Thursday, March 20, 2008

Uppercut! Uppercut! (waiting for the Body Blow...)

There are two things that really bother me about the latest strip (Shoryuken):

1. There has been nothing to indicate that the other characters know why Skull freaked out -- how did Marcie know he had eaten mushrooms?

2. The transition, or lack thereof, from the second panel to the third is really jarring. It would have been nice if the second panel had had some sort of exclamation from Miranda, making the third panel feel less like a non-sequitur. In fact -- it would have been kind of awesome if Skull had booted all over Miranda (a perfectly reasonable response to coming off of shrooms :), then he really would have deserved that uppercut.

There is one thing I really like:

1. Skull in the last panel is great. I love the extra touches like the lines in the teeth and the shade lines around his eyes.

There is one thing that bugs the anal grammarian in me:

1. "Mushroom induced" should be hyphenated.




Now that I think about it, this whole storyline could have been an opportunity for some serious character development. With Skull going off the rails, it would have been interesting to let the characters react to that in different ways. Some who know him well would assume something bad had happened to him, those who didn't could have wondered if he had gone wild somehow (especially after grabbing Francis). It could have made for some nice tension. Alone in the Dark and Night Games opened the door for some darkness which I was sad to see go with Marines, we are LEAVING!

I'm not really criticizing here, just imagining... It's possible Kurtz didn't want to include such heavy elements after the divorce and in-law stories, which, as much as I didn't care for them, had some nice character development.

30 comments:

Caren W. said...

I pretty much agree with what you've said. My first thought was also "how'd she know about the mushrooms? did I miss something?"

I still really liked the last panel though :D

Rachel said...

My only thought for this strip is "that's not one of Cammy's moves!"

With Scott's update irregularity I tend to put discontinuity up to "maybe I missed a strip" initially. Marcy's mushroom comment bugs me now though.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person out there that absolutely hates Miranda and every time she appears in the strip? I get it, she's supposed to be the hottest female, but she's also the strong and fiery! Lame.

Whatever happened to the concern for Skull's well being? Did I miss a strip between when Brent was super concerned about going back to find Skull, and them locking and loading to go "troll painting?" To me, that's the worst part of this whole story. It literally goes from Skull being left behind and Brent being worried, to everyone trying to harm him, ending in Skull getting uppercutted by the worst character in the strip.

The whole point of going back to find Skull was Brent's concern, so shouldn't Brent have resolved it? I dunno I guess that would make too much sense, and take away from Kurtz getting to draw Miranda again.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fake Scott McCloud said...

I've made my statement against personal attacks (ie, fat jokes) but I leave most of them alone because they mean nothing and make only the commenter look bad.

I mention this because I just removed my first comment. It was a fat joke, but it was at Scott's wife's expense. I don't know her name, I don't know what she looks like, and I don't care.

None of that please.

Anonymous said...

I had to go back a few days in the archives to make sure I didn't miss anyone talk about Skull on shrooms. No one did. :(

Besides being a tell-tale sign of a sloppy script, that line should've been removed completely. As if we couldn't tell that Skull had his senses knocked back into him. Thanks for the hint, Scott.

Nick said...

This strip would have been a lot funnier if panel three had been moved to the beginning, to become panel one. It would set up Miranda's annoyance at getting puked on, and would have made the uppercut a lot punchier if it followed directly after Jade's(?) "the worst is over" line.

Of course, all of this is only true if we hadn't ONLY JUST seen a strip where the punchline is Miranda hitting Skull. Two strips in a row with the same punchline? Not funny.

I'm beginning to think this entire storyline wasn't thought out at all.

Anonymous said...

As someone who struggled with being overweight for quite some time, I applaud Mr. Kurtz in his recent accomplishments. He really has started to slim down the past couple years, when I've seen him at conventions and the like. And for someone of his physical girth, he has the balls to go to conventions and show himself out in the open, for what he really looks like. His wife is a cutie, too.

Steven said...

