Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hrm.

My only reaction to the current strip (Marines, we are LEAVING!) is that, as the last panel suggests, it would have been better had it been at the beginning of the story. I feel like I lost a bunch of the momentum that Scott successfully built up.

(Update: I wasn't moved to say much about this strip, but Evan was.)

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

I might just be a dumbass, but what are those random floating squash looking things if front of Brent and Cole?

Anonymous said...

They're part of the paintball guns, where the paint bullets are, I'm guessing.

And yeah I hope Scott doesnt intend to drag it on much longer. I would have liked to see the paintball fight a week ago.

Anonymous said...

That's what I thought too, but they don't seem to be attached to anything other than maybe the shirts.

algeya said...

where are Brent Boobs?

Jai said...

I'm still wondering if Miranda and Max are with the group or not. Did they just leave as soon as Brent got shot in the nipple? It's bad enough that we have no idea what happened with Reggie (Ok, we do, but if we only read the comic strip we wouldn't). I'm sure they're not around, but I'd like to have seen what Max thought of the situation. Since Skull doesn't exist to him. In fact, what did he think about the paintball teams? How would that have worked? Would he see a floating marker where Skull was? Let's not forget that Skull should still have his paintball equipment, too. These are all things I fully expect to never see mentioned again in the comic strip, though.

And the prospect of seeing things get shot with paintballs is a situation that is sadly less-appealing without the possibility of color. I don't know if Mr. Kurtz even realizes how much color affects the popularity of a comic strip, so I'm not going to stop beating this dead horse. Sunday funny papers, Penny Arcade, Order of the Stick, Perry Bible Fellowship, Anders Loves Maria... hell, even Ding! is going to eclipse many of the bigger black-and-white strips. And color is such a worthwhile and huge part of why those things are undeniably better.

Anonymous said...

completely disagree today.
i loled and quite heartily.

Brett said...

I agree with the loss of momentum. Just look at the last two panels in the strip.

Are we outdoors? Or are we indoors?

Anonymous said...

This "loss of momentum" thing is just splitting hairs. To the sane, it's perfectly fine.

R.W.McGee said...

Insanity abounds.

evan said...

Today I will be critiquing TFSM's critique, as well as the strip it is critiquing.

Today's critique ("Hrm.") is pantamount to just saying "I didn't like the strip. It suxored" (or whatever you mad leet people would say...) Aside from a weak (albeit, in my opinion, correct) assertion that this strip loses the momentum that was gained during the past few strips. A successful criticism of a given medium would make this statement, and then go into why this is.

The past few strips have been pretty quick. This one has a lot of dialouge to wade through. Maybe this strip would work really well if I got the Aliens reference that seems to be being made, but I don't. It seems that the reference is a very niche reference... only someone who has watched, paid attention to, and loved, the special features of the Aliens Special Edition DVD would instantly grasp on to the joke from the beginning. Otherwise, the reader is stuck wading through all this dialouge between Brent and Cole that isn't really forwarding the plot, and isn't funny or irreverent in any way.

That said,the final two panels really worked for me. After being caught by Jade joking around and making this reference when they should have been seriously looking for Francis, Brent's embarrassed stammering comes through very well. And he is further embarrassed by the fact that it is such a niche reference. One that he would be embarrassed to be caught making under normal circumstances. This compound embarrassment on Brent's (and Cole's too, but we don't see it as much from him) almost makes the first three panel setup worth it. And I say "almost" for a reason. Like I said before, it's just too long. If they could have made the reference in two panels, with about half of the dialouge, i think the payoff would have worked better.

Now, back to the original topic of why this strip takes away from some of the momentum: Going all the way back to March 7th's strip ("Missing in Action") every day's addition has been necessary. If you didn't read the strip that day (or... well... whenever it happened to be posted... I mean to say, if you skipped one of those strips) there would be a hole in the story. Each one advanced the plot in a necessary fashion. This strip is just a throwaway. Cole and Brent have geared up and are now wandering around. They haven't begun looking for Francis (and, i suppose, Skull) yet. They're just goofing off and we get a one shot gag out of it.

If this joke were pulled back in time a little bit to when they are gearing up I think it may have worked a little bit better. Then it would feel like it's necessary. It wouldn't actually be necessary still, because we can just as easily have skipped them getting the gear, as Scott has quite effectively done. But the reader would have felt that progress was being made, and maybe we wouldn't have lost quite as much of the momentum that has been gathered as this strip loses.

