Dudes, sittin’ on the crapper checking the Twitters, (I’m not going to lie and say I was somewhere else; I keeps it real. You know that.) and the most marvelous news was reported to me by the tiny devils that live inside my phone. See, there’s this internet-type comic strip called Penny Arcade. If you’re a dork, you’ve probably heard of it, but if you’re not a dork, you might have, as well; it’s kind of a big deal. And there’s this other website out there called Kickstarter, where people basically beg for money, to do creative things with it, at least in theory. And sometime not too long ago, the dudes that run Penny Arcade decided to start a Kickstarter to accept donations, so that they can run their website without having to run advertisements. I don’t think you understand what the whole big deal is there, so I’ll try to explain.
For the most part, running a web comic is a losing proposition. You draw some comics, you put them up on the internet, and people read them for free. I mean, you can charge for it, but for the most part, unless you’re hugely popular or your comic involves the most insane cartoon porn ever, (Come on now, this is the internet we’re talking about) barely anyone wants to pay for it, and when they do, they won’t pay much. (Not to mention that any for-pay content probably ends up in a .RAR file on a torrent site maybe thirteen seconds after release) Maybe at some point, you can sell a compilation of strips in book-form, but that’s not exactly money that’s going to be rolling in forever. (Also, while I’m thinking about it, if the Internet is supposed to be this huge thing that will someday destroy the printed word forever, why is getting your shit reprinted in a book the pinnacle of internet success? Weird.) And the more popular it gets, the more it costs to host the site, and in the end, a successful webcomic runs the risk of becoming a huge, giant money pit that cripples the creator financially. Good times. Pretty much the only way to start a webcomic, have it explode in popularity, and keep doing it as a living is to find a niche or subculture (Or – let’s be honest here – obscure and horrifying sexual fetish) that no one’s thought of drawing cartoons about before, and make damn sure you’re the first one people who are into that thing find out about. And that’s where Penny Arcade comes in, hitting the video game dork market early and hard. Not to say that the comic is or ever has been all that good, mind you; but they were first, goddammit, and that means something. And really, based on the decade-plus of horrible, shameless, worthless ripoffs that the world keeps churning out, they’re probably still the best at the “two white guys talk about video games” genre, even despite really not being very good at it. And for over a decade, it’s probably been the only non-porn internet-based cartoon that’s not just broken even, but actually made a pretty decently sized chunk of money from books and merchandise and such. And now, they want you to give them your money.
You don’t seem disturbed by this, so just let that sink in for a minute. Theoretically, the ads pay for the website hosting,and the assorted books, trinkets, and doo-dads they sell to gamer dorks keep them comfortably removed from regular day-jobs. They’re not in any danger of coming up short on the hosting bill, and as far as I know, neither Jerry nor Mike needs an operation. The fuckers are doing just fine. They’re asking for money to remove the advertising, which – oddly enough – MOSTLY SEEMS TO BE FOR PENNY ARCADE-BASED THINGS THAT THEY ARE SELLING. Holy shit, that’s just – Wow. Oh, but it’s cool, man, they aren’t just asking for a straight hand out. You see, if you donate, you get things in return. Sounds fair. Oh, so like a couple bucks for a mention, maybe $50 for a t-shirt, stuff like that, right? Oh wait, no, it’s bullshit like how $150 gets you a t-shirt saying you gave money, or $500 for the dudes to retweet something you said on goddamn motherfucking Twitter, a grand to be added as a friend on stupid shitting fuck of Xbox Live, ten-thousand stupid awful sickening pus-infected dollars to eat lunch with the dudes , but you have to provide transportation, and holy shit, that’s awful. Jesus. Also, for $25,000 (the price of a nice used car, a year of college in some places, or a fancy Stephen Strasburg rookie card) you can get a medium-sized painting of a video game character of your choosing. First of all, MEDIUM!? For 25 large, the goddamn thing better be a mural. Secondly, yeah, no way that’s legal. And when you jack the price of a picture of a copyrighted character up into the tens of thousands, it probably turns illegal enough to involve time being served. I mean, it would probably be one of those nice luxury prisons that Republicans get to go to, and they won’t have to look over their shoulders for MS-13 members who don’t like those things they said about Mario or whatever, but still, man, STILL.
So, Kickstarter was originally a means for unknowns and independents to get their big dream projects started, hence the name. But now, enter Penny Arcade, a situation where two fully-established and ridiculously successful guys managed to parlay a comic strip debuting early enough to not yet be generic into some sort of half-assed media empire, complete with conventions – FUCKING CONVENTIONS. And now, they’re asking for donations in exchange for rewards worth objectively far, far less than the money involved, just so they can pretty much keep doing the same things they’ve been doing, but with barely noticeable differences. They’re not kick-starting a goddamn thing. And the thing is – Kickstarter’s powers that be are cool with it, judging by the fact that it hasn’t been shut down, and shockingly, people are actually into the idea, to the tune of well over $200,000 just a few days in, including one sorry nutsack who actually paid the $9,999 lunch fee. I don’t even know if Warren Buffet charges that much. What I do know is for ten grand, we better be eating somewhere fancy, like a place that requires a secret password to get into the VIP dining room, where they serve things like unicorn and human flesh. Famous human flesh.
