Penny Arcade's Strip Search: Where Are They Now?

Strip SearchPenny Arcade's Strip Search wound up being one of the most positive, inspiring, and life-changing reality shows ever created. The slower pace at the start meant learning a whole lot about the contestants, which made every elimination--even the clear winner/loser scenarios--very tense to watch. You didn't want anyone to go home. I think it's pretty safe to say that all 12 finalists have benefited from the exposure of the show. All of them get invited to do guest strips for the Penny Arcade/PVP collaboration The Trenches. Almost all of the contestants have a webcomic project up at this point; all are regularly sharing their art. The post is actually going to focus on the finalists in more detail, but here's what everyone else on the show has been up to.

Alex Hobbs is running his solo comic Wanderlust Kid and it's really funny. Ty Haley (still running The Secret Life of a Journal Comic) and Monica Ray (still running Phuzzy Comics) are taking over The Trenches as the new writer and artist, respectively (that was announced at PAX Prime (skip to 6:31:00 for the announcement)). Mackenzie Schubert has a gorgeous new series called Full Stop running. Nick Trujillo is drawing up a storm at his Tumblr and has done guest work on PATV's Extra Credits.

Amy T. Falcone Kickstarted her new webcomic Clique Refresh (and I helped), and she's posting all the concept art on her Tumblr. Erika Moen is running my favorite new webcomic with Oh Joy, Sex Toy, which is just so funny and smart and beautiful and NSFW. Tavis Maiden Kickstarted his new project Tenko King and makes comics still at Thunderskull Press. Lexxy Douglass crowdfunded her webcomic The Cloud Factory before the show even finished airing.

The three finalists of Penny Arcade's Strip Search were Maki Naro, Abby Howard, and Katie Rice. It was a really strong group of finalists and I would have been happy with any of them winning. I liked Abby's new comic pitch the most in the final challenge, but it was so wrong for Penny Arcade. It was also oddly confusing to the judges since she showed them comics from the middle of the series (not the beginning) that told a single story with established characters. Katie and Maki had really cool pitches, too, but my own experience growing up reading horror comics (specifically Jhonen Vasquez, Serena Valentino, and all those Slave Labor Graphic creators) made her pitch a perfect match for me.

Guess what? The finalists all have new projects up that you should be supporting. It's fun. Patronage is just a click away.

Maki Naro, formerly of Sci-ence comic, is now a blogger for Popular Science. His webcomic is now called Boxplot and runs once a week on Wednesdays. It's largely the same concept. He writes and draws really funny science comics, then explains how the science actually works in the post. It's all the more awesome for him being on a larger platform. Maki was one of the only artists I knew of before the show (with Erika Moen (duh) and Katie Rice) and it's because I run with a really nerdy crowd that liked to share nerdy science comics and debate the science in them. His humor is just so out there in the best way possible. You can't mistake Maki's work for someone else's.

Abby Howard is running two webcomics. She continues the incredibly hilarious Junior Scientist Power Hour on Mondays and updates her Kickstarted Strip Search pitch The Last Halloween on Wednesdays. The Last Halloween is one of the coolest webcomics I've encountered. Abby has such a strong style and knows how to design a character. The monsters invading Earth on Halloween are pure nightmare fuel, but the comic will have you laughing until you cry. It's horror comedy that actually knows it's supposed to be funny.

Katie Rice, the Strip Search champion, just launched her winning comic Camp Weedonwantcha and it's adorable. I mean, it's a dark comedy series about children abandoned at a summer camp, but it's so cute. The style is so bright and vibrant and the stories are silly rather than scary. There's a sad undertone set up in the first comic, where the lead writes a letter to his mother hoping she'll still come back for him four months later. It was the perfect pitch to complement Penny Arcade and it's solid. Camp Weedonwantcha updates on Mondays and Thursdays.

When I heard about Strip Search and even applied myself, I never expected the show to be like this. It was just such a positive experience and has helped a dozen people start to transition to webcomics as a full time job. It's really quite remarkable. The contestants have earned our continued support by helping to craft such a beautiful and fun reality show. You can watch the full series here.

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