Listening to the Webcomics Weekly Podcast every week, there is a lot (well, there's some anyway... they do a good job of covering a lot of topics and not taking too much on any one) of talk about the building up and releasing of tension. This storyline has been building up tension gradually over each strip. Each addition built up a little more tension for the overall story arch. The tension has been let go of prematurely in this strip. There is absolutely no tension in this strip relating to the greater story arch. This strip does have the internal tension of the conversation building and then being released when jade shows up and catches them, but doesn't contribute to the tension being built by the rest of the current arc.

So, although the setup of this strip was too long to be effective, I did like the punchline. And, today's strip was better than today's TSFM strip critique.

Also, those random floating squash looking things are very clearly (I've no expertise on paintball or the equipment used therein, so please excuse my ignorant vocabulary when discussing them) that plastic thingy on the top of the guns that you dump them ball things full of paint into. If you look on the first panel, you can clearly see that Cole's paint ball pellet loady contraptionamabob is attached to the gun that he's holding, and you can vaguely see the attachment on Brent's, though not the rest of the actual gun. Thous, at first glance I did think that they might have been Brent's bra.

Some background would have been nice in the last two panels. Especially since there were some bushes in the background in the first three (I think the dialouge bubble is covering the tree line in the second panel.) but, honestly, I don't really pay that much attention to the art in these comics anyway. I'm really more of a writing sort of guy. What the characters have to say is far more important to me than what the background looks like when they're saying it. So as long as the facial expressions show me what they need to be showing me, I'm not going to complain too much about the background or the way the details on something are drawn.

Last thing, as I'm sure you're all either tired of reading my two cents or just gave up three paragraphs ago: Are we going to find out why Brent was suddenly so concerned for Skull? He got out of the hospital and was all gung ho about "We have to go find Skull! he might be hurt!" sort of thing, which is pretty much the opposite of how i would expect him to act unless he had a reason. I know this has been discussed already, but we're well into the arc now and still no reason for that. That's not to say that there won't be, or that I'm necessarily complaining that it hasn't been presented yet. I'm just wondering if it will be, or if Scott just needed to get us back to Skull in the forest and took a cheap and easy way out that ended up being out of character for Brent. Unless we find out why Brent acted that way, it seems to me that it would have been jade that would notice that Skull was missing and Cole who would slump his shoulders, sigh, and say "Well, we'd better go find him." while Brent objected, called Skull a name or two, and said they'd be better off without him while trying to garner some sympathy from his injury.

Or maybe he was just embarrassed about the bra thing and was trying to get everyone concentrating on something else. It's definitely possible that is what Scott had intended, and if that is true then we probably won't be getting any more clues as to Brent's motives later on in this story. But, if that was the intended motive, it wasn't portrayed well back when this search party began.

JK said...

Great strip.

And Jade's unchanging expression worked well alongside Cole and Brent's.

Anonymous said...

Really? I thought Jade's non-expression (I mean - she doesn't even looked angry/peeved at them) looked completely out of place. I can understand why it'd be shared between the last two panels but there's nothing there. She might as well be stuck in front of the idiot box given how detached she looks.

Dave said...

The flashlight attached to Brent's hat was what made today's comic worth it for me.

Anonymous said...

Those squash lookin' things are the hoppers for the paintball guns. Scott added them after I pointed out how he was a dumbfuck for starting a paintball story without knowing how to draw the fucking guns.

Sage said...

Yes anonymus Im sure it was all you.

Seejak said...

I think the use of background (and shading) in the first three strips was to separate them from the last two. First you get Brent and Cole, doing this (rather obscure) pop-culture reference, and the Jade wasting in and snap - back to reality.
Oh, and I think the obscurity of the reference is what makes the strip work, it gives you reason do identify with Jade (what are they doing wasting their time like that? }, and it gives Cole and Brent reason to look so sheepish in the last column.

TheOriginalJes said...

To answer Evan's question -

I think Brent's concern for Skull will be tied into the floating storyline about Brent's Mom remembering Skull from his childhood. Some of you may remember those long ago, hanging storylines that erked so many...

Sage said...