And man, while we’re at it, you people. You fucking people. I mean, yeah, PA doesn’t technically need an infusion of cash right now, but I can understand the desire to kick a few bucks their way, honestly. If you’re someone who’s somehow stayed entertained by what they do for ten years or whatever without bothering with any of the merchandise, they’ve earned your five, ten, twenty bucks or whatever. Hell, maybe even a hundred or so, if you’re really into it that hard and have the money laying around. But man, you people handing your shit out by the thousands to this thing, I’m just going to use the same logic with you that I’d use with an elderly relative who’s this close to making their house look like an episode of Hoarders, via QVC abuse. I know that a set of solid-gold corn-holders (Dear Internet: I said HOLDERS, with a D, perverts.) would be neat to have, and hey, it’s on sale for $300, when it used to be $800, according to Don West, but think for a second. When you looked at your bank balance and saw $300 sitting there, doing nothing, did you immediately think, “ooh, I should use that for golden corn utensils?” No, you didnt; you don’t need them, and you didn’t want them until you found out they were for sale. So, gamers who just threw thousands of dollars at these guys or are thinking about doing it in the future: Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that you have a thousand dollars in your pocket, absolutely free to spend, not earmarked for any sort of bill or necessity. (Unlikely in my experience with hardcore gamers, as all the ones I’ve known rarely make it past entry-level retail or fast-food positions. But that’s just me stereotyping, so forget I said that.) Maybe it was just a good month at whatever it is you do for a living, and that’s just extra money, free to spend as you please. Before you saw the PA Kickstarter, did you actually think, “Wow, I have a thousand dollars to blow on anything. Maybe I should send it to those guys who run that website I like for little to nothing in return.” You didn’t. There’s no way you did, you lying prick, and you’re just getting sucked in by that same QVC “wow, that’s there, I should buy it” mentality that caused your one weird uncle to go buy all the old gas pumps from the station downtown that finally switched to pumps with a card reader in 1998. Save your money, or if you really feel that strongly, go buy $1000 worth of actual merchandise from those guys. If you’ve already done that, you don’t owe them shit in the first place. Anyway…
So now, we’re at a place where Kickstarter has been completely redefined. You no longer have to actually be kick-starting anything; you just have to have some sort of allegedly creative endeavor that you can kind of prove might actually exist and the desire to ask people for money. Holy shit. So pretty much anyone can hold out their hat to the crowd for any reason now, regardless of whether or not they’re even going to really do anything with the money toward a new creative project. Google can do one, claiming they need a few million for new Holiday Doodles. Monsanto can ask for a billion dollars to go toward a redesign of the label on Roundup barrels. Hell, Apple can see what they can get toward the goal of making a newer, shinier version of some device that does the exact same things as all their other devices. The possibilities are endless. So really, if this post sounded critical or negative toward Penny Arcade, I’m sorry, because in reality, they’ve opened up a whole new world. A world where people can and will give you large amounts of money for no good reason, regardless of whether or not you actually need it. Sweet Jumping God, thanks to Penny Arcade and Kickstarter, we are all potentially members of the One Percent now.
So I’m going to do it, man, that’s it, I’M GONNA START A KICKSTARTER. I mean, hey, I have a website, being this one right here, and I suppose if you stretch the definition of a creative project far enough, I can fit in there. And hell, I need the money way more than Hundred Dollar Bill Arcade does. Shit, at the rate I’m going, taking the financial records all the way back to the Web Surf Nicaragua days, this place is set to finally turn a profit sometime around the year division-by-zero A.D. And if I just adopt Penny Arcade’s model of offering rewards that aren’t worth anywhere near the donation amount, shit, I can give all sorts of fabulous goddamn prizes. Let’s see here…
PLEDGE $1 OR MORE: Look, this is chicken feed. For a $1 donation, I can send you a digital photo of me wiping my ass with your dollar, cheapskate.
PLEDGE $25 OR MORE: A little better, but nothing life-changing. I’ll use this money to find my creative venture of a penetrating photo-essay on a grown man who buys $25 worth of football cards on Ebay. So all previous awards, plus the joy of knowing that I finally have a Jim Morrissey autograph.
PLEDGE $35 OR MORE: All previous rewards, but we’re inching closer to Jay Cutler autograph territory.
PLEDGE $75 OR MORE: All previous rewards, except I’ll actually mail you a hard copy of the wiping-my-ass-with-$1 photo. (Add $50 for non-U.S. addresses)
PLEDGE $150 OR MORE: All previous rewards, plus I’m totally going to have a t-shirt made that I can wear around town, commemorating how you people totally sent me some money.
PLEDGE $300 OR MORE: You get to follow @turrbilvlence on Twitter for one full year. Pester me for a follow-back, (Or directly address me at all, for that matter) and you will immediately be blocked, with no hope for a refund. Because I already spent your money.
PLEDGE $500 OR MORE: Within reason, I will retweet one of your tweets to all eighteen of my followers. Just think, all Eighteen Wheels of Justice that make up the Terrible Violence Twitter Nation will be at your disposal. After that’s done, you will be blocked with no hope for a refund. (Add $372 for non-U.S. addresses)
PLEDGE $1000 OR MORE: Shirt of the Month club! I will buy four three-packs of white Fruit of the Loom v-neck t-shirts and mail them out to you, at a rate of one shirt per month. (Add $7,371 for non-U.S. addresses, or $10 for U.S. addresses to get them all at once)
PLEDGE 2,500 OR MORE: I will do a full analysis of your business plan, how it fits in the marketplace, what you’re doing right and what opportunities you might be missing. (Hahaha, oh man, what?)
PLEDGE $5000 OR MORE: Lunch with TV Business, which will just be some local actor I hired to spill businessy-sounding B.S. in exchange for the fee of some sucker from the internet buying him lunch. I’ll make sure to stay miles and miles away while this is happening, because screw you.
PLEDGE $10,000 OR MORE: Play date with Terrible Violence! You can come by yourself with no guests, witnesses, or anyone having any knowledge of your whereabouts to TVHQ (the garage, I guess) for a night of pizza and a game. A most dangerous game.