Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Alone in the Light

While I think the latest strip (Alone in the Dark) is good and does its job, it's hampered by some limitations of the art and strip structure.

1. While the last panel is nice, and Kurtz may have been trying something new (based on his blog post), I was confused for a moment and thought that the last panel had failed entirely:



I was looking for signs of Francis running away or something, which is what was set up in panel four.

With PVP, unless I get signals otherwise, I'm always expecting a punchline. It's totally fine to skip them sometimes, really, but it has got to be hard to set up a non-gag strip in a world of punchlines and it didn't work out for me here.


Update: This is embarrassing, but I didn't understand what was going on, at all. I thought the hands in panel 4 were Francis' hands as he backed or fell into the branch, snapping the twig, scaring the birds. Obviously, there is more going on than that.

2. The art doesn't lend itself to darkness or nighttime. Francis' line "Won't you get scared all alone in these dark woods" or even the title of the strip weren't enough to get across that feeling that I think Scott was looking for; they feel like artificial attempts to add atmosphere to an illustration that looks like any other day in PVP.

PVP's art is very well-defined, but without color or any shade of grey, "darkness" is really hard to find.

(Note: I don't actually know if it's supposed to be "night", just "dark". Woods can be dark and creepy during the day too.)

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed, if it is suppose to be dark, the art doesn't show it. Apart from the title and what Francis said, I thought it was furing the day.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you see the hands in panel three?

Anonymous said...

Four, I mean.

Anonymous said...

I got the last panel. Classic moment of a wide shot and birds reacting to a sound or movement. I could almost hear the fluttering of the wings :)

Does it fit with a gag a day strip though? No. It feels really ominous and out of place. I mean we're supposed to be laughing our asses off at Skull tripping, not being frightened he'll actually hurt the main characters.

I didn't even realize it was supposed to be nighttime till you pointed it out.

Paidion said...

Oh for goodness sake I thought you paid attention to these things...the hands in panel three indicate that Skull abducted him. Alone in the Dark is a video game reference. The 4th panel is a cinematic reference to hundreds of movies. PVPmakesmesad is a blog...I just wish if was better.

Anonymous said...

i understood the strip, but i agree, the very structured vertical format makes it difficult to get the point across. kurtz is trying to jam a lot of story into a 1x4-sized rectangle, and adding a fifth panel just doesn't cut it -- it makes everything way too cramped.

i know he is rooted in newspaper print comics, where standard dimensions must apply (with the exception of sunday comics -- which have their own standard dimensions all to themselves), but pvp is a webcomic, which lends itself to thinking outside the 1x4 standard, and it would be nice to see kurtz taking advantage of that every once and awhile. it would definitely help with some of the cramped issues that we get when he's trying to pack a lot of art into just a few panels. (wapsi square does a good job of this; taylor has a standard 1x4 or 1x3 format, but occasionally busts out the wide, wide formats, or even two 1x4 strips on top of each other, or varying panel sizes, etc.)

don't be afraid to try something different!

Rachel said...

It's one of those strips where color would help reader comprehension (since those hands in P4 are probably blue). I don't think it's night time at all though. No one has flashlights and Marcy wouldn't be stupid enough to suggest splitting up in the woods at night.

TheOriginalJes said...

I thought it came across, nicely. Especially, when you couple it with the preceeding strip. It's very much like an episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger", or some other typical search-party-in-the-woods-gets-picked-off-one-by-one.

Sure, time-of-day is a small issue. But, not all that important when you have a Troll in the woods, stoned off his ass, hunting you without your knowledge.

To answer SK - Yeah. Yeah, I did hear it. How'd you know? ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if Brent will get captured in a manner alluding to the panda attacks. That seems like it would be a fresh take on the old running joke.

Anonymous said...

I totally knew that was Skull grabbing him.. It's been set up from the previous comic and the birds in the last panel was a nice touch.

Wasn't anything particularly funny about this comic but I'm enjoying the story arc so far. I still love reading PVP, and I also love reading your blog here too. It seems almost at odds - but I like the criticisms for the most part - it's almost like you should be working together.

Jacob said...

I really like the current direction PVP is going in. The last couple of strips have been entertaining if not hilarious.

In the newest strip "night games" Scott really harnessess the dark side of the pen. Bretns face is great in the final panel. However, it might just be the dislocated nipple talking. Brent kinda has a sudden recovery from the dislocated fiasco but hey, thats only a minor gripe and frankly the strip is better for slightly ignoring brents bra for the time being.

either way I give this current strip 4/5 panda attacks with half a weasle of change.

Paul T. said...

Scott asked if he "got the last panel right"... As critical as I am over the timeliness of the strip, I will give credit where it's due... I did get the last panel, right down to the "caw caw" that Scott was hoping everyone "heard". Nice job, Scott!

I don't think that it matters that the strip doesn't "look" like it's dark outside... If it were dark, you wouldn't be able to see the birds flying anyway! It could be daytime, afternoon, late afternoon, dusk... I didn't have an issue with what the panel looked like... My mind took me to that "quiet dusk time when startled birds would be scary"... The flying birds filled in the sound from there...

(And yes, I "got it" on the first reading...)

Jai said...

If the strip had been colored, it would have been obvious what was going on in the second-to-last panel. It is not, so it was unclear without further inspection. Although I realized before long that Skull was about to grab Francis, it did indeed appear to me at first that Francis had his hands up awkwardly for some reason.

As for Night Games, it's great. I find myself wishing for color yet again, though, because I really want to know if Cole is wearing a red shirt. Everyone else there is wearing camo, and I would find it hilarious for Cole to not just stand out awkwardly with his Trek uniform as he's already doing, but ALSO to be literally holding the infamous role of the only "red shirt" in the group.

Anonymous said...

Night Games suggests that we might be getting that paint ball arc that was passed over. Perhaps in an even more interesting form. I'm curious to see what will happen.

Anonymous said...

It's not just that Scott's fat. It's that his wife is also incredibly fat. Not AS fat, though, but still... wow. Between the two of them I don't even know how penetration is possible.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* just shut up, we don't need your contribution on here thanks.

Dave said...

I think the last two strips have be pretty good actually. The stars in the latest strip give a good feeling of darkness. Also, the "paintball with psychotic drugged out Skull" plotline is much more interesting than the plain old "paintball" plotline :D

Sage said...

I agree that this take on paintball is interesting, but a couple interactions in a regular arc were missed as well. Miranda/Reggie, Max/Cole, and Francis could have been one offs then the dislocated nipple could have happened. (Btw where did robb go, he was supposed to be invited)

The fact that this arc is looking very intersting and is funny, doesnt save the fact that the previous one was a little lacking (again I go back to Lost, I like the whole experience of the show but from episode to episode it can range from mediocre to awesome, as with th3ese last two arcs)

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