The originaljes-
You were wrong on chiding us for complaining about storylines, as that wasnt our complaint about Skull and Brent's mom. If i remember, we didn't really have a complaint of it being a hanging "storyline" because it wasnt a storyline. The strip was more of a one-off related to the elder Siennas arrival. At the time the discussion was more like "what the heck is she talking about" and "where did that information come from" with people complaining they had to read the character bios. I read the bio and even if it didn't it would make sense, like Fairly Oddparents, that his memory as a kid would have been deminished or erased make sense. Also, we'll have to see if it does relate to that, how can you complain about us being "erked" (btw its "irked") as the reason for Brent's caring is as much a guess from you as it is from us.

Also, the new strip. Very nice night effects in the last 3 panels, with the "bigfoot" pose is very good artwise. Also the story itself showing Brent's ineptitude with paintball bun made me chuckle.

R.W.McGee said...

what was at the bottom of panel two, below Skull's torso...it looked almost like crumpled paper? Look in the bottom left.

Sage said...

the end of a log, jagged edges

The Wax Lion said...

"pantamount" isn't a word. :)

Jai said...

I believe that's the long-legged version of "tantamount".

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one looking at the most recent strip, "He's Coming For Us," and thinking that the last strip would be disturbing out of context? It looks like some kind of bukkake scene.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say on behalf of everyone from PVP Makes Me Sad, Happy Birthday Scott Kurtz :D

Sage said...

Happy b-day

Anonymous said...

He didn't even get the reference right. That line was in the special edition, not as a deleted scene, but edited in to the movie itself. I suppose he didn't want to watch the movie though, and must've gotten in from some quote site.

Anonymous said...

Heh. Scott takes the weekend off so no new strips. Weird how that feels like just a regular PvP weekend, lately.

Sage said...

Heres from Scott's site:
To answer Shark's questions:

- I'm considering moving to 5 days a week starting in May.
- WW is posted on a regular scheudle. We've just had some off weeks due to panel members being unavailable.
- Talk to Kris about the DA.
- We gave up on the Power Hour when we started WW

So we can stop hearing complaints from people thats theres no weekend strip. Also, it was his birthday weekend, even though he didn't tell us he has every right. Happy Birthday man!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but morbidly obese. So it's not okay.

Anonymous said...

Ah so he's confirmed that he'll be switching to 5 strips a week. That's great, it'll mean he can spend more time on other projects like Ding! and anything else he's got in the pipelines.

Julia said...

Yeah, but it's 2pm on Monday and no strip. And since the 5 day schedule doesn't start until May, we should still be getting this weekend's strips, shouldn't we?

Sage said...

It just got posted 2:02 PM EST

Anonymous said...

thats what really pisses me off about web publishing; cartoonists these days dont build up a buffer of strips to account for inevitable delays, and therefore dont publish on a regular schedule.

you wanna be the next bill watterson? well, watterson got his strips into the paper on time. weeks ahead of time, actually. if scott knows hes going to do a 12 day strip on paintballing (or achewood knows hes going to do a 12 day strip on the great outdoor fight or whatever) get those bulk strips done ahead of time so you arent lagging so heavily. its not like penny-arcade or american elf where youre doing autobiography or commenting on market events.

or maybe thats part of the strategy, as page views are built up by people refreshing the strip and are more likely to click on advertisers out of boredom.

please note, im not criting the content of the strip here, just the professionalism. which sucks.

Jim Cowling said...

Oh. Oh, man.

I ride Kurtz for being lazy and unprofessional and for the miss-and-miss-and-miss-and-sort-of-hit of the writing, but today's strip ("That'll Leave a Mark") was the first one in at least a year that made me laugh out loud.

It doesn't matter that it's pretty much the same gag as the previous strip; Francis' reaction alone is perfect. And, finally, Kurtz ties up a joke from weeks back, coming to the punchline just when it wasn't expected. That is skilled comedy writing, and I applaud Kurtz for it.

Well done, Kurtz. Now just do it the other six days of the week, work up a stockpile, learn how to use shading, throw in some colour occasionally and tie up the rest of your loose ends. You may even be able to shine Wiley's shoes one day.

Jim Cowling said...

And while I'm here: WTF are your problems, you anonymous clowns? I've got the cojones to sign my real name, and while I diss Kurtz, I do so only where it is *relevant*.

You serve no purpose whatsoever by calling Kurtz "morbidly obese" from the safety of your anonymity. And besides, the guy's obviously putting forth the effort. (Moreso than with his strip, anyhow. Zing, rimshot, cymbal.)

What a bunch of cowards you are. Take a fuckin' hike.

Anonymous said...

