A new take on the artists’s collective


One of the most popular non-syndicated comic strips on the planet is Penny Arcade. They have a multi-million unique page view audience, and are working on a “give away our artwork to drive paying projects and advertising” business model. Among the web-comic world they are certainly the 900 pound gorilla. They take on many different revenue streams and are now supporting a company with more than a dozen full time employees. One of the things they have done with their popular vehicle is diversified. They have broadened their work and have used their brand as an umbrella for artists of many different types.

The Penny Arcade corporation is currently home to:

A wildly popular web comic and line of books.

A series of advertisement/comics produced on contract for various game developers.

An ongoing documentary series about their company.

Two (soon to be three) of the largest gaming conventions in the world.

A line of board games.

An internet news program.

A collaborative comic with another major web-comic artist.

A series of board and video games that have been produced by other companies using Penny Arcade products and side projects.

A  yearly charity that collects toys and money to help support children’s hospitals, to the tune of $3.5 in 2011. They started the charity out of spite for a major public opponent of video game culture.

and the list goes on.
The take home story here is that in an era of easy media duplication and insecure career options, gathering in collectives with other creative people (leavened with some people who know how to turn your efforts into a cash flow so you can pay your broadband and food bills) and making sure that you maintain a diverse income flow is one cromulent way to approach the industry.  By banding together and taking on some of the roles of a traditional distribution network, the community that has grown up around two guys who wrote an occasionally obscene webcomic about two mildly psychopathic young gamers has allowed a wide range of creative enterprises to flourish.


Michael Phillips

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