As one of the fruits of their huge Kickstarter campaign, the Penny Arcade folks have made Strip Search! which may finally be the comics competition TV show people have been expecting/dreading for a while. While the above link is a bit light on details, basically a bunch of webcomickers are thrown into a Seattle house and compete to draw the best comics. The contestants:

Tavis Maiden
Nick Trujillo
Lexxy Douglass
Mackenzie Schubert
Maki Naro
Abby Howard
Ty Halley
Katie Rice
Monica Ray
Erika Moen
Amy T. Falcone
Alex Hobbs

As you can see, some heavyweight talents there. The winner gets $15,000 and the chance to come work at Penny Arcade for a year.

The show has already been shot, and the resulting webizodes are being put together by Loading Ready Run, and hosted by Graham Stark. The judges are Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, of course.

No date was given for the debut.


  1. As one of most vocal supporters of a comics competition reality show, I say…this is rather disappointing. I never saw Penny Arcade as the voice of the comics industry and this seems to be more of a “because we can” vanity project.

    Just for comparison, I’ll explain what I would want to see in a comics competition reality series:

    -More along the lines of Project Runway

    -There’s one challenge an episode, which is to make a comic and then have a special convention/gallery showing where people come in and vote on their comics. the person who with the most votes gets immunity. After that the elimination round follows. Prize Challenges have no Immunity rounds.

    -Host should be one of the following:
    Scott McCloud
    Blair Butler
    Neil Gaiman

    -Mentor should be one of the following:
    Scott McCloud
    Karen Berger
    David Mazzuchelli
    Frank Santoro

    -Judges should be three of the following:
    Gary Groth
    Heidi MacDonald
    Tucker Stone
    Rob Clough
    David Mazzuchelli
    Tom Spurgeon
    Sean T Collins
    Dan Nadel
    Peter Kuper
    Karen Berger
    Gary Panter
    and anyone else you can imagine…

    Prize: $50,000 and/or a Book deal

    ^That is what a proper comic competition reality show should be like.

  2. How do you know what the show will be like if it hasn’t aired yet? Did the format outside of the PA site get expanded upon?

  3. I came to this conclusion based on who’s involved, the contestants, the grand prize, and the overall PA-centric tone of everything. This is a vanity project, they did it because they could and did it the way they wanted to and not the way it should be. It only involves one portion of the comics industry not the whole. This is not the proper comics competition show I want to watch.

  4. Ahhhh, Penny Arcade, , the guys who think its funny to joke about rape, and even create amd sell a shirt based on the inside joke. Yea, ill support nothing they do. Also, weren’t they critical of creator contests like Zinfandel a few years ago? Or am I thinking of some others? Hypocrites.

  5. Yeah. Where do the guys with the single most successful web comic in existence get off judging a bunch of web comic creators in some sort of web comic competition?

  6. By leaving out the rest of the comics industry and focusing it on themselves aka a vanity project. Really, every cartoonist wants to work at Penny Arcade? The 15k just seems to pad such a hokey cereal box sweepstakes prize. They completely gloss over the entire Cascadia region’s cartooning scene for just web cartoonists.

  7. Look, here’s the deal…

    There’s a huge divide between the web and print. To be completely honest, webcomics are the red-headed stepchild of the comics industry.

    Think about it. Which webcomics do you hear about in the comics mainstream? The ones that have been “legitimized” by being printed, and the ones being created by established print professionals.

    Even the industry awards favor print. There’s, what, one category for “digital comics” or “online comics” …. and most of the nominees tend to have some connection to the print mainstream, or are simply serializing a graphic novel that’s destined for print anyway. You don’t see webcomickers nominated for “best artist” or “best writer” or “best colorist” — even though some creators truly would deserve the honor.

    That being said, I don’t see the harm in letting webcomickers this one thing all to themselves.

    Penny Arcade raised the money via Kickstarter. They can do with it whatever they want. They’re under no obligation to be philanthropic here. Yeah, it’s a vanity thing. Yeah, it’s a marketing thing. Yeah, even some webcomickers have been critical of it… BUT it could be a good career boost for those creators involved.