My, my, aren't we all high and mighty. I find all of this highly amusing by beating a dead horse. I don't have a blogger account and I don't see the point of using my real name.

Jim Cowling said...

"I find all of this highly amusing by beating a dead horse."

That was a good Comic Book Guy impression. Do another one.

Chorius said...

It's highly amusing that Scott made such a big deal about including safety equipment and such into the comic... now, in the last 2 strips not a single character has been wearing any safety equipment at all....

Sage said...

Um, theyre hunting Skull, he doesn't have a gun, thus they don't think they'll get shot. If your hunting for deer do you wear a bullet-proof vest?Geeze people infer facts some times.

evan said...

In the last two strips they haven't been playing paintball. Before that it was a sanctioned game on a course, now they are hunting Skull with paintball guns.

I did not like the new comic (That'll Leave a Mark) But the reason I didn't like it when I first read it was my fault. I read it and thought "Okay... I get the punch line, but it needs a setup. That would have been funny if someone had actually assured him previously that it wouldn't hurt.

Yeah, I know... they did. The punchline turns out to have been well written and referring back to way earlier in the storyline that I had just forgotten about.

I also like the way that the second word bubble obscures the word bitch in the first bubble of the last panel. It's the technique that sitcoms use where someone's gonna say a bad word but they get comedically cut off. Like Miss Mary Mack.

I don't think that gag is funny in any context, but it's at least better than using #%&$ or whatever to represent a curse word. This is a rant for another time, but I think censoring things like that is stupid. If you're writing for a family friendly context, write the curse words out. Don't just bleep them. Unless the curse word actually IS the joke, it's not really necessary.

On the other hand, if you want your characters to curse, just let them curse. I don't see how representative symbols for curse words is really any more family friendly than the actual word. I've got far more to say on that subject, but I'll wait until the next time he does it instead of going into too long of an unrelated rant.

Anonymous said...

Wow Scott! You've got 6 banner ads on your front page now? That's a bit much isnt it? It wouldnt be so bad if they were all small but now I seem to be looking mostly at ads and not comic.

Anonymous said...

@sage

Well it didnt go to plan did it, so far Brent and Francis have been hit :)

I didn't lmao like some of the other contributors on here (infact I didnt laugh at all, am I dead inside?) like someone said, the strip was similiar to the one previous.

FSM can we have a new post to do our replies in, this ones getting to big. :(

Sage said...

Cole and Francis (if your talking about after they went out hunting for Skull) were hit not Brent

Sage said...

Yes it wasnt planed, but hunters in the woods dont plan to get shot by their friends either, ask the vice president.

Anonymous said...

So we're still skipping the explanation on how shooting Skull with a paintball gun will do any good then?

Anonymous said...

Also, both characters that have been shot so far have taken shots to the face. What happened to his speech about safety in the comments a while back?

Sage said...

Where is the big splat on Francis' face? There is splatter but no round dot the the ball hit him there, only twigs in his hair and the aformentioned splatter? Cole has a bigger dot of pain of his face but it isnt round.

I dont see the "Shot in the face" that people are talking about. Sure it is stupid that they're firing blindly at night (btw were Miranda and Jade holding a flashlight?) but theyve been hit in the chest and arms.

Anonymous said...

Shooting Skull with paint will help because paint is quickly absorbed by troll skin and causes them to faint. This has long been established in a secret character bio, so if you don't know this it's your own fault.

Sage said...

How is it secret, it's the "new readers" tab just below the freaking home tab. Man are you guys are as sensitive as Scott, what was that strip 4-6 weeks ago and you are still bitter about it.

Paintballs hurt, theyll hurt skull and get him to stop. Like getting shot with a beanbag gun from a riot cop. Plus I dont think they brought their tranquilizer guns to a paintball event.

neddy said...

I still like the fact that the anonymous people are so brave in their cutting and biting remarks. Reminds me of Gabe's greater internet f***wad theory.

Anonymous said...

And you're just too dense to realize most of these anonymous comments are satire.

Anonymous said...

Also, anyone can easily set up a blogger account with a fake name, "Neddy", so I don't see how that's any more brave.

Anonymous said...

sage- I didn't mean the regular character bios. Clearly there's nothing about paint and troll skin there. I really meant a special secret section, because I thought it would be funnier if I used extra hyperbole.

And I post anonymously because I don't want to waste time signing up or typing in name that won't mean anything to anybody. I imagine a lot of other anonymice have a similar motive.

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