Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Here's looking at... somebody.

With this latest strip (On a Steel Horse They Ride), I've realized what my problem is with Brent. While I like the strip and think it's amusing, Brent fell flat for me.

It's the glasses. With his permanently-affixed opaque sunglasses, we get no visual confirmation as to what Brent is looking at, and we miss out on visual clues that could more completely convey his emotions.

There are plenty of other cues, so it's not like Kurtz isn't getting his point across, but it could be stronger. I think I can make my point by taking a look at Brent in panel 3, sans mouth:

It doesn't really live up to the words coming out of his mouth; he could be doing anything really. The flat eyebrows work in the fourth panel, when the edge is off his anger, but in the third panel he should really be at extremes with much more angle to the brows, and perhaps even more in the guy's face. Again, I offer another crappy photoshop job to make my point:

Let's compare the full panels:

It's still hampered by the glasses, but it makes a stronger statement, I think.

Update: I just realized I forgot to make the point that ties in with the title of my post -- my other peeve with the glasses is that it makes it hard to portray Brent in a way that makes it absolutely clear that he isn't staring at the guy's forehead. Another reason to put Brent more in the guy's face.


Rick Snee said...

I see your point about the sunglasses, but I'm confused about the mission of your blog.

PvP is a comic strip that's based on humor. Many of your posts have been based on how that humor was lost or diminished by artwork or writing. Based on that, I've been reading your posts for awhile now and mostly agree with you.

While today's post comments on the artwork, I fail to see how Brent's lack of eyes or eyebrow definition ruins the joke (the joke being the emphasis of almost all PvP strips except in cases of sentimentality or token character development).

There's enough evidence that Brent's angry, between the mouth (as you pointed out), the flying spittle, and the dialogue.

Much of Brent's facial expressions are subtle, which is very much in character. He only "lets loose" when he's angry, and even then he hides behind his dark glasses. They're as much of his geek beard as his car, latest Mac gadgets, and sarcasm.

It also seems irrelevant to the gag if Brent is looking at the guy's forehead or in the eyes. (And, of course, he might be.)

I'm not saying your criticism is invalid, but somewhat off-point ... unless I've missed the point of your blog. Are your comments based on the delivery of PvP's jokes, or the artwork itself, which may not actually improve the overall site content?

Sage said...

I agree with Rick, I think this critcism is a little too small to really be worthwhile.

While we did have a similar critique with Jade in a previous strip, that was more integral to the punchline of the strip, as there really was no reaction to what Skull was saying. The eyebrow/sungless critique really isn't integral to making the joke funnier or the point of the strip.

Brent's sunglasses are an integral part of his character or at least his character design. I've been reading PVP for years and you assume that he's looking at the person, and if he's not, well thats why hes wearing sunglasses. Also, you cannot take away the mouth as part of his angry expression as that's what the artist isusing to show that he is pissed off. That combined with the spittle and bold font conveys that, in this case super furrowed brows are not needed.
about a 8 out of 10 on the picky scale

But thats just my opinion

Jai said...

It doesn't matter if the criticism is "too small to be worth mentioning". Are comments about the artwork not allowed? Are tiny improvements to anything PVP-related not supposed to be suggested? Should only the most blatently obvious criticisms that everyone can agree upon be blogged? It's a valid grievance to point out that Brent's eyebrows are not working when he's as angry as he's ever been (Judging by the intense dialogue. When his emotions are only being expressed through his dialogue and mouth, I think there's something that could be improved) and his body is entirely rigid from the head to the waist because his neck doesn't work (Which keeps him from "looking down" and, in cases where he IS supposed to be looking down, draws more attention to the fact that we can't see where his pupils are pointed).

JediJohnson said...

I think one of the problems I have is that you are trying to put your version of Brent in there. Brent isn't over the top like you're suggesting. In your version, with the pointed eyebrows I see Brent as this hateful vengeful person who is about to lash out violently. But the Brent that I get from Scott is one of a person who feels righteous indignation which I think fits more with Brent's personality. Sure he's mad, he's really pissed at the guy, but he's not going to slug him, he's going to hurl insults at him, and hide behind his glasses. I think that's conveyed much better with the yelling flat eyebrows than with the pointed eyebrows. But again, these are my opinions and you're entitled to yours.

Sage said...

Yes it matters if the criticism is too small thats why the term "nit-picking" is a negative term.
I have criticized art in the past for not showing enough of the emotion Scott wants but thats not the case here. In the story Brent is angry at the patron, and Scott does the job with the wide angry mouth, spittle and bold angry text. The addition of "extra angry eyebrows" doesn't do anything for the story. Also, the sunglass and "not knowing where he is looking" I don't think is a major concern for people, and I just think that its a trivial concern.

Now do I think FSM is nit-picking, no, because he doesn't say the strip sucks because of it, he just thinks he would have done it a different way and he is entitled to have every opinion he has.

But Jai, I'm sorry that my opinion on Scott's opinion can be construed as saying "artwork can't be criticized". Can you point to me where that was said in any of my comments? Man even the people commenting on PVP are getting sensitive.

Its a freaking discussion forum and if my two cents are "i don't agree and i think its a small complaint" then don't take it as im railing against he entire discussion itself. No names were called, I didn't call him stupid or anythin;, I respect FSM and I disagree with him on this point. Don't take it to extremes when it doesn't have to be, like some of our anonymus people or even Scott has at times.

R.W.McGee said...

