’m so mad about a thing!” Into “I am legitimately rageful about something minor”. It always felt like a classic case of someone abused becoming the abuser when they have the power in their hands. Bummer!
 

VeePs

Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,763
I use to be a big fan of PA, not so much anymore. Gabe and Tycho kinda seem like jerks tho.

Maybe it was just a big misunderstanding, but I don't understand the point of calling someone else "toxic."
 

Bigg

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,485
Yeah, I remember being a PA forums regular when this happened and I had no idea who Thorn was at the time. Lots of people idolized PA at that time so no one really thought they could be exaggerating anything, and that Thorn must really have been a creep and an asshole.

As I've gotten older, my opinions of Mike (Gabe) and Jerry (Tycho) have definitely soured a bit - namely, Mike's constant doubling down on awful offensive jokes and Jerry being unwilling to call out his friend and enabling him by letting it slide. And really, the stuff that they're super famous for and made them a lot of money and fame - PAX - was masterminded almost entirely by their business manager, Robert Khoo, until he left and they sold the con to Reed Expo. They just got super lucky they had an extremely talented manager.

To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Thorn's sense of humor, but I have to give him credit for Maximum Fun, my favorite podcast network by a wide margin. If it wasn't for Thorn and MF we may have never gotten stuff like Judge John Hodgman or The Adventure Zone.

So yeah, in hindsight, I do think Thorn got unfairly fucked over.
 

Syril

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,875
From what I gathered about the PA guys is that both were bullied growing up or had struggles, when they got popular they became the bullies. Not always nor to everyone but when they wanted to take a shot they did so with gutso. Some years back one of them kinda apologized for that and said he was going to do better. No idea if he did or not.
Years ago Mike had posted a whole thing where he was talking about how he had been a bully his whole life and was always in denial because he used verbal abuse instead of physical abuse. It sounded sincere at the time, but I stopped reading it a long time ago so I don't know if he followed through at all.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,497
The organism who answered the door had worn a bow tie - and I am not making this up - on purpose.
"I slept a full thirteen hours in a black sleep which was beyond dreaming. That’s how long it took for my skin to excrete our experience with Jesse Thorn, thereby returning my body to normal function."
"They managed to bring out a side of Gabriel that I’ve only seen three or four times in twelve years, and only once directed at me: the implacable judge who becomes (without warning) the unadorned aggressor."


Ew.
Writes like the kinda guy that refers to all women exclusively as "females."
 

Syril

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,875
"I slept a full thirteen hours in a black sleep which was beyond dreaming. That’s how long it took for my skin to excrete our experience with Jesse Thorn, thereby returning my body to normal function."
"They managed to bring out a side of Gabriel that I’ve only seen three or four times in twelve years, and only once directed at me: the implacable judge who becomes (without warning) the unadorned aggressor."


Ew.
Writes like the kinda guy that refers to all women exclusively as "females."
Yeah it's honestly kind of disturbing how much of their rants were them talking about being assholes to people for literally no reason. Also they used to dox people.
 

Calles

Member
Nov 1, 2017
5,366
Years ago Mike had posted a whole thing where he was talking about how he had been a bully his whole life and was always in denial because he used verbal abuse instead of physical abuse. It sounded sincere at the time, but I stopped reading it a long time ago so I don't know if he followed through at all.
Pretty sure that's the case, he made a post about how he would burn down a house for a chance of the embers getting someone he hated. Then at a point later he posted what you spoke about.
 

Kurdel

Member
Nov 7, 2017
10,132
God I remember this, what assholes.

After all is said and done, Penny Arcade was an accurate reflection of gamer culture.
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,972
I've known about this for years. If Thorn hadn't been around, Maximum Fun wouldn't exist. I'm glad they didn't tear him down.
 

Curufinwe

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,396
PA was always terrible. I remember them going after journalists who dared to give the first Assassin’s Creed game scores below 8/10.
 

Krejlooc

Indie Game Dev
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
20,440
The penny-arcade forums are a shitshow and it starts at the very top.
 

PepsimanVsJoe

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,832
WTF @ that comic.
These guys have been following the industry since forever ago, and yet still felt it necessary to fly into a psychopathic rage over something as common as a game cancellation.
 

Sixfortyfive

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,230
WTF @ that comic.
These guys have been following the industry since forever ago, and yet still felt it necessary to fly into a psychopathic rage over something as common as a game cancellation.
If they're still putting out strips 3 times a week, then I'm sure there's been plenty of slow news days to illustrate.

God PAs art went to shit
It all went downhill once Gabe became inexplicably obsessed with John K.
 

Man God

Member
Oct 25, 2017
22,128
The forums used to be so good. One of my original homes outside of BBSs. Then they became control freaks.
 

kikuchiyo

Member
Nov 9, 2017
297
I love Maximum Fun. Stopped reading Penny Arcade and supporting their endeavors after this incident.