Fear not, gamer friends, for the Attack of the Bacon Robots will not harm you! In fact, they're not even featured in this collection of Penny Arcade's first two years of online comic strips.
What? No Bacon Robots? But they're in the title!
If that's a sticking point for you, you're probably not familiar with Penny Arcade's particular brand of humor. I'd advise perusing the site's archives before committing to a purchase.
For longtime Penny Arcade fans, however, this book is a treasure. Experience the early gaming adventures of Gabe and Tycho (illustrator Mike Krahulik and writer Jerry Holkins's cartoon alter egos) all over again and reacquaint yourselves with the classic strips you've long since forgotten. But wait, if all the strips are available online, why on Earth would you want the book?
I'm serious; the strips are printed on surprisingly high quality, glossy paper and look much better than I was expecting. The art reproduction is well above average for collections like these, boasting a nice range of vibrant colors and no detectable color bleed. Discerning eyes will ferret out the occasional uneven color (usually browns and blacks) but most will be hard pressed to find a quality difference between online and offline versions. The book is well bound, features a typically hilarious intro and outro by Tycho, a forward by Fox Trot's Bill Amend, and bonus art complementing the background of dozens of pages in addition to two pages of original sketches.
Even the blurb on the back of the book brings the funny and the cover features eye-catching original art - sadly the only place you'll see the titular Bacon Robots.
Making this collection especially attractive to established fans is the retrospective creator commentary that accompanies each and every strip. Don't find every strip Penny Arcade's ever produced funny? You'll probably get a laugh out of the comments. Don't get a joke? They'll fill you in on the necessary details. No clue what the hell they were thinking? That's okay, neither does Tycho. While a lot of insight and behind the scenes info is revealed, I lost count of the number of times he said he didn't remember what the strip was referencing or why he ever thought it would be funny. The honesty is refreshing but you're still left in the dark. I'll cut him a little slack though. These strips are over five years old and at the time, Gabe and Tycho were still finding their voice and art. In fact, particularly fascinating is watching the art style evolve over the years. If you haven't seen the early strips in a while, you'll be amazed by how much it has changed.
All in all, for fans of Penny Arcade, this book is a great buy. It's affordable, attractive, and much easier to flip through to find your favorite strips than searching the online archive could ever be. Plus, you get often hilarious commentary by Tycho himself, more than making up for the uneven humor in these early strips. The only negative things I can say about the book are there are no page numbers and Gabe doesn't contribute to the strip commentary.
Hopefully he'll pop up in Volume 2. His perspective would be a valuable addition to these collections.
Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent - and sometime book reviewer - Andrew Eisen