I haven't been able to decide whether it's worth responding to one of Scott Kurtz' most recent comments (I'm assuming it's him), but I'm leaning toward yes, so here it goes. (As has happened before, this post may get a little less objective than I'd like. Can't be helped.)
Today was an experiment.
I had Francis do the 4th wall break and look at the camera specifically because you pointed out how it would have improved a previous strip with Jade.
Nice try to cover your ass about that at the end of your post though.
I'm flashing back to your friend's comment about "it's funny because it's impossible"; it's a very black-and-white viewpoint. The same thing is happening here -- just because I suggested it once doesn't mean I'm waiting to see it, or that I think it's the best option in all cases. In fact, I happen to think it's an extreme case because it means the character has nothing of their own to say.
When I suggested it (A Predictable Complaint), I was wishing for a more appropriate response to Skull's "meat shield" moment, the ridiculousness of which was under-served by Jade's lack of response. Just as in that strip there was a better response than no response, in yesterday's strip there was a much better option for Francis than simply gazing at the audience. He'd just heard some great news, the best news he'd heard all day I'd wager -- Brent is about to suffer the indignity of wearing a bra.
How can he not engage with that? How can his overriding reaction not be about Brent and the hilarity to ensue? Instead, if Francis had had a thought bubble, it would have been, "Yes folks, he said it was a bra." Hardly the best option available for the character or the story.
If you're under the impression that I think I have a list of rules or a better formula that I'm trying to make you see, you're wrong. I don't. There isn't one and there ought not to be, in fact, and I'd like to think that my comments (and the comments of others) have tried to impress upon you that we could do with a lot less formula, and more spontaneity, more emotion.
There's another way to think about this -- your characters are bad actors. They could use some workshopping to get them thinking about their roles.
This experiment went a long way in validating the way I feel about the direction this site has kind of gone in.
By this I'm inferring that you feel this site is nothing but negative, no matter what the strip is, or what you do to it. Well, it's both true and not true. It's mostly negative because that's how I feel about PVP; much of it is worth criticizing, and there's a lot of room for improvement.
On the other hand it's not true because your "experiment" was faulty from the start. I'm not looking for you to put my ideas into the strip -- I'm looking for you to have more ideas.