New Show Recap

Strip Search: Penny Arcade’s Online Game Show

Strip Search has been going on for a while. It just took me a bit to write about it. So let’s catch up.


Penny Arcade launched the online reality game show with the goal of spotlighting undiscovered talent an opportunity to create a comic strip. The show selected 20 artists from over 1,000 applicants and plopped them down in amazing, lovely Seattle, Washington. I feel bad for the artists from warmer, sunnier climates who are not used to our liquid sunshine in western Washington State. But from what I have seen, they haven’t shown that the weather is affecting them. I think the lack of sleep may get to them more.

The show started on March 1 with a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: one year of office space at Penny Arcade and $15,000. How cool would it be to work in that office? Comics and gaming? Totally. Eek! If I could draw on the spur as creatively as these artists, I would so go for it. Damn perspective.

The Show:

The show airs on Tuesdays and Fridays. Tuesday shows contain the challenge. Friday’s shows contain the draw off, or elimination rounds.

How it Works:

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  • Sometimes there are activities: duck ride, go carts.
  • Artists are given a challenge: ie. sculpting with clay, you are your brand (twitter), interview practice, work for hire, etc.
  • A winner is decided.
  • The challenge winner chooses two people for whatever reason (you hope it is because they failed the challenge but we all know that isn’t always the case) for elimination.
  • The two artists draw from the garbage pail of broken dreams (rejected topics) to create the theme for their skit.
  • Mike and Jerry judge the strips.
  • The loser’s strip is eliminated, sometimes in surprising ways.
  • Winner goes back to the house.


Why isn’t it on TV? Well, I asked myself that and then thought, “Hey Penny Arcade can do what they want, inject their personality into it; plus it is an online community, how better to reach their audience?” There are several times where humor and mockery abound.

The show maintains the standard expected from reality game shows without all the seriousness such shows give themselves. During the elimination rounds, Jerry and Mike talk and distract the artists. They make fun of the reality TV trope. “So who do you think would win?” “Do you find alliances forming within the house?” “Artists, ten minutes from now you will have thirty minutes left.”

Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins pore over comic strips
Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins struggle to find a reason to eliminate one artist

Mike and Jerry also break the rules. In Episode 10, elimination 3 Lexxy was sent home due to the fact someone had to be eliminated, not because her art work was lacking or that she failed. I loved her strip, and so did Mike and Jerry. They struggled with the fact they had to eliminate her, even the producers turned off the cameras at minute 17 to have a discussion. Mike did not want to destroy her strip, I applaud him. It was classy and well drawn. But they had to send her home.

In the next elimination, with the Lexxy results still on their mind, they determined neither strip was of good enough quality. Both comics were sent through the wood chipper. Mike and Jerry then went to Lexxy’s hotel room and brought her back to the show. That took guts! (All contestants have to stay in Seattle until the end of the season.)

Lexxy posted a great picture of a Chandra Ablaze after that episode aired – sort of like the phoenix rising – following the rules that everyone in Episode 12 had to follow. How cool is that?

Mike and Jerry tell artists they're eliminated
Both artist in the elimination are sent home, and Mike and Jerry bring Lexxy back

 The Cast:

Here are the current cast members (not including the ones already eliminated):

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Each artist can talk about other projects they are working, personal blogs (Erika is reviewing in comic strip form, sex toys). Take a look at each artist’s bio and personal links they have.

By Trulybst

Pursuing life to its fullest. A woman, a mom, wife, and struggling teacher who knows the importance of treating myself right.

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