Six years ago, I had a very one-sided “feud” with the creators of the web comic Penny Arcade. Amazingly, it still comes up in my life all the time. It’s still high in the google ranks when people...
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.
The PA guys come off as psychopathic here.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.