I Went To PAX East So You Didn’t Have To: Video Game Expo

If the fine cartoonists at penny-arcade.com were going to all the trouble to have their record-breaking video game convention here on the East Coast, it would only be polite to attend, right? Forbidden Planet spared NO EXPENSE in flying me out to Boston last weekend to cover the con for the Weekly Planet.

Really, they spared no expense. I live in Boston, and was walking by the convention center anyway, and just happened to sneak in through a back door.


At a large comic book convention like San Diego or the NY Comic Con the focus is on the products and the people that make them. At PAX the focus is on the end users. In theory this is “People who like video games” but in practice I found it was more “People who like Penny Arcade.”

For Example: Waiting in line at San Diego guarantees your spot to get a jump on the con floor, see all the new sites and try to score some exclusive swag. I waited in line for over two hours on PAX opening day. Once they let us in I noticed the line started to split. Rather than going through the door marked “Exhibit Hall” where I knew the games, specials and booths were, everybody was walking towards the main auditorium. It was like Carnival in “Logan’s Run.”

“Where the heck are they all going,?” I thought. They were going to the first panel of the con. They were going to hear Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, a.k.a. Tycho and Gabe, give the opening address.

Two lines diverged from the queue at PAX, and I took the line less traveled by. What did I find at PAX itself? There was an exhibit hall half the size of the New York Comic Con, which anybody who knows will tell you is half the size of San Diego. The con was full of Video Game demos, some from big names and some from obscure indies. There were open conference rooms stocked with current video games, vintage video games, board games and card games. In short, every game you and your friends could ever hope to play if only you had friends with you to play them.

…Sigh, if only.

Later on I learned that Will “Wesley Crusher” Wheaton delivered part of the key note, an address that brought many in attendance near to tears. “Welcome Home,” he ended with.


He clearly wasn’t talking to me. I’m at home at MOCCA, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s yearly exposition of small press, DIY comics pros being held this upcoming April 10th and 11th in NYC!

Every year the talented and the deluded alike monopolize every photocopy machine in NYC making some of the best comic books the industry has to offer. They do it out of love. They do it out of a desire to work unlimited by creative restraint. MOCCA is a show of DOERS, people creating art from nothingness.

Every show has some amazing comics and some spectacular dreck but it has ART made by people…people like Mike and Jerry, the Penny Arcade geniuses who launched an empire based on being some of the first and the best to put comic strips online.

There is no real culture war between Comic Books and Video Games. Video Games won a long time ago. The money in the gaming industry could buy all the comic book publishers three times over and still have enough money for an Amazing Fantasy #15 CGC rated 9.8.

PAX was a great show for people who wanted to get together and share a love of gaming, a show for Penny-arcade forum members to finally meet face to face. Gaming is great and all, but I often find it counter productive to my creative ambitions as an artist.

I love the comic strip of Penny-Arcade. I nominated it one of the ten best comic strips of our times here in the Weekly Planet, but I find that PAX was a crowd pleaser only to their crowd. YES, Gabe and Tycho have carved out a niche for themselves, but the next wave of niche carvers are out there too, and the best place to get a glimps of em’ is at MOCCA 2010.

PAX, I’m out.

Did I mention Blackest Night #8 comes out this week? It does. Enjoy.

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