Penny Arcade is one of the "bridge" properties. While it may have started out just about games, it's branched out to appeal to the broader "geek" community. I've been following them for.... erm, well, about as long as my kids have been alive I think. Since their publicist saw fit to book them in the library down the street, and with the development of this game project, I've had to take an increasingly long look at moving cross-media, I thought it would be a kick to go see the men behind the Penny Arcade machine.
Since it was in Belmont, and the library is a touch hard to find if you’re not local, I was thinking it would be a small, tidy event. 50, maybe a hundred people, after all, you hear about book-signings where noone ever showed up, even for big names, all the time.
The Belmont Library was, in a word, packed. Totally packed. I don't think they knew what they were in for. Heck, I didn't know what they were in for. It's a beautiful little library, but theyre in Belmont. Granted Belmont is a stones throw from EA, Oracle, Sony, Sega, DChoc and a half-dozen other potential pockets of rabid fandom. But the fact that they had allotted the Library parking lot as overflow parking for the Funeral Parlor across the street, AND they ran out of copies of the book before the guys even got on stage suggests volumes.
Thing is, I'm not complaining here. I'm rather reveling in the unexpected spectacle. These guys were a delight to listen to, they are knowledgeable and happy to poke fun at themselves if they come upon something they *haven't* been exposed to. I've never been to PAX, never heard them speak before. They were erudite, humble, and they know their craft.
So they're just scary in real-life. Not in the snaggletoothed, pasty faced, creatives who never see the light of day suddenly being thrust into the limelight by an unflinching publicist kind of scary. These guys are an act, they slip seamlessly between one and the other taking the lead. Really, other than the illustrious Penn and Teller, and those guys are a professional Vegas act these days, it's been a long time since I've seen two people who really come across as one immensely creative misbegotten mind separated into two bodies before birth, probably through some sort of Nylund-esque alien technological derivative.
They took any question and answered it straight, without any of the foaming at the mouth that many hot-button topics (DRM anyone) seems to evoke in the geeky set. Not only that, but these guys are *funny* they can riff this humor in real-life. We had one guy pop his head over the top of the stacks of books to ask a question. I dunno if you've seen the stacks in libraries, but they run about 8 ft tall, and there's this disembodied head floating over the top. The PA guys just took it and ran with it, resulting in a good 5 minutes worth of comedy material they couldn't possibly have planned beforehand. I can only imagine what the librarians did to the poor guy when he was done :)
I'd kinda gotten used to seeing a-holes be the ones who get up in front of the mic. The ones who are happy to hand you their opinion and if you don't swallow it, then clearly it's a problem with your intelligence stat, not with their delivery. The Penny Arcade guys are not *those* guys. They were happy, delighted even, to engage with the wall of black-shirted bodies that made the place standing-room only.
They had well over 200 people turn out in a space that was set up for about 50. I know because my ticket to get my "book" signed was number 171, and I know there were at least 50 people who didn't even try, they just left when they figured out what we all expected would be an hour long fanboy/girl quickie was going to last until after they locked the doors
I'm probably going to a hot and unpleasant place for this, but since they ran out of books, I had to punt. I popped over into the used bookstore that the Belmont Library has and found something in hardback for them to sign. Here's the picture and sig
And here's why he looks so pissed :D If you're a fan you'll understand just how much restraint they showed, even though I told them they could put "whatever they wanted".
Now, the library did do us the service of promising to get more signed books on-hand, but buying one, after the fact with a sig in it just isn't the same :) SO if you head out to any of their other signings, be sure to get there EARLY and buy your books ahead of time if you can. And please, please don't be that guy/gal who brings in a stack of stuff on a dolly. There's hundreds of people in line behind you. And with the geek crowd, any number of us may be armed :) or at the very least equipped with a blog and a razor wit...