Sage, I have absolutely nothing against you...but I have to note that in all your posts you act like you've staked out some middle ground on this forum, when in fact you pretty consistently come across as a Kurtz apologist.

There is nothing wrong with this, I think this blog is better off for having fans of Kurtz work and critics, but I don't think you should post as though you are coming from some neutral vantage point.

Anyway, as to the glass issue. Meh. Brent has generally been portrayed as an uber-laid back character throughout the history of the strip, so his lack of emotional range doesn't bother me...and I think Kurtz did enough with his physical assault on the patron to convey his anger. I do like your eyebrows better though.

I guess I fall in the camp of people willing to give Kurtz the benefit of his own artwork choices as long as they come attached to an amusing strip.

Sage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sage said...

Um, RW, ive made criticisms as well as supported him as well. In fact Scott got pissed off at me for saying not to liten to people when writing his work and calling him (and he still is) really hypersensitive about peoples critcisms. I again don't know where the "pvp apologist" comes from. More positive then some, yes, but apologist no.

Its funny I disagree with a critique and now I am an apologist.

Sage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven said...

It's funny how you say "Kurtz apologist" the way some people would say "Nazi Sympathizer".
In any case, I think sage is right. Sure, TFSM may be right, but it's really too small an issue to distract from the rest of today's strip.

Steven said...

Come to think of it, I'm also somewhat embarrassed that I can't come up with a synonym for the word "right" as to make me sound like less of a dumbass.

Sage said...

While I agree with the sentiment, I don't agree with the term Nazi, how about commy pinko spy? :)

Also, right = correct?

Sage said...

Btw here is the next exerpt from anonymus complaint theatre:

a tornado!? WTF!!! More excuses to be late.

Now back to your regularly scheduled discussion. :)

Thankfully it just hit the schwag so Scott SHOULD get something out by the end of the day.

R.W.McGee said...

I can live with commie pinko spy, lol.

Certainly comparing a Kurtz apologist to a nazi is...well...stupid. And, for the record, not what I did...I'm not sure how you can try and interpret 'how' I am saying something through TEXT. I'm not attacking Sage, I just don't think he is as objective as he thinks he is. need to come up with slightly less dramatic metaphors =)

Steven said...

I wasn't talking about your tone, nor did I mean to imply an attack on sage; I was just commenting on the context of your post:

" act like you've staked out some middle ground on this forum, when in fact you pretty consistently come across as a commie pinko spy."

Pretty much a flawless transition, right? Although I'll refrain from using "Nazi" in my comments, and cut back on the dramatic metaphors. My friends all tell me I do that too much anyhow.

Anonymous said...

todays strip is up. more great art, a good joke, and it was only late because of tornado damage!

(someone buy

Sage said...

Even though I have critisized many different things about PVP (man i hated that 1st paintball arc) but I don't remember bragging that I am the moderate one of these discussion, I know I am more positive than some people (in my criticisms, not as a person) but its not a badge of honor to me.

I, like i did with FSM this time, respectfully disagree :). At least don't call me a "compassionate conservative.

Todays strip - you can tell that Scott likes to draw his dog and lions as they both look great. Cute joke too.
One question what manner of animal is the lion attacking? Is it the love child of moose and dinosaur?

The Wax Lion said...

This blog, as I see it, seems to be essentially about the one statement on the front page--"I wish PvP was funnier." I agree with that basic sentiment, and exploring ways that would make PvP funnier (for those of us who think it falls flat a lot of the time in recent years) is why I find this blog interesting. Whether that's comments on the larger story arcs or comments on tiny details of art doesn't make a bit of difference--as I think I've said before, sometimes it would only take a small tweak of the art or word choice to turn an OK strip into a great one. But if you're just not interested in that kind of detailed meta-analysis of what makes a strip funny, funnier, or funniest, why are you even reading this blog?

R.W.McGee said...

I thought the lion was attacking some sort of antler-less gazelle. Although, the more I look at it, the more I could go with dinosaur too. Maybe a little more fur would clarify it.

Sage said...

Wax lion, I am interested in that type of meta-analysis, I just disagree in this case that it was an important point.

If it this blog wasn't meant for discussion then FSM should just disable comments.

s Maybe I should just call Scott fat those people seem to get a warmer reception then saying a comment about eyebrows wasn't necessary ;)

The Wax Lion said...

Sage, that was really more directed at the start-off comment here ("I'm confused about the mission of the blog") than at any of the subsequent comments. I'm not sure why so many people on this thread are jumping on YOUR ass--but I wasn't intending to be one of them, sorry if it came across like that. :) Not at all my intention, I enjoy reading your comments.

Rick Snee said...

Eh, I didn't post to prove how smart I am through argument or discussion with the other readers. I just posted a comment disagreeing with FSM.

As I said very early in my comment, I read this blog because I think FSM has a lot of valid criticisms. Just because I disagree doesn't mean I don't appreciate his point of view or, as you throw the term around, his "meta" reading of the strip.

That's the fun part about participating in criticism: you can exchange ideas, even disparate ones, without disliking the other person or their material.

That's why I only posted once (until now, obviously). It's tough to tell on the Internet, since everyone is a "critic" now, but I didn't participate in this conversation to win a fight or "prove FSM wrong."

I only *asked* if the goal of this site is to improve PvP by making it funnier, or to criticize the comic in general (whether it improves or not).

Besides, if I hurt his feelings, I'm sure he'd let me know that I'm kindly not welcome to his blog anymore.

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