Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On Reggie

So, I've had some thoughts about the black and blind character, Reggie, who is apparently based on a friend of Kurtz' from college (?). I've read various comments here and there bemoaning the frequency of Reggie's appearances (or lack thereof).

FSM Thought One: Reggie is a good character and we don't see enough of him.
It's nice to see him because he brings a fresh point of view to the strips he's in. That's not to say that black jokes or blind jokes are what he's good for. On the contrary -- Reggie usually acts as a foil, taking the usually predictably droll strips and giving us refreshing new drollness.

FSM Thought Two: That's ok with me.
While it would be nice to see more of him, I think diversity for the sake of diversity is rarely a good idea (college admissions notwithstanding). Artists (or anyone) do best when they write what they know, and social circles tend to be mostly homogenous. (Tend to. Mostly.) The results of trying to write an "ethnic" or otherwise "diverse" character if/when you have no exposure or access to that culture are often disingenuous at best, insulting at worst.

FSM Thought Three (and my point): Kurtz did himself a disservice by only creating one character based on his friend.
How easy is it, really, to write for a black and blind guy? I think we could see him more frequently than we do, but for frequent usage, a character has to be able to be used as a general player, not just a featured one. The difference being the difference between the person who plays the morgue attendant on a cop show and the person who plays the suspect. You have to write for the latter, but you can just write anything for the former and cast whomever you want.

(Of course, I say "have to" but it's not really true -- you could have a black and blind morgue attendant, but as soon as the option comes up the director is all "Won't the audience be distracted wondering why this guy is black and blind?" It's annoying, but that's usually where it ends for the black and blind guy.)

If Kurtz had created a black character and a blind character, I bet they would both get more play than Reggie does.

You know -- that gives me another thought...

FSM Thought Four: Has there ever been a "Crisis on Infinite Earths"- or "Year Zero"-level event in a web comic?
DC and Marvel occasionally (infrequently but regularly) shake up their universes to weed out week characters, refine strong ones and introduce new ones, mostly in the name of selling their titles more effectively. Have any web comics experienced such an event?


Sage said...

I don't think there have been any "Crisis" in any cartoon strip but I don't think you want to compare DC strategy to anything here. They have backstorys and canon that were so convoluted that they needed to be cleaned out. However they have had many other big events to revamp due to displeasure and continued difficulty with keeping histories straight and will be doing that again with Final Crisis this summer. People here are bemoaning a wedding/divorce storyline, I don't think that Scott has the audience with the patience for 2 months of the same storyline or have the talent to pull it off (i vote former more than later but some would say the opposite). You don't need any too huge, a simple "I quit" for something that happened would take him out of the strip

As for Reggie himself he seems to be a true straight man who is truely mature, unlike Cole who has proven to be shallow. I like the character as he has provided something to Miranda at least, but like you said isn't useful if he's pulled out of mothballs more than 3-4 times a month. I thought with the merger of Max's company and PVP we'd see more but it was only sporatic.

I think Scott does write what he knows, he did have a friend who Reggie is based off of. The problem is that people expect him to act black or something else because of what he is. From what I have seen, besides obviously black/blind jokes, he is nothing too different from the PVP group except maybe more mature. The REAL Reggie ran in Scott's group so he was probably similar to him in many ways. If you have a white/asian/black gamers from the same neighborhood that hang out doing the same things they'll tend to have a bulk of similarities. If Reggie were on Chris Rock/Richard Pryor comedy or even a hip hop clone it would ring hollow, but I don't think Scott's character is trying too hard as Reggie isn't that.

Now if you asked me about characterization for the females in his comic, his lack of knowing the female perspective is a little more apparent. As you said he just loves to draw Miranda :)

Anonymous said...

Week characters? Is that incompatible with a daily strip?

Jai said...

I don't think that I have seen a comic strip reboot itself. I'm pretty sure Penny Arcade doesn't count, no matter how many times the characters in it die.

As I wonder if Mr. Kurtz will indeed one day draw all of his characters in the "new realistic style" he "loves", I've indulged the fantasy that he might have his entire crew of regulars fly into space and get zapped by cosmic radiation ala The Fantastic Four. With the result simply being that they get drawn realistically from then on. Seems like a fun way to do go about it, throwing in a silly PVP-like explanation for something that really can't be explained in a "realistic" way.

Although, yes, that's somewhat aside from this reboot topic. I think that any strip that tries starting over with a stronger and fresher concept or implementation will face serious opposition from its fans. The chance of winning over more fans in the long run is good, but I think you'd definitely be risking alienating all of your current fans. Still, it's a neat idea; I certainly wouldn't mind seeing someone try this out if they feel they can seriously one-up themselves and improve their strip by doing it.

David said...

PVP has broken the fourth wall to "reboot" the design of characters a couple of times already...

Randomeis said...

The only thing I could possibly think of would be the bobbins/scary go round comics by John Allison.

Digeridude said...

I've shared these thoughts about Reggie, but I'm just glad to see how far the character has come. He's still pretty much a cliche archetype (name three blind black guys right now - pretty easy, isn't it?) but at least he's not saying "Damn," "Uh," and "White people" as in earlier strips.

Joe said...

Didn't Goats do a reboot thing?

Anonymous said...

What is Miranda wearing, a leotard? Good choice for paint ball. I think TFSM might have something with thinking that it's some sort of sexual thrill for Scott to draw her suggestively.

ZedPower said...

"What is Miranda wearing, a leotard? Good choice for paint ball. I think TFSM might have something with thinking that it's some sort of sexual thrill for Scott to draw her suggestively."