  8. You mean web-comics are the self-professed red headed stepchild. I’m not a print a cartoonist, I’m not a web cartoonist, I’m simply a cartoonist and where you put your work ultimately does not change the fact it’s a comic. More and more cartoonists have webcomics and print comics. The distinction is a non-issue.

    PA cut themselves off from the comics industry and are more associated with the games industry via PAX and PAXeast. There’s next to no comics featured at PAX, it shows where their priorities are in PA, the content not the medium. It’s not about promoting one or more creators, it’s about the industry as a whole. PA is not suited for the task or even serious about comics, anther person or publisher should make a proper competition; Image is in a good position to do so.

  9. Well PA did it and Image did not. It is their idea, their money and their contest. If they want to focus on webcomics, they can. So what?

    Skinny people can’t get on “The Biggest Loser” but I don’t see them complaining because it should have been open to them too, and that ABC could do it better than NBC.

    If there wasn’t a distinction, then webcomics would not be segregated from the other categories for awards, recognition, etc.. There is a distinction, as far as the “industry” is concerned.

    Trust me, webcomickers do not want to be excluded. They’re not “self professing” anything. That comment was made based on real observations and personal experience.

    We do a webcomic, but our previous experience was in print comics. I can tell you first hand there is a definite difference in perception and acceptance.

    Where you put your comic might not change that it is a comic, but it does change how your work is regarded by the “industry” no matter how good it is.

    Oh and PA is highly involved in comics… both print and digital.

  10. What Kambrea said.

    The industry proper (seemingly) doesn’t give much thought to webcomics… unless they’re made by an established creator with “print cred” and/or they’re just too big to be ignored, such as Penny Arcade and PvP.

    That being said, I think it’s completely fair that webcomickers have one such high profile event all to themselves.

    (As an aside, I’ve heard grumbling within the webcomics community about some of the choices. Apparently some folks felt they didn’t have ENOUGH webcomic cred. Can’t please anyone.)

    As stated before, it’s Penny Arcade’s money and they can do whatever they want with it. If anybody thinks they can do better, then by all means go raise half a million dollars on Kickstarter and do it.

  11. No one is telling PA how to spend their money, I’m saying this is not representative of comics as a whole. If your going to do it, do it for all. I would be just as skeptical if it was solely for superhero comics or manga.

    Your right, It’s their project. Let them pat themselves on the back which is all the reason not to take this seriously for me. Saving my grain of salt for the premier, we’ll see if they blow my mind.

  12. Oh, don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying this will be the most fantastic thing ever, just that I don’t think it’s really fair to blast them for being a major webcomic picking webcomickers for a show where the grand prize is a webcomics gig.

    Time will tell how it all pans out.

  13. lol looks to me like someones a little jelly over the power PA has in their clutches.

    Who said StripSearch was representing Comics as a whole? Its a competition for webcomic creators to win some dough and a chance to boost their career by flying the flag of one of the most successful examples of a Web Comic known today, massively boosting exposure. Sure, not EVERY web comic artist wants to work under the Penny-Arcade roof, but it is a PA event, and im sure that everyone who applied to be a contestant actually wants the grand prize of working even within the same vicinity as Jerry and Mike.

    Besides, how many web comics out there, successful as they may be, have their own dedicated office with staff? I think the guys over at Blind Ferret and Penny-Arcade come to mind, most everyone else just works out of a single room in their house. To me, any chance to work in an office (an environment condusive exclusively to doing ‘work’) and get paid for it to do what I love to do anyways.. to most people in this world: thats a dream come true.

  14. I love the work Penny Arcade produces and I’m stoked for this show.

    But if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

    Whining about a webseries is like complaining about how dumb a YouTube channel is. You don’t have to watch it, and it’s practically impossible to have it forced on you, but clearly someone is watching it. I most definitely will be for Strip Search.

  15. LOL – “If *I* were going to make this show, this is how *I* would do it.”

    So do it.

    “You should do it *my* way.”

    Do it yourself, your own way.

    Stop trying to fob your dreams off onto someone else’s to-do list. You want it done your way, do it. Yourself.

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