I Dunno. I never minded Miranda much in the past, and regarded her with a general "meh", but she's really grating on my nerves this storyline. Her sheer self-centered attitude bothers me the most, though. He's alone in the woods, drugged up and hallucinating by fault of every adult there who should have been responsible for him, (save for Brent), and her biggest concern is... spit? Ugh. I'm not sure if Scott is making her out to be a bad person here, or if it's just a reference to some fighting game I've never played, or if it's supposed to be funny in a ridiculous kind of way (you know, like the nipplatory system), but I feel a little sick watching poor skull getting beat up like that.

vaultkeeper said...

Maybe I'm being a negative Nancy but the storyline did not deliver and does not bode well for the strip. Coupled with the new site layout that has more ads than content on the page I'm finding myself not really wanting to check on it very much.

vee said...

ditto. all these ads are really distracting. up to 3 ads on a page is fine. 6 is just too many, especially if 4 of them are quite large. It really drowns the content.

Thomas said...

Y'all need to head to install Firefox and the Adblock extention. Ads? What ads?

Thomas said...

The character knowledge thing is something that's been ongoing with the strip. It's pretty obvious in the Jade Fontaine Mystery from last year. Scott looks like he's playing fair with the audience, but by the time we get to the reveal we discover that no, he's not: characters in the strip know things that are never shared with the audience. You've got to treat the comic as if they're individual scenes in the lives of these characters rather than a continual narrative, even if the sequence of strips seems to indicate a tight continuity. Just as there's some sense of time created by the gutters and by the flow of dialogue in a panel, there's some time between the strips where we have to assume Marcy discovered a pile of eaten 'shrooms.

That said, Marcy's comment would have made more sense if when Skull roared on Miranda, we saw some mushroom bits in his spittle and Miranda covered in spit and shroom bits.

Sage said...

Again I have no complaints about the art, and I think its quite good, but like most things with PVP its the story and script that fails a little. Adding on to what Thomas said, in the previous "ghost" strip with Francis, if he had said "pulled me into the bushes and a pile of mushrooms" then he explains everything. If Scott does do the scripts the day of thats where the mistakes come through in continuity.

On another note that you for deleting that idiot TFSM, I think its the same anonymus user and he needs to be kept from here as he is neither funny nor adds anything to our discussions.

Sage said...

thank you i meant TFSM

Anonymous said...

With regard to the art, I'm a little surprised that there's not been any comment on the video game references in this latest story-line. Miranda is dressed like Cammy from Super Street Fighter 2. Skull's face when he gets punched is exactly like King Hippo's from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out.

Anonymous said...

ok, its friday at noon. anyone wanna lay bets as to when friday's strip will be posted? im betting monday, at 4pm EST.

Brian said...

I'll make the argument that the characters could infer that Skull was having a bad mushroom trip from the Ghosts strip when Francis describes how he was acting. I still think it should have been spelled out just a little more.

aimee said...

I think Scott should have given Marcie something else to say. Creating confusion and "huh did I miss something?" in the first panel is not going to help the joke.

R.W.McGee said...

You know how most authors, artists, actors, and other creative folk tend not to read their critics, and just focus on their chosen profession because they do it for it's own sake.

I think re: Scott's last comic we can safely say he is not one of those people.

Hilarious ending though, now ever time Scott starts a storyline, and it gets criticized...he can have this character jump in...list all the complaints, and be shot by paint guns! It can be like the panda and dukes of hazzard strips!

Awesome!

Nick said...

Note to Scott: If you don't like criticism, stop obsessively reading this site as you obviously do.

cheesesoda said...

Kurtz sure was subtle on that one.

Maybe he's trying to turn these criticisms into something like the comics with his dad.

Anonymous said...

dear scott:

thank you for the wonderful 8 panel strip. good art. of course, simpsons did the joke first. and of course, the problems you list in the your strip arent resolved by your strip; if anything, they are more glaring. but i know this comment has a very high chance of reaching you.

get better champ,
cowardly anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Scott, thank you for the latest strip. It lets me know that, yes indeed, all of the completely stupid, inane, and hilarious comments made her are reaching your brain and having such a significant impact that they dictate your work, now. They don't make it any better, but they do make you freak out. Damn that made me feel good.

Also, you're fat.

Anonymous said...

What I think was cool about this was a combo of a street fighter reference and the hit points. Solid gamer references all round. Nice.