Dude, have you ever drawn an attractive woman? I think it's impossible for a straight male artist to create a pleasant female figure and not get a least a bit of that "look at that hot chick I drew she's so hot" feeling.

All the comments I've seen on that subject here so far more or less imply that Scott is some kind of pervert because he apparently enjoys putting a sexy girl in his comic, and that's, well, that's a dishonest thing to say. Even if you consider this as a flaw, there are much worse comics out there in that regard.

Faz said...


Sage said...

thank god for leotards then! Is Jade based of the Street Fighter character that looks similar thats who i thought of immediately.

My critiques have mostly been in how the characters act. I think because Scott's obviously male the female perspective eludes him on certain subjects. His art, however, no where reaches the boobs and tight butts one sees in the X-men and other superhero comics. He has a good range from the sex pot Miranda, to the straight laced Jade, to the more matronly Sam. His women are drawn in a realistic manner but some of the things they do are a little off

Spork said...

Finger on the trigger is bad enough, but you don't load paint ball guns that way. Couldn't he have done a little research into the general function and shape of the guns around which he's building another lame dick storyline?

Sage said...

Actually, they do have specialized paintball guns that do load like that. Miranda, apparently an avid paintball player might have that gun.

If you do not believe:
They even had grenade launchers in the game, so a pistol with a paintball clip is not too out there.

Spork care to try again?

R.W.McGee said...

I don't care if he likes to draw sexy women...but I'm pretty sure nobody wears swimsuits to play paint-ball. Whatever, I'm tired of this storyline...I'll check in again in a week when doubtless Max's mom will have some terminal illness and the PvP crew will have to resolve their anger towards him through a wacky game of lawn bowling while they grieve...that's about the trajectory the strip seems to be taking.

Sage said...

My guess would be lawn darts, more chances for injury :)

Anonymous said...

Miranda is dressed as Cammy from Street Fighter II. I thought this comic attracted gamers. God you people are freakin' stupid. "OH NOZE A LEOTARDS?!" Maybe you're just not getting a joke.

Also, Scott could never wear something that revealing. For obvious reasons. You know why.

evan said...

Does anyone else feel that the best part about reading PvP is coming here after to see what TFSM and the rest of this community has to say?

Sage said...

Apparently I am a gamer because I did mention that first when I saw that picture. I knew it was an omage to something and not Scott's attempt at true paintball attire.

So to reitterate I was right!

Anonymous said...

Okay, seriously, making a blog post or two criticizing someone's work is fair enough. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion after all. But this is just... petty and sad.

The very idea that you've created a blog designed only to focus negatively on not just one person's work, but one comic specifically, is really pathetic. Not only should you have better, more useful things to do with your time, but you're not contributing anything to... well, anything.

C'mon, man, the least you can do is transform this into a blog that ponders the positives and negatives of more than one comic. This current incarnation appears to exist only so you can get some cheap thrill out of stepping all over someone whos work is enjoyed by many.

I should say, however, I'm not a big fan of PvP. But the pure existence of this blog makes you a joke. Either invest your energy into something constructive or don't do anything.

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

Anonymous said...

To the above anonymous person:

If writing these posts entertains him, then it's time well spent. Think of all the time you spend playing mindless video games, watching TV, or reading comics. None of that time is very well spent -- it's all pretty much passive and involves consumerism much of the time.

Writing blogs is at least something constructive because it entertains lots of people. For every person writing anonymous comments in here there are probably fifty silent people who enjoy hearing this guy's thoughts because they probably mirror their own. PVP has been pretty mediocre as of late, and to see someone dissecting it with wit and humor is actually very entertaining. Attacking him for it, well. Geez. How many people are going to use the lame, "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TIME LOLZ DO SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT."

He's doing something important. He's making me laugh and giving me something entertaining to read while I'm waiting for something to compile or a process to end at the office.

Anonymous said...

there is a strip called 'under the lemon tree' which was about a anthropomorphic (is that spelled right?) bear and the physical manifestions of his different character aspects... That got rebooted into 'anthropomorphic bear who found a nest of gargoyles'

Anonymous said...

Scott simply isn't a very good cartoonist or writer, and for whatever reason, people continue to read his comic strip. I liken it to Garfield: you know it's going to suck, but because it was once funny and held a special place, you keep checking back just in case it decided to stop sucking. Similar to your once favorite band who started sucking three albums ago, but you keep buying the new ones just to check. You might even kid yourself into thinking the albums are good. After multiple listens they will "grow on you" because you want them to. And then you will feverishly lash out at anyone who would dare insinuate that the band is less than godlike.
It's kind of ironic that Jim Davis is a fan of his strip.

He would be. Jim Davis is a joke to anyone that isn't six years old.

Anonymous said...

As mentioned, Goats rebooted, actually a couple times, changing tone and character focus... this last time in a fairly epic storyline.

GPF comics tries to make similar epic storylines, with big repercussions for the characters, but somehow manages to add people to the "we KNOW they won't die" list. Heck, at one point, it was a PVP clone.

Real Life Comics has had a more subtle shift in which characters are being used, based on who the author is actually hanging out with.

Jai said...

I really don't know why Miranda would use a marker like that (Except as a backup weapon), those sorts look cool but only hold about 10 paintballs - but, seriously, I might as well be arguing about why her Cammy costume doesn't include any painted spots of camoflage on her skin. What's the point?

I think that wondering why she wants to play paintball wearing nothing but a leotard and a beret is a valid argument, however.

Anonymous said...

I dunno. Melonpool has had a scorched earth policy on occasion.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap someone used a quote from "Ratatouille" as an attack on critics.


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