The eight panel strip has also just been posted, and made me laugh. I can forgive the digging because it's actually funny, both art and words. I'm not sure if it's funny for people not reading this blog, but they are not me, so that doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

Regarding yet another letdown:

I found the comic funny, but I don't know quite what to make of it. Is Kurtz disappointed in himself?

He personifies his disappointment and peppers it with paint balls, perhaps alluding to a bit of optimism on his part?

Something like:
"Yeah, I know this whole arc was a bit of a disaster, but you know what? Fsck it. Let's move on."

If this is the case, I say good for him. The overarching story might have been a bit of a disaster, but the arc as a whole was filled with many good ideas and several very good individual comics.

If, next time, he just found a way to bundle all his ideas better into a more complete whole, PvP would be much better off for it.

Either that, or forsake continuity entirely as the Penny Arcade guys have done.

zgeycp said...

[i]Hilarious ending though, now ever time Scott starts a storyline, and it gets criticized...he can have this character jump in...list all the complaints, and be shot by paint guns! It can be like the panda and dukes of hazzard strips![/i]

Oh man, I would love it if he started ending every storyline with that guy.

Jai said...

Shoryuken - Ergh. This strip is so off-the-wall, there seems like little worth in trying to helpfully offer advice on how to improve it.

For starts, of course, Marcy apparently know things she should not in a thought-out comic strip. Clearly, an expository role was needed (And practicioners of punctuation need not apply). Except that it wasn't. It's obvious to the readers that Skull has been slapped out of his nonsense (Which is a common treatment for troll ailments. No, seriously. Who do you think troll doctors are? That's right - TROLLS. Do trolls like to hit things? HELL YES. This thought makes too much sense to let go!), but the PVP cast needed to find out what was going on and if Skull was okay. And this wasn't the way to do it (There seem to be some very good suggestions already on how that could have been done better). It, uh, got the job done. I'll give it that. Lovely shot of Skull there in the first panel.

Second panel, now. Who on earth is speaking? Marcy, still? There's no reason to think that. Physically, the one person that speech bubble looks like it belongs to the MOST is Miranda. And - ugh - I'm sorry, that's just no good. Stick Marcy or someone else shrunk-down in the background, and connect the bubble to them. Also, where is Skull's right pupil?

Third panel. Now we see that Miranda has been slimed. Well, it was bound to happen eventually, what with the spit flying around every time someone talks loudly. Well, nothing's wrong with this panel. Miranda is just reacting from the previous strip, and unhappy with how gross spit is (And who ISN'T unhappy about that?). What happens next?

Resolution: Violence! That'll teach the damn troll to behave! Go back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich, troll! Well, while I do not condone troll-based violence, Skull does have a great expression once again. Here's a clue about the subtle and elusive nature of comedy, though: Graaaaah! was funny because you wouldn't expect Miranda's first reaction to be punching Skull. Shoryuken is NOT funny, and it's because you wouldn't expect Miranda's first reaction to be punching Skull. When I put it like that, it SOUNDS awfully similar and like it could be an easy mistake. But it's really not. The former violence was born out of fear - funny! The latter violence was beget from disgust - uh... yeah. Not... funny. It's the difference between punching, say, a blind man out of surprise (And by accident) and kicking him in the throat once you know he's there because he couldn't see what he was doing and knocked over your drink.

There may be ramifications to this act for Miranda and Skull, but he and Brent are still pretty chummy so I doubt it. There is no feeling of "Miranda should not have done that, and/or Brent or Jade or Skull is going to be pissed about this".

This strip could have been funnier if it just kept playing up things that the characters "know" that we (The readers) have no idea they should know. For instance, panel two has Max with the group, saying something that makes it obvious he knows that Skull exists and is right there. Panel three has Reggie with the group, remarking on the safety issues of shooting people about the neck and head with paintballs ("Were you guys shooting above the torso?! It sounded like you guys were shooting above the torso!"). Panel four has Robbie with the group, in a millionaire's Iron Man reproduction suit with paintball hoppers built-in and connected to his palm "repulsors".

Jai said...

I wish someone had read that. I should have posted it sooner.

Steven said...

Sure, people read it. Didn't have much to say in response to it, but I agreed with pretty much everything you said.

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